Cambodia Triumphs in John C. Mabee Stakes
Cambodia © Benoit Photo
Under a well-judged ride by 22-year-old jockey Drayden Van Dyke, 5-2 favored Cambodia, winner of the Grade II Yellow Ribbon Handicap a month ago, reaffirmed her quality Saturday with a narrow but decisive victory in the Grade II $200,000 John C. Mabee Stakes for older fillies and mares at Del Mar.
Placed within striking distance in mid-pack early by Van Dyke, Cambodia rallied between horses entering the stretch to take command, then repulsed the late challenge of 5-2 second choice Goodyearforroses to score by three-quarters a length.
Madame Stripes, a 13-1 longshot, was third, a length and three-quarters behind the runner-up and one length in front of fourth-place Insta Erma in the field of 13 distaff runners.
Cambodia, a five-year-old mare by War Front owned by the Winter Quarter Farm of Don Robinson of Lexington, Ky., and trained by Tom Proctor, ran the nine furlongs over the infield grass course in 1:47.79 and returned $7.80, $4 and $3.20 while earning first money of $120,000. Her earnings are now $443,746.
Goodyearforroses, who was piloted by Corey Nakatani, paid $4.60 and $3.40, while Madame Stripes returned $7 to show.
Flavien Prat took charge in the Del Mar jockeys standings with four winners, including Moonshine Memories in the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante. His other victories were Coils Gold at $8.20 in the fourth, Solomini at $4 in the fifth and St. Patrick’s Day at $3.60 in the eighth. St. Patrick’s Day, a full brother to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, broke his maiden in his second career outing. Bob Baffert saddled Coils Gold, Solomini and St. Patrick’s Day for a training triple.
Entering the final two days of the 2017 Del Mar season, Prat has 32 winners, three more than Rafael Bejarano, with whom he tied for the title last summer. Apprentice Evin Roman is third with 28 wins.
There were 27 perfect tickets in Saturday’s Pick Six and each was worth $12,785. “New” money bet into the Pick Six pool Saturday was $505,669 added to a carryover of $72,639 for a total pool of $578,308. The single ticket Jackpot carryover is $112,057.
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Cambodia, winner) – “No special instructions for me. Just get her out of there and get a good spot. She was really relaxed today; all class. She can be a little quirky sometimes, but today she was calm. We thought she might be close to the lead, but she was just going so easy I was happy with where I was. When it came time, she fired. I was just a passenger today.”
COREY NAKATANI (Goodyearforroses, second) – “Pretty good trip for me today. No real problems. She came running. Impressive.”
JOE TALAMO (Madame Stripes, third) – “I had a great trip. She really showed me a good turn of foot for the finish.”
GARY STEVENS (Insta Erma, fourth) – “We got levelled leaving there. It was nasty to start. I was way back and nowhere near where I wanted to be. She came flying at the finish.”
DON ROBINSON (owner of Cambodia, winner) – “I felt so fortunate to win the Yellow Ribbon and I look at this as icing on the cake. This filly has never been a mile and an eighth, and to do it this way – rate and close – I’m over the top. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve raised some awfully good ones for other people, but this is a thrill. This is a crowning achievement. I love Del Mar.”
FRACTIONS: :23.20 :47.38 1:11.67 1:36.07 1:47.79
This was the third stakes win of the meet for rider Van Dyke, but his first in the John C. Mabee. This is his 10th stakes win at Del Mar.
This is the second stakes win of the meet for trainer Tom Proctor, but his first in the John C. Mabee. He now has 15 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The winning owner is the Winter Quarter Farm of Don Robinson of Lexington, KY.