Saturday, November 29th, 2014   ( 6 years ago )

Stable Notes Day 14
November 29 2014

By Hank Wesch
 

 
IF YOU KNEW, LEXIE LOU, YOU’D KNOW WHY SHE MIGHT COME THROUGH
 
Taking on Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome is a formidable assignment for any horse.
 
And by entering his 3-year-old filly Lexie Lou in both of the weekend’s $300,000 Grade I stakes -- Saturday’s Hollywood Derby and Sunday’s Matriarch – trainer Mark Casse gave himself an option to avoid a ‘Chrome confrontation.
 
But Casse has never wavered from the notion of sending the Canadian-bred daughter of Sligo Bay against whatever males might enter the 1 1/8 mile turf test of the Hollywood Derby. Not before, and not after California Chrome was committed to the race.
 
He figures the filly that was quickly and somewhat surprisingly acquired seven months ago has earned and deserves the chance.
 
“I ran (horses) against her a few times and, in fact, beat her as a 2-year-old,” Casse said.
 
Then, after a race in April, Gary Barber, one of Casse’s major clients, looked at Lexie Lou’s pedigree, envisioned success on the turf and authorized Casse to see about arranging a private purchase.
 
Casse called Lexie Lou’s connections, got a price, relayed it to Barber and got the OK to purchase. “In terms of the deal, it all happened within 15 minutes, and it was Gary’s idea,” Casse said.
 
Initially, a filly purchased with turf racing in mind thrived on the Polytrack at the Woodbine track near Toronto. She won the Woodbine Oaks in June and then the Queen’s Plate, first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, in June. The latter was the first win in the prestigious race for Casse, a six-time winner of the Sovereign Award as the country’s top trainer.
 
“We did a couple little tweaks, like taking the blinkers off, which seemed to make her settle a little bit,” Casse said. “She can get a little bit fired up.
 
“The other thing was, we found that by doing less with her makes her better. We changed her training schedule a little and the rest is history.”
 
Lexie Lou won her first start on the grass in August but was a disappointing last of 10 in the Canadian Stakes at the Toronto track as the 8-5 favorite in September. She bounced back with a victory in the Autumn Miss at Santa Anita on October 25.
 
When Del Mar’s track opened for training for the Bing Crosby Season, Lexie Lou was part of Casse’s early contingent and has had two  works over the Polytrack main surface.
 
“She’s thriving here,” said Randi Melton, Casse’s assistant. “She had one fluke of a race (Canadian) which we’ve written off because she came back in great form. She looks great and we’re very confident she’ll run her race (in the Hollywood Derby). If she’s good enough, we’ll find out. It’s up to her.”
 
Not possessing exceptional size, Lexie Lou makes up for it with intangibles.
 
“When you first see her she doesn’t wow you,” Melton said. “But when you look at her body, her mechanics are extraordinary. Then when you watch her train, she walks on the track like she owns it. It’s her demeanor, her heart and her mentality, the three things you need in a racehorse.”
 

 
WHAT'S IN A NAME -- HOLLYWOOD DERBY
 
Inaugurated in 1938, a Grade I since 1973 and run at different distances and surfaces, it remains the final major stakes of the year for 3-year-olds. Among the names on the list of previous winners are Triple Crown Champion Affirmed (1978), Riva Ridge (1972) and Swaps (1955).
 

 
HISTORY IS MOSTLY ON THE SIDE OF CALIFORNIA CHROME
 
California Chrome will be the seventh Kentucky Derby winner to subsequently race at Del Mar and the second Kentucky Derby/Preakness winner, following War Emblem in 2002, to race at the track in the year of those accomplishments.
 
For most of those who wore the blanket of roses on a first Saturday in May, Del Mar has provided another winning experience. But not all. Here’s the rundown.
 
