Merit Man Scores in Green Flash Handicap
Florida-bred speedster Merit Man, who gained national prominence on the 2013 Kentucky Derby trail with a victory in the Spectacular Bid at Gulfstream, rallied in the stretch to narrowly win the featured $94,540 Green Flash Handicap Wednesday.
Merit Man, sent postward as the 5-2 second choice, came to the outside turning into the stretch and gamely responded to the urging of jockey Kent Desormeaux to forge ahead of pacesetting Remind Mee in the final strides for a half-length triumph.
Remind Mee, 6-1 under Fernando Perez, set a fast pace and held on well to be 1 ¼ lengths ahead of third-place Wine Police, with Mr. Sexy fourth in the field of seven sprinters. Caracortado, the lukewarm 5-2 favorite, was fifth.
Merit Man, a son of With Distinction trained by Bob Hess, Jr., ran the five furlongs over Del Mar’s Polytrack surface in :57.22 and returned $7.20, $3.60 and $2.60. It was the four-year-old’s fourth win in nine starts and first money of $56,100 increased his earnings to $462,030.
Merit Man debuted as a two-year-old at Del Mar two summers ago and was a winner of a 5 ½ furlong maiden special weight race under jockey Patrick Valenzuela.
Third to ultimate Kentucky Derby winner Orb in the Florida Derby, the colt was unplaced in the Woody Stephens at Belmont in June of 2013 and then was off for more than a year. He initiated his comeback at Del Mar July 18 in a five-furlong turf sprint and was fourth.
For jockey Desormeaux and trainer Hess, victory in the Green Flash marked the eighth time this season they have collaborated successfully.
There were two perfect tickets in Wednesday’s Pick Six and each paid $380,667.
Starting the afternoon with a carryover of $171,914 from Sunday and $1,039,193 in “new” money Wednesday, the pool totaled $1,211,107.
Attendance Wednesday was 10,687.