Irish Prize Squeezes Out San Gabriel Victory

Irish Prize squeezed past the leaders in the final stretch and held on to edge Manndar for the victory Monday in the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap at Santa Anita.

Manndar, the 6-5 favorite, finished ahead of Here Comes Big C in the handicap for 4-year-olds and up.

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Irish Prize carried 117 pounds and covered the 1 1/8-mile turf course in 1:47 4/5 to pay $14.20, $5.40 and $3.20.

Manndar paid $3.20 and $2.80. Here Comes Big C, a 30-1 outsider, paid $5.40 to show.

``I had a trip to die for,'' Desormeaux said. ``When we cornered for home there was no hole, but the horses that were on my outside couldn't keep up with the leaders anymore. I was able to slide out and proceed forward. It was perfect timing for the horse.''

Irish Prize earned $90,000 for owner Sheik Maktoum al Maktoum and increased his career bankroll to $299,003. The victory was the fifth in 16 lifetime starts for Irish Prize, a group III winner in France before coming to Neil Drysdale's barn in the U.S. Under Drysdale's tutelage, the gelded son of Irish River has four wins from nine starts.