08/25/2012 9:27PM

Del Mar: Casino Host earns Breeders' Cup Turf berth by winning Del Mar Handicap

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Benoit & Associates
Casino Host (1), ridden by Joe Talamo, emerges late to capture the Del Mar Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif.- Casino Host won the longest race of his career in Saturday’s $200,000 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf.

The race was worth $120,000 to owners Gary and Mary West, but there were added financial benefits.

With the win, Casino Host earned a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf over 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. The typical entry and starter fees for that race are $90,000.

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“It’s a nice added bonus,” said winning trainer Ron Ellis.

Casino Host ($9.60) held off a late threat from 6-5 favorite Dhaamer to win the Del Mar Handicap by a neck.

“It got a little close at the end but he was game,” Ellis said. “It’s nice to know he can go that far. We’ll point for the Breeders’ Cup.”

Casino Host was timed in 2:14.77. Talamo kept the 4-year-old colt in fifth on the backstretch. On the turn, Talamo guided Casino Host four-wide for running room and took the lead in the final strides.

“Joe did a good job,” Ellis said.

Dhaamer, a two-time stakes winner at Betfair Hollywood Park earlier this year, was behind horses until the eighth pole. He closed well under jockey Garrett Gomez but could not make up sufficient ground.

Fire with Fire, a 27-1 shot, finished third in the field of eight after racing close to the pace throughout.

Casino Host, by Dynaformer, has won 4 of 15 starts and $575,175. Bought for $290,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale, Casino Host has won two stakes. He won the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds in April when trained by Chad Brown.

Casino Host joined Ellis’s California stable earlier this summer. The Del Mar Handicap was Casino Host’s second start on this circuit this summer. He was third in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes here on July 21.

“I think he was too far back last time,” Ellis said. “He wasn’t at full strength and we gave him a race over the track. He came to me in good shape, but he was a little tired from all the shipping.”