The Meet’s Leading Rider Wins the La Jolla Stakes at Del Mar

The Grade 3 La Jolla Stakes for sophomores at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf was the headliner on Sunday as 8 went to the post. They made a maiden the 3/1 favorite in this race, maybe because the meet’s leading rider had the mount, and sure enough, with his only mount of the day, Juan Hernandez and Maltese Falcon got the money at $8.40 on the front end.

Maltese Falcon raced in mid pack down the back side, but only was four back at the 3/8 pole. J.J. dove to the inside at the 1/8 pole and out finished the Euro, Panic Alarm, who was making his first start stateside. Agency set the pace under slow to moderate fractions and he ran well to hold on for third. “Falcon” won by a length at the wire and finally broke his maiden in his 7th start.

He will probably come back in the Del Mar Derby on closing weekend, along with the runner up, who made our Horses to Watch list, and actually has more upside than the winner.

The other stakes on the program was for Cal bred two year old fillies. Pushiness, off a big maiden score, was made the 3 to 5   favorite in this field of 8, and she didn’t disappoint, easily wiring the field and winning off by two. The Nor Cal invader, Grand Slam Smile, ran well to get second, but was just totally outclassed by the winner. It was another two and a half lengths back to the third horse, Crazy Hot, who made a big move on the turn, and then hung badly in the lane. The winner is owned by New Yorker Mike Repole, who also owns the sharp and talented three year old, Forte. Pushiness is trained by Mike McCarthy, who was back east in Kentucky on Sunday.