08/29/2009 11:00PM

Spring House repeats on Del Mar turf

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Benoit & Associates
Spring House (right) battles with Sir Dave to win Sunday's Del Mar Handicap by a nose.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Spring House, continuing his love affair with 1 3/8-mile races at Del Mar, won the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap for the second straight year on Sunday, but he needed every inch of the stretch to prevail.

Spring House ($7.60), eighth early in the 10-horse field, was taken three paths wide heading into the stretch and surged late to nail Sir Dave by a nose right at the finish. It was another three-quarters of a length back to Temple City, who led the field into the stretch. Artiste Royal, the 9-5 favorite, was fourth, beaten one length for it all.

With the victory, Spring House earned an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf through the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In program. But Julio Canani, the trainer of Spring House, said he was not sure if Spring House would run in the Turf. Canani said owner R.D. Hubbard was interested in going to the Hong Kong International races at the end of the year.

Alex Solis rode Spring House, who completed 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:12.61. The win was the 10th in 43 lifetime starts for Spring House, a 7-year-old gelding.

"At the wire, I thought my horse had his head down," Solis said.

Spring House benefited from an insanely fast pace set by Ghetto, who was tracked by Black Astor. They sped through fractions of 22.69 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 45.46 for a half-mile, and 1:10.10 for six furlongs. By the time the field reached the far turn, both were out of gas.

"I just wanted to get my horse to relax. I knew those horses would come back sooner or later," Solis said.

Spring House set a course record of 2:11.14 in last year's Del Mar Handicap. Since then, he has added victories in the San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita and the Golden Gate Fields Turf.