DEL MAR, CA – Richard Bell’s India Mantuana shot out to a tremendous lead early, then had just enough left in the tank at the end to hold on for her first career stakes score in Thursday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar.
Breaking sharply from post 5 under Tyler Baze at 18-1 odds, India Mantuana quickly set a commanding pace, at one point leading by as much as 8 lengths, while posting fractions of :24.06, :47.78, 1:12.95, and 1:37.51. Still in front of her foes as she made the turn for home, India Mantuana drifted out slightly in midstretch but still proved too much in the end, gamely holding off a fast-closing Siberian Iris by a 1/2-length at the wire. The Thomas Bell II trainee’s win came in a final time of 2:14.50 for the 11-furlong turf event.
“You know, when I was young and played baseball, I was really fast,” Baze said. “Stole a lot of bases. Think I might have stolen a horse race here. That (going far to the front) wasn’t really the plan; it just happened. I just wanted to ride her like I did here last summer: not fight her; let her do her thing. She was just going easy out there. Sometimes, it isn’t how fast they’re running, it’s how they’re doing it. She was doing it the right way today.”
Another 1/2-length back, the stewards ruled a dead-heat for third between the 6-5 favorite Vexatious and the red-hot Escape Clause, whose nine-race win streak came to a close. The rest of the field was strung out behind them, starting with Pantsonfire in fifth, Lucy De in sixth, The Tulip in seventh, and So Hi Society in eighth to complete the order of finish. Victress was a day-of scratch.
India Mantuana’s win was her first since a similar gate-to-wire score over the same track and distance on August 22, 2018, where she was claimed for $40,000 by her new connections. The 4-year-old daughter of Wilburn improved her career record to 24-6-2-4 with $222,047 in earnings.
“I had the binoculars on her and she just kept getting farther and farther in front,” Bell said. “I could see she had her ears pricked and was very relaxed. I was amazed that somebody didn’t go with her. That was the only chink in her armor, if somebody would have gone with her and softened her up. She doesn’t have that real acceleration, but she’s a real staying-type filly. She keeps up that one pace and just keeps on going and doesn’t give up.”
India Mantuana returned $39.60 to win, $15 to place, and $5.20 to show. Siberian Iris brought back $12.80 to place and $4 to show, while Vexatious paid $2.10 to show and Escape Clause paid $2.20 to show.