08/29/2010 8:48PM

Champ Pegasus continues to make up for lost time in Del Mar Handicap

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BENOIT PHOTO
Champ Pegasus earns an automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Turf by winning the Del Mar Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif. -- Champ Pegasus did not get to the races until last December, then took until April to win his first race. But he’s
certainly making up for lost time now. On Sunday at Del Mar, he rallied powerfully to win the Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar Handicap, which earned him an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

“It gives us something to dream about,” said his trainer, Richard Mandella. “He acts like he’ll run all day.”

Champ Pegasus ($5), the favorite, got a dream trip under the meet’s leading rider, Joel Rosario. He was sixth of nine for the first six
furlongs of the 1 3/8-mile grass race as Red Eye Express stormed to a needlessly long lead. He then closed swiftly along the rail to win by 1
1/4 lengths over Buenos Dias, who nosed out Worth Repeating, another Mandella trainee, for second. Red Eye Express faded to finish seventh.

Champ Pegasus covered 11 furlongs on firm turf in 2:11.93, just .79  of a second shy of the course record. The victory was his third in seven
starts, with those three wins coming in his last four outings. He finished second in the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park in his
previous start.

Mandella credited Gerald Ford, who races as Diamond A Racing Corp., and  Arturo Vargas - who bred and own Champ Pegasus - with the patience that allowed Champ Pegasus to finally blossom at age 4.

“I’m very fortunate to work for people who support the time I give [the  horses],” Mandella said. “These people do, and they’re being rewarded.”