(Edited Del Mar release)
Colonel John, who had not raced since finishing fourth in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita late last December, exhibited no signs of rust as he scored an impressive victory July 31 in the $91,970 Wickerr Stakes at one mile over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course at Del Mar (VIDEO).
With Garrett Gomez in the saddle, Colonel John, winner of the grade I Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes as a 3-year-old in 2008, circled to the lead entering the stretch and continued on strongly to win by two lengths over Becrux, with Ferneley third and pacesetter Get Funky fourth in the field of 10 older horses.
Colonel John, a son of Tiznow and Sweet Damsel bred in Kentucky by his owner, WinStar Farms, and trained by Eoin Harty, sizzled the distance in 1:32.77, narrowly missing the course record of 1:32.21 set by Three Valleys in 2005.
Colonel John went postward the 2-1 favorite and returned $6.80, $4.60, and $3.20 in scoring his sixth victory in a dozen starts.First money of $55,182 increased his total earnings to $1,539,012. After winning the Santa Anita Derby, the colt was one of betting choices in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) but wound up sixth behind Big Brown after encountering traffic troubles in the 20-horse field.
Becrux, winner of the Wickerr Stakes in 2006 and '07, ran well to be runner-up and paid $6.60 and $4.20, while Ferneley returned $3.80 to show.