Tuesday, November 24, 2015


The key to The Poles is the furlong, a combination of two old English words based on an English farmer’s measuring term (furh for furrow and lang for long) equating to an eighth of a mile, or 660 feet, or 220 yards (or 40 rods or 10 chains, but let’s not go there). Most major racetracks in North America are one mile in circumference, meaning they also can be measured at eight furlongs. Logically enough, there are eight furlong poles positioned equally around those tracks.

Those furlong poles -- or eighth poles – are, by general agreement (the Association of Racing Commissioners International has taken the lead on this with a set of model rules), painted with green and white horizontal stripes. Additionally, though, Del Mar’s one-mile track is further broken down into half furlongs, or sixteenths (110 yards, or an American football field and one end zone), where those poles are all painted with black and white horizontal stripes. Then, finally, there are markers at the quarter mile junctures (quarter pole, half-mile pole, six-furlong pole) that are all painted with red and white horizontal stripes.

If you’re looking at a theoretical racetrack – or if you’re simply looking at Del Mar – you can easily see and understand The Poles if you start at the finish line and go backwards. That’s the key to comprehending how they work:  all references to The Poles are based on the finish line. (The Sixteenth Pole is a sixteenth of a mile from the finish; the Eighth Pole is one-eighth of a mile from the finish, and so on.)

With that bit of knowledge in the bank, here’s how folks involved the most with using The Poles actually do it.

Start in the morning – during training hours – where most everything to do with racing in the afternoon begins. The pole expert here is Millie Ball, a lifetime horsewoman who for more than 10 years exercised horses in Southern California for trainers like Hall of Famers Bobby Frankel and Bob Baffert, as well as her husband, Tim Yakteen.

“When you’re getting instruction for exercising a horse in the mornings,” Ball says, “the poles are the marking points. They are the X on your map of the racetrack. A trainer might say ‘Back him up to the quarter pole and…’  That’s your starting point in other words. You’ll go the wrong way (clockwise) on the outside (of the track) to that point, then turn him around and begin.

“When it comes to the sixteenth poles, you identify them by their proper names to start – the sixteenth, the three-sixteenths, the five-sixteenths. But after that you go to halves, based on the furlong poles – the 4 1/2, the 5 1/2, the 6 1/2 and so on.

“The furlong poles are how you can tell how quickly you’re going. After you’ve been at it for a while and you’ve built up some experience, you can basically start counting seconds between the (furlong) poles to judge your speed. You’re probably going to want to count to 12 between poles in order to get it right for most works. It’s that thing about having a clock in your head. That’s how a lot of riders do it.”

A couple of Hall of Fame riders – Kent Desormeaux and Mike Smith – offered takes on how the poles work for them in the afternoon during races.

“The key poles for me on the racetrack start at the green pole on the last turn – the three-eighths pole,” the ebullient Desormeaux said. “That’s the point where you want to ask your horse to pick it up some; let him know it’s time to get serious. Then when you hit the (red) quarter pole, now you’re going for it. Most all horses, especially the good horses, have a good quarter mile run in them. You can ask them for it there. If you’ve had to use some of it before then, you’re probably going to be in trouble. My job is to find my horse’s best high-cruising speed throughout the race and keep them there. Then when we get to the quarter pole, we’re going for it.”

Mike Smith, one of the great pace riders of all time, says knowing your poles can be what it’s all about.

“Horses get trained by poles,” he notes. “They take them from a certain pole to the finish line, then the next pole to the finish line. You’ve got to get a feel for them and what they can do and the poles can help tell you. Some horses will have a good quarter mile in them; some only have an eighth; some even less. Most horses will give it to you for a quarter mile. Sometimes you’ll have a good one that only has an eighth (of a mile) in them, but it can be a really devastating eighth. You’ve got to find out what they’ve got and use it. If you get there (finish first), you’ve probably done it right. If not, well….

“Here in the States our pole colors are the same. Not so in Europe. You go over there and you’ve got to know your courses. You’ve got to walk the grounds. You can have one-mile straights on some of those courses. You can get fooled here, too, with a place like Belmont (Park). You’ve got a mile and a half track there and the poles are way different. The six-furlong pole is where the half-mile (pole) is at other tracks. You turn for home and can think you’re at the quarter (pole), but you’re not. You better know your poles at a place like that.”

Yet another fellow who zeroes in on The Poles is the maestro of the announcer’s booth, Trevor Denman. Now in his 32nd year calling races at Del Mar, in Southern California and beyond, the South African transplant uses the poles to key a fair portion of his race calling.

