(Del Mar / Photo Courtesy of Del Mar)
In keeping with the tradition of the racing family into which he was born, Blaine Wright has been a successful trainer for more than 20 years based in Northern California and Washington state.
Wright, who celebrated his 46th birthday on Saturday, is among a group of Northern California conditioners who’ve sent strings south to Del Mar in recent years, boosting the horse population and adding another factor for handicappers to ponder in races at every level.
Next Saturday, Wright has representatives entered in two of the three stakes on the card: Anyportinastorm in the Grade I, 6-furlong, $250,000 Bing Crosby, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Keeneland, and Anneau d’Or in the $100,000, 1 1/16-mile Shared Belief Stakes, which offers points toward qualification for a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has three of the six 3-year-olds entered in the Shared Belief, no surprise considering his annual deep bench of Derby contenders. But it was a surprise Sunday when Baffert entered multi-stakes winning McKinzie in the Crosby.
Wright’s reaction: “I’m the kind of guy that those things don’t bother me,” he said by telephone Monday. “(Baffert’s) got a heck of a stable and obviously he manages it well. I just worry about my own horses and doing what’s best for them.”
Anyportinastorm is a 6-year-old owned by Peter Redekop. The son of City Zip has eight wins in 16 career starts, half of them in the last eight months and accomplished in Northern California or Washington, compiling total earnings of $313,025.
“He’s been kind of a touchy horse in the past, but he’s sound and doing good right now,” Wright said. “When Southern California shippers have come up to Golden Gate Fields or Emerald Downs he’s fared well against them. We think it’s time to try him against them down there. He’s 6 years old and there aren’t too many chances in a Grade I for him, so we thought we’d give it a try.”
Wright is inclined to take the “discretion is the better part of valor” approach with Anneau d’Or. The Medaglia d’Or colt, also owned by Redekop and a $480,000 auction purchase in April of last year, raised Kentucky Derby hopes when runner-up to Storm the Court in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November. But he has been off the board in three 2020 starts, all of them Grade I or II stakes.
“I’m 95 percent sure we’re going to scratch and go to the Ellis Park Derby,” Wright said of the Shared Belief. “We were supposed to run in the Los Alamitos Derby (July 4), but he came down with something for about 36 hours that had him kind of blah, off his feed and with a small temperature.
“He was fine in a day or so and he had a really good workout (5 furlongs, 1:00.40, 12th of 96 at the distance, July 19). But we’re planning on shipping to Kentucky and then staying there up to the Derby.”
BONUS FEVER – IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
When racing resumes on Friday, the second race will have more than the winner’s share of a $50,000 purse on the line for one of the 11 first-time starting fillies entered.
The appropriately-named Bonus Fever, a daughter of champion Runhappy who is trained and part-owned by James Chapman, would be eligible for an additional $100,000 bonus with a victory.
The Runhappy arrangement is the culmination of a two-year sponsorship Del Mar established last year with horse owner and breeder Jim McIngvale, the man behind the champion sprinter and now stallion Runhappy, whose first crop of runners comes to the races this year.
McIngvale had Del Mar’s opening and closing day stakes renamed for his horse, so for both last year and this one they became the Runhappy Oceanside Stakes and the Runhappy Del Mar Futurity. He also had a series of signage and location markers arranged at Del Mar to call out his stallion, all leading to a noteworthy climax this summer at the seaside oval.
The colorful Texan had encouraged people to buy Runhappy yearlings last year and race them at Del Mar as 2-year-olds in 2020. If they did – and were able to win one of the track’s $50,000 Maiden Special Weight races – not only would they earn the $30,000 winner’s share of the purse, but McIngvale further promised an additional check for a healthy $100,000 to those pulling off the feat.
Bonus Fever, by Runhappy out of the Pioneerof the Nile mare Vatayana, was purchased for only $11,000 at the Keeneland sale in September of last year.
JOCKEY NEWS: KUDOS FOR PEREIRA; LOGJAM AT THE TOP
Tiago Pereira earned praise from the minority who had backed him when he piloted Sweet River Baines to a victory worth $114.40 for a $2 bet in Sunday’s seventh race. He earned the thanks of fellow riders and all racing fans for a show of horsemanship at the end of Sunday’s 10th, the California Dreamin’ Stakes.
In the stretch, Camino Del Paraiso clipped heels and stumbled, unseating Drayden Van Dyke who was unhurt in the fall. The riderless horse continued in a pack of runners under the wire and Pereira, aboard Desmond Doss, kept Camino Del Paraiso to his inside and under control until he could be reined in by an outrider.
At the end of the sixth day of the meeting, three are tied atop the rider standings with nine wins each.
Defending champion Flavien Prat added three to his total Sunday, among them both the Eddie Read and California Dreamin’ stakes and Abel Cedillo won once. Prat and Cedillo caught up with Umberto Rispoli, who was shut out for the first time after winning at least one race in his first five days riding at Del Mar.
CLOSERS – Today’s program is the first on a Monday, other than Labor Day, at Del Mar in 12 years. Six racing days per week, Wednesday through Monday, was the norm through 2008, but the Monday programs, except for Labor Day, were eliminated starting with the 2009 season … Racing on this Monday also meant working on their birthdays (like they do every other day) for trainers Kristin Mulhall (38), Alexis Barba (68) and Rafael Becerra (66). None had starters on the afternoon card. Mulhall could have started celebrating two days earlier when Hot Box ($15.20) prevailed in Saturday’s sixth race, giving her a win and a second from three starts at the meeting… Celebrating birthdays during the off days this week: Trainer Rafael DeLeon (Tuesday, No. 59) and John Sadler (Thursday, No. 64) … Notable works from 142 officially timed this morning: Bezos (5f, 1:00.20), Dogtag (5f, 1:00.00), Gingham (5f, 1:00.40), Mo Forza (6f, 1:14.40) and Spielberg (1:12.60). Bezos and Spielberg, 2-year-old namesakes of famous men, were yearling purchases for $400,000 and $1 million, respectively, and are trained by Bob Baffert.
Del Mar Statistics
Presented by Torrey Hollistics
(Current Through July 26, 2020 Inclusive)
|Drayden Van Dyke||34||3||6||3||9%||35%||$201,370|
(Current Through July 26, 2020 Inclusive)
|Doug F. O’Neill||31||3||6||4||10%||42%||$165,495|
|Michael W. McCarthy||11||3||2||2||27%||64%||$103,060|
|J. Eric Kruljac||9||3||0||1||33%||44%||$101,980|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||4||2||1||0||50%||75%||$42,900|
Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Sunday, July 26, 2020 Inclusive)
Winning favorites — 19 out of 63 — 30.16%
Winning favorites on dirt — 8 out of 34 — 23.53%
Winning favorites on turf — 11 out of 29 — 37.93%
Winning odds-on favorites — 3 out of 5 — 60.00%
In-the-Money favorites — 41 out of 63 — 65.08%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites — 5 out of 5 — 100.00%