Prime Attraction tracked the early pace set by Curlin Rules in Saturday’s $100,690 Native Diver Stakes (G3) at Del Mar before taking over and pulling off a 2 1/2-length victory with jockey Victor Espinoza aboard.
The James Cassidy trainee bided his time as Curlin Rules posted fractions of :23.22, :47.55 and 1:12.25, then ranged up to grab control. Pulling clear, the four-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song proved best in a final time of 1:49.87 for 1 1/8 miles over the fast main track.
Campaigned by Deron Pearson’s D P Racing, Prime Attraction paid $16 for the win as the 7-1 fourth choice in the seven-horse field. Irish Freedom got up to take second by a length over 9-5 favorite Mubtaahij. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to fourth-placer Top of the Game, who was followed under the wire by Wild About Deb, Curlin Rules and Irish Surf.
Prime Attraction improved his scorecard to read 12-4-2-0, $235,545 by earning his first stakes win in this spot. The dark bay was originally entered in Friday’s Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) over the grass, but was withdrawn in favor of the Native Diver. He entered Saturday’s contest off a close head second in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) on October 1, which followed a pair of nice fourths in the Del Mar Handicap (G2) and Wickerr Stakes over Del Mar’s turf.
Bred in Kentucky by Payson Stud Inc., Prime Attraction is out of the unraced A.P. Indy mare Strawberry Sense, making him a half-brother to dual stakes-placed Distillery.
Strawberry Sense is herself out of the Grade 3-winning Strawberry Road mare Strawberry Reason and counts as half-siblings undefeated champion and sire Vindication; stakes winner In Step, who foaled Grade 2 victor Hemsworth; and Grade 2-placed Blackberry Road. Strawberry Sense is also a full sister to Grade 3 scorer Scipion.
This is the same female family as Horse of the Year and successful sire Spend a Buck.
NATIVE DIVER QUOTES
Jim Cassidy, trainer Prime Attraction, winner
“Sometimes no matter what you do it works out. Victor (Espinoza) knows how to ride him. You can’t grab this colt early, you’ve just got to hope that nobody sends, sends and goes with him early because he’ll go as fast as he can and then he’ll tire himself out. He got to go at it nice and easy and he didn’t tire himself out today.”
Victor Espinoza, jockey Prime Attraction, winner
“The key with him is to not take a hold of him early. If you take a hold, he gets all cranked up and wants to go. But if you let him settle, get into a rhythm, then he’s fine. He’s strong; a really strong horse. And if you have to fight him, you’re in trouble. But it worked out perfectly for me today. The speed was inside me so I could just let him go along there early. And when you can do that, he finishes strong. Just like he did today.”
Rafael Bejarano, jockey Irish Freedom, second
“We were in good position. No excuses for me today. The winner was best.”
Drayden Van Dyke, jockey Mubtaahij, third
“We were in a good spot. He closed, but just not enough. We didn’t have a lot of pace to run at. He may want to run farther.”