“The poles mean so much to the race; it’s where everything happens,” he says. “Let’s suppose they’re running a mile: They jump out at the start and work their way to the three-quarter pole. Now the jockeys have their position – they’re all settled in – and you can see what tempo they’re going. At the half-mile (pole) you’re looking for developments -- you’ll see if someone is going to turn up the pressure; maybe they think they (the leaders) are going too slow. And then, of course, the big one is the quarter pole. That’s where all the action happens. You can see with some of those horses that the jocks normally let them go just when they’re coming to the quarter pole. If they open up there and they’re strong, you’re not going to catch them. But by the same token, if they’re on the lead and they start getting weary, the quarter pole is the one that’s going to find them out. You can almost tell at the quarter pole whether they’re going to run on or not. And then there’s the sixteenth pole. That’s where it gets tight. If the guy on the lead has a tired horse, he’s begging for that sixteenth to come.

“I try to reference the poles in my calls. The half-mile pole, the quarter pole, the eighth pole. Sometimes the eighth can be everything. When you’re visualizing the race and you say ‘He’s at the eighth pole and he’s hanging on,’ you know you’ve got to sweat it. But if you say ‘They’re at the eighth pole and so and so is flying,’ then you’re looking awfully good. It’s all about the poles.”

And lest we forget, there’s yet another pole on the racetrack that really hasn’t been mentioned yet, and most will tell you it is the most important one of all.

Our morning exercise rider speaks to it.

“Then, of course, you’ve got the mile pole, or the finish line,” says Millie Ball. “We don’t call it the mile pole, though. It’s ‘the wire.’ A trainer might say ‘Work him from the five (furlong pole) to the wire.’ In other words, it’s going to be a five-furlong work.”

Rider Desormeaux knows about that pole, too.

“Let’s not forget that other pole – the one at the finish line,” he says. “It’s a very important one, especially in the afternoons. When you get right down to it, it’s probably the most important pole of all.”

Monday, November 23, 2015


Del Mar’s final week of its fall racing season – starting on Thanksgiving Day and running through Sunday, November 29 – will offer topnotch racing spiced by an impressive number of high-line stakes horses shipping in from around the country in quest of nearly $1.5-million in purses.

Seven major stakes, including a pair of Grade I turf tests, will make the holiday week especially noteworthy for Southern California racing fans. First post on Thanksgiving Day has been set at 11 a.m., while the remaining three cards on the weekend go off at 12:30 p.m.

Del Mar’s racing personnel – headed by executive vice president Tom Robbins, racing secretary David Jerkens, assistant racing secretary Zachary Soto and stakes coordinator Chris Merz – have been trading multiple phone calls, e-mails and texts with some of the nation’s top trainers as arrangements have been finalized to bring horses in for the various stakes offerings. Their handiwork has enabled them to link up a strong local contingent of Southern California stakes horses with a collection of invaders that hasn’t often been matched in these parts.

Triggering the holiday agenda on Thursday is the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, a Grade II headliner for 3-year-olds and up that is contested at the demanding distance of a mile and one half. Among the 10 runners considered likely for the marathon are The Pizza Man, a stakes winner of 15 races – including the 2015 Arlington Million -- and more than $1.7 million who finished third in this race last year. Trainer Roger Brueggeman will ship in his long-winded gelding from Kentucky, where he was last seen finished fifth in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf. Also on board for the Hollywood Turf Cup is Up With the Birds, another millionaire ($1.1 million) who trainer H. Graham Motion will bring from the east coast.

On Friday (November 27), the featured attraction is the $250,000 Seabiscuit Handicap, also for 3-year-olds and up and run at a mile and one-sixteenth on the lawn. The Grade II test has drawn 23 nominations, including Seek Again, a 5-year-old homebred who races out of trainer Bill Mott’s powerful east coast stable.

Saturday’s nine-race program will feature three stakes, starting with the Grade III, $100,000 Jimmy Durante for 2-year-old fillies at a mile on the turf. New York-based trainer John Terranova is bringing in English-bred Enjoy Yourself for the race, which is projected to be contested by a full field of 14. If that holds true, it would be a first for the seaside track. Prior to last year’s total renovation and expansion of the turf course, Del Mar could run no more than 12 horses in a grass race. The new course is capable of safely holding 14 runners and it appears the Durante could be the race that christens the Jimmy Durante Turf Course with its first totally “full” field.

Also on the Saturday card is the $150,000 Native Diver Stakes, a Grade III test at nine furlongs on the main track, and the $300,000 Hollywood Derby for 3-year-olds at nine furlongs on the green. That Grade I headliner also is likely to attract a full field of 14, four of them from the highly successful barn of New York turf specialist Chad Brown. The young trainer, who knows Del Mar after having learned the conditioning ropes as an assistant to the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, is planning on shipping in Fundamental, Money Multiplier, March and Offering Plan.

Other out-of-towners also eyeing the Hollywood Derby are horses from the Mott barn (Closing Bell), the Jeremy Noseda barn (Mister Brightside) and the Pavel Matejka barn (One Go All Go).

Sunday’s closing-day program will be highlighted by a pair of graded stakes – the Grade III, $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille for 2-year-olds at a mile on the turf and the Grade I, $300,000 Matriarch for fillies and mares, aged 3 and up, also at a mile on the grass.

