Del Mar Stakes Recaps and Rumblings

They had a mandatory payout of the pick 6 on Sunday and the patrons added over $3.1 million to the pool of $373,278. The total pool was only at $2.1 million while the horses started loading into the gates, so you can imagine how much late money was added after most of us were shut off. And we all know where that money comes from.

Of the six race sequence, which appeared pretty wide open in many races, there were four of the races where the winner paid $6.60 or less. Then there was a $14.00 winner in a wide open turf race and then in race 8, there was a disqualification and the winner turned out to be Reiquist at $56.80. He had never been two turns, had never raced on the turf, and his last race, a dirt sprint was very dismal.

The winning payoff for the 20 cent wager was $3,215 and there were 964 winning tickets. It was just a matter of time before jockey Juan Hernandez got hot and started pulling away with the riding title this summer. He won four on Saturday and then came back with three more on Sunday and is now 7 ahead of both Hector Berrios and turf kingpin Umberto Rispoli, 22 to 15.

Trainer Bob Baffert got hot over the weekend and has caught Phil D’Amato for the training title at 12 apiece. Baffert has had 46 less mounts go to the post than D’Amato and his win percentage at 37% is far and away the highest of any trainer in the top 15.

STAKES RECAP: They ran four stakes this past week at Del Mar and two year olds were in the spotlight in 3 of the 4. On Friday it was the Graduation stakes for Cal bred juveniles going five and a half on the main track and 8 went to the post. Debut winner Lord Prancealot was made the tepid 3/1 favorite under 53 year old Kent Desormeaux and he made every pole a winning one, wiring the field with quick fractions of 21.87 and 45.12 for the half. However, he was getting very late at the 1/16 pole and he was all out to hold on and win by a head over a fast charging Last Call London with leading rider Juan Hernandez. But hang on he did as the wire came up just in time for Desormeaux’s third win of the day from just three mounts. The winner paid $8.60 and was a Turfdom Best Bet on the day. Mici’s Express closed from well off the pace at 20/1 to nail down third. The winner is by Sir Prancealot, whose 1st full crop is racing in California for the 1st time and was his 4th winner at this meet and third in just two days.

On Saturday, the juvenile fillies took center stage in the Grade 3 Sorrento stakes and once again the winner went wire to wire. This time a Nor Cal transplant got the money named Dreamfyre, who is trained by O.J. Jauregui and was ridden by Hector Berrios. She sizzled the opening quarter in 21.74 and re-broke when challenged in the stretch to win off by 3.5 lengths at the wire and paid $9.20 as the third choice in the wagering in a field of 7. The 9/5 favorite was Benedetta who had the outside slot, looked like a possible winner at the ¼ pole but was no match for the winner down the lane. Dreamfyre ran the six furlongs on the main in a good 1:10.52. Like Lord Prancealot, she is now 2 for 2 in her career and as you can tell, speed was holding well on the main track this past week. But that all changed on Sunday.

Baffert’s Dua, who also went off at 9/5, was second on the back side but faded badly down the lane and lost by 11 lengths while being wrapped up. The other stakes on the day was the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon for older fillies and mares at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. Carla Gaines Closing Remarks got a lot of late money and was made the 2/1 favorite in a field of 7, and she got a beautiful ride by top turf rider Umberto Rispoli and made the last run to get the money by a neck at the wire. The five year old Cal bred got a ground saving trip throughout and found the seam in the lane to get up late. Spirit and Glory was finishing fast on the rail for second while the pace setter, Ganadora held on for third, a length further back. This was the 5th win for Closing Remarks, who often finds trouble throughout her races, but this was the first time Rispoli had the mount. She paid $6.60 to win and was a Turfdom top choice selection. Her career earnings are now at $711,320 for John Harris and the Harris Farms, just outside Coalinga, California.

On Sunday the only stakes was the Grade 3 Best Pal for two year olds sprinting ¾ on the main. Baffert had the top two favorites in this race and with only five going to the post, he dominated. Muth was made the heavy 1 to 2 favorite based on his dominating debut up at Arcadia, but he got caught up in a pace duel with Tranche through splits of 21.76 and 44.76 for the half. His stable mate, with Flavien Prat up, settled early from well off the pace, started to move at the 3/8 pole, and caught Muth at the top of the stretch. The pace was just too hot for the favorite and “Monaco” pulled away late to win by four at the wire. The winning time was 1:09.19 and was the fastest six furlong time of the meet and got Prince of Monaco a 103 Beyer number, the fastest anywhere in the country for a two year old this year. He paid $5.60 to win and what was interesting was that Baffert actually asked Prat to come west to ride this horse in this race. It was another five back to Raging Torrent who finished third. Both ‘Monaco” and Muth will be back on Sept. 10 to test the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, which Baffert has already won 16 times.