US-based Irish-born trainer Patrick Gallagher won Saturday’s US$252,500 Del Mar Oaks with Red Lark.
Red Lark, an Irish-bred daughter of Epaulette, and who was formerly trained in Ireland by Johnny Murtagh, made her first stakes victory count at the highest level.
Bred by Mrs. S. M. Rogers and Sir Thomas Pilkington and raced by Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Red Lark was offered for sale twice in 2018 and could not find a buyer.
After failing to win in five starts while running in Ireland in 2019, Red Lark was switched from Johnny Murtagh to Patrick Gallagher to resume her career in California.
She broke her maiden at Santa Anita in February, was fourth in the Grade 3 Honeymoon Stakes, second in the Grade 3 Wilshire Stakes in June and was third, beaten a length, behind her Del Mar Oaks rivals Carpe Vinum and California Kook in an allowance optional claimer at Del Mar in July.
Red Lark, ridden Drayden Van Dyke, was settled just off midfield before becoming a threat when fourth on the home turn. With Warren’s Showtime beaten, the eventual winner safely held the challenge of the late finishing California Kook by a length.
Speaking of his Grade 1 win, Patrick Gallagher said:
“I was confident in the filly. I knew she was happy and all, but I didn’t know if she was good enough. She needed to run the race of her life, and she did.
“Drayden (Van Dyke) had her in a great spot all the way, and when he asked, she responded and was good enough.”