Updated on 09/15/2011 12:40PM

Rising Irish Prize in lifetime form


DEL MAR, Calif. - The vastly improved Irish Prize, a winner of three straight graded stakes races, heads the field of expected starters for Saturday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap, Del Mar's lone Grade 1 race for older male turf runners.

No more than six horses are expected for the Eddie Read, a 1 1/8-mile turf race that serves as a prep for next month's Arlington Million. In addition to Irish Prize, who will be ridden by Gary Stevens, the others expected for the race are Native Desert, Redattore, Super Quercus, Timboroa, and perhaps National Anthem.

Irish Prize is unbeaten in two starts on the Del Mar turf, but this year's course differs from the one on which Irish Prize ran last summer.

But Irish Prize, a 5-year-old gelding, heads into the Eddie Read in the best form of his career. After winning a pair of stakes at Hollywood Park, including the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile, Irish Prize captured the Firecracker Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs on July 4. Irish Prize has won four of his last five starts, and five of his last seven, after winning only three of his first 13 starts.

"He's more mature, sounder, and stronger - and mentally, he's a bit tougher," his trainer, Neil Drysdale, said Tuesday morning.

Super Quercus, the 1999 Hollywood Derby winner, will be making his first start since Jan. 4. "He had a chip taken out of an ankle," his trainer, Bobby Frankel, said Tuesday.

Frankel will be in action Sunday, too. In addition to sending out Skimming in the San Diego Handicap that day, he will run Providencia Stakes winner Dynamous in the $150,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies.

The one-mile San Clemente includes a pair of talented invaders. One is Voodoo Dancer, a powerful winner of Hollywood Park's Flawlessly Handicap on May 28, who returns from New York for trainer Christophe Clement. She will be the favorite. The other is La Vida Loca, a winner of three of four starts this year in Florida and Kentucky, who ships in from Kentucky for trainer Patrick Byrne.

Others expected for the San Clemente include Gabriellina Giof, Warren's Whistle, and perhaps Reine de Romance.

New blinker rule under consideration

Del Mar's stewards on Monday said they would consider changing a rule regarding reporting blinker change information to the public. This past week the betting public was not told that two horses, who subsequently won races, were adding blinkers.

Both Salty Helen, who paid $35.80 to win in Saturday's third race, and Lively Liz, who paid $5.20 to win in Monday's fifth race, added blinkers, but no announcement was made to the public, and the information was not in the official track program.

Both Salty Helen and Lively Liz had not raced for more than six months.

In California, stewards allow trainers the discretion to make blinker changes if a horse has not raced for six months or more. If a horse has raced more recently, the stewards must formally approve a change of blinkers. In that case, the blinker change is made public.

If a horse in California adds a nasal strip or is gelded, no matter the length of time since his last race the information is made public. Handicappers generally consider blinker changes more significant than nasal strip changes, yet nasal strip changes have a more stringent set of guidelines.

According to Ken Goldberg, Del Mar's paddock judge, the blinker rule is "a house rule put into effect by the stewards at each particular meet."

"I go by whatever it is. It can be turned over in a heartbeat if the stewards say so," Goldberg said.

Stewards David Samuel and George Slender on Monday both said they wanted to continue to give trainers the latitude to make a blinker change if a horse had been off for at least six months, but said that the rule regarding the reporting of information to the public seemed inconsistent. Samuel said that they, and Ingrid Fermin, the other steward at Del Mar, would "think about it."

Headley wins another

A day after sending out Kona Gold for a victory in the Bing Crosby Handicap, trainer Bruce Headley struck again Monday, when Kalookan Queen roared to a 2 1/2-length win in the Fantastic Girl Stakes.

Alex Solis, who rode Kona Gold, was also aboard Kalookan Queen, who was timed in 1:16.40 for 6 1/2 furlongs. She paid $6.40. Kitty on the Track, the 7-5 favorite, finished second, four lengths in front of third-place finisher Filigree.

Kalookan Queen has now won five times in 14 starts for owner Louis Asistio. Like Gold Kona, she has finished out of the money just once.

- Swaps Stakes winner Congaree, preparing for the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 4, worked a half-mile in 49.40 seconds Tuesday.

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