Saturday, August 23, 2008
Del Mar Stable Notes 8/23/8
NO LAVA MAN, NO PACIFIC CLASSIC RUNNER IN '08 FOR O'NEILL
For the past three years at this time of the Del Mar season, trainer Doug O'Neill has been deep into getting Lava Man ready for the Grade I, $1-million Pacific Classic.
Not so this year, what with the $5.2-million earner now retired from racing. So how does that feel? "It's kind of an empty feeling," the soft-spoken O'Neill said this morning.
"This is the signature race here at Del Mar, and even though we don't have a horse in there, one of our main friends and clients, Paul Reddam, does, so we still feel like we have a vested interest in the race."
O'Neill's run with Lava Man produced a Pacific Classic victory in 2006, a sixth-place finish last year and a third in his first effort in 2005.
Before Lava Man, the trainer had sent out Hollywood Gold Cup upset winner Sky Jack to finish 11th in 2002 and Fleetstreet Dancer to finish third in 2003.
The ever-upbeat O'Neill sounded this warning for the future: "We'll be in there again."
Eleven older horses are heading for the gate for tomorrow's 18th running of the Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles on the main track.
The Bill Mott-trained Go Between has been made the morning-line favorite at 3-1 in the Hall of Fame trainer's first try at the Pacific Classic since the upset of the legendary Cigar by Dare And Go in 1996. Entering that Pacific Classic, Cigar was in search of a record 17th straight win.
An equally interesting story line comes in the form of Hollywood Gold Cup winner Mast Track, who represents Hall of Fame trainer Robert Frankel on several levels. The trainer also is the breeder and owner of the horse and as such would make Pacific Classic history should Mast Track, co-fourth choice with Surf Cat on the line, win.
In addition, a Mast Track victory would give Frankel his seventh win in the 18 runnings. The dominant trainer in the early years of the race when he won four of the first five runnings, he cooled off a bit before putting together back-to-back victories in 2000 and 2001 with Skimming. Juddmonte Farms, Frankel's key owner over the past several years, owned Skimming and double-winner Tinners Way, and Frankel's own Mast Track is a product of the fine Juddmonte stallion, Mizzen Mast, whom Frankel trained during his racing career.
Set for the highly competitive field of 11, also, are 2007 winner and runner-up Student Council and Awesome Gem, Barcola, Well Armed, Mostacolli Mort, Delosvientos, McCann's Mojave and Zappa.
The Pacific Classic is the 10th race on the 11-race card, scheduled to go off at 6:46 p.m.
The winner gets an automatic bid to the Grade I, $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita Saturday, October 25.
MACHOWSKY OFF THE FENCE WITH JUVENILE KELLY LEAK
Trainer Mike Machowsky, dubious about running his 2-year-old colt Kelly Leak in the Grade I, $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on the track's season-ending Wednesday, September 3, has given the "go" sign to the race.
"We're going to run in the Futurity," he said this morning. "He'll work on Wednesday and Victor Espinoza will ride."
Kelly Leak crossed the finish line first in Del Mar's Grade II Best Pal Stakes, but was disqualified and placed fourth for interference in the stretch run. The win went to Azul Leon, leaving him unbeaten in three starts. It's unlikely Azul Leon will run in the Futurity, trainer Doug O'Neill said this morning.
Machowsky was of the same notion following the race, but he said today that Kelly Leak came out of the race in good shape and has been training well. That was enough to move the trainer in the direction of the Futurity.
Others expected to show up in the Futurity include Believe in Hope, an impressive maiden winner trained by Ron Ellis; Arashi Cat and Blazing Spirit, from the Jeff Mullins barn; Coronet of a Baron, Best Pal runner-up trained by Eoin Harty, and perhaps S.S. Stone, trained by O'Neill. Coronet of a Baron worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 this morning.
FEVER SIDELINES DIXIE CHATTER FROM DEL MAR DERBY
Trainer Richard Mandella counted out Dixie Chatter this morning from the Grade II, $350,000 Del Mar Derby Sunday, August 31.
"He came down with a temperature, so he won't be going in the Derby," Mandella said. The trainer did say, however, that his other nominee, Tiz West, would run in the 1 1/8-mile race on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. The son of Gone West clinched that with a sharp 1:11.60 work at 6 furlongs with Victor Espinoza aboard.
