(Del Mar starting gate / Photo Courtesy of Del Mar)

From the Del Mar Media Team:


The record will show that the final victory as an apprentice for jockey Jessica Pyfer was on 50-1 long shot Primer Dimer in Saturday’s third race at Del Mar.

The record will not show the joyful enthusiasm the 23-year-old college graduate and law school candidate exhibited after the win. It will not show the delight of those who were rewarded at $103.40 for a $2 win bet, or the satisfaction for owners Autum Breeze Stables and trainer T.R. Bell II — even though Bell said he was the only one from the contingent to not bet on the 3-year-old, California-bred son of Haynesfield.

But, off-the-record, those emotions were clearly evident.

Primer Dimer hadn’t finished higher than fifth and was beaten 30 lengths in the most recent of two career, making the dismissal by the betting public understandable when the field went to the post for the $20,000 maiden claimer.

“Tom (Bell II) told me before the race the horse has trouble breathing and I needed to get him to relax so he would take his big breath,” Pyfer said.  “He actually broke better than I expected and we were in a good position (sixth, six lengths back) down the backstretch. Down the backside I felt him take this huge breath and relax and it was the best feeling.”

They had to go five wide on the turn for home, but were making progress.

“He started grinding, but I didn’t think we were going to get there,” Pyfer said. “Then Flavien (Prat on Funkenstein) came up on my inside and my horse was like ‘Oh, we’re supposed to run.’ Once he saw that other horse he kind of did it himself and then at the end I just tried to make him fight a little bit more.”

Primer Dimer bested 2-1 Funkenstein by a half-length at the finish to give Pyfer career win No. 74 from 648 mounts with purse earnings of more than $3.2 million during a year-long term of apprentice status that ended Saturday. In 11 months of riding with the five-pound allowance, Pyfer had 56 wins from 535 starts and purse earnings of more than $2.7 million, which puts her at No. 100 on the Equibase jockey list based on money won.

It’s always a career crossroads and uncertain circumstance follow when a jockey loses the “bug” and no longer gets a weight break competing against more experienced fellow riders.

But Bell finds reasons for optimism in Pyfer’s case.

“Before the race I wished her luck after losing the bug, the five pounds,” Bell related. “I said she’d probably be just fine because people like her and people like the way she rides. She’s got great hands. She doesn’t fight a horse, she stays out of their way and keeps them calm and relaxed. She can get them to settle and then finish with a run. That’s what she did today and it worked out very well.”


The nomination deadline is not until Thursday night for the seven stakes races from Thanksgiving Thursday to closing day on Sunday, November 28, unofficially known as the “Turf Festival.”

And New York-based trainer Chad Brown, who has shipped in nine winners from his deep bench of grass runners in the past, hasn’t been heard from yet.

But several other prominent Midwest- and East Coast-based conditioners have, leading to expectations in the racing office of quality and quantity invaders for the main events on the Bing Crosby Season’s final four days.

A sneak peek, with horse names being withheld until close of entries:

Hollywood Turf Cup, Friday, November 26th, Grade II, $250,000, 1 ½ miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up: Trainer Mike Maker has placed five in nomination for a race Brad Cox won last year with Arklow.

Hollywood Derby,  Saturday, November 27th,  Grade I, $400,000, 1 1/8 miles (turf), 3-year-olds: Wesley Ward,  Dallas Stewart, Ken McPeek, Maker (2), Jack Sisterson (2), Graham Motion and Gregory Sacco have nominees. Brown has won it three times, sending out Annals of Time (2016), Raging Bull (2018) and Domestic Spending last year.

Seabiscuit Handicap, Saturday, November 27th, Grade II, $250,000, 1 1/16 miles (turf), 3-year-olds and up: One horse from Japan is listed while Maker has submitted two names and Motion one. Phil D’Amato has carried the locally-based trainer banner to wins with Midnight Storm (2015), Hunt (2017) and Count Again (2020). Add Richard Baltas’ win with Next Shares in 2019 and this has been a good Festival race for the home team.

Jimmy Durante Stakes, Saturday, November 27, Grade  III, $100,000, 1 mile (turf), 2-year-old fillies: Maker and Motion (2) have nominees for an event dominated by shippers over the years. Brown-trained Fluffy Socks won last year. Mike Stidham won the two years before that and George Weaver, Motion and Mark Casse have also scored in the seven editions at Del Mar.

