Cambodia proved to be the star of the distaff turf ranks at Del Mar this summer, adding Saturday’s $202,760 John C. Mabee (G2) to her Yellow Ribbon (G2) victory earlier in the meet. After accelerating into contention three wide off the far turn, the 5-year-old mare surged to the lead in midstretch and powered her way to an about one-length triumph.
The 5-year-old daughter of War Front completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.79 with Drayden Van Dyke, who picked up the mount when guiding Cambodia to success in the 1 1/16-mile Yellow Ribbon on August 5. She has won three of her last four starts for Don Robinson’s Winter Quarter Farm and trainer Tom Proctor, taking the May 20 Gallorette (G3) at Pimlico by two lengths in her graded bow.
Cambodia sandwiched a third in the Dr. James Penny Memorial (G3) at Parx between the Gallorette and Yellow Ribbon.
Hillhouse High sprinted forward to establish early splits in :23.20, :47.38 and 1:11.67 on a short lead before giving way. Cambodia stalked the early pace in sixth, advancing within a few lengths of the lead on the backstretch, and finished fast to edge the rallying Goodyearforroses in second.
The winner left the starting gate as the slight 5-2 favorite, with Goodyearforroses also 5-2 in her first appearance since finishing second to Lady Eli in the Gamely (G1) in late May. It was a 1 ¾-length margin back to the late-running Madame Stripes in third at 13-1. Instant Erma, Decked Out, Kiss Me Now and Mrs McDougal, who loomed a danger turning for home after closely stalking the pace as the 4-1 third choice, came next under the wire.
Bred in Kentucky by Robinson and Maverick Productions, Cambodia now shows an overall record of 13-6-0-5 with $443,746 in earnings. She switched to turf after recording the only unplaced efforts of her career on dirt and after breaking her maiden in late 2015, the bay mare captured her only two starts over conditioned allowance foes last year.
Out of the winning Smart Strike mare Sassifaction, Cambodia recorded three consecutive placings when stepping up to the stakes level earlier this year at Fair Grounds and Laurel Park. She’s made giant strides in recent months for Proctor, who improved to a sizzling 6-for-14 during the 2017 Del Mar summer meet.
Quotes from Del Mar
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Cambodia, winner) – “No special instructions for me. Just get her out of there and get a good spot. She was really relaxed today; all class. She can be a little quirky sometimes, but today she was calm. We thought she might be close to the lead, but she was just going so easy I was happy with where I was. When it came time, she fired. I was just a passenger today.”
COREY NAKATANI (Goodyearforroses, second) – “Pretty good trip for me today. No real problems. She came running. Impressive.”
JOE TALAMO (Madame Stripes, third) – “I had a great trip. She really showed me a good turn of foot for the finish.”
GARY STEVENS (Insta Erma, fourth) – “We got levelled leaving there. It was nasty to start. I was way back and nowhere near where I wanted to be. She came flying at the finish.”
DON ROBINSON (owner of Cambodia, winner) – “I felt so fortunate to win the Yellow Ribbon and I look at this as icing on the cake. This filly has never been a mile and an eighth, and to do it this way – rate and close – I’m over the top. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve raised some awfully good ones for other people, but this is a thrill. This is a crowning achievement. I love Del Mar.”