On Sunday at Del Mar, The Thoroughbred Corporation scored another grade I win with an impressive looking chestnut. One day after Point Given romped home in the Travers Stakes (gr. I), Habibti won the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante by two lengths.
Who Loves Aleyna set the early pace while tracked closely by Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) winner Tempera, as Habibti trailed the field. Tempera moved to the lead along the rail under David Flores in Godolphin's familiar blue colors, as Habibti moved into contention while saving ground on the turn. As they straightened for home, Tempera moved slightly off the rail and Victor Espinoza guided Habibti through the gap. Tempera had no answer for Habibti's winning move and allowed early pacesetter Who Loves Aleyna to overtake her for second.
"It was a little tight in there (going for the hole on the fence turning for home), but I had so much horse that there wasn't any doubt I was going to go in there," said Espinoza. "I could have gone outside at the three-eighths (pole), but I thought I'd teach her a lesson and go down in there. She's so professional and you can do anything you want with her. She's not afraid of anything, so there wasn't much question she'd get it done."
Habibti, a Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Tabasco Cat, completed the seven furlongs in 1:22.22 on the fast track. The win gives Baffert his fifth Debutante winner in the last seven renewals of the race.
"I don't know what to say," said Flores of Tempera, the beaten favorite. "She got hot on me in the post parade. I had her in the right spot and she just ran out of gas. I don't know where we go from here."
Que Bonita and Lil Miss Hollywood completed the order of finish.
Habibti returned $6.60, $3.60, and $2.10. Who Loves Aleyna returned $7.20 and $2.10. Tempera paid $2.10 to show. The $1 exacta paid $31.40.
Prior to the Debutante, Habibti earned a two-length win in her racing debut at Del Mar in late July. (Chart, Equibase