Man o'War Day
Fillies in the Preakness
Azul Coast heads back to the barn after the Native Diver Stakes.
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 mid 60's at the seaside oval. After Midcourt and Wicked Trick scratched, a field of just 6 went to post, with Eight Rings sent off as the even money favorite off his 4th place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1). In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Azul Coast, 7th in the Awesome Again (G1), and two horses at 13-2, Kiss Today Goodbye, 8th in the San Diego Handicap (G2), and Established off two straight allowance wins.
Down the stretch in the Native Diver
Jockey Mike Smith sent 7-1 Ax Man to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.74, 48.41, and 1:13.18 while pressed by Eight Rings and stalked by Established. Into the lane Ax Man tired as Azul Coast, last early, came out 4 wide to sweep to the lead through 1 mile in 1.38.19. Kept to task by jockey Flavien Prat, Azul Coast held off late-running Kiss Today Goodbye to win by 1/2 a length in 1:50.55. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to favorite Eight Rings third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Azul Coast Prat 8.40 4.60 2.60 8 Kiss Today Goodbye Desormeaux 5.20 2.80 6 Eight Rings Hernandez 2.20 Winning Time: 1:50.55 $1 Exacta 5-8 18.00 $2 Quinella 5-8 26.80 $1 Trifecta 5-8-6 60.50 $1 Superfecta 5-8-6-4 178.80
Left: Azul Coast in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "Azul runs his best races down here. He likes this track and he ran really impressive. When I ran him in the Awesome Again he just laid an egg, he was up there close and I was really disappointed, but he was chasing Medina Spirit. I had no idea how it would setup, they were all on their own. I told the jockeys (he had three horses in the race) you guys ride your own races and hopefully we'll run 1-2-3. I'm happy for the connections, the well has been a little dry lately. Main thing is that we got the W..."
Right: Azul Coast heads into the paddock. Winning jockey Flavien Prat said, "We were in a good spot for the whole trip. I could tell the pace was only moderate, so I moved him up closer near the three-eighth (pole). Then when we went we were in good position and he was ready. A good win."
Left: Second place finisher Kiss Today Goodbye in the paddock. The Eric Kruljac trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 1 second, and 3 thirds in 15 starts, earning $301,802 for owner John Sondereker.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Eight Rings in the paddock. The Bob Baffert trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 12 starts, earning $426,451 for owners Coolmore Stud, Golconda Stable, Madaket Stables, SF Racing, and Starlight Racing.
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