The lengthy Labor Day weekend kicks off today with purses of $357,000 offered in a seven-race card, including the $100,000 El Cajon Stakes, followed by $761,000 Saturday ($511,000 in overnights and the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante); Sunday, $759,000 ($409,000 in overnights and $350,000 in the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes and $250,000 Del Mar Derby) and Monday, $635,000 ($385,000 scheduled in overnights and the $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes and $150,000 Palomar Handicap).
MILLER TAKES WOEBEGON TO DEBUTANTE ON WORKS ALONE
By virtue of a 3 ¼-length victory, at odds of nearly 14-1, in her June 26 racing debut, Woebegon was made the favorite 20 days later in the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park. And, she ran fourth of six in the $100,000, 6-furlong event, beaten 4 ¼ lengths by Killer Graces.
Looking back, trainer Peter Miller now calls the decision to run in the Landaluce a mistake. But looking ahead, it’s one that the 2-year-old Saint Anddan filly can delete from the memories of many with a victory Saturday in the $250,000, Grade I, 7-furlong Del Mar Debutante.
“I think we belong,” Miller said in a teleconference earlier this week. “She was even-money in the Landaluce and she bounced. I probably shouldn’t have run her back in three weeks. She ran a big number on the sheets and an 84 Beyer (in the debut win) and I think, in hindsight, I should have passed up the Landaluce and run in the Sorrento.
“Since I didn’t do that, it really forced me to pass up the Sorrento and train her up to the Debutante.”
The Debutante, which determines the juvenile filly champion of the meeting, attracted a field of 10 which includes only one from the Debutante-prep $150,000, Grade III , 6 ½-furlong Sorrento Stakes on August 5. That would be Landaluce winner Killer Graces, who failed as the even-money Sorrento favorite and finished fourth of six, never recovering from a bobble at the start.
Woebegon, owned by the Jay Em Ess Stable of Mace and Samantha Siegel, has worked five times over Del Mar’s Polytrack surface, at distances of 3-6 furlongs. She’ll be one of three Debutante starters without a race over the track, the others being Ben Cecil-trained Self Preservation, whose two starts were in Ireland, and Jeff Bonde-conditioned Coup de Coeur, whose three career starts were in Northern California.
Five in the Debutante are entered off victories over the track, among them Dreamcaster, a Bernardini filly trained by six-time Debutante winner and Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Dreamcaster, a debuting winner on August 7, was the only one of 12 Debutante nominees by Baffert to be entered in the race. John Sadler, who won the 2010 Debutante with Tell a Kelly and nominated 23 for 2011, is without a starter. Jerry Hollendorfer, who nominated 20, will saddle Killer Graces.
CREATIVE CAUSE WORKS FOR FUTURITY
Best Pal Stakes winner Creative Cause worked six furlongs in 1:12.20, Friday morning under jockey Rafael Bejarano for trainer Mike Harrington in preparation for Wednesday’s $250,000, Grade I Del Mar Futurity.
Breaking off at the five-eighths pole 11 lengths behind workmate Nebikon and about five behind Swiss Lightning, Creative Cause was still 10 behind, clockers said, at the three-eighths pole, but made up the ground from there, passing through on the inside to finish 3-4 lengths in front while being given split times of :24.40, :35.80, :59.80 and galloping out to seven furlongs in 1:25.60.
“He worked very nicely,” Harrington said. “It was very much what we were looking for (time wise). If he looks good tomorrow (Saturday), we’ll enter him. He’s ready.”
Creative Cause, a son of Giant’s Causeway owned by Heinz Steinmann, won the Best Pal by 1 ¾ lengths in 1:15.62 for 6 ½ furlongs on August 7, fastest time for the race on Polytrack, and worked a half-mile in :48.40 eleven days later in advance of Friday’s exercise.
Entries will be taken for the traditional closing day feature, and the rest of the final card of the meeting, Saturday morning.
