Last year in a four-horse field in the Native Diver Stakes, Jay Em Ess Stable’s Extra Hope tracked C R K Stable’s Midcourt from second place all the way around the track in the nine-furlong race. Midcourt drew clear late and won it by nearly six lengths.
This year – in another four-horse field – the roles flipped.
Extra Hope and rider Juan Hernandez made the lead out of the gate and led Midcourt and Victor Espinoza from break to finish, scoring nicely in the $100,000, Grade 3. His winning margin was only a length, but in the counting house and the record books a win is most certainly a win.
“That was the plan – to go for the lead right away," Hernandez said. "He helped me a lot the way he broke so good out of there. Then he was running nice an easy for me; he was relaxed. At the quarter pole I asked him and he gave me a good reply.”
"I told (Hernandez) ‘Spin the tires’ out of the gate a little bit," Mandella said. "He (Extra Hope) kind of doesn’t take life real serious, so he wasn’t getting out of his training what he needed to before his first race off the layoff."
Extra Hope, a 4-year-old colt by Shanghai Bobby, earned a check for $60,000 for capturing his first stakes race and increased his bankroll to $294,831 with his fourth win in 14 starts. The victory was extra sweet for the lady behind Jay Em Ess Stable --Samantha Siegel. She also bred Extra Hope.
Finishing third was Hronis Racing’s Combatant and rounding out the field was Royal Ship, Extra Hope's stablemate for trainer Richard Mandella who stumbled badly out of the gate and nearly unseated rider Mike Smith.
Extra Hope ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.11 and paid $10.40 and $2.80.
Leading rider Abel Cedillo had a pair of victories on the afternoon and now has 16 winners in the first 10 days of racing. Best performance by a rider on the afternoon though went to Flavien Prat, who registered three firsts. He now sits in second place in the jockey standings with 10 wins.