Well Armed fires fresh in San Diego
WinStar Farmís Well Armed executed a wire-to-wire performance in the San Diego Handicap GII on Saturday while coming back from a three-and-a-half month layoff, setting a track record of 1:41.57 for the 1 1/16 miles on Del Marís polytrack. He broke sharply and immediately assumed the lead as expected, setting early fractions of 23.29 and 46.89 seconds. He was pestered by longshot Global Hunter at the three-eighths pole, but shook him off around the turn before pulling clear of the field at the top of the stretch. He was never threatened thereafter and coasted to a 1 ĺ length victory with a hand ride by jockey Aaron Gryder.
"Heís a free-flowing horse with a big stride and he was running easy with his ears pricked," Gryder said.
The Tiznow son won the San Antonio Handicap GII at Santa Anita last February before finishing third to Curlin in the Dubai World Cup. Bettors at Del Mar were obviously not concerned about the so called "Dubai bounce" as they sent the 5-year-old bay off as the 7 to 5 favorite. He has won three of six races since his American debut in October of last year, twice beating Santa Anita Handicap winner Heatseeker. In his first race at the Oak Tree meet, he hopped at the break and lost all chance, but he came back in November at Hollywood and won an allowance race by 4 ľ lengths. He was caught at the wire to finish second in the San Pasqual Handicap GII in January, but Gryder blames himself for taking too much hold of the gelding during the running of that race.
"He was ultra impressive overcoming a long layoff and traveling to Dubai and back," said trainer Eoin Harty. "Aaron gets full credit. I thought he caught them by surprise," [with his early move on the turn.]
Well Armed was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and is out of the Notebook mare Well Dressed. He has increased his earnings to $1,030,803. Harty said the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 24 is Well Armedís next goal.