Prat Wins Del Mar Riding Crown; Baltas, D’Amato Share Training Title

Flavien Prat returned from a trip to his native France to win seven races in the last three days of the meeting to claim outright for 2017 the Del Mar riding title he shared with Rafael Bejarano in 2016.

The 25-year-old from Melun, France, started the final six-day week of the season with a two-win lead on Bejarano and apprentice Evin Roman but with the final two days of a three-day suspension still to serve. The death of his girlfriend’s mother in France necessitated a trip to his homeland.

Prat returned to find himself in a three-way tie atop the standings but won four on Saturday, September 2 to assume control and kept it with a win on the penultimate win of the meeting and two more on closing day.

Prat finished with 35 wins. Bejarano and Roman, who won one on closing day, tied for second at 29. Kent Desormeaux (26) and Joe Talamo (23) completed the top five.

“To win the title was what he wanted to do,” Prat’s agent, Derek Lawson, said. “That was the goal he set after sharing it last year with Rafael. He’s really excited about racing here in the Breeders’ Cup. This is his track and he feels he knows every nuance of it.”

Prat also was the leading rider for stakes victories, recording nine in added-money events.

Richard Baltas and Phil D’Amato each saddled one winner on closing day and finished tied for the training title with 18 wins.

It was the first title anywhere for Baltas, the second in a row at the Del Mar summer meeting for D’Amato, who won his first Del Mar championship in 2016 recording 23 victories.

Tied at 17 going into the final day, Baltas took the lead when Talamo guided Kathy’s Song home in the seventh race. D’Amato got the equalizer in the final race of the season with Prat winning on Touching Rainbows.

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