INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 15, 2012)—In his first afternoon appearance at Betfair Hollywood Park since undergoing brain surgery June 29, trainer Mike Mitchell saw Dhaamer easily win the Grade III, $98,000 Sunset Handicap (video) on closing day of the Spring/Summer meet.
Along with wife Denise, daughters McCall and Shea and numerous other friends and family, Mitchell watched the 5-year-old gelded son of Dubai Destination out of the Ahonoora mare Arjuzah win his second stakes of the season. The Irish bred had taken the Round Table at the same distance – 1 ½ miles – in his Betfair Hollywood Park turf debut May 13.
Owned by Edward Brown, Jr. and Jay Manoogian, Dhaamer, the 2-5 favorite, trailed for most of the journey while under confident handling by jockey Julien Leparoux, who is engaged to Shea Mitchell, swung three deep into the stretch to challenge Quaintly and Juniper Pass and disposed of them quickly en route to a 3 ¼ length win. The final time was 2:29.13 and he paid $2.80 and $2.10. There was no show wagering after the scratch of Renegade Storm.
The first graded victory for Dhaamer, who has earned $174,272, was his second win in four starts in the United States after he won two of nine in England. One of the bloodstock agents who facilitated the purchase of the chestnut is Craig Rounsefell, Mitchell’s son-in-law.
Romp, the 7-1 third choice, was 4 ½ lengths clear of pacesetter Quaintly and Juniper Pass, the 5-2 second choice, wound up last. The place price on Romp was $5.
After his second Sunset win – the first was with Star Over the Bay in 2004 – Mitchell talked about his hopes to be at Del Mar, which begins its meet Wednesday, about halfway through the 37-day season.
“I’m getting stronger,’’ he said. “A few more treatments and then I’m good to go. I’m going to do what my doctors tell me, but that is my plan.
“We want to have a Breeders’ Cup Marathon (which will be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita) horse on the dirt. He just barely got beat in the (Grade III) Tokyo City (March 24 in his first start in this country).
“Julien has a great set of hands. I was riding him on horses way before he met my daughter. I’ve always thought he was a great rider.’’
The fifth leading money winning jockey in the country in 2012, Leparoux had a welcome birthday gift in his initial collaboration with Dhaamer.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better present,’’ said Leparoux, who turned 29 Sunday. “There was a lot of pressure before this race. All the family is here. But he’s a nice horse and won easily today. He was just much the best.’’
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