Thursday, July 16th, 2015 ( 6 years ago )
July 16 2015
By Hank Wesch
D’AMATO OPENS MEETING WITH FAVORITE, FOND MEMORIES
Trainer Phil D’Amato has the 5-2 morning line favorite in Papacoolpapacool for today’s Oceanside Stakes, the traditional opening day feature of the summer meeting.
He has Barn “A” in the stable area that he inherited from Mike Mitchell last year when Del Mar’s all-time leading trainer turned the operation over to his 14-year assistant D’Amato.
And D’Amato has the memories of Mitchell, who passed away on April 14 after a long battle with cancer.
“I still call this the Mitchell barn,” D’Amato said. “It’s been that since I started to work for him. It meant a lot to take the torch from him and go forward (last year).
“It’s special. I saw Art Sherman this morning and thought about how Art Sherman and Mike used to joke around in the mornings. It brings back good memories and I feel like I’m just an extension of Mike’s great tutelage.”
Mitchell saddled 476 winners, 25 of them in stakes, in 37 Del Mar seasons. Mitchell passed Ron McAnally to become Del Mar’s leading trainer in 2011. Hall of Famer McAnally, still training at age 82, remains second with 441 Del Mar wins.
Papacoolpapacool, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Temple City, strung together three straight wins at Santa Anita, the last two in ungraded stakes from February through April. A trip to Pennsylvania for the Penn Derby didn’t work out as Papacoolpapacool, ridden by Elvis Trujillo, finished seventh of 11.
“I don’t know how much of it was the horse and how much was the pilot, but I know the instructions weren’t followed the way I envisioned,” D’Amato said. “We’ll see today. He’s training super and we’ve got a Hall of Famer on his back and we’ll go from there.”
The Hall of Famer would be Gary Stevens, who won the LaPuente in April in his only previous mount on the horse.
“He’s aptly named,” Stevens said. “He’s a cool one.”
TWO TOP JOCKS HAVE NEW AGENTS, HIGH HOPES
Rafael Bejarano, three-time defending Del Mar riding champion, and Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens enter the meeting with new agents and intentions of adding to their impressive Del Mar credentials.
Bejarano now has first-time agent Tora Yamaguchi, who left behind 14 years in the racing office to book assignments. Stevens recently went to veteran Ron Ebanks.
“I thought I’d be in the racing office forever, but when the opportunity came and it felt right I wanted to jump on it,” said Yamaguchi, 38, assistant racing secretary at Del Mar last year. “Everything fell into place. I’m very fortunate, I know this is a great opportunity and I want to do the best job that I can do.
“Not a lot of people get to start out with the leading rider on the circuit and I’m not going to take anything for granted. We’re going to make sure we keep him on top.”
Ebanks’ last Del Mar experience was as agent to Joel Rosario for the 2011 season. “We won the title winning the last race on the last day of the season,” Ebanks recalled.
Rosario moved to the East Coast. The affable Ebanks, 51, pursued other projects until he ran into Stevens at the track and was asked if he wanted to get back in the business.
“Gary and I have been friends for 28 years, he’s a Hall of Famer, an elite rider, so I said ‘sure,’” Ebanks said.
Stevens, 52, one year into a comeback from knee replacement surgery, said he is feeling great and looking to ride more than he has in recent meetings. Stevens notched his 5,000th career victory in February and is eighth on Del Mar’s stakes victory list with 82.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
A look at the champions of Del Mar in 2014 and their current status.
Horse of the Meeting and Top 3-year-old Shared Belief – Won the Santa Anita Handicap in February but was subsequently injured in the Charles Town Classic. Recently started on the walking phase of his recovery program, hopes are for a return to the races in 2016.
Older Horse and Grass Horse Tom’s Tribute – Retired after incurring an ankle injury in February and is at a Southern California farm with the possibility of entering stud in 2016.
