Runaway Dancer, whose first graded win came in the fall of 2003 for trainer Dan Hendricks, makes his 42nd lifetime start in the Del Mar Handicap, a 1 3/8-mile turf event that attracted a field of nine. Owned by Kathleen and John Michael Kennedy of Larkspur, Calif., who race as R L Stables, the gray son of Runaway Groom has not been out since finishing third in the Carleton F. Burke Handicap (gr. IIIT) during Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet Oct. 28.
The winner of that race, R.D. Hubbard's Spring House, also returns in this spot for trainer Julio Canani after a troubled fourth in the nine-furlong Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) on opening weekend of the Del Mar stand.
This year's Del Mar Handicap winner gains an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) Oct. 25 at Santa Anita as part of the "Win and You're In" challenge.
The late-running Runaway Dancer's last win came in the 2007 Sunset Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park. The gelding, a lifetime earner of $851,640 with eight victories, ran superbly in last year's Del Mar Handicap. In his familiar style he closed from last in the stretch to finish second, just three-quarters of a length behind After Market. Runaway Dancer has won three of six starts on the Del Mar turf course with one placing.
Alex Solis is back as the regular rider of Runaway Dancer and they will break at the back of the pack from post 6.
Spring House, a 6-year-old Chester House gelding, packs top weight of 118 pounds, one more than Runaway Dancer and Church Service, winner of the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Lone Star Park May 26. He was nosed for second by Runaway Dancer in last year's Del Mar Handicap.
Winner of the San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita in February, Spring House was shipped to Nad al Sheba for the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I), finishing 10th. He returned from a layoff of nearly four months to give a game effort in the Eddie Read, though he was in tight in the stretch run and wound up 1 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Monzante. Corey Nakatani takes the mount from Garrett Gomez, who will be out of town.
The 5-year-old Pulpit gelding Church Service, conditioned by Mike Mitchell, returned from his nose victory over Storm Military in the Texas race to post a lackluster fifth-place finish in the 2008 Sunset. Brice Blanc retains the mount for Mitchell, who claimed Church Service for $50,000 at Santa Anita in January and stepped him right up to graded stakes company, where he has a win and two seconds in four starts since.
Mitchell also entered You Got Me Rocking, who switches back to the turf for owners Jane and Burt Bacharach after running eighth in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) on Polytrack July 19.
Trainer Paulo Lobo will send out a pair of Brazil-breds—Heroi do Bafra and Mr. Universo. Heroi do Bafra was fourth in Hollywood Park's American Handicap (gr. IIT) June 28 in his most recent start, while Mr. Universo, a grade I winner in his native country, will be making his second North American start. He ran fourth in an allowance race on the Del Mar turf July 26.
Rounding out the field will be grade III winner Transduction Gold, the fourth-place finisher in the Sunset Handicap; Tissy Fit, second in Del Mar's Cougar II Handicap July 30 for leading trainer John Sadler; and American Imperium, making his first start in stakes company.
$250,000 Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Transduction Gold (KY), 116, Jon K. Court
2. Church Service (KY), 117, Brice Blanc
3. Heroi Do Bafra (BRZ), 115, Aaron T. Gryder
4. American Imperium (KY), 113, Joseph Talamo
5. You Got Me Rocking (KY), 112, Joel Rosario
6. Runaway Dancer (KY), 117, Alex O. Solis
7. Spring House (KY), 118, Corey S. Nakatani
8. Tissy Fit (KY), 113, Rafael Bejarano
9. Mr.Universo (BRZ), 114, Victor Espinoza