Only four horses started in the 72nd running of $147,000 La Jolla Handicap (G2) at Del Mar Saturday and three hit the wire together.
Old Time Hockey, who was bred in Florida by owner Leonard Lavin’s Glen Hill Farm in Ocala, won the 1 1⁄16 turf test over My Best Brother in second in what was a rematch of the faster division of the $109,000 Oceanside Stakes run at Del Mar July 18. In that race, My Best Brother was the winner and Old Time Hockey was third.
Ridden by jockey Joe Talamo for the first time in the La Jolla, Old Time Hockey sat behind My Best Brother and Chips All In as they set fractions of :23.80, :47.85 for the first quarter and half-mile. Chips All In made a run at My Best Brother down the backstretch, but the favorite drew clear again as they went the six furlongs in 1:10.72. By that time Old Time Hockey began to make a move while racing three-wide and was able to eventually chase down My Best Brother in the last strides while Chips All In would not give in either. At the wire, Old Time Hockey was a nose in front of My Best Brother, who was a head in front of Chips All In in third. Blingo was fourth. Final time for the 1 1⁄16 miles on the grass was 1:40.55.
“[Trainer Tom Proctor] told me to ride him as hard as I could,” Talamo said after the race. “[He] said the more you ride him, they more he’ll give you. [Proctor] sure were right. I had to move with him a little sooner than I wanted to to make sure Garrett’s horse [Garrett Gomez on Chips All In] didn’t get by. So I got after him pretty good and he was up to it.”
Old Time Hockey paid $7.60 for a $2 win ticket and $3.20 to place. My Best Brother returned $2.80 to place. There was no show wagering.
“I was hoping that Gomez [on Chips All In] would push (My Best Brother) a little bit,” Proctor said. “I was kind of scared because I didn’t really see him do it and I thought we might be in a little bit of a spot there. But our horse runs good. And [My Best Brother] – what, has he won four in a row? (Actually three) It’s hard to win [that many races] in a row.”
It was the third career victory from nine starts for Old Time Hockey and the career earnings for the 3-year-old gelding now stand at $200,228.
– Photo of Florida-bred Old Time Hockey by Benoit