08/04/2013 8:30PM

Del Mar: Alberts Hope delivers as favorite in Best Pal Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Alberts Hope, with Alonso Quinonez up, wins the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes by a half-length over Celtic Moon on Sunday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer Mike Puype celebrated his 47th birthday in style Sunday at Del Mar by sending out two winners, including Alberts Hope, who tenaciously fought off a spirited bid from Celtic Moon to capture the Grade 2, $150,000 Best Pal Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Alberts Hope ($7), the favorite in a field of six, settled comfortably behind the contested pace of Alpine Luck and Guns Loaded, advanced toward the leaders on the turn, took the lead a furlong out, then had to hold off 11-1 shot Celtic Moon, who sneaked through along the rail and made Alberts Hope earn it.

At the wire, Alberts Hope prevailed by a half-length, with Guns Loaded another 2 1/4 lengths back in third. Ontology, Alpine Luck, and Skydreamin completed the order of finish.

Under Alonso Quinonez, Alberts Hope completed 6 1/2 furlongs on Polytrack in 1:16.71. He is 2 for 2, having defeated maidens in his debut at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 14 when ignored at 33-1.

“He was a pleasant surprise first time out because I didn’t push on him,” said Puype, who trains Alberts Hope for the Jaam Racing stable of Jason Tackitt. “I think there’s more there.”

With that in mind, Puype said the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on closing day, Sept. 4, would be next for Alberts Hope, a gelding by Run Away and Hide who cost just $40,000 when purchased at auction last October as a yearling. He won $90,000 on Sunday to bring his career total to $121,200.

“He owes nobody nothing after a win like this,” Puype said.

It made for quite the birthday present for Puype.

“It’ll be a good night,” Puype said. “This was a good day.”