Blackdoun, a colt who chased some good ones in France, won his second stakes race in as many tries at Del Mar this summer, taking the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) for 3-year-olds Saturday.
"Sometimes with these horses that run in the country for the first time, when they come back they're not the same," winning rider Corey Nakatani said. "But this one is just unbelievable. He's so athletic. We were in close quarters all the way around, but he was relaxed for me. I rode him with a lot of confidence, a lot of confidence. He's a special one."
Julio Canani trains the gray/roan French-bred colt by Verglas.
Nakatani found an opening between the leaders in deep stretch and went on to edge away to three-quarters of a length victory over Semi Lost. Bedmar, a 40-1 shot, finished third another three-quarters of a length behind.
The final time was 1:41 for the 1 1/6-mile La Jolla, which is the main local set-up race for the $400,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) on Sept. 6.
Canani swept all three races turf races for 3-year-olds at Del Mar – the Oceanside, La Jolla and Derby – in 1998 with Ladies Din, only the second horse to sweep the series (Lightning Mandate, 1974, was the other). Blackdoun, who won the Oceanside by 2 1/2 lengths July 27, can help the 65-year-old Peruvian trainer duplicate the feat.
"I don't want to jinx myself (by comparing him to Ladies Din), but Ladies Din was a super horse," Canani said. "This horse just ran a sixteenth of a mile today. If he comes back in good shape we'll go to the Del Mar Derby and he'll win."
Nakatani exploited an opening when it appeared Blackdoun was going to come up short. Semi Lost, ridden by Tyler Baze for trainer Jeff Mullins, made a bold bid coming off the far while hanging extremely wide. He was moving powerfully in the center of the course but lugging in. After making the lead in the final furlong, Semi Lost failed to go on with it. Bedmar, ridden by Javier Santiago, challenged along the inside and Blackdoun found plenty of room between them. He won driving while under a brisk hand ride.
Blackdoun, the 4-5 choice, was sixth of seven for much of the race while saving ground. He swung out on the turn for home and had to steady off heels in mid-stretch before getting clear for his late surge.
Austin Barber, a 42-1 shot, had a lonely lead through fractions of :23 4/5, :47 3/5 and 1:11 2/5 with only 36-1 Unrivalled showing much interest in challenging.
Blackdoun, owned by Marsha Naify and Christina Naify Zilber's Woodside Farms LLC, won three of 11 starts in France while earning four seconds and two thirds. He ran behind American Post in his last two starts there, including a third-place showing in a group III at Longchamp. Overall, his record stands at 5-4-2 in 13 outings. The La Jolla's winning purse of $90,000 pushed his career total to $237,765.
He paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.40. Semi Lost returned $3.20 and $, completing an $11.80 exacta. Bedmar was $4.80 to show.
Sujimoto, Laura's Lucky Boy, Austin Barber and Unrivalled trailed.