Horse Racing

California Angel Gives Trainer George Leonard First Graded Victory In Jessamine

California Angel (white blinkers) wins the Jessamine Stakes (G2) at Keeneland on 10.13.21. Rafael Bejarano up, George Leonard III trainer, Chris Walsh owner.

California Angel is going to California.

So said trainer George Leonard III after Chris Walsh’s daughter of California Chrome rallied from far back to post a head victory over Diamond Wow in the 31st running of the $200,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) for 2-year-old fillies Wednesday afternoon at Keeneland.

With the victory, California Angel earned a fees-paid berth into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be run Nov. 5 at Del Mar. The JPMorgan Chase Jessamine was the 10th and final Breeders’ Cup Challenge race offered by Keeneland to start the 17-day Fall Meet.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, California Angel covered the 1 1/16 miles on a turf course labeled as good in 1:44.30.

California Angel was Leonard’s first starter in a graded stakes. She netted Bejarano his 19th Keeneland stakes win and first here since Oct. 8, 2010, aboard Wickedly Perfect in the Darley Alcibiades (G1).

Favored Turnerloose quickly bounded out for the lead in the field of 13 as California Angel raced near the rear of the field. With Florent Geroux aboard, Turnerloose maintained a daylight advantage until upper stretch when Diamond Wow applied pressure.

At the head of the lane, California Angel had one horse beat as Bejarano swung her eight wide for a clear run at the field. She was still 5 lengths back at the eighth pole and got up in the final yards to ease by Diamond Wow and Turnerloose.

Now 2-for-2 on the turf, California Angel is a Kentucky-bred daughter of California Chrome out of the Tiz Wonderful mare Sea Mona. California Angel increased her career earnings to $213,700 with Wednesday’s $120,000 check.

California Angel returned $37.60, $14 and $5.60. Diamond Wow, ridden by Mike Smith, returned $10 and $5.40 and finished a neck in front of Turnerloose, who paid $2.60 to show.

It was another length back to Dressed, who was followed in order by Opalina, Roughly a Diamond, Misthaven (IRE), Kneesnhips, Bhoma, Queen Judith, Rigby, Boxing Day and Ontheonesandtwos.

Racing continues Thursday with a 10-race program beginning at 1 p.m. ET.


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