It was a little after 7 a.m. and trainer Peter Eurton confessed that he had “just shown up” at his Barn X headquarters. A bit later than is his habit, but with a reasonable explanation.
The celebration dinner at L’Auberge on Saturday evening after Weemissfrankie’s victory in the Grade I, $250,000 Del Mar Debutante had around 25 people in attendance from an ownership group that includes Sharon Alesia of La Costa, Mike Mellen, Joe Ciaglia, Rob Dyrdek and Nick Cosato, all of Los Angeles. Eurton was among the earliest to call it a night, at around 10. Others took cabs to downtown San Diego to continue the celebration of the impressive, 1 ¼-length victory as the 5-2 favorite in 1:23.20 for seven furlongs.
“It’s still a tough road to follow,” Eurton said. “The Debutante was 30 days after her first race, now it’s 30 to the Oak Leaf and then the Breeders’ Cup a month later. We’ll have to see how she handles the Santa Anita dirt. I could always try her on the grass as well; there’s turf in her pedigree.”
Trainer Ben Cecil was understandably pleased with the Debutante runner-up effort of Self Preservation in the recent import from Ireland’s first U.S. start and first competition on Polytrack. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Lion Heart rallied from last of 10 at the half-mile mark at odds of 25-1 under Patrick Valenzuela.
Told that Valenzuela had hopped off and said for media consumption “Oh, she’s a runner,” Cecil had to smile. “He hopped off and said to us ‘We’re going to win the Breeders’ Cup,’ ” Cecil said. “That’s Patrick, he’s always enthusiastic.”
Cecil said that Self Preservation would be taken to Santa Anita and consideration would be given to both the Oak Leaf and the Alcibiades on October 7 at Keeneland.
Trainer Tom Proctor said Debutante third-place finisher Emerald Gold came out of the race in good shape and, like the others, would consider the Oak Leaf and Alcibiades for a possible next start.
HOLLENDORFER WATCH: 1,000 TO GO TO REACH 7,000
Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer was on the balcony of Barn J, overseeing workouts as usual, on the morning after becoming only the fourth trainer in history to saddle 6,000 winners.
The milestone was reached Saturday with a victory in the sixth race at Golden Gate Fields with Just Tappin It, ridden by jockey career wins leader Russell Baze. It ended a nearly two-week wait through more than two dozen horses to record two wins that stood between Hollendorfer and the mark in mid- August. Attempts to get No. 6,001 at Del Mar and Golden Gate Fields later in the day were unsuccessful.
“It’s good to get it out of the way,” Hollendorfer said. “I’m one of the lucky ones to ever have a chance to win 6,000. I’m grateful for that and I’d like to keep going. I got texts from all over. It was very nice. People have been very kind to me.”
Hollendorfer joins a group that includes Dale Baird (9,445 wins), Jack Van Berg (6,407) and King Leatherbury (6,324).
“I know all of them except King Leatherbury,” Hollendorfer said. “I haven’t gotten to meet him. He’s on my list of people that I’d like to meet. I got to meet Dale Baird before he died and of course I’ve known Jack Van Berg for many years since he’s been on the West Coast. Of course, I knew of him before I ever came on the racetrack.
“I’m very pleased to be in that group of people.”
On to 7,000?
“I don’t know. If I can make 7,000, fine. But that seems like a long way off.”
JOCKEY AND TRAINER RACES AT A GLANCE
Jockeys – Joel Rosario (41 wins); Saturday (1) Kettle Korn (7th, $7.20); Sunday, 10 mounts covering all races on the card. Joe Talamo (39 wins); Saturday (2) Egg Drop (3rd, $6.60), Jeopardy Lady (9th, $9.20); Sunday, eight mounts covering all races except the second and seventh.
Trainers – Mike Mitchell (24 wins); Saturday (3) Bonita Star (2nd, $4.20), Egg Drop (3rd, $6.60), Jeopardy Lady (9th, $9.20). Sunday, scheduled starters in races 1 (Thisoneforyou, 5-2 ) 4 (St Trinians, 7-5 ) and 5 (Memen, 3-1 ). John Sadler (19 wins); Saturday, (1) Kettle Korn (7th, $7.20) ; Sunday, scheduled starters in races 1 (Cactus Flyer, 7-2) and 3 (Regal Betty, 5-2).
O’NEILL DIVIDES WITH ‘HOPEFUL’ INTENT TO CONQUER
Trainer Doug O’Neill has shipped Best Pal Stakes runner-up I’ll Have Another to Saratoga for Monday’s $250,000, Grade I Hopeful Stakes and entered maiden colt Basmati in Wednesday’s $250,000, Grade I Del Mar Futurity.
It’s not that O’Neill has volunteered to provide racing fans with a measuring tool for the 2-year-old colt talent on the two coasts. It just worked out that way.
“Mr. and Mrs. Reddam (J. Paul and Zillah) own I’ll Have Another and Basmati, two of our top 2-year-olds and we just thought they were both of the quality that we wanted to keep one on the West Coast and send the other back East,” O’Neill said. “Yeah, we’ll get a line on what we have. But they’re both training great and they look like they should be a part of the big races coming up.”
I’ll Have Another, a Kentucky-bred son of Flower Alley, is 8-1 in the morning line for the Hopeful and will break from the No. 8 spot in a field of 10 with Julien Leparoux to ride. JC’s Pride, the 5-2 morning line favorite owned by Joseph Bucci and trained by Bobby Barbara, drew the No. 10 spot with Jose Lezcano up.
Basmati has been second to Bob Baffert-trained 2-year-olds Secret Circle and Gun Boat in two starts over the Del Mar Polytrack. The son of 2005 Pacific Classic winner Borrego drew the No. 5 post in a field of eight for the Futurity and will be ridden by Garrett Gomez.
PEDROZA NEEDS ONE FOR DEL MAR PR
With 21 wins through 34 racing days, veteran jockey Martin Pedroza has his highest total in 15 years and is on the verge of a personal record for a Del Mar meeting.
Twenty-one victories in 1996 and 20 in 1999 are the recorded highs for the 46-year-old native of Panama in more than 20 years of riding at Del Mar.
“Not getting hurt and being able to go for the full meeting,” is a major factor in Pedroza’s 2011 success, agent Richie Silverstein said. The others are hard work, persistence and help from a variety of trainers.
“Peter Miller is probably the biggest name trainer we ride for,” Silverstein said. “It’s been through the smaller (stable) guys like Tom Blincoe, Mike Pender, Carl O’Callaghan, Dallas Keen and a couple others that we’ve been able to get some good horses and good opportunities.”
Pedroza has long been one of the most successful riders at the Fairplex Park meeting which follows Del Mar. But given the success, Silverstein said his wish would be the Del Mar meeting go a little longer.
“Absolutely,” he said. “You get one win a day here, with a $65,000 purse, you’d have to get three or four a day (for the equivalent) at Pomona. The fans have been great here, the racing has been great. Whenever you’re doing well you don’t wish a meeting to ever end.”