Turf’s Up for 2-year-olds at Del Mar finale

Turf’s Up for 2-year-olds at Del Mar finale

August 29, 2017 3:07 AM
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Pack up the Hawaiian shirts and the sun tan lotion, as the summer Del Mar meeting ends on Labor Day. The emphasis during closing week is on the 2-year-olds, and since the Breeders’ Cup will be run over this same track in November, it could pay major dividends to keep a wary eye on the action this weekend.

This Saturday, the fillies are in the spotlight in the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante on Saturday. Spectator, winner of the Grade II Sorrento Stakes earlier in the meet, deserves top billing and horse-to-beat status in the Debutante. Leading trainer Phil D’Amato’s daughter of Jimmy Creed should enjoy the seven furlong trip, and the big race over the track is huge when you consider how many top horses (Arrogate, Paradise Woods, and Serengeti come to mind) have failed to handle the Del Mar dirt.

Trainer Bob Baffert will likely be represented by Just a Smidge, who beat Maidens in impressive fashion earlier in the meet and galloped out like a filly who will enjoy more distance.

Fellow recent Maiden winners Gas Station Sushi (trained by Richard Baltas) and Moonshine Memories (trained by Simon Callaghan) could be this good, while newcomer Gabrielleelizabeth could be the “X” factor in her SoCal debut.

The boys take center stage on Labor Day in the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity. Grade II Best Pal Stakes winner Run Away, trained by Simon Callaghan, may be the most accomplished runner in the field, but this is the time of year when juveniles improve by leaps and bounds and there are several recent impressive Maiden winners who could jump up and win.

Bob Baffert trains both Soul Streit (owned by ESPN College Football Gameday Analyst Kirk Herbstreit) and Zatter, who beat Triple Crown winner American Pharoah’s full brother St. Patrick’s Day to win his debut. Both could be any kind and figure to love the seven furlong distance.

Tatters to Riches cost a cool $1 million earlier this year and the Jeff Mullins trainee won his debut in handy fashion like a colt with a future. More important, he has trained brilliantly since that Maiden win and it looks like the further he goes the better he gets.

Gracida (trained by Doug O’Neill) may be the one to catch, while Bolt D’Oro (trained by Mick Ruis) showed enough in the a.m. prior to his debut victory that the Baffert connections asked if the $650,000 purchase was for sale. He too won his debut like a colt with a future.

Keep a close eye on both the Debutante and the Futurity, and remember the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies will be run at 1-1/16 miles in November. You could find your Breeders’ Cup horses or even your Kentucky Derby Future-book horses showing up at Del Mar this weekend.

The $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf will be run this Sunday and the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf goes on Labor Day. Keep an eye on the Euro shippers who have more turf experience than the locals, especially if they have proven form on firm turf overseas.

Del Mar Notes

Apprentice Laura “Midge” Werner has a lot to learn when it comes to riding turf routes. Last Thursday aboard Besides the Point in the third race, Werner allowed Besides the Point to duck out over heels entering the first turn. The pair drifted very wide around the far turn to let the competition come up along her inside, and to cap off a forgettable ride Werner allowed Besides the Point to drift in and out through the stretch to impact the chances of a couple of rivals.

Fellow apprentice Evin Roman hasn’t been much better on the local turf. He did manage to win a turf sprint aboard Little Jude last Sunday to bring his record on the grass for the meet to just five wins from 69 mounts.

Riding the grass course at Del Mar requires patience and a good finish. It could pay to opt for more experienced jockeys on the grass closing week and to remember this angle for the fall meeting in November.

Trainer Peter Miller dropped five horses in claiming price last week with the following results: Starr of Quality (second), Pedro Cerrano (first), Mining Diamonds (second), Glorious Venezuela (out), and Conquest Typhoon (first). This could be a profitable angle closing week as well.

As the main track sped up last week, a strong outside bias appeared over the weekend. Horses that were dueling on the pace from the inside really struggled. Keep a close eye for any possible track bias that may appear on the main track early in the week and you may hold an edge over your fellow horseplayers.

The single ticket Pick Six Jackpot was hit for $568,696. The ticket was purchased in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Pick Four pool Sunday afternoon was a record $2,056,668, breaking the record set on Pacific Classic day by nearly a half million dollars.

Play of the Week

Del Mar, Wednesday Race 8 – Flip the Coin Jan (9 post). Trainer Keith Desormeaux starts two in this race with brother Kent riding Ima Take Charge. However, Flip the Coin Jan showed good speed in a tough sprint Aug. 5 and could take come catching at a price on the drop/stretchout under Stewart Elliott.