DEL MAR, CA – A last-gasp surge put Godolphin homebred Pixelate past Margot’s Boy to nab the title in Sunday’s $200,000 Del Mar Derby (G2).
Pixelate was the 3/2 favorite under Umberto Rispoli as he broke alertly from post 4 and cleared his inner rivals, settling along the rail in a close stalking position as the field exited the chute onto the main turf oval.
Dominant Soul was given permission to run unopposed through opening fractions of :24.63, :49.77, and 1:14.74 while Margot’s Boy gave closest watch.
The field tightened up in the far turn, but Dominant Soul still had plenty left in the tank and looked dangerous. Behind him, Pixelate kicked out three-wide and sprung into action.
Margot’s Boy took the lead at the 1/16 pole, but it was a short-lived advantage. A final blast of the rockets pushed Pixelate a head past Margot’s Boy in the last jumps, completing the 1 1/8-mile firm turf route in a final time of 1:50.25.
“I talked to Mike this morning and we both agreed that we had the best horse in the race,” Rispoli said. “I said I wanted to ride him up closer than normal for him; I told him this is a smaller, tighter course, not like Churchill (Downs). He said, ‘You ride him like you want to.’ I had a great trip and he fired when he had to. I’m very happy, and I’ve waited 16 years to wear these (famed Godolphin silks).”
Margot’s Boy was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Dominant Soul, himself 3/4 of a length ahead of California Kook, one of two fillies in the field.
Kiss Today Goodbye, Kanderel, American Farmer, K P All Systems Go, Guitty (the other filly), Heywoods Beach, and No Slo Mo completed the order of finish.
A third filly, Warren’s Showtime, was scratched.
Pixelate’s win was his first of the year and improved his overall record to 11-3-5-3. The City Zip colt was second last time out in the Kent Stakes (G3) and has now earned $311,400.
“I’m happy to help him win a big race,” said Gary Mandella, a local trainer handling saddling duties for the east coast-based Stidham. “The horse arrived Thursday, galloped a couple days, and he was ready to go. We didn’t do anything. My instruction to (Rispoli) was, ‘Did Mike call you? Yes? Then good luck.’”
Pixelate returned $5 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.80 to show. Margot’s Boy brought back $10.60 to place and $8.40 to show, while Dominant Soul paid $19 to show.