Om used to be known as the horse that beat American Pharoah in the Triple Crown winner's racing debut last August at Del Mar. The 3-year-old colt by Munnings managed just one win in his next four starts, but he can now be called a Grade 2 winner. The Sareen Family Trust chestnut runner, trained by Dan Hendricks, got a masterpiece front-running ride from Hall of Famer Gary Stevens to win Sunday's Grade 2 Del Mar Derby over the Southern California seaside track's turf course. Royal Albert Hall closed to be second, 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner, with 1-5 favorite Prospect Park another 2 1/2 lengths back in third and Crittenden fourth in the field of seven 3-year-olds.
Stevens sent Om to the front coming out of the infield chute and was never seriously threatened thereafter, going an opening quarter mile in :23.58, the half in :47.71 and six furlongs in 1:11.76. Kent Desormeaux had recent G3 La Jolla Mile winner Prospect Park perched to his outside, just a length back, for most of the nine-furlong journey, but when Om clicked off a mile in 1:35.76, Prospect Park was struggling to keep up. The winner completed the distance on firm turf in 1:47.79.
The stewards looked at an incident early in the race when Prospect Park drifted out, causing Papacoolpapacool to check momentarily. However, they ruled that the interference occurred early enough in the race that it did not affect the outcome.
The Del Mar Derby was the first stakes win for Om, who was sidelined from the time of his Aug. 9, 2014, victory over American Pharoah until April 12, when he ran fifth in the six-furlong San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita. He followed with an allowance win on turf in May, but then was third to Gime Da Lute in the G3 Affirmed at Santa Anita and second to Prospect Park in the La Jolla, after setting the early pace.
In an equipment change, Hendricks removed the blinkers from Om for the Del Mar Derby.
Out of the Tabasco Cat mare, Rare Cat, Om was bred in Kentucky by Lavin Bloodstock, Bernie Sams and William S. Farish.
Hendricks, as agent, purchased Om for $125,000 at the 2014 Barretts March Sale of 2-year-olds in training from Niall Brennan, agent.
Post-Race Quotes From Del Mar Media Office:
GARY STEVENS (Om, winner) – “I'm so pleased; this was special. I'm just glad Danny (trainer Dan Hendricks) gave me a shot and put me up on him. I worked him three weeks ago (Aug 20) and he went great without any blinkers. Then two weeks ago (Aug 27) I worked him again and they said blinkers on. I asked why? They said he runs in blinkers. I worked him and told them I didn't like him in blinkers at all; that he got too aggressive with it. Then last Wednesday I'm going to work him and he runs off on the pony. We had to abort the work and I just two-minute licked him. I told Danny to just work him the next day (Sept 3) with Cisco (assistant trainer Francisco Alvarado) and he went easy for him. And here he runs huge today (with blinkers off). As you can see, it is a very inexact science. But he's a nice horse and I'm so glad for Danny,”
FLAVIEN PRAT (Royal Albert Hall, second) – “He tries hard every time. I love to ride his kind.”
KENT DESORMEAUX (Prospect Park, third) – “He was right where we wanted to be. He was just cantering. Then I asked him and he just kept cantering. No response. No response at all.”
DAN HENDRICKS (Om, winner) – “We pointed for this. It's just good when everything pays off. You do your due diligence and the harder you work the luckier you get. He's what I would call a really old-school horse. He's just a coarse, tough, good feeling horse and it worked out just the way we'd talked about for two weeks. I've won just about every Derby in Southern California – Santa Anita, Hollywood, Oak Tree and now this one. This was my dream to win this race and it really means a lot to me. As much as my Santa Anita Derby.”
The stakes win was the sixth of the meet for rider Stevens (the most by any rider at the session) and his third in the Del Mar Derby. He now has 88 stakes wins at Del Mar, seventh most of all riders.
The stakes win was the first of the meet for trainer Hendricks and his first in the Del Mar Derby. He now has 14 stakes wins at Del Mar.
The winner is owned by the Sareen Family Trust from Las Vegas, NV.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article mistakenly identified the Del Mar Derby as a Grade 1 race. It is Grade 2.
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