May 18, 2024

Arklow, United to square off in Del Mar Handicap

United wins the Eddie Read Stakes (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Del Mar H. (G2) – Race 11 (10 p.m. ET)

Grade 1 winners Arklow and United head an 11-horse field in Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar H. One of four graded stakes on the Pacific Classic (G1) undercard, the 1 3/8-mile turf affair will award a “Win & You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) over the same course on Nov. 6.

The top draws have shown an affinity for Del Mar. Arklow shipped in to win the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) in late November, and United captured his second straight edition of the Eddie Read (G2) on July 24.

Trained by Brad Cox, Arklow opened his seven-year-old season with a convincing win in the 1 1/2-mile Louisville S. (G3) in mid-May. He didn’t fire when checking in sixth at short odds in the July 17 United Nations (G1), but Arklow has never been the most consistent performer – five of his nine career wins have followed unplaced efforts. Florent Geroux will be in to ride.

United, who will carry one more pound than Arklow as the 125-pound highweight, will try to make amends after finishing a head second at odds-on in last year’s Del Mar H. The six-year-old gelding has won 2-of-3 starts this season for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, rallying to upend favored by a neck in the Eddie Read, and the long-distance specialist will have regular rider Flavien Prat up.

Red King will make a title defense for Phil D’Amato. The seven-year-old hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since edging United 12 months ago, but Red King has recorded a pair of thirds in his last two turf starts, the Charles Whittingham (G2) and San Juan Capistrano (G3). Joel Rosario picks up the mount.

D’Amato will also send out Acclimate, who led wire-to-wire in 2019 Del Mar H., and Grade 1 winner Say the Word.

Acclimate made only one start last season, but the seven-year-old gelding will to the seaside oval in good form, rolling to a 3 3/4-length decision in the June 19 San Juan Capistrano. He’ll be the one to catch with Ricardo Gonzalez. Say the Word, who captured the Northern Dancer (G1) at Woodbine last fall and finished second in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita in late May, will try to rebound from a disappointing seventh in the Eddie Read. Joe Bravo takes over the reins.

Other contestants include Grade 2 winner Masteroffoxhounds and Whittingham upsetter Award Winner. Astronaut, Crossfirehurricane, Master Piece, and Media Blitz round out the field.