Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Midnight Storm, whose success has been earned primarily on grass, showed his versatility Sunday as he transferred his ability to Del Mar’s main dirt track and cruised to an easy triumph in the Grade III $100,000 Native Diver.

With Mike Smith along for the ride, Midnight Storm took command shortly after the start of the nine-furlong contest and never was threatened, widening in the stretch to win by seven and three-quarters under highweight of 125 pounds.

Smith replaced Flavien Prat aboard Midnight Storm when Prat was unseated breaking from the gate aboard We Go Now in the third race. Prat was cleared to ride his remaining mounts Sunday but reportedly was experiencing physical discomfort and was excused by the board of stewards from further competition Sunday afternoon.

Point Piper was runner-up in the Native Diver, a head in front of Hard Aces, with Blue Tone fourth in the field of seven older horses.

Midnight Storm, a five-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile owned by Venneri Racing and Little Red Feather Racing and trained by Phil D’Amato, stepped the distance in 1:51.59 over a “good” track and paid $5.20, $3.40 and $2.60 after his ninth win in 20 outings. First money of $60,000 increased his bankroll to $1,341,110.

Point Piper paid $5 and $3.80, while Hard Aces returned $2.60 to show.

In the co-headliner, the $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes for two-year-olds, Term of Art, flying the famous colors of Calumet Farm, forged to the front in the final sixteenth to defeat longshot Vending Machine and 8-5 favored Sword Fighter in a driving finish.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Term of Art, a Doug O’Neill-trained son of Tiznow bred in Kentucky, scored by a length and one-quarter, with Vending Machine three-quarters of a length in front of the show horse, Sword Fighter. Fourth in the field of seven juveniles was Curly’s Waterfront. Withdrawn from the original field were Offshore and Conscripted.

Over a main dirt surface labeled “good” after recent wet weather, Term of Art raced the mile in 1:41.69 and returned $15.80, $7.20 and $4.40. Victory was his second in five starts and first money of $60,000 boosted his earnings to $111,105. Vending Machine paid $12.80 and $6, while Sword Fighter returned $2.60 to show.

MIKE SMITH (Midnight Storm, winner) – “Phil (trainer D’Amato) didn’t tell me anything. He just said if he likes it (the off track), you’ll have some fun. He looked to be the only speed and I caught a flyer coming away from there. He was going so easy; I never moved my hands. He was looking around, so I knew he was happy. Then when I asked him to do some running, he did it. Very impressive.”

MARIO GUTIERREZ (Point Piper, second) – “He made up some good ground late. It was a good try for him. But that winner – oh, man, he’s tough.”

SANTIAGO GONZALEZ (Hard Aces, third) -- “Good try for him. Good race.”

PHIL D’AMATO  (Midnight Storm, winner) – “He did it the right way. Mike (Smith) got him to relax beautifully and at the three-eighths pole he just put the squeeze on him a little bit and (Midnight Storm) opened up on them. It’s important (graded stakes win on dirt) for a lot of reasons. At stud in the future and it gives us a lot more opportunities to look at for next year”

FRACTIONS:  :23.89  :48.36  1:13.53  1:38.95  1:51.59

The stakes win was second of the Fall meet, but first in the Native Diver for rider Smith. He now has 60 stakes wins at Del Mar, 11th best among all riders.

The stakes win was the first of the Fall meet and the first in the Native Diver for trainer D’Amato. He now has 13 stakes wins at Del Mar.


JOE TALAMO (Term of Art, winner) – “He’s growing up. The more this horse runs, the better he’s going to get. He’ll just improve as he goes along, as he matures. I was very impressed with him today. I think he’ll run on, too. He’ll run a mile and a quarter. He wasn’t blowing hard at all at the end of this today. The track is playing OK. It’s mostly fair. Maybe a little deep; I don’t think they’re going to be setting any track records today.”

NORBERTO ARROYO, JR. (Vending Machine, second) -- “It was a good race for him. He tried hard. He handled the track well and he ran good. We just got beat.”

SANTIAGO GONZALEZ (Sword Fighter, third) – “Good race for him. The track was no problem.”

