Undefeated Zenyatta will try to run her winning streak to seven Saturday in the Grade II, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap for fillies and mares on the main track.
Eight others are scheduled to tackle the 4-year-old filly owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss and trained by John Shirreffs in the 38th running of the 1 1/16-mile handicap. Zenyatta, winner of four straight graded stakes, is assigned high weight of 124 pounds, including Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
The weight break for her foes ranges from five pounds at 119 for the Bob Baffert-trained Tough Tiz's Sis, who will be ridden again by Aaron Gryder, to 12 at 112 for Brian Koriner's Silver Z, with Joe Talamo, and Neil Drysdale's Model, who won an allowance/optional claimer here July 21, with Michael Baze aboard.
Mike Mitchell's Romance Is Diane, winless in three 2008 starts, will carry 115 pounds, including Del Mar's leading rider Rafael Bejarano. Assigned 114 is Dawn After Dawn, with one win in six starts this year for trainer John Sadler, who will give a leg up to jockey Victor Espinoza.
At 113 pounds are Bruce Headley's Silver Swallow, with David Flores up, Vladimir Cerin's Placid Lake, with Alonso Quinonez aboard, and the appropriately named Eastern shipper West Coast Swing, trained by Shannon Ritter, who is based in Kentucky. Tyler Baze has the call. Placid Lake has been entered, also, in Sunday's John C. Mabee Handicap on the turf.
BLACK MAMBA HEADS A FIELD OF 8 DISTAFFERS IN MABEE 'CAP
Black Mamba, never out of the money in nine starts for trainer John Sadler, will lead seven other females to the post Sunday for the 51st running of the Grade I, $400,000 John C. Mabee Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
The winner of the Mabee, which is a "Win and You're In" race, gets an automatic invitation to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, to be run at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Friday, October 24.
The field of eight includes Ransom Captive, who was supplemented to the race for $4,000 by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. She'll be in as one of four lightweights in the field at 113 pounds. She comes to the race from two allowance victories and gets Victor Espinoza in the saddle.
Black Mamba, who won first time out in this country in an allowance event last year at Del Mar, is coming off a victory in Hollywood Park's Grade II Beverly Hills Handicap, where she defeated runner-up Solva and third-place Green Lyons, who come back to try her again. Garrett Gomez gets the call back on the Sadler mare, carrying high weight of 119 pounds.
Coming in at 117 is Foxysox, who finished sixth in the Beverly Hills following a layoff of two months. The victress in Santa Anita's Santa Barbara Handicap is 1 for 5 on the year and will get Rafael Bejarano in the irons.
Jim Cassidy's Passified, fourth in the CashCall Mile last time out, will carry 116 pounds, including Mike Smith, and Solva, trained by Ben Cecil, is in with 114 pounds, and has Aaron Gryder named to ride.
The three other lightweights at 113 each are the aforementioned Green Lyons, I Can See, trained by Steve Knapp, and Placid Lake, making her first start since February for trainer Vladimir Cerin. Corey Nakatani has the call on I Can See, winless in seven starts this year, and Placid Lake is entered, as she is in Saturday's Clement L. Hirsch Handicap on the main track. However, Joel Rosario has the call Sunday for the Mabee instead of Alonso Quinonez.
LAVA MAN GETTING A THOROUGH CHECK-UP AT ALAMO PINTADO
Lava Man, 2006 Pacific Classic champion, is undergoing a thorough physical examination at Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center at Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley east of Santa Barbara.
Steve Kenly of STD Racing, co-owner with Jason Wood, said this morning the earner of $5.2 million is being checked stem to stern in an effort to help the owners decide what the future will hold for Lava Man -- retirement or a return to racing.
"He acts like he wants to race again," Kenly said, "but we sure aren't going to do anything that would put him in danger. We hope the exam will help us make up our minds and do the right thing for the horse."
Kenly gave no timetable for a decision.
TRAINER HENDRICKS RECALLS GOOD DAYS WITH BROTHER DEREK
For trainer Dan Hendricks, life with the retired Brother Derek was filled with good times and highlights over a three-year racing career.
"He was a lot of fun to be around," Hendricks said, "and took us on some great rides, including the Kentucky Derby, a couple of Breeders' Cups, the Hollywood Futurity and the Santa Anita Derby."
