11/27/2014 5:54PM

Finnegans Wake by a neck in Hollywood Turf Cup

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Benoit and Associates
Finnegans Wake and jockey Victor Espinoza win the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup by a neck Thursday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – It’s counter-intuitive that in a 1 1/2-mile race, everyone should be in a hurry. Fortunately for Finnegans Wake, jockey Victor Espinoza was perfectly patient in the Grade 2, $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup on Thursday at Del Mar.

Espinoza allowed other horses and their riders to either run off or make premature moves, then came at the appropriate time with Finnegans Wake, who outfinished Patrioticandproud to win by a neck.

The Pizza Man, the 2-1 favorite, was another length back in third.

Finnegans Wake ($9.80) covered 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:27.35. This was the first time a 1 1/2-mile grass race was run at Del Mar, which reconfigured its turf course before the summer season.

The win was one of three on the day for trainer Peter Miller, who is atop the standings. He trains Finnegans Wake for owners Donegal Racing, which is headed by Jerry Crawford, and the Rockingham Ranch of Gary Hartunian.

The race was strangely run. Irish Surf broke dreadfully, four lengths behind the field. Meanwhile, Mystery Train did his usual run-off routine, sprinting well clear of the field early through a half-mile in 47.32 seconds. Little Jerry overtook him down the backstretch the final time, The Pizza Man then made his run to surge for the lead, but Finnegans Wake rallied when it counted most.

“I saw Victor wasn’t panicking, was in a good spot,” Miller said.

Finnegans Wake, 5, has won four times in 25 starts. He was 10th of 12 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in his prior start. His last win came in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap in July, which also marked the last time Espinoza rode him. This was his first start at Del Mar.

Miller said he was heading home to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family.

“Turkey dinner, and maybe a little wine,” he said.