Know More came out of his debut-race victory in the Grade II $150,000 Best Pal Stakes on Sunday “fantastic,” trainer Doug O’Neill reported Wednesday morning. The plan is to train the 2-year-old son of Lion Heart up to the $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Futurity on the closing day of the meeting, Wednesday, September 5.
“We’ll probably have time for one breeze, but other than that, just real strong gallops,” O’Neill said. “A good gallop for him is the equivalent of a workout for most horses. He’s got a great mind, knows what he’s supposed to do and gets it done.”
Past Forgetting won the 1981 La Centinela Stakes at Santa Anita, covering six furlongs in a then stakes record 1:08 1/5 for owner B.J. Ridder and trainer Gordon Campbell. Seven years earlier, 3-year-old filly Modus Vivendi, racing for the same Ridder/Campbell connections, also won the La Centinela.
“It takes a special kind of horse to do what he did,” Gomez said after the Best Pal. “We just have to be hopeful that he’s all that we think he is.”
“It exceeded our expectations,” O’Neill said. “We were expecting him to put in a good effort, but you never expect something like this right out of the box.”
With one young standout having been thus introduced, the O’Neill stable will look to do so with others in the coming days and weeks.
“We’ve got about 10 2-year-olds that are hard to separate,” O’Neill said. “You don’t know if they’re going to take what they’re doing in the morning (workouts) to the afternoon (racing). But we’re excited about all of them.”
DEL MAR JOINS CALIFORNIA INDUSTRY IN REMEMBERING PEDERSEN
Peder (Pete) Pedersen, an iconic and highly respected racing official and steward throughout California for 50 years, passed away Sunday at age 92 due to complications suffered from a recent fall at his Arcadia home.
A winner of the racing industry’s highest honor, the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2002, Pedersen began his racing career as a teenage construction worker in his native Washington state, where he was born on July 4, 1920. He helped build the now-shuttered Longacres, which opened on Aug. 3, 1933 near Seattle and it quickly became the Pacific Northwest’s racing Mecca.
Trained as a journalist, Pedersen went to work as a teletype operator at Longacres and became the track’s publicity director.
Pedersen also went on to write and report on racing for the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Daily Racing Form and BloodHorse Magazine.
He officiated at every Breeders’ Cup in the state from the inaugural in 1984 through his retirement in 2005. As such, Pedersen was one of three stewards in the booth for the inaugural Breeders’ Cup in 1984 at Hollywood Park, which featured the disqualification from first of Fran’s Valentine in the BC Juvenile Fillies, and Gate Dancer from second to third in the BC Classic.
Pedersen was a steward for Del Mar meetings from 1968-1979 and from 1982-84
“He was the go-to steward if there ever was a problem or a controversy,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club President, CEO and Director Joe Harper. “Always Pete would, in a very calm manner, put out the fire and handle it very professionally.”
Harper recalled an instance in the 1970s when there was a controversial call in the last race of the day. As the other stewards made their way through a gathering of agitated bettors toward the parking lot, Pedersen stopped and addressed the group.
“He stood up on a bench, explained the ruling, and it had a calming effect on a crowd that was becoming unruly,” Harper said. “With his background in publicity, he knew the importance of communicating and he was very good at it.”
Current Del Mar steward Tom Ward began working with Pedersen in 1974 on the Northern California circuit and followed Pedersen’s path to Southern California in 1987. They shared stewards’ booths and duties from then until Pedersen’s retirement in 2005.
“Pete and I went through some tough times and some very good times together,” Ward said. “He was, as Jay Privman wrote in the Daily Racing Form, the West Coast counterpart to (revered Kentucky steward) Keene Dangerfield.
“Pete treated everyone with dignity and respect, from the highest profile owners to the grooms and hot walkers. He always said, the race is the most important thing. If we don’t have integrity in races, we don’t have a product. I’ll miss him.”
Pedersen is survived by his longtime partner, Marlene Crain, and sons Craig and Michael from a previous marriage.
Funeral services will be private.
IT’S MILLER (FILLIES) TIME AGAIN IN SORRENTO
Trainer Peter Miller was pleased with the 2-3 finish of his fillies Heir Kitty and Miss Empire against males in Sunday’s Best Pal. While knowing that it’s a lot to ask, he’s hoping that Speedinthruthecity and Bares Tripper, can equal or better that result against their own age and gender in Wednesday’s Grade II $150,000 Sorreento Stakes.
