Pat Valenzuela and Chester's Choice just edge out Julie Krone and Woke Up Dreamin at the wire.
The two three-year-olds and their riders hooked up from the start of the mile and one-sixteenth race and dueled head-to-head to the top of the stretch where Krone and Woke Up Dreamin took command, seemingly on the way to victory. However, a determined Valenzuela then guided Chester's Choice to the outside and received a final burst of energy to wear down a tiring Woke Up Dreamin in the last yards for the exciting photo finish triumph.
With early fractional times exceptionally fast for the distance - :22.1 for the opening quarter, :44.53 for the half-mile and 1:09.81 for the six furlongs - the pace slowed as both horses shortened stride through the stretch from their pitched battle. Time for the mile was 1:38.48 en route to a final clocking of 1:46.26 for the distance.
Chester's Choice, owned by Robert Rupert and trained by Summer Mayberry, paid $3.60 as the 4-5 second choice to 1-2 favored Woke Up Dreamin, owned by Mike Pegram and conditioned by Bob Baffert. The winner, a son of Afternoon Deelites, earned $35,000 from the purse of $50,000 with his second win in 11 career starts.
The victory was Patrick Valenzuela's 48th at the meeting, putting him two winners ahead of Julie Krone in the riding title chase.
Patrick Valenzuela said, "My main concern was getting my horse to finish. Summer (trainer Summer Mayberry) did a marvelous job getting him ready to do this. He'd been going long and today he had to run six furlongs in 1:09 and then keep right on going. I thought he would have more stamina today. He was game, too. I had to work real hard that last part to get there, but I was fit enough for it, too. Julie (Krone) has been the golden girl here this summer. She won on Candy Ride (Pacific Classic) and she's shown everyone she's a tremendous rider. The crowd was behind her. At the end, I knew I'd won and pulling up I told her: 'Congratulations on a great race.'
Julie Krone said, "At the sixteenth pole I could hear Pat (Patrick Valenzuela) grunting and pushing. I knew it was going to be close. The crowd was roaring. I was asking my horse for all he had left and he was trying. He was so leg weary, but he was trying. It sure was exciting for the fans." She continued, "Bob (trainer Bob Baffert) said to say if I got beat that it was the training that did it. So I'm going to blame Bob." About during the race, "No, there was no talking out there. We both had our game faces on. Turning for home I threw a cross on him and thought I might get there. But they got us. That was some race."
From a Del Mar press release.
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