Miller Time thirst for fall Del Mar
August 29, 2018 3:04 AM
by Jon Lindo
When asked how important it is to win during the Del Mar summer meet, trainer and nearby Encinitas resident Peter Miller said, “It is my number one priority. My number two priority is to win at the Del Mar fall meeting.”
Del Mar is where Miller picked up top clients Gary Hartunian (who races as Rockingham Ranch) and Gary Barber. It is where he won both the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Roy H and the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with Stormy Liberal, the latter in a photo over stablemate Richard’s Boy.
And it is where he struggled at the start of the summer meet last year.
When asked what he has done differently this year to change things up, Miller said, “Last year I assumed the main track at Del Mar would be like the main track at Santa Anita since the composition is supposed to be very similar. I was wrong. Horses need to work over the Del Mar main track to run well, and by the time I figured it out three weeks into the 2017 meet it was too late.
“This year, I sent all of my dirt horses to Del Mar and kept my turf horses at San Luis Rey Downs. It has made a big difference” said Miller.
It sure has. After saddling four more winners last Sunday, Miller has 28 winners from 92 starters for a 30.4% strike rate.
The main reason he has his main string of horses based at San Luis Rey Downs? According to Miller, “The horses stabled at San Luis Rey Downs are just a fraction of the number stabled at Santa Anita and Del Mar. There is no afternoon racing, either, so the surface is easier to maintain. I find it much easier to keep horses sound at San Luis Rey Downs.”
His turf division has been very strong, too. When informed that he has won nine of the 11 Del Mar turf sprints he entered so far at the meet (there were three races where he had more than one entrant), Miller said, “Really? I didn’t know that.”
Asked why he has had so much success in turf sprints, Miller said, “I like the turf sprints, especially coming down the hill at Santa Anita.”
For Miller’s wife Lani, 6-year-old son Jacob, and 4-year-old son Seth it is a family affair. They all love the races, and it is not unusual to see Seth and Jacob with folded programs standing next to Dad whipping and driving their horses to the wire from the grandstand.
Unless something unforeseen happens during closing week, Peter Miller will win his third Del Mar summer training title. And with the Breeders’ Cup coming up at Churchill Downs in November, Miller could be represented by horses like Stormy Liberal, Richard’s Boy, Belvoir Bay and/or Conquest Tsunami in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Roy H in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Multiplier in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and depending upon how she runs in this weekend’s Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, Angel Alessandra in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
No matter what, Miller will be back after the Breeders’ Cup for the Del Mar fall meet.
Closing week at Del Mar: There have been many spectacular 2-year-old debut winners at Del Mar this summer. Several of those juveniles will be on display in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Labor Day and the Grade I Del Mar Debutante for fillies this Saturday.
Brill, who was the talk of the backstretch prior to her daylight Maiden win on opening day, is from the Jerry Hollendorfer stable and could be the one to beat in the Debutante.
As can be expected, the Bob Baffert stable will be well represented, with such debut winners as Chasing Yesterday (a half-sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah) and Der Lu among the possible starters.
The Hollendorfer stable may also have the colt to beat in the Futurity. Instagrand, who was so impressive beating Maidens at Los Alamitos, validated that brilliance winning the Grade II Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar by a distance. His stablemate Rowayton, Sigalert from the John Sadler stable, and Roadster from the Bob Baffert barn all won their debuts at Del Mar and are possible starters in the Futurity.
Make sure to catch the action. This is a good group of 2-year-olds at Del Mar this summer.
Interesting Del Mar stats: Eight trainers – Peter Miller, Doug O’Neill, Jerry Hollendorfer, John Sadler, Richard Baltas, Phil D’Amato, Jeff Mullins and Bob Baffert – have won 119 of the 263 races (45.2%) run at the meet this summer.
Through 30 days of racing, there have been an unusually high eight single ticket winners in the Del Mar Pick Six.
Play of the Week: Del Mar, Thursday, Race 5 – Marjorie E (post 4).
Filly from the Paddy Gallagher stable has already won two starts over the Del Mar turf at the meet. She can become the first horse to win three races during the summer meet by beating Cal-bred Allowance foes on the raise with turf specialist Flavian Prat in the saddle.