With a name change of one stakes race and the introduction of two new ones, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will be acknowledging, and solidifying, a partnership with the Oak Tree Racing Association in the final two days of the meeting on Monday and Wednesday.
On Labor Day, the featured event is the Grade II $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap. Called the Palomar Handicap from 1945-2011, the 1 1/16th-mile grass event for older fillies and mares takes over the moniker of a 1 1/4-mile turf event run at the fall meeting by the Oak Tree Association during its 41-year tenure of leasing the Santa Anita facility for a fall meeting.
Del Mar racing secretary Tom Robbins was the catalyst for the DMTC/Oak Tree collaboration on one renamed and two new races. Heads of both organizations were on board from the inception.
“I thought it was very generous of Del Mar to do that,” said Sherwood Chillingworth, a vice president of the Oak Tree Racing Association. “The Del Mar people have been interwoven with us through the years, and we were delighted we were asked.”
“Oak Tree and Del Mar are fairly similar in that we are not-for-profit, and I thought it would be fitting that we have some kind of relationship and this is what we came up with,” said Joe Harper, DMTC President, CEO and Director. “It’s a great way of keeping the great name of Oak Tree alive and recognizing the contributions they’ve made over more than 40 years of their existence.”
The Yellow Ribbon drew a field of nine. The 1-2-3 finishers in the Grade II, $250,000 John C. Mabee Stakes on August 12 -- City to City, All Star Heart and Go Forth North – are all entered with All Star Heart the 5-2 morning line favorite and defending Palomar champion City to City the 3-1 co-second choice. The 1-2 finishers from the Osunitas Stakes on July 21, Broken Dreams (8-1) and beaten Osunitas favorite Byrony (3-1), are also entered.
Trainers Jerry Hollendorfer and Tom Proctor will have two representatives each. Hollendorfer will saddle City to City and Halo Dolly (6-1), winner of the Solana Beach Handicap at a mile on turf on August 19.
“They’re consistent fillies,” Hollendorfer said. “City to City is coming off of a win and we’re looking for her to run real well. We’re looking to get Halo Dolly to route in a graded stakes race, which is a big step up for her.”
In addition to Broken Dreams, Proctor will saddle Vivo Per Lei (20-1), a daughter of Empire Maker shipped west after a fifth-place finish in a race at Saratoga where she was trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
“The one filly that just came in (Vivo Per Lei) I don’t know much about,” Proctor said. “She’s got some ability, but it might be a step up for her. It’s a step up for Broken Dreams too, but there’s not a lot of places for her to run right now. We’re looking forward to her running well, but whether or not she can win—we’ll see.”
Both Hollendorfer and Proctor have notched two stakes victories each at the meeting. Hollendorfer will have two representatives in the Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf, Proctor one. Hollendorfer has one in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf.
“It’s been good a good meeting already,” Proctor said. “Everybody tells me, ‘If we could just win one more race.’ I say, we’ve had a pretty good meet anyway. We’ve had a good meet one way or another.”
LARGE FIELD, STAR JOCKEY IMPORTS MAKE FOR INTRIGUING FUTURITY
If all twelve horses entered on Saturday start, Wednesday’s 65th running of the $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Futurity will be the second-largest field for the event in the past 22 years. Thirteen went postward with Georgie Boy winning in 2007 and there were 11-horse fields in 2010, 2008 and 2005. Before that, the number of Futurity starters hadn’t hit double figures since 1990 and 1991 when Best Pal defeated 10 rivals and Bertrando nine respectively.
The 2012 Futurity class, from the rail out:
Gabriel Charles (Joe Talamo rides, Jeff Mullins trains), Capo Bastone (John Velazquez, John Sadler), Switch to the Lead (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone), Yankee Rebel (Victor Espinoza, R.B. Hess, Jr.,), Know More (Garrett Gomez, Leandro Mora), Heir of Storm (Martin Garcia, Alexis Barba), The Whole Deal (Alonso Quinonez , Steve Knapp), Pure Loyalty (David Flores, Mark Glatt), Caballo Del Cielo (Mike Smith, Jeff Bonde), Rolling Fog (Rafael Bejarano, Bob Baffert), Scherer Magic (Corey Nakatani, John Sadler), Ive Struck a Nerve (Jose Valdivia, Jr., J. Keith Desormeaux).
Velazquez, a New York-based standout for 20 years and 2012 inductee into Racing’s Hall of Fame, has ridden only once previously at Del Mar. He was aboard Fourty Niners Son for Neil Drysdale in the Eddie Read Handicap on July 23, 2006. Fourty Niners Son was disqualified from fourth to fifth place for interference in the stretch.
Leparoux, also New York-based, returns to Del Mar after riding three mounts on the opening-day card, recording a fourth and third-place finishes in both divisions of the Oceanside Stakes.
MORA TAKES STABLE’S SUCCESS IN STRIDE
Wins in the first and last races on Saturday were the sixth and seventh of the meeting from 27 starters for trainer Leandro Mora, who took over for Doug O’Neill when O’Neill started his 40-day suspension on August 26.
O’Neill had 18 wins in 24 racing days before his departure. Mora has seven in 10 days since. It has been business as usual at Barn Y in the Del Mar stable area.
“It’s nice that the horses are ready and he left me a few good ones to make me look better,” Mora said Sunday morning. “Things are going very well. We’ve been together for so many years. I didn’t make any changes, we just had the right horses for the right races.
