DEL MAR — On a day when nobody won the Pick Six at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club--something that's fast becoming a trend here--it would only figure that there was a surprise in the featured $100,000 Cabrillo Handicap.
Nostalgia's Star, 11-10 favorite in the Cabrillo, was expected to make a strong charge down the stretch Wednesday and catch the front-running tandem of Epidaurus and Hopeful World.
But he never did. Chris McCarron eased Hopeful World, a 5-2 choice, by Epidaurus and won by three-fourths of a length.
"I didn't want to go by him (Epidaurus) too quickly because I wanted my horse to have something left when Nostalgia's Star made his run at us," McCarron said. "Where did he finish, anyway?"
For the record, Nostalgia's Star finished fourth, 6 lengths behind Hopeful World.
Hopeful World's surprise performance was preceded by two others. Bon Romeo, a 13-1 choice, won the fourth race and Don B. Blue, a 15-1 selection, won the seventh race to help prevent anyone from winning the Pick Six for the third consecutive day. As a result, a track-record $529,296.99 will be carried over in today's Pick Six pool.
Epidaurus sprinted for the lead early in the 1 1/8-mile Cabrillo and Hopeful World tucked in right behind him. Attention, a long shot ridden by Gary Stevens, was a length further back in third.
That's the way it remained until Hopeful World passed Epidaurus in the stretch. Hopeful World paid $7.20 to win, $4.20 to place and $4.20 to show. Epidaurus returned $4.20 and $3.80 and Attention paid $8.00.
In the winner's circle, Hopeful World's trainer, Richard Mandella, wasn't concerned with what had happened to Nostalgia's Star. Nor was he concerned with the whereabouts of Skywalker, who was scheduled to run in the Cabrillo but was scratched so he could run in the Longacres Mile this Sunday in Renton, Wash.
"I didn't miss Skywalker at all," Mandella said. "But, with the way my horse ran, I don't know if Skywalker would have beaten him anyway. Nostalgia's Star couldn't."
Indeed, Hopeful World's time of 1 minute 46 2/5 seconds was just two-fifths of a second off the track record set by Latin Touch in 1979.
"I had a lot of horse the whole way," McCarron said.
Last time out, however, Hopeful World didn't have much. He ran fifth in the Hollywood Gold Cup, 14 lengths behind winner Super Diamond. Before that, Hopeful World had won two straight races at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
"His (Hopeful World's) owners sent him to me six weeks before the Gold Cup and I didn't know a lot about him," said Mandella, explaining the horse's poor performance in that race. "I did some research and found that I didn't have to give him so many long works."
Wednesday, the research paid off.
Del Mar Notes
Before today, the previous record carry-over pool in the Pick Six at Del Mar was $492,409 on Aug. 13, 1983. . . . Anontio Castanon had his first riding double at Del Mar Wednesday, winning aboard To Be Impressive in the second race and Pialor in the sixth. . . . Chisos, a 2-year-old D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt, underwent athroscopic surgery to remove a chipped bone in his knee Wednesday and will be out of action for several months. Chisos injured his knee running second in the De Anza Stakes here last week.