Cambodia was able to put herself in the right place at the right time in the 13-horse field for the $200,000 John C. Mabee Stakes (G2T). As a result, the 5-year-old daughter of War Front was able to reinforce the fact she has never been better in her career.
With jockey Drayden Van Dyke giving her astute handling, Cambodia got the jump on Goodyearforroses in the lane and made that difference stand up in the 1 1/8-mile turf test at Del Mar to notch her third graded stakes win in her last four starts.
Cambodia's year actually began as an exercise in frustration. The Tom Proctor-trained mare ran third in three straight stakes to start the year before getting over the hump in the Gallorette Stakes (G3T) at Pimlico Race Course May 20.
After running third in the July 4 Dr. James Penny Memorial Stakes (G3T) at Parx Racing, she showed her affinity for Del Mar in the form of a victory in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2T). With her win in the John C. Mabee, Cambodia improves her record to six wins from 13 starts.
The handiness Cambodia has shown was put to the test Saturday. She was able to work her way between horses and sit sixth down the backstretch in an outside path while Hillhouse High led Frenzified and the rest of the baker's dozen through fractions of :23.20 and :47.38. As Goodyearforroses angled off her position on the rail and ran straight into traffic coming off the far turn, Cambodia was able to get a clear path between horses and came with a strong kick to the wire, holding off a surge from Goodyearforroses by three-quarters of a length when that one was finally able to get running room.
"No special instructions for me. Just get her out of there and get a good spot," Van Dyke said. "She was really relaxed today; all class. She can be a little quirky sometimes, but today she was calm. We thought she might be close to the lead, but she was just going so easy I was happy with where I was. When it came time, she fired. I was just a passenger today."
Sent off as the 5-2 favorite, Cambodia stopped the teletimer in 1:47.79 over a course rated firm and paid $7.80, $4, and $3.20 across the board. Madame Stripes was third while Insta Erma and Decked Out rounded out the top five.
Owned by Don Robinson's Winter Quarter Farm, which also co-bred the mare with Maverick Productions, Cambodia is out of the Smart Strike mare Sassifaction. She improves her earnings to $443,746.
"I felt so fortunate to win the Yellow Ribbon and I look at this as icing on the cake," Robinson said. "This filly has never been a mile and an eighth, and to do it this way — rate and close—I'm over the top. It's the best thing I've ever done for myself. I've raised some awfully good ones for other people, but this is a thrill. This is a crowning achievement. I love Del Mar."