Del Mar, California - Under a perfect ride from talented young jockey Michael Baze, Bongo Racing Stable, Capen and Tjosvold’s Sun Boat captured the mile and one sixteenth San Diego Handicap (G2) stopping the clock in 1:45.39 over the Poly Track.
Breaking from the outside, Baze reserved the British-bred son of Machiavellian until the half-mile pole until he allowed Sun Boat to gain ground on his own. Sitting behind a wall of horses nearing the quarter pole, Baze shot Sun Boat through a narrow opening straightening in the stretch and drew away to win by a length over Awesome Gem. Salty Humor finished third, followed in order by Raise the Bluff, Heat Seeker, Arson Squad, Soul City Slew, the 3/2 favorite Buzzard’s Bay and C’mon Tiger.
“The last time I rode him, I didn’t know him so well,” said Baze. “It turned out he wasn’t a big fan of the right-hand stick. I hit him left handed that day, and he responded; but when I switched to the right, he changed leads ‘cuz he didn’t like it and I got beat a nose.
“So today I wasn’t going there again, but the way he exploded when he turned for home, it didn’t matter. This was a way better race for him. There was dramatic improvement. Even galloping out he was still strong. I think he’ll like that mile and a quarter (Pacific Classic (G1)) even better.”
Interviewed before the race by TVG’s Christina Olivares, trainer Mike Mitchell indicated that between the six pound weight shift Sun Boat received from Buzzard’s Bay and the fact that he breezed so well over the Poly Track might be enough to turn the tables on the millionaire favorite. Mitchell reiterated his opinion post race.
“He just ran super,” Mitchell said. “The six pounds is great, but he just blew out so nice over this track and I was so happy with the way he worked on it and the way he galloped out. I’ve worked a bunch of horses on this track, and he’s handled it better than anybody else has handled it. It looked like Michael had plenty of horse, he moved in time and, when it opened up, he got through. That was great because he didn’t have to go around anybody.”
With his San Diego (G2) victory, Sun Boat improved his record to 12-4-3-1 and his bank account to $314,345, most of it for Bongo Racing Stable and partners. He paid $15 to win, $7.20 to place and $5.00 to show.
Bongo Racing Stable’s Mananan McLir, owned in partnership with Mike Atkinson and Carl Van Berger, followed stablemate’s Sun Boat’s victory with one of his own in Del Mar’s nightcap. Also trained by Mitchell and masterfully ridden by Baze, the son of Royal Academy mounted his patented closing charge to win in a waltz, covering the mile and one eighth in 1:49.42 over the firm Jimmy Durante turf course. He returned $7 to win, $4.40 to place and $3.20 to show.
The Bongo-Mitchell-Baze late daily double returned $32.80 – much less than the $52.50 parlay price – indicating the Bongo partners and their friends hammered the combination.