DEL MAR, CA – Gary Barber’s homebred Fly to Mars might not have made it all the way to the red planet, but he did fly away in record time for his first career stakes score in Saturday’s $150,000 California Dreamin’ Stakes at Del Mar.
Breaking well from post 7 under Flavien Prat, Fly to Mars was content to settle 2-3 lengths off the early leader Pee Wee Reese while chasing him through opening splits of :22.86, :46.12, and 1:10.16. Nearing the far turn, the field began to bunch and close the leader’s gap, and midway through it, Fly to Mars made his bid in the 2-path. The Peter Miller trainee hit the top of the lane full of run and took command once he switched leads. Kept to task through to the wire, Fly to Mars crossed with a length advantage in a track record time of 1:39.50 for 1 1/16 miles over the turf course.
“It was take the break and take a look,” Prat said. “We got a good spot right away; good trip all the way around. When he switched leads for me at the head of the stretch, he really gave me a great turn of foot. He fired.”
Grecian Fire finished strongly along the rail to take second over B Squared, who had tracked Fly to Mars the length of the race and didn’t fire strongly enough. Camino Del Paraiso outran What a View and Ashleyluvssugar for fourth, while the 2-1 favorite Pee Wee Reese faded in the stretch and barely nosed out Well Developed for seventh. Accountability, Ward ‘n Jerry, and Alsatian completed the order of finish. Soi Phet was scratched.
Fly to Mars’ win was his second straight following triumph over Santa Anita allowance foes at a mile in June. The 4-year-old gelded son of Ministers Wild Cat now carries a record of 14-5-2-1 with a bankroll of $263,358.
“Wow. Unbelievable. I’m shocked,” Miller said. “The horse has really gotten good in the past two months, since we took the blinkers off and have been getting him to relax. I’ve got to say, Flavien rode an unbelievable race. The pace was good, but it wasn’t crazy, and he really kicked home. To set a track record here is something. I thought he could win the race. To break the track record? That’s something you never think about.”
Fly to Mars returned $11.20 to win, $5.80 to place, and $4.80 to show. Grecian Fire brought back $10.40 to place and $7 to show, while B Squared paid $6.20 to show.