Kaigun rolls home to win the Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar.

Kaigun rolls home to win the Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar.

Benoit Photo

Kaigun Storms From Last to Seabiscuit Win

Second choice victorious after unleashing a brilliant burst of speed in stretch.

Not a factor in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) earlier this month, Kaigun was an unstoppable force Nov. 28 after unleashing a mighty run through the Del Mar stretch to win the $250,750 Seabiscuit Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO).

Kaigun was last of eight entering the stretch, where Corey Nakatani angled him widest of all for his rally. Moving faster than his seven opponents, he hit the front in deep stretch and won by three-quarters of a length from Za Approval, while 3-2 favorite Tom's Tribute checked in third, a half length back after leading in early stretch.

A 4-year-old Northern Afleet gelding sent off the 3-1 second choice, Kaigun completed the 1 1/16-mile trip in 1:41.38 on turf rated firm while taking his seasonal record to 3-3-0 from 11 starts.  

Trained by Mark Casse, Kaigun has competed with distinction at the highest level on turf in North America this year, finishing second to two-time U.S. Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland in April, second to Real Solution  in the Manhattan (gr. IT) at Belmont Park in June, and second to Trade Storm in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) in September, beaten less than two lengths in each of those races.

Trained by Mark Casse, Kaigun won the Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT) at Woodbine Aug. 10 and was 10th in the Breeders' Cup Mile Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park. Overall, he has a 5-4-1 career line from 18 starts and $964,220 in earnings.

Skyring was out to lead early pressed by Pure Tactics, with Tom's Tribute tracking about 1 1/2 lengths back in third, Za Approval in fourth, and Kaigun last through a half mile in :23.57. Pure Tactics edged to a head advantage as six furlongs went in 1:11.65. Bidding three deep, Tom's Tribute poked his head in front of Pure Tactics into the stretch, but he could not hold back the top two finishers.

"We were in the garden (spot) and he fired and ran great," Mike Smith said of Tom's Tribute, who toted high weight of 123 pounds. "He was laying it down out there. They just came by us. A freaky race. I still don't know how we got beat."

Kaigun was all out in the stretch to take command inside the final sixteenth and get the victory.

"Mark (Casse) said this horse will place you right where you need to be," Nakatani said of Kaigun. "If they go slow or they go fast, he'll be in the right spot. I worked him the other morning on the grass (Nov. 23) and he went in :46 (:46 4/5). He loves it. I knew he had the class and then when we hit the turn I took him wide and he went. I didn't want to get him stopped and he fired."

Kaigun, under 121 pounds, paid $9, $4.80, and $3. Za Approval, under 120, brought $6.80 and $3.60, and Tom's Tribute was worth $2.60 to show.

Mr. Commons was up fourth, followed by Big Bane Theory, Pure Tactics, Skyring, and Lil Bit O'Fun. Avanzare and Boozer were scratched.

Gary Barber is the majority partner in Ontario-bred Kaigun along with Harvey Swartz's Horse'n Around Racing, and Quintessential Racing Florida, which is the nom de course of Casse's wife, Tina.

A $37,000 purchase at the 2011 Canadian premier yearling sale, Kaigun is out of the winning Kris S. mare Cruising Kris.