2YO Stakes Highlight Monday’s Closing Days at Del Mar, Saratoga

From the Media Teams at Del Mar & Saratoga:

(Roadster tops field for Del Mar Futurity / Benoit Photo & Courtesy of Del Mar)

Del Mar Race Course:

Del Mar Futurity:

Another highly-successful Del Mar summer Thoroughbred racing season concludes Labor Day Monday in a traditional manner, with presentation of the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity as the centerpiece of a ten-race program beginning at 2 p.m.

In addition to the seven-furlong Futurity for the best two-year-olds in the West, two other stakes will be run, the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf and the $75,000-added C.E.R.F. Stakes.

Roadster, impressive winner of his only start, by four and one-quarter lengths in late July, is the pre-race favorite at 6-5 to provide trainer Bob Baffert with an amazing 14th success in the Futurity, emulating such stars as,  to recall just a few, Silver Charm, Officer and American Pharoah, the last-named the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in l978.

Mike Smith has the call on Roadster, a son of Quality Road who was a $525,000 yearling purchase by the Speedway Stable of Peter Fluor of Houston, Texas at Keeneland last year.

Seeking to upset Roadster will be Sparky Ville, Gary Stevens; Rowayton, Drayden Van Dyke; Savagery, Joe Talamo; Spin Lightning, Flavien Prat; Sigalert, Tyler Baze, and Game Winner, Tiago Pereira.

The Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, at one mile over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course, attracted eleven entrants – After the Rose, Posh Holly, Kathryn’s Sky, Lady Prancealot, Hyde Park Corner, Summering, Noble Contessa, Imperial Creed, Angel Alessandra, Bizwhacks and Be A Shero. Summering, to be piloted by Van Dyke, is the morning line choice.

The C.E.R.F. Stakes, a six-furlong sprint, will match eight older fillies and mares – Phantom Proton, Impasse, Dis Smart Cat, Miss Sunset, Shoe It N Moe It, Lake Time, Time for Ebby and Classy Tune. Miss Sunset is the pre-race favorite.

Other Barn Notes:


Bellafina and Vasilika, winners of the Del Mar Debutante and John C. Mabee Stakes on Saturday, had some things in common. They were both ridden by jockey Flavien Prat and both appeared to come out of the efforts in good shape on Sunday morning.

Bellafina stood tall and energetic with her head over the webbing of her stall at the Simon Callaghan stable. Saturday’s Grade I victory was her second in three career starts and went well with the Grade II Sorrento accomplished here on August 5. The $180,000 winner’s share of the purse boosted her earnings to $308,000 for owner Kaleem Shah.

The Kentucky-bred daughter of Quality Road was purchased for $800,000 at the Fasig-Tipton sale in March.

“I said to Kaleem she’s the best filly I’ve trained,” Callaghan said. “She’s pretty special and I think she’s going to keep getting better.”

Vasilika made a big stretch run under Prat for a 1 ½-length victory over Cambodia that spoiled Cambodia’s bid to accomplish a Yellow Ribbon Stakes/John C.  Mabee double for the second year in a row.

Vasilika, 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Skipshot, won her sixth straight race and has only lost once in eight starts since being claimed for $40,000 by Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

“Just got lucky on that one,” Hollendorfer said. “We were looking for a horse and picked out that one. I’d trained Skipshot.”

Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward said Sunday morning that Vasilika came out of the race well, as did beaten Debutante favorite Brill.

“If there’s a reason for the bad race, we’ll try and we’ll find it,” Ward said. “But soundness wasn’t it. She’s fine and I guarantee that if you took her out there this morning she’d breeze in 1:26.”

The winning time for the seven-furlong Debutante was 1:25.54.

Saratoga Race Course:

G1 Hopeful Stakes:

A field of eight 2-year-old colts hope to graduate and earn their first career Grade 1 victory in Monday’s $350,000 Hopeful at seven furlongs on the main track.

