Rousing Sermon steps down from the Grade I and Grade II level of competition he’s been facing through his last six starts to take on seven fellow Cal-breds in Friday’s $200,000 Real Good Deal Stakes.
Can he put an Amen to a seven-race losing streak? It probably won’t be too surprising to owner/breeders Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams and Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer if the 3-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit-Rousing Again does.
The Road to the Triple Crown races undertaken this year proved a bumpy one, however, with a third place finish in the Louisiana Derby being the only on-the-board result in Derby preps. And a Kentucky Derby try resulted in an eighth-place finish, at odds of 40-1, beaten 8 ¼ lengths.
“He had a lot of trouble in the race,” Hollendorfer’s assistant, Dan Ward, said Thursday morning of the Derby effort. “You watch the replay and he actually ran very well. He was blocked and had to wait and wait (for running room) and he finished only three-quarters of a length behind Union Rags and ahead of a lot of good horses.”
Hansen, the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and a heavy morning line favorite for Saturday’s West Virginia Derby, was ninth, two lengths behind Rousing Sermon.
“This year he’s run against a lot of really good horses. Creative Cause and I’ll Have Another (twice each), and all the other Derby horses.”
In his most recent start, Rousing Sermon was fourth behind Blueskiesnrainbows in the 1 1/8 mile Swaps Stakes on July 4 at Hollywood Park. Stablemate Nonios, second in the Swaps, would go on to another runner-up effort behind Paynter in last Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
“That (Swaps) was productive race,” Ward said. “He ran his highest Beyer (speed figure) ever (98) and two other horses came out of that race and ran big the next time out. Now if he manages to win against Cal-breds it will boost his confidence.”
The Real Good Deal, at seven furlongs, will be the first at a sprint distance for Rousing Sermon since a third-place finish in the six-furlong I’m Smokin here on September 5 of last year. Rousing Sermon followed that with a victory in the Cal Cup Juvenile in October at Santa Anita, his only win outside the maiden ranks.
THREE FOR THE MONEY: MALDONADO’S FIRST DEL MAR TRIPLE
Backers of jockey Edwin Maldonado were well-rewarded on Wednesday when the 29-year-old native of Columbus, Ohio, booted home three winners with $2 win payoffs totaling $55.80.
Maldonado’s triple came with Itsphun ($18.40) in the second race, Iron Joe T ($15.00) in the sixth and Classic Bobby ($22.40) in the seventh.
“We’ve had two-win days at Santa Anita and Del Mar, but hadn’t broken through with the third before,” said Vic Lipton, Maldonado’s agent. “I think he’s riding exceptionally well right now. All three of those horses he broke from the gate well and finished strong. He did everything right.”
The three wins boosted Maldonado’s win total for the meeting to seven, good for fifth in the rider standings, 10 behind co-leaders Rafael Bejarano and Garrett Gomez. Maldonado had six victories at Del Mar in the 2011 meeting, his first here. He rode in Canada and Louisiana before switching to the Southern California circuit for the 2010 meeting at Fairplex Park.
ACCLAMATION, NORVSKY PUT IN TURF WORKS
Acclamation worked five furlongs on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course in 1:02.80 Thursday morning and stable mate Norvsky the same distance in 1:03.80 in preparation for upcoming major stakes assignments.
Acclamation made a successful title defense in the Eddie Read Stakes on July 21 and is being pointed toward a title defense in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Sunday, August 26 over the Polytrack main course or the Del Mar Handicap on turf a day earlier.
Norvsky, who defended his title in the California Dreamin Handicap on July 22, is being considered for the Del Mar Handicap or the Del Mar Mile on the Pacific Classic undercard.
Track clockers caught Acclamation in splits of :25.40, :38.80, 51.40 and 1:02.80 for the work under exercise rider Fernando Valenzuela and categorized it as “breezing,” meaning under no extra encouragement. The last eighth in :11.40 was especially eye-catching under those circumstances.
“They went exactly what we wanted,” said Bud Johnston of Old English Rancho, breeder and owner in partnerships of both horses.
“It was Acclamation’s first work since the Eddie Read. He went 1:03 in (the corresponding) work last year, we wanted something in the 1:02-1:03 range and he hit 1:02 and four-fifths. The horses look great and we were very pleased with both of them. They did it easy and that’s just what we wanted.”
Valenzuela, a cousin of Acclamation’s regular rider Patrick Valenzuela, was Warren’s choice for the measured work because, as Warren put it: “Patrick doesn’t do slow.”
BARN FAVORITE LEAVES HESS WITH RECORD RUN
Trainer Bob Hess, Jr., said Royal Import had become a “barn favorite” having been a stable newcomer as a 2-year-old and being claimed away and reclaimed over much of the 5-year-old gelding’s racing career.
But when Royal Import left once again after Sunday’s fifth race, claimed by trainer Vann Belvoir for $10,000 for the Horseplayers Racing Club ownership group, he presented a nice parting gift in a Polytrack record 1:50.58 for 1 1/8 miles in a winning effort.
“It’s sad to lose him, but it was fun to see him run like that,” Hess said. “The time was kind of a surprise and I was surprised that nobody had run faster than that before. But he loves Del Mar (2-3-2 results in seven starts) and it brings out the best in him.”
The previous record was 1:50.75. Royal Import rallied from seventh in a field of nine to win by a head.
“I knew he was going to make a good charge at it,” said jockey Aaron Gryder. “I knew he’d do his best running the last three-sixteenths and he took me everywhere I needed to go.”
Hess has 25 horses at Del Mar, another string of 15 based on the East Coast, in New York and/or Florida.
“During Del Mar I don’t like (the commuting),” Hess said. “The rest of the year, it’s not so bad.”
CLOSERS – Jockey Martin Garcia is 10 wins away from 1,000 for his career. He has three mounts on today’s program … Trainer David Hofmans is two wins away from career victory No. 1,000. “I don’t think about it unless somebody else brings it up,” said Hofmans, who finished moving his stable to Del Mar this morning. Hofmans’ Hidden Passion, nominated to but not entered in Saturday’s Clement Hirsch Stakes, will be seen in an allowance race next week. He has Shediak entered in the sixth race on Saturday…Horses eligible for Ship And Win bonuses on today’s card include: Cabo Uno (1st, Jack Bruner trainer); Rich Kid (2nd, Vann Belvoir); Mr. Why Why (3rd, Christie Grisham) … Del Mar-based jockeys Mike Smith and Corey Nakatani will be away on Saturday with mounts in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby. Smith will be aboard favored Hansen. Nakatani has the call on Macho Macho for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Trakus Facts of the Day for Wednesday, August 1
Star Nicholas made a sweeping run, passing the entire field of eleven rivals within less than a quarter mile in Wednesday’s third race. While covering ten feet more than Warren’s Concept, 28 feet more than third placer Siempre Mio, and 42 feet more than fourth-place finisher Eye for an Eye, Star Nicholas, under Victor Espinoza, passed all rivals from the three-eighths pole to the eighth-pole, covering that distance in 24.24 seconds. The next fastest to traverse that segment was Eye for an Eye, in 24.73 seconds, almost a half-second slower.