DEL MAR : Twilight Agenda Wins by Two
Heading into the final two days of this meeting, one thing is certain.
Kent Desormeaux would like nothing more than to beat Pat Valenzuela and win the jockey title, and vice versa.
The riders, who won’t be getting together socially during the weeks before Oak Tree begins Oct. 2, have been fighting for the title Valenzuela won last year. They have been involved in a number of inquiries and were fined $100 apiece after a recent altercation in the jockey’s room.
Thanks to four victories Sunday, Valenzuela now has a two-winner lead in the standings, but Desormeaux won the afternoon’s top prize aboard Twilight Agenda.
The 7-10 favorite in the $206,950 Del Mar Budweiser Breeders’ Cup, the 5-year-old Devil’s Bag drew away when he finally found room and beat Opening Verse by two lengths.
Capping a perfect day for trainer Wayne Lukas--the stable won with all three horses it started--Twilight Agenda made it four victories in his last five starts and covered the mile in 1:34.
Locked down inside behind pacesetter Robyn Dancer by The Prime Minister, who was ridden by Valenzuela, Desormeaux was able to slip through approaching the quarter pole and from there the only suspense was who was going to finish second. Opening Verse, the early trailer, was up to beat Robyn Dancer by a half-length. The Prime Minister faded to fourth in his stakes debut and Jovial was last.
“Pat must have let (Robyn Dancer’s rider) Laffit Pincay know I was in there about five times,” said Desormeaux, in between trading verbal gibes with Valenzuela. “Pat rode a great race. Unfortunately, he choked a lot of the run out of his horse.
“I was worried right from the git-go the way this race shaped up. If Robyn Dancer didn’t come off the fence on the turn, I would have been in big trouble. But, he drifted out, like he usually does, and I was OK.
“I was pretty confident he’d win if he got through. He really picked up speed when he accelerated. He’s a big, strong horse. I like riding his kind.”
Second to Best Pal in the $1 million Pacific Classic, Twilight Agenda is almost certain to get another crack at 1 1/4 miles--in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs.
“We couldn’t have mapped it out any better,” said Randy Bradshaw, one of Lukas’ assistant trainers. “I got a little concerned for a minute, but I knew (Robyn Dancer) wears a blinker because he likes to drift out a bit. Patrick had us pinned in pretty good, I just hoped we could get through on the rail.
“I’m not sure what the plans are now. We’re looking to the Breeders’ Cup, of course. If he’s our best chance to get the $3 million then, he’ll be there.”
Lukas’ other wins Sunday came with Medium Cool in the third race and Navajo Pass, the $2.1 million yearling who broke her maiden in her third start in the sixth. Both were ridden by Valenzuela, who also won with Hat Girl and Ebonair.
A full sister to Terlingua and Pancho Villa, Navajo Pass ran the six furlongs in a pedestrian 1:11 1/5. In the day’s other maiden race for 2-year-olds, the California-bred Ebonair went in 1:09 3/5.
An overflow field of 12 2-year-olds was entered for Wednesday’s $288,500 Del Mar Futurity, the closing-day feature.
Only 10 will be allowed to start in the one-mile Futurity, so there are two also-eligibles--Roan Shark and the misplaced maiden Sevengreenpairs.
Scherando, the probable choice by virtue of his victories in the Hollywood Juvenile and the Balboa Stakes, drew post nine after working five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 Sunday morning.
“That’s about what I wanted out of him,” said trainer Richard Mulhall, whose colt will be trying two turns for the first time. “I’ve had him go a little slower in the beginning of his works and then had him pick it up at the end.
“He’s harder to train than he is to race because he gets rambunctious in the mornings and wants to run off. He’s not like that so much when he races.”
From the rail out, here’s the rest of the field for the Futurity: Sharp Bandit (Corey Nakatani), Star Recruit (Eddie Delahoussaye), Zurich (Gary Stevens), Bertrando (Alex Solis), Enter The Player (Laffit Pincay), Northern Tract (Roberto Gonzalez), Turbulent Kris (Pat Valenzuela), Spudabaker (David Flores), Big Sur (Chris McCarron), Roan Shark (Kent Desormeaux) and Sevengreenpairs (Hector Torres).
In the race before the Futurity, Golden Pheasant will make his first start since winning the 1990 Arlington Million. Gary Stevens, who rode him to the Million victory, will be aboard the 5-year-old son of Caro in the $55,000 classified allowance race at one mile on the turf.
Owned by Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall’s Summa Stable, Golden Pheasant fractured a cannon bone while preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He worked five furlongs in 59 4/5 Saturday.
Horse Racing Notes
Jockey Adalberto Lopez was taken into custody by Immigration and Naturalization Service officials Sunday after it was discovered he had an allegedly false resident alien card. Lopez, 26, was taken off his two mounts Sunday--Sharp Event in the second and Looie Capote in the sixth--and won’t ride the final two days of the meeting. The native of Mexico had seven victories from 101 chances at Del Mar. . . . Kent Desormeaux had two winners Sunday, the other coming with Liztoane in the seventh, and Frank Alvarado also had a double.