The major obstacle: Bob Baffert-trained, undefeated (2-for-2) Executive Privilege, winner of the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 14 and the 4-5 morning line favorite in the Sorrento.
“I’m not sure Executiveprivilege isn’t the best 2-year-old on the grounds,” Miller said. “But we’re top-heavy with fillies and we want to keep them separated as much as possible.”
Miller termed the Best Pal, in which Heir Kitty lost to Know More by a half-length with Miss Empire another 1 ¼-lengths back, an “amazing” race for his two fillies.
“Both performed great. They ran super.”
Both came out of the Best Pal in good shape, Miller said. It’s very possible that, depending on today’s Sorrento result, he could be sending the four out in pairs – in combinations to be determined – again for the $300,000, Grade I Del Mar Debutante on Saturday, September 1 and the $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Wednesday, September 5.
PACIFIC CLASSIC-BOUND WHERE’S STERLING HAS SLIGHT TEMPERATURE
Trainer Blake Heap, who is overseeing TVG Pacific Classic hope Where’s Sterling for trainer Luis Ramirez, said the 5-year-old horse had a slight temperature after shipping to Del Mar from Florida on Saturday.
“It could have been the ship,” Heap said. “It was real hot, the plane probably had a stopover in the Midwest. We decided to give him a couple days to recover. We did some blood work on him and we’ll probably get the results back today.
“Once we get that we’ll decided what to do about training him for the Classic. We’ve still got plenty of time.” The Pacific Classic is Sunday, August 26.
Heap said Ramirez, who trains Where’s Sterling for owner Frank Calabrese, would likely be travelling to Del Mar some time next week.
FIVE ENTERED FOR SATURDAY’S LA JOLLA
A field of five, headed by My Best Brother, winner of the opening-day La Jolla Stakes, was entered Wednesday for Saturday’s $150,000 La Jolla Handicap, second leg in the three-race stakes series for 3-year-olds at the meeting.
In addition to Julio Canani-trained My Best Brother, the group includes Chips All In (Jeff Mullins, trainer); Blingo (John Shirreffs); Facultoso (Simon Callaghan) and Old Time Hockey (Tom Proctor).
Trainer Bob Baffert said that Midnight Crooner, winner of the other division of the Oceanside, was being reserved for the final leg of the series, the Grade II $300,000 Del Mar Derby on Sunday, September 2.
CLOSERS – University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was a backstretch visitor to the barn of trainer Doug O’Neill on Wednesday morning. Pitino, a visitor to Del Mar several times in past summers, said he was “checking on some of my horses” with his racing advisors … Ship and Win bonus-eligible horses on today’s card include: Wittgenstein (7th, Brian Meehan, trainer) *; Somethingabouther (7th, Jim Cassidy) *; Explosive Argument (8th, Dallas Keen); Wishing Gate (8th, Tom Proctor); *Eligible for $1,000 travel stipend but, as stakes entrants, not for 25 percent purse bonus …Through the first three weeks of the meeting, the DMTC has paid out $73,000 in travel stipends and an additional $78,080 in purse bonus money in the Ship and Win program … Notable works in recent days: Monday – Nonios 4 furlongs, :47.00; Tuesday – Lady of Shamrock, 6 furlongs, 1:13.60; Wednesday – Jimmy Creed, 4 furlongs :49.40; Camp Victory, 5 furlongs 1:00.40; Coil, 5 furlongs :59.60; Jaycito, 5 furlongs :59.60; Blueskiesnrainbows 6 furlongs 1:13.40; Sugarinthemorning, 6 furlongs 1:13.20.
Trakus Facts of the Day for Sunday, August 5
Best Pal Stakes winner Know More obviously came home fastest of the eight in that race, but also covered more ground than the next five finishers. The Doug O’Neill trainee went 25 feet more than second-home Heir Kitty, 32 feet more than Miss Empire, and 30 feet more than Heir of Storm. Know More’s final furlong was timed in 23.63 seconds while third placer Miss Empire was next-fastest in 23.83.
In Sunday’s ninth race, Willie’s Brown’s performance might be more impressive than the final margin indicated. A winner by a half-length, Willie Brown covered 25 feet more than 4-5 favorite Coranto, and 24 feet more than third placer Coranto. Overall, he covered the most ground in the field of eleven.