Rick and Sharon Waller’s homebred Spectator dueled throughout Saturday’s $200,690 Sorrento Stakes (G2) before shaking loose in the Del Mar stretch under jockey Jamie Theriot and drawing away to a 5 3/4-length victory.
Surrender Now, the even-money favorite, gunned for the lead and set the opening quarter in :21.93. Spectator tracked just off her flank on the backside while only a head in front of Terra’s Angel, who in turn had a head in front of Midnight Summer to her outside.
Surrender Now began to fade entering the turn, leaving the way clear for Spectator to take command. Terra’s Angel, the 56-1 longest shot on the board, was tenacious to her outside but Spectator opened up in midstretch, pulling away to finish 6 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:17.66.
Trained by Philip D’Amato, Spectator paid $10.40 for the win as the 4-1 third choice. Dancing Belle came flying in the stretch, but was no match for the winner and had to settle for second, 4 1/2 lengths up on Terra’s Angel. Diamondsandpearls was another 6 1/4 lengths back in fourth. She was followed by Spirit of Shanghai, Midnight Summer and Surrender Now, who was eased in the lane.
Spectator is now perfect in two lifetime starts, having broken her maiden at first asking by 5 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita Park on June 23, and boasts $152,400 in career earnings.
The Kentucky-bred daughter of Jimmy Creed is out of the unraced Henny Hughes mare Diva’s Tribute. This is the same female family as multiple Grade 2-winning leading sire Distorted Humor as well as Canadian Horse of the Year and Grade 1-winning millionaire Never Retreat.
Philip D’Amato, trainer Spectator, winner
“After she broke her maiden the way she did, we just kind of let her grow up these past few weeks. This (race) has been on the radar from the get-go and we just let her mature and she sure did. She’s still trying to figure it out in some ways. She’s just a bunch of raw talent and she’s getting better and better.”
Jamie Theriot, jockey Spectator, winner
“She was a runner all the way. She broke sharp and she went on with it. (Trainer) Phil (D’Amato) said ‘Ride it as it comes up.’ That’s what I did. I think she’ll run on, too.”
Kent Desormeaux, jockey Dancing Belle, second
“A real good run for her. She’s just getting better.”
Sasha Risenhoover, jockey Terra’s Angel, third
“I was pleased with her effort. I didn’t know if she’d be fit enough. She’s running on a new track here; a deeper track after she’d been at Lone Star. But she ran well. Just wish we’d have had another work or two in her.”
Mike Smith, jockey Diamondsandpearls, fourth
“She slipped coming away from there and she was slipping and sliding all around the track. She just didn’t handle the track.”
Flavien Prat, jockey Surrender Now, seventh
“By the quarter-pole, she wasn’t running at all. I just took care of her coming home from there.”