Multiple graded stakes winner Intercontinental, ridden by Jerry Bailey, took the early lead and held off a late challenge by Amorama for a 1 1/4-length victory in Saturday's $180,000 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) for fillies and mares at Del Mar.
The 5-year-old English-bred daughter of Danehill, trained by Bobby Frankel, covered the 1 1/16-mile turf test in a stakes record 1:39.84 and paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10 as the prohibitive 3-10 favorite. Amorama, ($2.40, $2.10) with Martin Pedroza aboard, rallied from fourth to take the place spot by a neck over Ticker Tape ($2.10) and Kent Desormeaux.Carrying top weight of 122 pounds, the bay mare was rank early as she pulled her way to the front while racing between horses. She set the pace – :23 4/5, :47 1/5, 1:10 1/5 – along the inside and inched away in the stretch. She held on under Bailey's urging while drifting out slightly as Amorama and Ticker Tape made their moves in mid-stretch."As soon as she got in the clear, I felt good about things," said Frankel, making a rare Southern California appearance this summer. "She's always been a handful. She never makes it easy. "She's a good filly," he added. "If she would ever have learned to relax, she could have been a super, super star, because she has the ability, but she's a hard filly to ride. If she was easy to ride, she might be undefeated."
Intercontinental, who is owned by Juddmonte Farms, captured her 11th race in 20 lifetime starts and the $120,000 winner's share boosted her earnings to $1,253,263. "Today she just wanted to set her own pace," said Bailey, the regular rider of Intercontinental. "She was all right with it. She's such a good mare. I'll tell you, I've been in different spots with her – I've been up rear ends and I've been in front. I prefer being up front." "She ran great," Pedroza said of Amorama, who has two grade I victories to her credit at Del Mar. "The distance – maybe she wants to go farther. But I got beat by a really nice filly. I think I was just second best today."Katdogawn and Cotopaxi trailed in the five-horse field. Flip Flop scratched.(Chart, Equibase)
In the co-feature, Ed Friendly's Follow the Rainbow, ridden by Victor Espinoza, held off stablemate Chips Are Down for a neck victory in the $100,000 El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds.
With the victory, trainer Bob Baffert tied Charlie Whittingham for the all-time lead in stakes victories at Del Mar with 74. Baffert has four stakes wins during the meet."It's pretty incredible about tying Charlie Whittingham," Baffert said. "After all, he's been the best. You forget how many stakes you win. It's a salute to our operation, the owners I've had and the powerful horses. We're very aggressive the way we buy horses and then run them. I've always wanted to play at the top."Baffert is in his 17th summer at Del Mar. Charlie Whittingham raced 41 summers at the shore. Whittingham, however, trained when there were far fewer stakes opportunities and less money to be had at Del Mar.
Follow The Rainbow ran the mile in 1:36.34. The son of Event of the Year paid $13.80, $6.80, and $5.60. Follow the Rainbow has now won twice with two seconds and a third in five lifetime starts. He earned $60,000 for his victory, pushing his bankroll to $116,920.Chips Are Down, ridden by Bailey, returned $7.40 and $5.60 while Khyber Pass was $5.20 to show with David Flores aboard. Favored Dover Dere finished fifth.