Published Sunday, September 6th, 2015   ( 7 years ago )

Stable Notes
September 6 2015

 By Hank Wesch

In 2005, Doug O’Neill saddled the first and third-place winners in the Del Mar Futurity with 5-2 favorite Stevie Wonderboy five lengths clear of The Pharaoh crossing under the wire and Jealous Profit another length behind.
“I’d forgotten about Jealous Profit running third, but Stevie Wonderboy was a wonderful horse,” O’Neill said Sunday morning. “And being owned by (entertainment mogul) Merv Griffin added spice to the whole deal.”
The trip down memory lane was prompted by the fact that O’Neill is positioned for what would be his second win in the Grade I $300,000 event Monday. O’Neill will saddle 5-2 morning line favorite Nyquist, undefeated in two starts and a 5 ¼-length winner of the Futurity-prep Best Pal Stakes and Archaeo (20-1) a maiden making only his second career start.
Nyquist is owned by J. Paul Reddam, who owned Jealous Profit in 2005 and has become O’Neill’s major client. Looking back at Stevie Wonderboy, and ahead to Nyquist on Monday, O’Neill said there were both similarities and differences.
“They’re both very mentally mature,” O’Neill said. “I think any good young horse we’ve ever had was more mature mentally than the average baby. He (Nyquist) definitely falls into the category of being a good-minded colt.
“Stevie Wonderboy was a little bit bigger. (Nyquist) is a little better balanced and maybe more athletic. I’d say Nyquist is like a young Kobe Bryant and Stevie Wonderboy was maybe like a Pau Gasol. Just bigger.
“Both had minds of two-turn horses but leave the gate like sprinters. It’s a perfect combination.”
O’Neill followed the 2005 Futurity success with a second by Great Hunter in 2006 and Team O’Neill got another second with Know More in 2012 when assistant Leandro Mora saddled the colt while O’Neill was serving a suspension.
Besides the two runner-up finishes, O’Neill has had eight other Futurity starters, failing to have a representative in only 2009,  with the top results being fifth-place efforts by Basmati in 2011 and Henry’s Holiday in 2014.
On paper, it looks to be O’Neill’s best chance in a decade.
“This is a special colt, but when they’re lightly raced like that you never know,” O’Neill said. “There are some good ones in there and we’ll just have to see what happens.
“You don’t want to jinx yourself by talking coming into a race, but he’s training great and we’re excited. I wouldn’t trade places with anybody, that’s for sure.”
The field from the rail out:  Nightly News (Rafael Bejarano, 8-1), Annie’s Candy (Victor Espinoza, 10-1), Swipe (Kent Desormeaux, 4-1), Mt Veeder (Martin Garcia, 5-1), Nyquist (Mario Gutierrez, 5-2), Archaeo (James Graham, 20-1), Blameitonthelaw (Tyler Baze, 3-1) and Rockin Bayou (Mike Smith, 6-1).

Neither new owner Michael House nor trainer James “Fozzy” Stack had anything to do with the naming of Optimism And Hope, the 2-year-old filly they’ll send out Monday in the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf.
That would be the work of her original owner/breeder Michael Begley.
But in importing the filly from Ireland, House and Stack – the latter of whom is deputizing here for his father, Peter, the trainer of record – are exhibiting the very qualities stated in her name.
Optimism And Hope was fifth of nine in her debut, a maiden race with a $17,000 purse on June 19 at Limerick, Ireland, going seven furlong on a “right-handed” (opposite of U.S.) course.
Brought back two weeks later on the “left-handed” course at Bellewstown and stretched out to a mile, Optimism And Hope went straight to the front and held on when challenged over the last three furlongs to win by a nose.
Bellewstown is a village located in County Meath on the eastern Irish coast about 30 miles north of Dublin. It lays claim to having conducted racing since the 1700s and this year staged two meets, a three-day session July 2-4 and a two-day meet August 26-27.
Given that, Del Mar figures to be a huge climatic and cultural change for the filly whose sire (Holy Roman Emperor) and dam sire (Galileo) are Irish equine royalty. But the way she handled the long ship, arriving 10 days in advance of the race, and the subsequent orientation period is encouraging to Stack.
“She should fit well here, she likes fast ground. She looks well, she’s held her condition well and hopefully she’ll run her race,” Stack said.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who’ll be aboard Monday, was to “jump her out of the gate,” on Saturday, to prepare Optimism And Hope for racing American style. “The American horses tend to break more quickly from the gate than the European horses, and we hope to eliminate that, we don’t want to get left behind,” Stack said.
Away well, “She has a good turn of foot and she’ll stay,” Stack said.
The Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, in only its fourth running, can be a stepping stone to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf as it was for Clenor in 2013.
“Actually, she’s not Breeders’ Cup nominated,” Stack said. “We’ll see what happens Monday and go from there.”

