Monday, September 16, 2019

Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. guides Decorated Invader to victory in Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine on Sunday, September 15, 2019 

Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. piloted both winners of Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races at Woodbine, but one was a lot easier than the other. While Decorated Invader was in a league of his own in the $189,103 Summer (G1), the filly Abscond had to call on all of her battling qualities to prevail in a Natalma (G1) photo. Thus Decorated Invader is likely to attract more backers going into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) than Abscond in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

West Point Thoroughbreds, William T. Freeman and William Sandbrook’s Decorated Invader was making his stakes debut in the wake of a terrific maiden win at Saratoga, and accordingly ranked as the 2-1 second choice. The Christophe Clement pupil wasn’t quick into stride as he and Irish shipper Vitalogy bumped out of the gate, but it was soon clear that Ortiz had a handful of horse.

Up front, Keep on Truckin flashed speed in the opening strides before suddenly dropping back. It was the 109-1 Cadet Connelly who controlled the tempo through fractions of :24.26, :48.43, and 1:13.08 on a course labeled yielding. Mystic Lancelot, the 2-1 favorite, chased before fading, possibly affected by hitting the gate at the start.

Cadet Connelly, in defiance of his exorbitant odds, was not stopping down the stretch. But Decorated Invader was on the march, and once Ortiz got him in gear, the son of Declaration of War put his rivals away handily. Opening up by 1 3/4 lengths, Decorated Invader clocked the mile in 1:36.34.

Vitalogy, who had to angle around the winner for room, finished well in third and just failed to catch runner-up Cadet Connelly by a head. With a clearer passage, Vitalogy arguably would have taken second. Proven Strategies was another head away in fourth, followed by Pleasecallmeback, Talking, Cucina, Zoological, Mystic Lancelot, and Keep on Truckin. Secret Stash was scratched in favor of the Natalma.

Decorated Invader advanced his record to 3-2-1-0, $180,375. The bay showed promise in his Spa debut, rallying late for second to Field Pass, who subsequently placed second in the With Anticipation (G3). Decorated Invader learned from that experience to win handsomely in his second try, and the Summer marked another step forward.

“We were just looking for him to relax in the first part of the race and then let him run in the end,” Ortiz told Woodbine publicity. “We know he can run so we just want to relax him and teach him the first part.

“He’s only had three races so I think he’s getting better and better. Today, I really liked the way he did it. He was floating in a little bit in the stretch – he always does – but hopefully he learns and if he just keeps a little more straight in the stretch that would be great. He keeps learning.”

ZESTFUL wins the LOS ALAMITOS SPECIAL going away!! 9-15-19

Zestful Los Alamitos Special.

Zestful much the best in Los Alamitos Special

Zestful drew off for a six-length victory in Sunday's Los Alamitos Special.
Zestful, who ran in an $8,000 claimer in February, won his stakes debut in his 24th start Saturday’s $100,000 Los Alamitos Special at 1 1/4 miles as the second betting choice in a field of five.

2019 Summer Stakes

2019 Natalma Stakes

Friday, August 30, 2019


Del Mar's Bing Crosby Racing Season Returns Nov. 8 - Dec. 1
The 15-day fall meet features two free concerts, delectable food and drink events and top Thoroughbred racing

Ladies, grab your hats and gents grab your bow ties— Del Mar’s fall racing season is almost here! Successfully wrapping up its milestone 80th summer season, the iconic Del Mar racetrack is looking ahead to its fall meet, known as the Bing Crosby Season. The excitement kicks off on Friday, Nov. 8 and will run through Sunday, Dec. 1. Over the course of the 15-day meet, Del Mar will come alive with high stakes competition, signature seasonal events and must-see free concerts. 

Bing Crosby Season begins with an action-packed opening weekend starting with Friday’s Opening Day. The following day, Del Mar will delight wine enthusiasts with Uncorked: Derby Days Wine Fest—where racetrack guests can sip and savor while watching the day’s races. The wine festival will feature more than 150 wines and champagnes from across the globe, gourmet food trucks, live music and more. Purchase VIP and general admission experiences at Following the final race of the day, famed country singer-songwriter Russell Dickerson will take the stage for a free concert, presented by San Diego County Toyota Dealers.

The following Saturday, Nov. 16, Del Mar will host its annual College Day. All college students can enjoy free track admission, live music from Red Bull DJs and food and drink specials simply by showing their student ID. The evening wraps on a high note with a concert by The Wailers, the famed reggae band formed by the remaining members of Bob Marley & The Wailers, presented by Patrón.

Del Mar’s Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, Nov. 23, will offer 100 samples of local and international craft brews making for the perfect thirst-quenching day at the track. Del Mar will kick-off the holiday-giving season on Sunday, Nov. 24, with its annual Del Mar Toys for Tots Toy Drive in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps, where guests can receive free admission by bringing an unwrapped toy to the track. Cash or check donations also will be accepted by uniformed Marines and sailors on hand manning the “Toys” collection boxes.

Celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends at Del Mar! On Thursday, Nov. 28, guests can partake in the Family Mile Fun Run—a special turkey trot around the track—at 8 a.m. Participants, including several jockeys, will “break” from the starting gate and run one lap around the racetrack. Once runners cross the finish line, they can pose for photos in the winner’s circle. Following the Fun Run, the Helen Woodward Animal Center will host a Puppy Races Rescue Run, aimed to offer pets for adoption. The day’s Thoroughbred races start early with an 11 a.m. post time, so attendees can get home in time for dinner, or, they can leave the cooking to Del Mar and enjoy the track’s annual Thanksgiving Brunch—a fun holiday tradition that includes racetrack admission, a Turf Club table and a delicious brunch menu or turkey dinner with all the traditional trimmings. 

