09/04/2011 8:43PM

Del Mar Derby: Banned noses out Midnight Interlude

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DEL MAR, Calif. – The well-traveled Banned found California as hospitable as some of the other places he has visited this year. He shipped in and made off with the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Derby on Sunday, but he had to fight every inch of the stretch to outfinish a stubborn Midnight Interlude and win by a nose.

Banned ($3.80), heavily favored following a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington three weeks ago, was forced to go four paths wide on the final turn, but he was resolute, and he needed to be, because Midnight Interlude came back at him in the final yards.

“He kind of took the overland route today, but the horse who was second did win the Santa Anita Derby,” winning trainer Tom Proctor said. “The inside horse kind of came back on him. Good horses overcome things.”

Extensive was a half-length farther back in third, with Cloud Man fourth.

Banned, under Garrett Gomez, covered 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:47.93.

Burns, who won the La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 13, suffered a catastrophic fracture to the sesamoid bones in his right front leg on the first turn and was subsequently euthanized. His jockey, Patrick Valenzuela, strained his right leg while pulling up the stricken horse and took off his final two mounts of the day.

“He snapped it off, I’m sorry,” Valenzuela told Dyan Abrams, the wife of trainer Barry Abrams, after he rode back after the race in an ambulance.

Banned has put together an impressive campaign that has taken him from Kentucky to Virginia, then to Illinois, and now to California. Proctor, who trains Banned for the Glen Hill Farm of Leonard Lavin and Lavin’s grandson, Craig Bernick, said Banned likely would remain in California and point for next month’s Oak Tree Derby.

Banned, a colt by Kitten’s Joy, has now won 5 times in 10 starts. He won both the American Turf and the Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs earlier this year, and was second in the Virginia Derby.