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Del Mar: Master Piece wins Eddie Read Stakes, overcomes lengthy trainer’s objection

DEL MAR — Trainer Michael McCarthy heaved a sigh of relief after longshot Master Piece withstood a lengthy trainer’s objection and won the $250,000 Grade II Eddie Read Stakes on Sunday at Del Mar.

After Master Piece won the 1 1/8-mile turf race by 3 1/4 lengths, Philip D’Amato, trainer of runner-up Hong Kong Harry, lodged an objection for alleged interference at the start. After looking at the break from the gate numerous times, the stewards decided to leave the original order of finish intact.

“I know they have to take a look at ’em, but I did think the horse would stay up,” McCarthy said in the winner’s circle. “I’m glad for everybody’s sake the horse did stay up because it could have gotten ugly down here.”

Master Piece, a 6-year-old son of Mastercraftsman who closed at 16-1, rallied from ninth to win the race for 3-year-olds and up after veering in at the start under Abel Cedillo. He’d moved up to fourth by the head of the stretch and then breezed past Beyond Brilliant, Masteroffoxhounds and Tango Tango Tango while holding off a late charge by Hong Kong Harry to record his sixth victory in 18 starts.

Final time was 1:46.25.

“He was training super and the way he worked here the other day and galloped out, it was very, very good,” McCarthy said. “Numbers-wise, he fit in with these horses. Thirty-four dollars, I thought he should have been a little bit shorter price than that.”

In a race that looked wide open on paper (six of the 10 runners had won graded stakes), Master Piece had shown a fondness for Del Mar’s Jimmy Durante Turf Course by finishing second at 22-1 in last summer’s Grade II Del Mar Handicap. He went into the Eddie Read off a fourth-place finish in the ungraded All-American Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on May 30.

Hong Kong Harry was a half-length clear of third-place finisher Cathkin Peak, who was a nose better than Homer Screen. D’Amato had four horses in the race and finished second, third, fifth and eighth.

Cedillo felt the incident at the start was non-consequential.

“I just brushed the horse alongside me (Cathkin Peak),” he said. “My trip was really good. He was running all the way. At the three-eighth pole I got lucky. I had to go between two horses and it was there for me. Then he was really running late. Big race. Good race for him.”

Beyond Brilliant, who set the pace much of the way under Victor Espinoza, went postward as the 8-5 favorite and finished sixth, about fourth lengths behind the winner. The 4-year-old Twirling Candy colt went into race off a gate-to-wire victory in the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita on April 30.

Said McCarthy of the winner: “He’s very good fresh. He’s a happy horse down here. I was surprised at the move he put in. I knew he’d run well. That was pretty impressive.”

Next up for Master Piece might be a return visit to the Del Mar Handicap, scheduled for Sept. 3 as part of the Pacific Classic day festivities.

The stakes victory was the 12th for Cedillo at Del Mar. It was the first win in the Eddie Read for Cedillo and McCarthy. It was the fifth stakes victory for McCarthy at Del Mar.

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