Amarish went into the Grade III, $150,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 14 at Hollywood Park undefeated (2-for-2), with a combined victory margin of 12 ¼ lengths. The Jeff Bonde-trained 2-year-old had always been favored (6-5 and 7-10) and had never been more than a head away from the lead at an interim milepost in either race.
Six furlongs of the Hollywood Juvenile later , the Kentucky-bred Scat Daddy gelding, a $200,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale in March, was a shocking sixth of seven as the 2-5 favorite, beaten 9 ½ lengths by former $50,000 claimer Scherer Magic.
“The track changed the last week at Hollywood Park,” Bonde said earlier this week. “They started running slow times and down on the fence was not the place you wanted to be. Everything was winning from the middle of the track.
“We got stuck down inside, hooked up with another horse, and got tired near the end. Hopefully, we’ll get a better trip and run a little smarter race this time and things will be different.
“Any horse can have a bad day. We haven’t pushed on him (in training) since then. We hope he’s fresh and ready to run a real good race.”
NO MORE WAITING FOR KNOW MORE
Anticipation has been gradually building in the Doug O’Neill stable for the racing debut of Know More since the arrival of the 2-year-old colt a couple of months ago.
The Kentucky-bred son of Lion Heart was picked out of the Barretts sale in May by O’Neill’s brother Dennis who made a $210,000 purchase for J. Paul Reddam. The trio had just collaborated on winning the Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another.
With six workouts on the tab, from May 26 at Hollywood Park to July 28 at Del Mar, Know More is being given a tough opening assignment in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Best Pal Stakes.
“You never know if their morning form is going to carry to the afternoon, but right now he seems to be one of the best 2-year-olds we have, and we’ve got a lot of nice 2-year-olds,” O’Neill said.
“We’re really excited about him. Garrett Gomez has been on him a few times and really likes him. We’re looking for a big effort.”
Twice in the last three years – Lookin At Lucky in 2009 and J P’s Gusto in 2010 – a Best Pal victory has been a prelude to another in the Del Mar Futurity. Last year’s Best Pal winner, Creative Cause, was a close second, via disqualification, after a major bumping incident near the wire.
“I do think he’s a Futurity-caliber horse,” O’Neill said.” But the Best Pal is now, and we’ll see.”
ONE WEEK LATER, ELLIS RETAKES SPOTLIGHT
One week after an uplifting victory by Rail Trip in the San Diego Handicap, trainer Ron Ellis has the 2-1 favorite in today’s Grade I, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.
“I don’t know how much she’ll like the track, but she did win here, so we’ll see,” Ellis said. Include Me Out notched her first win, in her second career start, at Del Mar on August 20 of last year.
The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Include has faced nothing but graded stakes competition in 2012, and strung together wins in the Grade II La Canada, Grade I Santa Margarita and Grade II Marj Everett Handicap before finishing second to Love Theway Youare in the Grade I Vanity on June 16 at Hollywood Park.
“I don’t think there’s too much strategy to it,” Ellis said. “Hopefully, she’ll be sitting just behind the lead and Joe (Talamo) can be patient with her. She tends to pull herself up when she gets to the lead.”
UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP, ZAFEEN’S PEARL HEADS FOR HIRSCH
The Clement L. Hirsch assignment will complete an eventful 13 days in the life of 5-year-old English-bred mare Zafeen’s Pearl.
On Sunday, July 22, Zafeen’s Pearl was Hip No. 40 in the inaugural Paddock Sale at Del Mar sponsored by Sentient Jet and conducted by Barretts Equine Limited. She was bought back by her owners for $130,000 after bidding stopped short of the reserve price.
On Saturday, July 28, Zafeen’s Pearl won the seventh race on the Del Mar card, an allowance/claiming level mile on the main track with a total purse of $71,000 under Chantal Sutherland.
On Wednesday, August 1, Zafeen’s Pearl was privately purchased by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, with one stipulation being that she be included in the entries, being taken that morning, for today’s Grade I, 1 1/16-mile run.
Tim Yakteen is the trainer of Zafeen’s Pearl. The mare finished third in her first U.S. start, the Grade I Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 16 before coming back with the Del Mar victory.
“Any time a horse goes up for sale you don’t know what ‘s going to happen and you can’t worry about it,” Yakteen said. “Most of the horses back here (stable area) are for sale for the right offer. But really, I didn’t think she was going to sell (at auction).”
Regarding Zafeen’s Pearl’s chances in the Hirsch:
“She’s doing really well right now.”
BARBA BASKS IN FIRST DEL MAR STAKES WIN
Trainer Alexis Barba said she was “still floating” over the stakes victory by her Unusual Heatwave in Friday’s Real Good Deal Stakes. It was the first Del Mar stakes win for Barba, who has had a small stable for the summer meetings for about a dozen years and has been coming to Del Mar, generally in a racing-involved capacity, for around 35 years.
“It was a thrill and we had a nice celebration afterward,” Barba said. “He (Unusual Heatwave) will run here again, I just don’t know when. I’m still thinking about that.”
The same can’t be said for Real Good Deal runner-up Rousing Sermon.
“He ran well, just got outrun by the other horse,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. “I don’t think he’ll run here (again during the meeting). I’m not sure where I’m going to go with him next.”
PICK SIX WINNER’S BONUS PAYS OFF BIG TIME
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s $50,000 Pick Six Winner’s bonus, offered every Sunday, is guaranteed to make a good thing better.
Example: last Sunday, July 29.
The ‘natural’ Pick Six payout from a total pool of $503,575 was $80,769 to those holding the three winning tickets. Add on the $16,667 split of the $50,000 bonus and the actual payout was $97,436, a 21 percent bonus.
Barring a carryover, the $50,000 bonus will be in effect again tomorrow, Sunday, August 5.
CLOSERS -- Ship and Win bonus eligible horses on today’s card include: Why Not Be Perfect (6th, J. Keith Desormeaux, trainer); El Vino (6th, Vann Belvoir); Amani (8th, Neil Drysdale). (Amani eligible for basic $1,000 stipend but, as stakes entrant, not the 25 percent purse-earnings bonus) … TVG Pacific Classic candidate Where’s Sterling is being shipped here from Florida today with a scheduled arrival at 5 p.m. in San Diego. The 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet, trained by Luis Ramirez and owned by Frank Calabrese, will be taken to Barn I in the Del Mar stable area and be under the care of Blake Heap before starting Pacific Classic workouts … Trainer Julio Canani said that My Best Brother, winner of a division of the Opening Day Oceanside Stakes, was a go for the $150,000, Grade II La Jolla Handicap next Saturday, August 11.
Trakus Facts of the Day for Friday, August 3
Unusual Heatwave stormed from off the pace to win the featured Real Good Deal Stakes, and provided sensational final fractions proving his prowess. The Alexis Barba-trainee ran the final quarter of this seven-furlong event in 23.95 seconds, 0.46 seconds faster than second place finisher Rousing Sermon. His final furlong alone was 0.49 seconds faster than Rousing Sermon, and 0.95 seconds faster than third-placer Got Even.
Ground loss certainly mattered in Friday’s first race when 9-1 longshot Gal Has to Like It defeated second choice Guidopanzini. To the lead and on the rail, Edwin Maldanado-ridden Gal Has to Like It covered 3,995 feet while Guidopanzini, who traversed the final furlong 0.37 seconds faster than the winner, covered 21 feet more while racing four-wide on the far turn. The final margin of a head suggests Guidopanzini’s ground loss was a major contributing factor to defeat.