A 5-year-old gelded son of Siphon, Delosvientos, has been flying under the radar at Del Mar on his way to being a starter in the track’s signature event, the Grade I, $1-million Pacific Classic Sunday, August 24.
The horse, on a three-race win streak, has been bedded down in Barn BB since mid-July in his quest for Del Mar’s biggest annual prize.
The 1 1/4-mile distance of the Pacific Classic is not a factor for the Siphon gelding. His past two victories have come at 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park, the most recent coming in the historic Grade II Brooklyn Handicap, where he won by two lengths over the multiple graded stakes winner Evening Attire. His sire ran twice in the Pacific Classic, finishing third behind upsetter Dare And Go and Cigar in 1996 and second to Gentlemen in 1997.
Eibar Coa, who rode Delosvientos in his two Belmont wins, is expected to be aboard in the Pacific Classic.
Delosvientos isn't the only horse from other venues that appear to be heading for the Pacific Classic. Possible from New York are defending champion Student Council, trained by Steve Asmussen; Out of Control, trained by Robert Frankel, and Barcola, trained by Mark Hennig. In addition, New York-based Bill Mott is expected to send his Churchill Downs-based Go Between, who finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup.
Closer to home are Del Mar-based Awesome Gem, 2007 runner-up for trainer Craig Dollase; Mast Track, another Frankel prospect who won the Hollywood Gold Cup; Monzante, winner of this year's Grade I Eddie Read Handicap for trainer Mike Mitchell; Well Armed, winner of the San Diego Handicap for Eoin Harty; Surf Cat, second in the San Diego for Bruce Headley; Mostacolli Mort, third in the San Diego Handicap for Julio Canani; Zappa, winner of the Cougar II Handicap for John Sadler, and Mr Napper Tandy, fourth in the San Diego for Jack Carava.
Also considered prospects are Tres Borrachos, winner of the Grade II Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park, where he is based with trainer C. Beau Greely whose Borrego won the 2005 Pacific Classic, and $1.5-million earner McCann's Mojave, who was fourth in his last start in the Hollywood Gold Cup for Northern California trainer Steven Specht.
LOADED FIELD APPEARS LIKELY FOR GRADE I DEL MAR OAKS
With the 1-2 punch returning from the Grade I American Oaks and the San Clemente Handicap winner in line to run, the 52nd edition of the Grade I, $350,000 Del Mar Oaks promises to have another classy field in the track's premier race for 3-year-old fillies.
Pure Clan and Satan's Circus, winner and runner-up in the American Oaks, and impressive San Clemente winner Storm Mesa are the headliners among 14 nominated to the Oaks, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course Saturday, August 16.
Tasha's Miracle, runner-up in the San Clemente, and Misty Ocean and Missit, third and fourth in the race, also are nominated.
Five nominees from the Barry Abrams barn, including Bel Air Sizzle and Lethal Heat, head a list of 17 nominees for the 15th running of the $100,000 Solana Beach Handicap at a mile on the turf Sunday, August 17.
Idiot Proof, second to Benny the Bull in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, will make his comeback in Wednesday's $80,000-added Green Flash Handicap at 5 furlongs on the turf. Also nominated and expected to run is Get Funky, winner of the Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Salute the Sarge, 2007 Best Pal Stakes winner and runner-up in the Futurity, will make his return to Del Mar in the Green Flash, where he will try grass for the first time.
AZUL LEON COULD BE NEW STEVIE WONDERBOY FOR O'NEILL
Showing the same sort of maturity and composure shown by 2005 Del Mar Futurity and Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Stevie Wonderboy, it's little wonder that the undefeated Azul Leon has trainer Doug O'Neill thinking championship season again.
But he also knows the 2-year-old Lion Heart colt has a tough test ahead of him in Sunday's Grade II, $150,000 Best Pal Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track.
"He could be just as good as -- or better than -- Stevie Wonderboy," O'Neill said this morning. "He shows the same maturity and the same ability to be composed and relaxed in a race as 'Stevie.' That usually means he has something left at the end."
The trainer also likes the colt's versatility, noting he can sit off the pace or take the lead if the pace is slow. "He has early speed and tactical speed, so with Rafael's help [jockey Rafael Bejarano], he can be a danger anywhere."
The colt runs for owner-breeder Joseph LaCombe Stable, who raced Favorite Trick to Horse of the Year honors in 1997 as an undefeated 2-year-old. LaCombe's son, Joseph Jr., who lives in San Diego, is a frequent visitor in the O'Neill barn.
Set to tackle Azul Leon are Captain Steel, ridden by Clinton Potts; S.S. Stone, another O'Neill runner, Garrett Gomez; Miguel's Mascot, David Flores; Fu Peg He Rat, Tyler Baze; Coronet of a Baron, Corey Nakatani; Fiery Rebel, Martin Garcia; Turbo Call, Julio Garcia; Charlie's Moment, Jon Court, and Kelly Leak, Victor Espinoza.
CARAVA HOPES MORAL COMPASS WILL FIND HIS WAY TO VICTORY
With the possibility of a spot in the Grade II, $350,000 Del Mar Derby in the offing, trainer Jack Carava is hoping his 3-year-old Moral Compass can reprise his super effort from the Oceanside Stakes on opening day in Saturday's Grade II, $150,000 La Jolla Handicap.
