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DEL MAR, CA – LNJ Foxwoods’ United overpowered the even-money favorite Smooth Like Strait late to defend his title in Saturday’s $250,000 Eddie Read Stakes (G2) at Del Mar.
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United broke from post 2 under Flavien Prat as the 3/1 second choice and settled in between Vintage Print on the rail and Restrainedvengence to his outside.
Award Winner posted opening fractions of :25.19, :49.43, and 1:14.01 as Smooth Like Strait gave closest watch until nearing the far turn, when he and jockey Umberto Rispoli moved for the lead.
Seeing Rispoli move aboard Smooth Like Strait, Prat responded and sent United after the bettors’ choice. The Richard Mandella trainee overtook command near the 1/16 pole before crossing a neck clear.
The final time for the firm 1 1/8-mile turf route was 1:49.49.
“I could tell the fractions were slow; I could feel it,” Prat said. “But my horse was travelling well and he was comfortable. I knew his last race wasn’t his real race and I felt he’d run better today. The only question was being able to get out. He did and ran well through the lane. He’s back.”
Count Again rallied late for third over Vintage Print. Award Winner, Restrainedvengence, and Say the Word completed the order of finish.
United’s win was his second of the year following March’s San Luis Rey Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park and was a strong return to form after finishing last of four in the Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2), after which it was discovered he had a minor foot injury. The 6-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding improved his record to 20-9-4-1 with $1,675,549 earned.
“He ran well and I’m very proud of him,” Mandella said. “He was coming off a terrible race, I’ve never had him run that bad. We worried and watched and did every test you can do on him and we found a bruise under his shoe 2 weeks old. It didn’t seem like that big a deal, but it must have been.”
United returned $8.60 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show. Smooth Like Strait brought back $2.60 to place and $2.20 to show. Count Again paid $2.80 to show.
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