(Del Mar / Photo Courtesy of Del Mar)

From the Del Mar Media Team:

OK, everybody, get ready for the big finish.

That’s the expectation around the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club with the 80thsummer meeting’s final week upcoming next Wednesday through Labor Day a week from Monday.

Eight stakes dot the racing calendar over the final six days, highlighted by the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante on Saturday, August 31 and the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on closing day, September 2.

A look at the stakes, in chronological order.

$100,000 Generous Portion, Wednesday, August 28 – A field of nine has been entered for the six-furlong sprint for California-bred fillies. Unbeaten (3-for-3) Bulletproof One from the Peter Miller barn is the standout.

$100,000 I’m Smokin, Friday, August 30 – A field of 11 was entered Sunday morning for the six-furlong sprint for California-breds. Big Returns, winner by disqualification in the Graduation Stakes, will be out to extend his record to 3-for-3, this time by crossing first under the wire.

$300,000, Grade I Del Mar Debutante, Saturday, August 31 – The 7-furlong test that determines the meeting’s juvenile filly champion appears likely to have a half-dozen that are short on experience and long on potential. John Sadler’s Inspiressa and Peter Miller’s Leucothea were both impressive winners over the track at mid-month. Entries close and post positions will be drawn Wednesday.

$200,000, Grade II John C. Mabee, Saturday, August 31 – Vasilika, the defending champion in the  1 1/8-mile turf event, had a tune-up when third in the Yellow Ribbon on August 3. Entries close and post positions will be drawn Wednesday.

$250,000, Grade II Del Mar Derby, Sunday, September 1 – Kingly and Neptune’s Storm, a neck apart as the 1-2 finishers in the La Jolla, could go the extra sixteenth in the 1 1/8-mile event that ends the turf stakes series for 3-year-olds. Entries close and post positions will be drawn Thursday.

$100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf, Sunday, September 1 – John Sadler has Encoder, a debut winner on the turf August 7 under Flavien Prat, for a one-mile race that could be the starting point on the road to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Santa Anita. Entries close and post positions will be drawn Thursday.

$100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, Monday, September 2 – After giving the Debutante consideration, trainers Simon Callaghan (Shedaresthedevil) and Doug O’Neill (Lazy Daisy) could opt for this Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf prep. Entries close and post positions will be drawn Friday.

$300,000, Grade I Del Mar Futurity, Monday, September 2 – Bob Baffert, who won the juvenile championship of the meeting seven years in a row from 1996-2002, has only been winning every even-numbered year since 2012. It would not be odd, however, to see him break the pattern this year with Eight Rings, an impressive debut winner on August 4. Entries close and post positions will be drawn Friday.


Catalina Cruiser and Giant Expectations both exited their stretch battle in Saturday’s $200,000 Grade I Pat O’Brien Stakes in good health, their respective camps reported Sunday.

With the nose victory in the O’Brien, a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Catalina Cruiser’s connections – trainer John Sadler and owner Hronis Racing – have the guarantee of a spot in the race where the 5-year-old son of Union Rags finished sixth a year ago, his only loss in an eight-race career.

Or they could possibly choose the 6-furlong Sprint, a distance where Catalina Cruiser is 2-for-2. But those are decisions for a later time.

“He came out of the race really well,” Sadler said Sunday morning. “I’m really pleased with his race. It was really a game win in really good time.”

The stakes win was No. 75 at Del Mar for Sadler and moved him past Charlie Whittingham to No. 3 on the trainers’ all-time list.

“It means a lot to me because he was one of the most iconic guys in my career,” Sadler said. “He was a guy everybody idolized around here for a long time. I’m honored to be in that group.”

Giant Expectations came up a nose short of his second O’Brien win in three years. But trainer Peter Eurton said he was “pleased and impressed” with the 6-year-old son of Frost Giant’s game effort. “He’s fine this morning and we’ll take some time and talk to the owners, but we’re certainly looking at the Breeders’ Cup,” Eurton said.


The victory by Catalina Cruiser in Saturday’s $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes, which carried with it a $120,000 winner’s share of the purse, boosted Hronis Racing to an all-time earnings record for owners at a summer meeting.

Hronis Racing, headed by brothers Kosta and Pete Hronis, entered Sunday’s 30th day of racing with $1,325,353 in earnings, topping the mark of $1,281,854 set last year.

