Sam-Son Farm's Journey Home made her journey west a winning one Nov. 26 at Del Mar with a clear score in the in the $100,000 Jimmy Durante Stakes (gr. IIIT), but the victory was not without controversy, albeit by no fault of the War Front filly.
As the field of 13 entered the first turn of the mile turf test, debris on the turf course caused several of the horses to scatter to avoid it.
Favored With Honors, another War Front filly, appeared to take the brunt of the debris-based interference. On the lead approaching the debris—which was blown onto the turf course from the infield because of rainy, windy weather—With Honors drifted out very wide in the first turn to avoid the obstruction and lost the lead. Defiant Honor, also hampered by the debris, inherited the lead after the incident and set fractions of :23.75, :48.68, and 1:13.64 through six furlongs.
Defiant Honor still held the lead with a furlong to run, but could not hold off the late rally from fellow East Coast shipper Journey Home, who sailed clear to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Defiant Honor won a photo for second, just ahead of With Honors, who dropped into a stalking position after encountering the debris.
Trained by Graham Motion, Journey Home broke her maiden in her debut Nov. 4 at Laurel Park, where she won a 1 1/16-mile grass race by a neck in a similar closing fashion. In the Durante, she was last of 13 after the first quarter and 12th after the first half-mile. Under the guidance of jockey Drayden Van Dyke Saturday, Journey Home finished off the mile in 1:38.24 on turf listed as firm.
An inquiry into the race drew no change. The California Horse Racing Board stewards cited Rule 1544 in their decision and indicated a majority of horses were not affected by the obstruction.
Rule 1544 states, "The stewards may declare a race no contest if mechanical failure or interference during the running of the race affects the majority of horses in such race."
The Equibase chart of the race, however, counters that opinion. The chart notes that 10 of the 13 runners were impacted by the debris, or a chain reaction caused by the debris.
Jaime Roth, who owns With Honors as LNJ Foxwoods, took to social media to comment on the race.
"Not one for excuses, but please don't run races if the wind is so bad that (debris is) gonna fly onto the turf course," Roth said on Twitter.