Thursday, November 05, 2009


ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 4, 2009) – A contentious Grade II, $150,000 Oak Tree Derby and the speedy M One Rifle’s run at Oak Tree’s $100,000 Damascus Stakes bookend Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships card as the unbeaten mare Zenyatta takes on the boys in the Classic at Santa Anita in a race that will surely dominate the focus of the racing world.

The 40th running of the Oak Tree Derby, which matches 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf, climaxes the two days of championship racing as Saturday’s 10th race with a scheduled post of 4:25 p.m., 40 minutes after the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is to be contested.

The program begins at 10:05 a.m. with the second running of the Damascus for 3-year-olds. Forty minutes later at 10:45, the Breeders’ Cup championships get underway with the $1 million Juvenile Turf leading off.

The Oak Tree Derby attracted 12 entrants and reunites the first six finishers in the Grade II Del Mar Derby on Aug. 6. It affords Battle of Hastings, who was the 2-1 favorite in the Del Mar Derby, an opportunity to avenge his nose loss to 22-1 upsetter Rendezvous. With Acclimation, Meteore, Oil Man and Gretsky following those two across the line, only 2 ½ lengths separated the first six finishers.

British-bred Battle of Hastings, trained by Jeff Mullins for Michael House, has won four stakes in eight starts since being shipped to the United States. Included in his victories are the Colonial Turf Cup and Virginia Derby, both Grade II events, at Colonial Downs. He earlier won the Grade III Baldwin Stakes and the La Puente at Santa Anita. Tyler Baze regularly rides the bay gelding who has earned $1,006,592 from an overall record of 6-2-0 in 13 trips to the post.

The complete field for the Oak Tree Derby, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Acclamation, Joseph Talamo, 118; Augustusthestrong, John Velazquez, 118; Meteore, Rafael Bejarano, 122; No Inflation, Julien Leparoux, 123; Oil Man, Rajiv Maragh, 123; Massone, Lanfranco Dettori, 118; Rendezvous, Joel Rosario, 122; The Usual Q. T., Victor Espinoza, 120; Battle of Hastings, Tyler Baze, 122; Quindici Man, Edgar Prado, 118; Gretsky, Kieran Fallon, 118, and Tamborim, Richard Migliore, 118.

Augustusthestrong, a son of A. P. Indy bred in Kentucky by R. D. Hubbard, raced six times in Ireland for renowned Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, but mostly on Polytrack. He was victorious in his only start on turf. Glen Hill Farm’s No Inflation won Delaware Park’s Grade III Kent Stakes on Sept. 5 by 6 ¼ lengths at 1 1/8 miles for trainer Tom Proctor. Massone is usually close in top competition for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, but has failed to win a stakes race while posting a 2-5-6 record in 16 starts for earnings of $420,400.

In the Damascus, M One Rifle is strictly the one to catch among eighth entrants. Trained by co-owner Bruce Headley for a partnership, the gelded California-bred son of One Man Army sped to three successive victories following a third-place debut before suffering a nose loss to Dancing in Silks the California Cup Sprint Handicap at 7-10 odds on Oct. 3. Mike Smith rides.

The complete field for the Damascus Stakes, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Coronet of a Baron, Leparoux, 116; Smart Bid, Jeremy Rose, 118; M One Rifle, Mike Smith, 123; All Saint, Felipe Valdez, 123; Supreme Summit, Bejarano, 118; Major Rock Star, Tyler Baze, 116; Viscount, Gomez, 118, and Dave’s Pacemaker, Omar Berrio, 116.

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