08/23/2012 12:55PM

Del Mar: Dhaamer should like slightly shorter distance of Del Mar Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Dhaamer will cut back in distance for the Del Mar Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Almost by default, Dhaamer has risen to the top of the California turf marathon division in recent months.

In a division that lacks depth, Dhaamer has made the most of his opportunities, winning consecutive stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf in May and July at Betfair Hollywood Park.

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Saturday at Del Mar, he can win the most prestigious race of his career in the $200,0000 Del Mar Handicap. The Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap has been on Dhaamer’s schedule since his win in the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap on July 15.

“He likes spacing between races,” said Phil D’Amato, assistant to trainer Mike Mitchell. “He’s just a neat horse. He’s very honest every time.”

Owned by Edward Brown Jr. and Jay Manoogian, Dhaamer will cut back in distance, to 1 3/8 miles on turf, in the Del Mar Handicap. A shorter distance may be a boost, D’Amato said.

“I think the mile and three-eighths is better than a mile and a half,” D’Amato said. “At a mile and three-eighths, you might expect a little more pace to run at.”

Dhaamer’s chances are enhanced by the absence of two stakes winners from earlier this year.

The 6-year-old gelding Bourbon Bay won two graded stakes at Santa Anita in the spring, but has not had a workout since early July. Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, has raced in turf stakes up to 1 1/4 miles. He was a candidate for Sunday’s Pacific Classic until he was sidelined by inflammation below an ankle recently.

Without them in the field, Dhaamer shares top weight of 120 pounds with the Argentine-bred Interaction.

Trained by Ron McAnally, Interaction won the most prestigious race in South America in 2009, the Group 1 Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina. Since then, Interaction has 1 win in 7 starts, an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on June 16, his first start for McAnally. Last month, Interaction, 6, was second to Acclamation in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“He won the Pellegrini over a mile and a half and he looks like that kind of horse,” McAnally said. “He’s a pretty versatile horse.”

The Del Mar Handicap includes another 2012 stakes winner in Dynamic Host, who beat Dhaamer by a neck in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on the main track at Santa Anita in March. Dynamic Host is winless in three subsequent starts. He was fourth behind Pacific Classic hopeful Richard’s Kid in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on July 27.

Four other entrants have been stakes-placed this year – Brushburn, Casino Host, Hog’s Hollow, and Worth Repeating. Temple’s Door and Fire with Fire are the other runners.

Brushburn was third to Acclamation in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2010. In his only start since that race, he was second in the California Dreamin Handicap for statebreds here on July 22.

Trainer Steve Knapp said that if the 6-year-old Brushburn can race from off the pace, he can be a factor.

“I hope he can get behind them,” Knapp said. “He came out of the race fantastic.”