Bourbon Bay, the king of the 2010 distance turf series at Santa Anita, returned to his winning ways on the Del Mar Polytrack in the July 29 $125,000 Cougar II Handicap (gr. III) in the seaside oval’s Friday night feature (VIDEO).
The Cougar II is a Breeders’ Cup "Win & You’re In" race, giving Bourbon Bay a slot in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (gr. II).
The 5-year-old gelded son of Sligo Bay set a track record in the process, covering the 12 furlongs in 2:29.39 under Joe Talamo while winning by 2 3/4 lengths. Bourbon Bay was winning his seventh race from 20 starts and has banked nearly $700,000 for owners Jill and David Heerensperger of Washington State. Neil Drysdale is the winning conditioner. Bourbon Bay was bred in Kentucky by Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs and is out of the Conquistador Cielo mare Coral Necklace.
Bourbon Bay took the San Luis Obispo (gr. IIT), the San Luis Rey (gr. IIT), and the San Juan Capistrano (gr. IIT) in the spring of 2010 at Santa Anita. He opened this year with a victory in the San Marcos Stakes (gr. II) before coming up empty in Dubai’s Sheema Classic (UAE-I). Bourbon Bay broke a four-race losing streak in the Cougar II.
Dahoud shot to the lead in the Cougar, opening up daylight on Pode Ir early while Mindblower sat third. That trio raced in a pack through the first two turns of the three-turn Cougar. Dahoud set sensible fractions early of :24.44, :48.59, and 1:13.21.
With a half mile to run Bourbon Bay began moving on the outside of 3-2 favorite Setsuko. Turning off the final bend Talamo took Bourbon Bay to the outside, and he cruised past Dahoud to a facile victory. Dahoud held second, Setsuko finished third, and Times Gone By was fourth. The winner carried top weight of 121 pounds and paid $6.60, $4.60, and $2.80 as the second choice in the field of seven. Dahoud was worth $4.60 and $3.20, while Setsuko returned $2.40.
"It all set up good," Talamo said. "I was in the right spot and hitting my spots all along the way. That’s easy to do when you ride a good horse like this. They put you in the right spot. All you’ve got to do is point them in the right direction.”
“My horse ran good, but the winner was very impressive today," said Joel Rosario, who was aboard Dahoud. "He was best.”
Drysdale said the victory will help Bourbon Bay restore some lost confidence.
“He’d had some difficult trips the last few times," Drysdale said. "So we just wanted to get his confidence back and felt that this would be a really nice race to get his confidence back up."
Drysdale said Bourbon Bay would likely make his next start in the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) or if the field looks weak, the Pacific Classic (gr. I), both on Aug. 28.