The other big news of the morning is the commitment of the Christophe Clement-trained Gio Ponti to the Derby. The son of Tale of the Cat comes into the race from a nose victory in the Virginia Derby under Garrett Gomez, who will ride the colt back at Del Mar. Gio Ponti is expected to ship in Monday from Clement's Saratoga barn.
Among others committed early: La Jolla Handicap winner Sky Cape; Yankee Bravo, fourth-place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby prior to finishing 10th in the Preakness Stakes in his last start, and Kilderry, winner of one of the divisions of the Oceanside Stakes on the meet's opening day, July 16.
ABRAMS PAIR, SHIPPER VACARE SET FOR PALOMAR HANDICAP
Bel Air Sizzle, runner-up in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks, and America's Friend, winner of the Solana Beach Handicap, will carry the hopes of trainer Barry Abrams into Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 Palomar Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
The race for 3-year-old and older fillies and mares will serve as the third Del Mar start for Bel Air Sizzle and the fourth for America's Friend, who stepped out of allowance company to win the Solana Beach and now will be making her debut in stakes company.
The multiple stakes-winning Vacare has been on the grounds for a couple of weeks and posted an easy half-mile work in 53 seconds on the main track Wednesday. In her most recent start, the 5-year-old daughter of Lear Fan was fourth in the Grade I Diana Handicap at Saratoga. She'll be ridden by Corey Nakatani.
Ainamaa, who worked 6 furlongs this morning for trainer Ben Cecil, has been committed to the race and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza. Also joining the early commitments is Zardana, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Ron McAnally. Aaron Gryder will ride.
TRANSDUCTION GOLD EYES SECOND BREEDERS' CUP RUN
The fall path for Transduction Gold will be decided in today's $250,000 Grade II Del Mar Handicap over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
"If he wins, he'll stay out here," owner, trainer and breeder John Glenney said. "If he loses, he'll go back to Keeneland."
What's "out here" is the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf slated for Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. The winner of today's Del Mar Handicap earns an automatic bid to the "Turf," a race Transduction Gold finished eighth in last year over soft going at Monmouth Park.
"He's the kind of horse that likes firm turf and didn't really take to the soft," Glenney said of a course that had been saturated by heavy rain the latter part of Breeders' Cup week. "When it came to time to pick it up, he just lost his footing."
Transduction Gold returned to the races in April, finishing 10th in the Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland.
"I couldn't make any excuses for him, but the next day one of his eyes was swollen shut, so he must have stopped for a reason," Glenney said. "After that, he ran a good second in the Louisville Handicap and then I brought him out here (to Hollywood Park) to get acclimated and he was second in the Round Table at a mile and three-quarters. Then he got a little lazy on us in the Sunset when he finished fourth."
Glenney is optimistic that the 5-year-old son of Formal Gold will make a good showing in today's mile and three-eighths test against eight rivals.
"I like our chances. He's never been better," Glenney said of Transduction Gold, who will break from the one hole. "The first three finishers in the Sunset are not here and Jon (jockey Jon Court) knows him. Jon was on him when he broke his maiden here almost two years ago to the day (Sept. 2, '06). He went to the lead that day and I think we might do that again today."
MAIN TRACK MAINTENANCE:
On Tuesday, the Polytrack surface was power-harrowed and rototilled to a depth of six (6") inches. The track was returned to training and racing depth of approximately two inches and consistency through Gallop Mastering and watering.
Saturday, there were three loads of water (by water truck) added to the racetrack between training and racing time. Additionally, there will be one load of water applied to the running lanes after the day's second race.
Barring notable weather changes, a similar watering pattern will be followed each racing day, with the exception of Fridays and its later start.
On Fridays, following training hours, the track will be power-harrowed to a depth of four (4") inches, then returned to training and racing depth and consistency through Gallop Mastering and watering. No additional water will be added to the track during the racing card Fridays.
