Wishing Gate pushed past pacesetter Unusual Way to post a workmanlike tally in Sunday's Grade II San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar.
Russell Baze tried to seal the deal aboard Unusual Way but had no late answer when Gary Stevens and Wishing Gate came calling. The official winning margin was 1.75 lengths.
Post time favorite Iotapa could not quicken with the top pair in the lane and ended up an even 3rd.
San Clemente Handicap Quotes & Notes:
GARY STEVENS (Wishing Gate,
winner) – “This gets me right; this redeems me. I rode this filly in an
allowance race at Keeneland this spring and I absolutely butchered her.
Cost her the race, for sure. So to win this one today on
her helps make up for that one. She’s a good filly and she’s
“It sure is great to be winning at the highest level. That’s why I
came back. To win one at Del Mar is special. And I know this track is
special for Mr. (Leonard) Lavin (owner of Glen Hill Farm). I know he’s
somewhere today – probably Chicago – watching this and I’m sure it made
RUSSELL BAZE (Unusual Way, second) – “This was a very professional
race for her. She made the lead and relaxed. Then she fired when asked. I
had to use her a little bit to make that lead and I know that didn’t
help at the end. But that filly that beat us (Wishing Gate) ran by us
strong. You can’t take anything away from her. She ran well.”
JOE TALAMO (Iotapa, third) – “I had a perfect trip. She just got outquickened the last part.”
TOM PROCTOR (Wishing Gate, winner) --“That ride was perfect. You
couldn’t ask for a better trip. It’s a pretty fair turf course. I didn’t
think about the pace. I don’t think a whole lot. I just hope for the
best. Now you’d have to think about the Oaks ($300,000 Grade I,
Saturday, August 17).”
SPLITS: :22.49 :46.09 1:10.16 1:22.03 1:33.58
The stakes win was the third in the San Clemente for Stevens and his
first at the meet. He last won the race in 1990 when he captured a
division of it on Nijinsky’s Lover. He now has won 80 stakes races at
Del Mar, which is seventh best all time at the track. His last stakes
win at Del Mar was in 2003 aboard Tucked Away in the Fleet Treat.
The stakes win was the first in the San Clemente for Tom Proctor.
(His father, Willard Proctor, won a division of the race in 1990 – also
for Glen Hill Farm – with Lonely Girl.) It was also his first stakes win
of the meet. He now has won a total of eight stakes at Del Mar.
Glen Hill Farm is the nom du course of 93-year-old Leonard Lavin of Glencoe, IL.
Wishing Gate’s time of 1:33.58 was just four-one-hundredths of a
second slower than the stakes record set by Storm Mesa in 2008.