Del Mar Barn Notes: Closing Weekend Should be a Dandy

(Instilled Regard, winner of the Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds earlier this year, will contend in the Hollywood Derby this weekend at Del Mar / Photo Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

From the Del Mar Media Team:

DERBY, MATRIARCH POSSIBLES PORTEND EXCITING CLOSING WEEKEND

When November turns to December next weekend, fall racing at Del Mar will wrap up for 2018. And, as is the case in any sports/entertainment enterprise, the hope would be for a big finish.

And when it comes to the stakes on Saturday and Sunday, the only Grade Is of the season, racing secretary David Jerkens has every reason to believe that they’ll deliver the goods.

Jerkens has compiled a list of possible starters for the Grade I $300,000 Hollywood Derby on Saturday, December 1, and the Grade I $300,000 Matriarch on closing day, Sunday, December 2. And the expectation is for quality fields of 12 in both events.

The Derby possibles, in alphabetical order with trainers in parentheses: Carrick (Thomas Morley), Choo Choo (Jerry Hollendorfer), Desert Stone (Richard Baltas), Have At It (Christophe Clement), Instilled Regard (Chad Brown), Platinum Warrior (John Sadler), Prince Earl (Phil D’Amato), Pubilius Syrus (Vladimir Cerin), Raging Bull (Brown), Risky Proposition (Bill Spawr), River Boyne (Jeff Mullins) , Shivermetimbers (Hollendorfer) and Untamed Domain (H. Graham Motion).

The “local versus shippers” matchup would appear to be River Boyne, winner of the La Jolla Handicap and third as the favorite in the Del Mar Derby last summer, against Carrick and Raging Bull. Carrick won the Grade I $400,000 Secretariat on Arlington Million Day at Arlington Park in August. Raging Bull won two graded stakes at Saratoga and was fifth as the favorite in the Grade II Hill Prince early this month.

The Matriarch possibles are Daddy Is a Legend (George Weaver), Dona Bruja (Ignacio Correas), Excellent Sunset (Anna Meah), Fahan Mura (Vladimir Cerin), Insta Erma (Richard Baltas), Mission Impassable (Jean-Claude Rouget), Ms Bad Behavior (Richard Baltas), Quidura (Chad Brown), Rymska (Brown), Uni (Brown), Valadorna (Mark Casse) and Vasilika (Jerry Hollendorfer)

Vasilika, a $40,000 claim by Hollendorfer in February, has won eight straight, the last three being the Grade II John C. Mabee here in September, the Grade I Rodeo Drive later that month at Santa Anita and Grade II Goldikova on November 4 at Santa Anita.

The trio of Quidura, Rymska, and Uni for Brown, the nation’s leading trainer, all have recent graded stakes victories on turf. Rymska has won four of her last five, Uni three in a row.

“I think both those races are very deep in quality,” Jerkens said. “I’m very pleased with the shippers and the local horses that we’re expecting to enter.”

The close of entries and post position draw for the Hollywood Derby and other Saturday races is scheduled for Wednesday. The Matriarch and other Sunday races will be drawn Thursday.


STEVENS GETS A SURFBOARD AND A SINCERE SENDOFF TO RETIREMENT

Jockey Gary Stevens received, and gave, heartfelt thanks for his Hall of Fame career in ceremonies marking his retirement Saturday at Del Mar.

The 55-year-old native of Idaho, who ranks third for stakes wins and ninth for overall wins on the track’s all-time list, was honored before the fourth race. Dressed in a sport coat, jeans and sharp-brimmed Stetson hat that he revealed was purchased at the Gangster Museum Of America in Hot Springs, Arkansas, while riding at Oaklawn Park, Stevens was surrounded by family and friends in the paddock before the race.

The group there included Bob Baffert, who combined with Stevens to win the Kentucky Derby on Silver Charm – Baffert’s first, Stevens’ third. Also on hand were Craig O’Bryan, Stevens’ agent for a decade, and Tony Matos, agent at the time of his retirement.

