The $150,000 La Jolla Handicap (G3) at Del Mar was taken by Kingly on Sunday as his first graded stakes win. He is a Bob Baffert-trained horse. The victory came while the Hall of Fame trainer was celebrating his win with McKinzie at the Whitney Stakes (G1).
Kingly, who began the race as the 8/1 fourth choice, broke from post 2 under jockey Mario Gutierrez among a field of eight sophomores. At the start of the race, Kingly and Neptune’s Storm brushed and eventually reached the clubhouse turn together. At that point, Kingly moved ahead and took a five-length lead.
As Kingly moved through the backstretch, there was nobody challenging him. He recorded fractions of :22.15 and :46.16.
He was eventually challenged again by Neptune’s Storm, who started to move up on Kingly’s outside. Kingly was able to hold the lead when they left the turn, but Neptune’s Storm kept pushing.
Kingly was able to hold on and cross the line first in the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm course. He finished in 1:39.95.
Jockey Mario Gutierrez spoke about the race. It was his first win of the meet and his first in the La Jolla.
“He’s a hard horse to ride,” Gutierrez said. “We’ve tried different things with him, but today, we just decided to let him do his thing. He took me there and then he rated perfectly. In the stretch, he just went. He’s a nice horse.”
The Rest of the Field
Neptune’s Storm entered into the race as the 9/5 favorite, and he was only beat by a few feet.
Jasikan finished third at 3 1/4 lengths behind Neptune’s Storm, while Rijeka made it into fourth place by 1/2 length after making a late run. Gregorian Chant came next in fifth place, and the rest of the order was completed by Stubbins, Golden Birthday, and King of Speed.
The trainer of Neptune’s Storm, Drayden Van Dyke, spoke about the race.
“The winner ran off up front a long way, but I thought he’d come back to me. Then my horse hung. If he has a horse come up outside him, he breaks again. We would have won it. But it didn’t happen.”
This was Kingly’s second win of the year, with his previous victory being the $100,000 California Derby over the Golden Gate Fields synthetic surface in April. His last race was the Los Alamitos Derby (G3), where the colt finished in third. His record now sits at 8-3-2-2, and his earnings are at $242,200.
Kingly is the 3-year-old son of Tapit. He is a half-brother to sire New Year’s Day, and he is the full brother to graded stakes winner and sire Mohaymen. Kingly is owned by Clearview Stables, RAC 04 Racing, and Michael Meegan, and Jimmy Barnes is an assistant trainer.
“His prior races have been a little erratic,” said Barnes. “We tried to cover him up, take him back, and a few things, but at the end of the day, I think it’s best to just let him run. He’s a Tapit, and they’re all different, but I think he wants to be free on the lead. When he rebroke when the other horses got close, I was very happy with him. Mario knew what to do; he had a plan and executed it.”
The payouts for Kingly were $18.60 to win, $8.60 to place, and $4.80 to show. Neptune’s Storm returned $3.80 to place and $2.60 to show, and Jasikan returned $2.60 to show.