Gato Del Sol (1982 Kentucky Derby winner) won the 1983 Cabrillo Handicap, a race which has since been discontinued.
Ferdinand (1986) won the 1987 Cabrillo Handicap.
Unbridled (1990) finished third in the inaugural Pacific Classic in 1991.
Silver Charm (1997) finished fifth and last in the 1998 San Diego Handicap.
War Emblem (2002) finished sixth in the 2002 Pacific Classic.
Giacomo (2005) won the 2006 San Diego Handicap.
 

 
CLEMENT’S DEL MAR DEBUT IS AN ENCORE FOR DISCREET MARQ
 
Christophe Clement-trained horses have won five stakes at Del Mar starting in 2002.
 
But those were all accomplished with assistant trainers the French-born conditioner dispatched from his New York base. Clement, 49, has come to Del Mar for  the first time, he acknowledged Saturday morning, and the place has left a good first impression.
 
“I’ve been really busy before, but this time, for the first fall meeting, I decided to come and it has been fun,” Clement said. “The track is great, the people have been very nice and obviously you’ve got amazing weather. So everything is good.”
 
Clement’s more than 20-year career of many stakes victories hit a high note in June when Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes. Clement, who journeyed to Southern California on Thursday evening, saddled Za Approval to a second-place finish in Friday’s Grade II $250,750 Seabiscuit Handicap and will send out Discreet Marq in Sunday’s Grade I $300,000 Matriarch Stakes.
 
Discreet Marq is the 7-2 second choice in a field of five. The 4-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat shipped here in August of last year and produced a 1 ¾-length victory in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks.
 
“She’s a very good filly, very consistent, a top-class (runner),” Clement said. “Her last race she won (Ticonderoga at Belmont) was for New York breds. She’s only run one disappointing race all year and that was the First Lady (sixth of nine in a Grade I event). Other than that she’s been very good, very consistent and I’m just lucky to have her.”
 
The Matriarch field, from the rail out is: Queen of The Sand (Mike Smith, 9-2), Strathnaver (Rafael Bejarano, 4-1), La Tia (Joel Rosario, 5-2), Kadaya (Kent Desormeaux, 20-1), Discreet Marq (Irad Ortiz, Jr., 7-2) and Lexie Lou  (Corey Nakatani, 3-1).
 

 
MILESTONE WATCH: SOLIS ON THE DOORSTEP OF 5,000
 
Jockey Alex Solis notched career victory No. 4,999 Friday when he guided Synnin ($10.60) to victory in the third race for trainer Howard Zucker.
 
Solis, 50, was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in August and returned to Southern California in September after several years based in the East and Midwest.
 
Solis is scheduled for six opportunities to achieve the milestone in the closing two days of the Bing Crosby Season. He is booked aboard Second Summer (2nd race, 15-1), Howdy (4th, 20-1) and Belle Et Bete (6th, 6-1) on Saturday’s card. His mounts on Sunday, closing day of the meeting, are Silver Spirit (2nd, 12-1), Perfect Set (3rd, 5-1) and Decisive Edge (4th, 6-1). 
 

 
WHAT'S IN A NAME -- NATIVE DIVER HANDICAP
 
The 36th running of the Native Diver will be at the track where the highly-popular  champion, owned by Mr.& Mrs. L.K. Shapiro and trained by M. E. "Buster" Millerick, won the San Diego Handicap three straight years from 1964 to 1966. Buried at Hollywood Park following his death in 1967, the remains of Native Diver were exhumed following the close of Hollywood Park and re-interred in the Del Mar infield. The Native Diver goes as the third race on Saturday’s card.
 

 
WHAT'S IN A NAME -- JIMMY DURANTE STAKES
 
The Miesque Stakes when held at Hollywood Park from 1997 to 2013, the one-mile run for 2-year-old fillies was renamed for the legendary comedian of the mid-20th Century. Durante, a Del Mar regular, broke up patrons with his antics on stage and screen and famously broke up a piano and tossed it over the Turf Club balcony in one late-night entertainment gathering. The Jimmy Durante goes as the sixth race on Saturday’s program.
 

