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DEL MAR : Kotashaan Gets a Wide Berth, Wins the Read


DEL MAR — Trainer Richard Mandella's instructions to jockey Kent Desormeaux for Sunday's $318,750 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar were very simple.

Stay out of traffic.

Desormeaux, taking heed, rode Kotashaan to a three-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile turf race. Leger Cat, also trained by Mandella, was second with Rainbow Corner third in a one-two-three sweep, in order, of the betting favorites in the six-horse race.

Kotashaan, a 5-year-old owned by La Presle Farm, came in with a three-race winning streak, all at Santa Anita but all at distances of 1 1/2 miles or longer. The last time he raced 1 1/8 miles was on Jan. 1, when he finished fourth in the San Gabriel Handicap at Santa Anita.

Distance, or lack of it, was the main uncertainty surrounding his chances.

"I thought about it . . . a little," Mandella said. "But all along he's adapted. When he ran a mile and a half, in the San Luis Obispo I think, he ran the last quarter in 22 and change. You can run with anybody when you do that."

Desormeaux, who rode five winners Sunday, took Kotashaan back into last place at the start and stayed there through the first three-quarters of a mile. Stablemate Leger Cat, Rainbow Corner and longshot Patriotaki raced three abreast until midway through the final turn.

"I would have preferred that Leger Cat be back in second or third," Mandella said. "He's a lazy horse. He gets bored out in front. I prefer that he have somebody to follow."

Desormeaux, staying out of traffic, took Kotashaan very wide on the final turn, avoiding any traffic.

"He's quite an animal," Desormeaux said. "He just galloped along early, going easy. Then he got eager on the far turn. I swung him out and let him do his thing. When you have much the best horse, you can do that sort of thing."

Leger Cat's jockey, Corey Nakatani, was impressed.

"I thought I might get home there for a while, but here you had a horse go 10 wide and still win for fun," he said. "He was the best today."

Kotashaan's next scheduled start will be in the Arlington Million, dependent on the virus outbreak at the Chicago track. Mandella said he would otherwise look at the Del Mar Handicap or Oak Tree Invitational, ultimately aiming at the Breeders' Cup.

Horse Racing Notes

Flawlessly came out of Saturday's Ramona Handicap in excellent condition, so trainer Charlie Whittingham is setting his sights on sending her to Chicago for the Beverly D on Aug. 28 or the Arlington Million on Aug. 29. It will depend on the spread of an equine virus in northern Illinois that has prompted California to temporarily ban horses from Arlington. "We can get there fine," Whittingham said, "but what if we can't get out?"

Jolypha's disappointing finish in the Ramona, sixth out of seven, has not caused trainer Bobby Frankel to change his plans for her. He said Sunday he is still pointing his filly for either the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 21 or the Beverly D, again depending on the equine virus.

Sardula, trained by Brian Mayberry, scored a 10-length victory as the 4-5 favorite in Saturday's fifth race, for 2-year-old fillies. Mayberry bought her for owners Jerry and Ann Moss for $110,000. She is nominated for the Del Mar Debutante, a $250,000 race on Sept. 4.

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