Photo: Benoit Photo
Though the Grade 2 John C. Mabee Stakes drew nine fillies and mares, only six would go to post over a Del Mar turf course just reopened this weekend after a string of injuries to begin the meet. Once the running began, Wishing Gate had things all her own way on the front-end, but it was long shot Moulin de Mougin, who rallied boldy up the inside to snatch the
victory in the shadow of the wire.
Breaking from the outside and second to the inside posts,
Cozze Up Lady and Wishing Gate went
after the early leaders. When it became obvious that Wishing Gate was willing
to fight tooth and nail for the lead, jockey Kent Desormeaux took up Cozze Up Lady and settled in behind Wishing
Gate. With no further pressure, Wishing Gate was able to establish an easy and
comfortable lead, loping through splits of :23.03, :47.73 and 1:12.55.
The field of six led by Wishing Gate and Cozze Up Lady raced
in a staggered type formation, with Every Way, Miss Serendipity, Moulin de Mougin and Stormy Lucy following the early
leaders. Aside from bunching together on the backstretch, there was no movement
in the racing order until the field hit the far turn. Sensing the average pace,
Corey Nakatani put Stormy Lucy to a drive, moving early to try to run down the leaders before they spurted away in
the stretch. Despite the logic of the move, it did little good as the duo was
not able to sustain the drive.
Meanwhile on the lead, Cozze Up Lady was confronting Wishing
Gate again, but the Glen Hill Farm owned miss was stubbornly hanging on to the
lead. While those two did battle toward the center of the course, Moulin de
Mougin, who was dead last at the top of the lane, was weaving past rivals down
toward the rail. Edging past Every Way left clear sailing for Moulin de Mougin,
and the filly, with Mike Smith in the irons, wasted no time in taking it to
After holding off Cozze Up Lady, Wishing Gate did not have
enough left to also fend off Moulin de Mougin, who inched by to win by ½-length.
Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, who had the call aboard Wishing Gate, said after the
race, “She ran hard. I did all I could do with her.”
Wishing Gate finished another ½-length ahead of Cozze Up
Lady, and Stormy Lucy finished another length back in fourth. Every Way and
post time favorite Miss Serendipity rounded out the order of finish. The
stewards conducted an inquiry into the stretch run but concluded that Cozze Up
Lady drifting out and into Miss Serendipity did not affect the order of finish.
Winning jockey Mike Smith, who celebrated his 49th birthday in style, mused, “I can’t recall winning a stakes on my birthday before. I usually don’t do good on that day. I’ve won a race or two before, but nothing like this. I had a good feeling about this filly today. Her last race was a good one (3rd in the Royal Heroine at Santa Anita on June 28) and Mr. (Richard) Mandella told me she’d really been doing well, which meant I could expect even more of her today. I sat back there in that pocket for as long as I could and then cut her loose. She’s got a terrific run for about an eighth of a mile and today she showed it.”
Final time for the 1 1/8 mile turf affair was a good
1:47.96. Sent off as the second longest shot on the board, Moulin de Mougin
returned $18.40/$7.20/$4.20 off 8-1 odds. Wishing Gate, at 2-1, paid
$4.80/$3.20, and Cozze Up Lady paid $3.20 off 4-1 odds. The $1 exacta was worth
$39.90, the $1 trifecta returned $189.40 and the $1 superfecta paid $517.00.
By Curlin and out of the Avenue of Flags mare Cambiocorsa,
Moulin de Mougin is a homebred for owner Ran Jan Racing, Inc. In grabbing her
first graded stakes score, the bay filly improved her career record to 13:
4-2-2. The $150,000 winner’s share of the $250,000 purse bumped her total purse
earnings to $312,910.
Winning trainer Richard Mandella reflected on his charge’s
breeding after her big win. “This is a filly that keeps better as she goes,” he
said. “Being out of the mare Cambiocorsa we kind of took it for granted she’d
like 6 ½ furlongs on the turf, but after a little bit of that we decided the
farther the better. The Curlin (sire) kind of comes out then, too.”