Veteran jockey Felipe Martinez picked up his first stakes victory at Hollywood Park when Whilly, the 3-1 third choice, won the $63,325 Bien Bien on Saturday.
Earning his first win in the U.S. in his third start since arriving from Italy, the 3-year-old Sri Pekan colt won by 1 1/4 lengths over 3-1 second choice and stablemate Perfect Moon. Giving trainer Doug O’Neill the exacta in the ungraded race, Whilly ran the mile on turf in 1:36.23. It was Martinez’s first stakes victory since he won the 1995 Crystal Water Handicap at Santa Anita with 34-1 longshot Kicken It.
“This feels good, real good,” said Martinez, who won a race earlier on the card with Shanghai Joe.
“When I rode this horse in the Oak Tree Derby [an eighth-place finish Oct. 17], I wasn’t supposed to be on the lead. I let him break that day, and when I realized I was on the lead, it was kind of too late for me to do anything else.
“I knew the colt this time. I learned to take a hold right away. That helped a lot. The plan today was to come from off the pace.”
Making his turf debut, Perfect Moon tracked pacesetter Wild Babe for most of the way, took the lead into the stretch but couldn’t hold off the winner. He finished a neck in front of We All Love Aleyna, then came Wild Babe and Top Of The Bill, the 9-5 favorite who finished 15 1/2 lengths behind Whilly in a less-than-auspicious U.S. debut for Maktoum al Maktoum and trainer Neil Drysdale.
“Both horses ran great,” said O’Neill, who won three races Friday night. “It looks like Perfect Moon is much better on the dirt. He doesn’t have that turn of foot you need for the turf. We’re real proud of him, but I’m pretty sure we won’t run him on turf again.
“Whilly ran dynamite. We’ll run him in the [$500,000] Hollywood Derby [Nov. 28]. That’s definitely a target for him if he comes out of this race well.”
Eleusis won for the sixth time in seven starts, beating 16-1 shot Literacy and five others by 2 1/4 lengths in the $150,000 Long Island Handicap at Belmont Park.
Making her U.S. debut for owner Gary Tanaka and trainer Jean-Claude Rouget, the 3-year-old Diesis filly completed the 1 1/2 miles over a good turf course in 2:31.51. She was ridden by Jose Santos. Arvada, the 13-10 favorite, finished third, half a length behind Literacy.
“This is the continuation of a progression,” Rouget said. “Mr. Tanaka bought the filly with this race in mind. She’ll go back to France now.
“This was a bit of a new experience for her, but she handled the track well and got a good ride. She could be a very good mare next year.”
A race later, Personal Legend, a 7-2 shot, earned her first main track victory when she beat 7-1 outsider Roar Emotion by half a length to win the $110,700 Turnback The Alarm Handicap.
Jerry Bailey rode the 4-year-old Awesome Again filly for owner Ed Gann and trainer Bobby Frankel. In winning for the fifth time in 17 starts, she ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.27. Capeside Lady, the 5-2 favorite, was fourth after setting the pace for six furlongs.
“It was hard to change her, but I figured she was getting a little more one-paced,” Frankel said. “She was losing her turn of foot, so I decided to put her back on the dirt. I was going to send her to Churchill to run on the turf, but [assistant trainer] Jose [Cuevas] told me to run her here.”
Congressionalhonor, a 9-1 shot, came from well off the pace to win the $100,000 Bay Meadows Derby.
Russell Baze rode the 3-year-old Forestry colt for a partnership that includes Rancho San Miguel and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. He ran the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:48.92.
Jorge Campos, the former goalkeeper of the Mexican national team, will be at Hollywood Park for a one-hour autograph session this afternoon. Campos will sign autographs between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. near the paddock tote board instead of between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., as previously scheduled.