Trainer Ron McAnally likes his chances to win his second grass stakes of the young Del Mar racing season as he sends out Sweet Return to defend his 2005 championship in Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT).
The 1 1/8-mile fixture on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course will be contested as the eighth race on the nine-race card. A win for Sweet Return would reprise McAnally's success with Lightning Hit in the first division of the Oceanside Stakes on opening day.
"He's training great and I look for a good effort from him," McAnally said of his multiple grade I stakes winner. Sweet Return is winless in three starts this year and faces a sharp field in the Eddie Read.
But if he runs to his Durante turf history he should be in good shape. Besides winning last year's race, Sweet Return finished third in the 2004 running. He's also won a division of the Oceanside Stakes in 2003 and finished third in that year's Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT).
Trainer Neil Drysdale will mount a two-pronged attack on the champion in Fourty Niners Son, who was runner-up last year, and Aragorn, the impressive winner of Hollywood Park's Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) in his most recent outing May 29. Fourty Niners Son is winless in two starts this year, but was closing on the leaders to finish third in the American Invitational (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park July 2. Aragorn, to be ridden by Corey Nakatani, carries top weight of 212 pounds.
Trainer Gary Mandella is hoping his trainee, Japanese-bred Silent Name, can move up from a solid third place to Aragorn in the Shoemaker. He was on a two-race win streak going into that race, including a victory in the Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT), and has been training sharply for this encounter. He turned in a 1:12 1/5 bullet six-furlong drill at Hollywood Park July 3.
A surprise could come from trainer Julio Canani's Quasimodo, who will be making his stakes debut in the Read. He's a perfect 4 for 4 since moving to the turf for 2006.$400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Fourty Niners Son (KY), 118, John R. Velazquez
2. Sweet Return (GB), 117, Alex O. Solis
3. Aragorn (IRE), 121, Corey S. Nakatani
4. Silent Name (JPN), 118, Victor Espinoza
5. Quasimodo (KY), 113, Martin A. Pedroza
6. Fast and Furious (FR), 115, Mike E. Smith
7. Hendrix (KY), 115, David R. Flores