Harry Potter fans will flock to the seaside oval the final weekend of the fall meet for The Wizards Fair, a celebration of all things magic and a chance for Harry Potter fans to come together and celebrate, Saturday, Nov. 30. Dressing up is encouraged, so fans should dawn their favorite robe, cloak, or uniform and set off on a wild adventure at Del Mar. There will be two stages of live music featuring wizard rock bands and DJs, including San Diego’s own DJ Dumbledore. Explore the Enchanted Market Place, full of magical shops and vendors, and the Grand Hall, full of cosplay characters and tons of photo opportunities. Tickets are $20, and includes racetrack admission. All ages welcome. Del Mar’s Holiday at the Races: A Pop-up Festival on Sunday, Dec. 1, will offer holiday boutique shopping and pop-up shops, complimentary mini-spa and mini-glam treatments and beauty vendors, happy hour ½-off signature drinks until 2 p.m., a wagering seminar, holiday activities and more. Racing for 2019 at Del Mar will conclude on Sunday, Dec. 1.

Every Saturday throughout the Bing Crosby Season early morning risers can enjoy breakfast and take in amazing track views as Thoroughbreds go through their morning workouts at Daybreak at Del Mar from 8 – 10 a.m. Racing analyst Michelle Yu will host an interactive Q&A session during the workouts to provide insight and fun facts about everything horseracing. 

In addition to free concerts and exciting races, Del Mar offers unmatched value with Free & Fun Sundays, where guests receive free track admission and seating, along with $5 Cardiff Crack tri-tip sliders and $6 16 oz. Coors Lights. Happy hour specials also will be offered every Sunday until 2 p.m. featuring half-priced signature cocktails. Brunch lovers can celebrate with a decadent day at Taste of the Turf Club. Tickets include a creative menu from Herb & Wood Chef Brian Malarkey, a table in the Turf Club and bottomless mimosas, Chandon or Del Mary’s.  

After opening week, racing during the Bing Crosby Season will take place Thursday through Sunday. First post will be 12:30 p.m., daily, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day when first post will be 11 a.m. Admission at all gates is $6. Both concerts are 18 and up and free with paid racetrack admission prior to the last race. For concertgoers entering after the day’s final race, admission is $30. Performances begin shortly after the last race of the day.

Quit Kvetching

Doubledown Stables’ lightly-raced Quit Kvetching, piloted by Drayden Van Dyke, swept to the front while four-wide entering the stretch and went on to score an easy victory in Del Mar’s feature race Thursday, a 6 ½ furlong sprint for older California-bred fillies and mares.

In only the third start of her career, the Ron Ellis-trained Quit Kvetching tallied by three and one-half lengths in 1:17.26. D’s Lovely Sophia, the 3-2 favorite, was second, with Ruby Bradley third in the field of six runners. Dreamy Gal and Takethediamondlane were scratched.

Quit Kvetching, a daughter of Smiling Tiger, went postward the 5-2 second choice and returned $7.60, $3.40 and $2.20. The chestnut filly was a winner in her career debut in early July and then ran fourth at Del Mar in an optional-allowance race early this month.

D’s Lovely Sophia returned $3 and $2.20, while Ruby Bradley paid $2.60 to show.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Derby Dozen for BloodHorse

Having covered the Triple Crown races in one form or another for the past 32 years, including writing the features Derby Doings for Daily Racing Form and the Derby Dozen for BloodHorse, I can state emphatically that I cannot remember a horse maturing physically and mentally and turning into a polished professional as quickly as Code of Honor.

And it all came to fruition Aug. 24 in the Travers Stakes when the boy officially turned into a man.

The victory of Code of Honor fit perfectly into the continuing strange saga of this year’s crop of 3-year-olds, and proved once again that when it comes to horses, there are no experts, and even the most astute horsemen often have trouble judging a horse on what he may become rather than what he is as a yearling or young 2-year-old.

That is why a horse named Maximum Security, sired by a champion and owned by one of the top owners and breeders in the country, can make his career debut in a $16,000 claiming race and go unclaimed and then finish first in the Kentucky Derby (only to be disqualified) and win the Florida Derby and Haskell Invitational.

It is why a horse named Tax, owned and bred by the powerful team of Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, winds up in a $30,000 claiming race first time out and goes unclaimed. Going to the claiming well once again he finally gets snatched for $50,000 and wins the Jim Dandy Stakes, Withers Stakes, and finishes second in the Wood Memorial and third in the Remsen Stakes.

It is why a horse named Sir Winston fails to meet his modest $50,000 reserve at the Keeneland September yearling sale, is bought back by his breeder Tracy Farmer, and winds up winning the Belmont Stakes.

And now we have a slightly built, immature late foal who is bred by powerhouse Lane’s End Farm, gets put in the Keeneland September yearling and has no takers, failing to meet his $70,000 reserve. So Lane’s End takes Code of Honor home, races him and wins the Travers Stakes with him, as well as the historic Dwyer Stakes and Fountain of Youth Stakes, and gets moved up to second in the Kentucky Derby on the disqualification of Maximum Security.

It appears as if the proverbial crystal ball was a bit cloudy this year with a number of future stars there for the taking at a dirt cheap price, but unwanted for one reason or another.

In the case of Code of Honor, he was a late foal, born May 23, and was immature both physically and mentally. But according to Bill Farish of Lane’s End Farm, he was an efficient mover and everyone at Courtlandt Farm in Ocala where he was broken liked him very much.

