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Turfdom News and Notes September 6

•     Del Mar ended their 7 week Summer meet with a bang on Labor Day with overall handle up 5.1% vs. last year, but more importantly, on track fatalities dropped from 17 horses, to just 4 horses. The reason for the increase in handle had to be from a field size average of 8.6, well above last year and previous years as well. Most of the increase came from back East as on track attendance was down a tad, 13,240, or 1.5%. Field size was the real plus, as this is a circuit that normally runs just 4 days a week, and of course Del Mar ran five days a week, and ended the last week running six days. The ship and win programs put in place are a big factor drawing horses from out of state. Pick six carry overs were quite regular as favorites won at a 27% clip, well below the national average. Turf favorites were just 24% and odds on favorites won at only 48%. Flavian Prat won the riding title by six, pulling away from Rafael Bejarano and Evin Roman late, who tied for second. Phil D’Amato won the final race on Monday to tie Richard Baltas for the training title at 18 wins apiece. It was 3 back to Peter Miller and Mark Glatt, the latter having a strong meet with 24% winners from just 63 runners. Collected, who won the Pacific Classic over Arrogate, was named Horse of the Meet, by the media.

•    Of all the meaningful stakes ran this past weekend, the Grade One Futurity for two year olds was the most difficult to handicap and probably the most important. Trainer Mick Ruis, who won this race last year, won it again with a powerful run by Bolt d’Oro ($9.80), who broke awkwardly and had to rally from well off the pace under Nakatani to beat a quality field. He got up by ¾ of a length over Zatter, who ran an outstanding race sitting just behind the early speed. It was another five lengths back to the favorite, Run Away, who had been undefeated in three starts. And there were some very nice juveniles behind him as well. Bolt d’Oro, named for the track star Jussain Bolt, should only get better with longer distances, and the Frontrunner stakes on Sept. 30 up at Arcadia around two turns is next on the radar screen. If they can keep him healthy, he’s a future star on this circuit. The other Grade One for two year olds, the 7 furlong Debutante for fillies, was won in wire to wire fashion on Saturday by Moonshine Memories ($13.80). She was coming back in just two weeks and she prevailed by a half length over Piedi Bianchi. It was another five lengths back to the favorite, Spectator, who in all fairness, had a brutal trip. She is now two for two on this track and of course the Breeders Cup Juvenile is right here, so advantage Moonshine. On Sunday they ran the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby for sophomores and the favorite got the job done 2/1 under a clever ride by Gary Stevens. Sharp Samurai, who won the La Jolla Handicap just 3 weeks ago, rallied from off the pace to score over Big Score and Bowie’s Hero by a half length. All three figured in the wagering and it became a jockey’s race, and who could get the best trip. Cambodia ($7.80) also got the right trip on the grass in taking down the Grade 2 John C. Mabee stakes on Saturday for older fillies/mares. Under a good ride by Drayden Van Dyke, she got the money over Goodyearforroses, who did not have a good trip by the often reliable Corey Nakatani. Nakatani took her inside at the 3/8th pole instead of going around, encountered traffic trouble and got out too late. She lost by ¾ and was probably best. Her trainer, Richard Baltas, was not happy. Both horses will be back again over this course in the B/C Filly/Mare Turf.                                           
•     Although no big deal was made of it, Bob Baffert took over the career leader at wins at this track on Saturday with 477, surpassing the old record of the late Mike Mitchell, who was a terrific claiming trainer. Baffert won one more on Sunday. Trainers in the top ten at Del Mar lifetime are names like Charlie Whittingham, Ron McAnally, and Farrell Jones, all Hall of Famers

•    On a sad note, the great Songbird has been retired from racing due to a minor injury. She won 13 of 15 career races, mostly Grade One stakes, and the two losses she incurred were by a nose and a half length. She was a two time Eclipse award winner for owner Rick Porter and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

•    We at Turfdom are off for 3 weeks with Los Alamitos starting a 3 week run this Thursday. Racing returns to Santa Anita on Friday Sept. 29 with a five week Fall meet, and then onto Del Mar for their Fall meet and the two day Breeders Cup, November 3rd and 4th. We will be back on Sept. 29 with our Santa Anita selections, our Horses to Watch list, and our News and Notes. Thank you for your ongoing patronage. Rod Young, Turfdom.

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