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DEL MAR, CA – A stakes doubleheader saw a young colt begin to bloom and an impressive filly continue to shine Saturday afternoon at Del Mar as Rustlewood Farm’s Pappacap scored smartly in the Best Pal Stakes and Susan and John Moore’s Princess Grace found a hole turning for home and ran away from rivals in the Yellow Ribbon Handicap.
The pair of offerings were both Grade 2 events with $200,000 purses.
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The Best Pal – being run for the 51st time – saw Pappacap maneuver like an old pro in only his second start in the juvenile headliner as he waited on rider Joe Bravo’s signal, then zoomed to the front turning for home and went on to tally by 4 3/4 lengths.
He ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.66.
“I was glad to see how well he settled in behind those two up front,” Bravo said. “His race in Florida, he just was pure speed. You don’t know if that’s the way they like to go, but he showed another dimension today.”
Pappacap, a bay colt by champion Gun Runner bred by his owners, had captured his debut in a straight maiden race at Gulfstream Park in Florida on May 14. Pappacap picked up a check for $120,000 with his victory, pushing his bankroll to $158,000.
Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse shipped him west for the Best Pal, perhaps looking ahead to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), which will be run at Del Mar on November 5.
“Joe gave him such a great ride coming out of the gate,” said assistant trainer Allen Hardy-Zukowski. “He seemed loaded, and when Joe asked in the stretch, he responded. I was glad to see that, especially coming off a layoff. It was great.”
Lovingier, Fasihuddin, or Navarro’s Finneus checked in second in the Best Pal, while Gary Barber’s Bet On Mookie was third. Pappacap paid $6.60, $3.40 and $2.60 across the board.
In the Yellow Ribbon – on the turf at a mile and 1/16 and being offered for its 69th edition – jockey Kent Desormeaux saw a hole nearing the 1/4 pole and asked the 4-year-old filly Princess Grace to go for it. She did readily and pulled clear in the lane to finish a length and 1/4 to the good at the end of the filly/mare feature.
The well-traveled filly, trained by Michael Stidham, covered the distance in a snappy 1:40.84.
“Michael told me one thing before the race that I used to advantage today: He said ‘She’s brave,’” Desormeaux said. “When that hole opened turning for home, I sent her through and she went right on with it. She was a bit keen going into the first turn, but on the backside, she was just all floppy ears and off the bit, taking it easy. I clucked to her at the 3/8, and from there, she just carried me home. Nice win on a nice filly.”
LNJ Foxwoods’ Dogtag ran second and Slam Dunk Racing, Stable Currency, and Branham’s Maxim Rate was third.
Princess Grace, a homebred daughter of the Japanese stallion Karakontie, was winner her fifth race in her sixth start (she was second in her lone loss) and accomplishing it at her sixth different racetrack.
Princess Grace earned $120,000 for her bit of handiwork and now shows winnings of $440,460.
“I will tell you this: this filly is tenacious and one of the most hard-trying fillies I’ve ever trained,” Stidham said. “This little filly has been at six different racetracks and she should be undefeated, the one loss was just unlucky. I don’t know what’s next, I haven’t looked past this race. This was going to be her test to step up to another league and she obviously passed the test really well.”
Princess Grace paid $9.20, $5.00 and $3.40. Dogtag returned $4.80 and $3.20, while Maxim Rate paid $3.00.
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