Next two weekends bring great racing at Saratoga, Del Mar

Next two weekends bring great racing at Saratoga, Del Mar

August 14, 2018 3:03 AM


The next two weekends are two of the best of the entire racing season. This Saturday, Del Mar will host the annual centerpiece of their summer season, the G1 Pacific Classic. On Aug. 25, Saratoga will card a loaded stakes card highlighted by the G1 Travers.

The $1M Pacific Classic field is expected to be strong and deep. One colt who will get a lot of interest if he goes in the race is the undefeated, three-for-three, Catalina Cruiser for John Sadler and Hronis Racing. This son of Union Rags has not been challenged in three starts and earned Beyer figures of 89, 107 and 107. His last win in the G2 San Diego Handicap was breathtaking. Sadler has Catalina Cruiser and top-class runner Accelerate ready to go in the Pacific Classic but says he’ll only start one.

Good Magic and Wonder Gadot are the more intriguing runners to possibly go in the $1.25M Travers.

Good Magic looked sensational winning the G1 Haskell with a 98 Beyer. He has now won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run second in the Kentucky Derby and won the G1 Haskell. He has amassed just short of $3M in his career for trainer Chad Brown.

Wonder Gadot looks to become the first filly to win the mid-summer Derby since 1915. She was a close 2nd in the Kentucky Oaks behind super-filly Monomoy Girl. She won the $1M Queens Plate and the $400K Prince of Wales in paid workouts since.

While the national horse racing scene spotlights horses trained by the usual suspects (Baffert, Brown and Pletcher to name a few), there is an interesting story developing in Minnesota. Minnesota-bred Mr. Jägermeister, who I wrote about here previously after he broke his maiden in freakish fashion, won the $100K Minnesota Derby by 10 lengths on Saturday at Canterbury Park. He missed the 33-year-old track record by .17 of a second. That track record is the oldest standing at the Minnesota track.

Mr. Jägermeister, trained by Valorie Lund, stretched out on dirt for the first time. He was basically in a race by himself as he drew off in the lane. He earned a 99 Beyer for the win, tops of his career.

Lund, who also trained his G1 winning sire, Atta Boy Roy, has many options with this superstar. He has dominated in sprints and has now shown he can handle the route. We’re likely to see him run in the 1-1/16 mile Minnesota Classic on Festival of Champions Day (Sept. 2). From there it is unclear where Lund will go with him.

Mr. Jägermeister has now won $263K going 6 for 11. He is 5 for 5 vs. Minnesota-breds and won those five races by 6, 9, 10, 11 and 15 lengths.

Rain hurts Saratoga: Rain has decimated Saratoga this summer. The poor weather has led to many races coming off the grass and a slew of scratches. In addition, officials have waited far too long to indicate the surface changes and that has led to very late scratches and disgruntled players. Not surprisingly, the payoffs have been awfully low of late.

Play of the Week: It comes at Canterbury Park on Thursday in race 7 on the dirt for Minnesota-breds sprinting. No. 3 Mister Banjoman is a first-time starter for top trainer Mac Robertson. He teams up with owner Novagratz Racing. They unleashed superstar Amy’s Challenge to a 16-length win in her debut here a year ago. Interestingly, this son of Maclean’s Music sold for a whopping $200K, the most I’ve ever seen for a Minnesota-bred. He comes in with very fast works for a trainer who normally works them on the slow side. He’s 5-2 on the morning line. Race 7 will break from the gate at 7:21 PT.