By Jarrod Horak
The Del Mar stakes star of the week was an easy choice. Exciting 2-year-old prospect Prince of Monaco ran a hole in the wind in the Best Pal Stakes on Sunday for trainer Bob Baffert. He might be the goods!
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Graduation – August 11 – 5 1/2 furlongs dirt
Lord Prancealot was bet down to favoritism and did not disappoint his backers. Kent Desormeaux had already won two races on the card before the feature race, and he got this one out of the gate and went right to the front through fractions of 21.87 and 45.12. He stayed a length clear and the chasers got tired. It was up to the closers to make a race of it, and Last Call London made a late bid but came up a head short. Mici’s Express found his best stride late and was a clear third. Refocus, Wild Jewels, Shady Appeal, Smokem Ez, and Salsation also ran. The final time was 1:04.59, and Jeff Bonde’s colt paid $8.60 to win.
Grade 3 Sorento – August 12 – 6 furlongs dirt
Early speed was the name of the game in this heat. Dreamfyre, a debut stakes winner at Pleasanton, shipped to Del Mar and ran her highly regarded rivals into the ground. She broke on top and was quickly two lengths clear through a quarter in 21.74. Post time favorite Benedetta chased from the outside post and close the gap to a length after a half in 45.10, and Dua crept closer from the inside. Those three had this race to themselves, but it was really all about Dreamfyre ($9.20). The fleet Flameaway filly kicked away again and won by 3 1/2 lengths. Benedetta never stopped trying and ended up 7 1/4 clear of Dua. Baffert’s filly got tired of chasing the top pair but held the show by a half-length over 54-1 first timer Motet. Ur in Trouble chased early and faded, and was followed by Vinos Angel and Kythira. The final time was 1:10.52 and Hector Berrios rode the winner for O. J. Jauregui.
Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap – August 12- 1 1/16 miles turf
Surface switcher Ganadora carved out the fractions as expected. She went 23.33, 47.48, and 1:11.78. Awake At Midnyte pressed outside and Closing Remarks stalked inside. Turnerloose, making her first start since October 2022, was rank under Antonio Fresu and she never really looked comfortable. Ganadora gamely stayed on under Juan Hernandez but Closing Remarks ($6.60) was getting the run of the race under Umberto Rispoli. The Carla Gaines trainee waited for racing room, moved out, and held off late runner Spirit and Glory (IRE) to win by a neck. The latter was ridden by Hector Berrios and she made a race of it while clearly second best. Ganadora just held the show by a neck over Lucky Girl (IRE). Turnerloose was next and she might be worth considering next time. Awake At Midnyte weakened to 6th and School Dance trailed. The final time was 1:42.01.
Grade 3 Best Pal – August 13 – 6 furlongs dirt
This was the fastest six furlong race of the meet. Tranche was sent hard from post 2 under Edwin Maldonado and zipped through an opening quarter in 21.76. Heavy favorite Muth had good natural speed and pressed early and took the lead after a half in 44.76. Raging Torrent broke from the rail and chased from third, and Muth’s stablemate Prince of Monaco was patiently handled in fourth from the outside post under Flavien Prat. Muth was in front approaching the stretch but Prince of Monaco ($5.60) was moving like a winner and he pounced on his stablemate in the stretch and kicked away to win by a very comfortable 4 1/4 lengths. Muth was clearly second best and Raging Torrent was 15 1/2 lengths in front of Tranche. Who Is Pavel was last throughout and never got involved as a 37-1 outsider. The final time was a swift 1:09.19. Prince of Monaco, a Speightstown colt trained by Bob Baffert, rated kindly in the Best Pal after showing sharp early speed in his winning Los Al debut. He will probably meet Muth again in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 10.
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