DEL MAR, CA – Jerry Moss’ homebred Nolde split foes in mid-stretch, then held off a late-rallying Originaire to just nip the wire first in Sunday’s $250,000 Del Mar Derby (G2).
Breaking from post 3 under Victor Espinoza at 6/1 odds, Nolde gradually took back and settled toward the rear as the field exited the chute onto the front stretch. Heading into the clubhouse turn, Kingly took off to a lengthy lead while posting fractions of :23.44, :47.80, and 1:11.63.
Heading into the far turn, the 2/1 favorite Neptune’s Storm advanced from his stalking position and soon assumed command without being asked. As he rounded the corner, Espinoza began asking Nolde for more. He hesitated at first, but once he picked up his movements, he quickly surged up between Kingly and Neptune’s Storm.
Hackberry and Originaire joined the fray, turning the race into a five-horse sprint, but at the wire, none were able to surpass Nolde. The John Shirreffs trainee crossed a head in front while covering the 1 1/8-mile event over the firm turf course in a final time of 1:46.98.
“Sometimes when you get on this horse, he’s nice and easy-going,” Espinoza said. “Not today. He was strong; like a bull. I like that. He was telling me he was ready. He’s got a long stride and distance is going to be good for him. He’s not an easy horse to ride, but he’s got a lot of talent. We’ve just got to figure out a way to bring it out. When I sent him inside today, he just went. He was ready.”
Originaire’s late rally produced a stellar second-place effort that edged Neptune Storm, Hackberry, and Kingly. Moody Jim, Nolo Contesto, Visitant, and the maiden Parsimony followed to complete the order of finish.
Nolde’s win was his third in his past four starts, all on the turf, with his lone loss coming by a nose last out in the local Oceanside Stakes. The 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile improved his record to 8-3-2-1 and more than doubled his career earnings mark to $270,470 after collecting $150,000 on Sunday.
“The Oceanside prepared him nicely for this, which was the plan,” Shirreffs said. “We were very happy with the way the horse trained for the race. Victor has ridden him a number of times and really knows the horse. He got him settled in a nice position and Nolde has a really nice turn of foot. We’re happy to have him ride our horses. He’s a great rider.”
Nolde returned $15.20 to win, $7.60 to place, and $4.40 to show. Originaire brought back $7.40 to place and $4.40 to show, while Neptune’s Storm paid $3.20 to show.