Songbird, the impressive winner of Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante came out  of the race fine, as did stablemates Stays In Vegas (fifth) and Surfside Tiara (7th), Dan Ward, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, said Sunday morning.
They’ll all be departing soon for Santa Anita where Songbird will be prepared for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on October 30 at Keeneland in Kentucky, likely via a run in the Grade I Chandelier Stakes on September 26.
Stays In Vegas and Surfside Tiara, meanwhile, are likely to be pointed to races other than Songbird’s.
“They might both really like turf,” Ward said.
Trainer Peter Miller said that Hollywood Don, winner of the  $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf came out of the race “in fine fettle,” and would be pointed for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on October 31.
“I think he’s that quality,” Miller said.

Jerry Hollendorfer and Peter Miller, co-champions of the 2014 Summer Meeting, are engaged in a similar struggle for the training title with two days remaining.
Miller won three races, among them the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf, to move within one of Hollendorfer through eight races on Saturday’s card. Then Hollendorfer saddled Songbird to win the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante in the ninth to take a two-win advantage (22-20) into Sunday’s program.
Asked about the training race in the Debutante winner’s circle, Hollendorfer said “You know what, it’s not supposed to be easy, and it’s not.”
A year ago, Hollendorfer went into the penultimate day of the meeting with a 20-16 advantage. But Miller, who had a larger number of entries, won three on Labor Day and one on the Closing Day program two days later to forge the tie.
Miller has six entered Sunday. His lineup: 1st race, My Silver Cat (9-2) and Gold’s Venice (10-1); 6th race, Spindle (7-2); 8th race Tribal Again (8-1) and Got Even (8-1), 10th race Broadway Nika (6-1).
Hollendorfer has three entered Sunday. His lineup: 6th, Lemon Drop Sis (9-2), 8th, Skip Tony (3-1) and 9th, Thegirlinthatsong (12-1).
“It’s fun,” Miller said. “All you get is a trophy and some bragging rights, but we work hard for it. Jerry and I are good friends so it’s always good competition. We root for each other when we’re not in the same race.”          

Formerly called the Palomar Handicap at Del Mar from 1945 to 2011, today’s Grade II Yellow Ribbon Handicap was a major stakes event for older fillies and mares during the Oak Tree Racing Association meetings at Santa Anita for many years. Today’s race marks the fourth renewal at Del Mar.

 Today’s Del Mar Derby is the traditional championship race of the summer season for three-year-olds. Inaugurated in 1945, it was contested on the main track until 1970 when the stakes was moved to the infield grass course.

Today’s C.E.R.F. Stakes is named for the California Equine Retirement Foundation dedicated to providing homes for horses beyond their racing careers. The C.E.R.F. Ranch is located in Winchester, Ca.

The Triple Crown champion jogged the perimeter of the track solo under exercise rider George Alvarez. American Pharoah will parade through the walking ring and in front of the grandstand after Sunday’s fourth race.

CLOSERS – Three-time defending riding champion Rafael Bejarano kept his  pursuers  at bay with one win yesterday and, with 37 wins, is up by nine. Flavien Prat notched one win to maintain solo second with a two-win advantage (28-26) over Tyler Baze (two wins Saturday) and Joe Talamo … Selected works from 140 officially timed Sunday: Silentio (6f, 1:13.00), Dortmund (5f, 1:00.00), Wild Dude (4f, :50.00), Sharla Rae (4f, :51.20), Avanzare (4f, :50.60).

Jockey Standings
(Current Through Saturday, September 5, 2015 Inclusive)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 208 37 41 27 18% $2,376,138
Flavien Prat 179 28 27 26 16% $2,045,744
Tyler Baze 203 26 27 30 13% $1,628,500
Joseph Talamo 181 26 16 16 14% $1,543,648
Santiago Gonzalez 171 23 17 22 13% $1,306,546
Mario Gutierrez 131 23 15 12 18% $1,313,156
Kent Desormeaux 99 19 12 12 19% $959,904
Martin Garcia 136 18 14 16 13% $1,279,790
Corey Nakatani 87 16 11 4 18% $767,246
Victor Espinoza 96 13 15 13 14% $992,856
Trainer Standings
(Current Through Saturday, September 5, 2015 Inclusive)
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Jerry Hollendorfer 96 22 12 13 23% $1,506,762
Peter Miller 134 20 21 17 15% $1,339,990
Doug F. O'Neill 102 14 20 12 14% $1,171,760
Richard Baltas 73 14 7 14 19% $745,296
Philip D'Amato 81 13 10 13 16% $987,102
Bob Baffert 62 12 11 8 19% $1,006,520
Mike Puype 74 12 4 9 16% $660,090
John W. Sadler 57 11 4 5 19% $589,134
Robert B. Hess, Jr. 57 11 3 9 19% $379,202
Mark Glatt 60 8 6 7 13% $414,040
Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Saturday, September 5, 2015 Inclusive)
Winning favorites 102 334 30.54%
Wining favorites on dirt 74 226 32.74%
Winning favorites on turf 28 108 25.93%
Winning odds-on favorites 20 40 50.00%
In-the-Money favorites 193 334 57.78%
In-the-Money odds-on favorites 34 40 85.00%

Contact: Dan Smith 858-792-4226/Hank Wesch 858-755-1141 ext. 3793