June 12, 2024

Anisette determined in Gamely; Johannes confirms potential in Shoemaker Mile

Anisette (outside) edged Olivia Maralda in the Gamely (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

Jockey Umberto Rispoli swept both Grade 1s on the Santa Anita turf on Monday, masterminding similarly well-judged trips aboard Anisette in the $301,500 Gamely (G1) and Johannes in the $303,000 Shoemaker Mile (G1).

Gamely (G1)

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Anisette, last seen landing the Dec. 26 American Oaks (G1), picked up right where she left off in the Gamely. But the Leonard Powell filly was returning to action as the 126-pound highweight, going 1 1/8 miles, in a race that had the potential to set up adversely for her.

Those scruples left Anisette as the 2.80-1 second choice, with bettors envisioning that the 2.70-1 Ruby Nell might have things her own way up front. While the favorite did get her way, she did so in counterproductive fashion by failing to relax.

After an initial quarter in :24.09, Ruby Nell grew headstrong down the backstretch and opened up through the half in :47.57. Her lead began to shrink at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.69, and she was a spent force by the time she reached the mile in 1:35.40.

Ground-saving stalker Olivia Maralda exploited a seam, but the well-placed Anisette was already covering her move wider out. When Olivia Maralda proved to be a stubborn foe, Anisette did enough to secure the victory by a half-length in 1:46.90.

Forever After and Nadette rallied for third and fourth, respectively. Linda’s Gift, forward in the chasing group early, was outkicked in fifth. Ruby Nell, Justique, and Uncorked concluded the order of finish, and Yerwanthere was scratched.

“When I passed the leaders ahead and took off, she got in front and started to wait for the other horses,” Rispoli said of Anisette. “I said,’ No, you don’t do that today’. When she felt that other filly (Olivia Maralda) come aside to her, she just kept on going. I think it was a great effort…

“I had to ride her like she was the best filly in the race. I had a dream trip.”

“I was very happy with the first part of the race,” Powell said of Anisette’s early position in fourth. “I got a bit worried when Ruby Nell got the separation with the field, but I was very happy that the field caught up with Ruby Nell early. I could see that Umberto was biding his time and he had a lot of confidence in her, and she got the job done. At the quarter pole I thought if she makes it, she is a champion.”

Anisette’s fourth stakes title advanced her record to 10-6-3-0, $786,866. Sourced by Eclipse after she flashed talent on the British all-weather, the import turned the San Clemente (G2)/Del Mar Oaks (G1) double last summer. Anisette took on her elders in the Rodeo Drive (G1), where she was best of the rest behind Didia. Connections opted to revert to sophomore company rather than attempting the Breeders’ Cup, and their realism was rewarded in the American Oaks.

But the Filly & Mare Turf (G1) would be worth pursuing for the four-year-old model of Anisette.

Shoemaker Mile (G1)

CUYATHY’s homebred Johannes might have proven himself among the top turf sophomores last year, if he hadn’t been sidelined for the second half. The Tim Yakteen pupil is making up for lost time now, following up his comeback win in the April 4 American (G3) with a victorious Grade 1 debut in the Shoemaker Mile.

Johannes will enter the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) discussion if he holds his form into the fall.

Like Anisette, Johannes launched his winning bid from a good spot. Rispoli had the 2.20-1 chance reserved in fifth, not too close to the frenetic pace, but within striking distance to beat 2.10-1 favorite Du Jour to the punch.

The tempo figured to be robust, and Funtastic Again obliged by reeling off an opening quarter in :22.28. Speedball Goliad then took up the baton through splits of :45.50 and 1:09.20, only to wilt leaving the far turn.

Funtastic Again immediately reasserted himself, but Johannes was poised to tackle him at the top of the lane. Still, even after Johannes was a half-length up, Funtastic Again refused to quit. In a valiant performance under Frankie Dettori, he kept the margin tight all the way to the wire in 1:33.00.

“That’s exactly what he (Johannes) did last time,” Rispoli said. “He was waiting for horses.

“Frankie wouldn’t let me go,” he added, making a wisecrack about the “apprentice” Dettori. “That was fantastic. I beat my idol, I have so much respect for Frankie. Having my second Gamely and Shoemaker Mile on the same day is just a dream come true.”

Du Jour swooped too late in third. There Goes Harvard, making his first start in more than 15 months, held fourth by a head from the rallying Irideo. Next came the belated Easter, War at Sea, Air Force Red, Dominican Pioneer, Conclude, and Goliad.

Johannes is perfect on the turf at Santa Anita, with a maiden romp and wins in last year’s Baffle S. and Pasadena S. His only career loss on the grass was a troubled fifth in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs on 2023 Kentucky Derby Day, after which he was shelved. His overall scorecard stands at 9-5-0-1, $423,859.

“He is very mature, even though he dropped me behind the gate today,” Rispoli revealed. “I took out the ear plugs and he bucked me off, but he is very good horse. We always believed in him.

“Tim and the owners were very patient to give him a long break, and the horse came back stronger than ever. He is a fantastic and good horse. That’s the type of horse you want to ride.”

The Kentucky-bred is a son of Nyquist and the stakes-placed Congrats mare Cuyathy. His owner/breeders go by the same name. As track announcer Frank Mirahmadi said, CUYATHY is an acronym for “Count upon your angels to help you.”