Cecil B. DeMille Stakes, Sunday, November 28, Grade III, $100,000, 1 mile (turf), 2-year-olds: Motion has an early nominee in an event that has been good for locals. Smooth Like Strait won for Mike McCarthy in 2019 and Beer Can Man for Mark Glatt last year. Both horses ran during the recent Breeders’ Cup Week here.

Matriarch Stakes, Sunday, November 28, Grade I, $400,000, 1 mile (turf), older fillies and mares: Trainer Joe Sharp has two nominated and Stidham one for the climactic stakes race of the meeting. Brown has shipped in three winners in seven meetings, among them Viadera in 2020.


Juan Hernandez’s three wins on Saturday moved him up to a tie for third in the rider standings with five wins from 30 mounts. Irad Ortiz, Jr., won five while temporarily here during Breeders’ Cup week then departed for New York.

Flavien Prat’s win on Eda for Bob Baffert in the Desi Arnaz Stakes was his 75th at Del Mar, 10th most in track history. Prat is atop the standings for the meeting with nine wins from 47 starts, three ahead of Umberto Rispoli (6-for-29).

Hernandez booted home Arham (4th, $6.40), Issa Court (5th, $7.60) and Kid Corleone (6th, $31.20) to make his move up the standings. Kid Corleone, trained by Doug O’Neill, was the only Cal-bred in the field of eight.

Jockey Kyle Frey, one away from career win No. 1,000, was blanked Saturday, but has five mounts to seek the milestone on today’s program. The lineup: St Helena (1st,  8-1 morning line), Addydidit (2nd, 15-1), Mr Pickles (4th,  6-1), Corsica Flavor (6th, 20-1) and Can’thelpfallin (9th, 15-1).

The win with Eda was No. 145 in a Del Mar stakes for Baffert, far and away the track’s leader, and put him atop the trainer standings with five wins from 16 starters. Doug O’Neill (4 for 31) and Phil D’Amato (4 for 18) are right behind.

CLOSERS — A problem with the main line necessitated bringing in trucks to provide water for horses in the stable area this morning. An official at the scene said it has happened before and following established procedures meant little disruption to normal routine … Racing resumes Friday and continues through next Sunday for Week 3 of the season. The Grade III, $100,000 Native Diver Stakes on Saturday and $100,000 Cary Grant Stakes on Sunday are the upcoming major races.

Del Mar Statistics


Jockey Standings

(Current Through Friday, November 13, 2021 Inclusive)

Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% In-money% Money Won
Flavien Prat 47 9 11 4 19% 51% $1,598,630
Umberto Rispoli 29 6 5 4 21% 52% $730,060
Juan Hernandez 30 5 8 6 17% 63% $544,606
Irad Ortiz, Jr. 17 5 2 0 29% 41% $2,847,190
Ricardo Gonzalez 17 4 2 5 24% 65% $260,400
Victor Espinoza 14 4 0 0 29% 29% $653,980
Jose Ortiz 11 3 2 2 27% 64% $2,398,850
Joel Rosario 22 3 1 2 14% 27% $4,716,020
Diego Herrera 17 3 1 0 18% 24% $78,900
William Buick 4 3 0 0 75% 75% $3,700,000


Trainer Standings

(Current Through Friday, November 13, 2021 Inclusive)

Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% In-money% Money Won
Bob Baffert 16 5 2 2 31% 56% $2,530,300
Doug F. O’Neill 31 4 11 1 13% 52% $819,600
Philip D’Amato 18 4 2 4 22% 56% $479,050
John W. Sadler 19 3 2 2 16% 37% $507,685
Jonathan Wong 6 3 0 1 50% 67% $96,950
Charles Appleby 4 3 0 0 75% 75% $3,680,000
George Papaprodromou 8 3 0 0 38% 38% $76,160
Peter Miller 24 2 4 4 8% 42% $272,910
Michael W. McCarthy 8 2 3 0 25% 63% $958,020
Simon Callaghan 7 2 2 0 29% 57% $187,725


Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Friday, November 13, 2021 Inclusive)

Winning favorites — 19 out of 64 — 29.69%
Winning favorites on dirt — 13 out of 32 — 40.63%
Winning favorites on turf — 6 out of 32 — 18.75%
Winning odds-on favorites — 9 out of 17 — 52.94%
In-the-Money favorites — 45 out of 64 — 70.31%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites — 15 out of 17 — 88.24%