Last in the early stages of the mile and one-eighth race over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course, Monzante was steered to the outside entering the stretch and proceeded to run past his five rivals in winning by a half-length in 1:46.53. According to Trakus, the winner ran his final furlong in a blistering 10.93 seconds.
Lava Man, attempting to regain the form that earned $5.2 million and victories in several important races, including the Pacific Classic in 2006, ran sixth and last after pressing the pace of Storm Military into the stretch.
Irish-bred Ferneley, making his American debut, was fifth. Withdrawn from the original field was Global Hunter.
Monzante, owned by Scott Anastasi of Hermosa Beach and Jay and Gretchen Manoogian of Irvine and trained by Mike Mitchell, earned $240,000 with his fourth success in 13 starts and doubled his bankroll to $449,570.
Monzante, a four-year-old gelded son of Maria's Mon and Danzante, returned $8, $3.40 and $2.60. Whatsthescript paid $3 and $2.60, while Storm Military returned $3.60 to show.
Monzante provided Bejarano with his second stakes success of the afternoon. The Peruvian-born saddle star, competing on a regular basis at Del Mar for the first time, won the $108,600 Fleet Treat Stakes astride Lethal Heat, who ran seven furlongs in 1:22.46 and returned $6.80 while earning a purse of $65,160 with her fifth victory in seven races.
Lethal Heat, a three-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat trained by Barry Abrams, scored by 1 1/2 lengths over North Rodeo, with Quisisana third in front of favored Spring Awakening.
Today's attendance was 20,002.
Eddie Handicap (Grade I)
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Monzante) -- "I had the perfect trip. When I saw the one and the six (Lava Man and Storm Military) asking early on, I knew I was in good shape. I was down inside and saving and I felt real good. I know what kind of kick this horse has and I was ready with it. We went wide, but that was no problem. When you're on the best horse, you can do what you want to do.
I'm loving riding at Del Mar. The Polytrack feels great and that's my kind of track. I love riding on it. And the turf course is in great shape. It plays fair. If you have the best horse, you can win."
ISAIAS ENRIQUEZ (Whatsthescript) -- "He was relaxed and we were going along perfect. We got the jump we wanted, but he just didn't have any kick. It's the distance. He's a miler. The best place for him next is the Breeders' Cup Mile."
DAVID FLORES (Storm Military) -- "We were OK for a half mile, but then he (Tyler Baze on Lava Man) started pushing. You can't do that on the turf; you've got to wait. He cost both of us."
TYLER BAZE (Lava Man) -- "I had a perfect trip. They just might be a little too tough for him right now. He felt good out there. He was cool and calm. He's sound; he's happy. And I'm just loving it that I can ride a horse this cool."
MIKE MITCHELL (Monzante) -- "We're going to stay on the turf and we'll probably run here or at Oak Tree. We're going to aim for the Breeders' Cup Mile. That's his best distance. He was a little closer to the pace this time. That was all the jockey's decision."
Were you worried when the fractions weren't real quick? "I never looked at the fractions. I just watched him. I wanted all those horses in front of him. That's the way he likes to run. He has an unbelievable turn of foot. I even think he would go in between horses if he had to on the turf."
FRACTIONS: :23.51 :48.21 1:11.79 1:35.10 1:46.53
According to Trakus calculations, the winner ran his last eighth in :10.93.
The stakes win was the second of the day, the third of the meet and the fourth overall for Rafael Bejarano. It is his second Grade I win locally. Last year he won the Grade I John C. Mabee with Precious Kitten.
The stakes win was the second of the meet for Mike Mitchell and his 16th overall at Del Mar. It is his first win in the Eddie Read and his second Del Mar Grade I. The first was the Bing Crosby with Kela in 2004.
Monzante is owned by Scott Anastasi of Hermosa Beach, CA, and Jay and Gretchen Manoogian of Irvine, CA.