Gold Phoenix flies home late to win G2 Del Mar Handicap

Four-year-old Belardo gelding earns first Graded Stakes victory in dramatic style

Gold Phoenix put in a furious late rally to just get up in time to claim a nose victory over Master Piece in the G2 Del Mar Handicap on Saturday, 3 September.

It was the first Graded Stakes win for the four-year-old Belardo gelding, who has never been worse than third in his eight career starts. The victory earned Gold Phoenix an automatic berth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland since the race is part of the ‘Win and You’re In’ series sponsored by the Breeders’ Cup.

Settled toward the rear of the field by jockey Flavien Prat, Gold Phoenix was content to let Tizamagician lead the way through the early stages of the mile-and-three-eighths turf marathon. As the field raced into the far turn, Gold Phoenix began his move, swinging out several paths wide for a clear run at the leaders. It ended up a wild finish, with Tizamagician clinging to a desperate lead as Master Piece, Gold Phoenix and Dicey Mo Chara all were closing rapidly. At the wire it was Gold Phoenix on the outside just getting the nod over Master Piece, with Dicey Mo Chara having to settle for third.

Bred in Ireland by Mighty Universe Ltd., Gold Phoenix is out of the winning mare Magnifica (Mizzen Mast), a full sister to G1 Stewards Cup winner Sea Defence and G2 Lexus Raven Run winner, Jibboom. Hailing from a stout Juddmonte female family, Gold Phoenix is also closely related to such standouts as Al Bahathri (G1 Irish One Thousand Guineas), Aviate (G2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile) and Early March (G3 Prix La Rochette).

Gold Phoenix is the second Graded Stakes winner for Belardo during the Del Mar meet, joining Bellabel, who captured the G2 San Clemente Stakes in July.