DEL MAR, Calif. -- Cambodia, the 5-year-old mare, was a regular workout assignment for jockey Drayden Van Dyke on turf in late July. The experience Van Dyke gained on Cambodia proved vital in Saturday's Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap for fillies and mares at Del Mar.
In her California debut, Cambodia rallied three wide in the final quarter-mile to win the most prestigious race of her career for owner Don Robinson and trainer Tom Proctor.
As the $200,690 race unfolded, Van Dyke grew more confident.
"I was a little worried if she'd settle early," he said. "She wants to take off in the morning. The key for her is to get her to relax. Today, she did it beautifully."
Cambodia ($6.60) ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:40.86, finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Pretty Girl, a 9-1 shot. Amboseli, a 14-1 outsider, closed from last in a field of seven to finish third.
Hillhouse High, the winner of the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes at Santa Anita in April, finished fourth, followed by Frenzified, Avenge and Juno. Avenge, who won the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes last October, was the 9-10 favorite. She was well-placed behind pacesetter Juno for the first six furlongs, but faded tamely in the final furlong to finish three lengths behind Cambodia.
Cambodia has won 5 of 12 starts and earned $323,746. The $120,000 winner's share of the Yellow Ribbon was her biggest payday. She won the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Pimlico in May, her only other stakes win.
Robinson was co-breeder of Cambodia through his Winter Quarter Farm of Lexington, Ky.
Van Dyke said Cambodia could prove to be more than a miler.
"She finished the way she did, she'll get farther," Van Dyke said. "They key is to get her to relax."
This was the second consecutive year Van Dyke won the Yellow Ribbon, having ridden She's Not Here to victory in 2016.