09/05/2009 11:00PM

Rendezvous ($46) upsets Del Mar Derby


DEL MAR, Calif. - Rendezvous nipped Battle of Hastings in the final stride to win Sunday's $350,000 Del Mar Derby, a race overshadowed by an injury to Oceanside Stakes winner Afleet Eagle, who was pulled up on the final turn.

Rendezvous ($46) ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:46.88, winning his first stakes in his fifth try.

Afleet Eagle, the 4-1 third choice in the betting, was vanned off with what was believed to be a tendon injury to his left foreleg, according to steward Ingrid Fermin. Trainer Vladimir Cerin said after the race that the injury "was not life-threatening" but declined to comment further.

"I felt something was amiss over on the far turn and I took a hold," said Corey Nakatani, who rode Afleet Eagle.

Rendezvous closed from the back of the field to win the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby. Ridden by Joel Rosario, Rendezvous was eighth for the first half-mile, well off the pace of 23.36 and 46.97 seconds set by Acclamation and Papa Clem. Rendezvous was still seventh on the turn, and by then Battle of Hastings had moved into fourth, only 1 1/2 lengths behind Acclamation. Battle of Hastings, the 2-1 favorite, caught Acclamation inside the eighth pole and looked like a winner before being caught at the wire. Rendezvous won by a nose.

Jeff Mullins, who trains Battle of Hastings, said: "He idled and I think that horse caught him by surprise. Maybe he made the lead a touch too soon."

Acclamation, the outsider in the race at 59-1, held third in the field of nine.

Rendezvous was second in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap here on Aug. 15, leading in the final furlong but unable to hold off a late run from Meteore. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer thought the extra sixteenth of a mile in the Del Mar Derby helped Rendezvous.

"I think it was the added distance," Hollendorfer said. "I didn't give Joel any instructions. I decided that Joel was riding super and I left him alone."

Hollendorfer said he was not discouraged by Rendezvous's losing streak, which had reached six races before the Del Mar Derby. "I like to stay with horses that have some ability, and he's done great," Hollendorfer said.

Owned by Hollendorfer Team Green and George Todaro, Rendezvous has won 4 of 13 starts and $334,505. By Victory Gallop, Rendezvous began his career in maiden claimers at Calder last year before being acquired privately by Hollendorfer last fall.