Updated on 09/15/2011 12:41PM

Irish Prize risks reputation in Read

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Benoit & Associates
Irish Prize (right) seeks fourth straight stakes win in Saturday's Eddie Read Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif. - In the last year, Irish Prize has gone from being a winner of two allowance races at Del Mar to the top turf miler in California.

On Saturday, Irish Prize starts as the favorite in the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap, the top turf race of the Del Mar meeting. A victory would further enhance his reputation on a national basis as the build-up to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships intensifies.

A winner of three consecutive graded stakes, Irish Prize is the 122-pound highweight in the Grade 1 Eddie Read, which is run over 1 1/8 miles. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Irish Prize is expected to run next in the Atto Mile at Woodbine on Sept. 9.

In his last two starts, Irish Prize has won two top one-mile turf stakes - the Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park on May 28 and the Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on July 4. On May 13, he won the Fastness Handicap at Hollywood Park over 1 1/8 miles with an impressive rally through the stretch.

His form this year is a remarkable change from the second half of 2000, when he won twice here and finished second in the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Handicap.

"If you look back, he was unlucky in a couple of races," Drysdale said. "He won a couple of times down here and ran well in San Francisco."

Irish Prize has one loss in his last five starts, a fourth in the Grade 2 San Francisco Handicap on April 28. The race was won by Redattore, who along with National Anthem, the runner-up in the Inglewood Handicap, is the likely pacesetter in the Read. Redattore missed the Shoemaker with a foot problem but finished fourth in the Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs on July 1.

Trainer Bobby Frankel starts two 5-year-olds - Timboroa, who has run well in two starts this year, and Super Quercus, who is returning from injury.

Timboroa was second to Irish Prize in the Fastness Handicap. In the Charles Whittingham Handicap on June 10, Timboroa was third to Bienamado, missing second by a nose to stablemate Senure.

"He ran good in the Whittingham," Frankel said. "Senure came back to win the United Nations. The form is good."

Super Quercus is making his first start since finishing fourth in an allowance race at Santa Anita in January. The winner of the 1999 Hollywood Derby, Super Quercus has been off since January because of a bone chip in an ankle.

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