Published Saturday, December 2nd, 2023   ( 6 months ago )

Stable Notes
December 2, 2023

By Jim Charvat

Regal Glory | Benoit Photo

Regal Glory © Benoit Photo 


Saving the best for last. It’s always a nice way to wrap things up. In this case it’s the 43rd running of the G1 Matriarch, the final stakes race of the 2023 Bing Crosby Season and it has attracted a strong field of fillies and mares, ready to go one mile on the turf.

Absent from this year’s race is Regal Glory, winner of the past two runnings of the Matriarch. She’s been retired and is making babies. But her trainer, Chad Brown, is back and with as strong a hand as ever.

Brown has won the Matriarch three years running and five of the last six years. This year he’s shipped in four horses from his east coast base, all bringing impressive credentials to Del Mar.

Whitebeam heads up the contingent. Already a Grade I winner in 2023, the daughter of Caravaggio, by Scat Daddy, is owned and was bred by Juddmonte Farms. She made her U.S. debut in April when she ran a close second in the $100,000 Plenty of Grace Stakes at Aqueduct. Brown then sent her to Pimlico where she won the G3 Gallorette on Preakness Day followed by a victory in the G1 Diana at Saratoga in July, when she nailed her stablemate, In Italian, in the final jump.

The only blemish on her resume came last out when she ran fourth in the G1 First Lady at Keeneland.

“Her last race was disappointing,” Brown says of the Matriarch’s morning line favorite. “Flavien Prat came back and felt that she really wasn’t happy down inside and covered up. It just wasn’t the trip like the Diana when she was in the clear. So we’ll kind of work out a different trip for her this time.”

Brown also sends out Surge Capacity, a daughter of Flintshire who put in an eye-popping run in the G3 Valley View last out at Keeneland.

“She had a lot of trouble in there and really had no business recovering and winning that race,” Brown notes. “Most horses wouldn’t have been able to do it. She’s a very talented horse. She’s a 3-year-old and facing older so that will be a challenge for her but she drew a good post and hopefully works out a good trip.”

Fluffy Socks returns to California where she has run at least once a year since she was a 2-year-old and won the G3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar in 2020.

“There’s a lot of pace in the race and it could set up very well for her,” Brown says. “The main reason for going out there, besides being a Grade 1, is that she has done well in California.”

Brown’s fourth entry in the race is Beaute Cachee, a French-bred who has finished first or second in all four of her races since coming to the states this year.

Brown doesn’t have a corner on the market when it comes to shippers running in the Matriarch. Trainer Bill Mott has sent out Wakanaka, a hard hitting 5-year-old who has been sprinting in her last three races.

The ‘locals’ in the Matriarch are also formidable. Queen Goddess won last year’s G1 American Oaks at Santa Anita. The daughter of Empire Maker came back from a five-month layoff in November and just missed to Closing Remarks in the G2 Goldikova at Santa Anita.

”She ran super and it looks like she’ll move forward off of that race,” trainer Michael McCarthy says.

Jockey Luis Saez flies in to ride her.

“He won the (G3) Pegasus (Filly and Mare Turf) on her earlier this year,” McCarthy says of Saez, “and he’s been nice enough to stick with her.”

Closing Remarks is back for the Matriarch. The Goldikova was her fourth Grade 2 victory of 2023, including wins in the Yellow Ribbon and the John Mabee during the Del Mar summer meet.

“She’s doing very, very well,” says trainer Carla Gaines. “We got a couple of nice works into her. She doesn’t have to do a lot because she’s been dancing every dance. This is the next logical step.”

The G1 Matriarch is Race 7 on the nine-race closing day card. Approximate post time is 3:30 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with jockeys and morning line odds: Elounda Queen (Hector Berrios, 30-1); Hamwood Flier (Antonio Fresu, 12-1); Surge Capacity (Joel Rosario, 8-1); Gracelund Gray (Mike Smith, 20-1); Whitebeam (Flavien Prat, 3-1); Beaute Cachee (Umberto Rispoli, 8-1); Ruby Nell (Edwin Maldonado, 8-1); Queen Goddess (4-1); Elm Drive (Ramon Vasquez, 20-1); Fluffy Socks (Irad Ortiz, Jr., 5-1); Closing Remarks (Juan Hernandez, 6-1), and Wakanaka (Jaime Spencer, 15-1).


The final day of the 2023 Turf Festival features two graded stakes, beginning with the G3 Cecil B. DeMille, a one mile test on the grass for 2-year-olds. Nine colts are ready to lock horns. Some have already tested stakes company with less than favorable results. Except one.

