Two grade I winners whose connections are hoping for bigger things this fall, Gary Tanaka's Sarafan and The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Johar hooked up in the $75,675 Harry F. Brubaker Handicap, which started with just three horses at Del Mar Friday.
In his first start since May 21, Sarafan, ridden by Corey Nakatani for trainer Neil Drysdale, got the job done under 122 pounds, defeating graded stakes-winning Fateful Dream while under good handling. Fateful Dream, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela with 119 pounds, held the lead well into the stretch before giving way, holding second a neck ahead of Johar and Alex Solis, the high weight at 123. It was the first start since Jan. 20 for the Hollywood Derby-winning son of Gone West trained by Richard Mandella.
Sarafan, a 6-year-old Lear Fan gelding who is perfect in three career starts at Del Mar, completed the 1 1/16-mile in 1:42 4/5 on a firm turf.
The bay won for the first time in two starts this year. Last year's Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) victor was third in an allowance at Hollywood Park May 21, his only start since a narrow loss, fourth by three-quarters of a length, in the Hong Kong Cup (Jpn-I) at Sha Tin in December.
A winner of nearly $2.3 million in his career, he has eight wins in 32 starts, all on grass.
Nakatani allowed Sarafan to track Fateful Dream from a couple of lengths behind into the stretch, where he collared the leader and proved better down the lane as Valenzuela lost his whip.
Investor's Dream and Nicobar were scratched, reducing the field to just three.
Johar, being aimed for the Breeders' Cup Turf later this year, was making his first start since going to the sidelines with a broken shoulder. In his last start he beat stable mate The Tin Man in the San Marcos (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita last winter. He sports a 5-3-2 record in 13 career starts with earnings of more than $680,000.
Sarafan paid $5 for the win. There was no place or show wagering.