LEANDRO MORA, assistant to Doug O’Neill (Term of Art, winner) – “The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (9th) was a lot of horses and it got a little tight coming out of the gate. He’s not a horse who can take dirt in his face. He’s got to be a little clear. But he came out of it sound and we decided to try him in this race on the grass. When the race was called off the grass, Doug called me and said ‘What do you think?’ I said I like it because it’s off the grass. It worked out well and he wasn’t even tired when he came back. We still have a lot more we can do with this horse.”

FRACTIONS:   :23.80  :48.77  1:14.91  1:27.98  1:41.69

The stakes win was the second of the meeting, but the first in the Cecil B. DeMille for rider Talamo. He now has 45 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first of the Fall meet and the first in the Cecil B. DeMille for trainer O’Neill. He now has 34 stakes wins at Del Mar.


Ring Weekend wins Seabiscuit Handicap Gr II

Solid Wager wins Cary Grant Stakes

Journey Home wins Jimmy Durante Stakes (Gr III)

Farrell Another Kentucky Oaks Prospect for Wayne Catalano

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Eastern-based trainer H. Graham Motion and jockey Drayden Van Dyke collaborated to sweep Del Mar’s stakes doubleheader on a rainy afternoon Saturday, winning the Grade III $100,000 Jimmy Durante Stakes with Journey Home and the Grade II $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap with hard-hitting Ring Weekend.

Ring Weekend, owned by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds, prevailed by a head over  Vyjack, with 3-2 favored Om another half-length behind in third. Hunt was fourth in the field of eight older horses.

Ring Weekend, a five-year-old gelded son of Tapit, stepped the mile and one-sixteenth on turf in 1:42.29 in registering his seventh victory in 20 starts. The winner’s prize was $120,000 and increased his earnings to $1,448,744. Second choice in the betting at 3-1, Ring Weekend paid $8, $4 and $2.80. Vyjack paid $4.80 and $2.40, while Om returned $2.20 to show.

In the afternoon’s supporting feature, the Durante Stakes, Journey Home, an invader from the east coast, rallied from last place in a field of 13 two-year-old fillies to win convincingly under Van Dyke.

Journey Home, winner of a maiden race on the grass at Laurel Park in Maryland in her only other race, scored by a length and one-quarter over 5-2 second choice Defiant Honor, with 2-1 favored With Honors a neck back in third and a length and one-half in front of fourth-place Miss Sugars.

Journey Home, a daughter of War Front owned by Sam-Son Farm, accomplished the mile over the infield grass course in 1:38.24 to claim first prize of $60,000. The filly returned $17.80, $8.20 and $4.60. Runner-up Defiant Honor paid $5 and $3.40, while With Honors returned $2.80 to show. Time for the one mile was 1:38.24.

The race was run in rainy, windy conditions as a squall hit the area shortly before post-time for the Durante. Several fillies appeared to jump several  foam drain covers which had blown onto the grass course on the clubhouse turn. The stewards conducted an inquiry and ruled that the incident did not affect the running of the race.

DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Ring Weekend, winner) – “This race set up on paper that I thought would be perfect for us. Then it played out just that way. It was sweet. We got into the lane and I let him do his thing. He was having a little trouble swapping his leads, but Graham (trainer H. Graham Motion) had told me about that and I was ready for it. About the sixteenth pole he swapped to his right lead and that gave us an extra burst. He was good. This is the first time I’ve won two stakes in one day. Feels good.”

FLAVIEN PRAT (Vyjack, second) – “I had a good trip and he ran well. No excuses.”

GARY STEVENS (Om, third) – “He was game. But I had a pest with me all the way (What a View laying right outside him) and that didn’t help.”

ALICE CLAPHAM, assistant to H. Graham Motion (Ring Weekend, winner) – “I am sure it has happened for Graham to win two stakes in a day, but this is the first time I’ve won two (on travel assignment for him). I talked to him after the first race and he was a little worried at the time that they might call the race a no contest, but he was very happy with the way the filly (Journey Home in the Jimmy Durante Stakes) ran. Drayden (Van Dyke) gave both our horses great rides and it worked out well.”

