Sizzling Siren Lure ran down the pacesetting Pure as Gold at the sixteenth pole to win the $298,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) going away by 2 1/4 lengths at Del Mar Sunday. Declan's Moon, the 3-2 favorite, was eased on the turn of the seven-furlong race and jogged home last.
Siren Lure earned his third successive graded stakes victory and his sixth win in his last seven starts for trainer Art Sherman, who claimed the 5-year-old Joyeux Danseur gelding for $50,000 at Bay Meadows in May 2005. He has won nine of 12 starts since the claim on behalf of Stuart Kesselman and Tony and Marilyn Melknoian. Siren Lure won the seven-furlong Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I) in his last start July 2 at Hollywood Park.
Sherman described Siren Lure as "an outstanding little horse" and said afterward that he's planning on taking the bay to the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs Nov. 4.
"For sure," he said when asked if he would go after the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), then added, "Or we may even go for the Mile." Siren Lure has won six of 10 starts on turf, though most of his recent success has come on the dirt.
"It's so hard to go in a sprint with this type of horse," Sherman explained. "It seems he's dropping back farther than usual, and I've been thinking wouldn't that be nice if I could get him to go a flat mile."
With regular rider Alex Solis in the irons, Siren Lure, breaking from the rail in the field of seven and carrying top weight of 122 pounds, took back early to trail the field. Solis edged Siren Lure to the outside and by the time they reached the turn he was in full gear sweeping past each of his rivals to reach the stretch run with only Pure as Gold left to catch. The Washington-bred Pure as Gold, coming off a controversial win in the six-furlong Bing Crosby Handicap (gr. I) at Del Mar July 30, had opened up on the field by more than three lengths coming off the turn and held a commanding lead in the lane. But Siren Lure gradually cut into the lead as Pure as Gold, under 116 pounds, visibly tired at the eighth pole under strong urging from jockey Jon Court.
"He's a very classy horse," Solis said of Siren Lure. "He got away just a little slow and I got bumped coming away, but it didn't bother me. I knew he had plenty of run in him and I figured there'd be speed in a race like this. In the end, it all worked out just like we hoped."
Siren Lure completed the seven furlongs in a good time of 1:21 4/. Pure as Gold was second by 1 3/4 lengths over Areyoutalkintome and Martin Garcia. Battle Won, ideally placed on the outside of the pacesetter, flattened out on the turn and finished 3 3/4 lengths farther back fourth.
Trainer Ron Ellis speculated that Declan's Moon, the 2004 Eclipse Award winner as top Juvenile male, bled during the race. Declan's Moon seemed to be traveling well while racing four wide for Victor Espinoza into the turn but offered no resistance as Siren Lure surged past on the outside. Seconds later, Espinoza eased the gelding, who won the first five races of his career but has had a difficult time of it since returning from a 16-month injury layoff.
"Something went wrong today, but hopefully he came out of it all right," Ellis said.
"He was acting up going to the gate," Espinoza said. "Then he didn't want to go in. When the race started he just wasn't there. He didn't want to run today. All the way around. On the turn I just stopped trying with him. Today was not his day."
Pure as Gold set quick fractions of :21 4/5 and :44 1/5 while pressed by Trickey Trevor, who tired quickly.
Siren Lure, who has won 12 of 20 lifetime starts, earned $180,000 and has now banked $769,909.
The second choice, he paid $7.60, $3.60 and $3.
Pure as Gold returned $6.20 and $4.20 for a $35.20 exacta.
"He wanted to go today," Court said of the runner-up. "He popped right out of there, so I just tried to get him to settle a bit. That seven-eighths made a difference. No doubt about it."
Areyoutalkintome was $5.60 to show.
Battle Won, Trickey Trevor, Yes He's a Pistol and Declan's Moon followed.