February 2, 2023

Heywoods Beach outlasts Tizamagician in Cougar II; Irideo surprises Strait-less Wickerr

Heywoods Beach edges clear of Tizamagician in the Cougar II (Photo © Benoit Photo)

At Del Mar on Sunday, Heywoods Beach dethroned 9-10 favorite Tizamagician in the $125,500 Cougar II (G3), and Irideo pulled a $65 upset in the Wickerr S. after the big scratch of Smooth Like Strait.

Cougar II (G3)

Third to Tizamagician in last year’s running, Heywoods Beach turned the tables to register his first stakes win. The John Sadler trainee had raced just once in the interim, but his fourth in the May 30 Shoemaker Mile (G1) on turf brought him on for this 1 1/2-mile dirt test.

Tizamagician did not have the benefit of a prep, and that might have been the difference as he made his first start since last November. Gliding to the early lead, Tizamagician set moderate fractions of :24.98, :49.12, 1:13.45, and 1:38.20. Heywoods Beach shadowed him throughout, and Extra Hope attended wider out without ever really switching off.

Heywoods Beach accosted Tizamagician on the final turn and took command for Ramon Vazquez. Although the defending champion stuck to his task determinedly, Heywoods Beach had his measure. The 3.10-1 chance edged away by one length at the wire in 2:30.09.

Tizamagician saved second by a neck from Extra Hope. Order and Law churned on in fourth, followed by Dicey Mo Chara and the ever-trailing Dean Martini. Win the Day was scratched.

Hronis Racing’s Heywoods Beach sports a mark of 18-4-2-2, $289,251, reflecting placings in the 2020 Cinema S. and Let It Ride S. on turf as well as last year’s Cougar II third.

By Speightstown and out of the Catienus mare Unfold the Rose, Heywoods Beach is a half-brother to $4.2 million-earning turf star Stephanies Kitten. The five-year-old was bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock and, in his most recent auction appearance, sold for $180,000 as an OBS June juvenile.

Wickerr S.

The first surprise involving the $103,000 Wickerr was the scratch of Smooth Like Strait. The 6-5 morning-line favorite would have had a substantial class edge in this restricted stakes over a mile on turf. Trainer Michael McCarthy told Daily Racing Form that he’d rather look elsewhere, including the Eddie Read (G2), than start from post 12 here.

In his absence, bettors flocked to Gregorian Chant and Bran, both stretching out from a series of turf sprints. But they ignored former Argentine champion Irideo, who was likewise stepping up in trip for Marcelo Polanco, and the 31.50-1 shot outkicked them all.

Patiently handled by Hector Berrios, Irideo relaxed near the back of the pack as front-running Kentucky Pharoah clocked :23.37, :48.05, and 1:12.51. The 3-1 Bran drafted in the leader’s slipstream until he got a seam on the inside, while 19-10 favorite Gregorian Chant began to kick between foes in the lane.

Irideo clung to the rail path, then split Bran and Kentucky Pharoah with a rapier-like thrust. Up in time by three-quarters of a length, the Pozo de Luna homebred finished in 1:35.50.

Gregorian Chant headed Bran for runner-up honors. Kentucky Pharoah was relegated to fourth. I’mgonnabesomebody, Storm the Court, Tesoro, Me and Mr. C, Sword Zorro, Navy Armed Guard, and Indian Peak concluded the order under the wire. Majestic Eagle was also withdrawn along with Smooth Like Strait.

Irideo was winning for the first time since the 2020 Joaquin de Anchorena Internacional (G1), which elevated him as Argentina’s champion miler. But the son of Easing Along and fellow Argentine champion Infiltrada didn’t even return to action until this spring. After trailing in his first two allowances at Santa Anita, Irideo shortened up to a turf sprint on June 12 and rallied for second.

Polanco said that the bay gelding just took a long time to acclimate and only recently turned the corner. With this stateside breakthrough, Irideo enhanced his career record to 10-5-2-0, $113,544.