So why did Lane’s End Farm try to sell this colt by the great Frankel’s full brother Noble Mission, a son of megastud Galileo?

Lane’s End sales director Allaire Ryan had all the reasons at her fingertips in the form of written comments she made about the colt when he was a yearling. Of course, the May 23 foaling date alone turned many buyers off. Although he was a medium to good-sized colt and well balanced with a quality head and eye and was light on his feet, he was narrow up front and toed out a bit and didn’t have a lot of bone. So in short, he was not what you would call a robust colt.

But there were other positives. Mainly he was very well made mechanically and was extremely easy on himself, according to Ryan, who added, “He always was aware of his surroundings, continued to move forward, and he had a high energy level.” Basically, he was a feel-good horse.

Unfortunately, or as it turned out, fortunately, he was never once scoped at the sale, so the writing was on the wall. This was a colt in which no one was interested. William Farish, founder of Lane’s End Farm, has always been known for setting fair reserves. He offered a high quality colt at a very affordable price, but wound up taking him back, breaking him at Courtlandt Farm, and racing him.

The colt was a farm favorite, and everyone at Lane’s End was encouraged when trainer Shug McGaughey’s assistant Robbie Medina mentioned how much the colt loved to train. As Ryan said, “His athleticism and personality were bigger than he was and he was always known here as the Little Big Horse.”

After spending time at Fair Hill, where he had a couple of breezes, he was sent to McGaughey’s barn at Saratoga.

“He didn’t exactly blow us away stepping off the van,” said McGaughey’s son and assistant, Reeve. But they saw he was a good mover and came to them with a good reputation.

A week later they gave him his first breeze at the track. Reeve recalled how he crawled the first eighth in :14 and change or even :15. Reeve and Medina looked at each other wondering what was going on. But just then he took off, rattling off eighths in :11 and change and :12. He covered the half-mile in :48 flat and went to the wire and galloped out in :24 flat. That’s when they knew they had a talented colt.

He showed it by winning his career debut and doing it wire-to-wire at odds of 6-1. That was something you don’t see too often from a McGaughey-trained horse, who usually come along slowly.

In fact, Bill Farish said the last McGaughey-trained horse to win first time out was the Lane’s End (with partners)-owned Honor Code, but he came from 22 lengths back going seven furlongs, not wire-to-wire going six furlongs. So this was unusual.

You also don’t expect McGaughey to throw a 2-year-old with one six-furlong race into the one-mile, grade 1 Champagne Stakes against many of the top juveniles in the country. Code of Honor rallied from 10th to finish second to the Chad Brown speedball Complexity in a sharp 1:34 3/5, one of the fastest Champagnes ever. Despite stumbling twice coming out of the gate, he still flew home, and his “3 3/4” Thoro-Graph number stamped him as a horse with a promising future.

He had a perfect blend of dirt, grass, speed, and stamina. To demonstrate how you can turn him on and off, he breezed a slow five furlongs in 1:03 for the Champagne a week after breezing a half in a bullet :46 flat, fastest of 60 works at the distance, and, again, you normally don’t see a McGaughey 2-year-old work that fast.

Code of Honor’s sire, the English-bred Noble Mission, is a son of the great Galileo and a full brother to Frankel, and his two paternal grandsires, Sadler’s Wells and Danehill are pretty much responsible for the Coolmore dynasty well before the emergence of Galileo. Sadler’s Wells, his son Galileo, and Danehill have sired an amazing 1,000 stakes winners among them, including over 230 group/grade 1 winners. Code of Honor’s broodmare sire, Dixie Union was a grade 1 winner who sired Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags and has always been a favorite of Will Farish. Code of Honor gets his speed from his dam’s female family through Mt. Livermore, Bold Forbes, Irish Castle, Faneuil Hall, and Bolinas Boy. All this speed works beautifully with the abundance of stamina in his sire’s pedigree.

That is why he could win his career debut wire to wire and then come from 10th and last to finish second in the Champagne.

Code of Honor was forced to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after spiking a fever, which may have been the best thing for him, as he was able to gear down and prepare for the arduous Derby trail.

A dull fourth-place finish in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at 4-5 was a head scratcher, but he came right back to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes, this time at odds of 9-1. However, he still didn’t look like the horse who closed like a rocket in the Champagne, as he crawled home his final sixteenth in :07 seconds after a sluggish :26 2/5 quarter, and just lasted over the fast-closing Bourbon War.

On the positive side, he did show good acceleration on the turn and left himself with room for improvement. A lack of pace hurt him in the Florida Derby and he could finish no better than third behind the runaway winner Maximum Security. As talented as he might have been, he had run greenly all winter and spring, whether it was drifting a bit down the stretch or easing himself after getting a lead.  

But you could see him start to blossom after going to Keeneland and working brilliantly with the rider's feet in the dashboard early and the way he hugged the rail on both turns, cornering beautifully. This was the first indication that perhaps he was starting to put it all together and was ready for a peak effort on the first Saturday in May.

In the Kentucky Derby he made a big move along the rail and looked like a winner turning for home after sticking his head in front, but wasn’t able to sustain it after eventual winner Maximum Security came in on him. When Maximum Security was disqualified for interference (not involving Code of Honor), Code of Honor was moved up from third to second.

McGaughey shortened him up for the one-mile Dwyer Stakes and the transformation was remarkable, as Code of Honor settled in last, waited to make his move, and then blew his opponents away with a sensational :23 1/5 final quarter, bursting to the lead and drawing off to a 3 1/4-length score, despite a wide trip and jockey John Velazquez losing his whip.

