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Mike previews the 2022 Green Flash Handicap (G3) at Del Mar, then gives his top picks and longshots from this “Win & You’re In” for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). Dubai Key drew the rail and could force his 10 rivals to all play chase in this loaded dash on the grass. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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The track press release:
Two very different, but very interesting, stakes races will highlight the Sunday Labor Day Weekend card at Del Mar.
The first test brings out 3-year-old fillies, seven of them in fact, for the 45th edition of the Torrey Pines Stakes, a Grade III offering that carries a purse of $125,000 and goes at a mile on the main track.
The second is for 3-year-olds and up on the turf course at five furlongs. It’s called the Green Flash Handicap, provides a $150,000 purse and also carries Grade III status. Its 20th running has drawn 11 fast turfers. Additionally, the race is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, guaranteeing the victorious horse admission – with all fees paid – to the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which will be run at Keeneland in Kentucky in November.
Of the seven in the Torrey Pines, three of them are previous stakes winners, two of those out of the Bob Baffert barn – and it is noted that the Hall of Fame trainer has won this race six times.
The Baffert pair are Magnier, Tabor or Smith’s Under the Stars and Willow Grace Farm and Petersen’s Grace Adler. The conditioner also has entered Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s promising Midnight Memories.
The horse they might all have to beat, though, is the H & E Ranch’s Desert Dawn, a good second against older fillies and mares here on August 6 in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at a mile and one sixteenth. Earlier this year she captured the Santa Anita Oaks, then ran third in the prestigious Kentucky Oaks and third again in the Summer Oaks at Santa Anita. Phil D’Amato trains Desert Dawn, who is an Arizona-bred daughter of the Tapit sire Cupid.
The Green Flash is topped by last year’s winner of the grass dash in Nick Alexander’s homebred Lieutenant Dan. The 6-year-old gelding is by Alexander’s home stallion Grazen, a fast horse who gets fast horses. Lieutenant Dan won the Green Flash by two and a quarter lengths in 2021, then came back to run a good second to champion Golden Pal in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, also at Del Mar on November 6. The bay horse hasn’t been out since, but has been training steadily for conditioner Steve Miyadi.
His chief opponent in the sprint appears to be Grandilla’s Dubai Key, who is three for three in the U.S. since coming north from Chile. The 5-year-old horse by the Deputy Minister stallion Key Deputy has won eight of 13 career outings and is at his best in turf sprints.
Here are the full fields for the two races with riders and morning line odds:
Torrey Pines Stakes – Desert Dawn (Umberto Rispoli, 9/5); Keith Abrahams’ Kirstenbosch (Tyler Baze, 15-1); Midnight Memories (Ramon Vazquez, 3-1); Paula Capestro’s Malibu Marie (Jose Valdivia, Jr., 15-1); Under the Stars (Juan Hernandez, 5/2); Bobby Flay’s Cinnamon Cat (Abel Cedillo, 10-1), and Grace Adler (Mike Smith, 3-1).
Green Flash Handicap – Dubai Key (Hector Berrios, 3-1); Little Red Feather Racing and Veranda Stable’s Yes He Can (Kyle Frey, 15-1); Agricola Matriarca’s Super Ocho (Armando Ayuso, 6-1); MyRacehorse’s Lane Way (Smith, 15-1); Thor-bred Stables’ Nero (Ryan Curatolo, 15-1); Hailey or Wood’s Chasin Munny (Cedillo, 20-1); Rockingham Ranch or Bernsen’s Barristan The Bold (Joe Bravo, 15-1); Jay or Julie Manoogian’s Coulthard (Vazques, 15-1); Lieutenant Dan (Hernandez, 5/2); Sterling Racing’s Whatmakessammyrun (Rispoli 5-1) and Hanson, Kayajanian or Mouradick’s Maven (Edwin Maldonado, 8-1).
While Baffert has won the Torrey Pines six times, he’s outdone by trainer John Sadler, who has visited the winner’s circle after the race on seven occasions. Sadler has Kirstenbosch in the mile and the daughter of Midnight Lute sports a straight maiden win and a stakes placing to her credit so far and, as noted, her trainer certainly knows how to win this race.
Among the champions who have won the Torrey Pines are Stellar Wind (trained by Sadler) in 2015 and Beholder (trained by Richard Mandella) in 2013.
The Torrey Pines is Race 5 on the 11-race Sunday program. The Green Flash goes as Race 9. First post Sunday is 1 p.m.
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