Blue Grass Stakes winner Dullahan shipped in from Kentucky with no problems on Sunday, and has acclimated well to his new surroundings during his first 72 hours at Del Mar.
That was the report Wednesday morning from Tammy Fox, former jockey turned exercise rider, wife of trainer Dale Romans and the woman in charge of Dullahan’s preparations for Sunday’s $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic.
“To me, the surface is pretty much the same thing as Keeneland and he likes it,” Fox said. “He’s running on his preferred surface and that should help. He’s running against older horses for the first time, but it’s later on in the year where he should be able to handle it. “
“He seems to be happy here. Amy Dollase is taking good care of him, and taking good care of me, too. So far, so good. Hopefully he’ll run a lot better than the last two races he’s run in.”
Dullahan finished third in the Kentucky Derby and was held out of the Preakness before finishing seventh, beaten 11 lengths as the 5-2 favorite in the Belmont Stakes. Seven weeks later, he was fifth of six, beaten 13 ½ lengths, in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Fox is not the regular exercise rider of Dullahan. But she has been aboard for his workouts at several tracks. “From working him at Keeneland compared to Churchill or other places, it’s a huge difference,” she said. “Hopefully he steps it up.”
TEN (OR MORE) EXPECTED FOR TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC
Late entries are still possible, but a field of at least 10 is expected for Sunday’s TVG Pacific Classic. The draw for post positions is scheduled to be conducted at a party this evening at Burlap Restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe.
The horses considered certainties, in alphabetical order with jockeys and trainers in parentheses are:
Akkadian (David Flores, Julio Canani), Amani (Garrett Gomez, Neil Drysdale), Dullahan (Joel Rosario, Dale Romans), Game On Dude (Chantal Sutherland, Bob Baffert), Jaycito (Rafael Bejarano, Bob Baffert), Rail Trip (Jose Valdivia, Jr., Ron Ellis), Richard’s Kid (Victor Espinoza, Leandro Mora), Riveting Reason (David Flores, Myung Kwon Cho), Suggestive Boy (Joe Talamo, Ron McAnally), and Where’s Sterling (Paco Lopez, Luis Ramirez).
Trainers Carla Gaines and John Sadler had not reached decisions by late Wednesday morning regarding the 2-3 finishers in the San Diego Handicap, John Scott and Kettle Corn.
PACIFIC SPECIFICS, TIME ETC.
First post on Pacific Classic Day, Sunday, August 26, will be 1 p.m., an hour earlier than usual.There will be 11 races on the card, with the Pacific Classic going as the ninth with an approximate post time of 5:18 p.m. PDT. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. A 10-race program, featuring the Grade II, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap, is slated Saturday.
GAME ON DUDE, JAYCITO SHOW READINESS IN WORKS
In his final major move prior to Sunday’s TVG Pacific Classic, Game On Dude registered an impressive seven-furlong work in 1:24.60 Monday morning for trainer Bob Baffert on Del Mar’s main track.
The 5-year-old son of Awesome Again had Rafael Bejarano in the tack as he broke off from the five-furlong pole about two lengths behind another Baffert runner, 2011 Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude, with Martin Garcia aboard. Joining that pair from the outside was Frank Calabrese’s Where’s Sterling, the east coast-based horse who has been shipped here for the Pacific Classic.
The race-simulated drill came off without a hitch with both Game On Dude and Where’s Sterling pulling even with Midnight Interlude at the wire.
Where’s Sterling earned a clocking of :59.60, while Midnight Interlude was given 1:00 flat for his five eighths.
Game On Dude, however, had more to do. The six-time stakes winner and likely favorite for Sunday’s 22nd edition of the TVG Pacific Classic worked another quarter mile, finishing out with a six-furlong time of 1:12 flat before stopping watches at 1:24.60. Del Mar’s clockers noted that the dark gelding galloped out another quarter mile and looked strong in the process.
“Bejarano never really moved his hands on the horse,” said clocker Toby Turrell. “He (Game On Dude) looked very professional. He was between horses for the team drill with Midnight Interlude on the inside and Where’s Sterling on the outside.”
Baffert, who took in the drill from the track’s Clubhouse , liked what he saw.
“Thumbs up,” said the Hall of Fame conditioner. “I liked his move a lot.”
On Tuesday, Baffert sent out his other Pacific Classic entrant, Jaycito. With Rafael Bejarano up, the 4-year-old Victory Gallop colt went five furlongs in 1:01.00.
“He went nice and steady, a good work,” Baffert said.
DEL MAR MILE IS CHOICE FOR NORVSKY
After giving the TVG Pacific Classic due consideration, the connections of California Dreamin’ Handicap winner Norvsky opted to enter the 6-year-old gelding in Sunday’s $200,000 Del Mar Mile instead.
“It came down to the Pacific Classic might not have a big standout, but it is a very contentious field,” trainer Don Warren said Wednesday morning. “There are a lot of impressive horses in there.”
Warren had Norvsky stablemate Acclamation targeted for the Pacific Classic until a strained ligament in the fetlock area of the left front leg sidelined the defending race champion one week ago.
Both Acclamation and Norvsky are owned by Bud and Judy Johnston’s Old English Rancho and partners.
“The mile might be too short for (Norvsky) and there’s a real standout in the race in Jeranimo,” Warren said. “But you never know what can happen.”Rafael Bejarano will ride Norvsky.
JOCKEY NEWS, UPDATES
Rafael Bejarano had two wins on Sunday compared to one apiece by his closest pursuers, Garrett Gomez and Joe Talamo. As a result, Bejarano enters the penultimate full week of racing at the meeting with 40 wins to 29 for Gomez and 26 for Talamo.
The question left unanswered Sunday concerning whether Bejarano would ride Richard’s Kid in the Pacific Classic was answered by a stewards’ decision that the call should go to the new owners’ choice, which is Victor Espinoza. Bejarano will ride Jaycito.
TRAINER NEWS, UPDATES
John Sadler had two wins on Sunday to raise his total to 12, tying Bob Baffert for third in the standings. One victory by Peter Miller moved him to within two, 18-16, of leader Doug O’Neill. The total for O’Neill will not change. He is serving a 40-day suspension and assistant Leandro Mora has taken over the stable in O’Neill’s absence.
Miller and Sadler both have four horses entered on Wednesday’s program.
CLOSERS – TVG Pacific Classic candidate Akkadian breezed three furlongs in :36.00 Wednesday morning under Martin Garcia for trainer Julio Canani … The Ship and Win program totals through five weeks of the meeting show $1,000 shipping bonuses to 102 horses and an additional $108,815 in reimbursements as 25% purse-earnings bonuses … Notable recent workouts: Monday – Switch 4 furlongs, :48.60; Balladry, 5 furlongs, 1:01.00; Midnight Interlude 1:00.00, Worth Repeating, 5 furlongs, :59.,00, Camp Victory, 6 furlongs, 1:13.80; Tuesday – Smart and Single :58.40, Heir Kitty, 6 furlongs 1:14.20, Miss Empire, 1:15.00, Jimmy Creed, 7 furlongs, 1:26.40; Wednesday – Akkadian, 3 furlongs, :36.00; Belonging, 4 furlongs, :46.80; Blueskiesnrainbows, 5 furlongs, 1:00.40, Cap Bastone, 5 furlongs, 1:00.40, Comma to the Top, 6 furlongs, 1:13.20.