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Jul 31, 2009

Well Armed back to defend San Diego title

By: SPORTS NETWORK


Del Mar, CA (Sports Network) - The nation's leading money earner Well Armed is back to defend his crown in Sunday's $250,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. The 1 1/16 mile handicap is a prep race for the track's $1 million Pacific Classic on Sunday, September 6.

Well Armed, winner of this year's Dubai World Cup, will take on eight challengers in his first start since the win in March. A victory in the San Diego Handicap, a "Win and You're In" race, means an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Trained by Eoin Harty for WinStar Farm, Well Armed has drawn post six with Aaron Gryder again in the saddle.

"He's relaxing more and he enjoys running more," said Gryder. "We never try to put him on the lead, but he gets there a lot of times because he's just faster. He's a big, long strider and he likes to get comfortable. He listens to me; when I want more, he gives more.

"I think he started maturing and getting really good last year in the San Diego, and he ran a great race in the Pacific Classic (in which he finished second)."

The six-year-old gelding began 2009 with a fourth in the San Pasqual Handicap and then was second in the San Antonio, both at Santa Anita. The victory in the World Cup put his earnings for the year at $3.649,000. Overall, Well Armed has won seven of 23 lifetime starts for $5,179,803.

"He's a very strong and aggressive horse and you have to have a strong rider when you gallop him," Harty noted. "He's calm in the stall and calm in the barn, but he's aggressive on the racetrack. That's the way we like them."

The son of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow will carry highweight of 123 pounds. He'll spot his opponents from seven to 15 pounds.

Magnum, who won the San Antonio Handicap over Well Armed, has drawn post four with jockey Martin Pedroza riding. The eight-year-old gelding is owned by Herrick Racing and trained by Darrell Vienna.

Winless since the San Antonio, Magnum was seventh in his last start in the Hollywood Gold Cup. He has won six of 30 career starts for $854,249.

Set to break to Magnum's immediate outside is 2008 Hollywood Gold Cup winner Mast Track. The five-year-old will be ridden by David Flores for owner-trainer Bobby Frankel.

Mast Track has not won in three starts this year, finishing fourth in this year's Gold Cup. He comes into Sunday's race with lifetime earnings of $802,022 with five wins in 16 starts.

Here is the full field in post position order for Sunday's San Diego Handicap: Song of Navarone, Joel Rosario; Informed, Tyler Baze; Allicansayis Wow, Joe Talamo; Magnum, Martin Pedroza; Mast Track, David Flores; Well Armed, Aaron Gryder; Temple City, Michael Baze; Kelly Leak, Mike Smith and Sangaree, Victor Espinoza.

Post-time for the San Diego Handicap is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. (et).

In other track news, veteran jockey Rafael Bejarano was released from Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla on Sunday. Bejarano suffered serious facial injuries in a spill during Del Mar's opening day Wednesday, July 22.



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