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2016 Del Mar Debutante

horse racing
Martin Garcia celebrates aboard Union Strike after winning the 2016 Del Mar Debutante
Date: 09/03/2016

The $300,000 Del Mar Debutante Stakes (G1) on Saturday features the top 2-year-old fillies on the west coast sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. Conditions were typical for the end of the Del Mar summer meeting, with clear skies and temperatures in the high 60's. As expected American Cleopatra, full sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 7 off her debut win on July 31. In to challenge her included 3-1 second choice Champagne Room, winner of the Sorrento (G2), and 4-1 third choide Noted and Quoted, winner of a maiden by 9 1/2 lengths in her second start.
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Union Strike leads in the stretch

Jockey Victor Espinoza sent 13-2 Morganite to the lead exiting the chute and she set fractions of 22.16 and 45.25 while pressed by American Cleopatra and stalked by Champagne Room. On the turn, American Cleopatra moved up to take the lead, clocking 3/4 in 1:10.13. However, 15-2 Union Strike, 4th early, came out 3 wide for room and rallied past American Cleopatra inside the 1/8 pole to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:23.22 over the fast main track. It was a nose back to Champagne Room third.
horse racing
Pgm  Horse               Jockey        Win  Place  Show
 7   Union Strike        Garcia        17.40   7.80  4.40
 3   American Cleopatra  Bejarano              3.60  2.60
 4   Champagne Room      Gutierrez                   2.40

Winning Time:  1:23.22

$1 Exacta 7-3                26.00
$2 Quinella 3-7              23.00
$1 Trifecta 7-3-4           137.10
$1 Superfecta 7-3-4-5       318.70
Results Chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Union Strike in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Shelbe Ruis, celebrating her first Del Mar stakes win said, "She's a nice filly and everything went pretty smooth getting her ready for this race. Her only issue was the gate. She broke slowly in her first race, but we worked on it and she broke good this time. She gets a little nervous in there, but I think the outside post this time really helped, too. We always thought she would turn out to be a really nice horse and she has so far. We didn't have any worries going up against those other horses. They had all the pressure. We were the longshot, but we knew what we had so we were really excited."

Right: Union Strike in the paddock. Winning jockey Martin Garcia said, "No special instructions for me today; they just said 'Keep her happy.' I've worked this filly the last few times and I broke her out of the gate one time (Aug. 22). Something wasn't quite right. The gateman (assistant starter) suggested we try a different bit on her. The one they were using was too strong. So they made the change and it's made a big difference. She was a runner today. And I think the farther they go, the better she's going to be."

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Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite American Cleopatra in the paddock. Jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "No excuses. She ran her race."

Right: Third place finisher Champagne Room in the paddock. Jockey Mario Gutierrez said, "Today just wasn't her best day."


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Bowies Hero wins the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes
horse racing
The $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes featured a field of 13 two-year-olds going 1 mile around 2 turns of the Jimmy Durante turf course. Big Score was the 5-2 favorite over 4-1 Billy Big and 9-2 Saldamente.

42-1 Exotic Ghost dueled for the lead with 13-1 Farley through fractions of 22.51, 46.95, and 1:11.91 over the firm going, while stalked by Saldamente. Entering the stretch the pacesetters tired, as 19-4 fourth choice Bowies Hero, 7th early, came out 4 wide for room and took over the lead through 7/8 in 1:24.49. Kept to task by Rafael Bejarano, Bowies Hero held off late-running favorite Big Score by a length in 1:36.40. It was a long 6 1/4 lengths back to Billy Big third.

Results Chart

Winning jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "The race came up just the way I hoped. I loved my position. On the turn, I swung him out and asked him and he responded. Really good run for him. I heard Big Score coming after me, but my horse still had something left. I asked him for more and he gave it to me."

Trainer Phil D'Amato added, "I thought there would be a lot of speed in the race and I told Raf to ride him like he was the best horse. He trains like an old horse and does everything right, so I had a lot of confidence. He had him nicely in mid pack and pulled the trigger at the right time. We'll take him on to Santa Anita for the Zuma Beach."


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Twelve local jockeys competed in the TVG Hippity Hop Derby in support of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Jockeys sat on large bouncy balls over a short distance of Del Mar's stretch, with Hall of Famers Gary Stevens and Mike Smith serving as placing judges. Joe Talamo, who had the far outside post, found his rhythm to win going away over Tyler Baze, Victor Espinoza, and a dead-heat for fourth between meet-leading riders Flavien Prat and Rafael Bejarano. Completing the field were Kent Desormeaux, Mario Gutierrez, Abel Lezcano, Fenando Perez, Chantal Sutherland, Austin Solis and Jamie Theriot. Talamo wore the silks of Little Red Feather Racing which sponsored him in the race. The event raised $42,500 from sponsors alone, while fans were invited to donate to the Fund in the name of their favorite rider.

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