(Roadster before this year’s KY Derby / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Del Mar Media Team:
Bob Baffert-trained Roadster was tabbed as the 5-2 favorite in a field of six for Saturday’s G3 $100,000 Native Diver Stakes on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line issued Thursday.
A 3-year-old son of Quality Road owned by the Speedway Stable of Peter Fluor and K.C. Weiner, Roadster debuted at Del Mar amidst much fanfare with a 4 ¼-length victory on July 29 of last year. Sent off as the 7-10 favorite in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity in his next start, the big gray colt finished third to stablemate Game Winner and was then given a break to prepare for a 3-year-old campaign.
Roadster turned the tables on Game Winner in the Santa Anita Derby but finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby after being moved up via disqualification, and was removed from the Triple Crown series. Returned to California, Roadster was second, beaten 2 ¼ lengths by Mucho Gusto in the Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita in June and was nosed out for the win by Flagstaff in the Damascus Stakes in November on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.
The seven-furlong Damascus was the first test against older horses for Roadster. Flagstaff is a 5-year-old gelding. The 1 1/8-mile Native Diver is also for 3-year-olds and up. Of the six entrants, Roadster and Extra Hope are the only 3-year-olds.
The field from the rail: Leading Score (Joe Talamo, 7-2), Midcourt (Victor Espinoza, 7-2), Zestful (Evin Roman, 6-1), Roadster (Drayden Van Dyke, 5-2), Extra Hope (Flavien Prat, 6-1), and Two Thirty Five (Abel Cedillo, 3-1).
FIELD OF SIX SET TO GO IN SUNDAY’S CARY GRANT
A field of six was entered Thursday for the $100,000 Cary Grant feature on Sunday’s card. Trainer Peter Miller has saddled the winner of the Cary Grant, a seven furlong sprint for California breds, three times in the last four years but does not have an entrant this time.
The field from the rail: Ultimate Bango (Mike Smith), Grinning Tiger (Heriberto Figueroa), Fashionably Fast (Tiago Pereira), Shades of Victory (Edwin Maldonado), Oliver (Abel Cedillo) and Rick’s Dream (Juan Hernandez).
UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES TAKEN IN STRIDE BY DEL MAR HORSEMEN
A day of racing cancelled due to weather, something that hadn’t happened at Del Mar since the track opened in 1937, passed with no fuss or strain from the horsemen stabled on site Thursday.
“As a trainer, you’re always adapting to circumstance,” Peter Miller said. “No big deal really. I hope to get those horses that would have run Thursday in sometime soon. But Del Mar is doing a good job of trying to use those races as extras.
“There’s nothing we can do about the weather, We’re getting the horses jogged and if they’re not fit by now they’re not going to be fit in one or two days.”
The track was open for training as usual when the weather was benign on Monday and Tuesday but closed Wednesday after heavy rains hit overnight. The outside portion of the main track was opened for horses to jog on Thursday.
In a roughly 36-hour period from Tuesday night to Thursday morning, Del Mar received 1.45 inches of rain. During the same time period Santa Anita, about 100 miles to the north, was hit with just over a half-inch.
“When they stop training usually we put a rider on a horse for about 35 minutes and then walk them without a rider for another 30 minutes,” Leandro Mora, assistant to Doug O’Neill said at trackside. “Left in the stall they’d get excited, but after that they do fine.
“Now the track is open and it’s lovely, in very good shape. My horses all got good gallops in last week, so the jogging will keep them fit. Cancelling the races was the right thing to do, it’s better for everybody. Now I see we’ve got more rain coming next week and hopefully we can dodge it.”
Racing resumes Friday with an eight-race card. Three races scheduled for the Jimmy Durante Turf Course will be moved to the main track.
(Valid Point at Keeneland /Photo by Holly M. Smith)
FIELDS OF QUANTITY, QUALITY EYED FOR G1 EVENTS
With the start of the four-day “turf festival” to close the meeting – seven graded stakes on grass from November 28-December 1 – one week away, racing officials have every expectation of fields of both quality and quantity. Especially in the Grade I Hollywood Derby on November 30 and Grade I Matriarch on December 1.
Listed as “probables” for the Hollywood Derby, in alphabetical order with trainers in parentheses are: Digital Age (Chad Brown), Henley’s Joy (Michael Maker), Kingly (Bob Baffert), Mo Forza (Peter Miller), Moody Jim (Jeff Mullins), Neptune’s Storm (Richard Baltas), Nolde (John Shirreffs), Originaire (Mullins), Standard Deviation (Brown), Succeedandsurpass (Richard Baltas), Uncle Bull (Mark Casse) and Valid Point (Brown). Mr. Dumas (John Alexander Ortiz) is considered possible.
Combined, the group of 3-year-olds have two Grade I wins, four Grade IIs and a Grade III with Brown’s Valid Point (Secretariat) and Maker’s Henley’s Joy (Belmont Derby) the Grade I winners.
On the list of probables for the Matriarch are: Daddy Is a Legend (George Weaver), Giza Goddess (John Shirreffs), Got Stormy (Mark Casse), Painting Corners (Peter Miller), Significant Form (Chad Brown), Storm the Hill (Phil D’Amato) and Toinette (Neil Drysdale).
The group of older fillies and mares has accounted for one Grade I, two Grade II and five Grade III wins. Casse’s Got Stormy shows the most impressive recent form having won the Grade I Fourstar Dave at Saratoga in August and subsequently finishing second in the Woodbine and Breeders’ Cup Miles, both Grade I assignments.
BALTAS EDGES AHEAD IN TRAINER RACE; VAN DYKE UP BY TWO
Richard Baltas saddled The Hunted ($8.40) to win Sunday’s fourth race and break a three-way tie with Peter Miller and Vladimir Cerin atop the trainer standings. Baltas, who shared the 2017 summer training title with Phil D’Amato, has a 5-4 edge in wins over Miller and Cerin when racing resumes on Friday.
Drayden Van Dyke also notched one win on Sunday, aboard Lighthouse ($7.00) in the second race, and will take an 8-6 edge over Abel Cedillo into the abbreviated, three-day racing week.
Jockey Joe Talamo, two wins shy of 2,000 career victories, has four mounts on the Friday program. Talamo announced earlier in the week that he will be relocating to Kentucky to seek more mounts and opportunities on the Midwest circuit.
Martin Garcia, who left for Kentucky after riding the Saturday card at Del Mar, made his Churchill Downs debut on Wednesday. He recorded a runner-up finish in the first race and won the nightcap aboard Home Base for trainer Michael Tomlinson.
BAHR, FORNATALE GUESTS ON WEEKEND HANDICAPPING SEMINARS
Chris Bahr, Del Mar’s Director of Events and Promotions, as well as the man who oversees handicapping contests at the track and at the Breeders’ Cup, and Peter Fornatale, author and podcast host (In the Money), will be the guest experts on the weekend handicapping seminars.
Bahr will provide selections and opinions on Saturday. Fornatale will be the guest of host Frank Scatoni on Sunday.
The seminars are held from 11:30-12:15 at the Seaside Terrace near the top of the stretch.