Victor Espinoza celebrates aboard Kettle Corn after winning the 2013 San Diego Handicap
The feature race on Saturday at Del Mar was the $200,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles over the Polytrack. Conditions were excellent at the seaside oval with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60's. 2012 Haskell (G1) winner and Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Paynter made his return to stakes company here, after his lengthy recovery from colitis and laminitis. He was sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the field of 6 off his allowance win last out at Hollywood. In to challenge him included 7-2 second choice Kettle Corn, second in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), and 6-1 third choice Liaison, runner-up in the Californian (G2) after winning the Mervyn Leroy Handicap (G2).
Kettle Corn and Paynter duel in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Kettle Corn Espinoza 9.20 3.40 2.60 3 Paynter Bejarano 2.40 2.10 2 Batti Man Blanc 6.00 Winning Time: 1:41.83 $1 Exacta 1-3 9.60 $2 Quinella 1-3 5.80 $1 Trifecta 1-3-2 83.60 $1 Superfecta 1-3-2-5 347.30Results Chart
Left: Kettle Corn in the winner's circle. Winning trainer John Sadler said, "He always runs well in the big races. He's been a very good, honest, blue-collar horse. We're really happy. He deserves to win a big one. He's really good on this track, he won down here two years ago and he was third in this race last year. Hopefully this year we'll win the big one (Pacific Classic)." Sadler scratched Kettle Corn out of a possible start in Friday's Cougar II Handicap to run in the San Diego.
Right: Kettle Corn in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Victor Espinoza said, "John told me not to get too far back. We needed to be close. This is a smart horse; he knows what to do. He wants to do his own thing at the beginning, but he knows what to do at the end. He's a good horse to ride."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Paynter in the paddock before the race. Jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "He never seemed comfortable out there. I felt like I had plenty of horse, but he just wasn't liking what he was doing. He was right there on the turn, but he didn't have enough at the end."
Right: Third place finisher Batti Man in the post parade. Jockey Brice Blanc said, "He's a courageous horse. And he really, really handled this track well today. His race was excellent."
Sweet Marini wins the Fleet Treat Stakes
Left: Sweet Marini in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "We bought this filly earlier in the year hoping for something like this. Obviously she really likes this suface and my gosh she ran a big race. I really thought we weren't going to be able to beat (Doinghardtimeagain). I thought she would run away from us." Jockey Martin Garcia added, "The key for me today was that she relaxed early. I got the kind of pace I was very happy with; not too fast at all. When I asked her, she just went. A good race for her. She's a good filly."
Right: Sweet Marini in the post parade.
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