Brother Derek will stand at stud at Brereton Jones' Airdrie Stud in Midway, Ky. No stud fee has been announced for the 5-year-old son of Benchmark.
Hendricks gave a laudatory nod to owner Cecil Peacock, saying, "I thought it was very sporting of Cecil to try to bring him back and run him as a 5-year-old. But he [Brother Derek] had a minor setback that was going to take time to address, so it made sense to retire him."
Bought for $275,000 at the 2005 Barretts sale of 2-year-olds in training, Brother Derek retired with a record of six victories in 17 starts and earnings of $1.6 million. He dead-heated for fourth in the 2006 Kentucky Derby with eventual Belmont Stakes winner Jazil, and was fourth in the Preakness Stakes.
Hendricks has a Brother Derek half-sister, Imforeal, who finished fourth in a maiden special weights race for 2-year-old fillies Sunday.
BIG BOOSTER BIG FAVORITE IN COUGAR II 'WIN AND YOU'RE IN'
Mike Mitchell's multiple stakes winner Big Booster is the heavy favorite in today's running of the Cougar II Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on the main track. A victory in the "Win and You're In" race guarantees Big Booster, at 7-5 odds on the morning line, a spot in the gate for the new Breeders' Cup Marathon.
The Breeders' Cup will be held Friday and Saturday, October 24-25 at Oak Tree at Santa Anita, with the Marathon being on Saturday.
The field of seven for the Cougar II includes Zappa, Tissy Fit, Fado, Trevor's Clever, Harlene and Marsh Side.
POPULAR C.E.R.F. HANDICAP DOUBLES UP WITH PAIR OF EIGHTS
Two divisions of eight each will carry the banner of the California Equine Retirement Foundation Friday in the 16th edition of the C.E.R.F. Handicap for fillies and mares at 6 furlongs on the main track.
The first division runs as the fourth race and the second is carded as the seventh. Each carries a purse of $75,000.
Heading the roster of Division 1 is the Walther Solis-trained Kalookan Dancer, who will carry high weight of 118 pounds, including Luis Contreras.
Spenditallbaby, nearing a half-million in earnings, will be running for the second time at the meet after being eighth in the Osunitas Handicap July 19.
Trainer John Sadler has a pair in the first division, Tizsweetdreams, coming out of an allowance win at Hollywood Park, and the South African-bred Woodland City, making his first start in this country.
Here's how they'll line up from the rail, with weights and riders: Spenditallbaby, 115, Michael Baze; Tizsweetdreams, 114, Garrett Gomez; La Tee, 115, Tyler Baze; Highland Torree, 111, Martin Garcia; Kalookan Dancer; La Cocasse, 113, Aaron Gryder; Woodland City, 116, Joe Talamo; Overly Tempting, 116, David Flores.
Headlining the other division is another Sadler trainee, Coco Belle, who'll carry high weight of 120 pounds, with Mike Smith in the saddle.
Here's how they'll line up from the rail: Tizzy's Tune, 115, Alex Solis; Butters, 113, Alonso Quinonez; Fleetheart, 115, David Flores; Coco Belle; Petite Cherie, 114, Victor Espinoza; Silky Smooth, 118, Rafael Bejarano; Red Diadem, 115, Joel Rosario; Unspoken Word, 117, Garrett Gomez.
FIVE IN DEL MAR CHALLENGE QUALIFY FOR NATIONAL EVENT
Shawn Turner edged Mike Rosenthal and William Shurman in a tight finish in the Fifth Annual Del Mar Handicapping Challenge held July 26-27.
Turner, from San Diego, bested 50 handicappers from around the country, including Rosenthal by a mere $138.80. Players started with a $6,000 real money bankroll. In addition to turning his $6,000 into $22,501, Turner receives an additional $20,000 for finishing first. Rosenthal receives $5,000 for second.
The top five finishers qualified for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas, which features a $1 million prize pool. The third place finisher with $21,500, William Shurman, already had qualified, thus allowing Gwyn Houston to move into the top five.
Following the top three were Bryan Carney, $18,500; Mickey Seagle, $16,798, and Houston, $12,533.20.
