11/29/2015 7:47PM

Dressed in Hermes rallies to win Cecil B. DeMille

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Benoit & Associates
Dressed in Hermes wins the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths Sunday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Dressed in Hermes will end 2015 as the top 2-year-old turf male in California. He won two stakes in his final three starts – the $101,250 Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 10 and Sunday’s $101,750 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar.

In early 2016, Dressed in Hermes will be tried in a different kind of race – a stakes for 3-year-olds on dirt.

Trainer Janet Armstrong said in the winner’s circle she would like to experiment with Dressed in Hermes on a new surface as the Triple Crown prep races occur with frequency in the new year. Dressed in Hermes always can return to turf races, she said.

In the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille, Dressed in Hermes closed from seventh in a field of 12 to win the one-mile turf race by 1 1/4 lengths. Sent off favored, Dressed in Hermes paid $9.40 and was timed in 1:36.13.

“During the stretch, I thought he’d win it,” said Armstrong. “He’s a pretty nice horse. I was hoping there would be some pace.”

Mike Smith rode Dressed in Hermes for the first time Sunday. Smith guided Dressed in Hermes into contention with a four-wide move on the turn and was third with a furlong remaining behind Collected and Frank Conversation, who always were near the front.

Collected led past the eighth pole but drifted out slightly in the final furlong, forcing Smith to pause his ride on Dressed in Hermes to avoid contact. Once clear, Dressed in Hermes reached the front with time to spare.

“He’s still learning,” said Smith. “I was a little concerned. I didn’t want to stop my momentum until [Collected] stopped weaving. I just steered him around there.”

The 8-1 Collected, a maiden race winner in his debut Oct. 12 at Santa Anita, finished 1 1/2 lengths in front of the 14-1 Frank Conversation, a maiden race winner Oct. 16 at Santa Anita in his second career start.

Rare Candy was fourth, followed by Hot Ore, Canada, Tusk, Ninety One Assault, Imperious One, Arizona Moon, Storming Candy, and Manhattan Dan.

Manhattan Dan, who was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, was a disappointment. He set the pace for the first half-mile in 46.90 seconds but faded from contention in early stretch.

Dressed in Hermes, a gelding by Hat Trick, has won 2 of 5 starts and earned $162,600 for owner Syd Belzberg’s Budget Stable. After the win in the Zuma Beach, Dressed in Hermes was fifth in the BC Juvenile Turf at Keeneland on Oct. 30.

Armstrong said she would like to aim for a dirt race in late January but did not specify a race.