Moral Compass was a late-surging second, beaten a nose by Kilderry in the second division of the Oceanside at a mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. The field of 10 will be going 1 1/16 miles on the grass in the La Jolla.
Carava got the horse not too long before the Oceanside after long-time client La Canada Stables, at Carava's suggestion, bought the son of Grand Slam privately. Barclay Tagg had been training the colt.
"I had heard that the horse was for sale, but we just let it ride for a bit," Carava said. "But as I checked over the Del Mar program and saw the grass series for 3-year-olds, he seemed like the right horse for the right place."
It probably will take the colt's best effort to overcome Nownownow, the 2007 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Monmouth Park now running for new trainer Jason Orman, and Tiz West, winner of the Grade III Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park for Hall of Fame conditioner Richard Mandella.
Also in the field: Tangled Tango, Coronel Moldes, Jungle Wave, Sky Cape, Zetterberg, Madeo and Liberian Freighter.
MULLINS, GOMEZ SCORE DOUBLES AS LEADERS COME UP EMPTY
It was not a day like any other day at Del Mar Thursday as the jockey and trainer leaders -- Rafael Bejarano and John Sadler -- were winless.
Picking up the slack, however, were Jeff Mullins and Garrett Gomez, who each scored a pair of victories.
The two wins for Mullins ran his meet total to six and vaulted him into sixth place in the standings. Sadler holds a commanding lead, with 15 victories to runner-up Mike Mitchell's nine.
Among the jockeys, Gomez moved solidly into fourth place with 12 wins, leaving him 11 behind Bejarano and six behind co-runners-up Tyler Baze and Joel Rosario, each with 18 wins.
Though well behind Bejarano in wins, Gomez is second in money won with $929,755. Bejarano has chalked up purse earnings of $1.3 million.
SHORE LINES -- Sports broadcaster Mel Proctor will give his insights to handicapping and offer his picks on the day's card as he guests at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club's free handicapping session Saturday from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. at the Seaside Terrace near the head of the stretch ... After today's fourth race, the 43-day season will have passed its halfway point.
TRAKUS FACTS -- Thurs., 8/7 -- Peak Speed: Race 3 (Polytrack) -- Tiger Johnny -- 44.5 mph (first 3/16ths); Race 2 (Turf) -- Ridge Dance -- 41.2 mph (first 7/8ths); Fastest Late Stretch Run: Race 5 (Polytrack) -- Helmsgold -- 37.0 mph (final 16th); Race 2 (Turf) -- Bingham -- 40.9 mph (final 16th).
DEL MAR COMBINED JOCKEY & TRAINER STATISTICS
(Current Through Thursday, August 7, 2008)
Jockey -- Mts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
Rafael Bejarano -- 100 -- 23 -- 23 -- 20 -- 23% -- $1,307,730
Tyler Baze -- 102 -- 18 -- 11 -- 16 -- 18% -- $862,906
Joel Rosario -- 102 -- 18 -- 8 -- 16 -- 18% -- $645,580
Garrett Gomez -- 68 -- 12 -- 10 -- 9 -- 18% -- $929,755
Victor Espinoza -- 80 -- 9 -- 9 -- 11 -- 11% -- $562,430
Martin Garcia -- 69 -- 8 -- 11 -- 9 -- 12% -- $370,634
Alex Solis -- 58 -- 6 -- 14 -- 11 -- 10% -- $397,140
David Flores -- 63 -- 6 -- 9 -- 11 -- 10% -- $682,843
Martin Pedroza -- 64 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9% -- $251,620
Mike Smith -- 37 -- 6 -- 6 -- 3 -- 16% -- $530,921
Trainer -- Sts -- 1st -- 2nd -- 3rd -- Win% -- Money Won
John W. Sadler -- 56 -- 15 -- 16 -- 3 -- 27% -- $1,089,817
Mike R. Mitchell -- 41 -- 9 -- 5 -- 7 -- 22% -- $632,610
Doug F. O'Neill -- 48 -- 8 -- 11 -- 6 -- 17% -- $369,269
Jerry Hollendorfer -- 31 -- 8 -- 2 -- 9 -- 26% -- $311,729
Peter Miller -- 24 -- 7 -- 3 -- 2 -- 29% -- $224,500
Jeff Mullins -- 39 -- 6 -- 10 -- 5 -- 15% -- $257,607
Clifford W. Sise, Jr. -- 16 -- 5 -- 3 -- 3 -- 31% -- $163,720
Patrick Gallagher -- 19 -- 4 -- 4 -- 2 -- 21% -- $176,720
J. Eric Kruljac -- 10 -- 4 -- 3 -- 1 -- 40% -- $167,620
Carla Gaines -- 13 -- 4 -- 2 -- 2 -- 31% -- $223,620
Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Thursday, August 7, 2008)
Winning favorites -- 41 out of 170 -- 24.12%
Winning odds-on favorites -- 10 out of 20 -- 50.00%
In-the-Money favorites -- 112 out of 170 -- 65.88%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites -- 18 out of 20 -- 90.00%