DEL MAR, Calif. - For the second straight year, trainer Mike Mitchell and jockey Tyler Baze combined to win the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap with a front-running, gray, 6-year-old gelding who had been claimed for $80,000, this time on Sunday with Leprechaun Kid, who re-rallied to beat Laura's Lucky Boy by a nose in the 1 3/8-mile grass race.
The victory was an emotional one for Baze and Mitchell. Baze earlier on the card had snapped out of a two-week, 63-race losing streak, but he was still overcome with emotion after the Del Mar Handicap, in part because Leprechaun Kid reminds both Baze and Mitchell so much of the ill-fated Star Over the Bay, who won last year's Del Mar Handicap but subsequently died a race in Singapore in May.
"I worked him one morning for Mike and told him he reminded me of Star," Baze said. "He is so game. He reminds me of Star so much. I tried to ride him just like Star last year."
Leprechaun Kid ($18.20) sprinted to the lead and led by as much as five lengths after six furlongs in 1:13.51. Laura's Lucky Boy, who had been chasing him throughout from second, collared Leprechaun Kid a furlong out, but Leprechaun Kid came back on. He was timed in 2:12.81 for 1 3/8 miles on firm turf.
Exterior was another four lengths back in third. Runaway Dancer, the 2-1 favorite, was fifth in the field of 10. Sarafan was pulled up entering the backstretch.
"It didn't appear to be anything life-threatening," said his rider, Alex Solis, "but he was walking off in his right front."
Leprechaun Kid, a son of Alphabet Soup, was making his 38th lifetime start. He had been claimed by Mitchell - on behalf of a partnership headed by Scott Anastasi, Jim Ukegawa, and Landon Vaughn - out of an optional claiming race at Del Mar on July 28. The victory Sunday was worth $150,000.
"The first guy I wanted to put on him was Tyler because I thought he'd fit the horse," Mitchell said. "When I was training him, he reminded me so much of Star I just decided to send him to the lead and let them try and catch him."
Back to Articles