San Francisco Chronicle
Stilleto Boy delivers big win for Mogers
Longtime Bay Area trainer Ed Moger Jr. has won 1,939 races in a career that began in 1976, but none as prestigious or rich as the Grade 1, $502,000 Santa Anita Handicap that Stilleto Boy gave him late Saturday afternoon.
“I thought it was great,” the 66-year-old Moger said by phone after he drove Stilleto Boy and two other horses back to Golden Gate Fields in his trailer early Sunday morning. “I was so happy for my brother (Steve); that's all he wants to do. For several years he's been buying horses just wanting to run in the big races. Just to be in the event. Not only did he get in, but he won it.”
Steve Moger bought Stilleto Boy for $420,000 after the gelding won the Iowa Derby on July 2, 2021, for his second victory in seven starts.
Saturday's win was his second in 14 starts since the sale, but he has earned $1,462,000 in that time. That's because Stilleto Boy has run competitively in some of America's richest races — twice third in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup and fifth in the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic. He's finished worse than third only four times for the Mogers, and he won the Grade 2 Californian Stakes.
While Ed Moger Jr. is not one to tout his horses, he went into the Santa Anita Handicap very confident.
“After we turned him out last summer, he came back better but not quite where you wanted him to be,” Moger said. “Now he is almost like the picture
of health. He looks the best he's ever looked. It was one of the easier races he's been in. You look at the lineups that have beaten him in the past — horses like Flightline, Life Is Good, Country Grammer, Knicks Go, Medina Spirit. Here the favorite was Defunded and we'd already beaten him, and there was Proxy and we'd already beaten him. I felt like he'd already proven he was good enough to beat everybody in the field. He was doing the best he's ever done, and it wasn't really that tough of a field for him.”
Still, the victory didn't come easily. After breaking sharply, Stilleto Boy eased just off of the quick pace set by Defunded, who was hounded by stablemate Hopper. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Stilleto Boy advanced from fifth to third in midstretch, then surged to the finish line a neck ahead of an onrushing Proxy, who finished a half-length in front of Defunded.
“I love the horse,” Ed Moger Jr. said in a postrace interview. “It is a great race to win in California, it's been a famous race for a long time, and it feels great to win it.”
The other two horses Moger ran Saturday at Santa Anita were El Camino Real Derby winner Chase the Chaos, who finished seventh in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, and Tarantino, who ran second in an allowance event.