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The Racing Dudes react to Royal Ship winning the 2022 San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar, the local prep for the 2022 Pacific Classic Stakes (G1). Is he a big threat next out as well, or is runner-up Country Grammer due to turn the tide? Watch the replay for the Racing Dudes’ INSTANT reactions, then tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
The track press release:
Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farm’s Royal Ship stayed close to the leaders on the backside, then when Hall of Famer Mike Smith let him roll approaching the far turn the 6-year-old Brazilian horse found another gear and ran off in the stretch to score a two and a quarter length victory in the 81st running of the $302,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar Saturday.
The veteran gelding acted like a young boy in earning a $180,000 prize in the Grade II feature finishing up the mile and one sixteenth in 1:42.75. He paid $21.00 for the win and pushed his career earnings to $570, 405.
Royal Ship, by 2008 Del Mar Futurity winner Midshipman, is trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, though the conditioner wasn’t at the track for the festivities today. He was home nursing a case of COVID, but his stable was in the able hands of his son, Gary, a trainer on his own who has certainly won his share of races.
Finishing second was the 2-1 favorite, Commonwealth Thoroughreds, Winstar Farm and Zedan Racing Stables’ Country Grammer, who was four and a quarter lengths ahead of third-place finisher Stilleto Boy, owned by Steve Moger.
Royal Ship returned $21.00, $9.20 and $6.00 across the board. Country Grammer paid $5.20 and $3.40, while Stilleto Boy was worth $5.20 to show.
For the sixth straight afternoon, the track’s Pick Six Single Ticket Jackpot wager was not solved and its carryover pushed higher to $393,249. That will be in the pot when racing resumes at 2 p.m. Sunday.
MIKE SMITH (Royal Ship, winner) – “I wasn’t going to take anything away from him today. If he wanted to go, he could go. He was rolling on the backside and just kept going. I hope this win helps Mr. Mandella (Richard Mandella, the trainer who is home with COVID) feel better. He and his son get all the credit with this horse.”
GARY MANDELLA, son of Richard Mandella (Royal Ship, winner) — “We’re going to enjoy this and figure the next race after that; this is a good one and we’re gonna enjoy it for a while. He (Mike Smith) had a lot of horse under him and he’s keeping the favorite in his sights. That’s what makes Mike great, he made all the right calls, put the horse in position he could win and got it done. ”
(Gary Mandella has been running the Mandella barn for the better part of the past week as his father recovers from COVID at home.)
FRACTIONS: :23.71 :47.44 1:11.19 1:36.21 1:42.75
The stakes win was the first of the meet for rider Smith, but his second (Giacomo, 2006) in the San Diego. He now has 75 stakes wins at Del Mar, 11th most among all riders.
The stakes win was the first of the meet for trainer Mandella, but his second (Catch a Flight, 2015) in the San Diego. He now has 71 stakes wins at Del Mar, fifth most among all trainers.
The winning owners are Fox Hill Farms of Elizabeth Porter of Lexington, KY and the Seina Farm of David Pope of Paris, KY.
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