“I had 10 great years with him and some of the best years I ever had were with him,” O’Bryan said earlier in the day. “It’s kind of sad that he’s retiring, but he goes out as one of the greatest ever.”

Proceeding to the winner’s circle, Del Mar CEO Joe Harper presented Stevens with a gift, a surfboard, but with the admonition: “Do not use it. I’ve seen the MRI (of a vertebra pressing on his spinal cord) and you don’t want to use it.”

Harper expressed the belief that Stevens would remain in the game in some capacity (“You have to”) and ended with “I love you pal, I’m going to miss seeing you up there in that saddle.”

Taking the microphone, Stevens, who had retired twice before but made comebacks, started with: “Third time’s the charm. This is the final, final retirement.”

He graciously thanked his fellow riders, the fans and “Every single horseman that’s out there before the sun comes up every morning.”

He called the Del Mar fall season and the area fans who come out to support it “pretty special” and noted the scheduled return of the Breeders’ Cup to Del Mar in 2021. “This place is pretty awesome,” Stevens said.

“Trevor Denman, the greatest that’s ever been, my man. I appreciate your calls.” Stevens said in ending his public comment.

“I have so many special memories here at Del Mar,” Stevens said later. “From my first Pacific Classic win (Bertrando, 1993) to my last one on Beholder (2015).” Those were two of Stevens’ three Pacific Classic triumphs, the other coming aboard Gentlemen in 1997, and part of 100 career stakes victories at Del Mar.

Stevens said he plans to just enjoy retirement for a few weeks before deciding what to do next with his life. “I’ll figure something out,” he said with a smile.


WHO’S YOUR DADDY? IN SOME CASES, ONE HECK OF A TRAINER

Tom Proctor saddled Chicago Style to win Friday’s Grade II $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup and noted, with understandable pride, that stakes victory No. 18 for him at Del Mar moved him past his father, venerable trainer Willard Proctor, for stakes scores here.

Tom added another with Caribou Club in Saturday’s Grade II $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap to raise the Proctors’ combined total to 36. Which got us to thinking about other father/son training combinations at Del Mar and prompted a look through the record book and a probably not comprehensive compilation.

Far and away the most successful for stakes wins are Charlie Whittingham (74) and son Michael (7).

In second, by our calculation, are Farrell (20) and Gary (17) Jones, one win ahead of the Proctors. The Stutes, Mel (26) and Gary (2) are next followed by Gary (17) and Marty (7) Jones and Wally and Craig Dollase with 11 each. Art Sherman (12) and Steve (1) are the last in double figures. The Wests, Ted and Ted H., have five stakes wins combined with father Ted’s three leading the way.

The Mandellas, Richard and Gary, are waiting to rocket into second place. Richard has 62 stakes victories and the first one for Gary will move them in behind the Whittinghams.

Lest we be accused of being a male chauvinist, there are also some father-daughter trainer combinations to note. The Mulhalls have accounted for eight stakes, six by Kristin and two by dad Richard and the Ruises, Mick and Shelbe, have three, two for Mick and one for Shelbe.


MILLER STEALS AWAY WITH 4-WIN DAY; JOCKEY RACE STAYS TIGHT

Trainer Peter Miller saddled four winners on Saturday to open a six-win lead over his pursuers and appear to salt away his third straight Del Mar fall training championship and his fourth in the five years of the meet’s existence.

Miller’s wins Saturday came with Gray Magician (2nd, Flavien Prat, $3.00), Acker (3rd, Rafael Bejarano, $17.00), Damiano (4th, Drayden Van Dyke, $3.20) and Suspicious Spouse (9th, Prat, $7.60)

Miller’s 11 wins puts him six ahead of Jerry Hollendorfer and seven up on Phil D’Amato, Bob Baffert and Brian Koriner with five days remaining.

