Red King Holds Off United With Rispoli’s Perfectly Timed Ride In Del Mar Handicap

Jockey Umberto Rispoli rolled the dice, making a six-wide move toward the lead aboard Red King with a half-mile to go in Saturday’s Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap, then had just enough left to hold off the late charge of odds-on favorite United and Flavien Prat in the 1 3/8-mile turf fixture at the seaside track north of San Diego.

The victory in the $200,000 race gave Red King – owned by Little Red Feather, Gordon Jacobsen and Philip Belmonte – an automatic, fees-paid berth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland on Nov. 7 as part of the “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race Series that also provides a travel allowance to winning horses traveling to Kentucky.

Trained by Phil D’Amato, Red King covered 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:15.75, winning for the seventh time in 28 lifetime starts. This was his second stakes win since D’Amato claimed him for $25,000 in February 2019. Earlier this year the English Channel 6-year-old horse won the 1 3/4-mile, G3 San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita.

United finished second, with Originaire closing for third and Proud Pedro fourth in the field of 11 older runners.

Red King paid $10.60.

Longshots Big Buzz and Ward ‘n Jerry carved out the slow early fractions, going :25.07, :49.94 and 1:15.09 for the first six furlongs. Rispoli swung Red King to the outside in the run down the backstretch, moving toward the leaders after a mile in 1:40.07. He took command from North County Guy at the top of the stretch, opened up a lead and just lasted over United for the win.

“I didn’t like how slow they were going, so I decided to move earlier today,” said Rispoli. “It takes a really good horse to do that, but I knew he had the stamina. I did this when I was riding in Europe. It was close at the finish because he was trying to pull h imself up. I am very happy. This horse gave me a Grade 3 win in his last start, and today he gave me a Grade 2. I want to keep it going with him.”

The stakes win was the seventh of the meet for Rispoli, riding his first seaon at Del Mar. It was the first of the meet for D’Amato but his fourth straight (and sixth of the last seven) in the Del Mar Handicap. He now has 27 stakes wins at Del Mar.

“I could see going along the backstretch Flavien (on United) was on the inside and Umberto was about to make that move on the outside. (Rispoli) timed in perfectly. I give all the credit to him. After the last race he was so high on this horse. He chose Red King over Originaire and that gave me a lot of confidence that he felt the horse was climbing up the ladder and to win this race is really special.”

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