05/12/2013 7:52PM

Hollywood Park: Dhaamer repeats in Round Table Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Dhaamer, with Garrett Gomez aboard, wins the Round Table Stakes for the second straight year Sunday at Betfair Hollywood Park.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Dhaamer defended his title with a comfortable win in Sunday’s $73,850 Round Table Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park after jockey Garrett Gomez ensured that the winner kept his mind on racing through the stretch.

Even though Dhaamer ($3.20) made the lead turning for home and had a three-length advantage with a furlong remaining, Gomez said he “squeezed” Dhaamer “a little bit to keep his mind on his task.”

The strategy worked when Dhaamer won the minor stakes over 1 1/2 miles on turf by 2 1/4 lengths over 5-2 Lime Rickey, who closed from off the pace. Niagara Falls, a 12-1 shot who beat maidens in his last start, finished third in a field of six.

Dhaamer had an ideal trip, stalking pacesetter Diamondsdiplomat for the first mile. Diamondsdiplomat led by as much as four lengths through early fractions of 25.05 and 49.24 seconds but faded in the stretch. As a result, Dhaamer made the lead a little earlier than Gomez had envisioned.

“He was very comfortable,” Gomez said. “The fractions weren’t fast. I wanted to give him a target. I didn’t want to hit the front too early. I thought [Lime Rickey] would make a run at him. I wanted to keep him on his toes, like he was still racing.”

Owned by Edward Brown Jr. and Jay Manoogian and trained by Mike Mitchell, Dhaamer was timed in 2:26.96. The Round Table was Dhaamer’s second start of 2013, preceded by a sixth in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup over 1 1/2 miles on the main track at Santa Anita on March 23.

Last year, Dhaamer followed his win in the Round Table with a victory in the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap here and a second in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. Mitchell said Dhaamer is likely to follow the same schedule this year.

A 6-year-old Irish-bred gelding, Dhaamer has won 6 of 17 starts and $258,682.