Rallying from last on the backstretch, favored Enterprising found room between horses in the drive and powered his way to victory in the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIIT) as racing returned to the turf Aug. 9 at Del Mar (VIDEO).
The 3-2 pick in the field of six 3-year-olds Saturday, Enterprising made it back-to-back victories on the newly-installed turf course after winning the opening-day Oceanside Stakes July 17. In taking the La Jolla by 1 1/4 lengths over I'll Wrap It Up, the longest shot in the field, Glen Hill Farm's homebred son of Elusive Quality was timed in 1:141.31 for 1 1/16 miles over firm going.
After experiencing five breakdowns in the first two weeks of the popular summer meet, Del Mar returned to racing over the turf course Saturday after closing it for maintenance Aug. 1. There were three races conducted during the program without apparent incident.
Serious, a 4-year-old filly who broke bones in her left front foot July 31, is recovering, the track reported. She was injured in a five-furlong turf sprint, forcing Del Mar to suspend turf races while it worked on the course, which was widened in the off-season to 80 feet replacing the 53-year-old surface.
Mike Smith brought Enterprising from nearly 10 lengths behind on the final turn, angling off the rail midstretch to split horses. Enterprising then took advantage of room along the inside to slip past the leaders in the closing stages, accelerating under some urging from the Hall of Fame rider.
"Last sixteenth in less than six (seconds)! Wow! Are you serious. He was cookin'. He really got to going between the eighth and the sixteenth (poles)," exclaimed Smith after his first La Jolla score. "Very impressive race. Even more impressive than his last because he was going farther. This race really sets him up for the next one."
"I think it really is a good course," Smith added. "I thought so right from the start. It was firm, but it had a nice bounce to it. Now it might even be better. Horses go over it smooth, quiet. You don't hear any of that clump, clump, clump on the backstretch. It's all good. By the time we're done here, this course might be as good as any in the country."
I'll Wrap It Up, at 15-1, ran a good second by half a length over the show horse, Sammy Mandeville. Pacesetting Schoolofhardrocks was three lengths clear in the stretch but weakened badly in the final sixteenth to finish fourth.
Tom Proctor trains Enterprising, who has won three of six starts in 2014. The bay colt began the season on the Triple Crown trail in Northern California, finishing third in both the California Derby and El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields. Proctor put Enterprising back on the turf after that, and his charge has quickly ascended the ladder to the head of the 3-year-old turf division in Southern California.
The $300,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) Aug. 31 is likely next at 1 1/8 miles.
Schoolofhardrocks, the 2-1 second choice, had the easy lead over Tonito M. and I'll Wrap It up while clipping off soft fractions of :23.92, :48.13, and 1:11.30 as the field proceeded single file to the quarter pole. At that point, Smith began to implore Enterprising for more from the rear of the field and he responded impressively under top weight of 122 pounds.
Enterprising, out of the A.P. Indy mare Indy Blaze, improved his career mark to 5-1-2 in nine starts with earnings of $334,650. He is the first foal to race for his dam. She was purchased by Glen Hill Farm for $975,000 through consignor Denali Stud, agent, at the 2006 Keeneland September yearling auction.
Indy Blaze is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Blushing Groom mare Fire the Groom, victorious in the 1991 Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT).
Proctor won the La Jolla for the second time in three years following Old Time Hockey in 2012.
"Looks like he's even a little better than we might have thought," Proctor said of Enterprsing. "I thought it might not be his day (when he was so far back), but he ran like a freight train the last eighth of a mile. We'll see how he is. It (Del Mar Derby) is a possibility."
Enterprising paid $5, $3.80, and $2.80, keying a $53.20 exacta with I'll Wrap It Up. Trainer Doug O'Neill added blinkers to I'll Wrap It Up, who returned $10 and $4 with meet-leading rider Elvis Trujillo aboard. Sammy Mandeville, also trained by O'Neill and ridden by Rafael Bejarano, paid $4.20.
Schoolofhardrocks was followed by Tonito M. and Argyle Cut.