Patrick Biancone has won stakes races at tracks on three different continents, but Del Mar is not on the list. Biancone, 60, is not averse to the idea of running females against males and did so, most notably, when All Along won the 1983 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in his native France, en route to Horse of the Year honors in both the U.S. and France.
So it shouldn’t be all that surprising, and it wouldn’t be inappropriate, if Biancone got his first stakes victory at the track in Wednesday’s Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity when he sends out the filly Switch to the Lead against 11 males in the traditional closing day feature which determines the meeting’s 2-year-old champion.
The Sorrento was the major prep for last Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Debutante, also won by Executiveprivilege, the 2-year-old filly counterpart to the Futurity and, therefore, an option for Switch to the Lead.
“She was not nominated to either race, so we had to pay (a $10,000 supplemental fee) to run,” Biancone explained Monday morning. “And the colt race (Futurity) looks easier than the filly race. We hope we’ve made the right choice.”
Switch to the Lead’s performances suggested that she could be competitive in either event.
“She was supposed to run the week before, but she didn’t make the race.,” Biancone noted. “But she won the first time quite easily and the horse that was second to her (Scarlet Strike) won (Sunday), so it was a good race.
“So the second time (Sorrento) I had to run her back a little bit quickly. She had only 10 days to make the race but I wanted to give her two runs before we attack the Grade I.”
Switch to the Lead was ridden by Yuichi Fukunaga in her first two starts. Biancone’s French compatriot, Julien Leparoux, is coming in from his East Coast base to ride her in the Futurity.
“She ran all right (in the Sorrento),” Biancone said. “She was wide but finished well to get third. So she’ll run (Wednesday) again and we’ll see how good she is. These horses have run one time, maybe two times maximum and made a good impression. But we think she’ll contend and we’ll see what happens. It’s a baby race, you know.”
Considerable thought went into the Futurity decision.
“One reason was that, if you look at the numbers, and we’re all looking at something to measure, she was maybe the fourth number (highest speed figure) in the filly race and second in the colt race.
“Of course, that’s what happened before and we don’t know what they’re going to do on Wednesday. But she has trained very well and looks in good form. Cross fingers.”
KNOW MORE TABBED AS FUTURITY FAVORITE
Know More, winner of the Grade II $150,000 Best Pal Stakes in his racing debut on August 5, was made the 5-2 morning line favorite in a field of 12 for Wednesday’s Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity by track oddsmaker Russ Hudak.
The Futurity, to be run for the 65th time, is a “Win and You’re In” event for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 3 at Santa Anita.
The field, from the rail out with jockeys and odds in parentheses:
Gabriel Charles (Joe Talamo, 6-1), Capo Bastone (John Velazquez, 3-1), Switch to the Lead (Julien Leparoux, 12-1), Yankee Rebel (Victor Espinoza, 20-1), Know More (Garrett Gomez, 5-2), Heir of Storm (Martin Garcia, 8-1), The Whole Deal (Alonso Quinonez, 30-1), Pure Loyalty (David Flores, 30-1), Caballo Del Ciello (Mike Smith, 12-1), Rolling Fog (Rafael Bejarano, 6-1), Scherer Magic (Corey Nakatani, 8-1), Ive Struck a Nerve (Jose Valdivia, Jr., 30-1).
MILERS MAGICAL FOR MIKE MITCHELL
One week apart, horses trained by Mike Mitchell established Del Mar records for the one mile distance on two different surfaces
On Sunday, August 26, 4-year-old gelding Obviously clocked 1:32.10 winning the Del Mar Mile on turf, clipping .11 of a second off the record set seven years earlier by three valleys. On Sunday, September 2, 3-year-old filly Potesta covered the Polytrack ground of the main course in 1:34.86, trimming eclipsing the 1:35.28 of Do It All in 2011.
Joe Talamo rode both horses. Both are owned by partners Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino.
“Both of those horses are really special horses and they both like this Del Mar atmosphere and the track here,” Phil D’Amato, Mitchell’s assistant, said Sunday morning. “Joe (Talamo) would breeze Potesta in the mornings and he was in awe of the ease she showed getting over the surface. And it was the same with Obviously.”
