07/16/2010 3:59PM

Eddie Read tops Week 1 at Del Mar


Crowded House will race on his third continent this year in the Grade 1, $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar next Saturday in an effort to revive a once-promising career.

Crowded House is winless in six starts this year, three in Dubai and three in England, and will make his American debut in the Eddie Read, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf. Owner Paul Reddam acknowledged that moving Crowded House to the United States is a bit of a gamble.

“I don’t know what to expect,” he said.

The Eddie Read is the most prestigious race in the first week of the Del Mar meeting, which opens Wednesday with the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile on turf. The opening five days of racing, through next Sunday, features six stakes, including Sunday’s $150,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies over a mile on turf.

Crowded House, 4, will make his final start for the England-based trainer Brian Meehan in the Read and will then join trainer Ben Cecil in California. The winner of the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in England in 2008, Crowded House was ninth in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on a synthetic main track at Meydan Racecourse earlier this year.

In three subsequent starts in England over 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/2 miles on turf, Crowded House’s best finish was a fourth in the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown in April.

“It’s hard to say whether he’s off form,” Reddam said. “Brian wanted to see if he could run 12 furlongs, but he hasn’t fired. We’re hoping that a turn back in distance, a change of scenery, and a new outlook will turn him around.”

The Read will be a test for Crowded House. The race is expected to include The Usual Q.T., the winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last fall; Loup Breton, the winner of the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in January; and Victor’s Cry, the winner of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park in May.

The Oceanside Stakes drew 25 nominations and may be divided into two races. The race was divided into two divisions and once three divisions from 1989 until 2008, but was not divided last year.

The leading contenders this year are Macias, the winner of three minor stakes who was third in the Grade 3 Will Rogers Stakes at Hollywood Park last month; Dave in Dixie, who was 11th in the Belmont Stakes; Twirling Candy, an undefeated horse who has yet to start around two turns; and Face and an Ace, Hockley, and Just Magic, the winners of optional claiming races at Hollywood Park in recent weeks.

The potential field for the San Clemente Handicap is led by Evening Jewel, the winner of the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in April and the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap on turf at Hollywood Park in May. Evening Jewel was second to Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks between those starts.