Returning from an eight-month layoff as the least experienced runner in the field, Prince Earl might have been thought to need Sunday’s $201,755 Del Mar Mile H. (G2). Indeed, the 9-1 shot was the biggest price of trainer Phil D’Amato’s trio, but proved ready to fire off the bench and advance his candidacy for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
Prince Earl didn’t bring the resume of his stablemates, 7-5 favorite Bowies Hero and the 8-1 veteran What a View. The California-bred had raced only four times, winning his first two starts as a sophomore and finishing fourth in the restricted Let It Ride S. and the December 1 Hollywood Derby (G1). His 101 BRIS Speed rating from that graded try stacked up well here, if able to pick up right where he left off.
With new rider Geovanni Franco aboard, Prince Earl was reserved further back than midpack in sixth. The speedy What a View went forward as expected, and pace rival Bolo opted to stalk rather than confront through an opening quarter in :23.20 on the firm turf. After a half in :46.46, Bolo dropped back. Taking his place in pursuit were Ohio and Sharp Samurai, who emerged into contention turning for home at the six-furlong mark in 1:09.63.
As Sharp Samurai and Ohio overtook the pacesetter in the stretch, the deep closers were amassing behind them. Prince Earl had to wait for room briefly on the inside, but ended up getting the charmed run under his light weight of 116 pounds. The same couldn’t be said of Bowies Hero, the 124-pound co-highweight, as he found himself in tight and had to steady off heels.
Prince Earl still had the gears to work out his passage, driving through to defeat Sharp Samurai and the wide-closing Grecian Fire by three-quarters of a length in 1:33.13. Ohio, who won for a $28,000 tag on Del Mar Mile Day last summer, held fourth from Bowies Hero.
Majestic Eagle rallied belatedly from last to cross the wire sixth. What a View faded to seventh, one spot ahead of Bolo. Double Touch and El Picaro brought up the rear, and Bombard was scratched with a foot bruise.
Owned by Andrew Molasky’s Old Bones Racing Stable and Todd Marshall, Prince Earl increased his bankroll to $224,778 from his 5-3-0-0 line. The $25,000 Barretts August yearling purchase was bred by Madeline Auerbach and Harris Farms.
The four-year-old Paddy O’Prado gelding is out of Soo Steamy, by Unusual Heat. He’s the second grandson of Unusual Heat to win a graded turf stakes for D’Amato this weekend, after Acclimate (by his champion son Acclamation) in the Del Mar H. (G2) on Saturday.
Quotes from Del Mar
Winning trainer Phil D’Amato: “I thought a lot of him as a three-year-old. He had some unlucky trips in some pretty strong races his last two as a three-year-old. We gave him plenty of time off, did a minor throat procedure on him and he’s come back with a vengeance as a four-year-old. We decided to take a big shot here and got a great ride by Geovanni Franco.”
Winning rider Geovanni Franco: “Phil said ‘He’s going to run big; just be patient.’ I had the good post (1) to save ground on the grass and it worked out just that way. He was very responsive to me all the way around. When I asked him, he had a nice kick. It was a lovely ride.”
Jockey Joe Talamo on runner-up Sharp Samurai: “I had a perfect trip. Sat behind the leaders, then he cut it loose in the lane. I thought I was going to win it there for a bit, but could only get second.”
Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux on Grecian Fire’s trip in third: “I could have used some climate control. We were in tight all the way and the horse outside me pushed me down inside for most of the trip. Other than that, it was good.”