Del Mar Report #8: The Awards

California Chrome wins Pacific Classic - Chris Aplin
Chris Aplin

Horse of the Meet: California Chrome – Horse of the Meet and most likely Horse of the Year!  California Chrome is just a total beast this year as he came to Del Mar and put on a show twice during the meet.  His win over Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap was one of the more exciting races of the year, and then his Pacific Classic was absolutely dominate over the toughest field of the year.  On to Santa Anita and the Breeders’ Cup Classic now to round out his season.

Older Male of the Meet: California Chrome – Obvious choice here as he was the Horse of the Meet as well.  Dortmund tried his best to take him down in the San Diego Handicap, but just couldn’t hold him off.  As for the Pacific Classic…nobody was beating him that day.

Older Female of the Meet: Stellar Wind – Was able to take down the champion Beholder in Clement L. Hirsch Stakes giving her a much needed signature win.  She didn’t make another appearance at the meet, but that win was plenty enough to make a big statement.  She looked even better when Beholder came back to run a solid second in the Pacific Classic.

3 Year Old Male of the Meet: Free Rose – Came to Del Mar as horse who had never even competed in a graded stakes, and left as a Grade 3 and Grade 2 winner.  He started with a La Jolla Handicap win, and ended with a gutty win in the Del Mar Derby to close out his meet.  It’s safe to say this horse could be a rising star on the turf.

3 Year Old Female of the Meet: Harmonize – You can’t ever doubt Bill Mott when he ships horses to the west coast!  Harmonize came to Del Mar from the east coast, and ended up winning the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.  The racing schedule at Del Mar doesn’t focus on the 3 year olds all that much, but Harmonize deserves this award as it’s the only Grade 1 stakes offered for three year olds at the meeting.

2 Year Old Male of the Meet: Klimt – Everyone was hyped about Straight Fire in the Del Mar Futurity, but we should know by now to never doubt Bob Baffert as Klimt was an easier winner of the race as he passed second place finisher Straight Fire in the stretch.  Add that win to his Best Pal Stakes victory and he was an easy choice for this award.

2 Year Old Female of the Meet: Union Strike – Was able to turn the tables on American Cleopatra in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante after losing to her in a maiden race earlier in the meet.  Her move on the turn in the Debutante was extremely impressive, and now she’ll have an opportunity to build on it as the Breeders’ Cup looms large.

Sprinter of the Meet: Lord Nelson – Came into the Del Mar meeting as the number one sprinter in the country according to a lot of people, and just confirmed that fact for everyone at this meet.  His win in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby was ultra impressive, and most likely is enough to make him the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Owner of the Meet: Rockingham Ranch – Captured the Del Mar Owners title by two races with 11 wins on the season.  The stable is always in the running for leading owner, and actually won the title at the 2014 winter meeting.  There success will continue in California.

Trainer of the Meet: Philip D’Amato – After winning the Santa Anita training title D’Amato was able to continue that success with a big time training title win at Del Mar.  Several of the big California names made runs at him, but in end D’Amato held them all off to win the title by two races over Peter Miller.

Jockey of the Meet: Rafael Bejarano – He had to make a “Zenyatta-like” closing move to catch Prat, but in the end it was a dead heat between the two jockey’s.  While Prat had an amazing meet, Bejarano edged him in the earnings category so he got the nod for this award.  It will be fun to watch these two battle it out in California for years to come.

Race of the Meet: The Pacific Classic – It was deemed as the “race of the year” and it didn’t disappoint as the three big starts finished 1-2-3, but it was California Chrome who put on the biggest show of all.  The fan favorite took control of the race right from the start, and never looked back as he won in wire to wire fashion.

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