ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2018)–If there is such a thing as The Big Dodger in the Sky, he was smiling down on Santa Anita on Monday, as Pee Wee Reese went to the front in the $75,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes under Joe Talamo, winning by 2 ¾ lengths. Named for the late Dodger Hall of Fame shortstop, owned and bred in California by Nick Alexander and trained by Phil D’Amato, the 5-year-old full horse by Tribal Rule got 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course in 1:12.37.
“He’s a fun horse to ride and he’s pretty tough anywhere from 6 ½ (furlongs) to a mile and a sixteenth,” said Talamo, who’s now won five out of his seven engagements with “Pee Wee.” “He reminds me of (2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner) California Flag. I know we went 44 (seconds for the first half mile), but it felt like 46. He’s got incredible speed and he has the ability to relax and finish. This race was right up there with his best, no question.”
A winner of the Grade III, one mile turf American Stakes here two starts back July 4, Pee Wee Reese was most recently a close third in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles turf Seabiscuit Handicap Nov. 26.
The second choice in a tough field of 10 older horses at 5-2, Pee Wee Reese paid $7.20, $4.60 and $3.60.
In picking up his second stakes win, Pee Wee Reese improved his overall mark to 11-6-2-1 and with the winner’s share of $61,500, he increased his bankroll to $345,490.
“This felt pretty good,” said Alexander, who’s known to millions of Southern Californians through his radio ad slogan, “Nick Can’t Say No,” which promotes his LA-based automotive dealership, Alexander Imports. “I loved the mare (Bluegrass Belle) and unfortunately, she died during foaling the next year…His Mom and Dad are gone, so hopefully he’ll be a stallion for us.”
Last early, longshot Next Shares flew to be second, finishing 1 ¾ lengths in front of favored Richard’s Boy. Off at 10-1 with Rafael Bejarano, Next Shares paid $7.60 and $5.80.
Richard’s Boy, who tried to match strides with the winner the first quarter mile, was third best, finishing a half length in front of Om. Ridden by Flavien Prat, Richard’s Boy was off at 2-1 and paid $3.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.96, 44.64 and 1:06.55.
Santa Anita will offer fans free admission and parking for “dark day” simulcasting on Wednesday and Thursday, with admission gates opening at 10 a.m. each day.
Live racing will resume on Friday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.