Favorite Azul Leon finished a half-length back in second in the Grade III event — a major stepping-stone to the CashCall Futurity here Dec. 20. Ventana and Arashi Cat were another half-length back in a dead heat for third while second choice Backbackbackgone finished fifth and Congor Bay sixth.
Jack o’ Lantern, the longest price in the field of six 2-year-olds at 19-1, helped set up a Pick Six carryover of $128,073 while covering seven furlongs in 1:21.89 on Cushion Track. The win mutuel matched the race high returned by First Norman in 1984.
“I was diagnosed about seven months ago — I was misdiagnosed for about a year,” Matlow said. “I’ve got a bad foot and my hands are not good, but other than that, I’m not bad. I still come to the barn every day. This is probably one of my biggest wins, first graded stake. I had placed before.
“I liked this horse because he was a big lanky horse,” Matlow added. “He had a good walk on him and he had good dimension. Those other horses are seasoned horses and I just took a shot because he’s eligible. I knew this horse was going to route, so I figured to take a shot and maybe get part of it.”
Jack o’ Lantern, a $10,500 purchase, won for the second time in three starts. The winner’s share of $63,700 boosted his earnings to $82,440.
"I had a great trip,” Enriquez said. “I thought (Rafael) Bejarano had the horse to beat (Backbackbackgone) because he was the speed of the race. I just let him get the lead and show me the way. Into the lane I saw that he was pushing out the horse outside of him and there was a chance to get to the hole before he came in. Fortunately I had a lot of horse and when I asked him he really fired. I'm so happy to win this race for Richard Matlow. He's been supporting me all my life and I really appreciate it."
Azul Leon closed well in the middle of the track under Garrett Gomez, but was not a serious threat to Jack o’ Lantern.
"My horse really wasn't relaxing like I wanted him to do,” Gomez said. “He was wanting to do too much early. I was comfortable with the spot I was in, it was just the way he was doing it. He's got some talent to him and I like him a lot. He's got some bright things in his future."
Jack o’ Lantern paid $41.80, $12 and $5.80. Azul Leon returned $3.20 and $2.60, while the show payoff on Arashi Cat was $3.