09/06/2006 11:00PM

Horse Greeley caps Espinoza's meet


DEL MAR, Calif. - Horse Greeley capped an ideal summer at Del Mar for jockey Victor Espinoza by racing to victory in the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on Wednesday's closing-day card.

Horse Greeley ($8.40) outfinished favored Great Hunter by 1 3/4 lengths, with Stormello another 1 1/4 lengths back in third. Prime Ruler, the second choice, finished last in the field of seven in a dull try. His rider, Jon Court, lost his left iron at the start, but got it back in the stirrup within 100 yards.

On a track rated fast, Horse Greeley completed seven furlongs in 1:22.93. It was his second win in a row. Horse Greeley defeated maidens in his second lifetime start on Aug. 12 after finishing second in his debut here on July 22.

On Wednesday, Horse Greeley broke a bit slowly, but quickly rushed through the pack to track early leader Stormello through fractions of 22.32 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.84 seconds for a half-mile.

As the field moved around the turn, Great Hunter advanced three paths wide to challenge both Horse Greeley and Stormello. Stormello was the first to yield, but Horse Greeley successfully repelled Great Hunter and held him safe through the lane.

Espinoza, Del Mar's leading rider for the second straight summer, polished off the meet by winning seven races on Monday, including the Del Mar Debutante with the filly Point Ashley, and then the Futurity to sweep the season-ending stakes for 2-year-olds.

Richard Mandella, who trains Horse Greeley, won the Futurity for the second time. He also won with Siphonizer in 2003.

Horse Greeley, a colt by Mr. Greeley, was bred and is owned by Ray and Martha Parfet. He will attempt to follow in the footsteps of Stevie Wonderboy and Declan's Moon, the last two winners of the Del Mar Futurity, who were Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-olds. Mandella said Horse Greeley would likely make his next start in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 7.

Horse Greeley is a large colt, and he made an impressive appearance in the paddock.

"He looked like a man playing with boys," Mandella said. "He got off in a little bit of a tangle. I just think he got nervous in the gate and just got tangled up with himself. He's still a little green. I think there's a little more juice in the lemon."

Doug O'Neill, the trainer of Great Hunter, said his colt would make his next start in either the Norfolk or the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, also Oct. 7. Great Hunter will train at Hollywood Park, which is installing a synthetic surface.

"If he takes to that, we could go to the Lane's End," O'Neill said. "I'm so excited about him getting two turns. Once he goes two turns, he should be as good as anyone."

Christopher Paasch, the trainer of Prime Ruler, said he had no concrete excuse for his colt's last-place finish.

"I really don't know," Paasch said. "Jon said he thought the horse stepped on his left front foot leaving the gate and might have peeled off a shoe, but he didn't. He was fine."

Areyoutalkintome given sly ride

Espinoza and O'Neill teamed to win the $109,920 Pirate's Bounty Handicap with Areyoutalkintome.

The second choice in the betting, Areyoutalkintome ($7.60) rallied from fifth to catch pacesetter and 6-5 favorite Captain Squire in the last furlong, winning by a half-length. Areyoutalkintome ran six furlongs in 1:09.62. Jet West finished third in the field of seven.

Espinoza said he took Areyoutalkintome wide entering the stretch to avoid a side-by-side duel with Captain Squire. He did not bring Areyoutalkintome alongside Captain Squire until the final furlong. "Captain Squire is a tough horse to beat when you're next to him," Espinoza said.

The restricted Pirate's Bounty Handicap was the first stakes win for Areyoutalkintome since the Grade 3 El Conejo Handicap at Santa Anita in January 2005.

Owned by Ron Manzani and Russell Sarno, Areyoutalkintome, 5, has won 9 of 37 starts and $792,235. The California Cup Sprint at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in October is his next main goal, O'Neill said.

Vikki's Honor makes wish come true

Vikki's Honor won her first stakes in the $110,590 CERF Handicap for filly and mare sprinters.

Ridden by Martin Pedroza, Vikki's Honor ($10.60) closed from fourth with a wide rally in the final furlong to catch Yodeladytoo, the 5-2 favorite. Vikki's Honor ran six furlongs in 1:09.76. Hello Lucky finished third.

Vikki's Honor has won 6 of 13 starts and $291,440.

Owned by a partnership, Vikki's Honor, 4, is trained by Adam Kitchingman. She was named in honor of Kitchingman's late wife, Vikki, who died of breast cancer in 2004. "I always wanted this filly to be a stakes winner," Kitchingman said.