FRACTIONS:  :24.21  :48.48  1:12.29  1:36.25  1:42.29

The stakes win was the second of the meet for rider Van Dyke, but his first in the Seabiscuit. He now has seven stakes wins at Del Mar.
The stakes win was the second of the meet for trainer Motion, but his first in the Seabiscuit. He now has four stakes wins at Del Mar.


DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Journey Home, winner) – “Man, I had a lot of horse today. Way more horse than I could use. She was just full of run.  I really couldn’t ride her the way I wanted to because of the rain and wind (the track was hit by a squall at race time), but she took care of things anyway. She’s a good one.”

MIKE SMITH (Defiant Honor, second) – “She’s a nice filly. I wish I could have ridden her the way I wanted to rather than putting her on the lead like that. But that was the way it came up. She’s a good one, though.”

FLAVIEN PRAT (With Honors, third) – “She ran OK, but she just doesn’t seem to be the same filly she was before. She might need a break.”

ALICE CLAPHAM, assistant to H. Graham Motion  (Journey Home, winner) – “I thought Drayden (Van Dyke) rode a good race. He let her settle into the race and get her feet underneath her, waited to the top end and then she came home nicely. Everybody’s always liked her but sometimes with 2-year-olds you have to wait until they’re ready and the (winning debut) race at Laurel proved she was.”

FRACTIONS:  :23.75  :48.68  1:13.64  1:26.05  1:38.24

The stakes win was the first of the meeting for rider Van Dyke, but his second in the Jimmy Durante (he won last year’s running on Family Meeting). He now has six stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first of the meeting for trainer Motion and the first in the Jimmy Durante for the eastern-based conditioner. He now has three stakes wins at Del Mar.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Williamson Racing's homebred Texas Ryano broke through the graded ranks Nov. 25 with an emphatic victory in the $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IIT) at Del Mar. Watch Video

The 5-year-old son of Curlin   closed wide outside under jockey Joe Talamo and finished with a powerful kick for a 3 1/4-length victory in the 1 1/2-mile turf test, his first win in 14 months.

"I knew he could do it if he had the best ride. He doesn't like horses on the outside of him. Joe gave him a perfect ride, and watching him win by the lengths that he won by, I'm elated," owner Elise Williamson told TVG's Britney Eurton. "I love this horse. Our (Great Commotion mare) Blending Element is the mare, and Curlin, well, it doesn't get any better."

Texas Ryano, the 2-1 second choice in a field of six, came off a sixth in the Nov. 5 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and found the winner's circle for the first time in eight starts, dating back to his Sept. 27 victory in the 2015 King Pellinore Stakes at Santa Anita Park. He was eighth in that year's edition of the Hollywood Turf Cup, his graded debut for trainer Carla Gaines.

"He broke well today," said Gaines. "It was a dawdling pace, but he was able to stay close. In the Breeders' Cup he was so far back, and often is so far back. He broke well today, found a good position, made his tremendous kick, and it worked brilliantly."

Royal Albert Hall showed the way through the Hollywood Turf Cup, setting fractions of :24.60, :49.86, and 1:14.85 before being overtaken by Texas Ryano. Ashleyluvssugar, favored at 4-5, tried to make a run from second, but the eventual winner drew off under steady urging to win in a final time of 2:27.92.

Ashleyluvssugar, piloted by Gary Stevens and conceding four pounds to the winner, 124-120, held on well after being passed and was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Flamboyant, who completed the trifecta by a nose.

Texas Ryano paid $6.60, $3.20, and $2.10, while the victory pushed the Kentucky-bred's earnings to $438,355 with a 5-3-3 record from 18 starts. Ashleyluvssugar returned $2.40 and $2.10, and Flamboyant (FR) brought $2.60. Power Foot, Quick Casablanca, and the pacesetter completed the order of finish. Ralis was scratched.

Blending Element has been a foundation mare for the Williamson program, producing all winners from her nine foals to race. Of those, three won stakes, two are graded stakes winners—Texas Ryano and 2008 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) winner Tiz Elemental—and two are grade II stakes-placed. Blending Element's last reported foal is a 2015 Tiznow   filly.

