Prime Attraction Upsets in Native Diver Stakes
Prime Attraction © Benoit Photo
DP Racing’s Prime Attraction, scratched from Friday’s Hollywood Turf Cup at a mile and one-half on the grass to compete in Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Native Diver Stakes at nine furlongs on the main track, rewarded that decision with a convincing triumph under jockey Victor Espinoza.
Prime Attraction, trained by Jim Cassidy, stalked pacemaking Curlin Rules until the top of the stretch where he assumed command and then drew out to win by two and one-half lengths in 1:49.87 for the distance.
Irish Freedom, lone three-year-old in the field of seven horses, closed well in the stretch to be second, a length in front of the 9-5 favorite Mubtaahij, his stablemate from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert. Top of the Game, the 2-1 second choice, was fourth after traffic trouble on the final turn.
Prime Attraction, a four-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song, was scoring his third victory in seven starts on a dirt surface and fourth in a dozen races over-all. Sent to the gate at 7-1, the winner paid $16, $6 and $3.40 while taking home first money of $60,000 to push his earnings to $235,545. Runner-up Irish Freedom, 3-1 under Rafael Bejarano, paid $4.40 and $2.80, while Mubtaahij returned $2.60 to show.
VICTOR ESPINOZA (Prime Attraction, winner) – “The key with him is to not take a hold of him early. If you take a hold, he gets all cranked up and wants to go. But if you let him settle, get into a rhythm, then he’s fine. He’s strong; a really strong horse. And if you have to fight him, you’re in trouble. But it worked out perfectly for me today. The speed was inside me so I could just let him go along there early. And when you can do that, he finishes strong. Just like he did today.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Irish Freedom, second) – “We were in good position. No excuses for me today. The winner was best.”
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Mubtaahij, third) – “We were in a good spot. He closed, but just not enough. We didn’t have a lot of pace to run at. He may want to run farther.”
JIM CASSIDY (Prime Attraction, winner) – “Sometimes no matter what you do it works out. Victor (Espinoza) knows how to ride him. You can’t grab this colt early, you’ve just got to hope that nobody sends, sends and goes with him early because he’ll go as fast as he can and then he’ll tire himself out. He got to go at it nice and easy and he didn’t tire himself out today.”
(The winner was entered in the mile and one-half Hollywood Turf Cup Friday, but scratched out of that race to run in the Native Diver.)
FRACTIONS: :23.22 :47.55 1:12.25 1:37.37 1:49.87
The stakes win was the second of the meet for rider Espinoza, but his first in the Native Diver. He now has 96 stakes wins at Del Mar, eighth best of all riders.
The stakes win was the first of the meet for trainer Cassidy and his first in the Native Diver. He now has 17 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The owner of the winner, DP Racing, is Deron Pearson of Valencia, CA.