“I didn’t think the (win total) would be this high. But we have some really competitive horses that made me look even better. I’ve been following the same routine as always, and it just happened.”
BEJARANO HAS DEAD AIM ON, 10 SHOTS AT STAKES RECORD
Jockey Rafael Bejarano, whose victory aboard Executiveprivilege in Saturday’s Del Mar Debutante was his 12th stakes win of the meeting, tying the track record, has mounts scheduled in each of the 10 stakes over the three remaining racing days.
Bejarano joined Laffit Pincay, Jr. (1976), Chris McCarron (1995), Gary Stevens (1997) and Corey Nakatani (1998) among those to win a dozen stakes at a meeting. A victory in any of the following assignments would set Bejarano apart.
Sunday: Torrey Pines Stakes, Starlight Magic, 6-1; Adoration Stakes, Graser, 6-1; Del Mar Derby, Midnight Crooner, 5-1.
Monday: I’m Smokin Stakes, The Human Complaint, 4-1; Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies, Allshewrote, 8-1; Yellow Ribbon Handicap, Byrony, 3-1.
Wednesday: CERF Stakes, Pink Lollipops; Oak Tree Juvenile Turf, Power Broker; Pirate’s Bounty Stakes, Sinai; Del Mar Futurity, Rolling Fog. Morning line odds for Wednesday’s races will be issued on Monday.
PICK SIX CARRYOVER JOINS SEASON OF RECORDS
The Pick Six Carryover of $182,318 is the 14th of the season, a Del Mar record.
Here’s the rundown of Pick Six carryovers per season for the last 10 years: 2012 14 (with three days to go); 2011 - 10; 2010 - 13; 2009 - 12; 2008 -12; 2007 - 13; 2006 - 7; 2005 - 7; 2004 - 11; 2003 - 10.
JOCKEY NOTES, UPDATES
Trevor Denman said it as Press Baron ($20.20) neared the finish line in Saturday’s 10th race: “The day belongs to Victor Espinoza, here’s his fourth win.”
Press Baron joined Kinz Funky Monkey (2nd, $16.80), John Scott ($6.00) and Pure Indy ($8.40) on Espinoza’s win list for the day. The four scores boosted Espinoza’s total for the meeting to 17, sixth in the rider standings.
A nice day, for sure, but short of Espinoza’s best at the track. That would be the record-setting seven victories on Labor Day, September 4, 2006.
With three days remaining, Rafael Bejarano’s 50 wins give him a 13-victory lead over Joe Talamo and 15 over Garrett Gomez.
TRAINER NOTES, UPDATES
The victory by Executiveprivilege for Bob Baffert in Satuday’s Del Mar Debutante broke an 18-all tie with Peter Miller and the suspended Doug O’Neill atop the trainer standings.
Baffert will send out three runners today and nine in six races on Wednesday as the meeting closes. He has nothing entered Monday. Miller’s lineup shows five to run on Sunday, five more on Monday (one on the also-eligible list) and six to saddle in five races on Wednesday.
And then there’s John Sadler.
Sadler, in fourth place with 15 wins has six horses in five races on Sunday, 12 (count ‘em) in nine races on the 11-race Labor Day card and five more in four races on closing day.
“That might be a record for me,” Sadler said. “Let’s just hope we can do something with them. I’ll be there all day. I’m in it for the long haul. There’s a lot of them with good chances. We thought we’d win a couple (Saturday) and we wound up second and third so maybe (Monday) will be our day.”
Is there a late run to the training title in the offing?
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to win it, but we might give ‘em a scare.”
CLOSERS – Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella on the narrow losses by Jimmy Creed and Beholder in Friday’s El Cajon and Saturday’s Del Mar Debutante to Bob Baffert-trained Fed Biz and Executiveprivilege: “ You couldn’t be happier with your horses, they fought very hard but came up a head (or nose) short, that’s all.” Beholder will be targeted for the prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in October. Jimmy Creed might be aimed for the Damascus Stakes before the Breeders’ Cup program on November 3 … The victory by Kinz Funky Monkey in Saturday’s second race was the first by a progeny of The Green Monkey, who might be the equine counterpart of former Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf, considered the all-time bust of the NFL draft. The horse later to be named The Green Monkey was the most expensive thoroughbred ever sold at public auction ($16 million) but raced only three times with the best result being a third-place finish … Ship And Win bonus eligible horses on today’s program include: Procurement (6th, Tom Proctor, trainer), Howe Great * (9th, H. Graham Motion). *Eligible for $1,000 shipping but not 25 percent purse bonus as stakes race entrant.
Trakus Facts of the Day for Saturday, September 1
Self Preservation ran the sixth-fastest final furlong of the season for races at seven furlongs when winning the eighth race on Saturday. That final sectional was 11.74 seconds, while second-home Blushing Martha slowed to finish in 12.40 seconds.
Shadow Runner, second in the tenth race, covered 28 feet more than winner Press Baron, who won by just 1.25 lengths. Covering 28 feet more than the winner equates to approximately 3.2 lengths of added ground, suggesting the wider trip was a hindrance to Shadow Runner.
Boo Who Who and Quiet Sunshine, the second and third placers in the Saturday finale, each traveled 31 and 33 feet, respectively, more than winner Cupid’s Bling. Their margin of defeats were a neck and 1.25 lengths, but covered almost 3.5 lengths more.