Saturday, August 5th, 2017   ( 1 year ago )

Cambodia Triumphs in Yellow Ribbon Handicap

Cambodia © Benoit Photo

Winter Quarter Farm’s Cambodia, an invader from the East Coast, rallied in the stretch under jockey Drayden Van Dyke to score a narrow victory in the Grade II $200,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap for older fillies and mares Saturday.

A strong second choice at 2-1 in the mile and one-sixteenth affair over the infield grass course, Cambodia tallied by three-quarters of a length over the fast-closing Pretty Girl, with longshot Amboseli another head back in third place. Fourth was Hillhouse High in the field of seven distaff runners.

Avenge, the 9-10 favorite who won the John C. Mabee Stakes last summer, was a disappointing sixth, her first defeat in three starts over the Del Mar grass.

Cambodia, a daughter of War Front who won the Gallorette at Pimlico last spring and more recently was third in in a stakes event at Parx racecourse in Pennsylvania, was timed in a fast 1:40.86 as she scored her fifth triumph in a dozen races. Tom Proctor trains the five-year-old mare who earned a prize of $120,000 to increase her career bankroll to $373,746.

Cambodia returned $6.60, $4.20 and $3.40. Pretty Girl paid $7 and $4.40, while Amboseli returned $5 to show. For Van Dyke, it was his second straight win in the Yellow Ribbon, having won the race last summer aboard She’s Not Here.

In the co-featured Grade II $200,000 Sorrento Stakes for two-year-old fillies, Rick and Sharon Waller’s Spectator romped to an impressive upset triumph under jockey Jamie Theriot in the six and one-half furlong sprint.

Spectator, easy winner of a maiden race at Santa Anita in her first competitive appearance, took decisive command in the upper stretch and drew out to score by five and one-quarter lengths in 1:17.66 for the distance. Dancing Belle, off at 17-1 under Kent Desormeaux, was second, four and one-half lengths in advance of 50-1 longshot Terra’s Angel, piloted by Sasha Risenhoover.

Running fourth was Diamondsandpearls, the 7-5 second choice ridden by Mike Smith. The filly, purchased for $1.7 million at a two-year-olds in training sale in Florida last February, never was a serious threat from off the pace after leading from wire-to-wire when she broke her maiden a month ago.

Surrender Now, the even-money favorite after two easy triumphs, including the Landaluce Stakes at Santa Anita July 2, faded badly and was eased after contesting the early pace under jockey Flavien Prat.

Spectator, a daughter of Jimmy Creed trained by Phil D’Amato, returned $10.40, $4.40 and $3.80 while earning $120,000 first money. She provided D’Amato with his fifth stakes success of the current summer season.

Dancing Belle paid $8.60 and $5, while third-place Terra’s Angel returned $10.40 to show.

The Sorrento Stakes is Del Mar’s traditional steppingstone to the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante on Saturday, Sept. 2.

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Cambodia, winner) – “The key for her is to get her to relax. Today she did it beautifully. So different than when I worked her; she’s all keyed up. But she was just fine today. Could she run on? If she relaxes, I think she can do anything. A very good race for her today.”

MIKE SMITH (Pretty Girl, second) – “I rode her like I wanted to win. I took all the chances I could. But she didn’t win. Maybe I should have done something different. But she ran well.”

VICTOR ESPINOZA (Amboseli, third) – “She really came running. We were last and she came on very well. It’s a while since she ran, so this will probably help her. And the farther the better for her.”

FLAVIEN PRAT (Avenge, sixth) – “She was right there, then she just flattened out.”

DON ROBINSON (owner of Cambodia, winner) – “I’ve had this filly’s entire family, it’s the ultimate breeder’s reward. I’ve never had a horse of my own of this quality. Thank you Tom Proctor; he’s the horseman’s horseman and this is just a thrill. This is the biggest thrill of my life. I came here in 1966 and walked hots for Charlie Whittingham. I came back when Zenyatta won the Clement Hirsch. This is only my third visit and it’s an amazing thrill to come here and win this race.”    

FRACTIONS: :23.53 :47.61 1:11.45 1:34.97 1:40.86

This is the first stakes win of the meet for rider Van Dyke, but his second in the Yellow Ribbon (he won last year’s with She’s Not Here). He now has eight stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first of the meet for trainer Proctor and his first in the Yellow Ribbon. He now has 14 stakes wins at Del Mar.

Cambodia is owned by Winter Quarter Farm of Don Robinson.