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July 27 Del Mar News and Notes

As Del Mar entered week two of their eight week summer meet, the outside lane bias on the main track that was so dominant in week one, was gone. The track played fair for the most part, but on Friday, early speed was dominant going both long and short. The turf course has favored speed in those 5/8 sprints while off the pace runners have the advantage in two turn races. The turf rails were out just 12 feet all three days last week. Heading into this week, on both Thursday and Friday the rails will be all the way out at 30 feet, and we will see if that makes any difference. Jockeys Abel Cedillo and Flavien Prat both got the hat trick on Sunday and even though Prat has missed a day by riding at Monmouth on opening week, he still leads in the rider standings after six days. Walk up General Admission is now in place at Del Mar, so no more making reservations online if one wants to come to the track after playing golf or going to the beach in the mornings. But if you want a guaranteed seat, then make the online reservation. The full fields have remained strong after the first two weeks of the meet, but now they stretch the week to four days for the last six weeks, so that will hurt the daily average per race to some degree.    Wagering remains strong with exceptionally good payouts on all exotic wagers. Full fields will do that. Racing resumes on Thursday with an 8 race card and a 20 cent pick six c/o of $328,021 starting in race three.

STAKES RECAP: There were four stakes run over this past weekend with two of them graded on Saturday, and both had outstanding finishes. The Grade 2 Eddie Read for older horses at 9 furlongs on the turf had a terrific finish as United eeked out a win over Smooth Like Strait in a driving finish. United under Flavien Prat, had just come off a horrible race in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham up at Anita, but he had his running shoes on Saturday. He came from off the pace and collared “Strait” at the 1/8 pole and they raced as a team the final furlong. The latter never gave in and never stopped running, but United had the tactical outside and just wore him down late. At his age now, this may very well be United’s best distance as he is now 3 for 3 at 9 furlongs. Nonetheless, his next start will be at 11 furlongs in the Del Mar Handicap on August 21. The winner paid $8.60 to win. Smooth Like Strait lost nothing in defeat and he is one of the best milers now in the country. They say the best turf horses are back east but I doubt if there is anyone who would have beaten these two on Saturday. This race was more like a Grade 1. “Strait” will probably go in the Del Mar Mile next, also on August 21. Count Again, who finished third but was only beaten a length and a half for all of it, was loaded at the top of the lane. But the top two weren’t stopping and he ran his race. The San Clemente for three year old fillies, also a Grade 2, also had a driving finish, as Madone got the best of Going Global to win by a half at the wire. The winner paid $13.60 and was ridden by Juan Hernandez and trained by Simon Callaghan. Much like United, Madone was coming off a poor race where she had “bounced” off a good performance the previous race. Callaghan had said he simply ran her back too quickly off a long layoff. Going Global, who was coming off five straight wins, four of them stakes, was off at 2 to 5, snuck through on the inside at the top of the lane, and looked home free at the 1/16 pole, but Madone on the outside, wore her down late. Tetragonal, off at 12/1, ran third, and was simply outgunned. Both Madone and Global should get a rematch on August 21 in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks at 9 furlongs on the lawn.                                                      
On Sunday they had a Cal bred stakes called the California Dreamin’ for older runners at a mile and a sixteenth on the lawn. This was a wide open affair and nine went to the post. The pace was soft early and Prat aboard Indian Peak recognizing the slow pace took this gelding from 8th place to the lead in a matter of 100 yards at the 3/8 pole. But the move turned out to be premature as Rispoli on the old timer, Brandothebartender, bided his time, then came running in the lane to collar “Peak” and win by a half at the wire. The winner paid $11.60 and moved the 8 year old’s record up to $772,864 in earnings, mostly in Cal bred events. Our Best Bet of the Day was North County Guy, off at 4/1, and ran a decent third beaten less than two lengths for all of it. The winner is trained by Craig Dollase and was claimed for $40,000 three years ago by their current owners. It really does pay to own a Cal bred. In an overnight stakes on the grass at five furlongs for fillies and mares, Superstition got the money at 2/1, also in a driving finish to clear her rivals by a length at the wire. She settled nicely in fourth for Prat down the back side, then got the jump on the late runners to tactically win the race as a Most Probable winner on our sheet selections for the day. Querelle, a 10.1 long shot ran second, a nose in front of the quick pace setter Bulletproof One. The winner is now headed to the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint on Sept. 11, a race worth $600,000. Trained by Richard Mandella, that race will be at six and a half on the turf and might be too long for this sprinter, as she seems best at five or five and a half furlongs. However, there is no turf sprint on the West Coast with a purse like that, unless you wait for the Breeders Cup in November, and then the water gets awfully deep.
There are three stakes this week, one each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Seven go to the post on Friday in the Real Good Deal stakes at 7 furlongs on the main track for Cal bred sophomores. Even though he drew the rail, The Chosen Vron may be a standout in this race, as he has already won two graded stakes in open company. Found My Ball and None Above The Law seemed to be the main contenders. On Saturday, they run the Grade 1 Bing Crosby for older runners at six furlongs on the main. And with 17 nominations, they should have a strong field when entries are drawn on Wednesday. Peter Miller’s C Z Rocket heads up the field along with such salty runners as Collusion Illusion, Law Abidin Citizen, Dr. Schivel, Ax Man, Eight Rings, Quick Tempo, and Shooters Shoot. But the one they all have to catch is the very quick Brickyard Ride, who may be the quickest horse on the Del Mar back stretch for four furlongs. Should be a good race. Then on Sunday, another Grade 1 in the Clement Hirsch stakes, also on the main track, for older fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth. This field may be small as trainer Brad Cox is sending out Shedaresthedevil from back east, a multiple Grade 1 winner. Grade 2 winners Venetian Harbor and As Time Goes By head up the locals along with the steady Cal bred Warren’s Showtime. Both stakes over the weekend are Win and Your In races for the Breeders Cup the first week in November, where else, but where the “Turf Meets the Surf.”

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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