Trainer Kathy Walsh felt Georgie Boy wasn't relaxed enough in the Best Pal (gr. II), the Futurity prep stakes on Aug. 12, so she took the blinkers off the California-bred gelding. After leading all the way into the stretch, Georgie Boy was defeated by one length by Salute the Sarge as the odds-on favorite in the Best Pal.
Ridden in the 60th Del Mar Futurity for the first time by New York-based Garrett Gomez, Georgie Boy rallied from out of the clouds. The dark bay didn't make the lead until the final strides, bursting through between horses to defeat Salute the Sarge, who who had to take up off heels in tight quarters leaving the quarter pole but finished gamely for jockey Kent Desormeaux. The winning margin was a half-length.
"(Gomez) knew (Georgie Boy) wanted to come from off the pace," Walsh said. "(Georgie Boy) does everything like an old horse except he's slow to change leads. Today he never even changed and he won anyway."
Gomez said he had several discussions with Walsh about Georgie Boy.
"Kathy was high on this horse, and that means a lot to me," he said. "Kathy is like family to me, like a second mother. When I was first getting started out here, she was a big part of that. And my wife worked for her for a bunch of years. She calls her 'Mom.'
"Kathy called me about him, several times. When I realized that she was that high on him, I had to take it seriously. We had the good trip and he did what he had to do. He's a 2-year-old and he's still a little green, but aren't they all? Today he did just fine."
Favored Drill Down, who appeared to bump with Salute the Sarge on the turn, finished a nose behind in third. The final time for the seven-furlong test was 1:25 1/5 on Polytrack.
Georgie Boy was 12th and next-to-last in the early portion of the race as Good Man Dan, with pressure from Whatever Whenever, set fractions of :23 and :46 3/5. As the field rounded the bend, though, the complexion of the race changed completely with Phone Chatter and Leonides vying for the lead briefly. Salute the Sarge, who had to wait for room after recovering from his traffic encounter, slipped through between horses to get the lead in deep stretch as Drill Down, along the inside, and Georgie Boy closed powerfully.
The homebred Georgie Boy prevailed late to earn his second win in five starts for Walsh and owner George Schwary. The son of Tribal Rule --Ippodamia (Peterhof) broke his maiden in the 5 1/2-furlong Graduation Stakes for Cal-breds on the Del Mar Polytrack July 25. The victory more than doubled his earnings to $286,806.
The loss was the first in four starts for Salute the Sarge, who also won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track this summer.
"Oh, he gave me a brave run," Desormeaux said of the runner-up. "But I had to thread the needle with him in the stretch and I think that might have cost him the race. He wasn't able to progress the way I'd hoped. He may not be the fastest one out there, but he's the most courageous. When they go long, he'll go better."
Drill Down was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 13 -- the largest Futurity line-up since 1967 -- after an impressive 2 1/4-length maiden win at six furlongs July 28. Bettors were also aware that leading rider Michael Baze had hopped off the mount on second-choice Salute the Sarge to be aboard the quickly developing Drill Down, trained by Michael Machowsky.
"I had to wait and wait, all around the turn," said Baze. "You have to wait on this course if you're going to do any good, so it worked out okay. The other two who beat him just out-quicked him at the end. He ran good and he'll run better when they go longer."
Sent off as the third choice in the bulky field, Georgie Boy paid $13.60, $6.20 and $3.60. Salute the Sarge, a Forest Wildcat colt purchased at Barretts for $300,000 in March, returned $5.80 and $3.80, completing a $69.20 exacta. Drill Down, an El Corredor colt who came out of the same sale for $350,000, was $2.80 to show.
Leonides finished fourth, followed by Dixie Chatter, Kanan Dume, E Z's Gentleman, Drewthegentleman, Overextended, Sky Cape, Ford Island, Godd Man Dan and Whatever Whenever.
The final day's attendance was 17,069.