Irish-Bred Red Lark Gains First Stakes Triumph In Del Mar Oaks Upset

Irish-bred Red Lark made a three-wide rally into the stretch under Drayden Van Dyke, overhauled front-running favorite Laura’s Light and Warren’s Showtime and scored a decisive one-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Saturday, recording her first career stakes victory and second win overall from 12 starts.

Trained by Patrick Gallagher and racing for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Red Lark covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.64 and paid $40.20 as a 19-1 outsider. Another longshot, 25-1 California Kook, rallied for second, with Warren’s Showtime, the 7-2 second betting choice, finishing third.

A 3-year-old filly by Australian-bred Epaulette, Red Lark began her career in Ireland, going winless in five starts at 2, then broke her maiden in her second U.S. start on Feb. 9 on turf at Santa Anita. She was stakes-placed when runner-up to Toinette in the G3 Wilshire on June 20 and third most recently in a Del Mar allowance/optional claiming race on July 12 at Del Mar.

Laura’s Light, coming into the Del Mar Oaks off back-to-back graded stakes victories in the G3 Honeymoon at Santa Anita and the G2 San Clemente at Del Mar, was sent to the front by Abel Cedillo. After setting fractions of :24.46, :48.14 and 1:12.34 she was overtaken at the top of the stretch by Warren’s Showtime, but the latter was unable to sustain her rally in the final furlong after a mile was clocked in 1:36.76.

Van Dyke saved ground with Red Lark in the early stages of the Oaks, shifted off the rail in the run down the backstretch and rallied for the victory with a sharp turn of foot in the final quarter mile.

“Out of the gate, we had the perfect spot,” said Van Dyke. “I wanted to follow Mike Smith (Warren’s Showtime), because I thought his filly would be the one to beat. I knew my filly had a good chance because she was really fit. We got bottled up in her last race. Today, she got to run and she showed how good she is.”

“The allowance race here set her up well and she came out of it good,” said Gallagher. “I was confident in the filly; I knew she was happy and all, but I didn’t know if she was good enough. She needed to run the race of her life and she did. Drayden had her in a great spot all the way and when he asked she responded and was good enough.”

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