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DEL MAR : Lit De Justice Wins Pat O'Brien


DEL MAR — Although he took his own sweet time going into the starting gate Saturday, Lit De Justice came home in a hurry in the $103,525 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Far off the blistering early pace, the headstrong gray accelerated around the turn when asked by Corey Nakatani, took over before the eighth pole and won by 6 1/2 lengths over D'Hallevant in a track record-equaling 1:20 for the seven furlongs.

Lit De Justice, a handful for trainer Jenine Sahadi ever since the 5-year-old came from Europe in the middle of 1994, was the last of the seven O'Brien contestants being loaded into the gate.

Lit De Justice decided he wasn't ready and the other six participants were taken out of the gate. Nakatani got off Lit De Justice. Then he walked into his outside stall and waited for everybody else to rejoin him.

Last for the first half-mile while G Malleah and Pembroke ran through 21 4/5- and 43 4/5-second splits, Lit De Justice, the 9-2 second choice, flew the last three furlongs in 34 2/5 for his sixth victory in 26 starts. Solar Launch also went seven furlongs in 1:20 on Aug. 10, 1990.

D'Hallevant, who won the O'Brien in 1994, was 1 1/4 lengths better than Pembroke. Then came G Malleah; Gold Land, the 4-5 favorite; Concept Win; and Score Quick.

"[Exercise rider and trainer] Karl Webster deserves all the credit," said Sahadi after her second stakes victory of the meeting. She won the Eddie Read with Fastness two weeks ago.

"[Webster has] done so much work with this horse.

"He was a perfect gentleman today until he got to the gate. I'm so surprised he did that, because he's been to the gate every day and he walks right in. I guess he knows the difference between the morning and the afternoon."

Although Sahadi was uncertain about Lit De Justice's next start, he seems an ideal candidate for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. His late-running style would play well with those wide turns at Belmont Park.

"I've always been real high on this horse," said Nakatani, who won three times Saturday. "He's got a temper and he can be tough to deal with, but he ran a tremendous race today.

"When I worked him the other morning [six furlongs in 1:09 3/5 on Aug. 9], he just gave me a tremendous burst of speed. He's tough to deal with, but he's worth it. Basically, I just let him do his thing."


Six weeks after winning the Hollywood Oaks, Sleep Easy will go for another Grade I victory against eight other 3-year-old fillies in the $250,000 Del Mar Oaks.

Successful in three of five starts on the main track, Sleep Easy, a Seattle Slew filly, will be trying the turf for the first time today, and only other member of the field--the longshot Pleas Write--is untested on grass.

Corey Nakatani will again ride Sleep Easy for trainer Bobby Frankel, and she is the 4-1 third choice behind 5-2 favorite Bail Out Becky and 3-1 second choice Jewel Princess.

The rest of the field includes Scratch Paper, Oklahoma Morn, Top Ruhl, My Oooo Aah, Auriette and Pleas Write.

Earlier on the card, Rapan Boy, who was beaten by a nose by Blumin Affair in the San Diego Handicap, is the 5-2 favorite against 10 opponents in the $75,000 Harry F. (Bud) Brubaker Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.


Horse Racing Notes

After a two-day carryover in the Pick Six, there were two perfect tickets Saturday and each was worth $399,839.20. . . . Del Mar also had a record handle Saturday of about $15.3 million. . . . Lit De Justice paid $11 and earned $60,400 for his owners, C.N. and Carol Ray. . . . Princess Afleet made it two consecutive victories on the Del Mar grass when she won the $76,100 Sandy Blue Handicap Saturday, beating favored Roujoleur by 1 1/4 lengths under jockey Goncalino Almeida. . . . Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye was absolved of blame for the disqualification of Hold On Ima Coming in Thursday's fourth race. . . . Almost Brother won his eighth race in a row and 11th in 13 starts overall when he took the ninth race Saturday.

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