Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith scored his second stakes victory in as many days Saturday, rallying 8-5 favored Awesome Return to a convincing triumph in the featured
$93,100 Let It Ride Stakes for three-year-olds at one mile over the infield grass course.
Utilizing the same patient come-from-behind tactics which brought success aboard Queen of The Sand in Friday’s Kathryn Crosby Stakes, opening-day feature of Del Mar’s fall Bing Crosby Season, Smith guided Awesome Return to the outside in the upper stretch and drove to a 1 ¼ length triumph.
Number Five, a 12-1 outsider in the wagering, finished second, a head in front of Cabral, with Maibaby another 1 ¼ lengths back in fourth.
Awesome Return was one of the few favorites to win Saturday, creating a carryover to Sunday in the Pick Six of $80,414. Post time for the first race Sunday is 12 noon, with the Pick Six offered on the fourth through ninth races.
Awesome Return, a son of Decarchy owned by Richard Kritski and trained by Mike Puype, ran the distance in 1:34.55 and returned $5.40, $4 and $3.20 after his fourth win in nine races. First money of $60,660 increased the colt’s earnings to $330,780.
Number Five paid $9.40 and $5.60, while Cabral returned $6.20 to show.
Martin Pedroza was the afternoon’s riding star, recording three upset victories. He won the fourth on Little Jerry at $27.60, the sixth aboard Suva Harbor at $14.80 and capped his triple on Itz a Saint at $47 in the seventh. Richard Baltas trained both Little Jerry and Itza Saint.
Attendance Saturday was 9,975.
MIKE SMITH (Awesome Return, winner) – “This was my first time on him, so I really didn’t know what to expect. But Mike (trainer Mike Puype) told me he had a really good turn of foot and that I could count on it. I might have cut him loose sooner than I should have because he was lagging back there, but in the end it didn’t matter. He was just better than all of them today. Won the stake yesterday; won today. We’ve got another one tomorrow. I might as well just go ahead and finish it off.”
TIAGO PEREIRA (Number Five, second) – “I had a good trip. When we turned for home, I thought I might win. But he ran good.”
COREY NAKATANI (Cabral, third) – “Man, he’s a handful. I think they ought to geld him. He’s way too much trouble. People used to say that of me, too. He’s got a lot of talent, but…..”
MIKE PUYPE (Awesome Return, winner) – “I liked the pace. I told Mike (Smith) to take him back a little bit because there was so much speed in the race in my mind. He got to playing a little bit in the stretch but the horse does that every time. He’s never going to pull away and win by tons, but he still has a little bit left. He runs to his competition. And, as always, you don’t see Mike Smith make any mistakes.”
(Puype, who has a dozen horses stabled at Del Mar, was winning his third race in two days and currently is Del Mar’s leading trainer.)
FRACTIONS: :22.16 :45.07 1:10.23 1:22.48 1:34.55
This is the first running of the Let It Ride Stakes.
The stakes win was the second of the meet for Mike Smith. He now has a total of 49 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the first of the meet for Mike Puype. He now has a total of nine stakes wins at Del Mar.
The owner, Richard Kritzski, is from Santa Monica, CA.