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Eight 2-year-old males will seek their first chunk of black type Friday afternoon at Del Mar when they match up in the 70th running of the $125,000 Graduation Stakes, a five and one-half panel spin for California-bred youngsters.
The race is part of the Golden State Series that offers 39 races worth $4.85 million over the course of the year at racetracks up and down the state. Eight of those races are run this summer at Del Mar.
The Graduation will be Race 6 on an eight-race program with a first post of 3:30 p.m. Friday.
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Each of the runners in the lineup can claim credit for one victory, which is always a good starting point for a young horse. None can claim a stakes victory, though four of them have already given it a try.
Three of the Graduation starters were last seen in the Everett Nevin Stakes at Pleasanton on July 9, a $75,000 event that was run at five and a half furlongs.
One of those runners, Mr.-Mrs. Larry Williams’ homebred Wild Jewels, finished second in the dash for trainer Steve Specht, three and a half lengths behind the winner, Dreamfrye.
Two of the others – Lovinger, London or Zondio’s Last Call London and Rusty Brown’s Shady Appeal – both had troubles with a difficult start and lost all chance in the heat. Both would appear eligible to improve notably Friday.
Reddam Racing’s Refocus will be making his third starts Friday after a first-out score at Santa Anita, then a third-place finish in the Fasig Tipton Futurity at the same track on June 17.
Then there are three of the juveniles who were first-out winners – Chaco, Flores or Lovingier’s Smokem Ez, Brown or Ganje’s Lord Prancealot and Dan Northrup’s Salsation.
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The Graduation was a kicking off point for a California-bred colt named California Chrome in 2013. The flashy chestnut went on to racing’s Hall of Fame as a two-time Horse of the Year during his spectacular career.
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