Nellie Delaney and Jabuti Eagle SA hit the wire in unison in the $160,850 Southern California Derby on Sunday night to produce the first dead-heat in a major graded stakes race at Los Alamitos Race Course since LD Fire and Streakin Laquinta shared the spoils in the 2009 Ed Burke Million Futurity.
Racing for J. Garvan Kelly and Nancy Yearsley, Nellie Delaney rallied from sixth place to catch Splenda LLC’s Jabuti Eagle SA in the final yards in the meet’s final stakes race of the 2012-2013 racing season. The two sprinters covered the 400 yards in :19.85 while dividing the winner’s share of the purse and earning $47,450 each. And first place was not the only dead-heat in this race. Scoop of Sunshine and Tres Coronas Mas tied for third place and earned $15,280 each.
“I thought I had this race at the very end,” said jockey Raul Valenzuela, who piloted Nellie Delaney. “She broke behind the field and I had to get after her. She got there at the end.”
“I knew it was going to be decided by a head bob,” said Jabuti Eagle SA’s jockey, Saul Ramirez. “I thought I had the better head bob, but it turned out that we were both right there.”
“Raul thought he won it and Saul thought he got there first,” said Paul Jones, who saddled Jabuti Eagle SA. “Both jockeys thought they won it and as it turned out they were both right. Jabuti Eagle SA is a half-brother to (2011 Champion of Champions winner) Good Reason SA. We’ve always liked him, but we had a few minor problems that we had to deal with him. He’s more mature now. I’m happy for the horse.”
A colt by One Famous Eagle bred by Gianni Samaja, Jabuti Eagle SA was posting his fourth win in 10 starts this season and his earnings from this race more than doubled his career total. His lifetime winnings now stand at $92,141.
“Looking at his form, you could see that this horse was doing well,” said Vince Genco, who manages the racing interests of the Brazilian-based Splenda LLC. “We knew we had a good chance and in Saul Ramirez we had a veteran jockey who is always calm and cool in big races because he’s been in so many of them during his career. This horse was a late foal so it took him a while to mature. I’ve been watching him closely in his last few starts and you can see that he now pays good attention when he’s in the gate. A dead-heat for first beats finishing in second place. I’ll be texting the Samaja family of Splenda LLC tomorrow morning. I’ll be in Brazil after the first of the year so I’ll be seeing them then.”
For now, Genco was ready to drive back home to Clovis in Central California.
“My son and I should be home by 2 a.m.,” he added.
Nellie Delaney has made herself at home in the winner’s circle at Los Alamitos. A winner of three races here this season, the Juan Aleman-trained runner was the fastest qualifier to the Maiden Stakes earlier this year and also the fastest qualifier to this race. The homebred daughter of FDD Dynasty raised her career bankroll to $99,758 following her 10th top three finish in 13 career starts.
“We’ve never finished in a dead-heat in a big race like this before,” Kelly said. “I’m happy for her. She’s been a good filly and deserves this moment. We will wait for the Los Alamitos Winter Championship trials to run her again. The Charger Bar is just too close to this race. Unless it’s trials and then a final, we usually like to wait five to six weeks between starts for our horses.
“We really like her mother Fleeting Touch,” he added. “We have a short yearling out of her at the January Sale. She just keeps throwing good foals. We think that Fleeting Touch and Answer The Dream will be the next foundation mares of our breeding operation. We’re market breeders first and we’re excited about the future of those two broodmares.”
Ridden by Cesar De Alba for trainer Paul Jones, Scoop Of Sunshine completed a solid campaign with her dead-heat third in this race. Owned by Double Bar S Ranch, the filly was looking to become the first sophomore to win both the Governor’s Cup Derby and Southern California Derby. She also finished fourth in the Los Alamitos Super Derby earlier this year. Vessels Stallion Farm LLC’s Tres Coronas Mas also finished third in the PCQHRA Breeders Derby and was sixth in last year’s Golden State Million Futurity. Francisco Rubio rode the gelding for trainer Cody Joiner. Scatmandu, Fires Blazin, Lavish Susan, Blistering Speed, Henoshersecret and Bingo completed the field.