DEL MAR, Calif. — As great as this Del Mar meet has been for trainer Phil D’Amato, it has been maddening for trainer Peter Miller. Their differing fortunes played out glaringly in the Grade 2, $200,690 Sorrento Stakes on Saturday, when D’Amato’s 2-year-old filly Spectator romped to a 5 1/4-length victory over six rivals — two coming from Miller’s barn, including even-money favorite Surrender Now, who finished last.
Spectator ($10.40), under Jamie Theriot, pressed the pace of Surrender Now through a hot opening quarter in 21.93 seconds, took the lead when Surrender Now began to fade after a half-mile in 45.05 seconds, and powered clear while covering 6 1/2 furlongs on the fast main track in 1:17.66.
Dancing Belle, a 17-1 shot, finished second, 4 1/2 lengths in front of third-place Terra’s Angel, a 56-1 shot who was 6 1/4 lengths in front of second choice Diamondsandpearls, who finished fourth, 16 lengths behind the winner. It was another 32 lengths back to Surrender Now in the strung-out field in this prep for the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 2.
Spectator, by Jimmy Creed, is a homebred of Rick and Sharon Waller. She won her debut at Santa Anita on June 23 and is now 2 for 2. Spectator gave D’Amato his fifth stakes win of the 14-day-old meet.
“A graded stakes with a 2-year-old, graded stakes with an older horse on dirt, turf,” D’Amato said. “The diversity of the barn. Firing on all cylinders.”
By contrast, Miller — who finished second in the trainers standings to D’Amato here last summer and has been a consistent force on this circuit for years — is 5 for 59 following the Sorrento, and he complained that the track was “bad.”
“It’s deep, tiring. It’s very unfair — and you can quote me,” Miller said. “They say it’s like Santa Anita. It’s nothing like Santa Anita.”
Surrender Now was favored off two wins at Santa Anita, including the Landaluce Stakes, in her two prior starts.
Her jockey, Flavien Prat, said Surrender Now “stopped pretty badly at the quarter pole, so I just took care of her.”