JOCKEY AND TRAINER RACES AT A GLANCE
Jockeys – Joel Rosario (38 wins); Thursday (1) Magoo (2nd, $6.40); Friday, 4 scheduled mounts in races 1 (Irish Art, 8-5), 2 (Derrick Do, 6-1), 3 (Diamond Journey, 5-2) and six (Sahara Sky, 9-2). Joe Talamo (37 wins) Friday (1) Roman Chic (5th, $6.40); Friday, scheduled on mounts in races 2(Cost of Freedom, 7-5), 3 (Shezabigbroad, 6-1), 4 (Traweek, 12-1), 5(Absolutlypositivily, 5-1), and 7 (Warren’s Baby Walk, 5-1).
Trainers – Mike Mitchell (19 wins); Thursday (1) Roman Chic (5th, $6.40); Friday, three scheduled starters in races 3 (Carrie Rose, 6-1 and Diamond Journey 5-2) and 6 (Celestic Night 6-1). John Sadler (18 wins); Thursday, no starters; Friday, scheduled starters in races 1 (Cook Inlet 3-1) and 2 (Cost of Freedom 7-5).
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer remained positioned two away from career win No. 6,000 when his lone starter, Capital Plan, failed to hit the board in Thursday’s seventh race.
He has four scheduled starters today, three at Golden Gate Fields and one at Del Mar. In order of probable post times they are: Sky High Hatty (9-5) and Going For A Spin (2-1), first race, 12:45 p.m. at Golden Gate Fields; Tio Vic (5-2), seventh race, 3:49 p,m. at Golden Gate Fields and Sahara Sky (9-2), sixth race, 6:30 p.m. at Del Mar.
MITCHELL NEEDS A WIN FROM ST. TRINIANS IN ADORATION
Trainer Mike Mitchell is hoping a rider switch, a cutback in distance and a break from Grade I and II competition in Sunday’s $85,000-added, one-mile Adoration Stakes will bring a first win in 2011 for prized 6-year-old mare St Trinians.
St. Trinians has finished fourth in four straight Grade I or Grade II starts since March – once by disqualification after crossing under the wire first in the Grade II Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park. Frustrating fourths to Mitchell, who bluntly says, “I’m trying to put her in the winner’s circle” of the 6-year-old English-bred mare who gave the great Zenyatta a major scare before a narrow loss in last year’s Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park.
St Trinians will be undertaking an assignment shorter than 1 1/16 miles for the first time since December of 2009 and will have Joel Rosario aboard for the first time since March of 2010. Chantal Sutherland was up for a fourth-place finish of five in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on Saturday, August 6.
“Joel knows her and has won three times on her, so I’m making that switch,” Mitchell said. “If we can win, then I can think about Keeneland (fall stakes) or whatever.”
The Adoration drew a field of eight.
MCANALLY HIGH ON ‘SUGAR’ FROM THE START
From the first moment he saw the yearling filly at Rancho Paseana, Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally was smitten with Sugarinthemornng.
“She was in a field 100 feet away, and I liked her looks,” McAnally said Friday morning. “There was something about her that made you think she was going to be a good one.”
Now a three-year-old, the daughter of Candy Ride, California-bred and owned by Stephen B. Weissman, will be seeking her third straight stakes victory, and second of the Del Mar meeting, when she takes on five rivals in Sunday’s $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes.
Sugarinthemorning was a wire-to-wire, 3 1 /4-length winner of the Fleet Treat Stakes on July 30 under Patrick Valenzuela, a follow-up to a 1 ½-length win from off the pace in the Manhattan Beach at Hollywood Park on June 18. Valenzuela, who led the Pacific Classic from start to finish last Sunday on Acclamation, has been aboard for the last six starts for Sugarinthemornng.
“We’re keeping the same rider, which
is good, and stretching her out (from seven furlongs to a mile),” McAnally said. “We’ve been slowing her works down, so hopefully she will rate and finish good and strong.