Michael House's Irish-bred Hunt, victorious in the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read Stakes (G2T) a month ago, confirmed his quality Aug. 19 in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap Presented by The Japan Racing Association (G2T) at Del Mar.
Perfectly placed by jockey Flavien Prat in fourth as longshot Mr. Roary showed the field of 13 through the early stages of the 1 3/8-mile contest over the infield Jimmy Durante turf course, Hunt tracked off slow fractions of :24.40, :49.40, 1:14.88, and 1:39.09 for a mile before he darted between horses in upper stretch to take command.
"The slow pace helped us; he liked that, coming from the shorter race," Prat said. "We were close up, too. He likes to be among horses, covered up. I followed Gary (Stevens on co-second choice Ashleyluvssugar) through the hole (at the top of the stretch), then dropped down. He had it from there."
"It was a masterful ride," trainer Phil D'Amato said. "Flavien just bided his time, let the race develop a little, found a seam on the inside, and turned him loose. He got it done."
"He was way the best horse—way the best," Baze said of Itsinthepost's narrow loss. "I had to wait, wait, wait on the turn. If I could have gotten him out, we would have come running."
The Del Mar Handicap is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event for the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T), and the victory awarded 5-year-old Hunt with an automatic berth in the Nov. 4 race at Del Mar.
Hunt finished the Del Mar Handicap distance in 2:14.93 and returned $8.80, $4.60, and $3.60 across the board. The order of finish was completed by Prime Attraction, Inordinate, Ashleyluvssugar, Up With the Birds, He Will, Editore, Big John B, Liam the Charmer, Monster Bea, and Mr. Roary.
Bred by Michael O'Callaghan out of the Vettori (IRE) mare Mansiya (GB), Hunt improved his record to 7-5-3 from 23 starts. The son of Dark Angel has earnings of $548,419.