With Brian Mayberry's Willing Worker a late scratch, Wednesday's $75,000 Balboa Stakes figured to be a race between Neil Drysdale's Forty Niner Days and D. Wayne Lukas' filly, Patches.
But while Forty Niner Days' race turned into a struggle to stay out of last place, and Patches' finished with a late drive for third, trainer Charles Marikian's colt A. Sir Dancer surprised everyone with an easy 1 3/4-length victory in the seven-furlong race for 2-year-olds.
It wasn't a surprise, though, to see Eddie Delahoussaye aboard A. Sir Dancer, who went off went off at 7-1 odds.
It was Delahoussaye's fifth stakes victory and 29th overall during this meeting and his third of the day.
Delahoussaye refused to take the credit.
"My agent's been doing a good job," he said.
Delahoussaye said he was impressed with the colt.
"He broke sharp and made the lead easy on his own without using him," Delahoussaye said. "Chuck (Marikian) told me he had a good horse, and if I rode him, we were going to win the Balboa."
A. Sir Dancer took the lead by moving up on the inside at the half pole, then drew clear at the top of the stretch and maintained a two-length advantage over Drag Race, ridden by Frank Olivares, through the final furlong.
As hot as Delahoussaye has been, Marikian has been cold. It was only his second victory of the meeting, and both were by A. Sir Dancer.
After A. Sir Dancer broke his maiden July 30, Marikian said, he was pointed toward the Balboa.
"We didn't even think about that six-furlong race (the Sept. 1 Graduation Stakes)," he said. "This was the one we wanted. It will set him up perfectly for the Futurity (Sept. 13)."
To enter the Futurity, A. Sir Dancer will have to supplemented at a cost of $10,000.
"Dan (Arakelian, the owner) and I will have to talk it over in the morning, but I'm sure he'll be there," Marikian said.
Laffit Pincay Jr., aboard Forty Niner Days, said he had no explanation for his horse's sixth-place finish in a field of seven.
"I had a lot of horse on the backside," Pincay said. "On the turn, he moved up like he was going to do something, and that was it."
A. Sir Dancer paid $17.40, $8.20 and $4.40, Drag Race $9.40 and $5 and Patches $3.40.
No reason was given for Willing Worker's scratch, and none is required in a stakes race.
Jockey Corey Nakatani was thrown from his horse, Speaking Part, early in the third race and was taken by ambulance to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. Nakatani later was back in the jockey's room; he said he had suffered bruised kidney and would see a doctor today. Speaking Park began on the post, threw Nakatani, then jumped two rails before going back onto the track. . . . Jockey Chris McCarron pulled off an early triple by winning the first three races. . . . Jockey Anthony DeSilva was suspended for six months by the California Horse Racing Board after testing positive for cocaine. DeSilva must now enter a drug rehabilitation program as part of the suspension.