07/15/2012 4:37PM

Hollywood Park: Dhaamer gives Mitchell, Leparoux more to celebrate in Sunset Handicap

Benoit & Associates
Dhaamer, under Julien Leparoux, wins the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap on closing day at Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Dhaamer gave trainer Mike Mitchell and jockey Julien Leparoux a poignant victory in the $98,000 Sunset Handicap on Sunday, the closing day of the spring-summer meeting at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Sent off as a heavy favorite, Dhaamer had a perfect trip, stalking his three rivals to early stretch before rallying wide to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Romp. Quaintly, who set the pace, finished third, followed by Juniper Pass.

Only four started after the scratch of Renegade Storm.

Sunday was Mitchell’s first day at the races since undergoing surgery for a brain tumor June 29.  Leparoux turned 29 on Sunday and is engaged to Mitchell’s daughter, Shea.

Dhaamer ($2.80) won his second stakes of the spring-summer meeting in the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap. He won the minor Round Table Stakes in May.

In the Sunset, Leparoux kept Dhaamer at the back of the field for the first mile, chasing Quaintly, who set a slow pace of 26.46 and 51.88 seconds. Dhaamer was three wide on the final turn and was hand-ridden to wire. He finished 1 1/2 miles on turf in 2:29.13.

“Julien has such great hands,” Mitchell said. “Long before he met my daughter, I was using him on our horses.”

Leparoux is riding in California for Wednesday’s opening day of the Del Mar meeting before moving to Saratoga later in the week.

Dhaamer, a 5-year-old Irish-bred gelding by Dubai Destination, races for Edward Brown Jr. and Jay Manoogian. Imported to this country over the winter, Dhaamer has won 5 of 14 starts and $174,272.

Mtichell said that Dhaamer will have one start at Del Mar, with the Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 as a long-term goal.