Courtesy of the BloodHorse.com Arcadia, CA (March 21, 2020) – Amid COVID-19 restrictions that left a Santa Anita Park grandstand void of owners, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams had reason to smile from afar March 21 when their 7-year-old homebred gelding Ward ‘n Jerry rallied off the final turn en route to a 1 1/4-length victory in the $101,000 San Luis Rey Stakes (G3T).
With the San Luis Rey starting gate set halfway up the hillside turf course, Ward ‘n Jerry rated early while a joint third, about three lengths behind pacesetter Go for a Ride and Ashleyluvssugar. Then as the pace quickened leaving the half-mile pole, Ward ‘n Jerry wrested the lead from Ashleyluvssugar at the top of the lane and was all business through the drive as he held Camino Del Paraiso and even-money favorite Oscar Dominguez at bay.
Trained by Mike Puype, the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit raced the marathon 1 1/2 miles over a good turf course in 2:28.67, following splits of :49.21, 1:14.37, and 1:39.71. The second choice in a field of seven older horses, he paid $5.60 to win.
“I hadn’t been on him in a long time and Mike told me that he’s best at these long distances,” said jockey Flavien Prat, who was last aboard the horse in June 2016. “He was a little keen early, but he settled down fine and as you saw, he had a good turn of foot through the stretch.”
Out of the Dehere mare Tamarack Bay, Ward ‘n Jerry, who was most recently second in the Unusual Heat Turf Classic Stakes for California-breds at 1 1/8 miles Jan. 18, notched his first graded stakes win in his 20th career start. With six overall wins, the winner’s share of $60,000 brought his total earnings to $373,579.
He is the fourth stakes winner from his dam with the others being Luckarack (by Lucky Pulpit), U’narack (by Unusual Heat), and Tamarando (by Bertrando). The latter won the Del Mar Futurity (G1) in 2013.
“If you look at his form, you can see that he’s done his best at long distances,” said Puype. “He had won at a mile and a quarter and at a mile and three-eighths, and he ran a really good third going a mile and one half last December (beaten a neck in the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes, G2T, at Del Mar). They came home pretty fast today, they put a couple 24-second quarters together there, so this was a big effort.”
Camino Del Paraiso, the runner-up previously in the Thunder Road Stakes (G3T), was second-best again, finishing 1 1/4 lengths clear of third-place Oscar Dominguez.