By Christine Oser BloodHorse
Heavy favorite Laura’s Light, who entered off wins in the San Clemente (G2T) and Honeymoon (G3T) stakes, led into the stretch but gave way to finish sixth.
The 1 1/8-mile turf event for 3-year-old fillies marked the second win in 12 starts for Red Lark. The Irish-bred daughter of Epaulette broke her maiden five starts earlier Feb. 9 at Santa Anita Park in her second stateside race. She began her career as a juvenile in her native Ireland before beginning her sophomore season with trainer Paddy Gallagher in Southern California.
Red Lark showed some talent at the stakes level prior to the Del Mar Oaks but was still looking for a breakthrough win. She was fourth in the May 30 Honeymoon, where she was steadied while in tight, and rallied to finish second in the June 20 Wilshire Stakes (G3T). Last out she finished third, beaten a length, to Del Mar Oaks rivals Carpe Vinum and California Kook in a July 12 allowance optional claimer.
“The allowance race here set her up well, and she came out of it good. 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,” Gallagher said. “Drayden (Van Dyke) had her in a great spot all the way, and when he asked, she responded and was good enough.”
Red Lark settled midpack off the rail under Van Dyke. Laura’s Light showed speed early, chasing Aqua Seaform Shame through a quarter-mile in :24.26, then taking over to run a :48.14 half and three-quarters in 1:12.34.
Moved into the three path, Red Lark displayed a quick turn of foot in the stretch as Laura’s Light lost the lead to Warren’s Showtime. Though Warren’s Showtime found herself in front by a length as a mile went in 1:36.76, Red Lark continued to roll and crossed the wire a length in front. The final time on the firm course was 1:48.64.
“Out of the gate, we had the perfect spot. I wanted to follow Mike Smith (on Warren’s Showtime) because I thought his filly would be the one to beat,” Van Dyke said. “I knew my filly had a good chance because she was really fit. We got bottled up in her last race. Today, she got to run and she showed how good she is.”
Red Lark has a 2-2-1 record and earnings of $225,000.
The bay filly, bred by Mrs. S. M. Rogers and Sir Thomas Pilkington, is the last foal out of the Darshaan mare Firecrest, who was a stakes winner at York.