Gary and Mary West's High Velocity, a $350,000 purchase as a yearling, appeared worth every cent Saturday as he outdueled highly-regarded Strongconstitution to win Del Mar's featured Grade III $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes in convincing fashion.
High Velocity, a son of Quality Road sent off at odds of even-money, went to the front at the break, closely followed by 4-5 favored Strongconstitution. The two turned the Hope Stakes into a virtual match race and came into the stretch head-and-head for command.
High Velocity responded to the urging of jockey Drayden Van Dyke in the final furlong to gradually draw off from Strongconstitution, ridden by Abel Cedillo, and score by a length and one-quarter in 1:23.16 for the seven furlongs.
Third in the field of four two-year-olds was Zimba Warrior, four and one-half lengths behind the runner-up and eight and one-half lengths ahead of Rager. Scratched from the contest were Howbeit and Thousand Words.
High Velocity, two-for-two in his brief career, provided trainer Bob Baffert with his fourth success in six runnings of the Bob Hope Stakes. First money of $60,000 increased the colt's earnings to $90,000.
With only four runners, there was no show wagering. High Velocity paid $4 and $2.10, while Strongconstitution returned $2.10 to place.
Racing resumes Sunday, with first post 12:30. Featured on the eight-race program will be the $100,000 Betty Grable Stakes for California-bred fillies and mares at seven furlongs on the main track.
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (High Velocity, winner) – “I was loaded all the way. He's a fast horse, I knew that; I broke him out of the gate the other morning. I got away with some pretty easy fractions here, so I was feeling good about that. I told Bob (trainer Bob Baffert) that he was just hitting his best stride as we went past the wire. He's a nice one.”
ABEL CEDILLO (Strongconstitution, second) – “I had to go after him; I couldn't wait. He (the winner) and I figured as the two horses in the race. So I couldn't let him get away. At the three-eighths (pole) I thought I had the horse (to win). But he just got a little tired at the end.”
JOSE VALDIVIA, JR. (Zimba Warrior, third) – “He gave it a good try.”
BOB BAFFERT (High Velocity, winner) – “He handled everything well for his second out. It's always a tough test after you break a maiden and he didn't have a lot of time between races. But the way he worked we thought he would run well. I liked the way that when that other horse (Strongconstitution) came to him he dug in and took off again. And that's a nice horse that ran second.”
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