Among those likely for the DeMille is eastern trainer Gary Contessa’s Manhattan Dan. Also likely for the lineup is Tusk, another runner out of the Motion barn.

The Matriarch, whose rich history dates back 35 years, has lured a half-dozen distaff aces from the barns of five eastern-based conditioners. Trainer Mott will saddle Filimbi, trainer Brown has Olorda, trainer Christophe Clement will bring a pair in Hard Not To Like and Stellar Path, trainer James Toner will enter Recepta and conditioner Victoria Oliver is sending She’s Not Here. The last-named filly was a double winner at Del Mar’s summer meet this year, including a triumph in the Grade II Yellow Ribbon Stakes.

Last year’s closing week stakes played a key role in the Eclipse Award voting when trainer Art Sherman chose to enter his charge California Chrome in the Hollywood Derby after the flashy chestnut colt had won two legs of the Triple Crown and five stakes all told earlier in the year. Voting for the Horse of the Year title was considered close, but “Chrome’s” victory in the Hollywood Derby was seen as the key to putting him over the top en route to/ the nation’s foremost racing prize.

Del Mar’s 20-day fall season is the second it has conducted since the closing of Hollywood Park in Los Angeles in 2013. The 2014 session went for 15 days. In addition to its summer meeting, which is scheduled to run for 39 days next year between Friday, July 15 and Monday, September 5, the track will present its third fall season for 16 days between Thursday, November 10 and Sunday, December 4.


Trainer Doug O'Neill earned his 2,000th victory of his career Nov. 22 at Del Mar, when Formally Wild crossed the wire first in a seven-furlong, $8,000 claiming event at the Southern California racetrack.

Jockey Tyler Baze punctuated the 1 1/2-length win, ahead of second-place finisher and stablemate Ultimate Luck, with a fist pump just before sealing the O'Neill's milestone victory at the wire.

"This is really the result of having a great team and I'm so blessed to be surrounded by so many people, led by (assistant trainer) Leandro Mora," O'Neill said in the winner's circle after the race. "We'd be here all day if I mentioned all of the 60, 70 guys that work their butt off every day."

Owned in partnership by R3 Racing and Calara Farms, Formally Wild is a 4-year-old Offlee Wild   gelding who was a $12,500 claim by O’Neill Oct. 17 at Santa Anita Park. O'Neill retained the gelding, who went unclaimed, but lost Ultimate Luck, whom Ruben Gomez went to $8,000 to claim.

The victory was O'Neill's 12th win of the Del Mar winter meeting, which began Oct. 29. He's won four training titles at the seaside racetrack.

His 1,000th victory came when No Means Maybe captured the Bustles and Bows Stakes at Fairplex Park in 2007. Baze was also aboard for that victory.



Racing secretary David Jerkens looked upon the abundant quality and quality that  appears to be assembling for close of the Bing Crosby Season starting on Thanksgiving Day with some satisfaction and pride.

Four days. Seven graded stakes totaling $1.45 million in purses. A score, in the Gettysburg Address sense, of out-of-state shippers for those stakes from the stables of nearly a dozen celebrated trainers headquartered far from Southern California.

But surprised, Jerkens is not.

“It’s Del Mar,” Jerkens said. “Who doesn’t want to come here? The races are well established, the purses are large, the turf course is great and so is the weather.”

Here’s a chronological, capsule look at what Jerkens, stakes coordinator Chris Merz and the racing office are projecting for the big finish to the second Crosby Season.

Thursday, the Grade II $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, 1 ½ miles on turf. Already set with a field of 14 and two on the also-eligible list. Key shippers are: Up With The Birds (H. Graham Motion, trainer) and Arlington Million winner The Pizza Man (Roger Brueggemann).

Friday, the Grade II $250,000 Seabiscuit Handicap, 1 1/16 miles on turf. With the close of entries and post position draw scheduled late Sunday morning, a field of at least eight and possibly up to 12 is expected. The key shippers are 5-year-old Seek Again (Bill Mott), winner of the 2013 Hollywood Derby, its last running at Hollywood Park, and Are You Kidding Me (Roger Attfield), recent winner of the Autumn Handicap at Woodbine. Early Sunday morning, Merz said that weather in the East had Motion also considering sending German-bred Messi, winner of the Knickerbocker at Belmont Park on October 10 in his last start.

Saturday, the Grade III $150,000 Native Diver Stakes, 1 1/8 miles on the main track. The only dirt test of the seven graded stakes in the final week could have the shortest field, with only six to eight expected. Attfield has Are You Kidding Me, cross-entered in Friday’s Seabiscuit, nominated as the only shipper. Yahilwa and Warren’s Veneda, 5-year-old mares who were second and third respectively to Beholder in last summer’s Clement L. Hirsch, are possibilities to face males in the event.

Saturday, the Grade III $100,000 Jimmy Durante Stakes, one mile on turf. A capacity field is expected and, if so, it would be the first 14-horse mile race at Del Mar and an early test of the course where the 2017 Breeders’ Cup will be contested. Enjoy Yourself (John Terranova II) is expected to ship in for her second U.S. race after making a strong closing run in last month’s Flower Bowl at Belmont Park.

