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Midwestern invader She’s Not Here made it two-in-a-row in the Grade II $200,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap as she surged to a narrow triumph in the mile and one-sixteenth grass course stakes for older fillies and mares Saturday.
Given a beautifully-timed ride by jockey Drayden Van Dyke, She’s Not Here prevailed by a neck over the hard-charging longshot Fresh Feline in 1:42.70 for the distance. Nancy From Nairobi, the 2-1 favorite in a field of eight runners, was third, a half-length behind Fresh Feline and a length ahead of Finest City. Majestic Heat was scratched.
She’s Not Here, a daughter of Street Cry, won the 2015 renewal of the Yellow Ribbon by a half-length, but had been winless in five subsequent races while competing against some of the top members of her division, including sensational champion Tepin.
The five-year-old mare, owned by G. Watts Humphrey, Jr. and the St. George Farm Racing stable of Ian Banwell and trained by Victoria Oliver, earned $120,000 with her sixth triumph in 22 starts to increase her bankroll to $403,903.
Despite a victory in last year’s Yellow Ribbon renewal, She’s Not Here went postward at a generous 9-1 and returned $20.40, $10.20 and $6.60. Runner-up Fresh Feline paid $19.40 and $6.60, while Nancy From Nairobi paid $3.20 to show.
In the day’s supporting feature, the $77,900 Wickerr Stakes for older horses at a mile on the grass, Toowindytohaulrox, the 11-10 favorite, wore down Forever Juanito and Little Curlin in late stretch to win under jockey Tiago Pereira.
Toowindytohaulrox, owned by Queen Bee Racing and trained by Phil D’Amato, ran the distance in 1:36.09 in winning by a hard-fought neck over Forever Juanito with Little Curlin another nose back in third. Scratched from the original field were Lieutenant Colonel, Ohio, Texas Ryano and Vyjack.
Toowindytohaulrox, a son of Harlan’s Holiday, paid $4.20 to win after scoring his fifth victory in 21 starts. First money of $46,740 increased the five-year-old’s earnings to $372,932.
Saturday’s attendance was 15,526.
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (She’s Not Here, winner) — “I spoke to Phil Oliver (a trainer himself and husband of She’s Not Here’s trainer Vicki Oliver) on the phone about an hour before the race. He told me to get her out of there and see if I could lay fourth or fifth – then get her to relax. He said she had been training great, had a good kick and liked the track. So I rode to orders and it all worked out great. This place (Del Mar) is one of my favorite racetracks, so to win a graded race here is special.”
VICTOR ESPINOZA (Fresh Feline, second) – “Good race for her. She hadn’t run in a while (March 26), so you know she needed it. Still, a couple more jumps and we would have gotten the winner.”
MIKE SMITH (Nancy From Nairobi, third) – “She stumbled coming out of there; almost went to her nose. It cost her everything. If I come out of there the right way, I would have been laying third. Instead, I’ve got to come all the way from the back. It would have been totally different.”
VICKI OLIVER (She’s Not Here, winner) – (Via telephone from Indiana Downs) “I watched the race from here and I thought Drayden (Van Dyke) had her in good position down the back stretch, and when he asked her, she really responded. She runs well on that turf course. I don’t know exactly why, maybe she just likes it because it’s a little more firm than most. We’ll bring her back to Kentucky, there’s not another race for her out there. But we’re sending some other horses out to run at the meeting.”
FRACTIONS: :24.21 :48.74 1:12.32 1:36.46 1:42.70
The stakes win was the fourth at Del Mar for Van Dyke. It was his first Graded stakes win at the shore oval.
The stakes win was the fourth at Del Mar for Vicki Oliver. She won this same race with the same horse last year.
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