McGaughey had contemplated coming back in the Jim Dandy Stakes as a prep for the Travers, but decided to give him time and train up to the race. It proved to be a smart move considering his negative-1/2 Thoro-Graph number made him the fastest horse going into the Travers and the only horse in the field to run a negative number.

The new-look Code of Honor once again overpowered his opponents, rallying from ninth to win going away by three lengths, and his time of 2:01 flat was the second-fastest Travers in the past 27 years, behind only Arrogate’s record-breaking performance in 2016. That was reflected in his lofty 105 Beyer speed figure and 108 Equibase Speed Figure. There was no doubt now that Code of Honor had come of age.

So, now it is on to the Jockey Club Gold Cup against older horses and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic. There is no telling how good this colt is now. The Little Big Horse who no one was interested in for the bargain basement price of $70,000 has grown into a man, and there is nothing little about him any longer.


1—McKinzie Bob Baffert Extremely talented, but best efforts have come from 7 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Home track should help and Baffert is always dangerous at Santa Anita.
2—Code of Honor Shug McGaughey He has developed into a powerful closer and is proven at 1 1/4 miles. Just keeps getting better and possesses brilliant turn of foot.
3—Thunder Snow Saeed bin Suroor Another who has excelled at 1 1/4 miles, but ran bang-up race in Met Mile. Runs hard every race and game as they come.
4—Yoshida Bill Mott Has a chance to stamp himself as a major force in the Classic with a big effort in Woodward Stakes. Loves Saratoga and should be flying late.
5—Higher Power John Sadler If the Pacific Classic is a true indicator of who he really is then he is going to take a lot of beating in the Classic. But the competition will be much tougher.
6—Vino Rosso Todd Pletcher He has already traveled west and emerged victorious in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, so he does have an advantage over the other Eastern shippers. Woodward will tell us a lot.
7—Preservationist Jimmy Jerkens Throw out his Whitney performance after extremely questionable ride. Woodward should show whether his sensational Suburban score was the real him.
8—Tacitus Bill Mott One of these days he is going to put it all together. After productive spring he keeps finding ways to get beat. Still ran a big second in the Travers despite very odd trip.
9—Gift Box John Sadler Has a gutsy win over McKinzie in the Big Cap, but still has not worked since July 13. Plenty of foundation and needs to get only one prep in. But time is now to get started.
10—Seeking the Soul Dallas Stewart Obviously did not run his race at Del Mar and we’ll see how he rebounds back east.We know he has the class and the closing kick.
Catholic Boy was dropped from the Top 10 this week until we find out just how minor or major a setback he suffered that caused him to withdraw from the Woodward Stakes. Another Top 10 horse, Hofburg, has been sent to the farm and his immediate future is 
uncertain, but the Breeders’ Cup obviously is out. The next big test will be the September 21 Pennsylvania Derby, which could feature Maximum Security, Mr. Money, and possibly Improbable.   


1—Midnight Bisou Steve Asmussen Classy 3-year-old but has turned into a winning machine at 4.
2—Elate Bill Mott Runs her heart out every time, Just nipped at wire in Personal Ensign.
3—Dunbar Road Chad Brown Alabama winner developing quickly and should keep improving.
4—Guarana Chad Brown CCA Oaks score not as brilliant as Acorn tour de force, but will take world of beating in Cotillion.
5—Secret Spice Richard Baltas Tough defeats in Clement Hirsch and La Troienne, but ran huge to win Beholder Mile at Santa Anita.
6—Ollie’s Candy John Sadler Gutsy winner of Clement Hirsch
7—Wow Cat Chad Brown Classier than Personal Ensign 4th. Deserves another chance.
8—Point of Honor George Weaver Black-eyed Susan winner couldn’t handle Guarana and Dunbar Road in last two. Strong stretch runner.
9—Blue Prize Ignacio Correas Listed stakes score at Spa first since last year’s Spinster victory.
10—Escape Clause Don Schnell Right there against the best, beaten a nose by Midnight Bisou in Apple Blossom and second to Elate in Delaware Handicap.
Waiting to see how impressive Shuvee winner Golden Award is doing after being eased in Personal Ensign Stakes.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Sedamar Clicks in Del Mar Headliner

Sedamar Clicks in Del Mar Headliner

Always in striking position under jockey Ruben Fuentes, Sedamar asserted her superiority in the stretch and scored a decisive victory Thursday in Del Mar’s featured race at one mile on the grass for older fillies and mares.

Sedamar, second choice in the betting at 2-1, reached the wire a length and one-quarter in advance of runner-up Shehastheritestuff, the 7-5 favorite, with early pacesetter Smiling Annie fading to third, two and three-quarter lengths farther away and a neck in front of fourth-place Lil Bit Dangerous in the field of eight runners.

Sedamar, owned by Ruis Racing and trained by Shelbe Ruis, stepped the distance in 1:34.46 and returned $6.60, $3 and $2.40 in scoring her second win in nine starts. The daughter of Richard’s Kid was a maiden winner at a mile on the turf last November at Del Mar.

Shehastheritestuff, who was piloted by Rafael Bejarano, paid $2.80 and $2.20, while Smiling Annie returned $4.20 to show.



If it’s an odd-numbered year then count on John Sadler to have an even number of starters in the TVG Pacific Classic.

Such was the case in 2013 when Sadler saddled Kettle Corn and You Know I Know to finish second and third behind runaway winner Game On Dude in the $1 million signature event of the Del Mar summer meeting.

