Four top prospects for Sunday's Grade I, $1-million Pacific Classic settled in at Del Mar this morning after arriving Tuesday afternoon from points east and north.
Arriving Tuesday were defending Pacific Classic champion Student Council, trained by Steven Asmussen; Barcola, trained by Mark Hennig; Go Between, trained by Bill Mott and stabled with his Churchill Downs string; and McCann's Mojave, who was vanned south from trainer Steve Specht's barn at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, California.
Go Between and McCann's Mojave got a feel for the track this morning with easy gallops, while Barcola and Student Council walked the barn area.
Delosvientos became the final worker preparing for the Pacific Classic, moving 5 furlongs in a sharp 59.40 and galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:13.60 today. Splits for the move: 11.60, 35.60 and 47.40 on the way to the final time. Owner-trainer Giuseppe Iadisernia expressed enthusiasm for the work.
Putting in final work on Tuesday were San Diego Handicap winner and runner-up Well Armed and Surf Cat. Well Armed was clocked in 1:00.80 going 5 furlongs for trainer Eoin Harty, and Surf Cat traveled the same distance in 57.60, best of 36 at the distance on the morning. No splits on the pair were available.
A field of 11 was entered today for the 1 1/4-mile race on the main track. Post positions will be drawn tonight at The Lodge at Torrey Pines.
All will carry 124 pounds, according to weight-for-age conditions.
Here's the way the field is expected to shape up: Student Council, second in the Whitney Handicap and third in the Hollywood Gold Cup in his most recent two starts, with Shaun Bridgmohan in the saddle; Awesome Gem, 2007 runner-up, with Tyler Baze; Mast Track, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup, with Rafael Bejarano; Go Between, runner-up in both the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold; McCann's Mojave, fourth in the Gold Cup, Julio Garcia; Well Armed, Aaron Gryder; Surf Cat, David Flores; Mostacolli Mort, third in the San Diego, Victor Espinoza; Barcola, Corey Nakatani; Delosvientos, Joel Rosario, and Zappa, Alan Garcia.
The Pacific Classic winner is guaranteed a spot in the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Saturday, October 25.
DEL MAR HANDICAP OPENS WEEKEND OF PREMIER RACING
A field of nine older grass runners is set for Saturday's 69th running of the Grade II, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
The historic race opens a weekend flush with prime racing talent and opportunities for horses to win their way into Breeders' Cup championship day races. The Del Mar Handicap is the first of five "Win and You're In" races at the seashore, with a victory in the handicap earning an automatic bid to the $3-million Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita Saturday, October 25.
Back for another try at winning the race are Runaway Dancer and Spring House, who finished second and third last year to the imposing grass runner After Market, who now stands as a stallion at Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Kentucky. The 9-year-old Runaway Dancer will be making his 2008 debut, while Spring House comes to the race from a good fourth in Del Mar's Grade I Eddie Read Handicap July 20.
Two finishers from Hollywood Park's Grade II Sunset Handicap -- Transduction Gold and Church Service -- add depth to the field. Church Service has posted two victories this year, while Transduction Gold is still looking for his first win of the year. The Kentucky-bred son of Formal Gold posted two runner-up efforts prior to a fourth-place finish in the Sunset, won by Warning Zone, sidelined for this race by a quarter crack. Church Service was fifth in the Sunset.
Trainer Paulo Lobo will send out a pair of Brazil-breds -- Heroi do Bafra and Mr. Universo. Heroi do Bafra was fourth in Hollywood Park's Grade II American Handicap June 28 in his most recent start, while his stablemate, Mr. Universo, will be making his second North American start.
Rounding out the field will be Tissy Fit, second in Del Mar's Cougar II Handicap July 30; You Got Me Rocking, eighth in Del Mar's San Diego Handicap July 19, and American Imperium, making his first start in stakes company.
BAFFERT'S SPRINT CHAMP MIDNIGHT LUTE IS A 'GO' FOR O'BRIEN
Midnight Lute, the Eclipse Award and Breeders' Cup Sprint champion of 2007, is scheduled to make his 2008 debut in the highly competitive Grade II, $300,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap Sunday at 7 furlongs on the main track.
