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Martin Garcia celebrates aboard Union Strike after winning the 2016 Del Mar Debutante
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.
Union Strike leads in the stretch
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 7-3-4-5 318.70Results Chart
Left: 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."
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."
Bowies Hero wins the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes
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.
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."