Run Away Romps in Best Pal Stakes

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Run Away powered to a dominant victory in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes on Saturday at Del Mar. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The beginning of the $200,000, Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar looked a lot like Run Away’s first two races.

Kaleem Shah’s Run Away and Hide colt broke well from the inside and appeared as if he’d be on or pressing the early lead, just like he did in his debut win May 26 and his Santa Anita Juvenile Stakes victory July 3.

But when longshot An Ocala Ten broke just as well from the outside and was intent on taking the lead for himself, jockey Flavien Prat let him have it.

With the 31.70-1 shot clear on the lead, Prat got Run Away off the rail and into a stalking position in second, with Arawak just to his outside and An Ocala Ten the clear target.

The first quarter-mile went in :22.13, but midway through the turn in the 6 1/2-furlong test for juveniles, the target got swallowed up. Without any asking from his jockey, the Simon Callaghan-trained Run Away breezed by the early leader to take command, and by the top of the stretch, the race was all but decided.

Run Away after Best Pal win. (Eclipse Sportswire)

“I think it was even better than his last race,” Callaghan said. “He’s got great gate speed but he isn’t one of those horses that is speed crazy. ... He’s just a cool horse—fast, very mature and I think he’s going to get better as we stretch out. The [Del Mar] Futurity [on Sept. 4] is next.”

Holly and David Wilson’s Dia de Pago, who was far back and last in the eight-horse field early, passed all but the winner to pick up second in his first start for trainer Vladimir Cerin, but could not get within striking distance of Run Away, who won by 3 1/2 lengths geared down late and finished the distance in 1:17.91.

“I knew he’d run well. He’d been training so well,” Prat said. “But I didn’t really expect to win by that far. Simon has done a great job with him, though, and he’s a very talented colt, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Can he run farther? We don’t know. We know he can run 6 1/2 furlongs, so we’ll enjoy that for a while.”

Dia de Pago, who was 9 1/2 lengths back as An Ocala Ten ran a half-mile in :45.10, finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of maiden Fleetwood in third. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Dia de Pago, by Macho Uno, won his debut at Gulfstream Park June 18 by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Mary Lightner and soon after shipped west to Cerin.

“He ran dynamite,” Nakatani said. “[Master Ruler] all but eliminated us at the break, but I was able to gather him up and get him back into his rhythm. He came running. [It was a] big race for him. He’s a talented colt and he’ll like it farther.”

Favored Serengeti, who went off at 1.30-1 on the strength of his 11-length maiden win last time out June 25 at Santa Anita Park, bobbled at the start and rushed up rapidly on the backstretch. The move put the Bob Baffert-trained colt in second with a furlong to run — four lengths behind Run Away — but he tired harshly late and finished sixth.

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