Carded as Race 10, with a local post time of 5:38 p.m. ET, the 114th running of the Hopeful will be shown on Saratoga Live, presented by Claiborne Farm, airing nationally on FS2 from 4-6:30 p.m. Regional coverage of Monday’s Saratoga Live can be found on MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and Altitude from 4-6:30 p.m.

Calumet Farm’s Derby Date, the lone maiden in the field will look to win his first race in his third start at Saratoga after debuting at six furlongs and tiring to seventh on July 28. The colt by Will Take Charge, returned exactly two weeks later at seven furlongs and was caught late in the stretch settling for second. A trip to the winners’ circle would add to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’s record eight career Hopeful victories and would give the 82-year-old horseman his second straight after he saddled Sporting Chance to victory last year. Lukas believes the best is yet to come for the laid-back, but talented Kentucky-bred.

“I just think he’s a pretty talented horse,” said Lukas. “He’s a real laid-back horse, a really quiet horse. He’s so laid back you almost worry about him. You can bring him out here, drop the shank, let him graze a little while and go get him a half an hour later. He doesn’t care about nothing. When the gates open he’s got it on the mind. He’ll be a little more focused, but he’s awfully laid back, almost to worry.

“I expect a real big effort, I really do. He had two outs. One that I don’t count, one that was very good, but just a bad trainer job. He got tired. You look at the replay, he did everything right except he got tired and that’s my fault not the horses fault. I do that a lot, run the horses, then I come back and run a little better. He got tired which is correctable, and it will. He won’t be tired.”

Derby Date will break from post 8 and will be ridden by Luis Saez.

Adele Dilschneider’s colt Mucho enters after two strong performances since he first broke from the gate on an early Sunday afternoon on June 10 at Belmont Park. The colt by Blame was bumped at the start, but recovered quickly to finish second to Whiskey Echo then returned less than a week shy of two months where he was forwardly placed, running clear to best a field of seven by 9 3/4 lengths over the Saratoga main track for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

“Mucho is doing good,” said Mott. “He was quite impressive. I think he was kind of the buzz horse for a few days around here after winning. People were commenting on how nice he looked. I mean visually he looked impressive.”

Drawing post 7, Mucho will again have Jose Ortiz in the saddle.

Owner John Oxley will be represented by his Tapit colt Dream Maker who enters off his lone start where he was sent off as the even money favorite and responded like it by circling the field of five others with a strong last to first run in route to a three length win under Julien Leparoux on June 7 at Churchill Downs for trainer Mark Casse.

“We hope to go out with a boom,” said Casse. “He’s training real well.”

Dream Maker draws post 5, and will be rejoined by Julien Leparoux in the saddle.


Starlight Racing’s Sombeyay will be the veteran among the group bringing three starts into the race, and in doing so holds an extra trip to the winners’ circle over the others. The colt by Into Mischief broke his maiden by 6 ¼ lengths at first asking on April 27 at Gulfstream Park, then closed strong despite stumbling at the break and finished second three-quarters short to Our Braintrust in the $150,000 Tremont on June 8 at Belmont Park.

The Todd Pletcher trained colt returned to win the Grade 3 Sanford by a neck over Strike Silver on July 21 at Saratoga.

Sombeyay draws the rail as he did in the Sanford and will be ridden by Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano.

Red Oak Stable’s Mind Control will ship north to Saratoga from Monmouth Park for trainer Gregory Sacco, and will make his third start after finishing second behind Call Paul in his debut at Delaware Park. The colt by Stay Thirsty returned to break his maiden by three lengths on August 12 at Monmouth Park.

Mind Control will break from post 2 and be ridden by Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez.

Three others set to start are Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Nitrous for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. from post 3; Steven Newby’s Thatwouldbegreat for trainer Dale Capuano and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. from post 4 and Gatsas Stable’s Backtohisroots for trainer John Terranova and jockey Dylan Davis from post 6.


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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