Warren Williamson’s Texas Ryano, who trailed Ashleyluvssugar in three straight stakes races this year, gained a measure of revenge on his rival Friday with a decisive victory in the featured Grade II $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup.

Sent to the gate as a solid 2-1 second choice in a field of six grass marathoners, Texas Ryano and jockey Joe Talamo overhauled 4-5 favored Ashleyluvssugar at the head of the stretch and went on to score by three and one-quarter lengths in 2:27.92 for the mile and one-half over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Ashleyluvssugar, piloted by Gary Stevens and conceding four pounds to the winner, 124-120, held on well after being passed and was a length and one-quarter ahead of Flamboyant, who nosed out Power Foot for third money. Completing the field were Quick Casablanca and Royal Albert Hall. Withdrawn Friday morning was Ralis.

Texas Ryano, a five-year-old son of Curlin trained by Carla Gaines, was seventh in the Eddie Read last summer as Ashleyluvssugar checked in second. He was third beaten a length in the Del Mar Handicap won by Ashleyluvssugar and a half-length behind his rival when he won the John Henry Turf Classic at Santa Anita in early October.

Texas Ryano, scoring his fifth win in 18 starts, returned $6.60, $3.20 and $2.10 while earning $120,000 to boost his bankroll to $438,355. Ashleyluvssugar paid $2.40 and $2.10, while Flamboyant returned $2.60 to show.

JOE TALAMO (Texas Ryano, winner) -- “I was sitting there loaded and I was smiling. Couldn’t have had a better trip. The only thing that concerned me was the fact that we were going slow and I didn’t want the favorite (Ashleyluvssugar, who was second for most of the trip) to slip away in the lane. So I was up closer and it worked out just right. He ran big.”

GARY STEVENS (Ashleyluvssugar, second) – “Long campaign; it finally caught up with him. He ran well today, but Joe’s horse (Texas Ryano) ran great. My horse is gallant; he always tries. He’s dead honest. They told me that his share (second-place in the race is worth $40,000) makes him a millionaire ($1,007,504). That’s not bad.”

MIKE SMITH (Flayboyant, third) – “He was just going through the motions out there. I’d like to tell you he gave me 100% today, but I can’t. I’m not even sure he gave me 80 (%).”

CARLA GAINES  (Texas Ryano, winner) – “We kinda, sorta, unintentionally used the ($4 million Breeders Cup Turf) as a prep for this. We were eligible, he’s our homebred and we don’t get an opportunity like that very often, so we went for it knowing it was a tough spot. He got left at the gate and was so far back in that race he didn’t have a chance, so this was kind of redemptive in a sense. The race didn’t go exactly as I thought, I thought Ashleyluvssugar would be by himself on the lead. But it worked out for us.”

FRACTIONS:  :24.60  :49.86  1:14.85  1:39.81  2:04.05  2:27.92

The stakes win was the first in the Hollywood Turf Cup for rider Talamo and the first of the Fall meet for him. He now has 44 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the first in the Hollywood Turf Cup for trainer Gaines and her first of the Fall meet. She now has 17 stakes wins at Del Mar.


Two of the most exciting racehorses to ever grace American soil receive salutes this weekend when Del Mar presents the Seabiscuit Handicap and Native Diver Stakes.

Both Thoroughbreds were Hall of Famers with remarkable racing careers. Both, too, did some of their “gracing” at the seaside oval. Seabiscuit is said to have “put Del Mar on the map” when he hooked up with and outfinished the South American champion Ligaroti in a nationally broadcast match race (put together by track founder and master promoter Bing Crosby) in 1938.  Seabiscuit, the subsequent hero of a best-selling book and a major motion picture, raced a remarkable 89 times over six seasons (1935 to 1940), winning 33, but – reflective of the times – earning just $437,730 in purses.

“The Diver,” as he was affectionately known, captured four stakes at the shore as he became one of the most popular horses in California history. The extra rapid gelding would usually go to the front and dare anyone to catch him – not an easy task for most. He, too, raced an amazing number of times – 81 in all -- with 37 of them proving to be wins between 1961 and 1967.