And again in 2015 when Hard Aces and Class Leader, who came in sixth and seventh in the Wake of Beholder.

And yet again in 2017 when Accelerate placed third and Hard Aces fifth to Collected.

Last year Sadler needed only Accelerate to notch his first TVG Pacific Classic victory from 12 starters and it came by a thoroughly convincing, romping 12 ½ lengths over the 1 ¼-mile distance.

Now it’s 2019, and Sadler has reverted to recent form. He’ll saddle Higher Power (8-1) and Campaign (6-1) with the aim of making it back-to-back Classic wins. If Higher Power does the trick, it will also be two in a row for his major client, Hronis Racing.

Both horses prepped for the Classic during the first six days of the meeting. Higher Power, a 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro, finished second in the Wickerr, a one mile turf race. Campaign won the 1 ½-mile Cougar II Handicap on the main track.

“Campaign has had a win over the track, which I think is important,” Sadler said. “Higher Power we think is improving and it’s kind of a ‘gut’ call to put him in there. Fingers crossed, we’re looking forward to getting them going.”

Campaign, a 4-year-old son of Curlin owned by Woodford Racing, has five wins in 10 starts and earnings of $394,753. Two of his three wins in 2019 were at 1 ½ miles,  so the distance is not a question. Higher Power has four wins in 12 starts with earnings of $200,648. Coming off two turf mile races, he’s likely to show speed and be part of the early pace picture.

Higher Power drew the No. 6 post and will have meet-leading rider Flavien Prat up. Campaign will break from No. 8 under Rafael Bejarano, who has been aboard for his last four races in Southern California.

“The posts are fine, no problems,” Sadler said.  “Posts shouldn’t really be a factor in this race – a mile and a quarter with a good, long run to the turn. There’s plenty of opportunity for everyone to get settled.”

The field from the rail: War Story (Tiago Pereira, 8-1), Quip (Florent Geroux, 9-2), Pavel (Mario Gutierrez, 7-2), For the Top (Martin Garcia, 12-1), Seeking the Soul (John Velazquez, 3-1), Higher Power (Flavien Prat, 8-1), Tenfold (Mike Smith, 8-1), Campaign (Rafael Bejarano, 6-1), Mongolian Groom (Abel Cedillo, 20-1) and Draft Pick (Joe Talamo, 20-1).

The TVG Pacific Classic goes as the 10th on an 11-race program with a scheduled 6:35 post time.


Cambier Parc, a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro conditioned by Chad Brown, the nation’s leading trainer for money earnings, was tabbed the 5-2 favorite in a capacity field of 14 for Saturday’s $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Oaks presented by The Jockey Club.

Cambier Parc, a $1.25 million purchase at the Keeneland September sale in 2017, raced only once at two but has three wins in five 2019 starts. Two of the victories were in Grade III stakes and she enters the race off a third-place performance in the Belmont Oaks in July.

Through Wednesday, Equibase figures had Brown with 129 wins from 488 starters and earnings of $17,932,501. Steve Asmussen is No. 2 in the North American trainer standings with 251 wins from 1,312 starters and $16,507549 in earnings.

The Oaks field from the rail: Cambier Parc (John Velazquez, 5-2), Maxim Rate (Brice Blanc, 20-1), Strike at Dawn (Geovanni Franco, 20-1), Hard Legacy (Julien Leparoux, 12-1), Raymundos Secret (Florent Geroux, 10-1), Keeper Ofthe Stars (Abel Cedillo, 10-1), Dogtag (Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1), Apache Princess (Kent Desormeaux, 10-1), Sold It (Mario Gutierrez, 30-1), Mucho Unusual (Mike Smith, 5-1), Lady Prancealot (Joe Talamo, 8-1), Out Of Balance (Victor Espinoza, 20-1), Wildlife (Rafael Bejarano, 30-1) and Hidden Message (Flavien Prat, 8-1).

The Oaks goes as the ninth on an 11-race program.


Argentine-bred The Great Day, runner-up in the Arlington Handicap on July 13 in his second U.S. start, was installed as the 5-2 favorite on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s opening line for Saturday’s Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Handicap presented by the Japan Racing Association.

A 5-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday trained by Arnaud Delacour, The Great Day was a multiple Group I winner in Argentina, racing at distances up to 1 ½ miles and was beaten only 1 ¾ lengths in the 1 3/16-mile Arlington Handicap.

The field from the rail: Oscar Dominguez (Joe Talamo, 12-1), Ritzy A.P. (Martin Garcia, 12-1), Blended Citizen (Aaron Gryder, 20-1), Marckie’s Water (Tiago Pereira, 7-2), United (Flavien Prat, 3-1), The Great Day (John Velazquez, 5-2), Itsinthepost (Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2), Arizona Moon (Evin Roman, 30-1) and Acclimate (Florent Geroux, 12-1).

The Del Mar Handicap goes as the seventh race, kicking off a string of four straight Graded Stakes.


Bolo, the wire-to-wire, upset winner of the Shoemaker Mile on May 27 at Santa Anita, will face 10 rivals in Sunday’s Grade II $200,000 Del Mar Mile to complete a weekend of six graded stakes races.

A 7-year-old gelded son of Temple City trained by Carla Gaines, Bolo led all the way under Florent Geroux in the Shoemaker at odds of 33-1 to win in only his second start after being out of racing for nearly two years, clocking 1:34.07 for the distance.