SHORE LINES -- Quite a scene this morning in front of the backside racing office: Central California native and trainer Craig Dollase standing shoulder to shoulder with Louisianan Chip Guillot preparing jambalaya for the backside denizens. Guillot was putting the foodstuffs in the big stewpot and Dollase was manning the long-handled paddle used to stir the concoction ... Pinback headlines the Four O'Clock Friday concert this week, with the concert set for about 8 p.m., following the day's final race, in the Plaza de Mexico. Post time for the first race is 4 o'clock ... Trainer Bruce Headley's Surf Cat moved a step closer to Del Mar's Grade I, $1-million Pacific Classic with a 5-furlong work Tuesday on the main track in 1:01.60 ... Del Mar's weekend trio of free handicapping seminars kicks off with the usual Friday afternoon session with Daily Racing Form staffers Brad Free and Steve Andersen from 3 to 3:30 at the Seaside Terrace near the head of the stretch. Holding forth from 12:30 to 1:15 on Saturday will be Ron Anderson, agent for jockey Garrett Gomez, and Daily Racing Form's Andersen is scheduled for the Sunday seminar on the same time schedule. Both the Saturday and Sunday sessions will be at the Seaside Terrace.
TRAKUS FACTS -- Mon., 7/28 -- Peak Speed: Race 2 (Polytrack) -- Stuttgart -- 43.8 mph (first 3/16ths); Race 7 (turf) -- Sartorial -- 41.7 mph (first 3/16ths); Fastest Late Stretch Run: Race 3 (Polytrack) -- Forest Phantom -- 39.3 mph (final 16th); Race 4 (turf) -- Rather Be Lucky -- 38.3 mph (final 16th).
DEL MAR COMBINED JOCKEY & TRAINER STATISTICS
(Current Through Monday, July 28, 2008)
Jockey -- Mts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
Rafael Bejarano -- 59 -- 15 -- 14 -- 13 -- 25% -- $913,063
Tyler Baze -- 62 -- 11 -- 6 -- 11 -- 18% -- $485,832
Joel Rosario -- 58 -- 8 -- 4 -- 10 -- 14% -- $347,200
Garrett Gomez -- 42 -- 6 -- 8 -- 5 -- 14% -- $423,160
Victor Espinoza -- 55 -- 6 -- 6 -- 8 -- 11% -- $426,052
Alex Solis -- 39 -- 5 -- 11 -- 4 -- 13% -- $289,600
Aaron Gryder -- 28 -- 5 -- 1 -- 1 -- 18% -- $358,559
David Flores -- 41 -- 4 -- 7 -- 8 -- 10% -- $526,546
Michael Martinez -- 25 -- 4 -- 4 -- 2 -- 16% -- $90,500
Joseph Talamo -- 43 -- 4 -- 2 -- 4 -- 9% -- $196,648
Trainer -- Sts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
Mike R. Mitchell -- 28 -- 8 -- 3 -- 2 -- 29% -- $544,270
John W. Sadler -- 28 -- 5 -- 11 -- 0 -- 18% -- $344,114
Doug F. O'Neill -- 32 -- 5 -- 9 -- 4 -- 16% -- $261,329
Jerry Hollendorfer -- 20 -- 5 -- 1 -- 8 -- 25% -- $225,776
Peter Miller -- 14 -- 4 -- 2 -- 1 -- 29% -- $123,100
Clifford W. Sise, Jr. -- 7 -- 4 -- 1 -- 1 -- 57% -- $98,240
Eoin G. Harty -- 8 -- 4 -- 0 -- 0 -- 50% -- $280,840
Carla Gaines -- 10 -- 3 -- 2 -- 2 -- 30% -- $147,000
Ronald L. McAnally -- 19 -- 3 -- 1 -- 1 -- 16% -- $128,123
Jeff Mullins -- 18 -- 2 -- 5 -- 2 -- 11% -- $91,940
Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Monday, July 28, 2008)
Winning favorites -- 21 out of 103 -- 20.39%
Winning odds-on favorites -- 4 out of 9 -- 44.44%
In-the-Money favorites -- 68 out of 103 -- 66.02%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites -- 8 out of 9 -- 88.89%