(Bob Baffert has “team approach” in Del Mar Futurity / Photo by Gene McLean)

From the Del Mar Media Team:

A field of eight was entered Friday for Monday’s Grade I $300,000 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity.

The 72nd running of the traditional closing day feature marks the 27th year in a row at seven furlongs and the 13th consecutive with Grade I status.

Three trainers who have entered two horses each account for three-quarters of the field.

Bob Baffert, seeking his 15th Futurity victory, will be represented by Eight Rings and Garth, both making their second career starts. Doug O’Neill, looking for a third Futurity win, will saddle Defense Wins and Fore Left, who have a combined four starts. Peter Miller, aiming for a Futurity breakthrough, will send out Nucky and Wrecking Crew, whose experience is four and two races, respectively.

Defense Wins, a Kentucky-bred son of Flatter, was a $175,000 purchase at auction in Florida in March and made his racing debut on July 21 here going five furlongs in a field of six. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the gray colt was never far off the pace and made up two lengths in the stretch to lose by a half-length to Collusion Illusion.

Collusion Illusion would go on to win the Graduation Stakes 12 days later but trainer Mark Glatt has chosen to pass up the Futurity.

Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino is the majority owner of Defense Wins with a 25 percent interest. The San Diego-based Great Friends racing syndicate headed by sports radio host Scott Kaplan is also a part owner, among others.

As the majority owner, Pitino exercised his right to name the horse and chose a phrase that epitomizes his philosophy of the game. Defense Wins will run in Pitino’s RAP Racing Stable silks. It’s not known if Pitino will attend the race.

The field from the rail: Storm the Court (Flavien Prat), Eight Rings (Drayden Van Dyke), Defense Wins (Rafael Bejarano), Ginobili (Florent Geroux), Garth (Mike Smith), Fore Left (Mario Gutierrez), Nucky (Norberto Arroyo, Jr.) and Wrecking Crew (Abel Cedillo).


Like four others among the seven rivals she’ll tangle with in Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante, Pure Xena has only one race on her record.

However, in that five-furlong debut on July 20, the 2-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Warrior’s Reward blew away five foes by 11 ¼ lengths. It did nothing to dim hopes that the $370,000 auction purchase in April in Florida by  Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable could be something special.

And Saturday’s step up in the seven-furlong sprint that determines the Juvenile Filly division champion of the meeting is a big one.

“You always feel if you have a good horse you have a chance of doing something like that,” trainer Brian Koriner said of the debut win. “I don’t know how good the horses were that she was running against.

“I know she has talent, but being drawn the No. 3 hole with a bunch of speed inside (for the Debutante) is never easy on a young horse. It’s a tough race and we’ll see how good she is.

“I’m just excited to have the opportunity to have horses that run in races like this. That’s what we’re in the business for.”

The field from the rail: Lazy Daisy (Rafael Bejarano, 20-1), Comical (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 12-1), Pure Xena (Aaron Gryder, 6-1), Leucothea (Abel Cedillo, 3-1), Bast (Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2), Powerfulattraction (Joe Talamo, 8-1), Inspiressa (Victor Espinoza, 5-2) and Stellar Sound (Mike Smith, 6-1).


A glance at the past performances of Meal Ticket provides food for thought about the 5-year-old mare, trained by Matthew Chew, who is entered in Saturday’s Grade II $200,000 John C. Mabee Stakes for the second year in a row.

She comes in off a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance victory that earned a 91 Beyer speed figure. She has two wins and a second in four races over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. She stalked the pace before finishing a creditable fourth beaten 3 ¼-lengths by Vasilika in the 2018 Mabee.

“That’s exactly why we’re running,” Chew said Friday morning of the scheduled encore in the Grade II, 1 1/8-mile turf event. “She seems to really enjoy Del Mar, she loves this track, and she’s ready to do something, so we’re going to give it another shot.”

The allowance victory for the daughter of Malibu Moon was her second at Del Mar in a career of four wins, four seconds and two thirds in 18 starts with earnings of $238,452.

“This is one of the toughest Mabees I’ve ever seen,” Chew said. “There’s 10 in there and there’s no throw outs. A filly like her that just won as convincingly as she did, and she’s 20-1? But she’ll show up and run her race. She’ll represent well.”

Meal Ticket drew the inside post in 2018 under Joe Talamo. Saturday she’ll break from the outside  under Kent Desormeaux.

“Kent has worked her and he’s a good fit with her,” Chew said. “I would have rather been a little bit more inside. Kent will have to negotiate that hairpin turn coming out of the chute and we’ll have to get a little lucky. We’ll see what happens.”

Physically, Meal Ticket comes into the race possibly better than she did a year ago, said Daryl Bond, Chew’s assistant for the past decade.

“We’re hoping for a repeat of last year’s performance, and if she does, I can’t see her being out of the top three if she runs back to that race.”

The field from the rail: Vasilika (Flavien Prat, 9-5), Paved (Victor Espinoza, 12-1), La Force (Mike Smith, 12-1), Toinette (Rafael Bejarano, 3-1), Ahimsa (Brice Blanc, 8-1), Ippodamia’s Girl (Ruben Fuentes, 30-1), Juliet Foxtrot (Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2), Quebec (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 15-1), Elysea’s World (Joe Talamo, 12-1) and Meal Ticket (Kent Desormeaux, 20-1).


A field of 13, which includes the supplement Text Don’t Call, was entered Friday for Monday’s $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf.

The one-mile test over the Jimmy Durante course can be a stepping stone  to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, as trainer Doug O’Neill has done after winning three of the race’s past seven runnings.

