Kentucky-bred Stilleto Boy, a well-beaten third in the 2022 renewal of the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap (G1), avenged last year’s defeat with a game victory in the 86th running of the Big ‘Cap on Saturday, March 4.

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Stilleto Boy broke sharply in the 1 ¼-mile event and relaxed into a nice rhythm while racing a close fourth against the rail. Moved off the inside by Desormeaux for the stretch run, Stilleto Boy overhauled race favorite Defunded and held at bay a late rally from midwestern shipper Proxy to narrowly prevail in a thrilling finish. Stilleto Boy covered the distance in 2:01.96 for trainer Ed Moger.

Owned by the trainer’s brother, Steve Moger, Stilleto Boy finished third in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. (G1) at Gulfstream Park in his previous outing. By Shackleford and out of the Marquetry mare Rosie’s Ransom, Stilleto Boy collected the $300,000 winner’s share of the Big ‘Cap purse, increasing his career bankroll to $1,711,675. Stilleto Boy, whose only other prior graded stakes victory came in the 2022 Californian S. (G2) at Santa Anita, was bred in Kentucky by John and Ivela Kerber.

“I’ve been telling everyone that he is the best horse in racing,” said Ed Moger. “I really think he is the best horse. The race in the Pegasus was a really strong race and we had him go out of the 11-horse that day. Defunded barely beat us that day, so I knew we could beat him because we had beaten him before. I thought he was the horse to beat. I thought he could win, and he’s been training great.

“I love the horse,” Moger added. “It is a great race to win in California. It’s been a famous race for a long time, and it feels great to win it. There was no Flightline today, no Knicks Go, or Life Is Good, so here we are. It was a perfect ride.”