07/21/2013 8:44PM

Del Mar: Wishing Gate rallies to take San Clemente Handicap

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Benoit & Associates
Wishing Gate and jockey Gary Stevens won the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths Sunday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Wishing Gate has raced in Illinois, California, and Kentucky and has won in both California and Illinois, but it’s Del Mar where she seems to do best. She won against maidens in her first start on turf last year at age 2, and in her first start here this year, she rallied to win the Grade 2, $151,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old turf fillies.

Wishing Gate ($12) got an ideal trip under jockey Gary Stevens, who was able to save ground throughout before Wishing Gate launched a rally that brought her from fifth to first in the final half-mile. She won going away by 1 3/4 lengths over Unusual Way, with 8-5 favorite Iotapa another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Wishing Gate was timed in 1:33.58 for one mile on firm turf.

The win was particularly satisfying for Stevens, who endured some good-natured ribbing from trainer Tom Proctor leading up to the race. Stevens had ridden Wishing Gate just once previously, in an allowance race at Keeneland in April, and got her in more trouble than Lindsay Lohan, leading Proctor to joke that he put Stevens back on for the San Clemente “because he rode her so good at Keeneland.”

“It was nice to get back on her after I butchered her in that allowance race,” Stevens said.

After that debacle at Keeneland in her 2013 debut, Wishing Gate was second in an allowance race at Arlington before winning at that condition in an optional claimer. Proctor then sent her to Del Mar.

“Even though she won last time, I think she likes this course a lot more,” said Proctor, who said Wishing Gate would come back in the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 17.

Wishing Gate is a homebred for the Glen Hill Farm of Leonard Lavin and his grandson, Craig Bernick. She is by Indian Charlie and is out of the Repriced mare Rich in Spirit.