Saturday, the Grade I $300,000 Hollywood Derby, 1 1/8 miles on turf. Another full field of 14 is expected with half of them having journeyed from the East for the event. Trainer Chad Brown has nominated four –Fundamental, March, Money Multiplier, and Offering Plan, with the last-named coming in off a victory in the English Channel last month at Belmont Park. Closing Bell (Mott), Mister Brightside (Jeremy Noseda) and One Go All Go (Pavel Matejka) are Derby targeted as well.

Sunday, the Grade III $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes, one mile on turf. Eleven or 12 could go with Manhattan Dan (Gary Contessa) pace setter in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, the key invader. Tusk (Motion) got a run over the course on November 8 and produced a gritty win by a neck.

Sunday, the Grade I $300,000 Matriarch, one mile on turf. Fourteen more are anticipated for the event that provides the climax to the meeting. Shippers expected are Filimbi (Mott), Hard Not To Like and Stellar Path (Clement), Olorda (Brown), Recepta (James Toner) and She’s Not Here (Vicki Oliver). She’s Not Here was here for the Summer Meeting and notched two wins, the capper coming in the Grade II $200,000 Yellow Ribbon.


Solid Wager, a 9-1 outsider in the betting, rallied from last place turning into the stretch under powerful urging from jockey Joe Talamo to win the featured $100,000 Cary Grant Stakes Sunday at Del Mar.

Last of seven horses with less than a quarter-mile remaining in the seven-furlong dash on the main track, Solid Wager closed strongly in the center of the track and got up in the final strides to shade 13-1 longshot Raised a Secret by a half-length in 1:22.23 for the distance.

Got Even, another longshot at 18-1, was third, another half-length behind the runner-up and a length in front of Forest Chatter.

The big disappointment in the race was defending champion Big Macher, sent postward at 2-5 but the seventh and last-place finisher under jockey Rafael Bejarano. Withdrawn from the original field were Avanti Bello, Red Outlaw, Old Man Lake and Richard’s Boy.

Talamo, a newly-wed who was married Friday, inherited the mount on Solid Wager when Victor Espinoza, originally named on the four-year-old gelding, called in ill Sunday and was excused from his lone mount on the program.

Solid Wager, a son of Birdonthewire trained by Peter Miller, was scoring his sixth victory in 24 starts and returned $20, $6.60 and $4.60. First money of $57,000 increased his earnings total to $303,606 for owners Gary and Cecil Barber and the Stanford Stable of Sandra Ann Tsujihara, Michael J. De Anda and Lawrence Sai Kit Miao.

There were no perfect tickets in Sunday’s Pick Six so Thursday’s Thanksiving holiday program will feature a carryover of $102,968 for the card which begins at 11 a.m.

JOE TALAMO (Solid Wager, winner) -- "Well, isn't this sweet. Nice way to end the week. (He was married Friday night.) He's a nice horse and he was a runner today. Peter (trainer Peter Miller) didn't give me any special instructions. He just said ride him. He said he'll lay back and to keep him clear. He was way back, but they were going fast enough up there.  I'm not sure if I've ever done this before (picked up the mount on a stakes winner when rider Victor Espinoza took off him this morning).  But I'm sure glad I did."

FERNANDO PEREZ (Raised a Secret, second) -- "Good race for him. But he spooked a little at the quarter pole. He saw something and he spooked."

RAFAEL BEJARANO (Big Macher, seventh) -- "No excuses for him. He was in perfect position. But it just wasn't there."

PETER MILLER (Solid Wager, winner) -- "Wow, I guess I scratched the right two. Got Even (third) was a little slow to get going, I would have liked to have seen him on a clear lead by himself. But the pace was moderate for these kinds of horses. Solid Wager was within striking range so I felt pretty good. About the quarter pole I could see that Got Even was getting a little tired, but I could also see that Solid Wager was making his move. He's a grinder. I knew it was going to be close, but he got up there. I'm very happy for the owners group and everyone involved."

FRACTIONS:  :22.51  :44.83  1:09.25  1:22.23

This is the second time the Cary Grant has been run at Del Mar. Previously, it has been run as the On Trust Stakes 30 times at Hollywood Park.

This is the second stakes winner of the meet for rider Talamo and his 41st overall at Del Mar.

This is the first stakes winner of the meet for trainer Miller and his 13th overall at Del Mar. Miller had originally entered four horses in the race, but scratched two (Red Outlaw and Richard's Boy).

The winner is owned by brothers Cecil and Gary Barber of Sherman Oaks (Cecil) and Los Angeles (Gary). Other owners are the partnership called Stanford Stable, consisting of Sandra Ann Tsujihara, Michael Joseph De Anda and Laurence Sai Kit Miao.


Saturday, November 21, 2015


Even after his first serious workout in just more than eight months, California Chrome wanted more.