Lord Bullingdon broke his maiden last out in the $150,000 Qatar Golden Mile on the Friday Breeders’ Cup undercard. He’s a son of Lord Nelson and has run the one mile turf in three of his four career starts.

He made his debut in a dirt sprint at Los Alamitos, when he ran a distant second to Prince of Monaco, who would later win the G1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity. Lord Bullingdon followed that effort with a runner-up finish to Endlessly in the G3 Del Mar Juvenile Turf on closing day of the summer meet.

He then ran a troubled fifth in a maiden race at Santa Anita but rebounded with his winning effort in the Golden Mile, scoring by 3 ¾ lengths.

“He ran super that day,” trainer Michael McCarthy says. “He got a nice pace to run into. I’m not sure if we’ll get that same sort of set up but he’s training well.”

A horse that beat Lord Bullingdon in the October maiden race at Santa Anita is entered in the Cecil B. DeMille. Stay Hot broke his maiden in his third career start. Trainer Peter Eurton brought him back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and he finished 10th of 11.

“It was just too tough, for the time being,” Eurton says. “We had to use him a little bit more than I would have wanted early on to stay in a contentious position. But for all intents and purposes he didn’t get beat very far. We’ll just have to see if we can grow with that.”

Rothschild looked like a promising colt coming out of his maiden victory at Del Mar in August. So much so that trainer Tim Yakteen tried the son of Uncle Mo in the G1 Del Mar Futurity and then the G1 American Pharoah. The Cecil B. DeMille should be less deep than those last two races.

“The colt has really matured over the last couple of months,” Yakteen says. “We’re looking forward to seeing him on the grass. I think that might be his calling. With these young horses it’s a matter of finding what their optimum calling is. That’s what the process is, trying to find where they are going to perform at their best.”

The G3 Cecil B. DeMille is Race 5 on the nine-race Sunday card. It’s named after the film producer and director who is considered the founding father of American Cinema. Approximate post time for the stakes is 2:30 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with jockeys and morning line odds: Rothschild (Ramon Vasquez, 12-1); Miracle Mark (Diego Herrera, 5-1); Just a Guess (Mario Gutierrez, 12-1); Lord Bullingdon (Umberto Rispoli, 5/2); Invincible (Joel Rosario, 6-1); Charge for Gold (Ricky Gonzalez, 30-1); Deadpan (Flavien Prat, 6-1); Always On Cay (Mike Smith, 6-1), and Stay Hot (Antonio Fresu, 3-1).


The Turf Festival at Del Mar attracts more than top quality horses from around the country. It also brings in an all-star cast of jockeys.

Expected to fly-in and ride this weekend at the seaside oval are Joel Rosario, Tyler Gaffalione, Irad Ortiz Jr. and Luis Saez.

Rosario is no stranger to Del Mar. He won the riding title here in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He moved his tack back east in 2012 but he occasionally returns for the big money races. He’s scheduled to ride Circle of Trust in the Jimmy Durante; Redistricting in the Hollywood Derby; Invinsible in the Cecil B. DeMille and Surge Capacity in the Matriarch. He last raced here at Del Mar a year ago on closing day of the fall meet.

Gaffalione just won the Fall Meet riding title at Churchill Downs. He is currently second in the national jockey standings with 261 victories and earnings of over $29 million this year. He’s in to ride Daniel’s Magic in the Stormy Liberal; Go With Gusto in the Jimmy Durante, and Webslinger in the Hollywood Derby. He last raced at Del Mar in the Breeders Cup two years ago.

Irad Ortiz, Jr. has been the nation’s top jockey for the past six years and top money winner four of the past five years. And he leads both categories again this year with a month to go. He’s only named in one of the stakes races this weekend. He’ll be riding Fluffy Socks in the Matriarch. But he is named to ride on three other races on the Sunday card. Ortiz last raced at Del Mar at last year’s Turf Festival.

Luis Saez has been riding stateside since 2009 but he burst on the national scene in 2019 when his mount, Maximum Security, was disqualified in the Kentucky Derby. The way he handled the situation drew respect from throughout the racing world and it wasn’t long before he started winning marquee races across the country. He’s also only named on one stakes horse this weekend, Queen Goddess in the Matriarch Sunday. But he has other mounts throughout the day. He hasn’t raced at Del Mar since the Breeders’ Cup in 2021


The American Association of Equine Practitioners is holding its annual convention in San Diego this week. One of the convention activities was a visit to Del Mar. 110 people came out to the seaside oval, some visiting the track for the first time.

The hope is that some of them will like what they see and pursue a career at the racetrack, either as an attending veterinarian or on the regulatory side. There’s a shortage of track vets across the country and the problem will only get worse unless more students are encouraged to follow racetrack practice.

