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Aug 29 Del Mar News and Notes

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club heads into their final week of their eight week summer session on quite a roll, as handle continues well above expectations and the horse population remains strong. The track will race five days this week, Thursday through Monday, and they will move the post time up on the last three days to 1:30 so they can try and have 11 race cards all three days, and still finish with some daylight. The main track continues to play fair for the most part while the turf course still favors off the pace runners in two turn affairs. However, one can go wire to wire on the turf in the right pace scenario, as Wound Tight did on Sunday at 7/2 under Desormeaux. But he was life and death to hang on as the late runners were coming in abundance. Favorites won 5 of 10 races on Sunday and their win percentage at the meet so far is 34.50%, just above the national average. The main track is at 36.7% while the turf course is at 31.7%. Through Saturday there have been 193 claims made at the meet along with 31 of them having been voided due to various soundness issues. However, there have been 888 slips dropped in the claim box showing how many multiple claims are in for the same horse, thus resulting in shakes. On Friday, there were 17 claims in for Magic Tiger with a Nor Cal trainer winning the shake for $16,000. Racing resumes this Thursday with a fairly strong card for a weekday with 9 races. The Rainbow pick six pool is up to $294,181 and will be paid out on Monday, closing day, if there is no single ticket winner prior to that day.

STAKES RECAP: There were two stakes over the weekend and both had quality fields and exciting finishes. On Saturday, they ran the Grade 2 Pat OíBrien stakes at 7 furlongs on the main track for older runners and it was a Win and Youíre In for the B/C Mile on the main track. C Z Rocket, who was the runner up in the B/C Sprint last year, ended up the 2/1 favorite in a field of 9 and ran his race once again to finish second. He put in his usual stretch run but was unable to catch Ginobili who got the jump on him at the ľ pole. Under a strong ride by Drayden Van Dyke, Ginobili tracked the quick Brickyard Ride to the 3/8 pole, easily went by him on the outside, and then re-broke once again at the top of the lane, and won rather easily by two at the wire. Flagstaff came from off the pace to get third. Ginobili had come into the race off a scintillating one mile performance where he won by 10 and made an Arazi type move at the 3/8 pole into a pretty fast race. It was just the first allowance condition but it was his first start with blinkers and it earned a 104 Beyer figure, which was the highest number earned by anybody at this meet. It has since been equaled by Tripoli in winning the Pacific Classic. Brickyard Ride set the pace as usual but you can just draw a line through his performance, as he broke away early through an open gate and had already ran two furlongs before the race ever started. He obviously used up plenty of energy and wasnít his normal self in the race, as he stopped pretty badly at the ľ pole. Winning trainer Richie Baltas said Ginobili, named for the star guard of the San Antonio Spurs, will just train up to the Breedersí Cup, as he runs well fresh off the bench. The winner was on our Horses to Watch list and we didnít even make him one of our contenders in this race and he paid $12.20. Shame on us and we wonít make that mistake next time. He will meet much stronger competition in the Cup, but he has three lifetime wins now, and all three are at Del Mar. Some minor throat surgery and the addition of blinkers have made him a totally different race horse.

On Sunday they ran the Shared Belief stakes for three year olds at a mile on the main track. The race was ungraded, the purse was only $100,000, and you wouldnít think it would be much of a race. But of the six runners, there was this yearís Kentucky Derby winner (Medina Spirit), this yearís Santa Anita Derby winner (Rock Your World), this yearís Iowa Derby winner (Stilleto Boy, who was purchased by Ed Mogerís brother in a private sale recently for $435,000), and The Great One, who broke his maiden by 14 lengths last winter and had Flavien Prat in the irons. Baffert had Johnny Velasquez ship in to ride Medina and he just wired the field quite easily as the 4/5 favorite with fractions of 22.52 and 46.92 for the half. Rock Your World ran a strong second to be beaten two at the wire, but never quit running down the lane. Medina is just a gutty performer, and once he makes the lead, itís awfully tough to get by him. Stilleto ran well to get third and was bumped hard at the top of the lane to lose his momentum. The stews did lodge an inquiry into the race but blamed the bumping on Team Merchants who finished fifth. I didnít see it that way as Rock Your World came out at the 3/16, and forced Team Merchants into Stilleto and he was the actual culprit. But their decision was unanimous and that was that. Baffert had Medina ready after just five drills and he still had something left in the tank for the Pennsylvania Derby in late September. The winner received a Beyer of 100 with the runner up getting a 98.

There are eight stakes races lined up this week from Friday to Monday. On Saturday, they have two Grade 2 turf races at 9 furlongs, the Del Mar Derby for sophomores and the John Mabee stakes for older fillies and mares. The Derby will have a large field headed up by Flashiest, Hudson Ridge, Sword Zero, and Zoffarelli. The latter just won the La Jolla Handicap and Flashiest took the Oceanside on opening day. Other expected runners are Crew Dragon, Jimmy Blue Jeans, Lincoln Hawk, No Foolery Here, and None Above the Law amongst others. The Mabee stakes will have such frontliners as Tapwater, Maxim Rate, Dogwood (who always seems to run second for me), Going to Vegas, and Bodhicitta. On Sunday, Mark Glattís promising two year old filly Dance to the Music headlines a strong field in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante at 7 furlongs on the main. She will have her hands full with a number of other strong entries such as Elm Drive, At the Spa, the Baffert duo of Eda and Grace Adler, along with Ainít Easy, Rock the Belles, Myfavoritedaughter, and the maiden Very Scary. The males take center stage on Monday in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, also at 7 panels on the main. They will have a smaller field headed up by the undefeated Pappacap for trainer Mark Casse. The Baffert duo of Pinehurst and Murray seem to be the strongest contenders and Finneus and American Xperiment are also expected in the entries. Two year olds also dominate the other two stakes on Sunday and Monday on the grass, with fillies on Sunday at a mile and the colts on Monday, also at a mile on the lawn. And then the Cal breds make up the other two stakes for juveniles with the Generous Portion on Friday and the Iím Smokin on Saturday, the former for fillies and the latter for colts.

Flavien Prat won two on Sunday and still leads runner up Abel Cedillo by 8 in the jockey standings, 36 to 28, in spite of riding two days at Saratoga this past week. Juan Hernandez is third with 27 winners with Umberto Rispoli in 4th with 23. 49 year old Joe Bravo has been riding in excellent form and is fifth with 20 wins and has the second highest win percentage behind only Prat. Peter Miller is six up on John Sadler in the trainer standings but has saddled almost twice as many runners, 21 to 15. Baffert and Phil DíAmato have 14 wins while Mark Glatt has had an excellent meet with 13 victories.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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