DEL MAR, CA – Del Secco DCS, Inc.’s King of Speed broke through along the rail in the stretch en route to breaking his maiden in fine fashion in Sunday’s $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes.
Breaking cleanly from post 8 at 15/1 odds under Gary Stevens, King of Speed soon settled comfortably toward the rear while Seeking Refuge led through opening fractions of :23.18 and :47.77. As the leader came under pressure from Rijeka in the far turn, King of Speed still waited along the rail at the tail of the field. Finding an opening as his foes all swung wide off the far turn, King of Speed shot through and began chasing down the new front-runners Hartel and Takeo Squared. Continuing to rally strongly along the inside, the Jeff Bonde trainee surged past them in the shadow of the wire and crossed with a length advantage in a final time of 1:36.77 for the mile-long event.
“I’ve liked this colt right from the beginning,” said Stevens, who notched his 100th career Del Mar stakes score, third-most all time. “I was getting on him early and I told Jeff, ‘This could be my (Grade 1) Del Mar Futurity horse.’ But he wasn’t doing as well as I thought he should on the dirt, so I said, ‘Let’s try him on the grass.’ Jeff did, and he responded much better to it. It’s a great feeling to be right about something like this every once in a while. He’s a nice colt and he’s found the place where he wants to be.”
Hartel edged Takeo Squared at the finish line for second, but afterward, the rider aboard Takeo Squared lodged an objection against the top two, alleging interference in the stretch run. Upon review, though there may have been slight contact between the three horses, the stewards deemed it inconsequential to the final result and dismissed the claim. Forloveofcountry made a late run to take fourth over Honcho, while behind them, Knight’s Cross finished sixth ahead of a tight three-way finish between Owning, Seeking Refuge, and Rijeka. Street Image was pulled up in the far turn after running rank for the race’s duration but was able to walk off under his own power.
King of Speed’s win improved his record to 5-1-1-1 and continued his recent improvement since running two turns on the grass, having finished third (behind Forloveofcountry) and second (behind Rijeka) in his last two starts. The 2-year-old son of Jimmy Creed increased his bankroll to $85,980.
“We’ve always liked the horse,” Bonde said. “He always finishes well in his races. But he was kind of like a teenager, he hadn’t grown into himself mentally. Gary has been working him every week and he’s been putting it together and getting better each race. We talked it over, and with the speed in the race, Gary said he was just going to take back, save all the ground, and make one run. That’s just what he did.”
King of Speed returned $32.20 to win, $9.40 to place, and $5.80 to show. Hartel brought back $4.40 to place and $3.20 to show, while Takeo Squared paid $6.80 to show.