Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Red Lark, an Irish-bred filly in the hands of an Irish trainer in Paddy Gallagher, pulled off a surprise in the 64th running of the Del Mar Oaks, a Grade 1 for 3-year-old fillies that was run at nine furlongs on the turf at Del Mar Saturday.
The $250,000 headliner had 10 runners, but Red Lark and jockey Drayden Van Dyke were a length better than them all after covering the mile and one-eighth in 1:48.64. The upsetter paid $40.20, $9.20 and $4.00 across the board.
Finishing second was Barber or Wachtel Stable’s California Kook and third was Benjamin and Sally Warren’s Warren’s Showtime.
"Out of the gate, we had the perfect spot," Van Dyke said. "I wanted to follow Mike Smith (Warren’s Showtime), because I thought his filly would be the one to beat. I knew my filly had a good chance because she was really fit. We got bottled up in her last race. Today, she got to run and she showed how good she is.”
Red Lark was imported from the Emerald Isle at the end of 2019 and had six U.S. starts before today. She was close in several of those outings, but today she grabbed the big prize worth $150,000, as well as a large chunk of black type. Her bankroll now reads $225,000. She is by Epaulette out of an Darshaan mare named Firecrest.
"I was confident in the filly; I knew she was happy and all, but I didn’t know if she was good enough," Gallagher said. "She needed to run the race of her life and she did. Drayden (Van Dyke) had her in a great spot all the way and when he asked she responded and was good enough."
Favored Laura’s Light showed speed throughout, but faded late and finished sixth.