07/29/2017 7:07PM

My Italian Babbo edges He Will in California Dreamin'

Benoit & Associates
My Italian Babbo was making his stakes debut in the California Dreamin' Stakes at Del Mar on Saturday.

DEL MAR, Calif. - My Italian Babbo won Saturday’s $150,000 California Dreamin’ Stakes for state-breds at Del Mar by a head, his second consecutive win by a slim margin.

The California Dreamin’ Stakes was the stakes debut for My Italian Babbo. Unlike his allowance-race win by a nose at Santa Anita on June 24 in his turf debut, there was no controversy attached to Saturday’s race.

On June 24, Nick Cafarchia, the owner of My Italian Babbo, was under suspension for failing to pay a boarding bill from a local farm. The suspension was issued June 23 after Cafarchia failed to appear at a hearing regarding the financial complaint.

No officials or stewards with the California Horse Racing Board noticed that Cafarchia had a horse entered on June 24. While suspended, Cafarchia was ineligible to run horses, which should have resulted in the withdrawal of My Italian Babbo.

Cafarchia, who has owned horses for decades, was reinstated on June 25 after settling the boarding bill.

The $71,510 purse of the June 24 race was placed on hold the following day. The issue remains unresolved. No hearing about a potential disqualification and redistribution of the purse has been held.

That was not foremost on the mind of Cafarchia or trainer Richard Baltas at Del Mar on Saturday.

My Italian Babbo ($7.80) closed from last to catch 9-10 favorite He Will in the final strides. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, My Italian Babbo ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:41.91.

“It was a good ride from Corey Nakatani,” Baltas said. “We got the bob.”

He Will finished two lengths in front of Soi Phet, who was followed by G.G. Ryder and Incredible Luck.

My Italian Babbo has won 4 of 9 starts and earned $224,226 for Cafarchia, who bred the 5-year-old gelding by Papa Clem.

My Italian Babbo is unbeaten in two starts on turf, and has won three of his last four races. My Italian Babbo will remain on turf, Baltas said. It was not clear on Saturday whether My Italian Babbo would start again at the current meeting, which runs through Sept. 4.

“He’s better on the grass and he wants to come from behind,” Baltas said.