It's become somewhat of a habit for the 2014 Horse of the Year. After he hits the wire, he doesn't want to pull up, and it was business as usual Nov. 21, when he covered three furlongs in :37 3/5 at Los Alamitos Race Course.

"Boy, he's galloping out strong," assistant trainer Alan Sherman said as he watched the 4-year-old Lucky Pulpit   colt gallop beyond the wire, out to four furlongs in :50 1/5, which will be the official time on his worktab. "He doesn't want to stop. Look at him. Easy there, big boy."

According to Los Alamitos clocker Russ Hudak, last year's dual classic winner started "off a bit slow" under regular exercise rider Dihigi Gladney, and ran the first eighth of the drill in :14, but quickened in the stretch to run the final quarter to the wire in :23 3/5. He worked under the watchful gaze of owners Perry Martin and Frank Taylor, as well as trainer Art Sherman.

"He's muscling up. He's got a lot of air power," the elder Sherman said. "I watch him now, when he gallops out, you think he might be getting a little tired, but he gets stronger when he gallops out, so that's a good sign. It shows he wants to do more and I like that a lot.

"He's done that ever since I've had him. Every time I work him, when he goes past the wire, he cuts. It's the darndest thing. It doesn't matter if you're trying to pull him up, because I think he goes faster when you try to get a good hold of him."

Sherman also said California Chrome is "right on schedule" for the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 9 at Santa Anita Park, which would be his first start since running second in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 28. Potential inclement weather in Southern California, which is forecasted this winter in an El Niño year, could cause him to shift training plans slightly, but for now the colt continues to be scheduled for a breeze every Saturday leading into the San Pasqual.

"We can always go a day after or early if we know a rainstorm is coming in," Sherman said. "Once he's fit and ready, it won't make any difference."

Both of the Art and Alan Sherman said they're planning on having jockey Victor Espinoza up for a workout in the coming weeks. The Saturday workout was California Chrome's third since returning to California in October. The first two—two furlongs in :26 3/5 Nov. 7 and three furlongs in :39 3/5 Nov. 14—were intentionally easy.

"You'll watch now, progressively, each work will be a little better and better," the elder Sherman said. "Then, when you see Victor on him, you'll know we're getting serious."

Friday, November 20, 2015


Global Magician, the 3-2 favorite ridden by Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza, overhauled pacesetting Signature Cat in the stretch and went on to win Del Mar’s feature race Thursday, a five-furlong sprint on the grass.

Global Magician, owned by Barber and Wachtel Stable and trained by Peter Miller, scored by one and one-quarter lengths over Signature Cat in 57.18 for the abbreviated distance. Gutsy Ruler was third, one and one-quarter lengths behind the runner-up and the same margin in front of fourth-place Burnaroundtheedges in the field of nine sprinters.

Del Mar’s final week of its fall racing season – starting on Thanksgiving Day and running through Sunday, November 29 – will offer topnotch racing spiced by an impressive number of high-line stakes horses shipping in from around the country in quest of nearly $1.5-million in purses.

Seven major stakes, including a pair of Grade I turf tests, will make the holiday week especially noteworthy for Southern California racing fans. First post on Thanksgiving Day has been set at 11 a.m., while the remaining three cards on the weekend go off at 12:30 p.m.

Eleven evenly-matched older fillies and mares will match strides and stamina Saturday in the 50th running of the Grade III $100,000 Red Carpet Handicap at the marathon distance of a mile and three-eighths over Del Mar’s infield Jimmy Durante grass course.

Packing highweight of 122 pounds will be Irish-bred Elektrum, winner of the Grade II John C. Mabee last summer but a disappointment when finishing fourth at even-money behind Uzziel in the Goldikova Stakes three weeks ago. Triple Crown-winner Victor Espinoza again has the call from trainer John Sadler.

Thursday, November 19, 2015



Personal Diary is back at the scene of her biggest triumph and will be sent out in search of another stakes win here in Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Red Carpet Stakes.

The 4-year-old daughter of City Zip, trained by Victoria Oliver, winner of the Grade I Del Mar Oaks in 2014, made the journey here from Kentucky for the third time in the past 16 months earlier this week and will break from the No. 10 post in a field of 11 for the 1 3/8 mile marathon. Corey Nakatani has the mount.

The Del Mar Oaks is the only victory in nine starts over the past 15 months for Personal Diary, all but her most recent, a close third in an October allowance at Keeneland, against graded stakes competition.

“She’s been unlucky every time this year (0-for-6),” Brian Duggan, an assistant to Oliver, said Thursday morning. Duggan accompanied Personal Ensign on a summer trip here where an unusual rain prompted a scratch from one target race before she finished fifth, beaten only three-quarters of a length, to Elektrum in the Grade II John C. Mabee.

“If she could have gotten out (into the clear) sooner she could have won the John C. Mabee,” Duggan said.

The 1 3/8-mile distance will be a first, but might be a benefit for Personal Diary, whose best results have come in late-closing fashion -- fourth in the stretch to win the Del Mar Oaks by 2 ¾ lengths the prime example.

