Brill © Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
BRILL NARROWLY FAVORED ON DEBUTANTE MORNING LINE
Brill drew the No. 2 post position in a field of five and was established as the 8-5 favorite over 9-5 Bellafina on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line for Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante.
A $1 million purchase at the Fasig-Tipton July sale in 2017 by the O X O Equine LLC stable of Lawrence Best, the 2-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro made her racing debut at Del Mar on opening day of the summer meeting, July 18, and overcame a bobble at the start to win by 1 ¼ lengths. A series of works here since for the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee culminated with a bullet five furlongs in :59.80 last Saturday that was the best of 50 at the distance.
Bellafina, trained by Simon Callaghan for Kaleem Shah, was a convincing 4 ¼-length victress in the Sorrento Stakes, the major Debutante prep, on August 5.
Of the Debutante quintet, only Val Brinkerhoff-trained Watch Me Burn, who broke her maiden here on July 19 and advanced her local record to 2-for-2 on August 10, was at double-figure odds on the morning line. Watch Me Burn was a $10,000 supplemental entry to the event.
“We’re just taking a shot, maybe we can get a Grade I stakes placing on her,” Brinkerhoff said. “We had her nominated for the (Juvenile Fillies Turf) but it didn’t look like we’d be able to get in the race, so we decided to put her in (the Debutante) and try it.
“She’s a long shot, but it has happened before. She’s getting better and better. She’ll have to be a lot better to win the race, but she might. You never know.”
The field from the rail: Boujie Girl (Geovanni Franco, 8-1), Brill (Drayden Van Dyke, 8-5), Watch Me Burn (Alonso Quinonez, 15-1), Mother Mother (Joe Talamo, 2-1) and Bellafina (Flavien Prat 9-5).
The Debutante, which determines the meeting champion in the juvenile filly division, goes as the fourth race on an 11-race program that starts at 2 p.m.
CAMBODIA 5-2 FAVORITE IN FULL FIELD FOR SATURDAY’S MABEE
Cambodia, seeking to complete a Yellow Ribbon/John C. Mabee Stakes double for the second year in a row, was made the 5-2 morning line favorite in a field of 12 for Saturday’s 61st running of the event that bears the name of one of the founding members of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
Meet-leading rider Drayden Van Dyke will be aboard Cambodia, a 6-year-old daughter of War Front. Van Dyke entered the final week of the meeting with nine stakes victories. Tyler Baze, who booted home Creative Instinct in Wednesday’s Generous Portion Stakes to kick off the final week of the meeting, has seven stakes victories.
“Seven stakes wins and 24 overall wins, that’s a pretty good meet,” Baze’s agent, Craig O’Bryan, noted Thursday morning. “People are surprised, but if you look back he’s usually in the top three or four most meetings.
“He’s just a very good rider, very solid. He works hard and he doesn’t make too many mistakes. I thought he’d have a good meet, but you still have to be lucky.”
Baze has the mount on Cordiality for the Mabee.
“She just came off a good win in the Cal-bred (Solana Beach) Stakes. I don’t know if anybody can beat Cambodia in the Mabee, but we’ll give it a try.”
The field in post position order: Meal Ticket (Joe Talamo, 20-1), Sophie P (Kent Desormeaux, 10-1), Midnight Crossing (Brice Blanc, 20-1), Storm the Hill (Rafael Bejarano, 15-1), Fahan Mura (Edwin Maldonado, 4-1), Cordiality (Tyler Baze, 12-1), Cambodia (Drayden Van Dyke, 5-2), Achira (Gary Stevens, 15-1), Vasilika (Flavien Prat, 7-2), The Tulip (Mario Gutierrez, 15-1), Madame Stripes (Geovanni Franco, 8-1) and Cheekaboo (Tyler Conner, 20-1). Also eligible: Vagabond Princess (Martin Garcia, 20-1).
The Mabee will be the 10th on an 11-race program.
RIVER BOYNE TOPS 12 ENTERED FOR SUNDAY’S DEL MAR DERBY
Irish-bred River Boyne will seek a sixth straight victory in California, the fourth at the stakes level, when he takes on eleven rivals in Sunday’s $250,000 Del Mar Derby at 1 1/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
Trained by Jeff Mullins for Red Baron’s Barn LLC or Rancho Temescal LLC, River Boyne is fresh from a 1 ¼-length victory in the Grade III La Jolla Handicap here on August 5 and will retain the services of jockey Flavien Prat.
Two entered in the Derby will have competed in all three legs of Del Mar’s summer series for three-year-olds on turf. Restrainedvengence won the opening day Oceanside Stakes and was fifth of six in the La Jolla. Arawak was sixth of 14 in the Oceanside then ran second to River Boyne in the La Jolla.
Val Brinkerhoff trains Restrainedvengence.
“We found out a little something that was wrong in the last race (La Jolla) and we’ve fixed it. I know he’ll run better this time,” Brinkerhoff said.
Post positions were to be drawn later Thursday. The entries, in alphabetical order: Andesh (Geovanni Franco), Animosity (Tyler Conner), Arawak (Rafael Bejarano), Desert Stone (Tyler Gaffalione), Epical (Tyler Baze), Kazan (Martin Garcia), Majestic Eagle (Gary Stevens), Pubilius Syrus (Kent Desormeaux), Restrainedvengence (Evin Roman), Ride a Comet (Drayden Van Dyke), River Boyne (Flavien Prat) and Take the One O One (Joe Talamo).
