DEL MAR, CA – Michael House’s Hunt returned to the winner’s circle for the third time this year, nosing out He Will at the line in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap.
Off without incident from post 4 under Flavien Prat, Hunt sat midpack off the rail while stablemate Pee Wee Reese set initial splits of :24.09, :47.90, and 1:11.28. Moving outside foes through the far turn, Hunt hit the stretch three-deep and rallied alongside He Will, getting an edge in the final jumps to complete the 1 1/16-mile turf event in a final time of 1:41.03.
“The race set up and went just about the way we thought it would,” Prat said. “I was in a good spot with him, but the finish was close; very close. He was brave at the end.”
Pee Wee Reese faded to third, a length off of the winners. Om was another length back in fourth, with Win the Space and Mr. Roary completing the order of finish. Flamboyant, Irish Surf, and Tequila Joe were scratched.
Hunt’s win improved his record to 26-8-5-3 with earnings of $668,764 for trainer Phil D’Amato. The 5-year-old gelded son of Dark Angel had won two straight Grade 2 races at Del Mar during the summer meet but struggled in his most recent two starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf last out.
“To me, this was in his wheelhouse,” D’Amato said. “This is what he relishes, and he also loves this turf course. I thought Flavien gave him a great ride. That’s exactly what he wants to do, stalk and pounce, and he just barely got the job done.”
Hunt returned $8.80 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3 to show. He Will brought back $7 to place and $3.40 to show, while Pee Wee Reese paid $2.40 to show.