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DEL MAR : 3-Year-Old Has Trainer Crooning in the Crosby


DEL MAR — Trainer Richard Mandella won the $107,400 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar on Sunday, but it was with his 9-1 shot, not the 4-5 favorite.

Running two horses in a six-furlong sprint and then drawing the outside posts in an eight-horse field is not any trainer's idea of luck, but Mandella took both first and second money as King's Blade made the lead on the turn and then held off his more highly regarded stablemate, Memo, by a half-length.

King's Blade, one of only two 3-year-olds in the race, had a ground-saving trip under Corey Nakatani while Paul Atkinson, Memo's jockey, had to come six lanes wide as they tried to overtake the leaders. The two 7-year-old geldings in the race, Memo and Gundaghia, finished second and third, two lengths apart.

King's Blade, carrying 112 pounds, nine less than the top-weighted Memo, was timed in 1:08 3/5 and paid $20.60. First was worth $62,400.

King's Blade, owned by Tom Gamel and Burt Kinerk, stayed within a half-length of Trouble Onthe Line, a 48-1 shot, in the run down the backstretch, then Nakatani moved to the front as they approached the quarter pole.

"He broke a little slow, but he got going with it down the backstretch," Nakatani said. "I sort of nursed him into the far turn, then he went on with it by himself from there. I asked him to lay his body down in the stretch, and he did it."

Eddie Delahoussaye, who had been riding Memo, rides heavier than Nakatani and would not have been able to make the 112-pound weight.

"Mr. Mandella told me that I had to make 112 for the mount, and I did it," Nakatani said.

In explaining the jockey switch, Mandella said: "We'll have to make this up to Eddie down the road. It really hurt not to let Eddie ride him, but I thought he needed the break with 112."

King's Blade's career started last year in a $40,000 claiming race at Churchill Downs. He broke his maiden by 11 lengths three weeks later at Turfway Park, and after winning another race in Kentucky, he has been on a stakes diet this year in California. He won the Bolsa Chica and the San Pedro at Santa Anita this winter and has run only one bad race, when Mandella tried him in a grass sprint.

The Crosby was King's Blade's first start in two months. "I ran him out of desperation," Mandella said. "There were no sprints for 3-year-olds around, so I decided to throw him in against the older horses. I figured that if he did all right, it would give us a lot of options down the line."

Those options might lead to the $1-million Breeders' Cup Sprint, a six-furlong race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Memo has three victories and six seconds in his last 10 races. "I had to spot that other horse (nine pounds)," Atkinson said. "Too much."


Airistar, trained by Lewis Cenicola and ridden by Alex Solis, beat Avie's Song by a half-length in Sunday's other stake, the $62,150 Fleet Treet.

Favored Klassy Kim reared in the gate, suffered minor injuries and was scratched.


In the fourth race, first-time starter Our Dutch Pal dumped his jockey, Chris Antley, in front of the stands during the post parade, and ran off before outriders effectively caught him on the backstretch.

The 40-1 shot was allowed to run by the stewards, trailed early and finished a distant last.

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