Irish Prize Wins Close Call in Fastness

Irish Prize came from off the pace to beat Timboroa by a neck and win the $110,400 Fastness Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park on Sunday. Ridden by Gary Stevens, Irish Prize covered 1 1/8 miles on the turf in 1:50.01 on the firm turf course and paid $5.60, $3.20, and $2.60 as the 9-5 favorite. Timboroa returned $4 and $3.40, while City West paid $3 to show. The $1 exacta paid $12.60.

After City West drifted off the rail, Timboroa went through along the rail turning for home and held a narrow lead approaching the eighth pole. Irish Prize rallied in the final furlong to gain the narrow victory over a game Timboroa. City West was another 1 1/2 lengths back, followed by Falcon Flight, Wake the Tiger, Dunhill, Eagleton, and Grey Memo. Night Patrol was scratched.

"I had him in where I wanted him and I didn't think he could get through," Stevens said. "Eddie's (Delahoussaye) horse (City West) drifted out off the fence just coming into the stretch and David (Flores, aboard Timboroa) found room. It was a horse race. He rode too good a race to get beat and his horse ran too well to get beat, but my horse was just all heart. I never had to get after him with the whip at all. He was just very game throughout the race."

The victory, worth $66,240, increased Irish Prize's career earnings to $387,743, with six wins in 18 starts for the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred, who carried high weight of 119 pounds. Irish Prize (Irish River--Cadeaux d'Amie, by Lyphard) is trained by Neil Drysdale and owned by Sheik Maktoum al Maktoum. He was bred by Gainsborough Farm.

"I was concerned because Bobby's (Frankel) horse got through on the rail," Drysdale said. "He got a really smooth trip on the rail, so I knew he'd be difficult to beat. But this horse has been training very well and he had a nice little prep in San Francisco the other day. He won well."

Drysdale was referring to the San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) at Bay Meadows on April 28, in which Irish Prize finished fourth. That race came after a nearly four-month layoff following his first career stakes win in the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) on New Year's Day at Santa Anita. (Chart, Equibase)