DEL MAR — It came as no great surprise that Wayne Lukas was standing in the winner's circle Sunday as the trainer of the Del Mar Debutante winner.
After all, it is widely believed that Lukas has been the best trainer of two-year-old fillies in at least this decade. Of the last five champions in this division, Lukas has trained three--Family Style (1985), Althea (1983) and Landaluce (1982).
It was surprising, though, that Lukas won the $195,000 stake with Lost Kitty--making it six victories for him in the last 10 Debutantes.
Lost Kitty didn't figure to beat heavily favored Hasty Pasty, a filly with two straight stakes wins here and a 3 1/2-length winner over Lost Kitty when the two last met in the Sorrento Stakes Aug. 24.
But Lukas said afterward: "I thought we had an awfully good chance of winning."
Beforehand, though, most of the 28,483 in attendance disagreed. Hasty Pasty was sent off as a 2-5 favorite, while Lost Kitty, racing as part of an entry with Royal Weekend, was the 8-5 second choice.
"The last time she ran, she went to the lead, and I don't think she runs as well there," Lukas said. "She's better when she waits some to start running."
When she started running Sunday, it was all over for Hasty Pasty. Lost Kitty, ridden by Gary Stevens, pulled away from the favorite at the head of the stretch and won the mile race by five lengths in 1:36. Royal Weekend came on to edge Hasty Pasty in a photo for second.
The entry paid $5.20 to win and place. With only five horses entered, the smallest field in the 37-year history of the race, there was no show wagering.
Swink, a two-length winner of the Grade I Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park July 27, is a 3-1 favorite in today's 48th running of the $300,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the turf course. The race will be televised by Prime Ticket at 5:30 p.m.
Swink, trained by Charlie Wittingham, will be carrying 120 pounds, eight more than in the Sunset.