FAVORED TEXAS WEDGE RALLIES TO WIN GRADE II, $200,000 JOE HERNANDEZ STAKES BY THREE QUARTERS OF A LENGTH AS MILLER & PRAT TEAM FOR 5 ½ FURLONG TURF SCORE IN 1:02.47
ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2020)–A handful early, favored Texas Wedge rallied from of the pace to take Wednesday’s Grade II, $200,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes by three quarters of a length under Flavien Prat. Trained by Peter Miller, the 5-year-old Colonel John gelding returned from an extended stay in Kentucky to get 5 ½ furlongs on turf in 1:02.47.
Breaking alertly from post position four in a field of 10 older horses, Texas Wedge broke alertly, overcame some jostling up the backside, wheeled three-wide turning for home to overhaul pacesetter Bay Muzik while holding off a late run from Double Touch.
“When turf racing stopped in Kentucky, it was either turn him out or bring him home and we wanted to bring him home,” said Miller, who sent Texas Wedge to make his first Kentucky start at Churchill Downs on June 1. “(Bay Muzik) has a lot of speed and he showed it. My other horse Captain Scotty (who finished fifth), tracked him and I thought for a second he was going to win it…Texas Wedge got jostled around, he broke sharp and we didn’t want him that close. Flavien did a great job as always and got him to settle and made that run.”
Most recently second in a 5 ½ furlong classified allowance on the main track at Churchill Downs Nov. 28, Texas Wedge was off as the 2-1 favorite and paid $6.20, $4.00 and $3.20.
“This is a good way to start off the New Year,” said Prat. “It’s nice to win a race like this for Peter. We broke sharp and he was a little tough with me on the backside, but once I got him covered up, he dropped the bit and relaxed beautifully. He’s a very consistent horse and at this distance, he’s really tough.”
Owned by Altimira Racing Stable, Rafter JR Ranch, LLC, STD Racing Stable and Miller, Texas Wedge notched his first stakes win in the Hernandez and with the winner’s share of $120,000, increased his earnings to $313,530 from an overall mark of 13-5-3-2.
Off at 15-1, English-bred Double Touch, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, was next to last after the first mile and was up to nail Bay Muzik for the place by a head while returning $11.40 and $6.60.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Bay Muzik, who looked as though he might pull off a big upset, stayed gamely late and just missed the place. Off at 27-1, he finished a half length in front of Blitzkrieg and paid $11.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.09, 44.60 and 56.36.
The Joe Hernandez Stakes is named for the original voice of Santa Anita, who called 15,587 consecutive races from the track’s opening on Dec. 25, 1934 until he collapsed while calling a race on Jan. 27, 1972.