The field from the rail: Energia Fribby (Gary Stevens, 12-1), Three Hearts (Joe Talamo, 10-1), Tiz Kissable (Tyler Baze, 30-1), Beat of The Drum (Brice Blanc, 12-1), Trophee (James Graham, 7-2), Star Act (Rafael Bejarano, 8-1), Havanna Belle (David C. Lopez, 20-1), Customer Base (Mike Smith, 15-1), Elektrum (Victor Espinoza, 3-1), Personal Diary (Corey Nakatani, 9-2) and Rusty Slipper (Silvestre de Sousa, 5-1). Also eligible: Soresca (Santiago Gonzalez, 30-1).


Trainer Doug O’Neill spent Sunday at home with his family, the afternoon dedicated to a double header for his son Daniel’s Cheviot Hills Little League team.

The team lost two. Daniel went 1-for-3 in the first game and walked twice in the second. Doug monitored, on his California Racing app, as assistant Leandro Mora, and Team O’Neill aides Jack Sisterson and Steve Rothblum saddled four consecutive winners at Del Mar.

Victories by Sorryaboutnothing ($41.20) by disqualification in the fourth race and outright by Anthonysgotgame ($4.20), Pary the Fine ($7.80) and Sweet Halory ($15.40) in the fifth through seventh were numbers 1,991-1,995 in O’Neill’s career.

Over Par finished sixth in Sunday’s nightcap to prevent O’Neill from matching his Del Mar record-setting five-win day last summer. But the outburst propelled O’Neill past five others to within one (8-7) of leader Phil D’Amato in the trainer standings.

O’Neill has eight horses entered on today’s card. He’s unrepresented in two races but has double entries in two others. And he’s here to saddle them himself.

“I might be the ‘cooler,’” O’Neill said Thursday morning of the hot streak. “If we win one or two, I’ll be happy.”

O’Neill’s Thursday lineup: Kellianne Can Can (1st, 5-1), Exactamente (1st, 4-1), Derby Glass (4th, 9-5), Alltheleavesrbrown (5th, 12-1), Albeit (6th, 12-1), Hye I’m Jack (7th, 8-1) Pretty Enuff (8th, 20-1) and Octofy (8th, 3-1).

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is at 6,997 career wins. He has one starter at Del Mar and one at Golden Gate Fields on Thursday. His Del Mar representative is Dreamarcher (6th, 5-1). At Golden Gate Fields it’s Implicated (7th, 3-1).


Stakes coordinator Chris Merz has received a possibly unprecedented response, in terms of numbers, from East Coast-based trainers for the seven graded stakes over the last four days of the meeting, from Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 26, to Closing Day on Sunday, November 29.

“If everybody who (has indicated) they’re coming does, we will have 19 shippers for the closing weekend,” Merz said Thursday morning. “We could have a field of 14 for the Jimmy Durante (Saturday, November 26), which would be the first time we’ve run 14 on the turf course.”

The races, in chronological order, and the shippers, with trainers in parenthesis.

$250,000 Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup, Thursday, November 26: The Pizza Man (Roger Brueggemann),  Up With The Birds (H. Graham Motion).

$250,000 Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap, Friday, November 27: Seek Again (Bill Mott), Are You Kidding Me (Roger Attfield).

$150,000 Grade III Native Diver Handicap, Saturday, November 28: Are You Kidding Me (Roger Attfield).

$100,000 Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes, Saturday, November 28: Enjoy Yourself (John Terranova).

Grade I $300,000 Hollywood Derby, Saturday, November 28: Closing Bell (Bill Mott), Mister Bright Side (Jeremy Noseda), One Go All Go (Pavel Matejka), Fundamental, March, Money Multiplier, Offering Plan (Chad Brown).

Grade III $100,000 Cecil B. De Mille Stakes, Sunday, November 29: Manhattan Dan (Gary Contessa).

Grade I $300,000 Matriarch Stakes, Sunday, November 29: Filimbi (Bill Mott), Hard Not To Like, Stellar Pass (Christophe Clement), Recepta (John Terranova) and Olorda (Chad Brown).

The East Coast contingent is scheduled to journey on the same airplane on Monday.


Big Macher drew post position No. 5 in a field of 11 for his title defense in Sunday’s $100,000 Cary Grant Stakes.

The 5-year-old gelding, trained by Richard Baltas, prevailed by a neck over Rousing Sermon in the first running at Del Mar of the event formerly known as the On Trust Stakes in the inaugural Bing Crosby meeting.

The field from the rail out: Avanti Bello (Tyler Baze), Solid Wager (Victor Espinoza), Got Even (Martin Pedroza), Soi Phet (Alonso Quinonez), Big Macher (Rafael Bejarano), Bold Fantasy (David C. Lopez), Red Outlaw (Edwin Maldonado), Forest Chatter (Mike Smith), Old Man Lake (Tiago Pereira), Raised a Secret (Fernando Perez) and Richard’s Boy (Joe Talamo).