The field from the rail: Prince Earl (Geovanni Franco), El Picaro (Drayden Van Dyke), Majestic Eagle (Rafael Bejarano), Bombard (Mike Smith), Bowies Hero (Flavien Prat), Double Touch (Abel Cedillo), Grecian Fire (Kent Desormeaux), What a View (Martin Garcia), Bolo (Florent Geroux), Sharp Samurai (Joe Talamo) and Ohio (John Velazquez).


Gary and Mary West’s homebred Fighting Mad, a daughter of New Year’s Day trained by Bob Baffert, was established as the narrow 5-2 favorite in a field of eight for Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes at a mile on the main track for 3-year-old fillies.

Fighting Mad was a winner in her racing debut at Del Mar on August 25 of last year and, after spring starts at Churchill Downs and Pimlico, returned West with a runner-up finish in a fast allowance here on July 19.

The field from the rail: Into Chocolate (Mike Smith, 10-1), High Regard (Rafael Bejarano, 12-1), Classic Fit (Florent Geroux, 3-1), Hollywood Hills (Julien Leparoux, 12-1), Colonial Creed (Victor Espinoza, 8-1), Sneaking Out  (Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2), Fighting Mad (Joe Talamo, 5-2) and Kim K (Flavien Prat, 5-1).

The Torrey Pines is the eighth race on the card.


Undrafted, a Kentucky-bred Purim gelding, arrived Monday for  Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Green Flash Handicap and has settled in nicely for the five-furlong turf sprint.

“He’s nine years old and he’s been a lot of places, so not much bothers him,” said Blake Heap, who handles West Coast shippers for trainer Wesley Ward. “He’s a nice little horse, easy to get along with.”

The Green Flash will be the 42nd start in a career which has produced nine wins and more than $1.5 million in earnings. Heap has been around for many of the major events, among them a trip to Royal Ascot in 2018.

Undrafted is part owned by Wes Welker, who was signed by the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2004 and went on to titles with the New England Patriots. He is now retired and a coach with the San Francisco 49ers.

The field from the rail: Calexman (Geovanni Franco, 12-1), Stormy Liberal (Drayden Van Dyke, 8-5), Undrafted (Victor Espinoza, 5-1), Shades Of Victory (Ruben Fuentes, 20-1), Eddie Haskell (Kent Desormeaux, 9-5) and Mr Vargas (Joe Talamo, 3-1).

The Green Flash is scheduled as the third race of the day.


Julie Krone, the most accomplished female rider in the history of Thoroughbred racing, will have her praises sung twice at Del Mar next Saturday when she’ll be presented the prestigious Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award and take part in the signing of a new book written about her 2003 season at Del Mar -- highlighted by her triumph in that year’s Pacific Classic on Candy Ride -- entitled “One Sweet Ride.

The resident of nearby Carlsbad, CA, first will take part in the signing of her book, which tells the story of her exceptional year of riding at Del Mar, including her record-breaking tally in the Pacific Classic aboard Sid and Jenny Craig’s Candy Ride. Her husband, turf writer Jay Hovdey, wrote “One Sweet Ride” and will join his wife and Jenny Craig in signing copies of the book that afternoon. Krone and Hovdey will sign books from noon to 1 p.m. in the Plaza de Mexico near the large fountain, then shift to the Clubhouse entranceway and be joined by Jenny Craig for more signing from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Following that, Krone, 56, will be honored in the Del Mar winner’s circle for being selected as the 16th winner of the Pincay Award. On hand to give it to her will be fellow Hall of Famer Pincay, now 72, who retired in 2003 after having compiled a world record 9,530 victories. Joining them for the ceremony will be Candy Ride’s “connections,” owner Craig and the horse’s Hall of Fame trainer, Ron McAnally. Also in the gathering will be Del Mar’s Hall of Fame riders, Mike Smith, Kent Desormeaux, Alex Solis and Victor Espinoza.  


Steve Rothblum and Leo Vukmanovich will provide the opinions and selections for the upcoming weekend handicapping seminars Saturday and Sunday.

Rothblum, a member of Team O’Neill, trainer Doug O’Neill’s group of assistants and advisers, will do the honors on Saturday. Vukmanovich, an owner and horse player will be Frank Scatoni’s guest on Sunday.

The free seminars are held from 12:45-1:30 p.m. at the Seaside Terrace near the head of the stretch.

CLOSERS – Selected works from 115 officially timed Thursday morning: For the Top (3f, :36.00), Paradise Woods (4f, :48.60), Boujie Girl (5f, 1:01.40), Eight Rings (5f, 1:00.40) and Flor de La Mar (6f, 1:13.60).

Grade I Del Mar Oaks

14 Three-Year-Old Fillies Set to Tangle in Grade I Del Mar Oaks

A power-laden line-up 14 three-year-old fillies, including four highly-regarded invaders from the East Coast, will tangle Saturday in the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks at nine furlongs over Del Mar’s infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

On the afternoon of the 29th running of the Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic, Del Mar Thoroughbred will present four other graded stakes on an 11-race program beginning at 2 p.m.

In addition to the TVG Pacific Classic and Del Mar Oaks, other added money events on the card are the $100,000 Green Flash Handicap, the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap by the Japan Racing Association, and the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes.

An exceptionally strong field of fillies is set for the Del Mar Oaks. Coming in to take on the California-based contingent are two stakes-winners from the stable of America’s leading trainer, Chad Brown – Cambier Parc and Dogtag, plus Hard Legacy and Wild Balance.

Mucho Unusual won the San Clemente July 20 and will be seeking her fourth consecutive victory. Other local contenders are Maxim Rate, Strike At Dawn, Raymundos Secret, Keeper Ofthe Stars, Apache Princess, Sold It, Lady Prancealot, Out of Balance and Hidden Message.

