SORRENTO STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 2-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 2 | 6 1/2 FURLONGS
Following up on a runner-up effort at Royal Ascot in June, well-traveled Sunset Glow dominated the field in the $200,000 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 6, leading all the way for a 3 ¼-length victory.
Victor Espinoza rode the daughter of Exchange Rate to an easy win over four rival 2-year-old fillies for trainer Wesley Ward and Ten Broeck Farm. Taking the early lead from even-money favorite Caval, Sunset Glow dictated terms through quick opening splits of :22.30 seconds and :45.30 seconds, and shook loose leaving the turn after Caval threw in the towel.
Sunset Glow won it on her own, coming off the rail in upper stretch while completing the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.61. Cinderella Stakes winner La Grange, who stumbled a bit at the start of the Sorrento, came on to take second by 5 ¼ lengths over the stalking Heart of Paradise. Sharla Rae and Caval, who was eased home by Elvis Trujillo, were next in a field shrunk by the scratches of Conquest Eclipse and Windy Forecast.
Sunset Glow was sent off as the 3-1 third choice in the compact field, bettors perhaps concerned that all of the traveling could be catching up with the gray filly. She debuted for Ward on the Tapeta racing surface at Presque Isle Downs in May, finishing second. She graduated in her next start when teamed with Espinoza for the first time, winning a five-furlong heat on the Belmont Park turf in front-running style June 6 by two lengths in a course-record time of :58.26 seconds.
Two weeks later, on June 20, she was at Royal Ascot competing against 20 other fillies in the Albany Stakes. She led much of the way but in the end held for second, finishing two lengths behind Cursory Glance.
Sunset Glow had turned in three works over the Del Mar Polytrack after a brief freshening, and signaled her readiness for a top effort July 30 when she worked a bullet five furlongs in :59 ⅗ seconds.
"This filly, she has a big heart. Nothing bothers her, " Espinoza told TVG afterward. "She ran big [at Ascot] and last week, she worked unbelievable. She was ready to go."
Espinoza previously won the Sorrento in 2006 with Untouched Talent.
Under 119 pounds, Sunset Glow paid $8.60, $4.40, and $2.80 and topped a $24.80 exacta. La Grange, who shouldered top weight of 123 pounds with Kent Desormeaux aboard, returned $3.40 and $2.60. Heart of Paradise and Joe Talamo paid $2.80 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Gayla Rankin and GLR Ranch out of the stakes-placed Dynaformer mare Perfectforthepart, Sunset Glow was a $60,000 weanling purchase at the Keeneland November 2012 Breeding Stock Sale by Stonereath Stud, agent, from consignor Three Chimney Sales. Eaton Sales consigned the filly for the Keeneland September yearling sale last year when Ben McElroy, agent, signed the ticket of $140,000.
With her latest victory, Sunset Glow has two wins and two seconds in four tries with earnings of $197,645. She is the first starter and first winner for her dam, and has a yearling full brother.
Blake Heap, assistant to Wesley Ward, said the most recent week by Sunset Glow was key.
"We had her in behind a horse, had her finish, and she got a lot out of it," Heap said. "She's kind of a big heavy filly and [Ward] said to train her a little bit, so we kind of did and looks like it worked out pretty well. It's up to Wesley [as far as her next start next start] but I would have to think that with the Debutante right here, she wouldn't have to go too far."