Obviously was bred in Ireland, a son of the Australian sire Choisir and the Irish mare Leala.
“I’ve never seen a horse built like Obviously,” D’Amato said. “Real Australian pedigree, big-boned, big hind end and giant shoulder. He just looks the part of a good miler. We always thought he would be, and he has proven it down here at Del Mar.”
Mitchell had options to send Potesta to bigger-money, graded stakes at East Coast tracks, but chose to keep her here instead for the ungraded, $100,000 Torrey Pines.
“I don’t know how else to describe Potesta other than Zenyatta-like,” D’Amato said. “ She’s got a long ways to go to be anywhere near Zenyatta (in accomplishment) but she has those qualities.
“Mike has done a masterful job of managing her. He had this race in mind from the get-go, and now she’ll run in the Zenyatta (September 29 at Santa Anita) and then the Breeders’ Cup Lady’s Classic (November 2).”
JOCKEY NEWS, UPDATES
The stakes victories in the Adoration and Torrey Pines Stakes on Sunday were the sixth and seventh for Joe Talamo in the last 10 racing days going back to August 19, and raised his stakes total for the meeting to 10. Rafael Bejarano , who has a 50-39 lead over Talamo in the jockey standings with 21 races to go, has 12 stakes victories, tying the record for a meeting set by Laffit Pincay, Jr., in 1976 and matched by Chris McCarron (1995), Gary Stevens (1997) and Corey Nakatani (1998).
The Bejarano and Talamo head-to-head stakes matchups for the rest of the meeting.
Monday: I’m Smokin Stakes – Bejarano, The Human Complaint, 4-1; Talamo, Life A Riley, 3-1. Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies – Bejarano, Allshewrote, 8-1, Talamo, Speedinthruthecity, 7-2. Yellow Ribbon Handicap – Bejarano, Byrony, 3-1; Talamo, Halo Dolly, 6-1.
Wednesday: CERF Stakes – Bejarano, Pink Lollipops, 3-1; Talamo, Candrea, 6-1. Oak Tree Juvenile Turf – Bejarano, Power Broker, 4-1; Talamo, Dry Summer, 6-1. Pirates Bounty – Bejarano, Sinai, 6-1; Talamo, Sequoia Warrior, 6-1. Del Mar Futurity, Bejarano, Rolling Fog, 6-1; Talamo, Gabriel Charles, 6-1.
TRAINER NEWS, UPDATES
The news, via Tweets from racing media, came late Sunday morning. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s father, Bill Baffert, Sr., had passed away in Arizona.
Hours earlier, Baffert was at ease and as usual in the grandstand on the backstretch watching and clocking his horses’ morning workouts. With no horses entered Monday, Baffert said he planned to spend Labor Day at the beach with son Bode. If the youngest Baffert has been notable by his absence from the winner’s circles following his dad’s eight stakes wins at the meeting, that’s because he’d rather be in the ocean, Bob said.
Baffert holds a 19-18 lead over Peter Miller and the suspended Doug O’Neill with John Sadler three back in the trainer standings.
Miller has five horses entered today and Sadler a herd of 12 scattered through nine races.
CLOSERS -- Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally scratched All Star Heart from Monday’s Yellow Ribbon Handicap to honor owner Gerald Gibbs’ desire to run the 5-year-old mare in a stakes in his native Canada later this month… Ship And Win bonus eligible horses on Monday’s card include: Allshewrote: (6th, Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer) , Macho Dorado (8th, Mike Mitchell) , Vivo Per Lei* (9th, Tom Proctor). * Eligible for $1,000 travel stipend by not 25 percent purse bonus (stakes race).
Trakus Facts of the day for Sunday, September 2
In this rare, full field for a two-turn Polytrack race over 1 1/16 miles, both second place finisher Low Gear Power and third-placer Honour Family covered significant extra ground compared to winner Streets of Heaven. Low Gear Power went 28 feet more than Streets of Heaven while Honour Family went 47 feet more than the victor, which equates to approximately 3.2 and 5.5 lengths, respectively. Low Gear Power was beaten by just a length, signifying his Trakus-adjusted margin (TAM) was approximately 2.2 lengths better than the winner, while Honour Family’s TAM was 3.25 lengths better than Streets of Heaven.