R-E-S-P-E-C-T, as in singer Aretha Franklin's rhythm-and-blues anthem or comedian Rodney Dangerfield's "I can't get no ... ", is what appears to be lacking for Well Armed's credentials heading into Sunday's Grade I, $1-million Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles on Del Mar's main track.
Dismissed at 10-1 on the morning line, Well Armed, trained by Eoin Harty and to be ridden by regular pilot Aaron Gryder, brings to the race a resume that includes three victories, a second and a third in six starts for the Harty barn since 2007.
Prior to the World Cup effort, Well Armed captured the Grade II San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita.
That is the type of effort that nearly brought Gryder out of his seat Wednesday night when the morning line was announced at the post-position draw. He challenged the line, citing the various races the horse had won, zeroing in, particularly, on the World Cup race against "some of the world's best horses."
While the World Cup is a premier race, Well Armed's victory in the San Diego gives him some clout, too. For example, Awesome Gem, one of the favorites in the Pacific Classic and runner-up last year, was second in the 2007 San Diego. Pleasantly Perfect came from San Diego runner-up to Pacific Classic winner in 2004 and Skimming used the San Diego twice as a springboard to victory in the 2000 and 2001 Pacific Classics.
The rest of the field for the Pacific Classic, scheduled to go off at 6:46 as the 10th race:
Awesome Gem, with Tyler Baze; Mostacolli Mort, Victor Espinoza; Zappa, Alan Garcia; Surf Cat, David Flores; Barcola, Corey Nakatani; Go Between, Garrett Gomez; Mast Track, Rafael Bejarano; Delosvientos, Joel Rosario; Student Council, Shaun Bridgmohan, and McCann's Mojave, Julio Garcia.
DEL MAR MILE RIVALS PACIFIC CLASSIC FOR QUALITY RUNNERS
Though it plays a supporting role to the $1-million Pacific Classic on Sunday's 11-race program, the Grade II, $400,000 Del Mar Mile on the turf course could provide as much excitement as the day's featured race.
For quality, top to bottom, the 10-horse race provides a perfect segue to the Pacific Classic. The Mile is the ninth race, right in front of the feature.
The winner gets an automatic bid to the $2-million Breeders' Cup Mile on the Santa Anita grass Saturday, October 25.
The Del Mar Mile offers a classic clash between front-runners and closers, with multiple graded stakes winner Daytona and Wickerr Handicap gate-to-wire winner One Union expected to lead the way. Representing the late runners are Monzante, winner of Del Mar's Grade I Eddie Read Handicap July 20, and Whatsthescript, Read runner-up and winner of Hollywood Park's Grade II American Handicap prior to that.
Trainer Dan Hendricks is eager to see what the seven-week break will do for his super-consistent Daytona. "I think he's back to his old self," the trainer said. "He's feeling great and he's training great. I ran him back too quick last time. It was my fault."
Hendricks was referring to Daytona's sixth-place finish in Hollywood Park's Grade II American Handicap, one of only three times in 16 lifetime starts that the 4-year-old gelding has been out of the money.
As for how the race might be run, Hendricks said, "We don't plan to take back. If he's not on the lead, he'll be right on top of them."
Of One Union, Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said, "He's worked his way up, and I think he deserves a chance like this. He's doing well, and now we'll see if he's good enough.
"It will take a lot of beating to beat Dan's horse."
Mandella said One Union inherited the lead in the Wickerr when no one seemed to want it in the mile race. The son of Dixie Union dug in and turned back challengers in deep stretch to win in a blanket finish where two noses separated the first three finishers. Awesome Gem, who will be running in the Pacific Classic, was second.
Monzante and Whatsthescript came flying down the stretch in the Eddie Read, with Monzante prevailing by a half-length. Phil D'Amato, assistant to Mike Mitchell, said Monzante can be expected to drop well back of the field and then make his patented one big run "Ever since we put him back on grass [two races back], he hasn't run a bad race," D'Amato said. "He didn't seem to like the kickback from the main track [at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita]."
One run is the key to Whatsthescript's style and trainer John Sadler has no intention of changing that style. "He's been training unbelievably and he's had two good races," the trainer said. "The mile is a good distance for him, and a quick pace will help him. He'll be sitting right behind the pace, and Garrett [Gomez] will decide from there."
Adding to the quality offered by the aforementioned foursome are Dark Islander, third in the Wickerr; Storm Military, third in the Read; Global Hunter, sixth in the Grade II San Diego Handicap; Stoneside and Porto Santo, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Wickerr, and Bold Chieftain, solid winner of the California Dreamin Handicap.
DEL MAR'S JUVENILE CHAMPIONS BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Set Play and Georgie Boy, winners of the 2007 Debutante and Futurity, respectively, in 2007, are in the limelight at the seashore as they take different paths to their futures.
Georgie Boy, the Cal-bred gelded son of Tribal Rule, worked for the first time since developing a back-muscle problem in the spring, an injury that took him off the Triple Crown trail after winning Santa Anita's Grade II San Felipe Stakes. Trainer Kathy Walsh said she was happy with the 37.20 work for 3 furlongs.
"He gave Garrett [jockey Garrett Gomez up for the work] quite a tussle out there," Walsh said. "He wanted to go five-eighths, not three-eighths. I was delighted with the work."
The trainer said she is not looking at any kind of race schedule yet.
Set Play makes her third start of the year and second at Del Mar Saturday in the seventh race, an optional claiming/allowance event. She was a solid second in a similar race July 31 in her first start after a freshening following a fourth in Santa Anita's Grade III La Habra Stakes February 2.
"She's been training really well," trainer Peter Miller said this morning. "We were considering the Rancho Bernardo [Grade III on Sunday], but decided on this as a little easier spot. We're expecting a big effort from her."
