Little-known Argentine-bred Global Hunter surged past 11-10 choice Monterey Jazz in upper stretch and held sway for jockey Corey Nakatani to register a 14-1 upset in an eventful $350,000 Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) at Del Mar July 25 (VIDEO).
Global Hunter, a 6-year-old son of Jade Hunter, scored his first graded stakes win in the United States for trainer A.C. Avila. It was his second victory in 12 North American starts since transferring to Southern California in the spring of 2008.
There was a bizarre twist to the 36th running of the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read, when early leader Thorn Song suddenly bolted to the outer rail on the clubhouse turn. The stalking Monterey Jazz, ridden by Tyler Baze, appeared to be spooked by Thorn Song and took firm hold of the bit, jetting to a six or seven-length lead down the backstretch. The favorite was laboring as he reached the top of the stretch, and Global Hunter, who was able to rate comfortably under Nakatani, took the lead with little trouble.
Global Hunter took command mid-stretch and finished under strong hand urging in front by one length. The late-running Awesome Gem outfought second choice Whatsthescript and Artiste Royal for second. The winning time was 1:46.24 over firm going.
L-Bo Racing and Monte Pyle own the winner.
Thorn Song, making his first start for trainer Mike Mitchell, was pulled out of the race by jockey Mike Smith although apparently uninjured. The dual grade I winner returned to be unsaddled without any problem.
“Man, did he duck! He just threw his head up and went," Smith said. "I knew he wasn’t hurt, he just saw something and he ducked. There’s a brick pillar over near there with yellow tape on it; maybe that was it. I did well to stay on. It’s a shame. He was cruisin’. If we keep going, who knows?”
Nakatani earned his 96th stakes victory at Del Mar and moved past Laffit Pincay Jr. into second place on the all-time list at the seashore track. He is behind only Chris McCarron, with 134.
The 38-year-old Nakatani rode Global Hunter for the first time in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) two weeks ago. They finished eighth on the Cushion Track. The return to turf was key as Global Hunter has six wins in 14 starts on grass, all but one of those wins coming in Argentina.
“I think his race in the Gold Cup set him up for this," Nakatani said after his fifth Eddie Read win. "I told A. C. that I thought going back on the grass was good for him. When Mike’s horse (Mike Smith on Thorn Song) ducked out (on the clubhouse turn), I just wanted to be relaxed and patient. When those things happen, you don’t want to lose your focus. It can cost you and your horse. (Global Hunter) was traveling great and running real relaxed. He came running and that was that. I thought he’d run a big one today and I rode him with confidence. “
Thorn Song fired out of the gate for Smith, cutting to the rail, and had a comfortable lead over Monterey Jazz and Baze, who took a firm hold early. Thorn Song posted a moderate opening quarter-mile of :24 before drifting out badly in front of Monterey Jazz, who was racing on the front-runner's outside.
"He was nice and relaxed, just what I wanted," Baze said of Monterey Jazz. "But after that, he just wanted to go, go, go. And that was it. I couldn't do anything with him."
The half went in :47.18, with six furlongs clocked in 1:10.11. With three furlongs to run, Monterey Jazz was already in some trouble as Global Hunter, racing uncovered in second, gradually cut into the big advantage.
Awesome Gem, who rallied between horses to get the runner-up spot for jockey Alex Solis, was making up ground but never seriously threatened the winner. He finished three-quarters of a length in front of Whatsthescript, who headed Artiste Royal for third.
“I got bounced around at the top of the stretch," Solis said of the runner-up. "It cost me. It cost me the race. I have no doubt.”
Monterey Jazz, Dakota Phone and Richard's Kid completed the order.
Global Hunter's only prior win in the U.S. came in the Lure Stakes at one mile on the grass at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet last fall, snapping a seven-race losing streak. He subsequently ran second in the Thunder Road Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Santa Anita lawn in February and followed that effort with a close fourth-place finish behind the victorious Gio Ponti in the Frank Kilroe Mile Handicap (gr. IT) March 7.
The Eddie Read victory, his seventh win in 25 lifetime starts, was worth $210,000 and boosted his career bankroll to $455,365. La Providencia bred the winner. He is out of Griffe de Paris, by Telescopico.
Global Hunter had shown fondness for the Del Mar turf last summer when he ran third, one length behind Whatsthescript, in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT). His only other black type in the U.S. came in with a third-place finish in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) in his American debut in April 2008.
“I’ve always had high expectations for this horse ever since he came to America," Avila said. "But one thing, then another happened to keep him from doing those things. I thought he had a good chance here. He had been training super.”
Sent off as the third-longest shot in the field, Global Hunter carried 119 pounds and paid $30.20, $13 and $7.80, topping a $2 exacta worth $234.30. The millionaire Awesome Gem, like Monterey Jazz from the barn of Craig Dollase, returned $9.80 and $5.60. Whatsthescript, winless in five starts since taking the Del Mar Mile, was $3.80 to show.