Jungle Prince, overlooked at odds of 10-1 in an evenly matched field of turf sprinters, battled on the front end throughout the $150,000 Hollywood Turf Express Handicap (gr. IIIT) and emerged with a half-length triumph Saturday.
Ridden by Agapito Delgadillo for trainer Juan Garcia, Jungle Prince took the lead coming off the turn, inched away to lead by one length at the eighth pole, and held on gamely to defeat the stalker In Summation and Alex Solis. It was another half-length to Moth Ball in third. The final time was 1:08 3/5 for the six-furlong grass test.
Captain Kurt, the New Zealand-bred 17-10 favorite, was a bit slow into stride and tired after stalking the pace, finishing seventh.
Jungle Prince, a 5-year-old Sir Cat gelding, was coming off a fourth-place finish in Santa Anita's Morvich Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the downhill turf course Oct. 29, closing well to be beaten by one length by Moth Ball. This was Jungle Prince's third win in 14 lifetime starts on the grass.
A winner of two stakes at Fairplex Park, Jungle Prince also finished third in the Ancient Title (gr. I) last month.
"He should have won last time," Garcia said of the Morvich. "He's a hard-knocking horse – he loves to run."
Delgadillo, a 40-year-old native of Mexico City, had not ridden a stakes winner at Hollywood Park prior to Saturday. The win in the Turf Express was just his third in a graded race. His richest triumph came aboard I'm a Jewel in the $200,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields in 1997.
"We had a perfect trip," he said. "I really didn't want to go to the lead, but he was real comfortable up there. We planned on laying second or third."
Lazzeri led early after Jungle Prince broke best, and the two dueled head-and-head through fractions of :23 and :45 1/5. Lazzeri weakened at the top of the stretch and In Summation, never far back, moved into position to challenge but couldn't quite reach Jungle Prince, who won under much urging. Moth Ball rallied gamely from off the pace and came up short.
The bay Jungle Prince earned $90,000 for his eighth win in 29 lifetime starts and has now banked $480,888 for owners Jack D. Burk, Joseph A. Sciarra, and Robert Zamarripa. Nick Bently bred Jungle Prince, who registered his fifth stakes win, in Kentucky.
Fifth choice in the field of eight, he paid $23, $7.80, and $5.60. In Summation, who was coming off a second-place finish in Woodbine's Neartic (Can-II) on a soft course for trainer Christophe Clement, returned $5 and $4.40. Moth Ball, ridden by Michael Baze, was $5.40 to show.
Osidy finished a half-length farther back in fourth, followed by Sherwood Park, Houseofroyalhearts, Captain Kurt, and Lazzeri.