After Saturday's fourth race, the Sorrento Stakes, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux was the picture of frustration, the product of finishing second to Champagne Room with an ill-starred trip on Miss Southern Miss.
After the eighth race, Desormeaux was a picture of elation after Straight Fire romped home 10 ½ lengths ahead of eight rivals to certify the colt's status as one of the top 2-year-olds on the grounds.
“Just an emotional roller coaster,” Desormeaux said Sunday morning. “Anything that could go wrong went wrong on Miss Southern Miss and (Straight Fire) was just so superior I kind of only had to hold on.”
Desormeaux said that, in a similar situation to her previous race, Miss Southern Miss was bumped coming out of the gate and was seconds behind in establishing a good breathing pattern and stride. They rushed up to take the lead in the first quarter of the 6 ½ furlong, Grade II $200,000 event but couldn't hold off favored Champagne Room in the stretch and were beaten by 1 ¼ lengths.
“I've been working her for a year and she's really, really good,” Desormeaux said. “Then to have her thrown such a curveball at the start, and I definitely struck out on it. In hindsight, I wish I would have anchored her and made her wait, or just dropped her head and let her roll.
“I tried to do the 'tweeny and let her find herself, but it was just aggravating. I feel as a jockey, my hands failed, and I pride myself on that. But I don't feel very proud about that one.
“I think it was an exceptional effort on her part, considering everything,” Desormeaux said. “But it's still a loss, which she should not have been handed.”
Straight Fire had finished second, beaten 5 ¼ lengths to Chasing Aces as the winner broke a 52-year-old track record for five furlongs, on July 17 in his racing debut. Saturday, the Kentucky-bred son of Dominus looked like a potential record-breaker himself covering 6 ½ furlongs in 1:14.94.
Straight Fire is owned by Jungle Racing LLC of sports talk show host Jim Rome and partners.
“He's just a superior horse,” Desormeaux said. “That stable and Jim Rome have been in touch with the right horses (most notably Mizdirection, Shared Belief) and congratulations to them on acquiring another one.”
Miss Southern Miss and Straight Fire are both trained by Kent's brother, Keith. The filly and the colt would appear to be ticketed for the two Grade I, $300,000 events for 2-year-olds at the end of the meeting, Miss Southern Miss in the Debutante (September 3) and Straight Fire the Futurity (September 5).
Watch Straight Fire's victory here:
Straight Fire amazed onlookers in the 8th at Del Mar, including track announcer Trevor Denman! pic.twitter.com/IyGZtbBxIC
— TVG (@TVG) August 7, 2016
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