Entrants in the Green Flash at five furlongs on the turf are Calexman, Stormy Liberal,  Undrafted, Shades of Victory, Eddie Haskell and Mr Vargas. Stormy Liberal has won the last two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and took the 2018 Green Flash.

The Del Mar Handicap, at a mile and three-eighths on the grass,  attracted a nine-horse field, namely, Oscar Dominguez, Ritzy A.P., Blended Citizen, Marckie’s Water, United, The Great Day, Itsinthepost, Arizona Moon and Acclimate. The Del Mar ‘Cap is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita in November.

Entered in the Torrey Pines, for sophomore fillies at one mile on the main dirt track, are Into Chocolate, High Regard, Classic Fit, Hollywood Hills, Colonial Greed, Sneaking Out, Fighting Mad and Kim K.


 Stormy Liberal sprinted on the turf at Del Mar, he secured his first grade 1 win in the 2017 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

Last year, Stormy Liberal used a pair of narrow wins on the five-furlong course at Del Mar—including the Green Flash Handicap—as a foundation to a four-race win streak that culminated in a second straight Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint triumph, this time at Churchill Downs.

Stonestreet Farm
So Stormy Liberal figures to be in his comfort zone Aug. 17 when he attempts to win the Green Flash (now a grade 3 race) a second straight year. A 7-year-old Stormy Atlantic  gelding, Stormy Liberal, as the 125-pound highweight, will spot his five expected rivals two to 11 pounds as he tries to secure his first win of the season.

Not that Stormy Liberal has raced poorly this year. He opened 2019 by finishing second in the Joe Hernandez Stakes (G3T) down the hill at Santa Anita Park and then came up a head short when second in a Feb. 22 allowance race at five furlongs on the Santa Anita turf. That prepped him for a close third-place finish in the Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1), a race won by Blue Point, who in June swept Royal Ascot's group 1 sprints for older horses: the King's Stand (3 and older) and Diamond Jubilee (4 and older) stakes.

As the second two-time winner of the Turf Sprint—joining Mizdirection—Stormy Liberal also has made some history. And, knowing that last year he didn't win a race before the Del Mar meeting, a third straight Turf Sprint win is well within reach for Stormy Liberal and his trainer, Peter Miller.

Saturday's Pacific Classic Day card includes five graded stakes, and the Green Flash will start the stakes schedule as Race 3. Later in the day, 3-year-old fillies going one mile on the main track will be featured in the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3), which will go as Race 8.

In the Torrey Pines, stakes winner Classic Fit has shipped in off a runner-up finish in the Mother Goose Stakes (G2) June 29 at Belmont Park. The Godolphin homebred daughter of Bernardini  led that one-turn, 1 1/16-mile test into the stretch before yielding to Dunbar Road.

Classic Fit wins the 2018 Hut Hut Stakes at Gulfstream Park.                  
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
Classic Fit wins the 2018 Hut Hut Stakes at Gulfstream Park.                  
Click Here!
The Mother Goose was the 2019 debut for the Michael Stidham trainee after she closed her juvenile season with three straight wins, topped by a narrow score in the one-turn-mile Hut Hut Stakes Dec. 8 at Gulfstream Park.


Del Mar, Saturday, August 17, 2019, Race 3

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Calexman (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Geovanni Franco 118 Vladimir Cerin -
2 Stormy Liberal (KY) Drayden Van Dyke 125 Peter Miller -
3 Undrafted (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Victor Espinoza 120 Wesley A. Ward -
4 Shades of Victory (CA) Ruben Fuentes 114 Reed Saldana -
5 Eddie Haskell (CA) Kent J. Desormeaux 123 Mark Glatt -
6 Mr Vargas (FL) Joseph Talamo 117 Brian J. Koriner -


Del Mar, Saturday, August 17, 2019, Race 8

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Into Chocolate (KY) Mike E. Smith 118 Clifford W. Sise, Jr. -
2 High Regard (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Rafael Bejarano 122 Victoria H. Oliver -
3 Classic Fit (KY) Florent Geroux 120 Michael Stidham -
4 Hollywood Hills (CA) Julien R. Leparoux 120 Steve M. Sherman -
5 Colonial Creed (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Victor Espinoza 122 Richard Baltas -
6 Sneaking Out (CA) Drayden Van Dyke 120 J. Keith Desormeaux -
7 Fighting Mad (KY) Joseph Talamo 120 Bob Baffert -
8 Kim K (KY) Flavien Prat 122 Peter Miller -

Pacific Classic (gr. I)

Pacific Classic (gr. I)

If the two-time San Diego Handicap (gr. II) winner Catalina Cruiser were entered in the Pacific Classic, he would probably be favored to win. Certainly the three-time Grade 1 winner McKinzie would be an overwhelming choice to prevail in this 1 ¼-mile test of speed and stamina.

But since Catalina Cruiser and McKinzie are both skipping the Pacific Classic, why not think outside the box and support the 20-1 longshot #9 Mongoliam Groom instead?

It might sound crazy, but stick with me for a moment. Mongolian Groom has yet to win at the graded stakes level, but he's outrun expectations in a couple of major races this year. Back in April, he employed a grinding style to finish third in the 1 ¼-mile Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), beaten just 3 ¾ lengths by Gift Box and McKinzie. And last time out, he unleashed a menacing rally to fall just a length short of catching Catalina Cruiser in the San Diego Handicap here at Del Mar.

