08/20/2017 9:26PM

Blackjackcat hangs on for first graded win in Del Mar Mile

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Benoit & Associates
Blackjackcat (inside) held off a late-running Vyjack to win Sunday's Grade 2 Del Mar Mile.

DEL MAR, Calif. – A span of 220 yards has meant the difference between losses and wins in the last year for Blackjackcat.

Last summer and fall, Blackjackcat was beaten in four races at 1 1/8 miles on turf and the main track, including third-place finishes in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby and Grade 2 Twilight Derby.

At a mile this summer, Blackjackcat is unbeaten in his last three starts. On Sunday, Blackjackcat won his first graded stakes in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile on turf.

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Blackjackcat ($19.80) stalked pacesetter Midnight Storm to the stretch and held off a late threat from Vyjack to win the $200,345 race by a head in a final time of 1:34.06.

“I knew he’d run his race and I knew the closers would be coming,” winning trainer Mark Glatt said. “We were fortunate to hang on.”

Vyjack finished a length in front of Om. The stewards conducted an inquiry into a bumping incident between those two in the stretch after Vyjack came out and made contact with Om. The stewards ruled for no change in the order.

“My horse lost his action and I hit the saddle,” said Gary Stevens, who rode Om.

Midnight Storm faded to finish fourth, followed by Le Ken and Bal a Bali. Earlier this year, Bal a Bali won two Grade 1 races on turf at Santa Anita – the Kilroe Mile in March and the Shoemaker Mile in June. Bal a Bali was beaten 6 1/2 lengths by Blackjackcat.

Blackjackcat, a 4-year-old gelding by Tale of the Cat, races for Al and Sandee Kirkwood. Blackjackcat’s winning streak includes an optional claimer at Santa Anita on July 2 and the restricted Wickerr Stakes here on July 23.

Blackjackcat has won 5 of 13 starts and earned $353,270. The Del Mar Mile was Blackjackcat’s fifth start of the year. He was third in two sprints at Santa Anita in May – an optional claimer on a wet-fast track on May 6, and the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes on the hillside turf course on May 27.

“We gave him a nice break after his 3-year-old campaign,” Glatt said. “We settled on what was his best distance. We tried him in some of the derbys and a mile and an eighth is a bit far for him.”