Astute Upsets Private Mission To Win Del Mar’s Desi Arnaz In A Romp

LNJ Foxwoods’ Astute, a chestnut filly by sprint champion Speightstown who fetched $425,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale last year, had all of her speed Saturday at Del Mar as she ran away and hid from five rivals in the featured $100,500 Desi Arnaz Stakes at the seaside track north of San Diego, Calif.

Taking her cues from a pair of Hall of Famers — trainer Richard Mandella and rider Mike Smith – Astute went head-and-head with the odds-on favorite Private Mission through splits of  :22.21 and :45.30 for the first half mile of the 6 1/2-furlong dash, shook that one off turning for home, then drew out to a sparkling 7 1/2-length tally in a final time of 1:17.28.

Finishing second was Saragol Stable Corp and Johana Viana’s Queengol, a nose in front of Watson, Pegram and Weitman’s Heels Up.

Astute was making only the second start of her career and her first in a stakes. She had won a straight maiden race on grass at Santa Anita last month in her debut.

“Wow, That’s what I’ve got to say,” said Smith. “I knew she was good; I just didn’t know she was this good. She was good on the grass the other day (winning a straight maiden race at 5 1/2 furlongs), but she’s even better on the dirt.”

“The owners and the manager — Alex Solis Jr. — told me before I ever saw her that she’s special and it’s kind of held true,” said Mandella. “She got a little sick on me in the summer and I had to give her a month off, so that’s why she’s a little late (starting her career). I only put her in the maiden turf (debut win on October 12 at Santa Anita) because I knew she could do turf and I was afraid a dirt race the next day wouldn’t fill. I expected she’d run well today, but maybe not this well. We’ll think about the Starlet.”

The Grade 1 Starlet over 1 1/16-miles at Los Alamitos will be run Dec. 5.

Astute paid $12.20, $5.40 and $5.20.  Queengol returned $5.60 and $4.20, while Heels Up paid $6.00 for the show.

LNJ Foxwoods is the nom du course of Larry, Nanci and Jaime Roth of Great Neck, N.Y. Mandella also trains the top grass horse United for the outfit.

Leading rider Abel Cedillo added a pair of winners to his totals after seven days of racing and now shows 12 firsts. Trainer Mandella won another race on the card and now has five firsts for the meet, second in the conditioner’s standings to Peter Miller’s six.

Racing resumes at Del Mar tomorrow starting at 12:30 p.m. with a nine-race card.

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