Heywoods Beach and jockey Ramon Vazquez winning the Cougar II Stakes
Rider Ramon Vazquez sat second to odd-on race favorite Tizamagician in the 12-furlong Cougar II Stakes Sunday at Del Mar, then surged late and held off his classy rival for a one-length tally with Hronis Racing’s Heywoods Beach.
The 5-year-old horse – ironically by sprint champion Speightstown – ran the 1 1/2 miles in 2:30.09. He is trained by veteran John Sadler, who was winning the Grade 3 Cougar II for the fourth time. It was also Sadler’s 83rd stakes win at Del Mar, second-most among all trainers.
Finishing second in the marathon was Tizamagician, who is owned by MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm. Running third, a neck farther back, was Jay Em Ess Stable’s Extra Hope.
Heywoods Beach picked up a check for $75,000 for his work, increasing his lifetime bankroll to $289,251. He’s won four of 18 outings and ran third in this same race last year when Tizamagician was the winner.
Heywoods Beach paid $8.20, $3.40 and $2.60 across the board. Tizamagician, who went off at 9-10, paid $2.80 and $2.20 and Extra Hope returned $3.00.
Vazquez, who has taken up residence at Del Mar for the first time this summer, has one other stakes win at the seaside track. That came last Nov. 6 on the Breeders’ Cup undercard when he steered the classy router Lone Rock to a victory in the TAA Stakes marathon, besting Tizamagician in the process.
Following the Cougar II, longshot Irideo pulled off a $65 surprise in the Wickerr Stakes at a mile on the turf course. The homebred Argentinian horse races in the green, blue and yellow silks of Pozo de Luna. He was ridden by Hector Berrios, who last won a stakes at Del Mar in 2011 and is trained by Marcelo Polanco, whose most recent stakes victory locally was in 2009.
Del Mar goes dark now until Thursday when racing resumes with a 2 p.m. post.
RAMON VAZQUEZ (Heywoods Beach, winner) – “I had a lot of horse all the way. I could feel it. You love it when you know you’ve got that under you. I could feel it all the way. I like riding these long races. There’s time to think and plan. You’ve got time to do what you need to do.”
JOHN SADLER (Heywoods Beach, winner) — “I told Ramon the two Mandella horses are tactical like us, just gonna have to have a jocks’ ride. We just laid second off of him and we won. It’s a great race; I’ve won this race several times (four) and I’ve always enjoyed it and it’s a fun race. I’m grateful we have horses for it most years.”
FRACTIONS: :24.98 :49.12 1:13.45 1:38.20 2:03.92 2:30.09
The stakes win was the first of the meet for both rider and trainer.
The stakes win was the second at Del Mar for rider Vazquez. He had won the Grade 2 TAA Stakes on Lone Rock on the Breeders’ Cup undercard at Del Mar last Nov. 6, a mile and five-eighths race in which he bested today’s race favorite, Tizamagician.
The stakes win was the fourth in the Cougar II for trainer Sadler. He now has 83 stakes wins at Del Mar, second-most among all trainers.
The winning owners are Hronis Racing of Kosta and Pete Hronis of Delano, CA.