Horsemen’s parting thoughts collected on the final morning of the 75th anniversary Del Mar meeting:
Richard Mandella, Hall of Fame trainer -- “I can’t believe the meet is over. Seems like we just unpacked. The older I get the faster it goes by. I love it here and it’s a shame we don’t get to stay longer.
Leandro Mora, trainer – “It’s one of the best meetings we have. We came in happy and we’re leaving happy. Thanks to (Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner) I’ll Have Another we’re still smiling and he’s brought us plenty of luck—all the way to 2013.
Dr. Rick Arthur, CHRB equine medical director – “I think it has been a very successful meeting. The trainers are happy with the track, which is unusual for any racetrack. I think overall it has gone quite well. People are happy, field sizes are up and I think it’s very encouraging not just for Del Mar but for the Southern California thoroughbred circuit.
“There’s never a perfect meeting (regarding horse breakdowns), but I think it’s better than it was before the (Polytrack) surface was put down in 2007. I think they’re getting much more experience at managing the track.”
Larry Zap, broadcaster/handicapper -- “Larger fields than we’re used to and high quality racing. And (Joe) Talamo on the turf is what I’m thinking about right now. It’s been Bejarano’s meet, but we haven’t seen anybody take to a surface like he has here. It used to be (Fernado) Toro on the turf, now it’s Talamo on the turf.”
Dan Ward, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “It was good. The track was good. Not as many injuries as in the past. We started off slowly but won four stakes and finished well. You can never complain coming down here.”
John Sadler, trainer. “It was a disappointing meet for me. We didn’t finish strong. I thought the track was inconsistent and that’s why you had so many carryovers. But it’s fun to be here.”
Jack Carava, trainer – “It was a great meet. Successful, obviously, for the handle and stuff like that. Field size was up and that was something we haven’t had for a long time. Having trouble getting horses in because there were too many entries as opposed to not enough was very different.
“I thought Rich (Tedesco, track superintendant) did a good job with the track, kept the injuries down to a minimum and I thought it was a good meet all the way around.
“I didn’t have a ton of expectations for my stable coming in, but won four and had a ton of thirds. So they were mostly hitting the board anyway. Probably a little bit better than I expected, so I’m fairly pleased.”
Paddy Gallagher , trainer – “For the meeting in general I think it was healthy. For racing and for the horses, it was healthy.”
BAFFERT STABLE SOLIDERS ON AT SAD TIME
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s father, Bill Baffert, Sr., -- affectionately known as “The Chief” -- passed away Monday morning at his home in Nogales, Ariz. He was 88. No cause was given, but Baffert had remarked in recent weeks that his father was in declining health.
“Lost my first hero and mentor today. There’s a new cowboy in Heaven. R.I.P. Chief. I miss you already,” Baffert posted on his Twitter account around 9:30 Monday morning.
Baffert was at his Los Angeles area home on Wednesday morning and expected to remain there through the day. Assistant Jim Barnes was in the Barn FF office at Del Mar. Barnes will handle the saddling and other duties concerning the nine horses the stable has entered today, among them Rolling Fog in the $300,000, Grade I Del Mar Futurity.
“The mood (aound the stable) has been OK,” Barnes said. “ It’s sad. We all loved The Chief, he was a character, but we have to go on.”
A victory by Rolling Fog would be the 11th Futurity win for Baffert, far and away the most by any trainer. D. Wayne Lukas is second with three Futurity victories.
TRAINER NOTES, UPDATES
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert takes a 19-18 lead over Peter Miller atop the standings entering the Closing Day card.
Baffert has nine horses entered over six races, Miller six horses in five races.
The best chances for the two trainers, according to morning line set by Del Mar Thoroughbred Club oddsmaker Russ Hudak are:
Baffert – Da Ruler (1st, 9-5 favorite), Pink Lollipops (3rd, 3-1), Power Broker (5th, 4-1),
Miller – My Slew (2nd, 9-2), Reneesgotzip (3rd, 5-2 favorite), Comma to the Top (6th, 7-2), Half Dome Dude (7th, 3-1 favorite).
JOCKEY NOTES, UPDATES
Corey Nakatani, excused from mounts late in the Monday program due to tendinitis in his shoulder, will not ride his eight scheduled mounts Wednesday, agent Brian Beach reported. Nakatani worked two horses Wednesday morning and came off the second one having re-aggravated what Beach described as an inflammation in the area of an old injury.
