Returning to her favorite turf course at Del Mar, Winter Quarter Farm's Cambodia totally dominated her rivals in Saturday's Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, winning the race for the second year in a row. The 6-year-old daughter of War Front was off as the 8-5 favorite under Drayden Van Dyke; she stalked the pace and kicked clear in the stretch to score by about three lengths. Trained by Tom Proctor, Cambodia completed 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf in 1:40.51.
“She put me up there in the race,” said Van Dyke. “She's got that natural speed and she wants to be in the race. I was just biding my time; I had a couple to beat, but I had good aim. She likes this turf course, no doubt. It's all clicking for me right now. I'm feeling good and riding good. I want to keep it going.”
Always well positioned within striking range by Van Dyke, Cambodia surged into contention from the outside with slightly less than a quarter-mile to go and pulled away to score by two and one-half lengths in 1:40.51, bettering her time of 1:40.86 a year ago in the Yellow Ribbon.
In a three-way photo for runner-up honors, Madame Stripes was a head in front of Sophie P, with eastern invader Hallie Belle only another head farther back in fourth. Fahan Mura was scratched.
For Van Dyke it was his third win on the ten-race program. He took the seventh on two-year-old Sigalert.
Bred in Kentucky by her owner Don Robinson and Maverick Productions, Cambodia is out of the winning Smart Strike mare Sassifaction. She has improved significantly with age, having a breakout year in 2017 to win her first graded stake and compete in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, in which she finished an impressive third behind Wuheida and Rhododendron. She struggled in her first few starts of 2018, but seems to have regained her rhythm at Del Mar. Overall, Cambodia has won seven of her 18 starts for earnings of over $770,000.
“We really wanted her to do this,” said Robinson. “I've never had a horse like this and we decided to run her at six, because it's such a thrill and I feel like I'm vindicated. She's run in two Grade Is this year and they don't give those away. She was close (despite finishing sixth and seventh) so we thought maybe she'd make it out here. This is her spot and she loves it.”
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