Del Mar Handicap Up For Grabs
Spring House, runner-up to Black Astor in the Sunset, will try to defend his Del Mar Handicap title after winning the 1 3/8-mile turf event by a length and half a year ago. Unusual Suspect, who won the Aug. 6 Cougar II Handicap on the Del Mar Polytrack, is also in the mix and will seek his first grass victory since 2007. A field of 10 and two also eligibles were entered for the $250,000 event. Post time is slated for 5:30 p.m. PDT.
Owned by A Breed Apart and Steven Humphrey, Black Astor jumped out to a big, early lead in the 1 1/2-mile Sunset and stayed on gamely in the stretch for his first stakes win. The 5-year-old Black Minnaloushe gelding seemed to relish the added distance in his first try past 10 furlongs. In his only other start this year, Black Astor was fifth in the Jan. 19 San Marcos (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita.
Black Astor was bred in Kentucky by CHO, and is out of the Sunshine Forever mare Bagasse. He will break from post 10 this time under Joe Talamo and carry 116 pounds, five more than he did in the Sunset.
R. D. Hubbard’s Spring House followed Black Astor all the way around the course but could not get to the winner. He entered the race off a victory in the Golden Gate Fields Turf (gr. IIIT) in May at the 1 3/8-mile distance.
In last year’s Del Mar Handicap, Spring House stalked the pace as the 8-5 favorite and won easily under Cory Nakatani. Alex Solis has the mount this time on the 7-year-old Chester House gelding, who has bagged five graded stakes and earned nearly $1 million in his 42-race career. He will carry top weight of 120 pounds. Julio Canani trains.
Also coming out of the Sunset are Chilean-bred Porfido and French-bred Obrigado, third and fourth respectively. Obrigado is trained by Neil Drysdale, who will also saddle Artiste Royal, fourth-place finisher in the July 25 Eddie Read (gr. IT) at Del Mar, but beaten only 1 3/4 lengths for it all.
Trainer Barry Abrams also entered a pair—Unusual Suspect and Racketeer. Unusual Suspect won the Cougar II by a nose for his first score in six tries this season. Racketeer finished second in the Aug. 26 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar and would be running on only three days rest.
Juddmonte Farms' Midships, a multiple graded stakes winner in California this year and one of the expected favorites, was not entered after developing an illness this week.
$250,000 Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/8 Miles (Turf)
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