Brit-bred Program Trading takes off for the victory under Flavien Prat beating Webslinger to the wire. (Benoit Photo)
• Irish-breds Zona Verde, Unconquerable Keen also register stakes tallies
• Flavien Prat, Phil D’Amato each win two stakes on the day
Del Mar Press Release
DEL MAR, Calif.—Under a savvy ride by youthful veteran Flavien Prat, the British-bred ridgling Program Trading rolled late to come away a neck winner of the 83rd running of the Grade I Hollywood Derby Saturday afternoon at Del Mar.
The son of Lope de Vega, who was sent west for the race by trainer Chad Brown, was well behind early in the field of seven 3-year-olds in the nine-furlong turf test but was maneuvered to the front near the eighth pole, then responded to Prat’s urgings to hold off hard-charging Webslinger nearing the wire. Finishing third was Silver Knott.
“The pace was fast, and he settled down a little bit on the backside. He was a little behind in the post parade. He was playing. I had him stay with the pony, make sure they’re okay. The horse, he’s been doing so well. We arrived Tuesday, he galloped three or four days. This is our routine, trying to win some races,” commented Jose Hernandez, assistant to Chad Brown.
The winner, who went off at 9-10 in the tote, paid $3.80 after covering the nine panels in 1:47.82. He earned a first prize of $180,000 from the gross purse of $301,000 to increase his bankroll to $695,520. It was his fourth victory in his fifth start, with two of those tallies coming in Grade I stakes.
Webslinger is owned by D. J. Stable and Silver Knott races in the colors of Godolphin.
Brown was winning his fourth Hollywood Derby; Prat won his first.
Prat’s victory was his 94th stakes win at Del Mar, tying him for seventh-best among all local riders and tying him with two Hall of Famers – Bill Shoemaker and Eddie Delahoussaye.
“He was actually pretty relaxed before the race. We had a good trip; the pace was pretty fair. He relaxed well, he had a good turn of foot. Luckily there was a horse in front of me that bolted around the turn, so I had a clear path. As soon as I asked him to make a run, he was there for me. I think he will still improve. He has run well every time,” said Prat.
Fractions were :23.17, :47.19, 1:12.19 and 1:36.47 with a final time of 1:47.82.
Earlier in the Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes, speed was the key for the gray filly Zona Verde, who was ridden by Del Mar’s leading rider Juan Hernandez and is trained by the track’s leading conditioner, Phil D’Amato.
The Irish-bred daughter of the Kingman sire Calyx went to the front early, then held her nine opponents safe, covering the mile on turf in 1:36.02 and getting home a length the best. The winner was registering her first stakes victory and paid a handsome $23.60 to her backers.
“They told me to save ground, but I saw the other horses, and then I saw that she wanted to take the lead. I ask her out of the gate and she went to the lead; she felt very comfortable and she finished really, really well,” Hernandez explained.
“Coming down the stretch, I asked her and she switched leads and she took off again.”
Finishing second in the 2-year-old filly feature was favored Lady de Berry, who outfinished Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Yatta by a neck.
The winner picked up a check for $60,000 from the $102,000 purse, pushing her bankroll to $114,926.
“I think the turf course looks a little speedy today. This filly broke good and Juan (Hernandez) just took the initiative and that was the winning move,” D’Amato said.
“She had won impressively at Del Mar (this summer) then we took her to Santa Anita and ran her in a stake and she got wiped out, never had a free run. But today she got in the clear and ran very well.”
To start the day, rider Prat wasted no time getting Unconquerable Keen to the front from his inside post, then just kept him there throughout the five-furlong turf journey in the second running of the $100,000 Stormy Liberal Stakes.
The 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding, owned by CYBT, Aldabbagh or Nentwig and trained by D’Amato, covered the five panels in :55.87 and returned $5.40 to his backers as the race favorite. He ran the distance in :55.87 and finished a length and three-quarters the best.
“This was the first time I was on him and he broke well. He was very quick out of the gate, which was great on the one horse to get a good position. And then he did the rest,” said Prat.
“I think he really liked the distance (5 furlongs). He took a nice breather around the turn and when I asked him to make a move he responded well.”
Finishing second was Benowitz Family Trust, CYBT or Nentwig, et al’s Turn On The Jets, who finished three-quarters of a length ahead of MyRacehorse’s Lanes Way.
D’Amato trained both the winner and the second-place finisher. The conditioner had won the inaugural running of the Stormy Liberal in 2022 with this year’s second, Turn On The Jets.
“I thought that’s the way they would sit. Unconquerable Keen has a little more speed than (second-place finisher) Turn On The Jets. May the best horse win at the top of the lane and they both ran hard through there and ran one-two,” said D’Amato.
Unconquerable Keen earned a first prize of $60,000 for his efforts and increased his bankroll to $243,349.
Racing will be presented for the final day of the Bing Crosby Season Sunday. First post for the afternoon is 12:30 p.m. Because it is closing day, there will be a mandatory payout on the track’s popular Pick Six bet, which could go as high as $1.5 million in its pool.