Native Diver in his sparkling heyday during the 1960s

His last race was a front-running tally in the 1967 Del Mar Handicap which boosted his purse total to $1,026,500 (the first California-bred horse to reach the million plateau). Del Mar was honored in 2014 when Richard Shapiro, the grandson of Native Diver’s owner/breeder, Louis K. Shapiro, chose to rebury his remains in its infield memorial site following the closing of Hollywood Park.

The $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap will be run for the 40th time on Saturday. Originally known as the Citation Handicap when it was contested during the now defunct Hollywood Park fall meet, the Grade II, 1 1/16 mile contest on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course donned its new moniker two years ago.

The $100,000 Native Diver, a Grade III offering at a mile and one eighth, will have its 39th running on Sunday.  The first 36 editions of the nine-furlong main track headliner were at Hollywood Park.

The Seabiscuit shapes up as a terrific race with no fewer than four of its starters coming out of Breeders’ Cup contests held earlier this month at Santa Anita.

It is notable that three of the recent winners of the Seabiscuit -- Kaigun (2014), Silentio (2013) and Jeranimo (2011) all used Breeders’ Cup Mile efforts to springboard to victory in the stakes. Other well-remembered Seabiscuit winners – all of whom went on to careers as stallions -- include champion Leroidesanimaux (2004), Good Journey (2002, 2001), Zoffany (1985) and Lord At War (1984).

The Native Diver has had its fair share of big names entered into its ledger, among them Game on Dude (2012), Gentlemen (1996) and Best Pal (1994). Last year’s edition was highly anticipated with the graded stakes return of Dortmund, a dual grade 1 winner who had finished third in the Kentucky Derby. Dortmund went to the post a 3-5 choice and delivered, romping home by 4 ½ lengths. Finishing behind him was Big Cazanova, who was attempting to defend his 2014 Native Diver victory.

Sometimes, the Native Diver produces a horse that goes on to even greater heights. In 1995, Alphabet Soup kicked off a three-race win streak in the Native Diver, but was subsequently forgotten in the 1996 edition of the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. The roan horse didn’t forget how to run, though, and bested the odds-on champion Cigar and Preakness winner Louis Quatorze in a thrilling three-horse photo. In 2007, Heatseeker won his first-ever stakes race in the Native Diver, then took the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap three months later.

The two weekend stakes carry special names, rich histories and sparkling futures. Their renewals only figure to add to it all.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Japanese-bred and owned Nuovo Record, a winner of almost $5 million in her career, will carry highweight of 122 pounds versus nine older filly and mare rivals Thanksgiving Day Thursday in the $100,000 Red Carpet Stakes at the marathon distance of a mile three-eighths over Del Mar’s infield grass course.

Post time for the first race Thursday will be 11 a.m. in recognition of the holiday.

The five-year-old daughter of Sunday Silence stallion Heart’s Cry will be ridden by regular jockey Yasunari Iwata for owner Reiko Hara and trainer Makoto Saito as she attempts to rebound from an eleventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare at Santa Anita. She has  been training at Del Mar  for the past two weeks.

Among those opposing Nuovo Record in the Red Carpet will be a pair of invaders from the East, French-bred Arles, second in the Glen Falls at Saratoga in her U.S. debut last summer, and Swear By It, a distance-loving mare by Broken Vow. Joel Rosario has the mount on Arles for trainer H. Graham Motion while Norberto Arroyo, Jr., will pilot Swear By It for conditioner Nicholas Esler.

Other entrants in a strong line-up of distaff runners are Generosidade, Tiago Pereira; Frenzified, Santiago Gonzalez; Into The Mystic, Flavien Prat; Ginga, Altair Domingos; Fresh Feline, Victor Espinoza; Dreamarcher, Mike Smith, and Barleysugar, Gary Stevens. On the also-eligible list is Backintheacademy, Rito Almanza.

TVG Zenyatta Montage - All 19 Wins

Monday, November 21, 2016


Nobody could pick the winners of the final six races at Del Mar Sunday meaning there will be a carryover in the popular Pick Six bet when racing resumes on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.

