Defunded and jockey Edwin Maldonado win the G3 Native Diver
Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s Defunded overcame a slow start to move into contention early, then drew well clear at the top of the stretch and cruised home in winning Sunday’s $150,500 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar.
The 4-year-old chestnut gelding finished up 4 3/4 lengths to the good under Edwin Maldonado and returned $3.40 for the win as the 7-10 favorite in the field of six. He ran the 1 1/8 miles on the main track in 1:50.12 and picked up a first prize of $90,000 to increase his earnings mark to $608,100.
Defunded, a Kentucky-bred by Dialed In, is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who was winning his third Native Diver. It was also the conditioner’s 155 stakes victory at the seaside oval, which puts him a remarkable 70 wins ahead of his next closest competitor in the all-time training ranks at the track.
Finishing second under John Velazquez was Baffert-trained Azul Coast, owned by the same connections, who had three-quarters of a length on third-place finisher Newgrange.
Defunded returned $3.40. He was bred in Kentucky by Athens Woods LLC from the Touch Gold mare Wind Caper and was sold by Eaton Sales for $210,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The Native Diver marked his fifth win from 13 career starts.
NATIVE DIVER STAKES QUOTES
JOCKEY EDWIN MALDONADO (Defunded, winner) – “He came away from their a little bit slow, but I wasn’t concerned. This horse doesn’t need to be in front. He’s won from off the pace before. I rode him with confidence all the way. On the turn he wanted to lean on the horse inside us, but I got him going straight and it all worked out from there.”
ASSISTANT TRAINER JIMMY BARNES (Defunded, winner) – “Edwin (Maldonado) said Defunded was kind of wanting to sit back and when that happens and they sit back when the gate opens then you’re going the wrong way. Luckily they were going slow enough he was able to recover and get back in a good position. He’s always had talent. It’s just that he’s been a little aggressive in the paddock on us at times. But he went through the paddock good, he went to the gate good, so maybe we’ve got him straightened out.”