DEL MAR, Calif.—Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farm’s Royal Ship (BRZ) stayed close to the leaders on the backside, then when Hall of Famer Mike Smith let him roll approaching the far turn the 6-year-old Brazilian horse found another gear and ran off in the stretch to score a two and a quarter length victory in the 81st running of the $302,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar Saturday.
The veteran gelding acted like a young boy in earning a $180,000 prize in the Grade II feature finishing up the mile and one sixteenth in 1:42.75. He paid $21.00 for the win and pushed his career earnings to $570, 405.
Royal Ship, by 2008 Del Mar Futurity winner Midshipman, is trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, though the conditioner wasn’t at the track for the festivities today. He was home nursing a case of COVID, but his stable was in the able hands of his son, Gary, a trainer on his own who has certainly won his share of races.
“We’re going to enjoy this and figure the next race after that; this is a good one and we’re gonna enjoy it for a while. He (Mike Smith) had a lot of horse under him and he’s keeping the favorite in his sights. That’s what makes Mike great, he made all the right calls, put the horse in position he could win and got it done,” the younger Mandella remarked.
Finishing second was the 2-1 favorite, Commonwealth Thoroughreds, Winstar Farm and Zedan Racing Stables’ Country Grammer, who was four and a quarter lengths ahead of third-place finisher Stilleto Boy, owned by Steve Moger.
“I wasn’t going to take anything away from [Royal Ship] today. If he wanted to go, he could go. He was rolling on the backside and just kept going. I hope this win helps Mr. Mandella feel better. He and his son get all the credit with this horse,” recounted Smith.
Royal Ship returned $21.00, $9.20 and $6.00 across the board. Country Grammer paid $5.20 and $3.40, while Stilleto Boy was worth $5.20 to show.
For the sixth straight afternoon, the track’s Pick Six Single Ticket Jackpot wager was not solved and its carryover pushed higher to $393,249. That will be in the pot when racing resumes at 2 p.m. Sunday.
DMTC Press Release
Photo by Benoit