DEL MAR, CA – D P Racing’s Prime Attraction dug in at the top of the stretch and kicked away from a pair of Bob Baffert trainees to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Native Diver Stakes.
Off well from post 4 under Victor Espinoza, Prime Attraction stalked just outside of early leader Curlin Rules through fractions of :23.22, :47.55, and 1:12.25. Taking a short lead through the far turn, Prime Attraction began inching away for home and eventually cleared the field by 2 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:49.87 for the 1 1/8-mile main track event.
“The key with him is to not take a hold of him early,” Espinoza said. “If you take a hold, he gets all cranked up and wants to go. But if you let him settle, get into a rhythm, then he’s fine. He’s strong; a really strong horse. And if you have to fight him, you’re in trouble. But it worked out perfectly for me today. The speed was inside me so I could just let him go along there early. And when you can do that, he finishes strong. Just like he did today.”
Stablemates Irish Freedom and Mubtaahij failed to make headway on the leader in the stretch and finished a length apart in second and third, respectively. Top of the Game, Wild About Deb, Curlin Rules, and Irish Surf completed the order of finish.
The win, Prime Attraction’s first in a graded stakes, almost didn’t happen, as Prime Attraction – usually a turf horse – was also pre-entered in Friday’s Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup, but trainer Jim Cassidy opted to try dirt, a move that worked out well.
“Sometimes, no matter what you do, it works out,” said Cassidy, whose 17th career Del Mar stakes win was his first of the meet. “Victor knows how to ride him.”
The 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song now sports a record of 12-4-2-0 with career earnings of $235,545.
Prime Attraction returned $16 to win, $6 to place, and $3.40 to show. Irish Freedom brought back $4.40 to place and $2.80 to show, while Mubtaahij paid $2.60 to show.