O’Neill will saddle A Thousand Dreams and Acai.

“A Thousand Dreams has a two-turn turf win over the course, and they’ve  both been training really well,” said O’Neill. His previous Juvenile Fillies Turf victories came with Clenor (2013), She’s Complete (2014) and Jakaby Jade (2015).

The field from the rail: Convoluted (Martin Pedroza), Awesome Drive (Ruben Fuentes), Applecross (Florent Geroux), A Thousand Dreams (Rafael Bejarano), Croughavouke (Drayden Van Dyke), Flamingo Bay (Joe Talamo), Acai (Mario Gutierrez), Warren’s Showtime (Jorge Velez), Yesterdayoncemore (Victor Espinoza), Shedaresthedevil (Flavien Prat), Overjoyed (Mike Smith), Mean Sophia (Martin Garcia), Text Don’t Call (Abel Cedillo).


Richard Baltas-trained Neptune’s Storm, the beaten favorite in the Grade III, $150,000 La Jolla Handicap on August 4, was tabbed the 7-2 morning line choice in Sunday’s Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Derby.

A son of Stormy Atlantic, Neptune’s Storm chased fellow Derby entrant Kingly all the way in the 1 1/16 La Jolla and will have an extra sixteenth of a mile to work with in the Derby. Drayden Van Dyke, aboard Neptune’s Storm in the La Jolla, has opted for Moody Jim for trainer Jeff Mullins in the Derby. Neptune’s Storm will be ridden by Florent Geroux.

Parsimony, winless in 15 career starts for trainer Doug O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam, was a $2,500 supplement to the race. The Pennsylvania-bred son of Dominus was second to Game Winner in the Los Alamitos Derby last month and has a second and third against older horses in two starts this meeting.

“He’s in with his own age group and he’s shown bursts of brilliance at times but hasn’t been able to get that first win,” O’Neill said. “We’re hoping he can do it in this one.”

The field from the rail: Walker Stalker (Ruben Fuentes, 30-1), Hackberry (Martin Garcia, 20-1), Nolde (Victor Espinoza, 5-1), Originaire (Mike Smith, 4-1), Neptune’s Storm (Florent Geroux, 7-2), Visitant (Geovanni Franco, 8-1), Parsimony (Abel Cedillo, 15-1), Moody Jim (Drayden Van Dyke, 5-1), Nolo Contesto (Flavien Prat, 8-1) and Kingly (Martin Garcia, 9-2).

The Del Mar Derby goes as the ninth on a 10-race Sunday card.


Encoder, a son of English Channel who made his racing debut with a rallying 1 ½-length victory at five furlongs on turf, was established Friday as the 9-5 favorite on Russ Hudak’s morning line for Sunday’s $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes.

A field of seven was entered for the eighth running of the one-mile turf event for 2-year-olds that can serve as a stepping stone to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in the fall.

Trainer Doug O’Neill will send out Raging Whiskey for his turf debut. The Maryland-bred son of Bourbon Courage was third in the Grade III Sanford Stakes at Saratoga in July but last of six in the Grade II Best Pal on August 10, both at six furlongs on dirt.

“We think he’ll appreciate the softer pace and will like the added distance,” O’Neill said.

The field from the rail: Encoder (Flavien Prat, 9-5), Commander (Abel Cedillo, 4-1), Hit the Road (Joe Talamo, 6-1), Croughavouke (Mike Smith, 5-1), Billy Batts (Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2), Raging Whiskey (Rafael Bejarano, 6-1) and Ardenlee Star (Florent Geroux, 15-1).



Jockey Standings

(Current Through Thursday, August 29, 2019 Inclusive)

Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% In-money% Money Won
Flavien Prat 132 36 14 18 27% 52% $2,606,470
Drayden Van Dyke 125 26 21 17 21% 51% $1,668,903
Abel Cedillo 133 21 17 18 16% 42% $904,181
Rafael Bejarano 135 19 22 15 14% 41% $1,171,457
Ruben Fuentes 133 19 16 11 14% 35% $766,491
Joseph Talamo 102 19 15 17 19% 50% $1,287,148
Victor Espinoza 82 14 12 12 17% 46% $929,487
Jorge Velez 97 13 18 10 13% 42% $519,886
Mike Smith 45 9 11 8 20% 62% $750,608
Geovanni Franco 95 8 5 10 8% 24% $609,861


Trainer Standings

(Current Through Thursday, August 29, 2019 Inclusive)

Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% In-money% Money Won
Doug F. O’Neill 107 19 22 14 18% 51% $1,116,097
Richard Baltas 84 16 12 10 19% 45% $1,003,527
Peter Miller 69 16 8 13 23% 54% $834,855
John W. Sadler 73 13 10 8 18% 42% $1,807,201
Philip D’Amato 75 12 14 10 16% 48% $1,106,648
Robert B. Hess, Jr. 41 12 9 3 29% 59% $349,873
Mark Glatt 62 10 9 11 16% 48% $611,240
Bob Baffert 41 10 8 8 24% 63% $687,835
Jeff Mullins 32 7 10 2 22% 59% $400,895
Brian J. Koriner 34 7 7 5 21% 56% $368,350


Winning Favorites Report

(Current Through Thursday, August 29, 2019 Inclusive)

Winning favorites — 98 out of 260 — 37.69%

Winning favorites on dirt — 61 out of 154 — 39.61%

Winning favorites on turf — 37 out of 106 — 34.91%

Winning odds-on favorites — 27 out of 53 — 50.94%

In-the-Money favorites — 181 out of 260 — 69.62%

In-the-Money odds-on favorites — 44 out of 53 — 83.02%