 
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BING
 
For the inaugural Bing Crosby Season at Del Mar, we offer a daily note, quote or anecdote about the track’s founding father for whom the fall meeting is named.
 
Del Mar Senior Media Coordinator Dan Smith on a close encounter of the Bing kind in 1977. “We were in a meeting in the conference room and had heard that Bing had come here unexpectedly. It was a spur of the moment thing on his part. His son Nathaniel was playing in the Junior World Tournament at Torrey Pines. We missed him, but Ed Scoville, who was the plant superintendent at that time took him on a tour of the grounds and he was very impressed, very complimentary. That was his first trip back to Del Mar in many, many years.” Crosby had divested his interest in the track in 1946  in order to become a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.
 

 
FOOD BANK ACCEPTING DONATIONS ON SUNDAY
 
On Sunday, closing day of the Bing Crosby Season, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will welcome the San Diego Food Bank to Del Mar. 
 
Any guest that brings two non-perishable items will receive a free admission ticket. San Diego food bank staff will be located next to the Stretch Run entrance at the Diamond Club Sign Up tables and volunteers located inside the gates around Plaza De Mexico will also collect donations.
 

 
CLOSERS – Much is still to be determined regarding the meet titles in both the jockey and trainer categories. Victor Espinoza takes a one-win lead over Kent Desormeaux into the final two days with five other riders within three of Espinoza’s 10-victory total. Desormeaux, Joe Talamo (8 wins) and Drayden Van Dyke (7 wins) are booked on 13 mounts over the final two days, Espinoza, Elvis Trujillo (8 wins) and Tyler Baze (7) have 10 calls each … Peter Miller (12) holds a two-win lead over Mike Puype. Miller has 14 entered to the end of the meeting, Puype one each day.    
 

 
DEL MAR STATISTICS
 
Jockey Standings
(Current Through Friday, November 28, 2014 Inclusive)

Jockey

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

Money Won

Victor Espinoza

43

10

5

4

23%

$546,908

Kent Desormeaux

57

9

11

10

16%

$364,470

Elvis Trujillo

65

8

11

7

12%

$394,814

Joseph Talamo

44

8

4

3

18%

$375,598

Fernando Perez

45

8

2

7

18%

$242,750

Drayden Van Dyke

60

7

17

8

12%

$431,444

Tyler Baze

62

7

4

6

11%

$269,394

Rafael Bejarano

42

6

10

5

14%

$371,050

Alex Solis

19

6

2

3

32%

$184,050

Martin Pedroza

41

5

8

4

12%

$231,654

 
 
Trainer Standings
(Current Through Friday, November 28, 2014 Inclusive)

Trainer

Sts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

Money Won

Peter Miller

48

12

8

6

25%

$541,628

Mike Puype

38

10

3

3

26%

$386,882

Leandro Mora

47

5

4

8

11%

$195,864

John W. Sadler

30

5

3

4

17%

$215,040

Robert B. Hess, Jr.

28

4

9

3

14%

$158,650

Philip D'Amato

24

4

5

2

17%

$136,928

Peter Eurton

14

4

0

2

29%

$162,710

Bob Baffert

10

3

4

1

30%

$175,920

Mark E. Casse

11

3

3

0

27%

$293,140

Richard Baltas

18

3

2

2

17%

$160,760

 
 
Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Friday, November 28, 2014 Inclusive)
Winning favorites -- 34 out of 111 -- 30.63%
Winning favorites on Polytrack -- 21 out of 72 -- 29.17%
Winning favorites on turf -- 13 out of 39 -- 33.33% 
Winning odds-on favorites -- 3 out of 14 -- 21.43%
In-the-Money favorites -- 75 out of 111 -- 67.57%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites -- 9 out of 14 -- 64.29%
 

 
Saturday, November 29, 2014 Contact: Dan Smith 858-792-4226/Hank Wesch 858-755-1141 ext. 3793