A busy Labor Day weekend of coast-to-coast stakes action winds down late Monday afternoon at Del Mar with perhaps the toughest one of them all to handicap. The $150,000 Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles drew an overflow field of 12 (two also-eligibles) and is as wide open as they come.
Four of the top five finishers from the July 23 Osunitas Stakes at the same trip come back, including the winner Andina, and third-place finisher City to City, who finished a head and nose apart. Add to the mix the come-backing Go Forth North, who was second in last year’s Palomar; the rested, repected Well Monied; and up-and-comer Medaglia d'Amour, and … well, you get the picture.
Arnold Zetcher’s Andina, the 120-pound highweight, won the Osunitas with a stalking trip, getting the distance in 1:42.07 as the 3-1 second choice. Bred in Ireland by Darley, the 4-year-old filly is by Singspiel out of the Rahy mare Fragrant Oasis. The victory in the restricted Osunitas was preceded by third-place effort in the Royal Heroine Mile Stakes (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park July 4. Garret Gomez retains the mount and will break from post nine.
Andina is trained by Ben Cecil, who will also send out Medaglia d’Amour, winner of last year’s Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) in her fourth career start. She’s only made one outing this year, that being a tiring seventh-place effort in the nine-furlong John C. Mabee Stakes (gr. II) behind Cozi Rosie. The lightly-raced filly, bred by the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust, races for Kristina Cecil and Zillah Reddam.
The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained City to City was the slight favorite in the Osunitas and came home strong down the lane while racing in eighth position early. The effort came in her third start of the year and first in Southern California. Sporting a 5-4-5 slate from 18 career starts, she finished off last season with a narrow loss at Del Mar, by three-quarters of a length, to Evening Jewel in the one-mile San Clemente Stakes (gr. IIT).
The 4-year-old daughter of City Zip, out of the Storm Cat mare Stormbow, was bred in Kentucky by Dr. D. Michael Cavey Jr. Cavey, who operates Respite Farm near Paris, Ky., is also the breeder of last year’s 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo . City to City races for Hollendorfer, William DeBurgh, and Mark DeDominico.
Go Forth North, fifth in the Mabee, won the one-mile Sandy Blue Handicap over the Del Mar turf last summer before running second to Gotta Have Her in the Palomar. Winner of the Harold C. Ramser S. Handicap (gr. IIIT) at the Oak Tree at Hollywood Park meet, Go Forth North has also placed in two other graded stakes on the turf.
By Epsom Derby (Eng-I) winner North Light , Go Forth North was bred in Kentucky by Michael Schmeling and Andy Stronach. She is out of the Holy Bull mare Witch Tradition and races for L-Bo Racikng, Monte Pyle, and Summer of Fun Racing. She is trained by A.C. Avila.
C.T. Grether, Inc.’s Well Monied will draw plenty of money. Winner of the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) and grade I-placed in 2009, she made only two starts last year, winning an allowance race and finishing a close-up fourth in the nine-furlong Gamely Handicap (gr. IT).
This year, the Howard Zucker-trained 5-year-old was a closing fourth behind Dubawi Heights in the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIT) April 30 at Hollywood Park. Dubawi Heights strung together three impressive wins in Southern California before running a great second to Stacelita in the Aug. 13 Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park.
Palomar H. (gr. II), Del Mar, $150,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles (turf), approx. post 5:30 p.m. PDT.
PP – Horse – Jockey – Wgt. – Trainer
1 – Go Forth North – M. Garcia – 119 – A.C. Avilia
2 – Medaglia d’Amour – J. Talamo – 118 – B. Cecil
3 – Miss Pleasant – A. Quinonez – 116 – R. Mandella
4 – Well Monied – J. Rosario – 119 – H. Zucker
5 – City to City – G. Gomez – 119 – J. Hollendorfer
6 – Turning Top – M. Smith – 119 – S. Callaghan
7 – Ninth Infantry – C. Sutherland – 116 – D. Bernstein
8 - It Tiz – P. Valenzuela – 116 – M. Glatt
9 – Andina – R. Bejarano – 120 – B. Cecil
10- Apple Charlotte – J. Valdivia Jr. – 117 – H.G. Motion
11-AE – All Star Heart – B. Blanc – 116 – R. McAnally
12-AE – Somme – M. Pedroza – 114 – E.R. Reed