DEL MAR, CA – Jay Em Ess Stable’s Mr Vargas broke like a quarter horse and never let his foes get close before pulling off a gate-to-wire upset in Saturday’s $100,000 Green Flash Handicap (G3) at Del Mar.
Breaking from the far outside post 6 under Joe Talamo at 3/1 odds, Mr Vargas quickly asserted command while a pair of well-respected geldings – multiple stakes winner Eddie Haskell and two-time defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Stormy Liberal – gave chase. Midway through the turn, both Eddie Haskell and Stormy Liberal made bids for the lead, but Mr Vargas dispatched of them both.
Kicking clear in the stretch, Mr Vargas crossed 2 1/4 lengths ahead of the competition. The Brian Koriner trainee completed the 5-furlong firm turf sprint in :56.15.
“We California Flagged ’em,” Talamo said, referencing the double-winner of this race that he rode to win the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. “The plan was to get him out there and make the lead. He did his part. He got a little breather when I dropped over at the 1/2 (pole) and again on the turn, but otherwise, he was running hard all the way. When they came for him, he just went on. I was afraid they were going to be closing on us, so I went for it and he responded very well. He’s a really nice horse.”
Sent off as the 6/5 favorite, Eddie Haskell outdueled the 2/1 Stormy Liberal gamely in the stretch to take second by a 1/2-length. Behind them came Undrafted, Calexman, and Shades of Victory to complete the order of finish.
Mr Vargas’ win was his second straight following a 5-furlong turf allowance score here on July 21 and improved his record to 11-4-3-2. The 5-year-old gelded son of Midshipman has now earned $198,185 in his career.
“He’s just a runner,” Koriner said. “He ran great his first race here and did it again today. He’s a racehorse! He’s a fast, fast horse.”
Mr Vargas returned $8.40 to win, $3.80 to place, and $2.40 to show. Eddie Haskell brought back $2.80 to place and $2.10 to show, while Stormy Liberal paid $2.20 to show.