08/21/2010 9:14PM

Evening Jewel overcomes trouble to take Del Mar Oaks

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BENOIT PHOTO
Evening Jewel, winning the Del Mar Oaks this past summer, will make her next start in the Jan. 2 Monrovia Stakes.


DEL MAR, Calif. - For the fourth time this year, Evening Jewel won a graded stakes on Saturday at Del Mar.
This time was different, however. Evening Jewel overcame trouble on the final turn to win the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks by a half-length over Harmonious after a stretch run along the rail that left trainer Jim Cassidy admiring the filly’s ability on the day of his 65th birthday.

“I think it was unbelievable,” Cassidy said of the race. “Normally, she has the lead or is outside and then does her thing. She was boxed in traffic. She had to re-rally and do it all over again.”

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Evening Jewel ($4.80) ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.27. Harmonious, who won the Grade 1 American Oaks in her stakes debut at Hollywood Park last month, closed from last in a field of nine. Harmonious, ridden by Mike Smith, drifted out through the stretch and finished closer to the outside rail than the inside rail.

“She saw the lights on the tote board and started drifting out,” trainer John Shirreffs said.

Perfect Shirl, the winner of the Grade 2 Lake George Stakes in her stakes debut at Saratoga last month, finished third.

Evening Jewel had an ideal trip to the final turn. She was third for the first six furlongs, stalking pacesetter Antares World, and Crisp, who was near the front for the first six furlongs. Espinoza kept Evening Jewel on the inside entering the stretch, attempted to go between Antares World and Crisp but instead moved to the inside, found a clear path, and got an immediate response.

Cassidy said he thought Evening Jewel had to be in full stride late to hold off Harmonious.
“When she saw that horse on the outside, she really laid it all on the line,” Cassidy said.

Evening Jewel, a California-bred by Northern Afleet, races for Tom and Marilyn Braly. She has won 6 of 12 starts and $876,943. Earlier this year, she won the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes, the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap, and the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap and was second to Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks.