Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

RANCHO BERNARDO



Tara’s Tango, the only Grade I winner in the line-up, having accounted for the Santa Margarita last March, put her class and versatility on display Wednesday with a come-from-behind triumph in the featured Grade III $100,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap.

Perfectly placed behind the swift pacesetters by jockey Martin Garcia,  Tara’s Tango rallied into the stretch to enter contention and take command  and then held off the fast-closing Enchanting Lady to win by a half-length in 1:15.60 for the six and one-half furlongs, a distance the filly had not competed at since December of 2015.

Enchanting Lady, piloted by Rafael Bejarano, finished a half-length in front of the surprising 35-1 longshot Coniah, who led in the stretch until overtaken by Tara’s Tango but five and one-quarter lengths ahead of fourth-place Pretty N Cool in the field of six older fillies and mares. Sensitively, the 2-1 favorite, was a faltering sixth and last. Finest City was scratched.

Tara’s Tango, a daughter of Unbridled’s Song owned by Stonestreet Stables and trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, scored her fifth win in a dozen starts and increased her bankroll to $738,004 with first prize of $60,000.

As fourth choice in the betting, Tara’s Tango returned $10.60, $4.80 and $4.20 after carrying topweight of 122. Runner-up Enchanting Lady paid $4.40 and $4, while Coniah returned $10 to show.

Jamie Theriot, competing on a regular basis at Del Mar for the first time, had  a saddle double, aboard Snow Cloud at $11.20 in the third and Out of the Ordinary at $13 in the sixth. Theriot had been riding on the Midwest racetrack circuit.




MARTIN GARCIA (Tara’s Tango, winner) -- “She was fresh today.  She was coming off that layoff (four months), but I’ve been getting on her in the mornings and she has been really doing well.  Dan Ward (trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s assistant who saddled the filly today) just told me to ride her with confidence. That was no problem. She’s a nice filly and she showed it today.”

RAFAEL BEJARANO (Enchanting Lady, second) – “She seemed to be struggling out there a little bit. She wasn’t pushing so well from behind.  I don’t know. Maybe she wants more ground.”

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Coniah, third) – “She made a big move and then she just got late. She was slow to change to her right lead. Not her best day.”

DAN WARD (assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer) (Tara’s Tango, winner) “She’s versatile. She can sprint, route, show speed or come from out of it. This gives us options now if we want to run in the (Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare) Sprint or the Distaff. She’s 3-for-3 here and she’s just a good sprinter. The race unfolded as we expected. The horses that were supposed to show speed did and she was up there on her own. It didn’t look like they were going that fast, which allowed her to stay close. And you know she’s going to finish.”
(Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer flew to Saratoga today to supervise final preparations for Songbird in this weekend’s Alabama Stakes).


FRACTIONS  :21.87  :44.79  1:08.84  1:15.60  (Hand Timed)

The stakes win was the first of the meet for jockey Garcia and his first in the Rancho Bernardo.  He now has 25 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first of meet for trainer Hollendorfer and his first in the Rancho Bernardo.  He now has 28 stakes wins at Del Mar.

THURSDAY PICK 6 CARRYOVER


With only one race favorite popping up during the final six races at Del Mar Wednesday, a Pick Six carryover was all but assured.

And sure enough, that carryover surfaced to the tune of $66,808, which will give a nice boost to the popular wager’s pool come Thursday at the place “where the turf meets the surf.”

That lone favorite was Stole a Kiss in the day’s 4th race, a mare ridden by Kent Desormeaux for his trainer brother Keith for a $5.40 return.

The other prices in the sequence were all double digits. They were:  (3rd Race) Snow Cloud (rider Jamie Theriot) at $11.20; (5th Race) Amazing Love (Flavien Prat) $13.40; (6th Race) Out of the Ordinary (Theriot) $13.00; (7th Race) – the featured Rancho Bernardo Handicap -- Tara’s Tango (Martin Garcia) $10.60; (8th Race) Camino Del Paraiso (Tiago Pereira) $28.40.

The numbers were 3-3-9-3-2-7.

First post Thursday is at 2 p.m.

NOTES FROM DEL MAR



STAGE IS SET FOR POWERHOUSE TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC

California Chrome drew the No.  1 post position and was established as the 8-5 favorite on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line at the draw party Tuesday evening at the Brigantine restaurant for Saturday’s 26th running of the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.

Dortmund will break from the No. 8 spot in a field of nine and was the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. Champion mare Beholder, the defending race champion, drew the No. 7 post and, in a testament to the quality of the field which many consider the best ever in Del Mar’s signature event, is the 3-1 third choice on the morning line.

Connections for all three of the marquee runners in a field of nine entrants expressed major concerns about the posts their horses were assigned. All three had high praise for the quality of the field assembled.

California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year, became the all-time leading money winner in North America with a victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March and edged Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap here on July 23, the comeback race from several months’ layoff for both runners.

Beholder is a three-time Eclipse Award winner, whose eight-race winning streak was snapped with a half-length defeat to Stellar Wind in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes here on July 30.

Dortmund’s three losses in 11 career starts have all come at the hands of Kentucky Derby/Horse of the Year winners – to American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness last year and to California Chrome in the San Diego.

“He’s coming in with no excuses,” trainer Art Sherman said of California Chrome.  “Everybody gets outrun, we all know that, but I wouldn’t give up my chances for any other horse in the race. I think he’s coming into the race as good as I’ve ever seen him and I think he’s even better than he was in the Dubai race, which was awesome.

“The No. 1 post is never good at any track but being a former jockey, I know that if he (Victor Espinoza) rides the right race the No. 1 post isn’t going to be a problem. It depends on how the early fractions are and then you just go from there. It’s going to be a jockey’s race.

“It’s going to be a fan friendly race, I can tell you that.”

Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella and Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens could both smile after Beholder was the first name pulled from the entry box and matched with the No. 7 post via the “pill pull.”

“It’s good to be outside, away from the action inside early,”  Mandella said. “Our intention is to get her back (off the pace) and go back to our game that works. We got a little creative last time and it wasn’t the best thing, but I don’t know if it made any difference.

“This is a world class race with one of the all-time great fields of horses, and if they all get to the gate at the same time, it’s going to be quite a race. And I expect they will.”

The Clement L. Hirsch loss now appears to be a small bump in a mostly smooth road that the 6-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes has traveled in a 23-race career

“I looked for a week to find a reason not to run in this race because it is a hell of an undertaking, and I couldn’t find any. She had a great work, came out of it great and you only live once.”

“I’m ecstatic,” Stevens said. “First name out of the box, I hear Beholder, then I hear No. 7 and I’m like ‘Yes!’ It gives me a lot of options. I’ve drawn the No. 1 hole several times with Beholder and I said a little prayer before coming over here that we wouldn’t draw the one hole and we didn’t.

“It’s like the heavyweight championship of the world. I think we’re all looking for a very competitive race that leads to a Breeders’ Cup Classic for all three of them. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway.”

The TVG Pacific Classic is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5 at Santa Anita.

Kaleem Shah, owner of Dortmund, observed the proceedings and offered “can’t complain” when asked for an assessment.

“I think it’s going to be good that we’re on the outside,” Shah said. “We were on the inside last time. Hopefully we can stalk and then get the job done. I think you’ll see beautiful horses coming down the stretch and it’s going to be one for the ages.”

The only surprise at the close of entries, and not exactly a shocking one, was Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert including Hoppertunity in with Dortmund. Hoppertunity, fourth in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 25, was scratched from the Cougar II Handicap on July 24 after running a temperature a few days ahead of the race and Baffert indicated over the weekend that Dortmund would be his Pacific Classic representative and Rafael Bejarano would ride.

On Monday, Bejarano worked Hopportunity  five furlongs in :59.80 and when Hoppertunity rocked, Baffert hastened to open the Classic door for him, acquiring the services of meet-leading rider Flavien Prat.

Trainer John Sadler, who nominated Hard Aces for both the Classic and Saturday’s Del Mar Handicap, elected to stay in the Pacific Classic.

The field for the Pacific Classic from the rail out: California Chrome (Victor Espinoza, 8-5), Hoppertunity (Flavien Prat, 8-1), War Story (Ricardo Mejias, 30-1), Hard Aces (Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1), Win The Space (Joe Talamo, 15-1), Imperative (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 20-1),  Beholder (Gary Stevens, 3-1),  Dortmund (Rafael Bejarano, 5-2) and Dalmore (Kent Desormeaux, 20-1)


ROBUST FIELDS IN OFFING FOR DEL MAR HANDICAP AND DEL MAR OAKS

The Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks drew a field of 11 and the Grade II Del Mar Handicap lured 12, further strengthening – as if it was needed – Saturday’s TVG Pacific Classic day card.

Post positions were to be drawn later Wednesday for the two graded stakes in addition to the Pacific Classic on an 11-race card. The Oaks, which determines the 3-year-old filly championship of the meeting, is 1 1/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. The Del Mar Handicap, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 5 at Santa Anita, is run at 1 3/8 miles.

Among the Oaks entrants are two shippers from the east. Hall of Fame Trainer William Mott sends Harmonize, a daughter of Scat Daddy who was a graded stakes winner as a 2-year-old with Junior Alvarado coming in to ride. H. Graham Motion dispatches Tin Type Gal, a daughter of Tapit and winner of a Grade III event at Monmouth Park in her last start.

The Oaks entries in alphabetical order with trainer/jockey: Barleysugar (Edward Freeman/Gary Stevens), Cheekaboo (Peter Eurton/Santiago Gonzalez), Decked Out (J. Keith Desormeaux/Kent Desormeaux), Harmonize (William Mott/Junior Alvarado), Lady Valeur (Patrick Gallagher/Rafael Bejarano), Lynne’s Legacy (James Cassidy/Victor Espinoza), Mines and Magic (Victoria Oliver/Drayden Van Dyke), Mokat (Richard Baltas/Norberto Arroyo, Jr.),  Mrs. Norris (Eoin Harty/Tyler Baze), Stays in Vegas (Jerry Hollendorfer/Flavien Prat) and Tin Type Gal (H. Graham Motion/Joe Talamo).

Mott has also sent Belisarius for the Del Mar Handicap. The 5-year-old Irish-bred son of Montjeu will also be ridden by Alvarado.

The Del Mar Handicap entries in alphabetical order with trainer/jockey: Ashleyluvssugar (Peter Eurton/Gary Stevens), Belisarius (William Mott/Junior Alvarado), El Huerfano (Peter Miller/Brice Blanc), Express Himself (John Sadler/Victor Espinoza), Finnegans Wake (Peter Miller/Kent Desormeaux), Flamboyant (Patrick Gallagher/Flavien Prat), Metaboss (Phil D’Amato/Rafael Bejarano), Patentar (Simon Callaghan/Drayden Van Dyke), Power Foot (Neil Drysdale/Norberto Arroyo, Jr.), Quick Casablanca (Ron McAnally/Tyler Baze), Texas Ryano (Carla Gaines/Joe Talamo) and Wanstead Gardens (Neil French/Santiago Gonzalez).


 CONTENTION RUNS DEEP IN JOCKEY AND TRAINER RACES

Flavien Prat won two races on Sunday,  as did Rafael Bejarano, while Santiago Gonzalez notched one to keep things tight at the top of the rider standings for the start of the fifth full week of the meeting.

With 23 wins through the first 23 days of the meeting, Prat is two ahead of Gonzalez and three ahead of four-time defending champion Bejarano with 16 racing days remaining.

In the trainer race, seven-time meet champion (1997-2003) Bob Baffert gave Bejarano a leg up  on American Gal ($4.80) to win Sunday’s seventh race and move within one (11-10) of Phil D’Amato.

Five others are within four wins of D’Amato, who is seeking his first Del Mar training title after sweeping the Santa Anita winter-spring and spring-summer meets.


FANTICOLA FAVORED AMONG SEVEN IN FRIDAY’S CTT 7 TOC

Graded stakes winning and Grade I placed Fanticola is the 3-1 favorite in a field of seven on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line for the $75,000 CTT & TOC Stakes, feature event on Friday’s card.

Fanticola, a 6-year-old daughter of Silent Name bred in Ontario, Canada, is trained by Phil D’Amato and ridden by Joe Talamo. She won the Grade II Royal Heroine at Santa Anita in June of 2015 after being second to Hard Not To Like in the Grade I Gamely a month earlier.

The CTT & TOC is a 1 3/8-mile turf marathon for older fillies and mares.

The field from the rail: Generosidade (Tiago Pereira, 7-2), Hiking (Flavien Prat, 5-1), Annulment (Drayden Van Dyke, 5-1), Dressed To A T (Mario  Gutuerrez, 6-1), Frenzified (Santiago Gonzalez, 4-1), Fanticola (Joe Talamo, 3-1) and Energia Fribby (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 6-1).  


CLOSERS –  The Pacific Classic’s “Big Three” of California Chrome, Beholder and Dortmund occupy the Nos. 1, 7 and 10 spots in this week’s National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll … California Chrome schooled in the paddock and galloped  1 ¾ miles Wednesday morning and is “right on schedule,” trainer Art Sherman said … One day after breezing four furlongs in :47.00, Beholder was back at the track, galloping a mile … Selected workouts from 272 officially timed over the last three days: Monday – Lord Nelson (3f, :34.80), Lynne’s Legacy (4f, :47.40), Hoppertunity (5f, :59.80), Papacoolpapacool (5f, 1:00.20), Raised a Secret (5f, :59.00); Tuesday – Beholder (4f, :47.00), Monster Bea (4f, :48.60), Enola Gray (6f, 1:13.00), Vyjack (6f, 1:10.80); Wednesday – Om (4f, :47.80), American Cleopatra (5f, 1:03.40), American Freedom (5f, :58.60), Cupid (5f, 1:00.20), Firing Line (5f, :59.00) and Prize Exhibit (5f, 1:03.00).







PACIFIC CLASSIC






America’s top racehorse – California Chrome – drew Post No. 1 and was installed as the 8/5 morning line favorite Tuesday for this Saturday’s $1,000,000 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Among the eight rivals who will face him in the 26th edition of the mile and one-quarter Classic is Beholder, America’s top racemare and the defending champion in the prestigious headliner that is the west’s richest race for older horses and the signature event of the seaside course’s summer race meeting.

Beholder drew Post No. 7 and was listed at 3-1 on line maker Russell Hudak’s board.

Joining the top two is the multiple-stakes winner Dortmund, the huge 4-year-old who gave California Chrome a stout test in the San Diego Handicap here July 23 in the big colt’s first outing in nearly eight months. He drew Post No. 8 and was actually hung as the second choice at 5/2.

The TVG Pacific Classic “Draw” took place at the popular Brigantine restaurant, which sits on a hill between the racetrack below it and the Pacific Ocean behind it.  Connections for all the horses, racing officials and media members took part in the annual event.

The TVG Pacific Classic will be the ninth of 11 races Saturday with a 2 p.m. first post. Two other major stakes will add sparkle to the card – the Grade I, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks at nine furlongs on grass and the Grade II, $200,000 Del Mar Handicap Presented by The Japan Racing Association at 11 furlongs on grass.

Both the TVG Pacific Classic and the Del Mar Handicap are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races -- the Classic giving automatic admission to the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Handicap to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

This highly anticipated “battle of the sexes” between 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome and the three-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder has been building for months as the two champion horses went about their racing business. “Chrome” put major polish his resume by winning the $10-million Dubai World Cup in March and now has over $12.6 million in earnings, a record for a North American-based horse. Beholder had made her special mark with her spectacular tally in this same Pacific Classic last year over nine male rivals by more than eight lengths in a final time – 1:59.77 – that was the fastest ever run by a female on dirt at the distance.

Dortmund, who won the Santa Anita Derby and was third in the Kentucky Derby last year, stepped into the Pacific Classic mix with his gutsy comeback race in the San Diego and has the speed, class and conditioning to be extremely dangerous Saturday.

The others in the lineup are local handicap stars Hoppertunity, Hard Aces and Imperative; the sharp 3-year-old Dalmore; the up-and-coming Win the Space, and the invading War Story.

Here’s the TVG Pacific Classic lineup in Post Position order:




Post Position Horse/Jockey Morning Line Odds
1 CALIFORNIA CHROME
Victor Espinoza 8/5
2 HOPPERTUNITY
Flavien Prat 8-1
3 WAR STORY
Ricardo Mejias 30-1
4 HARD ACES
Santiago Gonzalez 15-1
5 WIN THE SPACE
Joe Talamo 15-1
6 IMPERATIVE
Noberto Arroyo, Jr. 20-1
7 BEHOLDER
Gary Stevens 3-1
8 DORTMUND
Rafael Bejarano 5/2
9 DALMORE
Kent Desormeaux 20-1




Beholder Seeks Title Defense in 2016 TVG Pacific Classic

Desormeaux Brothers Team Up on Dalmore in TVG Pacific Classic

Majestic Heat wins Solano Beach Stakes

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

SOLANA BEACH HANDICAP




Majestic Heat, the 3-2 betting choice piloted by Del Mar’s leading rider this summer, Flavien Prat, held on gallantly in the final strides to nose out the onrushing longshot, Tiz a Kiss, and win the featured $150,000 Solana Beach Handicap Sunday.

Majestic Heat opened a clear lead in midstretch but then was fully extended to hold off the 14-1 Tiz a Kiss, who was handled by Kent Desormeaux. Singing Kitty, 9-5 second choice in the field of ten California-bred older fillies and mares, was third, two and one-quarter lengths farther back, with Mangita, the early pacemaker, fading to fourth. Minster’sadventure was withdrawn from the original line-up.

Majestic Heat, a four-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat, is owned by Auerbach, McCauley and Bardy Farm and trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella. The victory was her fourth in nine starts and first prize of $85,500 increased her earnings to $254,794. Last summer, she was fifth to Sharla Rae in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks.

As the favorite, Majestic Heat paid $5, $3.40 and $2.60. Tiz a Kiss returned $9.20 and $4.60, while Singing Kitty paid $2.40 to show.

Prat had a saddle double, also winning the second race aboard Eddie Haskell at $8.80. Also doubling Sunday was Rafael Bejarano, who scored with Hobbits Hero at $9 in the sixth and American Gal at $4.80 in the seventh.

After 23 days of the 39-day season, Prat has 23 victories, to 21 for Santiago Gonzalez, who won once Sunday, with Bejarano next with 20 triumphs. Bejarano is the four-time reigning champion at Del Mar.


FLAVIEN PRAT (Majestic Heat, winner) – “Excellent trip for me. She’s got a high cruising speed and she was right where I wanted her to be. At the end, I thought I’d won it, but I wasn’t sure. It turned out well. The competition here at this meet (among riders) is very tough. It’s a good thing. You have to work hard and ride hard. It’s good.”

KENT DESORMEAUX (Tiz a Kiss, second) – “I needed one more centimeter of racetrack. That’s all. Credit to the winner. When he asked her, she exploded. But so did my mare. The other horse took off on us and we had to get serious. When we did, we just missed.”

RAFAEL BEJARANO (Singing Kitty, third) – “My filly ran good. We had the good trip and she fired. But the two in front of us were best. Salute to them.”

RICHARD MANDELLA  (Majestic Heat, winner) --  “From where I was sitting it looked like we won it by a head. Then I looked at the replay and ‘Whoa, let’s not get too excited too quickly here.’” There wasn’t any speed in the race. The 1 (Mangita) figured it out and went. We figured it out and made sure we weren’t too far behind. It looked like when she opened up on them she kind of waited for them to come to her and almost got caught. I had her in the Yellow Ribbon (July 16) but she got colic and I had to scratch her. That’s how we ended up here.”


FRACTIONS:  :23.00  :47.64  1:12.04  1:23.38  1:34.98

The stakes win was the fourth of the meet for rider Prat (the most by any jockey at the session), but his first in the Solana Beach. He now has eight stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first of the meet for trainer Mandella and his first in the Solana Beach. He now has 59 stakes wins at Del Mar, fifth most among all trainers.




DEL MAR FUTURITY











Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, a 12-time winner of the championship race of the summer season for two-year-olds, the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, demonstrated he’ll have another powerful contender in that closing-day feature with Kaleem Shah’s Klimt, an impressive winner of Saturday’s Grade II $200,000 Best Pal Stakes.

With jockey Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Klimt, the even-money favorite, disposed of 2-1 rival Big League in deep stretch and went on to win the Futurity prep by two and three-quarter lengths in 1:16.11 for the 6 ½ furlongs.

The winner, a $435,000 buy last March at the Ocala, Florida sale of two-year-olds in training, provided Baffert with his eighth Best Pal victory. Four of his previous Best Pal winners  went on to triumph in the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity – Worldly Manner, Flame Thrower, Officer and Lookin At Lucky.

Runner-up Big League, who was piloted by Norberto Arroyo, Jr., was three and one-quarter lengths ahead of Thirstforlife at the wire, with Rinse and Repeat fourth in the field of six juveniles.

Klimt, a son of Quality Road, was fourth in his career debut at Santa Anita, but came back to easily break his maiden by more than five lengths in his next effort. He paid $4, $2.60 and $2.10 Saturday while earning a prize of $120,000. Big League returned $3.20 and $2.60, while Thirstforlife paid $3 to show.

Klimt supplied Bejarano with his third win of the afternoon. His earlier winners were Te Rapa, a deadheat winner at $2.80 in the third and Seve’s Road at $8.20 in the fifth.

Upstaging Bejarano was Santiago Gonzalez, who booted home four winners -   County Lineman at $6 in the first, Look Twice at $10.80 in the sixth,  Brainspin at $21.60 in the ninth and he capped his day with a $23.60 upset aboard X S Heat.

Gonzalez’ quadruple moved him to within one of leading rider Flavien Prat, 21-20. Prat rode at Arlington Park near Chicago Saturday. Bejarano, four-time defending champion at Del Mar, is a close third with 18 triumphs.


RAFAEL BEJARANO (Klimt, winner) – “This horse is strong. He’s been working so well. I’ve been on him in the mornings and he was working great. He relaxed for me today and finished well. The way he finished, going to six and a half (furlongs) today (after earlier races at five and five and one-half furlongs), he’ll definitely run on.”

NORBERTO ARROYO, JR. (Big League, second) – “I didn’t even ask him last time (maiden victory in his first start July 30 at Del Mar). That was like a workout. I knew he’d have to face this moment today though (stiff competition) and he responded well to it. He got a little tired, but it was a good race for him. With this one under him, he’ll run a lot better next time. That horse (winner Klimt) won’t beat him next time.”

JOE TALAMO (Thirstforlife, third) – “It was a good race for him. He ran well. He’ll want to run on. He showed that today.”

BOB BAFFERT  (Klimt, winner)  “I was disappointed (with his first start) and thought that maybe he’s just a grass horse. But he came back, won his next one, and he’s worked really well here.  He’s always shown that he’s a horse that’s going to go farther. It was a good race, they didn’t go too fast. The kind of race you want to see. The Futurity is next. That’s the plan.”


FRACTIONS:  :23.26  :46.03  1:09.88  1:16.11

The stakes win was the third of the meeting for rider Bejarano and his third in the Best Pal. He now has 51 stakes victories at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the third of the meeting for trainer Baffert and his eighth in the Best Pal.  He is Del Mar leading stakes-winning trainer by far with a total that has now reached 116.

(Of Baffert’s seven previous Best Pal winners, four of them went on to win the Del Mar Futurity – Worldly Manner (1998), Flame Thrower (2000), Officer (2001) and Lookin at Lucky (2009),






NOTES FROM THE BEACH











CALIFORNIA CHROME, DORTMUND PUT IN FINAL WORKS FOR CLASSIC

California Chrome and Dortmund, the 1-2 finishers at the end of a heart rate-accelerating stretch duel in the San Diego Handicap on July 23, put in their final works Sunday for a rematch in next Saturday’s $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.

California Chrome, North American racing’s top all-time money earner and No. 1 ranked active runner, went five furlongs in 1:00.20 under exercise rider Dihigi Gladney at Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County, the headquarters for the stable of trainer Art Sherman.

Dortmund, winner of the Santa Anita Derby and third behind American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby last year, worked seven furlongs in 1:24.60 under Rafael Bejarano for trainer Bob Baffert at Del Mar.

 After the work, Baffert said that Bejarano would ride Dortmund in the Pacific Classic and the 4-year-old son of Big Brown owned by Kaleem Shah would be the lone representative from the Baffert stable. Baffert had also nominated Hoppertunity and Arrogate to the Classic.

Sherman’s hand-timed splits for California Chrome during the workout were :12.00, :24.00 and :36 “and change.”

“He looked good and finished strong,” Sherman said via telephone. “We’re ready.”

California  Chrome will travel to Del Mar on Monday with an expected mid-morning arrival time.

Dortmund worked in company with Drefong, breaking off a length behind, stalking two or three lengths behind for the first two furlongs then drawing even in upper stretch and staying that way past the finish line.

Track clockers had Dortmund in splits of :12.00, :23.80, :36.40, :59.80 and 1:11.60. Drefong was given 1:12.00 for six furlongs.

“(Dortmund) worked very nicely, we’re very happy with it,” Baffert said.

In other Pacific Classic news:

Trainer Richard Mandella said defending champion Beholder would have a short and easy work Tuesday or Wednesday.

Trainer Richard Baltas said that Imperative was probable to run in the Classic  for  a third straight year and for a third different rider. Norberto Arroyo Jr., has the mount following Kent Desormeaux in 2014 and Corey Nakatani in 2015.


JOCKEY RACE TIGHTENS UP; TRAINER’S A CLOSE  ONE AS WELL

The absence of jockey standings leader Flavien Prat, away riding the Arlington Million Day card in Chicago, was duly noted and taken advantage of  by  pursuers Santiago Gonzalez and Rafael Bejarano on Saturday.

Gonzalez notched four wins, Bejarano three and Prat’s margin, once six over Gonzalez and nine over Bejarano, was reduced to one and three respectively.

Gonzalez’s victories came aboard County Lineman (1st, $6.00), Look Twice (6th, $10.80),  Brainspin (9th, $21.60) and X S Heat (10th, $23.60). Bejarano scored a dead-heat victory with Te Rapa (3rd, $2.80) and with Seve’s Road (5th, $8.20) and Klimt (Best Pal Stakes, $4.00).

 Prat returned Sunday morning from an Arlington venture that produced only a pair of fifth-place results in six assignments. He’s booked on mounts in eight  races on the Del Mar card.

Prat starts the day with 21 wins, Gonzalez has 20 and four-time defending meet champion Bejarano 18.

Phil D’Amato, Bob Baffert and John Sadler all  saddled one winner on Saturday. D’Amato has a two-win lead (11-9) over Baffert, Sadler and Mark Glatt.


BAFFERT’S CERF DUO BACK TO WORK IN WEDNESDAY STAKES

 Bob Baffert has only won the Rancho Bernardo Handicap twice.

 A low total for the Hall of Fame trainer in a stakes here compared to the eight victories in the Best Pal Stakes (most recently with Klimt on Saturday) and 12 Del Mar Futurity triumphs.

So Baffert will look to win the Rancho Bernardo for the first time since Behaving Badly went back-to-back in 2005 and 2006 when he sends out  Pretty N Cool and Enchanting Lady, 1-2 finishers in the CERF Stakes on July 20, in Wednesday’s Grade III $100,000 feature.

The Rancho Bernardo is 6 1/2 furlongs, a half-furlong longer than the CERF.

The field, from the rail out: Lost Bus (Fernando Perez), Tara’s Tango (Martin Garcia), Sensitively (Tyler Baze), Enchanting Lady (Rafael Bejarano), Pretty N Cool (Mike Smith), Coniah (Drayden Van Dyke) and Finest City (Kent Desormeaux).


TEN THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC DAY ON SATURDAY

– First post 2:05 p.m.
– Eleven races
– TVG Pacific Classic is race No. 9
– Approximate time for TVG Pacific Classic is 6:10 p.m.
– Gates open officially at 11:30 a.m.
– Daybreak at Del Mar will take place from 7:30-9:30 a.m.
– Valet parking begins at 9:30 a.m.
– General parking begins at 7 a.m., main gate
– Main Gate opens at 7 a.m., Solana Gate opens at 10 a.m.
– Double Decker busses from Solana Train Station begin at 8:30 a.m.


CLOSERS – Selected works from 227 on dirt and 28 on turf officially timed Sunday morning: Dirt – Big Cazanova (3f, :35.80), Milton Freewater (4f, :48.80), Arrogate (5f, 1:01.60), Living The Life (5f, :57.80), Midnight Storm (5f, 1:01.40), Minster’sadventure (5f, 1:00.00), R Sunday Surprise (5f, 1:00.60), Toews On Ice (5f, 1:01.80), Drefong (6f, 1:12.00), Dortmund (7f, 1:24.60), Masochistic (7f, 1:25.00); Turf – Entrechat (4f, :49.40), Flamboyant (5f, 1:02.80), Justin Squared (5f, 1:00.40), Mokat (5f, 1:00.80), Obviously (5f, 1:00.60), Nancy From Nairobi (6f, 1:14.60), Stays In Vegas (6f, 1:13.80).








PACIFIC CLASSIC UPDATE








PACIFIC CLASSIC UPDATE, ONE WEEK OUT:  FINAL WORKS HAVE BEGUN

Five candidates for the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic put in their final workouts here Saturday for the signature race of the meeting, now only a week away.

At 6:30 a.m., Cougar II Handicap winner Hard Aces, San Diego Handicap third-place finisher Win the Space and Affirmed Handicap winner Dalmore took to the track. Hard Aces went five furlongs in 1:00.40 under regular exercise rider Jose Contreras. Win the Space covered six furlongs in 1:12.20 with jockey Joe Talamo in the irons. Dalmore went an easy five furlongs in 1:02.80 under regular rider Kent Desormeaux.

At 9, Midwest shipper War Story and two-time Classic participant Imperative took their turns. War Story was timed in :58.60 for five furlongs under Drayden Van Dyke, co-fastest of 63 works at the distance. Imperative went six furlongs in 1:12.00 under Norberto Arroyo, Jr., the fastest of 16 works at the distance.

Del Mar clockers had interim splits of :12.40, :24.00,  and :36.40 with a last quarter  in 24.00 for Hard Aces.

“He looked good, he’s not a big worker, it was just kind of a maintenance work,” trainer John Sadler said.

Hard Aces has also been entered in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap, at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, a co-feature of TVG Pacific Classic day. Hard Aces has one victory in two tries on turf in a career of 33 starts with $999,645 in earnings. The grass win was in late January of 2014 at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

The TVG Pacific Classic is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5 at Santa Anita. The Del Mar Handicap carries the same designation for the $4 million Longines Turf the same day.

“We won’t decide anything (between the Pacific Classic and Del Mar Handicap) until we have to,” Sadler said.

Close of entries for the Pacific Classic is Tuesday morning. The post position draw will be held that evening at the Brigantine Restaurant adjacent to the track.

Santiago Gonzalez, aboard Hard Aces for his last two starts, retains the mount.

Win the Space carved out interim fractions of :36.40, :49.20, 1:01.00 en route to the six furlong clocking and galloped out to seven furlongs in 1:25.20.

“He looked good and worked very nice,” trainer George Papaprodromou said. “The hard work is done. Now we wait.”

Talamo, who was aboard Win the Space in a maiden-breaking victory here on August 1 of last year, has the call for the TVG Pacific Classic.

War Story, a 4-year-old son of Northern Afleet who shipped in from Ohio on Tuesday, was timed in :23.80, :36.00, :46 4/5 on the way to :58.60 and a gallop out to six furlongs in 1:11.00.

“He worked exactly like we wanted him to,” trainer Dean Greenman said. “He got over the track real well, so he got plenty of air in him and he’s happy and healthy. It (fast time) was just the way it came up. The track’s a little firmer today. We expected him to go in a minute and he went a little faster than that, but it’s fine, he really wasn’t pushed that hard or anything. He’s ready to go.”

Imperative had interim clockings of  :24.20, :36.60 and 1:00.00 on the way to his 1:11.40 and galloped out to seven furlongs in 1:25.40.

California Chrome and Dortmund, the 1-2 finishers in the San Diego Handicap, are both scheduled to put in their final works for the Pacific Classic tomorrow, California Chrome at Los Alamitos and Dortmund here.

Like all other racing fans, California Chrome trainer Art Sherman was pleased that doubts about defending race champion Beholder’s participation have been erased.

“Everybody’s running. It’s gonna be a good race. That’s what we need. Bring the people out,” Sherman said.

Trainer Richard Mandella has one more work in mind for Beholder, but said he has yet to decide whether to schedule it Monday or Wednesday.


TOP TURFERS ARE BACK FOR MORE ON OAKS, DM ‘CAP NOM LISTS

The Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks and Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Handicap – events that add power to the TVG Pacific Classic Day card next Saturday – drew 19 and 17 nominations respectively. And when entries close and post positions are drawn on Wednesday, rematches of stakes earlier in the meeting figure to be set.

Mokat, Lady Valeur and Stays in Vegas, the 1-2-3 finishers in the Grade II $200,000 San Clemente Handicap on July 23, are all nominated to the Oaks. So are Barleysugar, Cheekaboo and Mrs. Norris, the top three from the Sandy Blue Handicap on July 17.

The Oaks is 1 1/8 miles on turf, the same distance as the Sandy Blue and one furlong more than the San Clemente.

The Del Mar Handicap, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 5 at Santa Anita, drew nominations from the second and third-place finishers in the Grade II Eddie Read and the first two from the Grade II Cougar II.

Ashleyluvssugar and Flamboyant were less than a length behind winner Midnight Storm in the 1 1/8-mile Read on July 17. Hard Aces and Quick Casablanca ran 1-2 wire-to-wire in the 1 ½-mile Cougar II on dirt on July 24.

The Del Mar Handicap is 1 3/8 miles over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.


SCRATCH REDUCES FIELD FOR SUNDAY’S  SOLANA BEACH STAKES TO 10

Minster’sadventure was scratched Saturday morning, reducing the field for Sunday’s featured $150,000 Solana Beach Stakes to 10.

The field from the rail out: Mangita (Edwin Maldonado, 20-1), Charming Starlet (Victor Espinoza, 20-1), Singing Kitty (Rafael Bejarano, 3-1), Barbara Beatrice (Tiago Pereira, 6-1), Lily Kai (Drayden Van Dyke, 5-1), How Unusual (Santiago Gonzalez, 8-1), My Fiona (Fernando Perez, 20-1), Tiz a Kiss (Kent Desormeaux, 10-1), Thermodynamics (Joe Talamo, 10-1), Majestic Heat (Flavien Prat, 5-2).


PRETTY N COOL LOOKS TO ADD TO DEL MAR STAKES TOTAL

Bob Baffert-trained Pretty N Cool will shoot for her third Del Mar stakes victory in just over a calendar year when she heads a field of seven in Wednesday’s Grade III $100,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap.

The  6 1/2 –furlong sprint for older fillies and mares is the first of five graded stakes during Del Mar’s fifth full week of racing during the summer season.

Pretty N Cool, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Scat Daddy owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, won the first two starts of her career here last year, a maiden in mid-July and the Sorrento Stakes, on August 12. She started her second summer at Del Mar with a victory in the CERF on July 20, ending a six-month layoff.

With the post position draw scheduled later on Saturday, the field in alphabetical order with trainers and jockeys: Coniah (William Morey/Drayden Van Dyke), Enchanting Lady (Bob Baffert/Rafael Bejarano), Finest City (Ian Kruljac/Kent Desormeaux), Lost Bus  (Gary Sherlock/Tiago Perez), Pretty N Cool (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith), Sensitively (Phil D’Amato/Tyler Baze) and Tara’s Tango (Jerry Hollendorfer/Martin Garcia).


CLOSERS – Trainer Simon Callaghan said that while he is undecided pending discussions with the owner, “I’ll more than likely wait for the Brubaker” with TVG Pacific Classic nominee Firing Line. The $75,000 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at a mile on the main track is Wednesday, August 24 … Selected works from 179 officially timed Saturday morning: Alsvid (4f, :47.80), Luminance (4f, :48.40), Privy (4f, :46.60), Ashleyluvssugar (5f, 1:02.60), Avenge (5f, :58.60), Dalmore (5f, 1:02.80), Hard Aces (5f, 1:00.40), Patentar (5f, 1:00.80), War Story (5f, :58.60), Imperative (6f, 1:12.00) and Win the Space (6f, 1:12.20).










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