Caracortado, on the short end of the photo in a pair of grade I losses recently, came from behind to defeat Mr. Commons by a nose in a terrific finish to the $200,000 Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT) Aug. 27 (VIDEO).
With regular rider Joe Talamo aboard, the 7-5 choice posted his first graded stakes win since he upset the field in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park in February 2010.
Mr. Commons, a 3-year-old facing older rivals for the first time, had first run on Caracortado, who followed the Oceanside Stakes winner through the lane. But Caracortado, on the far outside, would prevail at the wire under urging from Talamo.
Trainer Mike Machowsky had also entered the versatile Caracortado in the Pat O'Brien Stakes (gr. I) on Del Mar's Polytrack Aug. 28, but opted for the turf event, in which the 4-year-old son of Cat Dreams faced just five rivals. Caracortado had lost five consecutive races.
“I felt like he needed to get a win for himself more than anything.," Machowsky said. "Even though I thought he’d have a heck of a shot in the (seven-furlong Pat O’Brien), I looked at the field for this race and thought that if he ran his race he would be awful tough. We needed a win; we all needed a win."
Machowsky bred Caracortado and is also part owner of the gelding through Lo Hi Racing, along with Donald Blahut's Blahut Racing.
Since capturing the Sunshine Millions Turf Jan. 29 at Santa Anita, Caracortado had lost the Frank Kilroe Mile (gr. IT) by a head March 5 and the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) by a neck July 2. He was coming off a non-threatening third-place finish as the favorite in Del Mar's Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) July 23.
After breaking alertly in spite of a slight bobble, Caracortado was allowed to fall back to fifth in the compact field, so he stalked from the inside. Our Nautique showed the way through pedestrian quarter-mile splits of :23.32, :47.62, and 1:11.60.
The field bunched up leaving the far turn as Our Nautique dropped out. Mr. Commons, three wide in the stretch, emerged with a slight advantage over Victory Pete mid-stretch.
Mr. Commons, racing between horses for Mike Smith, fought gamely to the wire but Caracortado, charging home under left-handed encouragement from Talamo, came on with a big late rush to steal it away.
“I know we only just got there, but I was confident," Talamo said. "We had talked before (the race), and Mike and I both said we had to get him more in the race. He has been coming from too far back and not getting there. But today he was up closer and I was very confident; I could feel I had a lot of horse under me. We were smokin’ that last part."
Calimonco was a half-length back in third with Victor Espinoza aboard, finishing a head in front of Victory Pete. Grade I winner Champ Pegasus was next, unable to sustain his rally from last in his first start since the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) March 29. Our Nautique trailed.
Caracortado, who began his career with five consecutive wins, improved his career mark to 8-2-3 in 17 starts for earnings of $774,105. Out of the Maria's Mon mare Mons Venus, the chestnut has won three of seven starts on turf with two seconds and a third.
As far as Caracortado's next start, Machowsky said: “We’ll get back to Santa Anita and re-evaluate. I don’t want to beat him into the ground. I want to keep him around for a couple years. They asked me about the Breeders’ Cup (Mile) and I’m 50-50.”
The winner carried 120 pounds and paid $4.80, $2.60, $2.40. Mr. Commons returned $3.60 and $3. The exacta paid $17.20. Calimonco, winner of Del Mar's one-mile Wickerr Stakes in his most recent start July 27, paid $4 to show.