DEL MAR : El Alerta Saves the Day for Desormeaux


Kent Desormeaux believed his most successful horse Wednesday was going to be Inner City, a 5-year-old running in the seventh race. The field was strong, especially favored Journalism, but Desormeaux and trainer Gary Jones had a good feeling.

“The whole camp,” Desormeaux said, “thought this was going to be a major, major turf player.”

But Inner City got his Irish up, literally, in the gate and finished last in a six-horse field.

The Jones camp had a two-horse entry in the eighth race, the $60,000-added Real Good Deal Stakes for 3-year-olds. But Luthier Fever was scratched, leaving El Alerta, the more lightly regarded of the two. The odds jumped from 3-1 to 5-1.


Desormeaux was on El Alerta.

In one of those twists that baffles bettors, El Alerta came from last place on the turn to beat favored Argolid by a neck.

“Maybe,” Desormeaux said, “this makes up a little bit for the last one.”

Why not Luthier Fever instead of El Alerta?


“Luthier Fever wants to go long,” Jones said. “I’ve got a better race for him next week.”

Why El Alerta?

“He’s green,” Jones said, “but he has some ability. He was running up north and he had some shin troubles. We brought him down and put him out and he’s been like a different horse.”

El Alerta raced twice at Hollywood Park, both maiden races, and won the second. This was not a major stakes victory, but it was definitely a step up.


“Hey,” Desormeaux said, “he still doesn’t know what’s going on. He has to learn everything because he doesn’t know anything. It’s really quite scary thinking how good he could be.”

El Alerta began as if he did not know he was in a race and was last behind a six-horse pack. He made his run wide around the last turn and caught Argolid at the wire.

“It set up nice for us,” Desormeaux said. “When I pushed the button, he said OK.”



Sardula, Del Mar’s horse of the meet in 1993 as a 2-year-old filly, will make her first start of the meet Sunday in the Del Mar Oaks, a Grade I invitational on the turf for 3-year-old fillies. She won the Del Mar Debutante last year and the Kentucky Oaks this year.

Owned by Jerry Moss and trained by Brian Mayberry, Sardula has earned $878,083. She has three workouts on Del Mar’s turf course, where she has not previously run. Her last race was a second to Lakeway in the Hollywood Oaks on July 10.

Though Sardula will undoubtedly be the favorite, the field also includes the first four finishers in the July 30 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. Work the Crowd, Pharma, Dancing Mirage and Malli Star were separated by three-quarters of a length. Twice The Vice, second to males in the Oceanside Stakes on opening day, will also run.



Sunday’s match race between Soviet Problem and Mamselle Bebette, a pair of 4-year-old mares sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs, will not be the first match race at Del Mar since Seabiscuit nipped Ligaroti in 1938.

A more recent match race was run one morning, an exact date has not been determined, without a crowd and without media. Security guards discouraged--unsuccessfully--a writer and photographer from witnessing the event.

This was one of those made-for-TV events, likely for either “You Asked For It” or “That’s Incredible,” and it matched Stanley Floyd, a world-class sprinter at the time, against a thoroughbred ridden by Pat Valenzuela. The race was run at 50 yards with Floyd running on a specially built track.

Though there was no parimutuel betting, it might have been interesting.


Floyd won.

Horse Racing Notes

Corey Nakatani has been named to ride Mamselle Bebette in the match race. . . . Eddie Delahoussaye is the regular rider for Sardula and Twice The Vice, but he has the call on Sardula in the Del Mar Oaks. . . . Saturday’s Pat O’Brien Breeders’ Cup Handicap, a Grade III event for 3-year-olds and up over seven furlongs, has come up a little light. Top-weighted Memo is not running and Slerp is scheduled to run Friday. Another early entrant, Journalism, ran Wednesday and was a runaway winner of the seventh race at even odds. Top-weighted now is Thirty Slews at 118 pounds.