Updated on 08/22/2012 1:53PM

Del Mar: Winding Way overcomes horrendous start to win Rancho Bernardo

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Benoit & Associates
Winding Way, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, stamps herself a contender for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by winning the Rancho Bernardo.

DEL MAR, Calif. – With just two prior starts, Winding Way was put in a difficult spot in the Grade 3, $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar on Sunday, and then she proceeded to make the task all the more challenging by getting off well behind the field.

But in a stunning display of raw talent, Winding Way managed to overcome that poor start and six other rivals by rallying to capture the Rancho Bernardo, the championship main-track sprint of the meet for older fillies and mares.

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And just for good measure, she had to survive a stewards’ inquiry, called because third-place Rumor had to slightly check as Winding Way blew past her in the stretch.

“How to give a trainer a heart attack in three easy steps,” a relieved Carla Gaines, the trainer of Winding Way, said when the race was official.

Gaines said that when Winding Way got left behind at the start, “I was hoping to hit the board at that stage.”

“That’s a massive recovery,” she said.

Winding Way ($4.80), favored off her fast, front-running wins against maidens and a first-level allowance field, was 9 1/2 lengths behind after a quarter-mile, but swooped the field under Rafael Bejarano and caught Sugarinthemorning just before the wire to win by a half-length. Rumor was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third and was followed, in order, by Indian Gracey, Moonstruck Maya, Glamorista, and Home Sweet Aspen.

Winding Way completed 6 1/2 furlongs on Polytrack in 1:15.93.

Bejarano was winning his 10th stakes race of the meet, two shy of the single-season record for jockeys. There are still more than two weeks left in the meet.

The Spendthrift Farm of B. Wayne Hughes bred and owns Winding Way, a daughter of Malibu Moon. Gaines said the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 is now a long-range goal.

“We were testing her in a graded race in case she’s a Breeders’ Cup horse,” Gaines said. “She’s getting closer.”

Halo Dolly repeats in Solana Beach

It’s so nice to have Halo Dolly back where she belongs.

Halo Dolly, the winner of last year’s Solana Beach Handicap, defended her title on Sunday by rallying from last to first to beat seven older older California-bred fillies and mares in the $100,000 grass race.

Under jockey Joe Talamo, Halo Dolly ($8.80) came charging down the center of the course and beat Unusual Hottie by a half-length, with Sparkling Style another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Antares World, the 2-1 favorite, was fifth.

Halo Dolly completed one mile on firm turf in 1:34.43 and earned her 12th win from 21 starts. She is 2 for 3 at Del Mar.

“When she will settle, like she did today, whether it’s on the front end or behind, she runs her race,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Halo Dolly and is a co-owner of the 4-year-old filly.