Favored Marketing Mix
joined Typecast (1972) and Petite Ile (1990) as the only females to win the Sunset Handicap, defeating defending champion Dhaamer by one length on closing day of the final Spring/Summer meet at Betfair Hollywood Park.
In winning her second graded stakes of the meet – the 5-year-old Medaglia d’Oro mare captured the Grade I Gamely against her own sex May 27 – Marketing Mix moved closer to $2 million in career earnings.
The $60,000 payday in the Grade III, $100,250 Sunset pushed her bankroll to $1,869,518. The victory in 2:26.78 for the 1 ½ miles on turf was her 10th in 18 races for Glen Hill Farm and trainer Tom Proctor.
Out of the Kris S. mare Instant Thought, Marketing Mix, who was bred in Ontario, Canada by Sean Fitzhenry, was ridden by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. The win was the third in the Sunset for Stevens, whose previous victories had come aboard Grand Flotilla in 1994 and Blueprint (2001).
Third early while saving ground in her initial try at 12 furlongs, Marketing Mix moved up to be the closest pursuer to pacesetter Hawk’s Eyes after about a half-mile, took over the lead around the far turn, withstanding the late rally of Dhaamer to win more comfortably than the margin would indicate.
Marketing Mix paid $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 7-10 choice. It was the eighth time in her last 10 starts she was favored.
“(Proctor) told me in the paddock to just take the race to them,’’ said Stevens. “He said this mare can gallop faster than the rest of them. I didn’t know what (Hawk’s Eyes) was going to do and (his rider) Victor (Espinoza) was intent on getting the lead.
“I couldn’t have paid to have a better rabbit out in front of me. I just let my mare gallop. I had it in my head to two-minute lick her to the three-eighths pole and set her down and work her three-eighths of a mile.’’
Proctor indicated Marketing Mix will return to Grade I company against females in the $750,000 Beverly D. – a race in which she was beaten by a head in 2012 – Aug. 17 at Arlington provided she exits the Sunset in good shape.
“Let’s hope she comes out the race well and we have that decision,’’ he said. “That’s the main thing. It’s nice to win the last Sunset. A lot of good horses have won it. It means something to me.’’
Dhaamer, undefeated in three prior races over the Betfair Hollywood Park turf, paid $2.20 and $2.10 as the 6-5 second choice. He finished 6 ¾ lengths in front of 24-1 shot Extensive, who returned $3.40 to show.
Completing the order of finish were Hawk’s Eyes, Why Not Be Perfect and Only the Gold.
Julien Leparoux, who was aboard when Dhaamer won last year’s Sunset by 3 ¼ lengths, offered no excuses for the Irish-bred gelding.
“I came up to (Marketing Mix) and I thought I was going to go by her, but she went again,’’ said Leparoux. “My horse ran his race, but she was just a little bit better.’’