Providing red-hot jockey Drayden Van Dyke with his fifth of seven victories during the afternoon, Catapult, longshot winner of the Eddie Read Stakes a month ago, proved that triumph was no fluke with a come-from-behind triumph in the featured Grade II $200,000 Del Mar Mile Sunday.
Van Dyke, who had eight mounts, tied Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza for the most wins on a single day in Del Mar history.
Outrun and blocked turning into the stretch, Catapult was guided between horses for running room, responded generously to Van Dyke to overhaul Fly to Mars in the final strides and win by a half-length in a fast 1:33.40 for the distance.
Fly to Mars, who set a course record in capturing the California Dreamin Stakes July 28, was a length and one-half in front of Sharp Samurai at the wire, with Big Score fourth in the field of 13 grass runners. Tyler Gaffalione was aboard Fly to Mars, while Gary Stevens piloted Sharp Samurai.
However, after viewing videotape of the stretch run, the stewards disqualified Fly to Mars from second to third for causing interference to Sharp Samurai in the final furlong, Sharp Samurai being elevated to the runner-up position.
Catapult, who was a 21-1 longshot in winning the Eddie Read Stakes July 22, was sent postward at 5-1 Sunday and paid $12.20, $6 and $3.60 after his sixth success in 15 starts. First money of $120,000 increased his lifetime earnings to $723,384. The five-year-old son of Kitten's Joy is owned by Woodford Racing, nom de course of W.S. Farish, Jr., and trained by John Sadler who sent out Accelerate to win the Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Saturday.
Sharp Samurai, second choice at 7-2, paid $4.60 and $3.40, while Fly to Mars returned $5.60 to show. Bowies Hero, the 3-1 favorite, was a non-threatening eleventh.
Van Dyke, 23-year-old native of Louisville, Kentucky, began his afternoon going four for his first four mounts, sweeping the second through fifth races. He won the second aboard Neighborhood Bully at $12.80, the third on Quebec at $8, the fourth astride Triple Shot in a $26.20 upset and the fifth on Tantara at $6.20. He was second in the sixth race on Allaboutaction, his only loss on the program.
After his win aboard Catapult, he took the ninth race on favored Policy at $3.80 for his sixth victory. Going for a seventh win in the tenth and final race, he climaxed his record-tying day on Ohio for a $9.60 payoff.
Espinoza set the mark Sept. 4, 2006, eclipsing the great Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Rudy Rosales, all of whom won six races in a single afternoon at Del Mar, Pincay accomplishing the feat twice.
Van Dyke's seven-bagger moved him ahead of Flavien Prat for the top spot in the jockey standings, 27-26.
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Catapult, winner) – “So special. I had a day up at Santa Anita recently where I won the first four races, including a Grade I, and that was the best. But I think today (five wins) goes past it. I had a good trip and the right horse. It was a little hairy there turning for home; I had to wait for room. But then he got out and just went. Nice horse. I've got a couple more, too, so it may get better yet.”
(Van Dyke subsequently won the following two races for his sixth and seventh winners on the day. He thus ties Del Mar's record, set by Victor Espinoza on September 4, 2006.)
GARY STEVENS (Sharp Samurai, finished third, placed second on a DQ) – “That (interference by #9, Fly to Mars) not only clost me the place, it cost me the win. I don't think Drayden (Van Dyke on Catapult) is going to get by me if I don't get stopped. My horse was really coming.”
TYLER GAFFALIONE (Fly to Mars, finished second, DQed to third) – “You can see it all on the replay.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Big Score, fourth) – “My horse ran good. He closed, but those horses up front never came back to me.”
JOHN SADLER, (Catapult, winner) – “I'm having a dream meet. We're winning these big races and getting good trips and I can't ask for anything more. What's really nice is all the horses are running well. Everything is working out. I'm very happy with Catapult. He ran a good race in the Eddie Read and I wasn't sure I was going to bring him back here. But I figured that since he's so good on this turf course I wanted to run him twice here. We're hoping he'll end up in the Breeders' Cup Mile.”
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