08/10/2013 3:09PM

Del Mar: Tasty Treat gets sweet victory in Daisycutter

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Benoit & Associates
Tasty Treat, who needed more than 60 stitches to close a life-threatening wound earlier this year, became a stakes winner in Friday's Daisycutter Handicap.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Tasty Treat is likely done for the Del Mar meeting after winning Friday’s $111,050 Daisycutter Handicap for female turf sprinters.

For owners Brian, Rhonda, and Tom Cunningham and trainer Mike Pender, this is an ideal time to reflect on the events of the last six months and how a terrible spring became a delightful summer.

Earlier this year, Tasty Treat was severely injured when she collided with a pole after she got loose on the backstretch at Betfair Hollywood Park. Pender recalled Friday that she needed more than 60 stitches to close a wound that he initially feared would claim the life of the 4-year-old filly.

“I thought it was over,” Pender said. “I didn’t want to see it.”

Tasty Treat recovered to resume racing in June, finishing second in an optional claimer at Hollywood. She won an optional claimer over five furlongs on turf here July 18 as a prep for the Daisycutter.

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In Friday’s race, Tasty Treat led throughout under jockey Rafael Bejarano. The Daisycutter was Tasty Treat’s first stakes win. Tasty Treat ($6.80) was timed in 55.63 seconds, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Belle de Lune.

“It’s unbelievable,” Pender said.

Tasty Treat has won 7 of 17 starts and $333,874 while specializing in turf sprints. Pender said she could start in a stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita this fall, but he fears her pacesetting style could lead to a blistering pace that might prove too taxing.

For now, he is content knowing that a filly who won her first race in a maiden against $32,000 claimers in 2011 has won a stakes and recovered from a frightening accident.

Claim voided due to unsoundness

Rockin Girl, the convincing winner of a $20,000 claiming race for maidens in Friday’s sixth race, became the 15th horse at the current meeting to be claimed and have the transfer voided because of unsoundness.

Rockin Girl was claimed in a six-way shake by trainer Emily Mode. An hour after the race, track stewards announced that the claim was voided because Rockin Girl was found to be unsound in her left foreleg. The assessment was made by veterinarian Tim Grande in the test barn.

As a result, the filly was returned to trainer Tim Yakteen and owner-breeder Mercedes Stable.

Since May, claims have been voided on horses found to be unsound, resulting in no transfer of ownership. The horses are sent back to the trainer who started the horse in the race.

The rule was enacted this year by the California Horse Racing Board on horses who are found to be unsound or die on the racetrack. In the final two months of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, there were 14 voided claims.

Mode said Saturday she was “beyond frustrated” at the new rule. She had a similar circumstance occur in the ninth race Aug. 4, when she submitted a claim for $8,000 on race winner Cloud Hopper, who was ruled to be unsound.

Amazombie nears return to training

Amazombie, the champion sprinter of 2011, is nearing a return to training after suffering an ankle injury in a training accident in May.

Amazombie wrenched an ankle when the 7-year-old gelding nearly collided with an anxious pony leaving the backstretch at Hollywood Park. Trainer Bill Spawr said earlier this week that Amazombie’s condition has improved enough for him to begin tack-walking at the stable in the coming days.

“He looks good now,” Spawr said. “We’re not pointing him to a certain spot. We’re hoping he gets there.”

Unraced since an eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last November, Amazombie has won 12 of 29 starts and $1,920,378 for co-owners Spawr and Tom Sanford. Amazombie won the BC Sprint at Churchill Downs in 2011.

Harris warmly remembers Breed

California owner-breeder John Harris was on the racing board when the regulatory agency hired Kirk Breed as executive director in 2008. In an email Friday, Harris paid tribute to Breed, who died of cancer Wednesday at age 73.

Harris recalled working with Breed over the last 30 years, at times when Breed was a lobbyist and later when he joined the racing board.

“I was very saddened by the loss of Kirk,” he wrote. “His style could be tenacious at times, but he was fun to have as an adversary or friend, and I always enjoyed working with him. He had a great background to take on the CHRB director job, and I remember that we were excited to see him accept the position.”

Harris said Breed called him in 2010 to share the news of his illness.

“He told me about his health challenge,” Harris wrote. “He fought it valiantly, and I never heard him complain. I thought he had it beat at one point, but that wasn’t to be. A very eclectic, multitalented person, he died way too soon.”