09/06/2006 12:00AM

Horse Greeley takes Del Mar Futurity

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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 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 here this summer. Horse Greeley defeated maidens in his second lifetime start on Aug. 12 after finishing second in his debut at Hollywood Park 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, was winning the Futurity for the second time, following Siphonizer in 2003.

Horse Greeley, a colt by Mr. Greeley, was bred and is owned by Ray and Martha Parfet.