Favored Joey Franco captured the $75,000-added El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds at Del Mar Friday night, prevailing by a head in an all-out stretch duel with Taste of Paradise and a fast-closing Paxtecum.
It was the fourth win in a row for Joey Franco, who claimed his first stakes victory for owner Jerry Frankel and trainer David Hoffmans. Time for the one mile was 1:36.94
The California homebred son of Avenue of Flags was sent off the 8-5 favorite. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, he rated in fourth behind the pace-setting Taste of Paradise, Vigor and Fonz's through a :22.08 quarter-mile and a :45.59 half.
Joey Franco hooked up with Taste of Paradise for the stretch run and they were joined in deep-stretch by Paxtecum, who rallied widest of all from last on the turn. All three went to the wire together with Taste of Paradise a nose better than Paxtecum for the place.
Joey Franco paid $5.40, $3.60 and $3.40. Taste of Paradise returned $9.60 and $5.60. Paxtecum paid $8.60. The $2 exacta was $55.