Odds-on favored Sunset Glow, beautifully handled by jockey Victor Espinoza, sliced through a slight opening between horses in the upper stretch en route to a narrow but convincing triumph in the featured Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante for two-year-old fillies Saturday.
Sunset Glow, sent postward at 4-5 on the basis of an impressive victory in the steppingstone Sorrento Stakes early last month, gamely outfought 3-1 second choice Her Emmynence in a stretch duel to prevail by a neck in 1:23.12 for the seven furlongs on the main track. Joe Talamo rode Her Emmynence.
Conquest Eclipse, a 14-1 outsider, closed well under Corey Nakatani to be third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up and 1 ¼ lengths in front of fourth-place Dad’s Princess in the field of nine fillies.
Sunset Glow, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Exchange Rate purchased for $140,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September Sale, is owned by the Ten Broeck Farm of David Mowat of Woodinville, Washington and trained by Wesley Ward. Blake Heap is the assistant trainer.
First money of $180,000 for the filly’s third win in five starts increased her earnings to $377,645 as well clinching the juvenile filly championship of Del Mar’s summer season.
Sunset Glow returned $3.80, $3 and $2.40, while Her Emmynency paid $4.20 and $3.40 and Conquest Eclipse returned $5 to show.
In Saturday’s supporting feature, the $98,650 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes for older horses, 3-5 favored Blue Tone and jockey Kent Desormeaux prevailed by a game head over 7-2 Big Bane Theory in 1:36.03 for the mile on the main track. Calm Pacific was third in the field of six runners.
Blue Tone, a son of Birdstone owned by Engelberg, Schoeder and Steeper and trained by Bob Hess, Jr., earned a prize of $55,800 with his fourth win in nine starts. The five-year-old paid $3.20 to win.
For Desormeaux and Hess it was their 11th successful collaboration of the summer season.
With only three days remaining of the meeting, jockey Rafael Bejarano, bidding for his third straight Del Mar riding title, pulled away from his rivals Saturday by booting in four winners. He now has 34 victories, six more than Desormeaux and Elvis Trujillo. The latter doubled Saturday.
In the Pick Six Saturday, there were three perfect tickets, each worth $101,216.
With a carryover of $61,395 from Friday and $453,482 in “new” money, the pool totaled $514,877.
Saturday’s attendance was 14,262.
VICTOR ESPINOZA (Sunset Glow, winner) – “I took a chance with her today; I tried something different. Going seven eighths and seeing all the speed in there, I thought my best chance was to take her back and then make a run. I know she’s been used to running up front, but I thought we’d have to come from the back. I’m sure glad it worked out. When you’ve got a favorite (4-5) like this, it’s good when it works out. But she gives me confidence; she responds to what you want to do. There was never a doubt she would go through those holes. No hesitation. I’m proud of her for that. She got a little tired at the end, but she’s the kind that will probably run on.”
JOE TALAMO (Her Emmynency, second) – “Oh, man, that was a tough beat. She ran great. She’s a really nice filly.”
COREY NAKATANI (Conquest Eclipse, third) – “She ran dynamite. Mark (trainer Mark Casse) told me he thought she was a Grade I filly and to ride her that way. And he was spot on. I don’t know that she was handling this track the best, but she still ran well. And I can’t wait until they start running farther.”
MIKE SMITH (Dad’s Princess, fourth) – “Terrific race for her. She needed one more (race). She made a great move to get up into contention, then she couldn’t go on. I got her tired today and she’ll be plenty tough next time.”
BLAKE HEAP, Assistant to Wesley Ward, (Sunset Glow, winner) – “It wasn’t that big of a decision (Debutante over Futurity). Everything went well, she didn’t need any extra time, so we decided to go right here. We thought we’d take her back behind horses this time, let her sit behind the speed a little bit. I was wondering if Victor (Espinoza) would be able to squeeze through there for a little while, but he made it. She’ll go back to Kentucky now and Wesley will decide what to do with her next.”
FRACTIONS: :21.96 :44.75 1:09.99 1:23.12
The stakes win was the second of the meet for Espinoza (he won the Sorrento on Sunset Glow), but his third in the Debutante. He now has 79 stakes wins at Del Mar, eighth best all time at the track.
The stakes win was the third of the meet for Ward, but his first in the Debutante. He now has six stakes wins at Del Mar (and this is his first local Grade I victory).
The winning owner, Ten Broeck Farm, is the nom de course of David Mowat of Woodinville, WA.