December 11, 2018

Instagrand brilliant in Best Pal

Instagrand continued to dazzle in the Best Pal (G2) © BENOIT PHOTO

Instagrand ran to his 1-9 odds with another remarkable display of superiority in Saturday’s $200,000 Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar.

A juvenile son of Into Mischief, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt was exiting a 10-length debut win at Los Alamitos on June 29 and displayed the same early speed in the Best Pal, showing the way on a short lead down the backstretch. Instagrand began to draw away sharply from his opponents rounding the far turn and poured it on down the stretch, scoring by 10 ¼ lengths under a hand ride from Drayden Van Dyke.

The spectacular performer recorded splits in :23, :46.54 and :58.17 before completing six furlongs in 1:10.27.

“I haven’t been getting on him in the morning (since his debut win) but they told me he was ready,” Van Dyke said. “Oh, yeah! I just threw a couple of crosses at him today; that’s all. Cadillac. I wanted to see if he’d change leads on his own, but in the end I just gave it a little weight shift (to the inside) and he made a perfect change.  He’s got the mind of a four- or five-year-old. Professional.”

“I was a little bit worried (with the delay at the gate); some of the colts were acting up, but then they got them in there,” Hollendorfer added. “He broke good even though he had been standing in there awhile, then Drayden got this colt to relax and he did his thing. I think it is an improvement (over his debut race) in that he did it so much easier. We’ll look at the (Del Mar) Futurity (G1) (on September 3) for him, for sure.”

Larry Best’s OXO Equine purchased Instagrand for $1.2 million at Gulfstream’s Fasig-Tipton March two-year-old sale. He wasn’t facing any well-regarded rivals in Saturday’s five-horse field, but there’s no denying the youngster’s brilliance so far. And the Best Pal has been used by an eventual Kentucky Derby winner in recent years, with Nyquist improving his record to two-for-two with a 5 ¼-length decision in the 2015 edition.

Instagrand certainly has his connections and fans dreaming about the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Bred in Kentucky by Stoneway Farm, Instagrand initially sold for $190,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale. The successful pinhook hails from the winning Lawyer Ron mare Assets of War, a daughter of Grade 3 winner Added Asset.

Sparky Ville, a last-out maiden winner at Santa Anita for Jeff Bonde, wound up a clear second ahead of the maiden Synthesis. Owning and Mason Dixon completed the order of finish.

“He beat ‘em all, but one,” jockey Gary Stevens said of the runner-up. “Don’t even ask me if I could see the winner.”