11/26/2016 7:32PM

Journey Home wins wild edition of Jimmy Durante Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Journey Home, ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, wins the Jimmy Durante Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths Saturday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – In a race run in wet and windy conditions, Journey Home overcame 12 rivals and some debris that blew onto the turf course when capturing the Grade 3, $102,760 Jimmy Durante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday at Del Mar.

The result of the Durante was declared official by stewards Grant Baker, Scott Chaney, and Kim Sawyer after deliberating whether to declare the race a “no contest” after several runners had to alter course into the first turn to dodge foam drain covers that littered the turn near the 6 1/2-furlong mark.

“We didn’t think it was appropriate” to make it a “no contest,” Chaney said.

Had the race been declared a “no contest,” all wagers would have been refunded, and no purse money would have been paid out, per California Horse Racing Board rule 1544(c).

Rule 1544(b) says the race can be declared “no contest if mechanical failure or interference during the running of the race affects the majority of horses in such race.”

“A, we think the reading of the rules didn’t allow for it, and, B, we didn’t think it was appropriate,” Chaney said.

The covers are used over drains near the inside of the turf-course rail to protect riders or horses in case of an accident in which they would go over the inner rail. But in this case, they nearly caused harm by blowing onto the course. All 13 runners got through it, but it was a wild first turn, with many horses altering course. The word “debris” is used in the official chart footnotes in reference to eight of the 13 runners.

“That was the wildest race I’ve ever been in. Holy crap,” said Drayden Van Dyke, who rode Journey Home ($17.80).

Journey Home trailed in the initial going of the one-mile grass race, and Van Dyke said he was able to avoid the problem when he saw those in front of him scatter.

“I was behind everyone and saw some of them go out,” he said. “Being in the back, it turned out to be a great spot.”

Journey Home gradually gained ground on the leaders throughout the race, surged to the front inside the furlong pole, and drew off to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Defiant Honor, who set the early pace, held second, a neck better than 2-1 favorite With Honors.

Miss Sugars, Simmy’s Temple, Bella Luma, Happy Mesa, Tiburtina, Mo’vette, How About Zero, Noble Dancer, La Force, and Partyinthepaddock completed the order of finish.

Defiant Honor and With Honors were among those most impacted by the debris, for they had to drift out to avoid it since they were the first to arrive on the scene.

Journey Home completed one mile in 1:38.24. The turf was rated “firm” but was downgraded to “good” for the Grade 2 Seabiscuit later in the card as rain continued to fall.

Graham Motion trains Journey Home, a daughter of War Front who is owned by Sam-Son Farm. She won her only prior start at Laurel.