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2016 La Jolla Handicap and Sorrento Stakes

Joe Talamo celebrates aboard Free Rose after winning the 2016 La Jolla Handicap
Date: 08/06/2016

The feature race on Saturday at Del Mar was the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap (G2) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles over the Jimmy Durante turf course. Conditions were excellent with fans enjoying partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70's at the seaside oval. Oceanside Stakes winner Monster Bea was sent off as the 5-2 favorite in the field of 10. In to challenge him included 7-2 second choice Moonlight Drive, second in the Oceanside Stakes, and 9-2 third choice Liam the Charmer, third in the Rainbow Stakes last out.

Free Rose leads down the stretch

Jockey Joe Talamo sent 29-1 Free Rose to the lead first time past the stands and he set fractions of 22.29, 46.59, and 1:10.97 over the firm going while pressed by 25-1 Mr. Roary and stalked by Moonlight Drive. Entering the stretch, Free Rose opened up a 2 length lead through 1 mile in 1:34.64. 7-1 Lucky Bryan, 6th early, put in a strong rally but Free Rose held him off to win by 1/2 a length in 1:40.73. It was another 1/2 length back to Moonlight Drive third, and 1/2 more to favorite Monster Bea fourth.

Pgm  Horse               Jockey        Win   Place  Show
 1   Free Rose         Talamo         59.80  23.00 11.60
 6   Lucky Bryan       Espinoza               7.40  5.20
 3   Moonlight Drive   Prat                         4.00

Winning Time:  1:40.73

$1 Exacta 1-6               212.40
$2 Quinella 1-6             197.40
$1 Trifecta 1-6-3           764.40
$1 Superfecta 1-6-3-8     2,899.90
Results Chart

Left: Free Rose in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Richard Baltas said, "I got the horse late at Santa Anita, so I've had him for almost two months. He looked like a nice horse on the turf (in races at Churchill Downs and Keeneland). I didn't think he could be this kind to begin with, but his last race (July 23) he ran a very good race when third against some tough older horses. Today he controlled the pace and he really gutted it out when he was challenged."

Right: Free Rose in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Joe Talamo said, "First time I ever got on the horse. Scotty (agent McClellan) said he was a last-minute pickup. That's why I can't let him retire. Richie just said ‘Go to the front and try to win.' We were going fast, but his ears were up and he was relaxed. The key to the race was at the 3/8 pole. A horse came up alongside, but then he let us go. My horse took a couple of breaths and then he went. Felt good."

Left: Second place finisher Lucky Bryan in the paddock. Jockey Victor Espinoza said, "Good trip for me and he ran well. I think he likes it better outside, but they had me on the inside today. Still, he was game and he ran well."

Right: Third place finisher Moonlight Drive heads into in the paddock before the race. Jockey Flavien Prat said, "My trip was fine and he ran a good race. He was a little aggressive with me on the backside and I wish I could have gotten him to settle a bit better. But he ran good."

Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Monster Bea in the post parade. Jockey Gary Stevens said, "He ran his race. A good effort. It seems the turf has changed some. Seems like it is favoring speed a bit more. But my horse ran a good one; no doubt."

The undercard feature on Saturday was the $200,000 Sorrento Stakes (G2) for 2-year-old fillies sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track. Champagne Room was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 5 off a second place finish in her debut last out. In to challenge her included 3-2 second choice Miss Southern Miss, a debut winner but second in the Landaluce, and 3-1 third choice Auntjenn, a maiden winner at second asking.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux sent Miss Southern Miss to the lead exiting the chute and she set fractions of 22.63 and 45.00 while pressed by Champagne Room and stalked by Auntjenn. In midstretch Miss Southern Miss still led through 3/4 in 1:09.83, but Champagne Room came out 3 wide and closed late to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:16.35 over the fast track. It was a long 4 1/2 lengths back to Auntjenn third.

Results Chart

Left: Champagne Room in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Peter Eurton said, "We decided to come here (supplemented for $2000) and it was a good decision. I like the way she got away. I like the way she tracked. When she made the move in the middle of the turn, I was confident. She did what she was supposed to do, she ran them down. That was an awesome race."

Right: Champagne Room returns after the race. Winning jockey Mario Gutierrez said, "I had a good trip from the outside. I could see what was going on out there and I waited for my turn (to run). She fired for me. I've been getting on her in the mornings and she's been so sharp, training so well. I knew she'd run big."

Left: Second place finisher Miss Southern Miss in the paddock before the race. Trainer Keith Desormeaux said, "I can see that her stride is not as fluid as it should be. She's so worried about going fast. We can teach her to relax and we'll see the real Miss Southern Miss."

Right: Third place finisher Auntjenn in the paddock. The Kristin Mulhall trainee improved her record to 1 win, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 3 starts, earning $65,160 for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash.

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