SHORE LINES -- Garrett Gomez, fourth leading rider at the seashore will be at Saratoga Race Course today to ride in seven races, including the King's Bishop and Travers Stakes. In the King's Bishop, he'll ride morning-line favorite J Be K and in the $1-million Travers, he'll be aboard the Eoin Harty-trained Colonel John, at 8-1 on the line ... Del Mar fans will be looking at a Pick Six carryover of $133,537.03 going into Saturday's races. Twenty-four tickets with five wins were good for $2,384.60 ... Nigel Schroeder, press box steward at Del Mar, spends his spare time in the summer playing ice hockey in a San Diego adult league, and the left wing wound up scoring the winning goal for a 4-3 overtime victory Thursday night to send his team, La Boom, to the championship game Sunday. The action takes place at the ice rink at U.T.C. in La Jolla. Schroeder is a member of the varsity hockey squad at San Diego State University that finished second in its division during the past school year ... A resort shirt will be given away to fans coming into the track Sunday for as long as supplies last ... Even though there will be 11 races Sunday, post time for the first race remains at the regular time of 2 p.m. The schedule for the day's four stakes: Rancho Bernardo, 5:10; Pat O'Brien, 5:40; Del Mar Mile, 6:10; Pacific Classic, 6:46. All four races will be carried live by ESPN2.
TRAKUS FACTS -- Fri., 8/22 -- Peak Speed: Race 5 (Polytrack) -- Power Shift -- 43.2 mph (first 3/16ths); Race 7 (Turf) -- Solar Miss -- 40.8 mph (first 15/16ths); Fastest Late Stretch Run: Race 4 (Polytrack) -- Probation Please -- 37.1 mph (final 16th); Race 2 (Turf) -- Marzelline -- 38.5 mph (final 16th).
DEL MAR COMBINED JOCKEY & TRAINER STATISTICS
(Current Through Friday, August 22, 2008)
Jockey -- Mts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
Rafael Bejarano -- 161 -- 35 -- 36 -- 34 -- 22% -- $1,895,694
Joel Rosario -- 181 -- 30 -- 23 -- 28 -- 17% -- $1,219,299
Tyler Baze -- 167 -- 29 -- 23 -- 20 -- 17% -- $1,341,046
Garrett Gomez -- 113 -- 27 -- 15 -- 16 -- 24% -- $1,560,055
Victor Espinoza -- 116 -- 12 -- 16 -- 12 -- 10% -- $739,662
Alex Solis -- 95 -- 10 -- 18 -- 18 -- 11% -- $808,240
Martin Garcia -- 100 -- 10 -- 16 -- 11 -- 10% -- $506,628
Joseph Talamo -- 108 -- 10 -- 12 -- 9 -- 9% -- $565,015
David Flores -- 90 -- 9 -- 13 -- 16 -- 10% -- $911,661
Martin Pedroza -- 96 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11 -- 9% -- $385,217
Trainer -- Sts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
John W. Sadler -- 84 -- 25 -- 21 -- 5 -- 30% -- $1,481,403
Jeff Mullins -- 63 -- 14 -- 16 -- 8 -- 22% -- $497,595
Mike R. Mitchell -- 60 -- 14 -- 7 -- 12 -- 23% -- $800,790
Doug F. O'Neill -- 81 -- 13 -- 15 -- 12 -- 16% -- $655,098
Jerry Hollendorfer -- 43 -- 12 -- 3 -- 11 -- 28% -- $448,129
Peter Miller -- 30 -- 7 -- 6 -- 2 -- 23% -- $239,100
Barry Abrams -- 35 -- 7 -- 3 -- 6 -- 20% -- $526,005
J. Eric Kruljac -- 18 -- 7 -- 3 -- 1 -- 39% -- $226,680
Brian J. Koriner -- 34 -- 7 -- 2 -- 1 -- 21% -- $206,700
Patrick Gallagher -- 30 -- 6 -- 5 -- 6 -- 20% -- $473,560
Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Friday, August 22, 2008)
Winning favorites -- 91 out of 279 -- 32.62%
Winning favorites on main track -- 64 out of 213 -- 30.05%
Winning favorites on turf -- 27 out of 66 -- 40.91%
Winning odds-on favorites -- 19 out of 34 -- 55.88%
In-the-Money favorites -- 202 out of 279 -- 72.40%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites -- 31 out of 34 -- 91.18%
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