Published Friday, December 1st, 2023   ( 6 months ago )

Brown Guns for Another Matriarch Sunday; 9 Go in "DeMille"

Fluffy Socks | Benoit Photo

Fluffy Socks © Benoit Photo

Del Mar will close up shop for the 2023 season Sunday, but first it is going to run a final nine-race card that afternoon that features a pair of nifty Graded stakes – the Grade I Matriarch and the Grade III Cecil B. DeMille.  

The Matriarch, which carries a $300,000 purse along with its top-of-the-line rating, has drawn a dozen fillies and mares headed by a foursome who have shipped west from the powerful Chad Brown barn. The four-time Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s best conditioner knows a thing or two about winning the Matriarch: he’s sent out the winners of five of the last six runnings of the mile turfer and it looks like he might have it surrounded again with his four-bagger of Whitebeam, Fluffy Socks, Surging Capacity and Beaute Cachee.

The DeMille, which provides a $100,000 prize and also is contested at a mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, has lured nine 2-year-olds topped by trainer Mike McCarthy’s gray colt named Lord Bullingdon, a smart stakes winner last out at Santa Anita on the Breeders’ Cup undercard at this same grass mile trip.

The Matriarch, which will be having its 43 running, goes as Race 7 on the nine-race card. The DeMille, being presented for the 42nd time, is Race 5 that afternoon. First post Sunday goes at the usual 12:30 p.m., meaning the DeMille should be off at around 2:30 p.m. and the Matriarch at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Brown’s potent quartet is led by Juddmonte’s Whitebeam,a gray daughter of the Scat Daddy sire Caravaggio bred by her owners in Britian. After racing well in England as a 3-year-old, she has fit right in stateside, notably with a score in the Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga this past summer. She’ll get the saddle services of Flavien Prat Sunday.

Also on the Brown roster are Head of Plains Partners’ 5-year-old mare Fluffy Socks, a millionaire homebred by the British sire Slumber who won the Jimmy Durante Stakes on the Del Mar lawn as a 2-year-old; Klaravich Stables’ homebred 3-year-old filly Surge Capacity, another multiple-stakes winner in the east, and Madaket, Dubb and Lazzinnaro’s Beaute Cachee, a French-bred 4-year-old who will be trying for her first graded stakes victory.

While Lord Bullingdon looms as the one to beat in the DeMille, he’ll be test by several of the other runners in the turf feature. Notable among that group is last-out maiden winner Miracle Mark, owned by the partnership of Slam Dunk Racing and Old Bones Racing, and conditioned by local turf star Phil D’Amato.

Here are the full fields for the pair of stakes in post position order with riders and morning line odds:

Matriarch Stakes – Living The Dream and Agave Racing Stable’s Elounda Queen (Hector Berrios, 30-1); Rockingham Ranch, Talla Racing, et al’s Hamwood Flier (Antonio Fresu, 12-1); Surge Capacity (Joel Rosario, 8-1); Gravenslund or Gravenslund’s Gracelund Gray (Mike Smith, 20-1); Whitebeam (3-1); Beaute Cachee (Umberto Rispoli, 8-1); Spendthrift Farm’s Ruby Nell (Edwin Maldonado, 8-1); Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber’s Queen Goddess (Luis Saez, 4-1); Little Red Feather Racing’s Elm Drive (Ramon Vazquez, 20-1); Fluffy Socks (Irad Ortiz, Jr., 5-1); Harris Farms’ Closing Remarks (Juan Hernandez, 6-1), and Team Valor International or Barber’s Wakanaka (Jamie Spencer, 15-1).

Cecil B. DeMille Stakes – SF Racing, Starlight Racing, et al’s Rothschild (Vazquez, 12-1); Miracle Mark (Diego Herrera, 5-1); Reddam Racing’s Just a Guess (Mario Gutierrez, 12-1); Lord Bullingdon (Rispoli, 5/2); Mark Davis’ Invincible (Rosario, 6-1); John Warren’s Charge for Gold (Ricardo Gonzalez, 30-1); D J Stable’s Deadpan (Prat, 6-1); Russell Tanz’s Always On Cay (Smith, 6-1), and Exline-Border Racing and Burns Racing’s Stay Hot (Fresu, 3-1).