Race Recaps

Hunt Stretches Out Big in G2 Del Mar Handicap

DEL MAR, CA – Showing that the added distance meant nothing, Michael House’s Hunt stretched out in a big way to win Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap.

With the win, Hunt earned an all-fees-waived berth in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf on November 4 here at Del Mar.

Jockey Flavien Prat placed Hunt in a three-deep stalking position while Mr. Roary set early splits of :24.40, :49.40, 1:14.88, and 1:39.09. Going to the outside in the stretch, Hunt shot back inside and gained the lead past the midstretch, running hard to hold off the late-charging Itsinthepost, completing the 1 3/8-mile turf race in 2:14.93.

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“The slow pace helped us; he like that, coming from the shorter race,” said Prat. “We were close up, too. He likes to be among horses; covered up. I followed (jockey) Gary (Stevens on Ashleyluvssugar) through the hole (at the top of the stretch), then dropped down. Had it from there.”

The 11-furlong marathon was 2 furlongs longer than any distance that Hunt had previously run, but after winning the Grade 2 Eddie Read over 9 furlongs on July 22 here at Del Mar, Prat told trainer Phil D’Amato that Hunt should be able to handle stretching out longer.

“It was a masterful ride,” D’Amato said. “Flavien just bided his time, let the race develop a little, found a seam on the inside, and turned him loose. He got it done.”

Flamboyant just missed second by a head, but the 18-1 longshot’s connections were still happy to hit the board. Prime Attraction won a four-way photo for fourth over Inordinate, Ashleyluvssugar, and Up With the BirdsHe WillEditoreBig John BLiam the CharmerMonster Bea, and Mr. Roary completed the order of finish.

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The win improved the Irish-born Hunt’s record to 23-7-5-3, including 6-2-2-0 at Del Mar. It was Prat’s seventh and D’Amato’s sixth stakes win of the Del Mar meet, which puts each at the top of the jockeys and trainers standings.

Hunt returned $8.80 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.60 to show. Itsinthepost brought back $4.60 to place and $3.80 to show, while Flamboyant paid $9.20 to show.

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