If you like grass racing and large, competitive fields, then you won’t want to miss the $250,000 Eddie Read Stakes (gr. II) on Sunday at Del Mar.
Held at nine furlongs, the Eddie Read has attracted eleven starters that pretty much represent a “who’s who” of California’s top turf horses. Of course, that includes Itsinthepost, who has won seemingly every Grade 2 turf race in California over the last few years. A versatile gelding who can compete over a wide variety of distances, Itsinethpost is 4-for-5 so far this year and enters the Eddie Read off a clear win in the 1 ¼-mile Charles Whittingham Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
However, Itsinthepost is winless in nine starts at Del Mar, a record of frustration that he’ll seek to remedy on Sunday. Standing in his way is Hunt, winner of the Eddie Read in 2017. Since that victory, Hunt has added three more graded stakes wins to his record, including a top-level victory in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. I) at Santa Anita on May 28th, his first start of the season. He’s been very effective at this middle-distance range and figures to give Itsinthepost a stiff challenge.
Bowies Hero finished fifth in the Shoemaker Mile, but was only beaten 1 ½ lengths and had previously defeated the Shoemaker Mile third-place finisher Next Shares in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. I) at Santa Anita back in March, form lines that suggest Bowies Hero could be very competitive in the Eddie Read. The same goes for the consistent Sharp Samurai, who got the better of Bowies Hero in the Del Mar Derby (gr. II) over this course and distance last summer.
Flamboyant, a mainstay of the California turf circuit for many years, ended a lengthy losing streak with an upset win in the San Francisco Mile (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields two starts back, but like Itsinthepost, he’s 0-for-9 at Del Mar and will need to step up his game a notch on Sunday. Meanwhile, True Valour represents a major wildcard in the Eddie Read, since he’ll be making his U.S. debut for trainer John Murtagh following a sharp win in the Ballycorus Stakes (Ire-III) at Leopardstown in Ireland last month.
Catapult, runner-up in the 2017 Baltimore/Washington Turf Cup (gr. II) at Laurel Park when trained by Chad Brown, will be making his second start for trainer John Sadler following a runner-up effort against Sharp Samurai in a Santa Anita allowance race in June. Completing the field are Fashion Business and Multiplier, fifth and ninth in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont; and Prime Attraction, winner of the Native Diver Stakes (gr. III) over the Del Mar main track in November.
The Eddie Read is the eighth race of the day, with a post time of 8:30 p.m. Eastern.