Head clocker John Malone and Equibase chart maker Ellis Davis will be the featured experts in the weekend seminars.

Malone will provide information and selections on Saturday while Davis will be the guest of Tom Ferrall for the Sunday program.

The seminars start at 11:30 a.m. and are held at the Seaside Terrace near the top of the stretch.


For the second Bing Crosby Season at Del Mar, we offer a daily note, quote or anecdote about the track’s founding father for whom the fall meeting is named.

Accepting his Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for “Going My Way” in 1945, Crosby said: “This is the only country in the world where an old broken-down crooner can win an Oscar for acting. It shows that everybody in this country has a chance to succeed. I was just lucky enough to have Leo McCarey take me by the hand and lead me through the picture.” --

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Shared Belief, who returned to Golden Gate Fields early in the morning Nov. 3, resumed light training on Nov. 5. The 4-year-old gelding had been in training at the Pegasus Rehabilitation Center in Washington after being injured in the G2 Charles Town Classic in April.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Toews On Ice had already showed his talent in two runaway stakes wins earlier this fall, but he showed his heart Nov. 14 at Del Mar.

Challenged every step of the way by Mac Daddy Mac in the $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes (gr. III), the 2-year-old Archarcharch   colt owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman lost the lead to his dueling rival exiting the turn in the seven-furlong dirt test, but rallied back on the rail to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Watch Video

The pair sped to fractions of :22.84 and :45.85 through a half-mile before William Dean Reeves' Mac Daddy Mac put a head in front at the top of the stretch, but Toews On Ice re-rallied under urging from jockey Martin Garcia to hit the wire in 1:22.27.

"(It was a) tougher race for him today, but he responded," Garcia said. "That other horse got in front of him in the stretch for a little bit, but he dug in and went and got him."

The Bob Baffert trainee went off at 4-5 odds and paid $3.80, $2.80, and $2.20, across the board. Mac Daddy Mac brought $3.80 and $3, while I'malreadythere delivered $4.80 to show for his third-place finish, 3 1/4 lengths back.

"You're always worried when a horse gets headed like he did," said Jimmy Barnes, Baffert's assistant. "But it looked like Martin was just cruising and he responded when he had to... You want to see a horse come back like he did. It was gratifying."

A 4 1/2-length debut winner for trainer Jack Carava going 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Park Oct. 24, Mac Daddy Mac, a Florida-bred son of Put It Back, was privately purchased by Reeves after the victory and moved to the barn of Kathy Ritvo.

"Good effort from the colt—big race for him," said Mac Daddy Mac's jockey, Gary Stevens. "He only had one start and he gets stretched out from 5 1/2 (furlongs) to seven. He responded well. He's talented and he's game."

The Bob Hope gave Toews On Ice his first graded win in his graded debut, which was his third straight stakes score after victories in the Barretts Juvenile at Los Alamitos Race Course Sept. 20 and the Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita Oct. 18. He now has a 3-0-2 record from five starts, with earnings of $175,200.



Personal Diary, winner of the Grade I Del Mar Oaks in 2014 and Big Macher, a winner of three stakes races at Del Mar in the past 16 months, top the list of nominees to next weekend’s $100,000 Grade III Red Carpet and $100,000 Cary Grant Stakes, respectively.

The Red Carpet, a 1 3/8 mile turf marathon for older fillies and mares, will be run Saturday, November 21. The Cary Grant, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up, is the Sunday feature.

Considered probables for Saturday’s Red Carpet by Stakes Coordinator Chris Merz are: Customer Base, Energia Fribby, Halljoy, Personal Diary, Soresca, Star Act and three hearts. Thirteen others are nominated and therefore eligible to be entered before the post position draw on Wednesday.

Personal Diary was a 2 ¾ length winner under Corey Nakatani at odds of 9-1 in the 2014 Del Mar Oaks in August of last year. That remains the last victory for the now 4-year-old daughter of City Zip who has made all but two of her 16 career starts and the bulk of $266,393 in career earnings on turf.

Trained by Victoria Oliver and based at Keeneland, Personal Diary shipped to Del Mar for the John C. Mabee Stakes last August but largely lacked running room in the 1 1/8-mile event and finished fifth to Elektrum.

Considered probables for the Cary Grant are: Acceptance, Avanti Bello, Big Macher, Bold Fantasy, Forest Chatter, Soi Phet and Solid Wager. There are eight additional nominees.

Big Macher is the defending champion in the Cary Grant, prevailing by a neck over Rousing Sermon in a rebound race after an undistinguished (9th) 2014 Breeders’ Cup Sprint effort. As was the case a year ago the 5-year-old Beau Genius gelding, trained by Richard Baltas, will make a comeback start in the Grant after finishing 10th in the BC Sprint at Keeneland.


Bob Baffert’s Toews On Ice won Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes with Jerry Hollendorfer’s I’malreadythere third as the two Hall of Fame trainers had two representatives each in the field of seven.

