El Corredor, center, pushes between Figlio Mio and Performing Magic to win the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap.

El Corredor, center, pushes between Figlio Mio and Performing Magic to win the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap.

AP/Benoit photo

El Corredor Finishes Gamely for Repeat Win at Del Mar

Hal Earnhardt's El Corredor willed his way in front of Performing Magic in deep stretch then held off Figlio Mio to win Sunday's $250,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) for the second consecutive year. Under Victor Espinoza, El Corredor completed the one-mile race in 1:35.24 on a fast track.

Performing Magic, a 12-1 longshot, had a dream trip, skimming the rail from a stalking position early on before launching an unencumbered rally along the rail on the second turn. The Thoroughbred Corp. runner led the field into the stretch as El Corredor put the pressure on from the outside, but could not resist the late efforts of the Bob Baffert-trained winner, who surged to the front in the final strides to win by a head.

"He was all heart," said Espinoza. "I was so proud of him. I ride this horse with a lot of confidence and he gave me more today."

Figlio Mio closed for second just outside of El Corredor. Performing Magic finished another neck-length back in third, followed by Smile Again, Budroyale, and Bright Valour.

"I had a super trip and my horse ran great," said Gary Stevens of Performing Magic. "He gave me a thrill. I wish he would have had one more (race) in him coming into this. But this one will set him up. He's primed now."

El Corredor (Mr. Greeley--Silvery Swan, by Silver Deputy) raced under highweight of 121 pounds, spotting from four to nine pounds to his five rivals. El Corredor earned $150,000 and his second win of the year. In his only other race as a 4-year-old, he defeated Swept Overboard by 1 1/2 lengths in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien Handicap (gr. II). As a 3-year-old, he won his first career stakes race in the 2000 renewal of the race and then went on to finish second to Fusaichi Pegasus in the Jerome Handicap (gr. II) and win the Cigar Mile (gr. I). The win improves his career mark to seven wins from nine career starts. He was bred in Kentucky by Needham-Betz Thoroughbreds/Liberation.

El Corredor returned $2.40, $2.20, and $2.10 and led a $1 exacta worth $5.30. Figlio Mio paid $4.40 and $2.10. Performing Magic returned $2.10 to show. (Chart, Equibase)