United Repeats in Eddie Read Stakes


Photo: Benoit Photo
United (outside) runs down Smooth Like Strait to win the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar

United  successfully defended his title in the $251,000 Eddie Read Stakes (G2T) at Del Mar July 24, returning to victory after an uncharacteristic loss in the May 29 Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2T). He overhauled even-money favorite Smooth Like Strait  in the stretch to win by a neck.

The Eddie Read attracted a plethora of turf stakes stars. In capturing the event, United became the first to score a double in this race since champion Acclamation   in 2011-12.

Award Winner , hero of the Whittingham, took the early lead in the Read, with Smooth Like Strait running easily in second, about a length behind. Flavien Prat—who knows United well, having ridden him in each of the 6-year-old gelding's stakes starts—settled his charge between longshots Vintage Print  on the rail and Restrainedvengence  in the second flight.

The race began to really develop as the field headed into the second turn. Smooth Like Strait closed the distance to Award Winner, but Prat had United primed and they began to gain ground three wide.

Smooth Like Strait grabbed the lead deep into the turn, just as United began to draw alongside him. Those two wrestled throughout the stretch, but ultimately United edged by Smooth Like Strait, stopping the timer for 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.49 on a firm turf course. Count Again  closed from last early to finish third.

Award Winner set fairly leisurely fractions of :25.19 for the first quarter-mile, :49.43 for a half-mile, and 1:14.01 for six furlongs, which led to a slower final time than United's 2020 Read victory. Last year, Neptune's Storm  set a little quicker pace, and United came home in 1:46.71.

"I could tell the fractions were slow; I could feel it," said Prat. "But my horse was traveling well and he was comfortable."

The second choice in the field of seven, United paid $8.60, $3.40, and $2.80. Smooth Like Strait paid $2.60 and $2.20, and Count Again paid $2.80.

Richard Mandella trains United for the Roth family's LNJ Foxwoods.

"He ran well, and I'm very proud of him. He was coming off a terrible race. I've never had him run that bad," said Mandella, referring to the Whittingham, in which United finished last of four.

"We worried and watched and did every test you can do on him," said the trainer. "We found a bruise under his shoe two weeks old. It didn't seem like that big a deal, but it must have been."

The Read offered an interesting distance challenge. Smooth Like Strait had won four stakes at a mile, one at 1 1/16 miles, and one at 1 1/8 miles, whereas United prefers a more marathon distance. United won the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey Stakes (G3T) earlier this year and the 1 1/4-mile John Henry Turf Championship (G2T) last fall. He also finished second, by only a head, to Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar  in the 2019 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) at 1 1/2 miles.

Rosemont Farm bred United, a son of Giant's Causeway—Indy Punch, by Pulling Punches, in Kentucky. Alex Solis and Jason Litt purchased United for LNJ Foxwoods for $300,000 from consignor Four Star Sales in 2016 at The Saratoga Sale, Fasig-Tipton's sale of selected yearlings in New York. The chestnut earlier brought $240,000 as a weanling from Glencrest Farm when consigned by Trackside Farm to the 2015 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.

The Read marked United's sixth graded stakes win, and it brought his lifetime earnings to $1,675,549. His overall record stands at 9-4-1 from 20 starts.

Indy Punch is also dam of grade 3 winner Harlan Punch  and stakes winner Tensas Punch . Her latest foal is a yearling colt by War Front  . She was reported bred to Into Mischief   for 2022.

Video: Eddie Read S. (G2T)