DEL MAR, Calif.—Nick Alexander’s homebred Lieutenant Dan waited and waited for room on the turn for home in the five-furlong Green Flash Handicap Sunday at Del Mar, then fired big when the rail came open and he slipped through under leading rider Juan Hernandez to win his second consecutive edition of the 3-year-old and up turf stakes.
“He’s a really nice horse. He broke really well, and I didn’t bother him because he took me there and I saw a couple horse with more speed than me, so I just sat behind them and waited inside,” said Hernandez.
“When we turn the corner, there was a little space for me, and we go there. He has a really nice kick inside, really professional. I shook the reins a little bit and he picked it up.”
The 6-year-old gelding by his owner’s home stallion Grazen clicked by a length and a quarter in the end to earn a first prize of $90,000 from the gross purse of $152,500 in the Grade III test.
The race also is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” affair giving its victor assured admission – with all fees paid – to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which will be conducted this year at Keeneland in Kentucky in early November.
Ten months ago, Lieutenant Dan ran in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which was held at Del Mar. The bay ran second that day to champion Golden Pal and it was the last time he’d started until today’s 20th edition of the Green Flash.
The stakes win was the first of the meet for trainer Steve Miyadi and it is a repeat Green Flash win with Lieutenant Dan, the 2021 champ. The conditioner now has five stakes wins at Del Mar.
“He’s not as quick as last year but he has a new rider and that’s Juan’s (Hernandez) nature. If he sees a speed duel developing, he likes to wait. He got to the inside and we were lucky it opened up. It wasn’t at all like we thought but he switched leads on cue and kept going,” said Miyadi.
Finishing second in the turfer was My Racehorse’s Lane Way, who had a head on Jay and Julie Manoogian’s Coulthard.
Fractions for the dash were :21.77 and :44.54 with a final time of :55.87.
Lieutenant Dan’s prize today pushed his bankroll up to $923,740. It was his ninth tally in his 18th start. It also was rider Hernandez’s 10th stakes score at the current Del Mar meeting, making him the leader in that department after 27 days of racing.
Lieutenant Dan, the 9-10 favorite in the dash despite the lengthy layoff, returned $3.80, $3.00 and $2.60. Lane Way paid $5.20 and $4.00, while Coulthard returned $6.00.
Trainers Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill won a pair or races on the afternoon card giving each of them 17 for the session, which means they’re co-leaders in the top of the contentious conditioners’ category. The meet has four days of racing remaining.
First post on Monday’s Labor Day card is 1 p.m.
DMTC Press Release
Photo by Benoit