The carryover amount will be $82,426.  In addition, the track’s new Pick Six Jackpot pool rose to $58,120 if someone should be be the lone ticket holder in the wager

The winning numbers for Sunday’s Pick Six were 3-1-9-9-9-4.

The winning horses and riders were:  (4th Race) Run Like the Boss (jockey Martin Pedroza) at $8 for the win; (5th Race) T. Montana (apprentice Austin Solis) at $9.60; (6th Race) Moe Candy (Victor Espinoza) at $10.60; (7th Race) Start a Runnin (Brayan Pena) at $25.40; (8th Race) Solid Wager in the featured Cary Grant Stakes (Espinoza) at $7.60, and (9th Race) Sugary (Santiago Gonzalez) at $8.60.

There’s an early eight-race card scheduled for the Thanksgiving holiday. First post that day will be at 11 a.m.


Rallying from last place under jockey Victor Espinoza, Solid Wager, the defending race champion, forged ahead in the final strides to win the featured $100,000 Cary Grant Stakes Sunday at Del Mar.

Providing Espinoza and trainer Peter Miller with their third victories of the afternoon, Solid Wager, the 5-2 second choice in a field of eight older Thoroughbreds, scored by a half-length over Grazen Sky, with Acceptance third and Gold Rush Dancer fourth. Magic Mark, the 2-1 favorite, was fifth.

Solid Wager, owned by Barber, Barber and Stanford Stable, negotiated the seven-furlong sprint in 1:22.51 to earn first money of $57,000. It was the five-year-old Birdonthewire gelding’s seventh win in 30 starts and first triumph since he won the Grant Stakes last fall. His career earnings are $429,921.

Solid Wager returned $7.60, $4.20 and $3.20; Grazen Sky, who went postward at 6-1, paid $6.40 and $4 while Acceptance returned $5.20 to show.

Solid Wager climaxed a consecutive riding triple for Espinoza, who also won the sixth race aboard Moe Candy at $10.60 and the seventh aboard longshot Start a Running at $25.40.

Miller’s earlier winners were Run Like the Boss at $8 in the fourth and T. Montana at $9.60 in the fifth.

There were no perfect tickets in Sunday’s Pick Six, so Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day program which begins at 11 a.m. will have a carryover of $82,426. Additionally, the single ticket Jackpot Pick Six will be worth $58,120.

VICTOR ESPINOZA (Solid Wager, winner) – “He’s the kind of horse that wants to do things his way. He doesn’t want to be rushed or pushed. I know him and I know what to do. I could tell they were going fast up front and that was fine. Then when the time came, he went right to it. He ran really well.”

(The Cary Grant was Espinoza’s third straight winner:  “It’s nice when you get good horses. It makes things so much easier.”)

TYLER BAZE (Grazen Sky, second) –“He ran good; real good. Better to come with this horse, too. He’s a good one.”

STEWART ELLIOTT (Acceptance, third) – “He stumbled coming away from there, but he picked himself up and got right in the race. He ran good today. We’re happy with him.”

PETER MILLER (Solid Wager, winner) – “At first I was cussing Victor (Espinoza) wondering why he was so far back. Then he winds up with this amazing move, and what can you say about Victor, there’s a reason he’s the best. It means a lot to win for the owners of this horse, who are really good friends of mine and great clients. I wish there were more seven-eighths Cal-bred races for this horse. They obviously went fast enough to set up his late kick, he’s got a great three-eighths of a mile run in him and Victor rides him fantastically. I’ve had this horse since he was a 2-year-old, so it’s a lot of fun and great to win this race back-to-back.”

FRACTIONS:  :22.24  :45.07  1:09.97  1:22.51

The stakes win was the first of the Fall meet and the first in the Cary Grant for rider Espinoza. He now has 90 stakes wins at Del Mar, eighth best of all time.

The stakes win was the first of the Fall meet for trainer Miller, but his second in the Cary Grant. (He won the 2015 running with the same horse.) The trainer now has 16 stakes wins at Del Mar. (This also was his third victory on the day.)

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