Eastern invader Summer Soiree, the 2-1 favorite under regular rider
Gabriel Saez in his Del Mar debut, held on desperately in the final
strides to win the featured Grade I $250,000 Del Mar Oaks for
three-year-old fillies Saturday.
Summer Soiree, trained by Graham Motion, who sent out Animal Kingdom
to win the Kentucky Derby last May, sprinted to the lead down the
backstretch of the nine-furlong event on the infield Jimmy Durante Turf
Course. She opened a commanding advantage turning into the stretch but
then was all-out to win by a half-length over the hard-charging Star
Billing and Nereid from the barn of trainer John Shirreffs.
Star Billing, who went postward at 5-1, nosed out stablemate Nereid
at the wire for second, with Cambina 1 ½ lengths farther back in fourth
in the field of ten fillies. Withdrawn from the race were Sarah’s
Secret, Halo Dolly and Rosehill Dew.
Summer Soiree, a daughter of War Front owned by Team Valor
International, which also owns Animal Kingdom, accomplished the distance
in 1:46.46, third fastest Del Mar Oaks since the race was transferred
to the grass in 1965. The only faster Del Mar Oaks winners were Amorama,
1:46.26 in 2004 and Singhalese, 1:46.29 in ’05.
Summer Soiree returned $6, $4.40 and $3.60 in recording her fifth win
in eleven starts and first prize increased her earnings to $371,680.
Star Billing, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, paid $5.20 and $4.20, while Nereid returned $4.40 to show.
After 24 days of the 37-day Del Mar summer season, Joe Talamo and
defending champion Joel Rosario are deadlocked atop the rider standings
at 28 victories each. Talamo won the first three races Saturday, while
Rosario doubled, taking the fifth and sixth races. Rosario won the sixth
aboard debuting juvenile Sweet Swap, a full brother to major
stakes-winner Sidney’s Candy.
Saturday’s attendance was 28,909.