Even in the absence of morning-line favorite Schrodinger, Collusion Illusion proved a 7-1 overlay in Saturday’s $200,351 Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar. The Mark Glatt juvenile stepped up from a debut score over the seaside track to upend slow-starting Wrecking Crew and 4-5 choice Fore Left, enhancing his prospects for the Del Mar Futurity (G1).
As in his July 21 unveiling over five furlongs, Collusion Illusion swept from just off the pace. This time, however, jockey Joe Talamo was aboard. His initial rider, Flavien Prat, stuck with Schrodinger in the Best Pal, only to have him ruled out by a fever. That was a rare spot of bad luck on an otherwise banner day for Prat, the meet’s leading rider who added five more wins to his total Saturday.
Collusion Illusion raced in fifth of six early, trailed by Wrecking Crew who took time to get himself organized after the break. A pace battle was unfolding up front, with Thanks Mr. Eidson narrowly on top of Raging Whiskey through an opening quarter in :22.13 on the fast track. The duo matched strides until the half, when Thanks Mr. Eidson began to edge away in :45.28.
After taking :57.95 to reach midstretch, Thanks Mr. Eidson couldn’t fend off the closers. Collusion Illusion was rallying boldly, and even Wrecking Crew was rolling widest of all to get involved. The early deficit was a little too much for Wrecking Crew to overcome, and he had to settle for second, 1 1/4 lengths adrift of the winner. Collusion Illusion negotiated six furlongs in 1:11.34.
Fore Left, by Collusion Illusion’s sire Twirling Candy, checked in third to give the Lane’s End stallion a one-three result. Thanks Mr Eidson, We’re Still Here, and Raging Whiskey rounded out the order under the wire.
Campaigned by Dan J. Agnew, Rodney E. Orr, Jerry Schneider, and John V. Xitco, Collusion Illusion has bankrolled $156,600 from his two starts. The bay was bred by Donald R. Dizney in Florida and first sold for $50,000 as a Keeneland September yearling to Don’t Tell My Wife Stables. He was a pinhook success at OBS April, where he commanded $300,000 from Glatt as agent.
Collusion Illusion is the first foal from the unraced Natalie Grace, a First Dude half-sister to Grade 2 hero Bahamian Squall and Grade 3 scorer Apriority, both Grade 1-placed sprinters.
Quotes from Del Mar
Winning trainer Mark Glatt: “He’s been nothing but a pro from day one since we got him after the sale. He was probably ready earlier than the race he actually debuted in (July 21) but we decided to wait for Del Mar and we’re extremely pleased with him. This race came up a little bit quick, I usually like to give a horse more time after his debut, but he’s such a classy horse and he never missed a bite of grain.
“I thought about running him back in the Futurity but who knows what will happen between now and September and he was ready to run now. I wouldn’t rule out the Futurity. That might be a little too aggressive with him, but we’ll keep it as an option.”
Winning rider Joe Talamo: “I had the beautiful trip. And the speed set it up right. I was impressed with my horse the way he gutted it out down the lane. And I think the farther the better with him. Wait ‘til he goes seven eighths or two turns. Then you’re going to see the best of him.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith on runner-up Wrecking Crew: “I don’t know what happened. He was ready for it (the break). And then he just took a left on me. I don’t know if he saw the (number) 2 horse, or what. And I don’t want to take anything away from the winner, but I sure would have like to have seen what would have happened (if he had broken properly).”
Mario Gutierrez who rode Fore Left, third as the 4-5 favorite: “I thought I was going to be the winner. But then he got a little bit tired at the end. But he’ll bounce back.”