08/28/2010 1:44PM

Princess Taylor has Gallagher aiming high

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DEL MAR, Calif. – After racing on three continents in the last year, Princess Taylor seems to have found a home in Southern California.

Friday, she won the first stakes of her career, and first race in nearly 23 months, in the $84,775 TOC and CTT Handicap at Del Mar. In winning the turf race for fillies and mares over 1 3/8 miles, she surprised trainer Paddy Gallagher by stalking pacesetter Gripsholm Castle, instead of leading. Princess Taylor rallied through the stretch to win by a half-length.

“I didn’t know she could do that,” Gallagher said.

The victory has Gallagher planning a start for Princess Taylor in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Hollywood Park in early October.

“Why not?” Gallagher said. “We’re here.”

The CTT and TOC Handicap was Princess Taylor’s first win since a minor handicap in England in September 2008 and her second start of the Del Mar meeting. She was third to the mighty Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes on Aug. 7.

Princess Taylor ($3.20) was timed in 2:14.83 in the CTT and TOC Handicap.

Jockey Victor Espinoza had Princess Taylor in second for the first mile, tracking Gripsholm Castle, who led by as many as four lengths. Gripsholm Castle held third in the field of six, finishing a half-length behind Catsalot.

Princess Taylor, 6, races for Ronan Lambe of Dublin, Ireland, and has won 4 of 36 starts and $231,325.

Mandellas double up

Friday’s eight-race program was not the first time that trainer Gary Mandella and his father had saddled winners on the same program.

Back in 2003 at Santa Anita, Richard won four Breeders’ Cup races, and Gary won an allowance race on the same day.

Friday’s races were not as lucrative. Gary Mandella opened the program by winning a maiden race with Not Here. In Friday’s seventh race, Richard Mandella won an optional claimer on turf with Calle Vista.

Saturday, Richard Mandella starts the promising 2-year-old filly Avid in the $250,000 Darley Debutante, a Grade 1 over seven furlongs. Avid beat maidens in her debut by 2 1/4 lengths on Aug. 1, leading throughout 5 1-2 furlongs.

The Darley Debutante will not be as easy. A projected field of seven includes the first three finishers of the Sorrento Stakes on Aug. 6 – Wickedly Perfect, A Z Warrior and Izshelegal – as well as the maiden-race winners Rigoletta, Sugarinthemorning, and Tell A Kelly.

Looking to end with 10-race cards

The Del Mar meeting ends on Sept. 8, and the track plans to offer 10-race program on the final four days, if sufficient horses can be found, racing secretary Tom Robbins said.

Robbins is hoping to card 10-race programs on Saturday through Sept. 6 and on closing day. The track has run fewer races this year than in 2009, offering one fewer races on Wednesdays, Fridays ,and Sundays.

Even with a reduction in races, field size is down. Through Friday, there has been an average of 8.05 starters per race, compared with 8.49 in the same period in 2009.