DEL MAR, CA – Jay Em Ess homebred Extra Hope turned the tables on last year’s winner Midcourt with a strong gate-to-wire score in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Diver Stakes (G3) at Del Mar.
Sent postward from the gates as the 4/1 second choice under Juan Hernandez, Extra Hope’s clean break put him on the lead, where he rolled unchallenged through opening fractions of :23.86, :47.79, and 1:11.45.
Midcourt (the 2/5 favorite) made an outside bid in the far turn, while at the same time Combatant tried skimming up the rail, but Extra Hope repelled them both at the top of the stretch.
The Richard Mandella trainee drew off to win by a comfortable length while completing the 1 1/8-mile fast dirt route in 1:50.11.
“That was the plan – to go for the lead right away,” Hernandez said. “He helped me a lot, the way he broke so good out of there. Then, he was running nice and easy for me; he was relaxed. At the 1/4 pole, I asked him and he gave me a good reply.”
The rest of the field crossed in the same running order that they set virtually all race, with Midcourt finishing second ahead of Combatant by 2 1/2 lengths. The Brazilian-bred Royal Ship stumbled badly out of the gate in his dirt debut and trailed throughout.
The 3-year-old filly Stellar Sound was scratched.
Extra Hope’s win was his second straight and first at the stakes level, improving his overall record to 14-4-2-3. The 4-year-old Shanghai Bobby colt has now earned $294,831.
“I told (Juan), ‘Spin the tires out of the gate a little bit,'” Mandella said. “(Extra Hope) kind of doesn’t take life real serious, so he wasn’t getting out of his training what he needed to before his first race off the layoff, but the one race did it. He’s been doing good since then.”
Winner returned $10.40 to win and $2.80 to place, while Midcourt paid $2.10 to place. There was no show betting.