Village News Reporter
Go Joe Won, who trains at the San Luis Rey Training Center, won the fourth race Aug. 4 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
The 3-year-old ridgling had a winning time of 1:37.58 in the one-mile dirt race for horses 3 years old and upward with no previous wins. Go Joe Won finished a head in front of second-place Hero Status.
"The race was a good one," said trainer Paula Capestro.
Capestro expressed her appreciation to owner Eric Hurst, who is based in Ohio, for allowing her to train Go Joe Won. Capestro also thanked breeder International Equities Holding, Inc. Go Joe Won was sired by Protonico, who also sired 2021 Kentucky Derby horse Media Spirit.
"Maybe that fire, the fire in Medina Spirit, is helping and coming through," Capestro said.
Behavioral Finance is Go Joe Won's dam. Go Joe Won was foaled in Kentucky on March 12, 2019.
A 6 1/2-furlong dirt competition March 26 at Santa Anita Park was Go Joe Won's first race. He finished fifth, 12 3/4 lengths behind winner High Connection.
Capestro and Hurst suspected that Go Joe Won is more of an endurance horse than a sprinter, so he was entered in a 1 1/16-mile dirt race April 17 at Santa Anita. He finished second, half a length behind Got Thunder, and led for most of the race before being overtaken just before the start of the stretch.
Go Joe Won also led most of the one-mile dirt race May 14 at Santa Anita before finishing third, 4 3/4 lengths behind winner Troubadour. "He got too nervous in the beginning of the race," Capestro said.
The Aug. 4 race was the fourth of Go Joe Won's career, and Capestro felt that eliminating the nervousness would be the difference. "That was the important thing, to keep him relaxed, and that worked out real well," she said.
Capestro's pre-race instructions to jockey Jose Valdivia, who has been Go Joe Won's jockey for all four of the horse's races, focused on avoiding the hazards of having the inside post position. "The most important thing for us that day was to stay off the rail," Capestro said.
Finishing strong rather than starting strong usually takes precedence, but a fast start would avoid Go Joe Won being boxed in at the rail. "He doesn't have to have the lead. He just had to have the lead that day because we were in the one hole," Capestro said.
Go Joe Won broke third with Hero Strike breaking first and Donner Lake being the second horse out of the gate.
"Jose rode good. We were in the one hole, so we had to go," Capestro said. "He got to the front and the rest is history."
Hero Status and jockey Edwin Maldonado dropped back. Go Joe Won led second place Palagio by a half a length after the first quarter of a mile, which took Go Joe Won 22.85 seconds.
Palagio stayed in second place before being overtaken by Hero Status prior to the start of the stretch. Go Joe Won covered the first half-mile in 47.04 seconds and the first three-quarters of a mile in 1.11.97 and had half-length leads over Palagio at both poles. Go Joe Won entered the stretch 1:24.86 after the start of the race and had a half-length lead over Hero Status.
"He likes it up there," Capestro said.
Capestro believes Go Joe Won was aware of the horses just behind him. "When it started to come close, he'd open it up a little bit more," Capestro said.
"He's a smart horse," Capestro said. "He's just immature. He's just learning."
Physically Go Joe Won had no trouble winning a one-mile race. "He came out of it great," Capestro said. "When he came back, he wasn't tired. We have to keep him relaxed and subtle before he runs."
Now that Go Joe Won is no longer eligible for maiden races, Capestro and Hurst will need to find another race whose distance, surface, and conditions will allow Go Joe Won to compete. "We'll just rest him a little bit, 30 days or whatever, and we'll see if there's another race for him at Del Mar," Capestro said.
(The Del Mar meet concludes Sept. 11.)
This year Del Mar has a 25% purse bonus for maiden races on the dirt. That bonus gave Go Joe Won $60,000 of earnings for his first-place finish.
"He's a nice horse and he's developing, so I anticipate him getting better each time," Capestro said.