But after an 8 1/2-length romp over a quality allowance field, his mind started to wander to bigger and better things.
The 5-year-old Colonel John gelding, who last found the winner's circle in the Affirmed Stakes (G3) in July of 2016, won so convincingly over the likes of graded stakes performers Cat Burglar, Hot Sean, Seattle Serenade, Infobedad, and Dressed in Hermes, that Desormeaux admitted he'll consider a run in the March 10 Santa Anita Handicap (G1).
"We tried (a mile and a quarter) in the (2016) Pacific Classic (G1) and it didn't work too well, but California Chrome was in there," Desormeaux said of Dalmore's fifth-place finish behind the two-time Horse of the Year, as well as champion Beholder and grade 1 winner Dortmund in Del Mar's summer feature. "I don't know. This is a fresh horse and I never thought a mile and a quarter was his game, but we'll entertain the thought. Those things are fun. Why not?"
In the 1 1/16-mile conditional optional-claiming allowance Thursday under jockey Kent Desormeaux, Dalmore unexpectedly set the pace, got a brief challenge from multiple graded stakes-placed Cat Burglar, and pulled away with ease in the stretch to hit the wire in 1:44.66, geared down to a gallop. He set fractions of :23.80, :47.58, and 1:11.91 through six furlongs. Cat Burglar held for second.
"That's what he's been doing in the morning," Kent Desormeaux said of Dalmore's early speed.
The victory ended an eight-race winless streak for Dalmore, and while all those starts were in stakes and he did place in two—the Super Derby (G3) in 2016 and the San Pasqual (G2) in 2017—some of the efforts were simply dull or misfires, including his last start, a seventh-place run on the grass at Del Mar in the Wickerr Stakes.
"This day and age we use horses up early and they never return to that form—they get injured or whatever," Keith Desormeaux said. "So to see one persevere through a tough 2- and 3-year-old year, then get the break, come back, and prove his worth—that's very rewarding.
"When you give a horse (time) off because of some dull performances, you always wonder if they still have it in them. So I wasn't going beyond this (race), but now that he ran such a super race, we'll entertain anything."
Owned by Big Chief Racing, Head of Plains Partners, Rocker O Ranch, and Keith Desormeaux, Dalmore now has a 4-4-1 record from 20 starts and $354,292 in earnings.