Echo Eddie and jockey Patrick Valenzuela bulled their way past Rocky Bar on the inside and went on to a two-length victory in Sunday's autumn meet-closing $85,970 Dayjur Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Returning from an absence of more than five months due to foot problems, the 5-year-old gray Restless Con gelding covered the 5 1/2-furlong sprint distance in 1:02.74. The race was switched from turf to dirt earlier in the week, reducing the field to five.
Echo Eddie was in tight quarters and took up on the backstretch while chasing Rocky Bar and Gibson County through an opening quarter-mile in :21.66. As they came out of the turn for home, the ultra-game Echo Eddie would wait no longer and squeezed through a small opening when Rocky Bar and rider Kent Desormeaux came off the rail a bit. Television replays showed Desormeaux's left elbow nearly hitting Echo Eddie in the nose in a vain effort to hold the rail. After jostling for position down the stretch, Echo Eddie pulled away to win handily. Rocky Bar edged closing Slew Of The Knight by a half-length for third.
"I rode Rocky Bar the last time and I thought he would come out," Valenzuela said. "Kent did a good job keeping him in there until they came out of the turn. It was just good race riding by Mo."
Owned by David and Rita Milch, Echo Eddie is trained by Darrell Vienna. He won for the ninth time in 20 starts. He pushed his career earnings to about $950,000.
Vienna said he would like to return Echo Eddie to Dubai in March for a repeat run in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen. Echo Eddie lost the race last year by a head to Caller One.
"Let's hope there is peace in the world and a place for us in Dubai," Vienna said.
Echo Eddie, off at 4-5, paid $3.60, $2.40 and $2.20. Rocky Bar returned $2.80 and $2.40. Slew Of The Night paid $2.40 to show.