09/02/2011 8:59PM

Del Mar: Celestic Night fresh and fast in El Cajon victory


DEL MAR, Calif. - Celestic Night, making his first start since being claimed for $80,000 in March, returned in style on Friday at Del Mar by scoring a front-running win in the $100,000 El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds.

The wire came just in time for Celestic Night ($36.20), who held off the fast-closing Great Warrior to win by a nose. Nijinsky's Song was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third, with even-money favorite Uncle Sam fourth in the field of eight.

Celestic Night was timed in 1:36.07 for one mile on Polytrack. Martin Garcia rode the winner for trainer Mike Mitchell, who claimed Celestic Night for owner Jeff Sengara on March 10. He had not raced since then, owing to a minor injury, Sengara said.

Mitchell, the meet's leading trainer, is having a sensational meeting, winning with 33 percent of his starters.

Celestic Night, a colt by Vindication, has now won four times in 11 starts. He won the Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex last year at age 2 when trained by Neil French.