In addition to Catalina Cruiser, winner of both the San Diego Handicap and O’Brien two years in a row, Hronis Racing notched its second straight victory in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic. Higher Power followed a breakthrough with Accelerate in 2018.

Hronis racing has six stakes wins this summer and an overall record of seven victories, six seconds and six thirds from 38 starters, an 18 percent win and 50 percent in-the-money rate.


Trainer Doug O’Neill sent out Defense Wins and Fore Left, two prospects for the Grade I, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, for final workouts Sunday morning. The traditional closing day feature, which determines the juvenile champion of the meeting, will be run on Labor Day Monday, September 2.

Defense Wins, a son of Flatter who was a $175,000 purchase in March, debuted with a runner-up finish, beaten a half-length by Collusion Illusion, on July 21. Collusion Illusion went on to win the Best Pal Stakes on August 10, but is unlikely for the Futurity.

With Rafael Bejarano in the irons, Del Mar clockers had Defense Wins covering five furlongs in 1:02.40. “It went really well,” O’Neill said. While no commitments have been made yet, O’Neill was hopeful of securing Bejarano to ride in the Futurity.

Fore Left, a son of Twirling Candy who finished third as the favorite in the Best Pal, was ridden by Evin Roman in the workout but will have Mario Gutierrez up for the Futurity.

Breaking from the gate, Fore Left was timed in 1:01.80. O’Neill had interim fractions of :24.20, :48.60 with the gallop-out to six furlongs in 1:14.80. Fore Left wore blinkers for the first time while working in company with stablemate War Beast whom Del Mar clockers had in :48.80 for four furlongs.

CLOSERS – Selected works from 226 officially timed Sunday morning: Dirt – Big Returns (4f, :47.60), Bombard (4f, :48.40), Danuska’s My Girl (4f, :49.00), River Boyne (4f, :49.40), Selcourt (4f, :49.60), Test the Water (4f, :46.60), Vasilika (4f, :47.80), Defense Wins (5f, 1:02.40), Fore Left (5f, 1:01.80), Pure Xena (5f, 1:01.80); Turf – Lemoona (4f, :48.40), Next Shares (4f, :47.40), Shedaresthedevil (4f, :50.20), Neptune’s Storm (5f, 1:02.20), Rijeka (5f, 1:01.00), Storm the Hill (5f, 1:01.00).



Jockey Standings

(Current Through Saturday, August 24, 2019 Inclusive)

Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% In-money% Money Won
Flavien Prat 119 34 11 17 29% 52% $2,499,159
Drayden Van Dyke 115 23 19 16 20% 50% $1,485,521
Rafael Bejarano 125 19 20 13 15% 42% $1,129,024
Abel Cedillo 118 19 15 16 16% 42% $813,326
Joseph Talamo 90 17 13 15 19% 50% $1,202,795
Ruben Fuentes 119 16 16 9 13% 34% $668,394
Victor Espinoza 74 13 12 11 18% 49% $906,432
Jorge Velez 85 11 17 7 13% 41% $440,504
Mario Gutierrez 77 7 12 17 9% 47% $631,651
Kent Desormeaux 55 7 7 9 13% 42% $585,291


Trainer Standings

(Current Through Saturday, August 24, 2019 Inclusive)

Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% In-money% Money Won
Doug F. O’Neill 97 18 21 12 19% 53% $1,067,873
Richard Baltas 81 16 11 9 20% 44% $990,536
Peter Miller 64 15 8 12 23% 55% $784,484
John W. Sadler 65 12 8 7 18% 42% $1,748,228
Philip D’Amato 69 11 11 8 16% 43% $1,043,248
Robert B. Hess, Jr. 33 10 7 3 30% 61% $305,951
Mark Glatt 58 9 8 11 16% 48% $584,189
Bob Baffert 39 9 7 8 23% 62% $615,635
Brian J. Koriner 30 6 6 5 20% 57% $331,999
Jeff Mullins 27 5 9 2 19% 59% $320,895


Winning Favorites Report

(Current Through Saturday, August 24, 2019 Inclusive)

Winning favorites — 90 out of 235 — 38.30%

Winning favorites on dirt — 55 out of 139 — 39.57%

Winning favorites on turf — 35 out of 96 — 36.46%

Winning odds-on favorites — 22 out of 46 — 47.83%

In-the-Money favorites — 166 out of 235 — 70.64%

In-the-Money odds-on favorites — 39 out of 46 — 84.78%