Two-Year-Old American Pharaoh – Took racing to the heights becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years and will train here for a planned next start in the Aug. 2 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Two-Year-old Filly Sunset Glow – Still active, with a third in the Appalachian Stakes in April and second in the Wait a While in May. Nominated to Sunday’s $200,000 San Clemente Handicap here.
Three-Year-Old Filly Personal Diary – Competed in Grade I, II and III stakes in April, May and June with the best result a fourth-place finish. Entered in the Osunitas Stakes on Saturday.
Sprinter Goldencents – Retired to stud at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.
Older Filly or Mare Iotapa – Ended stellar racing career with a third in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and began broodmare career after going through the Keeneland sales ring the following week.
NOTE TO MEDIA: PADDOCK PASSES A MUST ON OPENING DAY
Passes will be required for any media members desiring to access the paddock before any Opening Day races. See Senior Media Coordinator Dan Smith.
AMERICAN PHAROAH’S ROUTINE
The first Triple Crown champion in 37 years arrived at Del Mar on Tuesday and was immediately settled into a routine which will be very closely followed (except one weekend workout day per week) while being prepared for a start in the $1 million Haskell Invitational on August 2 at Monmouth Park.
Here’s how the timetable went on Wednesday: 7:43 – Brought out of the stall, an “American Pharoah” identifying saddlecloth under the saddle, ready to go to the track. 7:50 – Heads for the track with exercise rider George Alvarez in the saddle and Bob Baffert assistant trainer Jim Barnes behind on his pony. (Duties temporarily halt as workers at the barns the “big horse” passes look on with respect). 7:55 – Enters at the gap on the seven-furlong chute on the backstretch and proceeds at an easy jog around the outside rail, counterclockwise and away from the speed workers along the rail. 8:00 – Exits at the gap where he entered and retraces steps to the Baffert barn. 8:05 – Commences 15 minutes of being walked around the stable area with obligatory stops for water. 8:20 – Led to the wash rack to be soaped and rinsed. 8:28 – A couple more walking laps and back to the stall.
FOURTH ANNUAL ‘RACE READY’ SALE JULY 25
For the fourth summer in a row, Barretts Sales will conduct a “race ready” racehorse sale at Del Mar, offering an opportunity for all – from first-time buyers to seasoned horsemen – to be involved in instant horse ownership and racing action at the seaside oval.
The sale, which will be held on the second Saturday of the meeting – July 25 -- will take place in the track’s picturesque paddock and begin approximately 20 minutes after the day’s final race has been run. A still-to-be-determined number of runners of all ages will be offered during the session.
California-based horses as well as out-of-state entrants are expected to be available for purchase. The out-of-staters – those horses who have been racing recently outside California – are eligible to immediately take part in the track’s highly popular “Ship and Win” program, now in its fifth year.
Barretts’ three previous “race ready” sales have gone from good to better to best at the track. The initial vendue in 2012 saw 25 horses sell for a total of $933,000, an average of $37,320. The 2013 session had 17 head bring $1,257,000, an average of $73,941. Last year’s auction had 19 runners bought for $2,147,000, an average of $113,000.
Those looking for further information about it, can visit Barretts website or contact Barretts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their staff also can be reached at (800) 467-7379, or by FAX at (909) 629-2155.
CLOSERS – Superb turf miler Obviously, unraced since finishing fifth after setting the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November, is being aimed to make his 2015 debut here. “He’s training forwardly. He’ll breeze five-eighths on the grass here Sunday and maybe we’ll see him later on in the Del Mar meeting,” trainer Phil D’Amato said. “When he’s ready to run, we’ll run him.” … The Del Mar meeting opens on a Thursday for the fifth time in track history. The previous ones were 2014, 1999, 1969 and 1956. On-track attendance was 28,410 in 1999 and 42,021 in 2014.
Thursday, July 16, 2015 Contact: Dan Smith 858-792-4226/Hank Wesch 858-755-1141 ext. 3793