A similar scenario could play out in today’s $100,000 Desi Arnaz as Baffert will be represented by 2-1 morning line favorite Pretty N Cool plus Treasuring (4-1) while Hollendorfer sends out Surfside Tiara (4-1). Hollendorfer’s second entrant, Imflatoutsweet (15-1), was scratched.

The Hollendorfer camp, of course, is looking to turn the tables.

“Surfside Tiara has run well every time,” said Dan Ward, top assistant to Hollendorfer. “Her only bad loss is to Songbird and you can’t hold that against her.”


Formerly the Moccasin Stakes on the Hollywood Park schedule, the race for 2-year-old fillies was renamed to honor the singer/bandleader/actor who was a pioneer in television while co-starring with his wife, Lucille Ball, on the beyond-popular “I Love Lucy” comedy series. Arnaz, a serious racing fan who was also a horse owner and breeder, had a home on the beach in Del Mar where he lived for 25 years.


An account of Bob Baffert’s honoring at Saturday night’s University of Arizona football game in Tucson from the website Tucson.com.

Bob Baffert stood in the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility lobby 30 minutes before kickoff sporting an Arizona Wildcats jacket and cowboy boots.

His trademark sunglasses were nowhere to be seen. Still, Baffert looked — and felt — at home.

The Nogales-born, UA-educated, Triple Crown-winning horse trainer took in Saturday’s game at Arizona Stadium. He was honored on the field at the first media timeout.

“I grew up loving the University of Arizona when I was 8, 9, 10 years old,” he said. “It was great entertainment to come and watch them and root for somebody. There’s nothing like having a favorite team. There’s nothing like having a rooting interest; (it’s) like having a rooting interest in a horse that you own, or you love.”

Baffert’s love of the UA is reflected in the names of his horses: Midnight Lute, Da Stoops and Candrea were all nods to UA coaches, while Lady Regina was named for the wife of athletic director Greg Byrne.

A Baffert-centric, racing-style account of the game which ran too late for the newspapers:

Given left and right handed, full body and full throated urging from Bob Baffert to and past the wire, the University of Arizona upset No. 10 Utah, 37-30 in double overtime.


Jerry Hollendorfer and Doug O’Neill didn’t add to career win totals on Saturday and enter Sunday’s racing with 6,997 and 1,991 victories respectively.

Hollendorfer has three horses entered here today and two in one race at Golden Gate Fields. O’Neill is scheduled to send out six at Del Mar.

Hollendorfer’s lineup at Del Mar: Gangnam Guy (6th, 4-1), Ceeme Run Wild (7th, 7-2) and Surfside Tiara (8th, 4-1). At Golden Gate, Hollendorfer’s represntatives are Global Harbor (10-1) and Lamu (15-1) in the eighth race.

O’Neill’s Del Mar lineup: Smooth Talker (1st, 7-2), Sorryaboutnothing (4th, 6-1), Anthonysgotgame (5th, 3-1),  Pay the Fine (6th, 7-2), Sweet Halory (7th, 4-1) and Over Par (9th, 9-2).


For the second Bing Crosby Season at Del Mar, we offer a daily note, quote or anecdote about the track’s founding father for whom the fall meeting is named.

In the 1960s, Bing generated publicity for a fly-in resort near La Paz, Mexico, when he bought a home at the development along the Sea of Cortez. A nearby neighbor was Desi Arnaz, for whom today’s featured stakes is named. An interesting feature of Arnaz’s Mexican bungalow was a pool in the shape of a flamenco guitar.

CLOSERS – Craig Stephen, agent for meet-leading rider Santiago Gonzalez, said an appeal would be filed regarding a three-day suspension stewards levied Thursday, to be served Nov. 22, 26 and 27, for interference aboard Exactamente in the third race on Sunday, November 8 … Trainer Kathy Ritvo said Bob Hope runner-up Mac Daddy Mac came out of the race well and she was pleased with the effort but had no plans for a next start … Bailoutbobby, one-third owned by the San Diego-based Great Friends Stable, has been sold to Saudi Arabian interests. The 5-year-old gelding, second in the Cougar II Handicap and eighth in the Pacific Classic here last summer, won the $200,000, Grade II Marathon on the first day of the Breeders’ Cup, October 30, at Keeneland, in his last start … Jacquelyn King, retiring after more than three decades as the Director of Group Sales, will be honored by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club after today’s seventh race.



Lucky Folie, well-supported at 2-1 despite the presence of 3-5 favored Pretty N Cool, held on tenaciously in the final strides to win the featured $100,000 Desi Arnaz Stakes for two-year-old fillies Sunday at Del Mar.

With Hall of Famer Gary Stevens in the saddle, Lucky Folie sped to the lead at the start of the seven-furlong sprint, responded when  challenged at the top of the stretch by Pretty N Cool and then was able to hang on desperately to defeat 11-1 longshot Treasuring by a half-length in 1:23.86 for the distance.
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