Photo: Benoit photo
Versatile and ultra-consistent Evening Jewel, the 7-5
favorite under jockey Victor Espinoza, overcame traffic trouble entering the
stretch to charge to the front along the rail and win the featured Grade I
$300,000 Del Mar Oaks for three-year-old fillies Saturday.
Blocked behind horses at the top of the final straightaway,
Evening Jewel was guided to the rail by Espinoza, quickly took command when in
the clear and then held on determinedly to win by a half-length over 3-1 second
choice Harmonious. The latter circled the field on the final turn under jockey
Mike Smith to loom a serious threat, but drifted out through the stretch to
compromise her chance to win.
Third in the classy field of nine fillies was Canadian
invader Perfect Shirl, with Chantal Sutherland up, followed by longshot Antares
World in fourth.
Evening Jewel, a daughter of Northern Afleet, was purchased
for only $8,000 as a yearling at Keeneland by her owner, Tom Braly of Braly Family
Trust in September, 2008. First
money of $180,000 increased her career earnings to $876,943. Her record reads
six victories in a dozen starts with five seconds, including nose losses to
divisional leader Blind Luck in the Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita and the
prestigious Kentucky Oaks, both Grade I races.
Triumphant over Del Mar's infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course
in the Oaks, Evening Jewel now can boast of victories on the grass and over a
synthetic surface, having won the Grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in early
For trainer Jim Cassidy, Evening Jewel's win had to be
especially memorable since the veteran conditioner was celebrating his 65th
Evening Jewel paid $4.80, $2.80 and $2.20. Harmonious,
victress in the Grade I American Oaks at Hollywood Park in her previous race,
returned $3.20 and $2.60, while Perfect Shirl paid $3.20 to show.