Gary and Cecil Barber's Stoney Fleece took the lead from rival Handsome Mike at the sixteenth-pole and held on to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Generous Stakes at Hollywood on Sunday by a 1 1/4-length margin. With jockey Joel Rosario aboard, the John Sadler trainee went a mile over the firm turf in 1:34 3/5 to earn his first career stakes victory.
Longshot Motown Men was pressed by Handsome Mike through splits of :22 2/5 and :45, then succumbed through six furlongs in 1:09 2/5. Once Handsome Mike took over, he inched clear into the stretch and held a 1 1/2-length margin at the eighth-pole. But Stoney Fleece was able to rally late to grab the victory, as the nearly 9-1 fourth choice. The two-year-old colt returned $19.60, $6 and $3.20.
"It was a perfect trip," Rosario said. "You couldn't ask for anything better. I was just taking my time and hoped he had something when I asked him. He really likes the turf. He won his only other turf start when I rode him one race back. I thought there would be enough speed in here, but you never know until the gate opens. But it worked out perfect today."
Handsome Mike held on for second, and even-money favorite Battle Force was third. Motown Men finished fourth with Devil in Disguise, Blue White Fire, Major Magic and Got Even rounding out the order of finish. Senor Rain was pulled up after bolting on the clubhouse turn and did not finish.
Sadler claimed Stoney Fleece for $40,000 out of his debut maiden win at Del Mar in July. In his first start for new connections, the bay captured a starter allowance in August at the same venue, and suffered his first loss when fifth in the I'm Smokin' S. in September. Stoney Fleece regained the winning thread when switched to turf and stretched out to two turns for an entry-level allowance at Santa Anita. Last time out on dirt, Stoney Fleece finished third in the California Cup Juvenile. His career record now sits at 6-4-0-1, with earnings of $156,680.
Bred in California by Joseph T. Alvarez III, the son of Decarchy brought a mere $1,200 bid earlier this year in the Barretts January Mixed Sale. Stoney Fleece is the youngest of 11 registered foals out of the Deputed Testamony mare Gold Fleece. Herself trained by Sadler, she won the Grade 3 Buena Vista and finished runner-up in the Grade 1 Gamely. Gold Fleece, also the dam of Grade 3 winner Golden Rahy, comes from the family of multiple Grade 2 winner Ball Four and current Grade 2-placed multiple stakes hero Populist Politics.
Sadler revealed that his connection with the dam prompted him to claim Stoney Fleece.
"His mother was very good on grass. I ran her (Gold Fleece) here a mile and an eighth in 1:45 and Toussaud beat her," Sadler said, referring to the 1993 Gamely.
"So I have some familiarity with the family. The other ones (siblings) got sent to other trainers, but when this one was in for a tag ($40,000 maiden claiming), it was like an old friend/family thing.
"I really claimed him for grass and he's two-for-two on turf. He's a nice hard-knocking horse. He won the starter (allowance) right away and he's never run a bad race. I wasn't surprised he was in for a tag because he's small. You know, you take a chance.
"Gary (owner Barber) is at the San Diego Chargers game. His phone wasn't working, so he called me from another phone and I gave him the call of the race and he's really excited.
"I'd like to keep him on turf, but I won't rule out some of the California-bred stakes coming up."