Making his third United States start, French import Fairly Ransom put it all together to win the $300,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) on the grass Saturday by 1 1/4 length over Devious Boy and Sweet Return.
Ridden by Alex Solis for trainer Ron McAnally and owner Arnold Zetcher, the gray colt by Red Ransom reached the lead in midstretch and went on to establish a stakes record of 1:46 2/5 in the 59th running of the 1 1/8-mile turf event. Devious Boy, ridden by Julie Krone, edged Sweet Return and Gary Stevens by a nose for the place spot.
Senor Swinger, the 9-5 favorite, rallied mildly with a wide move into the stretch but had to settle for fourth with Jose Valdivia Jr. in the irons.
In his last start in France, Fairly Ransom was third, two lengths behind French Derby (Fr-I) wiiner Dalakhani in a group II race at Longchamp in April. In his two subsequent starts both at Del Mar, a second-place finish in a division of the opening day Oceanside Stakes July 23 and a close fourth-place showing in the 11/6-mile La Jolla (gr. IIIT) Aug. 16, Fairly Ransom had bid late after encountering earlier trouble.
"When you have a 3-year-old that only gets beat two lengths by the French Derby winner, that's some kind of horse," McAnally noted. "We were lucky enough to buy him over there from my good friend Andre Fabre, because there were several people waiting to buy him had we not bought him."
Saturday, Solis found a good stalking position for Fairly Ransom, who settled third at the rail a couple of lengths off the solid pace set by La Jolla winner Singletary, who went :23 2/5 for the first quarter, :47 2/5 for the half, 1:11 for six furlongs and 1:34 3/5.
As Singletary weakened, Solis angled Fairly Ransom out for the drive, seized the lead between horses and won with strong urging. Devious Boy also prompted the pace while on Singeltary's outside and could not match the winner down the lane, although he held off the late charge of Sweet Return.
"He broke sharp and I had a great spot with him all the way around," said Solis, who picked up his fifth stakes victory of the Del Mar meeting. "The extra distance today helped. He was wanting that. And the good trip was all he needed."
Krone, whose Devious Boy narrowly missed catching Singletary in the La Jolla, wasn't disappointed about being second best again.
"He's my bread and butter horse," she said. "He shows up every time. The winner got the good trip today and the distance he's been wanting. But my horse ran great."
Valenzuela said Singletary may best at the 1 1/16-mile distance.
The stakes win was the third of the meet for Ron McAnally and his 68th overall at Del Mar. He is second on Del Mar's all-time stakes list for trainers behind Charlie Whittingham's 74 victories.
Fairly Ransom earned $180,000 for the victory, his fourth in eight career starts. His career earnings stand at $266,748.
Jean-Luc Lagardere bred the winner, who is out of the French dam Fairly Grey (by Linamix) in Kentucky.
The 9-2 third choice in the field of nine, Fairly Ransom paid $11, $5.60 and $4.40. Devious Boy returned $5.60 and $4.20. Sweet Return's show price was $8.40. The $2 exacta was worth $55.
Following Senor Swinger in the order of finish: Singletary, Middleweight, Bis Repetitas, Outta Here and Pumas. Californian was scratched.