Stilleto Boy Gets His Grade I in Big 'Cap

Stilleto Boy (middle) bests Proxy (outside) and Defunded (inside) | Benoit

Stilleto Boy (Shackleford), so often a major player in graded races but seldom a winner, finally got the big one, winning the GI Santa Anita H. Saturday at the Great Race Place. He was third in last year's Big 'Cap, had filled out the trifecta in both the 2022 and 2023 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S., and had placed in another two Grade I races. Saturday was his day to shine, as he wore down pacesetting favorite and GISW Defunded (Dialed In)–whom he finished one slot behind in the Pegasus–and held off GISW Proxy (Tapit) to post a 13-1 upset.

Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux was aboard the winner, giving him his first win in the race since 2002, when he won with Milwaukee Brew (Wild Again). He also scored in 1992 with Best Pal (Habitony {Ire}). Juan Hernandez–on third-place finisher Defunded–wasn't even born when Desormeaux won his first Santa Anita H.

At the break, Stilleto Boy flashed his speed to take the lead, but promptly surrendered to a determined Defunded before the :23.34 first quarter. Stablemates Defunded and Hopper (Declaration of War) slugged it out up top through a :46.16 half while the blaze-faced winner patiently kept to the inside behind the top two. Although shuffled back a bit between horses as the six furlongs unfolded in 1:10.72, Stilleto Boy was moving well and was clearly still aiming to factor at the mile marker. The 5-year-old gelding swung wide and kept grinding down the lane, steadily making progress on the frontrunners as Desormeaux kept busy. A final surge propelled Stilleto Boy to the wire just in time with Proxy missing by a mere neck and Defunded just another half-length in arrears. The final time was 2:01.96.

“I've been telling everyone that he is the best horse in racing,” said winning trainer Ed Moger, Jr. “I really think he is the best horse, the race in the Pegasus was a really strong race and we had him go out of the 11 hole that day. Defunded barely beat us that day, so I knew we could beat him because we had beaten him before; I thought he was the horse to beat. I thought [my horse] could win, and he's been training great.”

Acquired for $420,000 at the Fasig-Tipton July Selected Horses of Racing Age sale in 2021 off a win in the Iowa Derby while under the tutelage of Doug Anderson, the chestnut has run exclusively in stakes company since his purchase by the Moger brothers. Steve owns; Ed trains. Stilleto Boy has given them only two wins since then, but they've been substantial. In addition to Saturday's Big 'Cap, he also won the GII Californian S. last April with a 108 Beyer Speed Figure. He's placed in another seven graded races for the Mogers and more than repaid his sales price, earning nearly $1.5 million since his purchase.

Pedigree Notes:

Stilleto Boy is one of eight graded winners for the charismatic 2011 GI Preakness S. winner Shackleford, who also is the sire of 23 black-type winners. A flashy chestnut like his son, Shackleford first stood at Darby Dan Farm in Central Kentucky before being sold just before the 2020 breeding season to continue his career in South Korea. Interestingly, Shackleford's two Grade I winners–Stilleto Boy and Promises Fulfilled–are both out of Marquetry mares. Marquetry, another flashy chestnut with plenty of chrome, died at age 26 in 2013 after being pensioned to Old Friends. Marquetry has 50 stakes winners out of his daughters.

Dam Rosie's Ransom, whose last reported foal is the now-juvenile colt Irish Ransom (Gormley), has produced three stakes performers, but Stilleto Boy is heads and shoulders above the rest. He is the first-ever graded winner produced in his immediate female family, although a very distant relation is 1972 champion older mare Typecast (Prince John).

Saturday, Santa Anita
SANTA ANITA H. PRESENTED BY YAAMAVA' RESORT & CASINO-GI, $502,000, Santa Anita, 3-4, 4yo/up, 1 1/4m, 2:01.96, ft.
1–STILLETO BOY, 122, g, 5, by Shackleford
               1st Dam: Rosie's Ransom, by Marquetry
                2nd Dam: Gold Ransom, by Red Ransom
                3rd Dam: Flaming Gold, by Storm Bird
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($420,000 3yo '21 FTKHRA). O-Steve
Moger; B-John & Iveta Kerber (KY); T-Ed Moger, Jr.; J-Kent J.
Desormeaux. $300,000. Lifetime Record: 21-4-4-8,
$1,711,675. *1/2 to Rosie My Rosie (Purge), SW, $342,483.
Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the
free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Proxy, 123, h, 5, Tapit–Panty Raid, by Include. O/B-Godolphin
(KY); T-Michael Stidham. $100,000.
3–Defunded, 125, g, 5, Dialed In–Wind Caper, by Touch Gold.
($210,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Michael E. Pegram, Karl Watson
and Paul Weitman; B-Athens Woods LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert.
Margins: NK, HF, 1HF. Odds: 13.90, 3.20, 1.30.
Also Ran: Hopper, There Goes Harvard, Tisquantum, Newgrange, Warrant, Heywoods Beach. Scratched: Parnelli, Scarlet Fusion.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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