The winner gets an automatic spot in the gate for the $2-million Breeders' Cup Sprint at 6 furlongs Saturday, October 25 at Santa Anita. The O'Brien is one of three supporting stakes on the Pacific Classic program that rank as "Win and You're In" events.
Among those challenging the swift Bob Baffert-trained Midnight Lute, who worked 7 furlongs August 7 in 1:21.60, faster than the track record, are shippers Lewis Michael, who arrived Tuesday with his trainer Wayne Catalano; Rebellion, who was fifth in Del Mar's San Diego Handicap July 19 before returning to the Maryland base of H. Graham Motion, and How's Your Halo, trained by Florida-based Brian Prichard.
Garrett Gomez has the call on Midnight Lute, Rene Douglas comes in to ride Lewis Michael, Rafael Bejarano will be up on Rebellion and Tyler Baze will be in the irons for How's Your Halo.
Locally based runners in the 12-horse field: Tall Texan, trained by Richard Mandella and ridden by Joe Talamo; Hewitts, Bob Hess Jr., Victor Espinoza; Arson Squad, Bruce Headley, David Flores; Hurry Up Austin, Mel Stute, Jon Court; Doppio, Carla Gaines, Jose Valdivia Jr.; In Summation, 2007 winner of Del Mar's Bing Crosby Handicap for trainer Christophe Clement, Corey Nakatani; Barbecue Eddie, Brian Koriner, Aaron Gryder and Decado, Patrick Gallagher, Alex Solis.
11 ENTERED IN DEL MAR MILE LOADED WITH STAKES WINNERS
Headed by the 1-2-3 finishers in Del Mar's Grade I Eddie Read Handicap and Grade I winner Daytona, a field of 11 has been entered for Sunday's running of the Grade II, $400,000 Del Mar Mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
The race is limited to 10 runners, but there will be a horse on the also-eligible list.
Coming from the Eddie Read are winner Monzante, runner-up Whatsthescript and third-place Storm Military, ridden, respectively, by Rafael Bejarano, Garrett Gomez and David Flores.
After finishing sixth in Hollywood Park's Grade II American Handicap at 1 1/8 miles, Daytona turns back to his favorite distance, which he showed by winning the Grade II Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita and the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park. Daytona's regular rider Alex Solis will be in the irons.
Heading into the race, also, are One Union, winner of Del Mar's Wickerr Handicap, with Victor Espinoza in the irons; Bold Chieftain, winner of the California Dreamin Handicap, with Russell Baze; Dark Islander, third in the Wickerr, with Joel Rosario; Porto Santo, with Tyler Baze; Stoneside, with Mike Smith; Global Hunter, with Jose Valdivia Jr., and Willow O Wisp, with Brice Blanc.
LETHAL HEAT BACK FOR ANOTHER STAKES ENCOUNTER
Already a veteran of three stakes races during the Del Mar meet, Lethal Heat, trained by Barry Abrams, is set to come back for a fourth stakes encounter Sunday in the Grade III, $200,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.
The winner is guaranteed a start in the $1-million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita Friday, October 24.
Lethal Heat, winner of Cal-bred stakes Fleet Treat and Real Good Deal and third-place finisher in Saturday's Grade I Del Mar Oaks, will have Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.
Ready to take on the swift 3-year-old filly are multiple graded stakes winner Dearest Trickski, with Mike Smith aboard for trainer John Sadler; 2007's 2-year-old Cal-bred filly of the year Spring Awakening, Garrett Gomez for Mike Mitchell; Grade III winner Magnificience, who worked a half-mile in a bullet 46.40 this morning, with David Flores for Bruce Headley; Grade III winner Society Hostess, Jose Valdivia Jr. for Christophe Clement; Grade III victress Tiz Elemental, Rafael Bejarano for Carla Gaines; Highland Torree, on a three-race win streak, Martin Garcia for Rafael DeLeon; La Tee, Tyler Baze, for Mark Glatt; Silky Smooth, with Bejarano named also, for Jeff Mullins, and Makor's Love, Baze named again, for Herbert Ho.
