Rematch in Dillingham

Stakes sophomores ready for rematch in Dillingham Handicap.

Q-Racing Journal

There could be budding rivalry in the $25,000 Dillingham Handicap when the top-two finishers in the April 13, $20,000 Jim Smith Handicap – Its Mr Country Time and Spirit Leader – return to make their next starts on Saturday night at Los Alamitos in the 400-yard stakes for 3-year-olds.

Jesus Garcia’s Mr Its Country Time (Country Chicks Man-Abstinence by Special Effort) scored the win in the Smith by a half length as the 5-2 second choice over Abigail Kawananakoa’s 6-5 favorite Spirit Leader (Corona Cartel-Sandras Task by Special Task).

Mr Its Country Time has showed promise with seven on-the-board efforts from eight starts, however raced to his first stakes win in the Smith. The Juan Aleman-trained gelding was third in the $35,000 Los Alamitos Two Million Juvenile and then won his Los Alamitos Winter Derby trial, qualifying for the finals. He was fifth in the $196,600 Los Alamitos Winter Derby (G1) before taking the Smith.

Spirit Leader earned his favoritism in the Smith after finishing second in the Winter Derby behind Viva Mi Corazon. The Paul Jones-trained colt was fourth in the Two Million Juvenile and has since reeled off three-straight runner-up efforts. He showed promise at Ruidoso Downs last summer when he won his maiden at first asking and then took his Rainbow Futurity (G1) trial by a half length.

Dr. Ed Allred’s homebred Fire Cliff (Walk Thru Fire-Girl Secrets by Raise A Secret) fits well in the Dillingham after racing to a second-place finish in the $202,300 El Primero Del Ano Derby (G3) at 17-1 odds. The Scott Willoughby-trained gelding has only a maiden win from 10 starts, however he has finished second five times.

Dutch Masters III’s She Forgives (Foose-Forgive Him by Hawkinson), runner-up in last year’s $281,100 Kindergarten (G2), won the $20,000 Holiday Handicap three starts ago before returning to win her La Primera Del Ano Derby trial. She finished sixth in the $223,800 La Primera Del Ano Derby (G3) for trainer Jaime Gomez.

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