Jonathan Wong has made a noteworthy impact on California racing in a relatively short period of time.
He began his career as a groom at 16, working for Art (California Chrome) Sherman and Lonnie (early Lava Man) Arterburn. Currently Wong is the runaway training leader at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, ahead of runner-up Isidro Tamaya by twice as many wins, 65-32, with more than twice as much in purse earnings, $976,526 to $460,780.
A 31-year-old native of San Francisco, Wong went on his own as a trainer in late 2014. He hopes to continue on the road to gold and glory at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., with upstart Keeper Ofthe Stars in Monday's Grade 1, $300,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at a mile and an eighth on turf.
A 4-year-old gray daughter of Midnight Lute owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, Keeper Ofthe Stars registered a major upset last out going a mile on Feb. 22, closing resolutely despite being three wide to capture the G2 Buena Vista Stakes at 36-1 under Abel Cedillo, who rides her for the seventh time in her last eight races on Monday.
“She's training really well,” Wong said by phone from his Bay Area base. Kristin Mulhall will saddle Keeper Ofthe Stars in the Gamely. “The filly is very versatile,” Wong added. “Whatever comes up she can handle.
“Abel knows her well so he doesn't need much in the way of instructions, just play the break. If she gets an easy lead, let her go. If not, just be outside and stay close like he did in the Buena Vista.”
Victory in the Gamely would give Wong his first success in a Grade 1 stakes.
The Gamely, race 11: Etoile, Joel Rosario, 5-2; Ollie's Candy, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; Lady Prancealot, John Velazquez, 6-1; Giza Goddess, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Mucho Unusual, Umberto Rispoli, 8-1; Simply Breathless, Jorge Velez, 8-1; Beautiful Lover, Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1; Tiny Tina, Mike Smith, 15-1; Siberian Iris, Jose Valdivia Jr., 15-1; Bodhicitta, Flavien Prat, 12-1; and Keeper Ofthe Stars, Abel Cedillo, 8-1.
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