Cambodia Breezes in Yellow Ribbon Handicap
Cambodia © Benoit Photo
Winter Quarter Farm’s Cambodia, given a well-judged ride by Drayden Van Dyke, stormed to the front entering the stretch and drew off to an impressive triumph in the featured Grade II $200,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap Saturday at Del Mar, her second straight victory in the mile and one-sixteenth grass contest for older fillies and mares.
As defending champion in the Yellow Ribbon, the six-year-old bay mare was sent to the post as the 8-5 favorite and didn’t disappoint with a dominating performance versus ten distaff rivals. Always well positioned within striking range by Van Dyke, Cambodia surged into contention from the outside with slightly less than a quarter-mile to go and pulled away to score by two and one-half lengths in 1:40.51, bettering her time of 1:40.86 a year ago in the Yellow Ribbon.
In a three-way photo for runner-up honors, Madame Stripes was a head in front of Sophie P, with eastern invader Hallie Belle only another head farther back in fourth. Fahan Mura was scratched.
For Cambodia, a Kentucky-bred daughter of War Front trained by Tom Proctor, it was her seventh win in 18 starts and first money of $120,000 increased her earnings to $778,913. She paid $5.40, $3.20 and $2.60. Madame Stripes returned $5 and $3.60, while Sophie P paid $6.40 to show. For Van Dyke it was his third win on the ten-race program. He took the seventh on two-year-old Sigalert.
Saturday’s supporting feature, the $100,000 Graduation Stakes for California-bred two-year-olds at five and one-half furlongs, was won in stylish fashion by Tap the Wire under Van Dyke. The winner scored by three and one-half lengths over Luck’s Royal Flush, with Oliver third in a field of five runners. Bea’s Boy and Grab the Munny were scratched.
Tap the Wire, a son of Eddington owned by Allegra and John Ernst and trained by Daniel Dunham, ran the distance in 1:05.48 and returned $8, $4.40 and $4 after his second victory in as many races. First prize was $57,000. Runner-up Luck’s Royal Flush paid $4 and $3.40, while Oliver returned $3.20 to show.
Tyler Baze also booted in three winners Saturday, tallying with Closing Time in the second, Conquest Typhoon in the third and Tatters to Riches in the ninth.
There were nine winning tickets in the Pick Six and each was worth $14,123.
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Cambodia, winner) – “She put me up there in the race. She’s got that natural speed and she wants to be in the race. I was just biding my time; I had a couple to beat, but I had good aim. She likes this turf course, no doubt. It’s all clicking for me right now. I’m feeling good and riding good. I want to keep it going.”
GEOVANNI FRANCO (Madame Stripes, second) – “It was a good trip for me. She came running. But the winner was just too good.”
KENT DESORMEAUX (Sophie P, third) – “She gave me a great run. If she keeps doing it like this, she’ll win some of these things.”
DON ROBINSON, owner/breeder (Cambodia, winner) – “We really wanted her to do this. I’ve never had a horse like this and we decided to run her at six, because it’s such a thrill and I feel like I’m vindicated. She’s run in two Grade Is this year and they don’t give those away. She was close (despite finishing sixth and seventh) so we thought maybe she’d make it out here. This is her spot and she loves it.”
FRACTIONS: :23.33 :47.03 1:10.57 1:34.39 1:40.51
The stakes win was the fourth of the meet (the most by any rider) and third straight in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap for rider Van Dyke. He now has 15 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the first of the meet, but second straight in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap by trainer Proctor.
The winner is owned by Winter Quarter Farm of Don Robinson of Lexington, KY.
Cambodia has now raced on the Del Mar turf course five times, winning three stakes and finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in another.