Australian-bred Delta Form, a 20-1 longshot trained by Jenine Sahadi, ran down The Tin Man in the closing strides to win the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) by a neck Sunday.
Final time for the 1 3/8-mile test was a track-record 2:12.15.
Jockey Goncalino Almeida kept the 6-year-old gelded son of Australian champion Marscay well off the pace set by Continental Red and Tin Man before weaving him through traffic down the stretch to the wire.
It was Almeida's first time aboard Delta Form, but he had been working her for Sahadi.
"I only hit this horse once today," Almeida said. "He was giving me his best. But the secret – the little secret to it all – is to have that confidence. If you have that, you can do many things. I'm happy for Jenine. She trusts me and I'm glad she got rewarded for it."
Favored Dance Dreamer at 5-2, trained by Bobby Frankel, was well-positioned for his stretch run in fourth on the outside, but failed to fire. Stablemate Blue Stellar closed to finish third, alength behind The tin Man.
Delta Form was coming off a third-place finish in a $125,000 optional claimer at Del Mar Aug. 15.
The victory was Delta Form's second in five U.S. starts since coming over from South Africa following his purchase by Gary Barber and Team Valor. Overall, it was his eighth win 23 career starts and the $150,000 first-place purse increased his earnings to slightly more than $400,000.
"I was a little disappointed [in his last race], but the horse has been training so well down here," Sahadi said. "I was worried about the tight turns, but (Barber) was adamant about running here and he had a lot of faith in this horse.
"Goncalino breezed this horse the best he's ever breezed and he switched leads on cue and that was a little strange because he hasn't done that before. So Gonzo did a great job, and I'm happy for everybody involved."
Referring to her barn's cold Del Mar meeting (2-for-26 heading into the race), she added, "We needed this."
Delta Form paid $43.60, $18 and $9.20. The Tin Man returned $6.80 and $5.80. Blue Stellar paid $5.80.