SHORE LINES -- Colonel John shipped out to Saratoga Race Course this morning for Saturday's Travers Stakes at The Spa. Trainer Eoin Harty traveled with him. Also on the airplane was Tres Borrachos, also scheduled for the Travers for trainer C. Beau Greely ... Leonard Dorfman, who trained Pacific Classic prospect McCann's Mojave through the early part of the horse's career, is recovering from surgery late last week to repair a broken hip. The 86-year-old former trainer is at Glendora Care and Rehabilitation Center ... A charity poker tournament and silent auction is scheduled for Thursday night beginning at 6:30 at the Del Mar Hilton. The charity event offers an evening of poker action, food and fun for the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA) to benefit California's retired racehorses.
TRAKUS FACTS -- Mon., 8/18 -- Peak Speed: Race 6 (Polytrack) -- Upper Manhattan -- 43.0 mph (first eighth); Race 7 (Turf) -- Delta Storm -- 46.1 mph (first 3/16ths); Fastest Late Stretch Run: Race 4 (Polytrack) -- Tap It Light -- 37.7 mph (final 16th); Race 7 (Turf) -- Easy On The Eye -- 38.4 mph (final 16th).
DEL MAR COMBINED JOCKEY & TRAINER STATISTICS
(Current Through Monday, August 18, 2008)
Jockey -- Mts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
Rafael Bejarano -- 150 -- 31 -- 34 -- 32 -- 21% -- $1,782,234
Joel Rosario -- 166 -- 28 -- 20 -- 26 -- 17% -- $1,112,118
Tyler Baze -- 151 -- 26 -- 21 -- 20 -- 17% -- $1,205,423
Garrett Gomez -- 102 -- 24 -- 14 -- 12 -- 24% -- $1,433,705
Victor Espinoza -- 110 -- 12 -- 15 -- 12 -- 11% -- $719,510
Alex Solis -- 85 -- 10 -- 18 -- 17 -- 12% -- $797,180
Martin Garcia -- 89 -- 10 -- 13 -- 11 -- 11% -- $484,847
Joseph Talamo -- 98 -- 9 -- 12 -- 7 -- 9% -- $502,436
Martin Pedroza -- 92 -- 9 -- 9 -- 10 -- 10% -- $375,717
David Flores -- 85 -- 8 -- 13 -- 13 -- 9% -- $856,785
Trainer -- Sts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
John W. Sadler -- 81 -- 24 -- 20 -- 5 -- 30% -- $1,446,743
Mike R. Mitchell -- 59 -- 14 -- 7 -- 12 -- 24% -- $800,390
Doug F. O'Neill -- 76 -- 13 -- 14 -- 11 -- 17% -- $637,061
Jeff Mullins -- 58 -- 13 -- 14 -- 8 -- 22% -- $468,995
Jerry Hollendorfer -- 40 -- 11 -- 3 -- 10 -- 28% -- $421,809
Peter Miller -- 29 -- 7 -- 5 -- 2 -- 24% -- $234,700
Barry Abrams -- 30 -- 7 -- 3 -- 6 -- 23% -- $516,691
Patrick Gallagher -- 28 -- 6 -- 5 -- 6 -- 21% -- $472,760
Clifford W. Sise, Jr. -- 22 -- 6 -- 4 -- 3 -- 27% -- $203,508
William Spawr -- 32 -- 5 -- 4 -- 2 -- 16% -- $193,496
Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Monday, August 18, 2008)
Winning favorites -- 77 out of 255 -- 30.20%
Winning favorites on main track -- 55 out of 196 -- 28.06%
Winning favorites on turf -- 22 out of 59 -- 37.29%
Winning odds-on favorites -- 18 out of 32 -- 56.25%
In-the-Money favorites -- 179 out of 255 -- 70.20%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites -- 29 out of 32 -- 90.63%