BEHOLDER NOMINATED AND ‘PROBABLE’ FOR TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC
Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella’s carefully chosen word for the status of Beholder regarding a title defense in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic is “probable.”
He used it Wednesday afternoon, hours after the 6-year-old mare worked a bullet five furlongs in :59 flat, and repeated it Thursday morning. The race is still nine days away (Saturday, August 20), but the greatly anticipated matchup between Beholder and California Chrome appears to be moving ever closer to reality.
The deadline for nominations to the signature event of the summer meeting is midnight tonight. Beholder and California Chrome are among nine that had nomination paperwork submitted Thursday morning with several others expected through the course of the day.
On the early list were: Beholder, California Chrome, Dalmore, El Huerfano, Firing Line, Hard Aces, Imperative, Mubtaahij and War Story. Of that group Beholder, California Chrome, Dalmer, Hard Aces and War Story merit the “probable” tag.
Dortmund, a narrow runner-up to California Chrome in the hard-fought San Diego Handicap on July 23, and Hoppertunity, both from the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, are also expected to be nominated and run. Trainer George Papaprodromou has Win the Space, third in the San Diego, targeting the Classic as well.
The others are “possible” at best.
Firing Line, the 2015 Kentucky Derby runner-up was a disappointment in a comeback race from a 15-month layoff on July 9 at Santa Anita but has been training forwardly in three subsequent works here.
Imperative has losses to Beholder, California Chrome and Dortmund in 32 career starts, the last 20 of them at the graded stakes level. The six-year-old son of Bernardini hasn’t raced since a fifth behind Melatonin in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita but has four works here. A placing of fourth or better in the Classic would put Imperative over the $2 million mark in career earnings.
Mubtaahij, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and based at Belmont Park in New York, was second to California Chrome in the $10 million Dubai World Cup and, in his comeback from that effort, finished third to Effinex in the Suburban Handicap on July 9.
El Huerfano, a 4-year-old California-bred son of Tannersmyman, was distanced in the Grade II Californian at Santa Anita and third , beaten eight lengths by Soi Phet in the McCann’s Mojave overnight stakes there on June 26.
The TVG Pacific Classic is projected to be the ninth on an 11-race card on August 20 with post time between 6:05 and 6:10 p.m.
KLIMT FAVORED IN FIELD OF SIX FOR SATURDAY’S BEST PAL
Klimt, a $435,000 purchase at the Ocala sale in March, drew the No. 5 post in a field of six and is the 9-5 favorite on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line for Saturday’s Grade II $200,000 Best Pal Stakes, a preparation for the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on closing day, Labor Day Monday, Sept. 5.
Trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Kaleem Shah, the Kentucky-bred 2-year-old son of Quality Road enters the stakes, often a stepping stone to the Del Mar Futurity, off a 5 ¼ length victory in his second start, a maiden special weight at Santa Anita on July 10.
Hoping to follow the path of champions California Chrome, American Pharoah and Nyquist, all of whom participated in the Del Mar Futurity – California Chrome was sixth in 2013, while American Pharoah and Nyquist won- will be Secret House, Rinse and Repeat, Drafted, Thirstforlife, Klimt and Big League, lightly-raced but possessing obvious ability.
Doug O’Neill, who trained Nyquist to win the Best Pal a year ago, has two entrants Saturday in Secret House, fourth in the Santa Anita Juvenile after breaking his maiden easily, and Rinse and Repeat, a Cal-bred maiden winner at Del Mar July 16. Santiago Gonzalez rides Secret House, while Mario Gutierrez will pilot Rinse and Repeat.
Gary Stevens rides Drafted, unplaced in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Ascot in mid-June after breaking his maiden at Keeneland; Joe Talamo will be aboard Thirstforlife, a 6 ½-length maiden winner at Churchill Downs in early June, while Norberto Arroyo, Jr., has the mount on Big League, who scored by 3 ¼ lengths July 30.
The Best Pal field, from the rail: Secret House (Santiago Gonzalez, 12-1), Rinse and Repeat (Mario Gutierrez, 5-1), Drafted (Gary Stevens, 15-1), Thirstforlife (Joe Talamo, 5-2), Klimt (Rafael Bejarano, 9-5) and Big League (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 2-1).
HUNT IS ON FOR FRIDAY’S GREEN FLASH HANDICAP
Hunt will be out to polish well-established credentials for favoritism in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint when he leads a field of eight into Friday’s featured $75,000 Green Flash Handicap.