“We’re in good shape,” Miller said Sunday morning. “This meet has exceeded my expectations. I really didn’t know, coming in, how we’d do because we’d run hard all year and I didn’t know what we had left. We’ve won some photos and got some really good rides, which is what needs to happen to win a training title.”

Miller secured fall championships with 15 wins in 2014, 16 wins in 2016 and 19 last year. Thirteen wins in 2015 left him two behind Doug O’Neill.

“I knew I had to win two or three (Saturday) because I really don’t have that many left to run,” Miller said.

The jockey race remains tight with Van Dyke (12 wins) one ahead of defending champion Prat and Geovanni Franco. Prat won twice on Saturday to pick up one on Van Dyke and move into a tie for second. Joe Talamo won the Seabiscuit Handicap on Caribou Club  and is tied with Van Dyke for stakes victories with three.


CLOSERS – Today’s $100,000 Native Diver Stakes was reduced to a three-horse field with the scratches of Roman Rosso and Gift Box. Kershaw, also entered, ran in and won the sixth-race allowance on Saturday. “We have trouble with dirt stakes,” Racing Secretary David Jerkens said. “A lot of the horses are concentrated in a few stables and they don’t want to run them against each other.” … Selected workouts from 140 officially timed at Santa Anita Sunday morning: Blackjackcat (4f, :48.00), Fatale Bere (4f, :49.20), Choo Choo (5f, 1:03.00), Dueling (5f, 1:01.00), Gunmetal Gray (5f, 1:01.00), Mopotism (5f, 1:02.40), Pubilius Syrus (5f, 1:02.60), Vasilika (1:03.00) and Platinum Warrior (6f, 1:15.00).


DEL MAR STATISTICS

Jockey Standings

(Current Through Saturday, November 24, 2018 Inclusive)

JockeyMts1st2nd3rdWin%In-money%Money Won
Drayden Van Dyke48127725%54%$588,753
Flavien Prat601112818%52%$551,646
Geovanni Franco51116422%41%$421,506
Heriberto Figueroa49861016%49%$246,750
Joseph Talamo4083720%45%$444,950
Rafael Bejarano4276917%52%$356,735
Tyler Baze585989%38%$335,649
Tiago Pereira523666%29%$150,685
Mike Smith1935116%47%$200,339
Kent Desormeaux2634412%42%$163,765

 

Trainer Standings

(Current Through Saturday, November 24, 2018 Inclusive)

TrainerSts1st2nd3rdWin%In-money%Money Won
Peter Miller35113531%54%$423,605
Jerry Hollendorfer2956417%52%$261,135
Philip D’Amato2342117%30%$185,833
Bob Baffert941044%56%$199,075
Brian J. Koriner1140136%45%$144,075
Doug F. O’Neill443447%25%$174,841
Richard Baltas2334213%39%$191,902
Richard E. Mandella2134114%38%$173,920
George Papaprodromou1324015%46%$50,540
Jeff Mullins1423214%50%$80,475

 

 

Winning Favorites Report

(Current Through Saturday, November 24, 2018 Inclusive)

Winning favorites — 37 out of 93 — 39.78%

Winning favorites on dirt — 24 out of 54 — 44.44%

Winning favorites on turf — 13 out of 39 — 33.33%

Winning odds-on favorites — 11 out of 21 — 52.38%

In-the-Money favorites — 69 out of 93 — 74.19%

In-the-Money odds-on favorites — 18 out of 21 — 85.71%

At this time of great sadness for our family, we find comfort in knowing that one of the great joys in his life was seeing Oaklawn develop into a national treasure with such a significant economic impact on Arkansas. In addition to the holidays with his family, his favorite time of the year was always the Oaklawn racing season with fans, horsemen and staff.

Family of Charles J. Cella, the owner of Oaklawn Park, upon his passing this week at the age of 81

More From The Pressbox Staff