DEL MAR —- Trainer Howard Zucker went into Wednesday’s first race of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s meet 0-for-27 on the year.
He exited 1-for-1 and a happy camper.
Price ($10.40), appropriately named, thundered down the stretch under jockey Joe Talamo to become a two-time winner at the seaside oval.
“He’s a great horse,” said Zucker, who has nine horses under his care. “He has his problems, but he does love Del Mar. I love horses that come from behind.”
A 5-year-old gelding, Price was making only his sixth career start. He is now 3-for-6. He won a 6 1/2-furlong race last September at Del Mar.
Zucker was overjoyed with the victory.
“I love this place,” he said. “I love it even more now. Everybody is shaking.
“Look at this crowd and the buzz that is going on here. This place is like no other place. The Kentucky Derby might (have) it going on, but they ain’t got the ocean right next door. There’s no place prettier than Del Mar.”
The “other” rider
Kayla Stra, not the more-heralded Chantal Sutherland, became the first female jockey to win a race at the meet when she guided King Ledley ($18) to victory in the second race.
The win broke a two-year losing streak for trainer Gus Headley, who last had a winner in April 2009.
“I had confidence before the race,” said Stra, who won her sixth race of the year. “I’m always positive. He had a shot, but I didn’t say anything.
“It worked out well. I had to go a little sooner than I wanted in the stretch.
“It’s nice to win on opening day.”
Sutherland later scored her first Del Mar winner when she guided Mentidoso ($38.40) to victory in the sixth race for Washington-based trainer and former jockey Vann Belvoir.
Around the track
The start of the fourth race was delayed when the starting gate was placed at 5 1/2 furlongs instead of 5 furlongs. The mistake was discovered as the horses were approaching the gate. First-time starter Weemissfrankie ($9) won the race in impressive fashion and likely will be pointed for the Del Mar Debutante.
A field of seven was drawn for Saturday’s Grade I Eddie Read Handicap. Heading the list of entrants are Acclamation and Caracortado, who were selected for Del Mar’s first head-to-head bet, which will have a 10 percent takeout.
A whopping $348,428 was bet into the new 50-cent Players Pick Five on the first five races of the card. The pick five features a low takeout of 14 percent and no consolation payoff like Hollywood Park. Wednesday’s winning payoff was $14,267.50. The lowest payoff in the sequence was $9 (Weemissfrankie).
Call staff writer Jeff Nahill at 760-740-3550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Christopher Hadorn contributed to this report.
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