In between, Mongolian Groom suffered a few less memorable defeats, but he had some legitimate excuses. His grinding style was never going to excel in the Charles Town Classic (gr. II), conducted over the six-furlong bullring track at Charles Town, and he didn't seem to care for turf (nor 1 ¾ miles) while finishing sixth in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita. In between, he finished fourth in a quick renewal of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I), earning a respectable 96 Beyer even in defeat.

Speaking of Beyer speed figures, Mongoliam Groom doesn't rank as the fastest horse in the Pacific Classic field. But it's not like he's completely overmatched (he generally runs about 4-8 points slower than the favorites), and the great equalizer could be the 1 ¼-mile distance.

Essentially, Mongolian Groom is a grinder. He'll never beat you with a brilliant turn-of-foot, but he's relentless and has kept good company. Just as importantly, he's run well over the slow and tiring main track at Del Mar, an unfamiliar surface that could trip up his more heralded rivals from the East Coast.

For example, #5 Seeking the Soul might be favored off his recent victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. II), but he's done his best running between a mile and 1 1/8 miles, so the longer distance of the Pacific Classic is a legitimate question mark. Plus, six of Seeking the Soul's seven wins have come in Kentucky, and he's never won a graded stakes race away from Churchill Downs.

#3 Pavel is a logical alternative to Seeking the Soul, and he did finish second behind champion Accelerate in the 2018 Pacific Classic, but his form this year has been a little less inspiring. Last time out, he flattened out sharply after making a big move in the 1 ¼-mile Suburban Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park, finishing third while giving the impression he might be better off running shorter these days. An infrequent winner with just three victories from 17 starts, Pavel is the type of horse you can count on to crack the superfecta (he's done so 13 times), but for win purposes he's tougher to endorse.

So why not take a shot with Mongoliam Groom at a big price? This isn't the toughest Pacific Classic field in recent memory; the last six winners have been Accelerate, Collected, California Chrome, Beholder, Shared Belief, and Game On Dude, but at this point it doesn't appear as though a star of this caliber is running in the 2019 Pacific Classic. And in the absence of Catalina Cruiser and McKinzie, why not support their gallant pursuer Mongolian Groom, who will offer much more enticing odds in the wagering?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Pacific Classic

We’re down to only one $1-million race for older horses in Southern California, and it comes up Saturday with the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

There is no super horse in the race such as past years when the race was won by horses such as Accelerate, California Chrome, Beholder and Shared Belief.
But, there is a good mix of shippers to go along with the locals. The draw was Tuesday afternoon, and the favorite is 3-1. So, no one that knocked morning-line maker Russ Hudak off the theory this is a pretty balanced race.

Here’s the draw:
1. War Story (8-1), trainer Jorge Navarro, jockey Tiago Pereira
2. Quip (9-2), Rodolphe Brisset, Florent Geroux
3. Pavel (7-2), Doug O’Neill, Mario Gutierrez
4. For The Top (12-1), Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia
5. Seeking The Soul (3-1), Dallas Stewart, John Velazquez
6. Higher Power (8-1), John Sadler, Flavien Prat
7. Tenfold (8-1), Steve Asmussen, Mike Smith
8. Campaign (6-1), John Sadler, Rafael Bejarano
9. Mongolian Groom (20-1), Enebish Ganbat, Abel Cedillo
10. Draft Pick (20-1), Peter Eurton, Joe Talamo

Seeking The Soul, the favorite at 3-1, is coming off a victory in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, a race in which Quip was second. Dallas Stewart was happy with drawing in the middle of the field (five).

“My horse is doing good,” Stewart said. “He’s training good and I expect a big race from him Saturday.”
Pavel is the second favorite at 7-2 and finished second in the race last year.
Quip is the third favorite at 9-2. In the 1 1/8-mile Stephen Foster, Quip was passed in the stretch by Seeking The Soul, but managing ownership partner Elliott Walden is not concerned.
“Go back and look at his gallop out,” Walden said from WinStar Farm in Kentucky. “I’ve got no worries about him making 1¼ miles.”
Quip has the same ownership group as Triple Crown winner Justify.
The Pacific Classic is the highlight of the best day of the meeting in which there are five graded stakes races.
Sad Del Mar news
Del Mar suffered its fourth training fatality on Monday when Bri Bri, an unraced 3-year-old filly broke her pelvis in a four-furlong workout. She was trained by Jim Cassidy, who also lost a horse during the Santa Anita meet. Del Mar had two fatalities in a freak accident July 17 when there was a head-on collision after a horse got loose. Trainer Bob Baffert lost a horse on July 29. There have been no racing fatalities. Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune filed this story. Just click here.
Riding crop under attack
The Jockey Club this week offered a recommendation of eliminating the use of the riding crop except to avoid dangerous situations. However, the recommendation is more symbolic than real because The Jockey Club doesn’t have any authority in this area. It lies with each state regulatory board.
The move comes amid a national call for reform in the sport. You can find people on both sides of the argument as to the harm it does to a horse. Advocates for the riding crop, or whip, say the newest ones are just a noise maker to get a horse’s attention. Detractors point to the thinness of a horse’s skin and say it’s painful.
Pretty much everyone agrees that the optics of a jockey hitting a horse are not good. This was an item the California Horse Racing Board was taking up though talk about it has gone quiet. The guess here is that a modified version of using the whip, such as not being able to raise it over your shoulder, would be the end compromise.
California allows use of the riding crop three times before waiting for the horse to respond. New York has a 10-strike rule. Kentucky has no rule about the use of the whip.

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