Danny California opens Belmont fall meet with first stakes win

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Danny California goes all the way on the lead to win Friday’s Miner’s Mark at Belmont. NYRA Photo.

By Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Danny California became the first stakes winner of Belmont Park’s Fall Championship Meet Friday with a convincing win in the $77,600 Miner’s Mark Stakes going 12 furlongs on the dirt.

Danny California broke well, immediately took the lead and never saw another horse in front of him. He set an easy pace, stopping the clock in :52.40 for the first half with only Petit Fils and You’re To Blame putting any pressure on him at any point.

Clocking a mile in 1:41.98, Danny California felt pressure down the stretch as You’re To Blame stuck by his side until the final sixteenth until he started to give way. Danny California galloped strong to the finish to win by 1 3/4 lengths in 2:33.01. You’re To Blame was the only one within 14 lengths of the winner at the finish.

Trained by Orlando Noda, Danny California won his third straight and improved to 7-for-29 starts and $324,719 in earnings.

“I wanted to warm up my horse real good because on paper, it didn’t look like there was much speed,” winning jockey Manny Franco said. “My plan was to make the lead and see what the horse could do. He enjoyed it. He was nice and comfortable and he was there for me the whole way. When [You’re to Blame] got close to me, my horse responded and I knew it was going to be hard to get to me. My horse fought hard all the way to the line.”

Danny California was making his stakes debut in the Miner’s Mark, finding his best stride in the past year with six of his seven career victories coming since last September and only one finish worse than fourth in 2020.

Bred by West Point Thoroughbreds and 3C Thoroughbreds, the 5-year-old Afleet Alex gelding is one of two winners for his stakes placed dam Cinco de Mayo Mio. Winning three of 12 starts for West Point Thoroughbreds, all four of Cinco de Mayo Mio foals have been New York-breds.

The mare’s youngest is an unnamed 2018 filly by Gio Pointi, who has followed her siblings’ lead by never going through a sales ring.

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