The Janet Armstrong-trained Dressed in Hermes bested the field with a strong closing kick in Sunday's Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar. The $100,000, Grade III contest for straight 2-year-olds was held at one mile over the firm turf course.
A strong-willed Manhattan Dan struck the lead out of the gate to set a rapid early pace of :22.45, :46.80, and 1:11.59. He was tracked by Collected and Frank Conversation to his outside about a length back. Dressed in Hermes sat far back early, then made his way up to fifth by the half-mile pole. Rounding the final turn, Manhattan Dan folded to Collected. The latter held his lead until veteran jockey Mike Smith cued Dressed in Hermes to unleash his rally, going on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Collected in a final time of 1:36.13. Another 1 1/2 lengths back, Frank Conversation maintained third by a neck over Rare Candy, who was up late for fourth.
Dressed in Hermes was bred in Kentucky by owner Budget Stables, by Hat Trick out of the Elusive Quality mare Elusive Fashion. The gelding's most recent effort was a fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland. He is now 2-for-5 lifetime, with the Cecil B. DeMille his first graded victory.
Quotes for G3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes:
MIKE SMITH (Dressed in Hermes, winner) – “Janet (trainer Janet Armstrong) just said ride him with confidence. She said he might do best to lay fourth or fifth and then he should come running. She was right. I just had to guide him around there. He wants to run on, this horse. I had a hard time pulling him up after the race. Had a hard time pulling him up going into the winner's circle. He'll run on; mile and an eighth for sure. He's got a lot of good energy.”
MARTIN GARCIA (Collected, second) – “First time at two turns for him and he ran great. He's going to be a really good horse. He's learning. This will be a building race for him.”
MARIO GUTIERREZ (Frank Conversation, third) – “Good trip for me. My horse ran a good race.”
JANET ARMSTRONG (Dressed in Hermes, winner) – “He's filled out since he traveled (to Breeders' Cup and back). He's filled out more, has more weight and more muscle, which is really a good thing. During the stretch run, I really thought he was going to make it. He's such a nice horse. We'll give him a little time off now and probably come back at the end of January. We'll probably try the dirt next. Just don't know where or which one.”
(Her first stakes win at Del Mar, second win in California. First was the Zuma Beach at Santa Anita. “And I got a surf board for that one,” she said.)
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