By Hank Wesch
IT’S ALL RELATIVE, BUT DEL MAR CAN STILL SAY ‘OPENERS ‘R US’
On the morning after the opening day of the inaugural Bing Crosby Season, the positive feelings of Friday’s event could still be felt around the stable area and track.
The opening-day on-track crowd of 11,513 couldn’t, and shouldn’t, be compared to the upwards of 40,000 that has been the norm for summer season openers in years numbering in the 2000s.
But it dwarfed the 2,772 for the opener of the final Hollywood Park Fall meeting in 2013, the session Del Mar has replaced. Track officials reported that the Turf Club was sold out and 95 percent of the trackside tables were occupied.
The all-sources betting handle of $8,560,127 was 46.8 percent higher than Hollywood Park’s. “I think we had topped (Hollywood Park) by about the fifth race,” Del Mar Thoroughbred Club CEO and President Joe Harper said after the races..
“Just the flavor of the day was a winner in my book,” Harper said. “It was an enthusiastic crowd, a happy crowd.
“Standing down by the track and looking up into the stands – I think any track manager anywhere would have been pleased.”
Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella and trainer Barry Abrams, who saddled Unusual Taste to a $46.00 upset win in the second race, supported Harper’s opinion.
“For this time of year, it was as good as anything you can do, anywhere,” Mandella said.
“I was surprised they got as many as they did, and it was great to see it,” Abrams said. “It was a young crowd, a new crowd – I didn’t see a lot of the regulars I see at the other tracks – and a happy crowd. It felt like it was a leftover from the summer.
“Hopefully they had fun, which it looked like they were doing, and they’ll come back.”
OWENS HAS TRIBAL GAL READY FOR BETTY
Tribal Gal, a 4-year-old daughter of Tribal Rule, is the 7-2 morning line favorite for Sunday’s $100,000 Betty Grable Stakes, a 7-furlong sprint for older California-bred fillies and mares that is the first stake with a purse in the six-figure range of the meeting.
Tribal Gal has eight wins in 20 lifetime starts and comes into the race off a runner-up finish to Top Kisser in the Grade III L.A. Woman Stakes at Santa Anita a month ago. Before that, she had put together wins in ungraded stakes at Turf Paradise in Arizona in June and Los Alamitos in September. The Betty Grable will be an extra sixteenth of a mile longer than Tribal Gal, owned by John Pendergast and trained by R. Kory Owens, has tried in her life.
“She came off a little bit of a (June to September) break and it seems like she has matured,” Owens said by phone from Los Alamitos. “She has showed she might be able to run a little bit further.”
Tribal Gal has been ridden in her last two starts by Rafael Bejarano. But with Southern California’s leading rider sitting out a suspension, Victor Espinoza has the mount.
“Brian Beach (Espinoza’s agent) was the first to call me when we heard Bejarano got days,” Owens said. “I had named (Espinoza) on her for a race at Del Mar last summer then changed my mind and scratched her before the overnight (entries) even came out. So he called about getting the mount back.”
Tribal Gal will break from the outside post, a spot Owens said he prefers, in a field of nine. Tribal Gal is scheduled to board a van at 4 a.m. for the trip from Los Alamitos to Del Mar.
The Betty Grable field, from the rail out is: Meinertzhageni (Fernando Perez, 6-1), More Complexity (Mario Gutierrez, 6-1), Qiaona (Mike Smith, 6-1), Warren’s Veneda (Tyler Baze, 9-2), Swiss Lake Yodeler (Elvis Trujillo, 5-1), Sweet Marini (Martin Garcia, 5-1), Sudden Sunday (Drayden Van Dyke, 10-1), Mon Petite (Alonso Quinonez, 20-1) and Tribal Gal (Victor Espinoza, 7-2).
DESORMEAUX LOOKS TO REGAIN SUMMER FORM HERE
Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux conceded it was fair to say his return here last summer after a nine-year absence rejuvenated his career.
“There was a lot of hype and a lot of talk around the town,” Desormeaux said. “I got a lot of support from owners and trainers across the board. It’s a jockey’s dream to ride for everybody. I hope to be as competitive (this meeting) as I was during the summer.”
Desormeaux won 32 races, 10 behind leader Rafael Bejarano. Fourteen of those came for trainer R.B. (Bob) Hess, Jr. as a successful combination of the early 1990s was reunited.
The renaissance continued into the Santa Anita meeting until, in early October, Desormeaux was kicked in the chest by a horse and suffered fractured ribs. One month later, just in time for the Breeders’Cup, he was back riding.
Desormeaux’s return was climaxed by a victory aboard Texas Red in the $2 million Juvenile for his trainer/brother Keith.
Texas Red, who broke his maiden at Del Mar on August 20 in his third career start, rocketed from 10th place at the three-quarter mile mark to a 6 ½-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile race to become the top Eclipse Award candidate in the Juvenile category and early favorite for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
“That (injury) was horrifying and he came back really quickly,” Hess said. “ I thought the ride (on Texas Red) was brilliant where he let those guys go out (on the lead) and kill themselves while he laid back and just exploded.”
"Those kinds of horses make you look really smart and Keith and I both got to look really smart thanks to Texas Red.”
Desormeaux said he was flooded with thoughts of family in the moments after the Texas Red win.
“It was very emotional. I still keep getting a slide show in my mind of Keith and me growing up, competing against each other but, all the time, learning horse skills. It all came to fruition in that race and right afterward I was so happy for my brother and our whole family I couldn’t even think of myself.”
CROSBY WINNER BIG MACHER POSSIBLE FOR CARY GRANT
One week ago Big Macher, winner of last summer’s Bing Crosby Stakes, finished ninth in the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint after stumbling at the break. Fifteen days from now, the Richard Baltas-trained 4-year-old son of Beau Genius could be seen here in the $100,000 7-furlong Cary Grant Stakes for fellow California-breds.
“He came out of the race very good,” Baltas said earlier this week. “Had a bad break but ran a great race. I just (concluded) that I wasn’t supposed to win.”
The timing for the Cary Grant appears very favorable.
“He had two months off between the Del Mar races and the Breeders’ Cup,” Baltas pointed out. “He’s a fresh horse. He doesn’t need a rest. We’re not resting him.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME – LET IT RIDE STAKES
“Let It Ride” was the title of a 1989 movie comedy in which Richard Dreyfuss lives every horseplayer’s dream of a day in which he wins every bet he places. The film was based on the novel Good Vibes by Jay Cronley and was shot on location at Hialeah Park in Florida. .
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.
A quote from Bing at the start of his career, “If I'm going to get by in pictures, it's going to be as a singer, with about as much acting as you would expect from a guy standing in front of a microphone.” – Source,IMDb
CLOSERS -- Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who started his remarkable comeback from knee replacement surgery on July 25 at last week’s Breeders’ Cup, is scheduled to make his meeting debut with mounts on Sweeter Thancandy in the sixth for trainer Mark Glatt and I’ll Wrap It Up for Leandro Mora in the Let It Ride Stakes … Trainers Paddy Gallagher and Carla Gaines reported that Queen of The Sand and Gender Agenda, the 1-2 finishers in Friday’s Kathryn Crosby Stakes, both exited the race in good shape.
Friday, November 7, 2014 Contact: Dan Smith 858-792-4226/Hank Wesch 858-755-1141 ext. 3793