There could be a traffic jam on the lead in Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) at Del Mar, with a field of six speedy horses likely to gun for the front in order to get the best position.
One of those most likely to be setting or pressing the pace in the 1 1/8-mile race on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course is Mister Acpen, owned by Steven Taub, Neil Papiano and Noctis Stable and trained by Kristin Mulhall.
"He'll have to go to the lead because he'll get pretty rank otherwise," said Mulhall, who is hoping to capture her first grade I race on her 21st birthday Sunday. She posted her first graded win with Puerto Banus in Hollywood Park's Sunset Handicap (gr. IIT) on the track's closing day of the season July 20.
If he's to win, Mister Acpen will have to overcome a pretty potent field that includes stakes winners Redattore, Special Ring, and the Bobby Frankel-trained pair of Decarchy and Fateful Dream. For his own part, Mister Acpen, a group stakes winner in his native Chile, won the Sunland Park Handicap in his second start for Mulhall and tracked the pace throughout the Charlie Whittingham Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park before finishing second.
Whatever race strategy develops will come right out of the gate. "We'll just send him and see what he does," said Mulhall, who has been training the 5-year-old for about six months." I'm sure a bunch of other horses are going to go, too.
"He's been training great. We blew him out yesterday [an untimed quarter mile on Thursday]. We've always done it with him, because he's a wild boy."
Mulhall, who was born July 27, 1982, has been training only a year, and that was not the choice of her father, former trainer Richard Mulhall, who has served as racing manager for The Thoroughbred Corp. for the past several years.
"He honestly didn't want me to come to the track. He did everything he could to keep me away. I got upset when he quit training, because I loved being on the backside playing with the horses. He was totally against it, but he finally gave in."
She spent many years competing on the show-horse circuit throughout the United States and at European venues. Since turning to training Thoroughbreds last year at Del Mar, her stable has grown to 20 horses.
Heading the list of prospects for the Eddie Read is Redattore, who won the race in 2001 and finished third last year. The 8-year-old, Brazil-bred son of Roi Normand races for Hall of Fame conditioner Richard Mandella and has career earnings of $1.4 million.$400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT), 3 & up, 1 1/8 mile on turf
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Fateful Dream, 115, Patrick Valenzuela
2. Mister Acpen, 115, Victor Espinoza
3. Redattore, 121, Alex Solis
4. Special Ring, 117, David Flores
5. Decarchy, 115, Kent Desormeaux
6. Irish Warrior, 114, Julie Krone