DEL MAR, CA – OXO Equine’s Instagrand rewarded the many fans who made him the prohibitive 1/9 favorite with a romping victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar.
Breaking alertly along the rail under Drayden Van Dyke, Instagrand quickly took command and set opening splits of :23.00 and :46.54 while receiving moderate pressure from Owning along his outside. Midway through the far turn, Instagrand began stretching out his strides and quickly flicked away his rival, then drew off to a commanding lead under a hand ride before hitting the wire while wrapped up in a final time of 1:10.27 for the 6-furlong main track sprint.
“I haven’t been getting on him in the morning (since riding him to victory on debut at Los Alamitos on June 29), but they told me he was ready,” Van Dyke said. “I just threw a couple of crosses at him today; that’s all. Cadillac. I wanted to see if he’d change leads on his own, but in the end, I just gave a little weight shift (to the inside) and he made a perfect change. He’s got the mind of a 4- or 5-year-old. Professional.”
The race’s two biggest longshots, Sparky Ville (14/1) and Synthesis (19/1), took second and third, while Owning faded to fourth. Mason Dixon had trouble loading, then didn’t break well, and never recovered while bringing up the rear.
Instagrand’s win was his second in as many tries and his final margin of victory Saturday (10 1/4 lengths) mirrored that of his maiden-breaking victory (10 lengths). The 2-year-old son of Into Mischief increased his bankroll to $144,000, a far cry from the $1.2 million that owner Larry Best ponied up for him at auction back in March/. Perhaps the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee will cut into that deficit next out in the Grade 1 Futurity here at Del Mar on closing weekend.
“He broke good, even though he had been standing in there a while, then Drayden got this colt to relax, and he did his thing,” Hollendorfer said. “I think it is an improvement (over his debut) in that he did it so much easier. We’ll look at the Futurity for him, for sure.”
Instagrand returned $2.20 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Sparky Ville brought back $4.80 to place and $3.60 to show, while Synthesis paid $4.20 to show.