Nakatani will rest for the next several days and will miss a stakes mount over the weekend at Fairplex Park in Pomona. He is expected to return to riding on September 15 at Belmont Park in New York where he has a mount in the Garden City Stakes.
Rafael Bejarano is a lock for a second riding title, to go with one in 2008, given his 10-win lead (51-41) over Joe Talamo. But Bejarano is no longer the sure thing he once appeared to be the meet leader for stakes wins or to set the single-season record in the category.
Bejarano has gone 0-for-6 in stakes since winning last Saturday’s Del Mar Debutante to tie the record of 12 established by Laffit Pincay, Jr., in 1976 and matched by Chris McCarron (1995), Gary Stevens (1997) and Corey Nakatani (1998). Talamo, meanwhile, has won eight of 16 stakes races in the last 11 racing days and lifted his total to 11.
The head-to-head matchups in the four stakes events on the closing day card:
C.E.R.F. Stakes, 3rd race: Bejarano, Pink Lollipops, 3-1; Talamo, Candrea, 6-1.
Oak Tree Juvenile Turf, 5th race: Bejarano, Power Broker, 4-1; Talamo, Dry Summer, 6-1.
Pirate’s Bounty, 6th race: Bejarano, Sinai, 6-1; Talamo, Sequoia Warrior, 6-1.
Del Mar Futurity, 8th race: Bejarano, Rolling Fog, 6-1; Talamo, Gabriel Charles, 6-1.
ABRAMS CALLS IT A MEETING—A GOOD ONE
Trainer Barry Abrams saddled three horses on Monday to end what was a very successful meeting for him and his stable. Especially considering that Abrams attended only one day of racing at Del Mar in 2011 while recovering from a second surgery for throat cancer.
With assistant Richard Baltas, who has since gone out on his own, in charge, Abrams’ stable won only three races in 2011, the highlight being Burns’ victory in the La Jolla Handicap which snapped a 27-race losing streak, while recording 19 second or third-place finishes.
Abrams won 10 races in 2012, fifth on the trainers’ list entering closing day.
“Actually, 10 wins was my goal and I reached it,” Abrams said. “Eleven or 12 would have been nice, but what are you going to do? It’s been a good meeting.”
ONE YEAR LATER, QUINDICI MAN IS BACK
It’s been a little over a year since Quindici Man competed in both the Wickerr Stakes and Pacific Classic at Del Mar. An injury, discovered after a fourth as the favorite in the Ralph M. Hinds Stakes at Fairplex Park on September 25, 2011 shelved the 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Came Home.
And while trainer Craig Lewis doesn’t have great expectations for a stable favorite, he’s glad to see the earner of over $515,816 back for Wednesday’s $85,000 Pirate’s Bounty sprint.
“He’s a mile-and-a-quarter horse in a six-furlong race, but he’s ready and we just need to get him started again,” Lewis said recently. “We tried to get him started in several other spots but none of them worked out. And in this business when the best scenario isn’t an option you have to go to Plan B or Plan C.”
Mensa Heat (3-1), trained by Leandro Mora and ridden by Edwin Maldonado, is the morning line favorite in a field of 11 for the Pirate’s Bounty. Quindici Man is one of the three longest prices at 20-1.
“He’s as tough as they come,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t have as much talent as some horses, but he has a lot of heart and a mind that you can’t give them. He wants to be a racehorse, which is more than half the battle.”
CLOSERS – Notable works of the last two days: Tuesday – Amazombie, 4 furlongs, :50.80; All Star Heart, 6 furlongs, 1:12.60. Wednesday – Interaction 4 furlongs, :47.80, Mizdirection, 4 furlongs, :48.00; Suggestive Boy, 4 furlongs, :49.00 … Thanks to the media for its excellent coverage all season long and thanks to anyone who read to this point in the Stable Notes at any time during the meeting.
Trakus Facts of the day for Monday, September 3
High Test closed from last in a full field in Monday’s eighth race, finishing third beaten 3.25 lengths. With a final quarter in 23.14 seconds, and a final eighth in 11.60 seconds, both the fastest fractions in the field for those sectionals, High Test recorded the fastest final two furlongs of the meet for races at six furlongs, and the third-fastest final furlong of the Del Mar stand.
Gervinho recorded the fastest final furlong in a 5.5-furlong race this meet when winning the fifth race. Home in 11.28 seconds, the son of Unusual Heat rallied stoutly outside of U’narack to record the top time of the meet, which previously had come from Mechaya’s win on August 10th.