Gotta Have Her, coming off a big effort in the John C. Mabee Stakes (gr. II) last month, defends her title in the Palomar Handicap (gr. II) against four rivals on the Del Mar turf Sept. 6.
Trained by Jenine Sahadi for Green Lantern Stables, the 6-year-old daughter of Royal Academy carries top weight of 121 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares. The Palomar is the fourth on the Del Mar Labor Day program with a 3:30 p.m. PDT post.
Gotta Have Her finished third in the nine-furlong Mabee Aug. 15, beaten by a half-length by the victorious Wasted Tears. Lilly Fa Pootz, who missed by a nose in the Mabee, also returns in the Palomar.
Mike Smith rode Gotta Have Her for the first time in the Mabee when he replaced the injured Tyler Baze. He partially blamed himself for the defeat when the bay mare was reluctant to move through an opening at the rail to challenge the front-running Wasted Tears in the stretch.
Gotta Have Her should also be more more comfortable with the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Palomar, a race she won last year by a neck over Lethal Heat. She has two wins and two seconds in six tries at the trip.
Winner of the Royal Heroine Mile (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park July 3, her only win in four starts in 2010, Gotta Have Her boasts a career mark of 9-7-5 in 28 starts with earnings of $1,002,608. All but two of her races have come on turf. She ran second against males in last fall's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint a Santa Anita.
Team Green and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's Lilly Fa Pootz nearly pulled a 12-1 upset in the Mabee when she was barely denied in a game effort for jockey Joel Rosario, who rode her for the first time as a replacement for the injured Joe Talamo. She gets two pounds from Gotta Have Her for the Palomar rematch.
The 5-year-old daughter of Gilded Time has had a big 2010 campaign with a 4-5-1 mark in 10 starts, including a head victory in the Osunitas Stakes at the Palomar distance to begin the Del Mar meet July 24. That was her first stakes win for Hollendorfer, who also saddles You Lift Me Up.
The multiple stakes winner Lift Me Up makes a quick turnaround following a good closing fourth in the one-mile Solana Beach Handicap Aug. 22, a race in which she had to overcome a stumble at the start. A 5-year-old Lord Carson mare, You Lift Me up is owned by Hollendorfer and longtime client George Todaro. She will have the services of jockey Patrick Valenzuela.
Prytania was claimed for $40,000 two starts back by trainer John Sadler for Desert Sun Stables and Hronis Racing. A 4-year-old Royal Academy filly, she previously raced as a homebred for Glen Hill Farm. Prytania returns to stakes company for the first time in two years following a 2 1/4-length triumph over an optional claiming field at the Palomar distance Aug. 11 on the Del Mar turf.
L-Bo Racing and partners' Go Forth North had back-to-back wins on the Del Mar turf last month. She won the Sandy Blue Handicap for 3-year-olds in a dead-heat Aug. 20, her first try against winners for trainer A.C. Avila.
$150,000 Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 4, 3:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Go Forth North (KY), M Garcia, 110, A C Avila
2. You Lift Me Up (CA), P A Valenzuela, 118, J Hollendorfer
3. Lilly Fa Pootz (KY), J Rosario, 119, J Hollendorfer
4. Gotta Have Her (KY), M E Smith, 121, J Sahadi
5. Prytania (FL), R Bejarano, 115, J W Sadler