The popular rap on Bruho, trainer Julio Canani's 3-year old gelding, was that he was a bit of a flake. Canani characterized Bruho's record a bit differently, saying "he's been an unlucky horse."
Whatever, Bruho turned over a new leaf Wednesday at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, winning the $81,375 El Cajon Stakes by a half-length over Mr. Bolg in 1:40 1/5 for 1 1/16 miles, just a fifth off the track record.
Known for his slow starts and bizarre reactions to crowd noise and the whip, Bruho was for the most part a different horse.
For a short time, it appeared Bruho was up to his old tricks with a slow start. But by the three-quarter pole, he had moved into second and began to hint that this race would be different.
At the far turn, Bruho passed Mr. Bolg on the inside. He then responded to the challenges of Mr. Bolg and Lode in the stretch.
Robbie Davis, who rode to his sixth stakes victory of the meet (one more than Eddie Delahoussaye), said he was aware of the gelding's sketchy past.
"I knew he had a history of doing some crazy things, and I was thinking of that going to the gate," Davis said. "They took the blinkers off, and he was listening to the crowd. I wanted to hit him in the stretch, but I'm sure he would have (abruptly veered off course)."
That is exactly what Bruho did in last year's Balboa Stakes, when he threw Gary Stevens just as he was taking the lead in the stretch.
A month ago in the Aug. 11 Real Good Deal Stakes, Bruho ran a fine race but was an unlucky third in a photo-finish, which Mr. Bolg won.
Canani, who claimed Bruho for $50,000 for owner Joseph Scardino, said he will most likely enter him in the $1 million Louisiana Super Derby on Sept. 24.
"Mr. Scardino enjoyed going there last year with Silver Circus, and we may go again with this horse," said Canani, who won his first stakes race of the meeting. "I'd say it's 50-50."
Chris McCarron, who rode Mr. Bolg, said his horse "just got outrun."
"He's a sprinter, but he relaxed very well," McCarron said. "He just couldn't keep up the last sixteenth."
Bruho paid $11, $5.40 and $3.60, Mr. Bolg $6.60 and $4.80 and Splurger $3.20.
Del Mar Notes
Rictorius' victory in the seventh race gave trainer Charlie Whittingham four in a row dating back to Monday and 13 for the meeting, tying him with Ron McAnally for first in the trainer standings. . . . Jockey Gary Stevens' victory in the second aboard The Burn Card gave him 41 and a tie for first in the standings with Eddie Delahoussaye, who has served two days of his five-day suspension. . . . Jim Buckalew, a journalism professor at San Diego State, held half a winning ticket on the pick six, which returned $61,473. Buckalew has now won three pick sixes overall, including two at Del Mar. The winnings made up for Buckalew's disappointment earlier in the day when his horse, Reason To Study, was scratched in the first race because of a cough. . . . When Golden Eagle Farm's Individualist captured a $27,000 2-year-old maiden race Sunday, it continued a big meet for owners John and Betty Mabee, who have now been to the winner's circle seven times. The Mabees previously had won twice with Fiesta del Sol and once each with Bel Darling, Fantastic Hope, Great Event and Young Flyer. . . . Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence worked a mile in 1:39 4/5 Monday morning at Del Mar as he continued preparations for the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs Sept. 24. . . . Japanese jockey Yutaka Take, who rode at Arlington over the the weekend, made his Del Mar debut with a fourth-place finish aboard Wicked Idea in the third race. Take will be at Del Mar through Friday. Just 20, he is traveling with a large entourage of Japanese media.