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2019 Native Diver Stakes Results

Jockey Victor Espinoza celebrates aboard Midcourt after winning the Native Diver Stakes.
Date: 11/23/2019

The feature race on the third Saturday of Del Mar's Bing Crosby Season was the $100,000 Native Diver Stakes (G3) for older horses going 1 1/8 miles around 2 turns of the main track. Conditions were excellent with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70's at the seaside oval. After 2 scratches, a field of just 4 went to post with Roadster sent off as the 4-5 favorite off 2nd place finishes in the Affirmed (G3) and the Damascus. In to challenge him included 11-4 second choice Midcourt, winner of the Comma to the Top Stakes, 7-2 third choice Two Thirty Five, 2nd in the Comma to the Top after winning the Harry F. Brubaker, and 9-2 longest shot Extra Hope, 3rd in the Damascus.

Midcourt leads in the stretch

Jockey Victor Espinoza sent Midcourt to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.55, 47.61, and 1:11.54 while stalked by Extra Hope with Roadster and Two Thirty Five another 1 1/2 lengths behind. Entering the lane, Midcourt opened up on the rest of the field, with a 3 1/2 length lead midstretch through 1 mile in 1:35.95. Kept to task by Espinoza, Midcourt drew off late to win by 5 3/4 lengths over Extra Hope in 1:48.36. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Two Thirty Five third, and 2 3/4 more to favorite Roadster last.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place   Show
 2   Midcourt           Espinoza      7.60    4.40     -
 5   Extra Hope         Prat                  5.20     - 
 6   Two Thirty Five    Cedillo                        -      

Winning Time:  1:48.36  

$1 Exacta 2-5                  18.40
$2 Quinella 2-5                14.00
$1 Trifecta 2-5-6              32.20
Full results chart

Left: Midcourt in the winner's circle. Winning trainer John Shirreffs said, "It wasn't the way I expected. I didn't think they'd take off that soon and go to the lead. But Victor rode him great and he wanted to run today. He's been training well but there's always a step up they have to take in the afternoons. You hope there's a realization then. He's doing really well right now so we'll go on to Santa Anita and see what we can do."

Right: Midcourt in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Victor Espinoza said, "The whole thing today was I knew I had to let him do what he wants. He's that kind of horse. I knew there wasn't much speed in there today. And even though he's never been on the lead in his races, I thought he might if he broke OK. He got out of there well and I gave him just a little encouragement and he went to the front. He was going so easy doing it, I knew when it came time he was really going to go."

Left: Second place finisher Extra Hope in the paddock. Jockey Flavien Prat said, "Good race for him; good try."

Right: Third place finisher Two Thirty Five in the post parade. Jockey Abel Cedillo said, "My horse gave it a good try. The winner just never stopped."

Last place finisher and beaten favorite Roadster in the paddock. The 4-5 choice started awkwardly but broke with the field, settled in 3rd or 4th 2 1/2 lengths off the pace under jockey Drayden Van Dyke, but tired badly late to finish last beaten 9 3/4 lengths. The Bob Baffert trainee has a record of 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 8 starts, earning $752,200 for owner Speedway Stable.

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