“We do need more veterinarians because we’ve increased the level of which there’s veterinarian involvement,” says Jeff Blea, the CHRB’s equine medical director. “But that’s not the problem. Most of society has moved away from an agrarian root. A lot of these kids have never touched a horse. That’s the reality. They don’t get those hands-on experiences unless they’re brought up on a farm or a ranch. But something like this might trigger them to think, ‘Hey, that’s what I want to do. I kind of like this.’”

Blea helped coordinated the field trip with Del Mar’s president and COO, Josh Rubinstein, and V.P of Racing, Tom Robbins.

“I brought up the idea that there will be students at the convention,” Blea says. “What if we brought some students up and let them see the racetrack. Expose the opportunities for these students in racetrack practice. They’re all equine focused.”

They originally set aside 25 spaces for the event but the demand far exceeded that.

“The buzz over this day was palpable,” Blea notes after spending time at the convention being held at the San Diego Convention Center downtown. “If we get 10 racetrack practitioners out of this, that come to the racetrack and embrace it, it’s a win.”

Judging by some of those who participated in the event, the interest is there. Belinda Von Breitenbach is a practitioner from New York who was visiting Del Mar for the first time.

“It’s awesome to see this many vets out here,” she says, “because there are so few equine students to begin with and then even fewer for racetracks. So it’s cool to get everybody out here.”

The group was escorted to various points of interest on the backside where they got to meet practicing racetrack veterinarians.

“We’ll go over to the testing barn,” Blea says. “We have a couple of veterinarians, Dr. Dana Stead and Dr. Brent Cassady, that are set up to do pre-race exams. Then we’re going to have them check out the barn area and then come back to the test barn where Dr. Nolton Pattio and Dr. Tim Grande will show them what they do, the chain of custody, drug testing, things like that.”

Some of those attending the event, like Abby Riley, won’t take a lot of convincing.

“I’m definitely going to do it,” she says. “I always loved horses. My parents say before I could talk I loved them. I went to Centenary University, a tiny little school in Hackettstown, New Jersey. They have a resident vet there and I got tons of experience just shadowing her. I knew I wanted to do equine but that solidified it.”         

Up to 17 area veterinarians donated their time to the event, including Dr. Chuck Jenkins and Dr. Alina Vale.

COOLING OUT: Jockey Geovanni Franco remains at 999 career wins going into Saturday’s races. He has five mounts on the card, including longshot Ms Brightside in the G3 Jimmy Durante…Trainer Peter Miller says C Z Rocket will race in 2024 at Oaklawn Park. The veteran racehorse will turn 10 this January. He won an allowance race at Del Mar last Saturday.


Del Mar Statistics

 Jockey Standings
(Current through December 1, 2023 Inclusive) 

Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% In-money% Money Won
Juan Hernandez 62 19 14 7 31% 65% $930,900
Flavien Prat 44 13 6 5 30% 55% $564,988
Antonio Fresu 69 9 16 16 13% 59% $752,960
Kyle Frey 60 6 11 6 10% 38% $307,836
Umberto Rispoli 46 6 8 5 13% 41% $385,700
Edwin Maldonado 44 6 6 6 14% 41% $335,380
Hector Berrios 25 5 2 5 20% 48% $343,452
Ramon Vazquez 36 4 4 5 11% 36% $280,400
Tiago Pereira 31 4 3 7 13% 45% $222,632
J.G. Torrealba 25 4 3 4 16% 44% $199,220


Trainer Standings
(Current through December 1, 2023 Inclusive) 

Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% In-money% Money Won
Philip D'Amato 44 11 7 6 25% 55% $672,020
Bob Baffert 23 8 2 2 35% 52% $429,488
Peter Miller 40 7 6 2 18% 38% $336,160
Doug F. O'Neill 41 6 8 9 15% 56% $373,848
George Papaprodromou 31 5 5 5 16% 48% $197,364
Robert B. Hess, Jr. 19 5 1 3 26% 47% $199,040
Steve R. Knapp 31 4 6 2 13% 39% $179,200
Richard E. Mandella 16 4 2 3 25% 56% $331,886
Mark Glatt 18 3 6 6 17% 83% $173,700
John W. Sadler 18 3 3 4 17% 56% $170,980


Winning Favorites Report
(Current through December 1, 2023 Inclusive) 

  Winning favorites -- 40 out of 95 -- 42.11%
Winning favorites on dirt -- 21 out of 46 -- 45.65%
Winning favorites on turf -- 19 out of 49 -- 38.78%
Winning odds-on favorites -- 17 out of 23 -- 73.91%
In-the-Money favorites -- 74 out of 95 -- 77.89%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites -- 20 out of 23 -- 86.96%