Daniel Heerensperger’s classy and consistent Fire With Fire, topweighted at 123 pounds in recognition of a sterling race record, tops a field of a dozen distance-loving older horses Saturday in the 75th running of the Grade II $200,000 Del Mar Handicap at a mile and three-eighths over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
Fire With Fire won the Grade II Charlie Whittingham at Santa Anita in late May, his third victory in his last four starts including a triumph in the San Luis Rey Stakes. Regular rider Tyler Baze again has the call from Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale.
The Del Mar Handicap, oldest stakes in the history of the seaside track, dating to the inaugural season in l937, is a qualifying event in the Breeders’ Cup’s “Win and You’re In” series, with the winner earning an expenses-paid spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Among those taking on Fire With Fire Saturday are Irish Surf, a breezing winner of the Cougar II Handicap on the main track but also entered in the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic Sunday; the improving Big John B., a winner by 7 ¼ lengths at the Del Mar Handicap[ distance July 30; Bench Light, another who scored recently at 11 furlongs, and Chilean-bred Quick Casablanca, runner-up in the marathon San Juan Capistrano and narrowly beaten in the Whittingham before that.
Others in the line-up are Topic, Poshsky, Bright Thought, Starspangled Heat, Si Sage, Unbridled Command, Cogito, and, on the also-eligible list, Ice Cream Truck, who also is entered in the Pacific Classic.
Post time for the first race Saturday is 2 p.m.