Tamara brings back memories with dominant win in Del Mar Debutante

Fans who showed up at Del Mar on Saturday to watch the $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Debutante were treated to a performance that brought back memories of the 2015 Pacific Classic when Beholder beat her male counterparts by 8 1/2 lengths.

Tamara, the 6-5 favorite with the scratch of Sorrento Stakes winner Dreamfyre, made a bold move around the far turn, much like her mother Beholder eight years ago, turned on the jets under Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the stretch and cruised to a 6 3/4-length victory over Laurent.

Smith and trainer Richard Mandella might not be in the prime of their careers, but you better take notice when they hook up in a stakes race. They’re still mighty potent, especially when teaming up, and especially when dealing with a filly the likes of Tamara, who won her debut on Aug. 19 at Del Mar by 2 1/4 lengths after stumbling at the start.

Sired by Bolt d’Oro, Tamara dazzled by running the 7 furlongs in 1:22.41 — the fastest since another Mandella filly, Halfbridled, finished in 1:22.20 in 2003. She probably could have gone faster if not for the fact Smith never used the stick down the stretch.

Tamara tracked pacesetter Pushiness up the backside through fractions of 21.85 and 44.45 and then the race was over when Smith asked her to run. Laurent was 2 1/4 lengths in front of third-place finisher Gate to Paradise. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to Chatalas, the 3-1 second choice, in fourth place.

“She’s been doing things in her training that 2-year-olds aren’t supposed to do,” Smith said. “She’s really special. She’s like her mother. You don’t see that usually. Those great mares, they normally don’t have great foals. But this one might be.”

Her mother ran in the Debutante in 2012, losing by a nose to Executiveprivilege. Beholder went on to win four Eclipse Awards, three Breeders’ Cup races and 11 Grade I stakes. Her daughter, provided she stays healthy, could turn out to be racing’s next superstar.

While Mandella expected a top effort from Tamara, even he was surprised by the tour de force.

“That was a little beyond,” he said. “Watching it, he (Smith) had so much horse he didn’t want to restrict her. He just had her do what she wanted to do. She’s very quick, so I thought he would put her right there (close to the pace) and we both agreed to that. Just see what everybody else does.”

Mabee Stakes

Closing Remarks made short work of her five rivals in the $250,000 Grade II turf stakes for fillies and mares, closing strongly in the stretch to beat Turnerloose by 1 3/4 lengths as the 7-5 favorite.

Ridden by Umberto Rispoli and trained by Carla Gaines, the 5-year-old Vronsky mare rallied from fifth to score her sixth victory in 22 starts. She’s won three of five over Del Mar’s Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.23.

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