The 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding, owned by Michael House and trained by Phil D’Amato, notched wins in four of his last five starts, all over the unique 6 ½ furlong downhill course at Santa Anita where the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint will be staged on Saturday, November 5. The most recent came in the Siren Lure on June 5.
The Green Flash is at five furlongs on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
The field, from the rail out: Hunt (Flavien Prat, 2-1), No Silent (Gary Stevens, 5-1), Why Two (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 8-1), Holy Lute (Jamie Theriot, 12-1), Horse Laugh (Guiseppe Ercegovic, 20-1), Richard’s Boy (Victor Espinoza, 7-2), Rocket Heat (Rafael Bejarano, 3-1), and Sawyer’s Hill (Martin Pedroza, 12-1).
NOMINATION DEADLINE TODAY FOR SEVERAL MAJOR RACES
In addition to the TVG Pacific Classic, midnight tonight is the deadline for submission of nominations for five other stakes races on the cards for the weekend of August 20-21.
Those races are: Grade III $100,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (Wednesday, August 17), $75,000 added CTT and TOC Handicap (Friday, August 19), Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (Saturday, August 20), Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (Saturday, August 20), and the Grade II $200,000 Del Mar Mile (Sunday, August 21).
Trainer John Sadler said Cougar II Handicap winner Hard Aces will be nominated for both the TVG Pacific Classic, 1 ¼ miles on dirt, and the Del Mar Handicap, 1 3/8 miles on turf, and he will decide between the two.
“THE B TEAM: A HORSE RACING SAGA” BOOK SIGNING SATURDAY
Author Alan Mindell will sign copies of his book – “The B Team: A Horse Racing Saga” — this Saturday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Del Mar.
The novel – Mindell’s second — is set mostly at Del Mar and other California racetracks and tells the tale of a one-eyed horse and his journey to the Kentucky Derby. The author has owned and bred Thoroughbred horses and has conducted similar signings for “The B Team” at tracks in California and Arizona.
The book signing will be held in the track’s Turf Club/Clubhouse entranceway just outside the Turf Club elevators. The book will be offered at a special $10 price as part of the signing.
WILLIAMS, LINDO TO BE GUEST HANDICAPPERS THIS WEEKEND
Del Mar will conduct its regular free handicapping seminars once again this weekend with 12:45 starts for the events on both Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s guest handicapper will be Gene Williams, the multi-talented writer with a rich history in the Thoroughbred game, including an extended stint as the “Notes” writer at Del Mar, as well as a long run as a member of the Breeders’ Cup Notes Team.
Sunday’s guest will be Thoroughbred owner and breeder Jon Lindo, who wears a pair of handicapper hats during the Del Mar race meet. He is one of the featured prognosticators for the San Diego Union-Tribune and also serves is a similar role for the radio show “Thoroughbred Los Angeles.”
The seminars are held in the Seaside Terrace area near the head of the stretch and usually run between 30 and 45 minutes.
CLOSERS – Correction: Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith celebrated his 51st birthday on Wednesday, not 50th as was incorrectly noted here (math skills were not on the requirement list for this job) … Selected works from 154 on the main track and 15 on turf officially timed Thursday morning: Dirt – Lost Bus (3f, :36.20), American Cleopatra (4f, :49.60), American Freedom (4f, :47.80), Enchanting Lady (4f, :47.80), Pretty N Cool (4f, :48.60), Sensitively (5f, :59.40), Dream Team (6f, 1:11.60); Turf – Metaboss (3f, :39.00), Trojan Nation (4f, :51.40), Om (5f, 1:02.00), Queen of The Sand (5f, 1:02.00), Quick Casablanca (5f, 1:03.60), Energia Fribby (6f, 1:15.20) and Fanticola (6f, 1:14.80) … Plans are for Beholder to go through a shorter and easier work next Monday or Tuesday than yesterday’s 5 furlongs in :59 as a final tune-up for the Pacific Classic … Midwest shipper War Story will be given a second day of acclimatization to Del Mar on Friday and breeze Saturday, owner Ron Paolucci said, most likely under Kent Desormeaux. In addition to War Story, Paolucci’s 2-year-old filly Datz a Violation has shipped in for the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante on Saturday, September 3. Illness prevented another Paolucci-owned Debutante candidate, Nikki My Darling, from shipping west.
Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Inclusive)
Winning favorites — 58 out of 168 — 34.52%
Winning favorites on dirt — 42 out of 109 — 38.53%
Winning favorites on turf — 16 out of 59 — 27.12%
Winning odds-on favorites — 13 out of 23 — 56.52%
In-the-Money favorites — 122 out of 168 — 72.62%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites — 19 out of 23 — 82.61%
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club