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DEL MAR, CA – Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams homebred Pulpit Rider overcame a slow start and rallied from last to steal Saturday’s $125,000 Solana Beach Stakes at the wire on the Del Mar lawn.
Pulpit Rider stutter-stepped as she broke from the gates under Juan Hernandez at 11/1 odds, making her the field’s longest shot. Up front, Kitty Boom Boom shot out to a lengthy lead, posting opening fractions of :23.01, :45.98, and 1:10.32 while keeping the other four runners well behind.
Her strong advantage disappeared heading into the far turn, and Sedamar rallied along the rail to take a narrow lead at the top of the stretch. The 1/2 favorite Mucho Unusual came rushing four-wide to challenge for the top spot in mid-stretch but could not keep pace.
Sedamar looked like a winner until the final few jumps, when Pulpit Rider suddenly found a new gear and exploded late. The Mike Puype trainee got her nose down on the wire first to win the 1-mile firm turf route in a final time of 1:34.05.
“She broke a little slow, so I didn’t rush with her,” Hernandez said. “She was nice and relaxed, so I felt OK. I waited until the 1/4 pole, and then I asked her. She gave me a good kick. We had to go wide, we had no choice, but she was running. I looked over right at the wire and I saw we won. Close, but we got it.”
Sedamar was a hard-luck second by a nose while keeping Mucho Unusual at bay by a 1/2-length. Cordiality and Kitty Boom Boom completed the order of finish in the race restricted to California-bred or sired fillies and mares.
Big Sweep and Smiling Shirlee were scratched.
Pulpit Rider’s win was her first since a 2018 local allowance and improved her overall record to 24-6-1-4 with $462,677 earned. The 5-year-old Lucky Pulpit mare crossed the wire second in last year’s running but was disqualified to sixth after causing interference.
“She always runs her best here at Del Mar and she came running,” Puype said. “She was much the best last year when she got DQed, but she ran a great race today. Hats off to her for digging for it and hats off to Juan for a great ride.”
Pulpit Rider returned $24.80 to win, $8.60 to place, and $3.40 to show. Sedamar brought back $7 to place and $3 to show, while Mucho Unusual paid $2.10 to show.
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