07/22/2017 7:44PM

Hunt outkicks Ashleyluvssugar to land first graded win in Eddie Read

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Emily Shields
Hunt raced in blinkers for the first time when winning the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar on July 22, 2017.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Later than intended, jockey Flavien Prat guided Hunt to the lead of Saturday’s Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes on turf at Del Mar.

Hunt was in a difficult position in early stretch, behind Mr. Roary and Kenjisstorm and to the inside of 7-10 favorite Ashleyluvssugar. Prat was forced to pause, but when space developed Prat urged Hunt to the lead. Hunt responded quickly.

“It wasn’t my best ride,” Prat said. ‘I got through. I tried to anticipate [the gap] and it didn’t happen.”

Hunt ($8.60) rallied to win the $250,690 Read Stakes by a length over Ashleyluvssugar, who was also second in the 2016 running. Mr. Roary, a 19-1 shot who stalked the pace, finished third, followed by pacesetter Kenjisstorm, Up With the Birds, Wanstead Gardens and Abbey Vale.

The Read was Hunt’s first graded stakes win and first stakes win since the minor Siren Lure Stakes on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in June 2016. He ran in five stakes between those two starts, including a fifth in the Grade 3 American Stakes at a mile on turf at Santa Anita on July 4.

The Read Stakes also was Hunt’s first start with blinkers.

“I thought the blinkers would help him focus,” winning trainer Phil D’Amato said. “I was concerned at the top of the stretch. “We got a good seam at the sixteenth pole.”

Owned by Michael House, Hunt has won 6 of 22 starts and earned $398,419. A 5-year-old Irish-bred by Dark Angel, Hunt arrived in the United States in the summer of 2015 and has won five times in California.

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D’Amato suggested Hunt will be considered for two Grade 2 races on turf next month – the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 19 or the $200,000 Del Mar Mile on Aug. 20.

Ashleyluvssugar will be considered for the Del Mar Handicap, a race he won last year.

The Read was Ashleyluvssugar’s first start since a win in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita in late May.

“He got outkicked,” trainer Peter Eurton said.

“At a mile and an eighth, he’ll get beat by an athletic horse that can kick. This race will do him some good.”