JOCKEY TITLE RACE REMAINS CLOSE; TRAINER? NOT SO MUCH
Drayden Van Dyke won Wednesday’s first race and Flavien Prat answered with a victory in the second. That was it for winner’s circle visits by the top two in the jockey standings and Van Dyke retained a four-win lead over the defending summer season champion entering the final five days of the meeting.
Van Dyke has 34 wins from 130 mounts, Prat 30 from 113.
They were scheduled to ride the same five races on Thursday’s card and the head-to-head matchups are likely to occur in greater numbers down to the finish, especially with 11-race cards scheduled from Saturday through Monday.
“I think it’s a great thing,” said Derek Lawson, agent for Prat. “I think we’re going to tighten it up and we’re sure not going to roll over. He rides 11 races on Saturday, he’s never ridden 11 in his life, and he’ll ride close to that on Sunday and Monday.
“He’ll have time to recover when the meeting’s over.”
The numbers reflect Peter Miller’s dominance of the trainer race. The Encinitas resident has 30 wins from 90 starters and a 13-win margin over second place Doug O’Neill.
Miller needs three wins to top Bob Baffert’s 32 in 2000 for the most victories in a title season this century. Farrell Jones’ 35 wins in 1963 looks to be catchable for Miller, but all-time leader Red McDaniel’s 47 in 1954 might be a stretch.
Not that Miller won’t be trying. He has entered horses in the first nine races on Saturday’s card.
THIS YEAR, I’M SMOKIN COULD BE SHOWCASE FOR RUIS 2-YEAR-OLD
Ruis Racing LLC pulled off a major upset in the 2016 Del Mar Debutante when Union Strike ($17.40) trained by Shelbe Ruis, defeated American Cleopatra, a full sister to Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.
Last year Bolt d’Oro, ($9.80) trained by stable patriarch Mick Ruis, Sr., was a somewhat less surprising winner of the Del Mar Futurity.
With no Debutante or Futurity representatives in the coming weekend, it will be up to Eighty Proof in Friday’s $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes for California-breds to extend the heavily San Diego-connected stable’s string of juvenile stakes victories to cap its Del Mar summer season.
A homebred gelded son of Coil, Eighty Proof lived up to 5-2 favoritism with a 3 ½-length victory under Martin Garcia in his 5 ½-furlong racing debut on July 26. The I’m Smokin is at six furlongs.
“He’s been doing really well since the race,” Shelbe Ruis said. “There are a couple in there that have already gone six furlongs, so the question will be if he’s comfortable at six furlongs in his second start.”
The field from the rail: Listing (Mario Gutierrez, 10-1), Bea’s Boy (Heriberto Figueroa, 15-1), Oliver (Joe Talamo, 4-1), Hey Sal (Geovanni Franco, 10-1), Irish Heatwave (Kent Desormeaux, 6-1), Silken Prince (Flavien Prat, 5-2), Eighty Proof (Martin Garcia, 5-1), and Policy (Drayden Van Dyke, 3-1).
“THE ART OF OLD FRIENDS” BOOK SIGNING SATURDAY
Artist Dagmar Galleithner-Steiner and writer Jay Hovdey will be signing copies of their new book – “The Art of Old Friends” – Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. in the entranceway to the Turf Club/Clubhouse near the fountain.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the book will support the retired Thoroughbreds at Old Friends Farm in Kentucky, including such luminaries of the turf as Kentucky Derby/Preakness winners Silver Charm and War Emblem, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup, Santa Anita Handicap/Hollywood Gold Cup/TVG Pacific Classic winner Game On Dude and Barbaro’s full brother, Nicanor.
Joining the artist and writer for the signing will be Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and his wife Jill, as well as Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith.
Crafted over more than seven years, The Art of Old Friends showcases 47 stunning pastel paintings and pencil works by the renowned Galleithner-Steiner of horses both past and present, including racing heroes Charismatic, Black Tie Affair, Tinners Way, Sunshine Forever and Hidden Lake. Text in the book comes from Daily Racing Form executive columnist Hovdey and Michael Blowen, the founder of Old Friends.
Copies of The Art of Old Friends sell for $39.99.
Old Friends, a non-profit in Georgetown, KY, cares for more than 200 retired racehorses. It is open to the public daily and more information can be obtained on their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org
BONUS HANDICAPPING SEMINAR FOR CLOSING WEEKEND
There will be an extra handicapping seminar on Monday, closing day of the meeting, to go with the usual Saturday and Sunday offerings.
Rich Lochner of Today’s Racing Digest will provide the expert opinions and selections to kick things off on Saturday. Handicapper CC Rogers will do the honors as Frank Scatoni’s guest on Sunday. On Monday, John Bucalo, longtime man-about-racing who now represents Barona Casino, will handle the final day duties.
The seminars are held from 12:45-1:30 p.m. at the Seaside Terrace near the top of the stretch.
CLOSERS – Selected works from 98 on dirt and 12 on turf officially timed Thursday morning. Dirt – Royal Creed (4f, :47.60), Rubilinda (5f, 1:00.00), McKinzie (7f, 1:25.60); Turf – Fashion Business (4f, :51.40), Hunt (4f, :49.40), Majestic Eagle (4f, :51.60), Vexatious (5f, 1:02.60) …Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has been voted the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. Other award winners are: Donna Barton Brothers (Jim McKay Award for Excellence in Broadcasting), Jim Gluckson (Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing) and Marty McGee (Walter Haight Award for career excellence in turf writing).