DEL MAR, CA – River Boyne bid his time and exploded into the stretch to win Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,000 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar. This was the second consecutive win for the three-year-old Irish-bred son of Dandy Man and his first career graded stakes victory.
Calexman was the early leader in the 1 1/16 mile race over the Del Mar turf and was followed closely by Inscom. The two leaders started off with several lengths ahead of the field as they set early fractions of :23.40 and :47.81. Into the backstretch, jockey Edwin Maldonado eased up Calexman in an attempt to slow down the pace and in the process allowed Inscom to draw even with the leader. By slowing down the pace, Calexman also allowed the rest of the field, including 1-2 post time favorite River Boyne, to close the gap between the leaders and the back of the pack. As they hit the top of the stretch, both River Boyne and Arawak made strong moves to get up to the front of the pack but River Boyne was much the best, winning by just over a length. Arawak finished a strong second and was followed by Calexman in third and Inscom in fourth.
“Going into the backside, he grabbed the bit and they were slowing it down up front,” said jockey Flavien Prat. “It put me in a bit of a tough spot. But he was comfortable, so it worked out. He’s a nice horse to ride. And I don’t think he’ll have any problems with more distance; he’s showed he can handle it.”
“I just leave [it] up to Flavien,” said trainer Jeff Mullins. “He knows how much horse he’s got underneath him and it has worked out pretty much every time. He got in a little tight back there and I was a little worried it might take away from his kick, but obviously, it didn’t.”
Since coming over to the US last November, River Boyne has won 5 of his 7 starts for trainer Jeff Mullins including the Pasadena Stakes in March and the Rainbow Stakes at Santa Anita last time out. When asked about what might be next for River Boyne, Mullins said they will be pointed toward the Del Mar Derby on September 2nd.
River Boyne returned $3.00 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show. Arawak brought back $5.00 to place and $3.40 to show, while Calexman paid $2.80 to show.