08/07/2010 3:49PM

Bejarano makes move in Del Mar standings

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Benoit & Associates
Rafael Bejarano returns to the winner's circle on Wickedly Perfect after winning the Sorrento on Friday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Rafael Bejarano needed one Friday evening to revive his Del Mar season.

Bejarano rode four winners on an eight-race program Friday. Along the way, Bejarano won the Grade  3 Sorrento Stakes on the highly regarded 2-year-old filly Wickedly Perfect and put a dent into jockey Joel Rosario’s lead in the standings.

Rosario began the day with an eight-race lead over Bejarano, but had only a five-race advantage after Friday. Bejarano was delighted by his four-win day, hoping the success could lead to even better results in coming days and weeks.

“Last week, I had some bad luck,” he said. “Things weren’t going my way, but that’s my business. That’s how this game is, it goes up and down. Right now, my confidence is up, and it’s getting better.”

Bejarano had a natural pick three in the third through fifth races, skipped the sixth, and won the Sorrento in the seventh.
In 2008, Bejarano was the leading rider at this meeting, but he never had a chance to defend the title in 2009. On the opening day of the 2009 meeting, Bejarano suffered facial injuries in a spill that required a month on the sidelines.

Bejarano and Rosario were expected to dominate the jockey standings at this meeting, and their positions have been solidified in the last two weeks following injuries to Tyler Baze and Joe Talamo that will keep them from riding until September.

Between them, Bejarano and Rosario have won every riding title at a major track in Southern California since December 2007.

Debutante next for Wickedly Perfect

Wickedly Perfect won the $150,000 Sorrento in impressive style, staying close to a fast pace, running past the leaders, and holding off a late threat to win her stakes debut.

The win left trainer Doug O’Neill pointing to the $250,000 Darley Debutante over seven furlongs on Sept. 4, with a long-term goal of starting Wickedly Perfect in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs in November. O’Neill expects Wickedly Perfect to be even better in 2011.

“I think she’s a 3-year-old springtime horse,” O’Neill said Saturday morning. “She’s mentally sound and physically sound.”

Owned by a partnership led by the Kenly family’s STD Racing, Wickedly Perfect is unbeaten in two starts, having won a maiden race at Hollywood Park in late June.

In the Sorrento, Wickedly Perfect ($13.80) was always near the front, stalking pacesetters Dawnie Macho and Final Mesa through a quick pace of 21.89 and 44.90 seconds.

Wickedly Perfect took the lead in early stretch and led by a length at the eighth pole and at the wire, finishing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.18. A Z  Warrior was second, a head in front of the maiden Izshelegal.

Final Mesa, the 9-5 favorite, could only finish sixth, her first loss in four starts. Owner-trainer Wesley Ward considered scratching Final Mesa on Friday morning after expressing concern about a slow workout last weekend, but decided to leave her in the race.