Miller said the Grade I-winning Van Nistelrooy filly will be put into the Keeneland November Sale as a racing and breeding prospect. "The owners [Gerson Racing and Charleville Stables] aren't in the breeding business, and she is very valuable for that," Miller said.
WINNER PERFECT HOSTESS CREATES ECHOES OF THE PAST
A name from the past showed up on Thursday's racing program at Del Mar -- Perfect Hostess in the third race. The 3-year-old filly, making her first career start, was owned by E.W. and Judy Johnston and bred by the Johnstons' Old English Rancho and won handily under jockey Joel Rosario.
She bears the name of a star from the 1960s that ran for Johnston and his father, Elwood "Pie Man" Johnston. E.W. "Buddy" Johnston recalled the first Perfect Hostess fondly this morning. "She was a nice filly that ran for several years and then served as a wonderful broodmare for several years," said Johnston.
The first Perfect Hostess won the Pomona Derby against males in 1959 at the old Pomona Fairgrounds, now Fairplex Park. The winner's share for that race was $5,600.
The owner-breeder, who took over operation of Old English Rancho in 1957, said, "I've been waiting for many years to find a gray filly that looked like the first Perfect Hostess and when I saw this filly I thought right away that she was the one I'd been looking for. I applied for the name and I got it."
The filly was claimed for $40,000 by trainer Jorge Periban for owner Pablo Perez. Though disappointed at losing her, Johnston said, " I wish him the best of luck with her. After all, if she does well, we benefit as the breeders."
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.
Thursday, 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 -- Zachary Soto, stakes coordinator at Del Mar, is recovering from shoulder surgery performed Thursday in Glendale. Soto will be off work for the rest of the Del Mar meeting, which closes Wednesday, September 3, but expects to return to action for the Fairplex meeting that follows Del Mar ... The second and final "Donuts at Del Mar" of the 43-day meeting will be held at the Seaside Terrace near the top of the stretch Saturday from 8 to 10 a.m. Featured guests are Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, retired Hall of Famer rider Eddie Delahoussaye and former jockey Darrell Haire, the western representative of the Jockey Guild. Track announcer Trevor Denman acts as master of ceremonies for question-and-answer sessions with the guests ... The 2-year-old Race Caller Luke is owned by Mike Pegram and Watson and Weitman Performance and was named in honor of the late Luke Kruytbosch, the track announcer for Churchill Downs and Turf Paradise, who died July 14 while serving as track announcer, also, for Ellis Park in Kentucky. The owners applied for the name for the then-unnamed horse right after Kruytbosch's death and it was approved ... Another sports figure honored by a namesake horse is pro football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung. Owner Mike Shustek named the horse for his friend.
TRAKUS FACTS -- Thurs., 8/21 -- Peak Speed: Race 2 (Polytrack) -- Dawn's Day -- 43.4 mph (first 3/16ths); Race 5 (Turf) -- The Unusual One -- 43.1 mph (first eighth); Fastest Late Stretch Run: Race 6 (Polytrack) -- Lauren C -- 37.3 mph (final 16th); Race 7 (Turf) -- Brendolyn -- 39.3 mph (final 16th).
DEL MAR COMBINED JOCKEY & TRAINER STATISTICS
(Current Through Thursday, August 21, 2008)
Jockey -- Mts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
Rafael Bejarano -- 161 -- 35 -- 36 -- 34 -- 22% -- $1,895,694
Joel Rosario -- 176 -- 30 -- 23 -- 28 -- 17% -- $1,207,042
Tyler Baze -- 162 -- 28 -- 22 -- 20 -- 17% -- $1,277,470
Garrett Gomez -- 109 -- 25 -- 15 -- 14 -- 23% -- $1,504,135
Victor Espinoza -- 110 -- 12 -- 15 -- 12 -- 11% -- $719,510
Alex Solis -- 92 -- 10 -- 18 -- 18 -- 11% -- $805,760
Martin Garcia -- 97 -- 10 -- 15 -- 11 -- 10% -- $500,828
David Flores -- 88 -- 9 -- 13 -- 15 -- 10% -- $901,185
Joseph Talamo -- 103 -- 9 -- 12 -- 7 -- 9% -- $505,076
Martin Pedroza -- 94 -- 9 -- 9 -- 11 -- 10% -- $379,217
Trainer -- Sts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
John W. Sadler -- 83 -- 25 -- 21 -- 5 -- 30% -- $1,477,743
Mike R. Mitchell -- 60 -- 14 -- 7 -- 12 -- 23% -- $800,790
Jeff Mullins -- 59 -- 13 -- 15 -- 8 -- 22% -- $478,595
Doug F. O'Neill -- 78 -- 13 -- 14 -- 12 -- 17% -- $643,821
Jerry Hollendorfer -- 41 -- 12 -- 3 -- 10 -- 29% -- $440,409
Peter Miller -- 29 -- 7 -- 5 -- 2 -- 24% -- $234,700
Barry Abrams -- 35 -- 7 -- 3 -- 6 -- 20% -- $526,005
Patrick Gallagher -- 29 -- 6 -- 5 -- 6 -- 21% -- $473,160
Clifford W. Sise, Jr. -- 24 -- 6 -- 4 -- 3 -- 25% -- $204,388
Brian J. Koriner -- 33 -- 6 -- 2 -- 1 -- 18% -- $197,100
Winning Favorites Report (Current Through Thursday, August 21, 2008)
Winning favorites -- 89 out of 271 -- 32.84%
Winning favorites on main track -- 63 out of 207 -- 30.43%
Winning favorites on turf -- 26 out of 64 -- 40.63%
Winning odds-on favorites -- 19 out of 33 -- 57.58%
In-the-Money favorites -- 194 out of 271 -- 71.59%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites -- 30 out of 33 -- 90.91%