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DEL MAR : Kotashaan Is Upset by Luazur


DEL MAR — For decades, Saratoga has been called "the graveyard of favorites," but perhaps the upstate New York track doesn't own that distinction.

Luazur, a French-bred gray colt, won by a nose Sunday over Kotashaan in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap, handing still another 2-5 favorite an unexpected defeat in an important stake at this seaside track.

In the $1-million Pacific Classic two weeks ago, Bertrando was a front-running winner at Best Pal's expense.

Both Bertrando and Luazur are trained by Bobby Frankel, who 12 years ago took a $50,000 claiming horse and won his first Del Mar Handicap for Edmund Gann, the Rancho Santa Fe businessman who also owns Luazur.

Luazur, carrying 116 pounds, seven less than Kotashaan, barely defeated the other French-bred, with Pat Day going to the left-handed whip eight times in the last sixteenth of a mile aboard Frankel's colt.

Kotashaan, considered one of the best grass horses in the world, began Sunday with a four-race winning streak, including a victory in the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar about a month ago. This was his first defeat since running second to Star Of Cozzene in the San Marcos Handicap at Santa Anita in mid-January.

Day, who is based in the Midwest, rarely rides in California and had never won a stake at Del Mar until he and Luazur teamed to finish first in the Escondido Handicap on Aug. 14. That was Luazur's second start in the United States, after a fifth-place finish in the Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park in July. Now, the 4-year-old colt has a record of five victories, a second and two thirds in nine starts, with Sunday's $137,500 purse more than doubling his earnings.

Luazur, running 1 3/8 miles in 2:15, paid $7.80 as the second betting choice. Kotashaan finished 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Myrakalu in the seven-horse field.

Kotashaan, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was in fifth behind a slow pace going down the backstretch, but never more than five lengths behind Luazur. Midway through the stretch, Luazur and Day were on the fence, holding a narrow lead over Myrakalu, but Kotashaan was threatening on the outside.

Desormeaux blamed himself. "I waited too long," the jockey said. "I should have moved sooner. He was dragging on me and I should have cut him loose. If I had, I would have been a half-length off the leader at the top of the stretch instead of five lengths. Then I would have gone by him."

Frankel cited the weight difference.

"If it's seven pounds the other way, the other horse beats me," he said. "I thought Kotashaan should have carried a couple of pounds more, but my only option was to ship out to run."

Frankel thought that Corrupt, who was third in the Escondido, another 1 3/8-mile race, would be the pace-setter, but after Myrakalu and Corrupt ran 1-2 briefly, Luazur took the lead after about three-eighths of a mile.

"I'm glad they let us have the lead," Frankel said, "because then the horse relaxed for Pat."

Day had no specific pre-race instructions from Frankel.

"I liked his race the first time I rode him," Day said. "He didn't break all that well that day, but he picked it up and finished up running. Today's race was devoid of (front-runners), and that sort of dictated what I did. He was going easy up front. His ears were going up and down, and I wasn't sure how much he was going to have left for the finish.

"But he ran very game in the last part and he wasn't going to let that horse by. I knew Kotashaan would be coming. He's got that great late kick. But I couldn't ride the race only thinking about him."


Fresh out of quarantine, the Irish-bred colt Fatherland has been installed as a lukewarm 7-2 morning-line favorite for today's Del Mar Derby.

Daros and Eternity Star won this stake after running a prep race in France, and Fatherland's last start was there, a fourth-place finish for trainer Vincent O'Brien on July 14.

Fatherland will be saddled by Gary Jones, who will be seeking his first victory in a stake that his father, Farrell, won three times. Fatherland has four victories and two seconds in nine starts.

The second choice, at 9-2, in the 12-horse field is Guide, who left France to win a division of the Oceanside Stakes on Del Mar's opening day, July 28. The last horse to score an Oceanside-Del Mar Derby double was Hawkster in 1989.

Dare To Duel, who won the faster-run division of the Oceanside, is 8-1.


Because of her breeding, trainer David Bernstein thought that Stalcreek would race well on grass.

He chose to try the 3-year-old Stalwart-Graceful Creek filly on turf for the first time Sunday, after a layoff of almost five months because of a chipped knee. Stalcreek rallied to beat Zoonaqua by a length in the Sandy Blue Handicap.

Horse Racing Notes

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