The final weekend of racing at the summer Del Mar meet is more about the future than the track’s love of honoring the past. Four of the seven stakes races are for 2-year-olds and the winners will make the short list for the Breeders’ Cup in November.
The big one on Saturday is the Grade 1 $300,000 Del Mar Debutante for 2-year-old fillies going seven furlongs. The meet concludes Monday with the same race for colts.
Saturday’s Debutante is a short field of five horses, three of which are so close they are difficult to separate. Brill, for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is 8-5, Bellafina for Simon Callaghan is 9-5 and Mother Mother, for Bob Baffert, is 2-1. All won their last race and in the case of Brill and Mother Mother, their only race.
Drayden Van Dyke rode both of those horses and chose Brill, leaving Mother Mother for Joe Talamo.
Talamo, who has been racing for just over a decade, appears to be the second-call rider for Baffert, which gives him exposure to some of the best younger horses. Van Dyke seems to be getting the first call, unless Mike Smith wants to ride the horse.
“This meet [Baffert had] given me some very good opportunities,” Talamo said. “I’ve been working horses for him in the morning and I’m really pleased.”
Talamo has ridden 11 horses for Baffert this meeting, winning three races with two seconds and a third.
Mother Mother won her only race by 6 ½ lengths. Talamo has studied the replay a few times.
“She’s very professional,” Talamo said of the filly. “There was a horse inside of her that had some speed. But she drew off pretty professionally. [Saturday] is a pretty short field and you could make a case for all of them.”
Talamo might be a little sore this weekend, but there was no way he was going to give up a possible Breeders’ Cup mount. On Thursday, Talamo’s mount, Aggressivity, stumbled badly out of the gate, unseating Talamo. The gate crew got him to the side of the course and he walked to the ambulance. The horse was uninjured and finished the race riderless.
Talamo reported having a sore hip and was taken off his remaining mount Thursday, but he raced Friday.
“I’m excited any time you ride a good horse in a big race,” Talamo said.
Whichever horse wins, the logical next step is the Chandelier Stakes on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita.
Del Mar Futurity
Monday’s Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity lost a lot of its luster when Instagrand, who has won both his races by a combined 20 ¼ lengths, was not entered by Hollendorfer. The colt, a $1.2-million purchase, is considered by some to be the early favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Hollendorfer said there was nothing wrong with Instagrand; he just was looking for another spot for him. Hollendorfer does have Rowayton in the race, who won his only start by 1 ¾ lengths. Van Dyke has the ride.
Roadster, a $525,000 purchase running for Baffert, will get a lot of attention. He won his only start by 4 ¼ lengths. The morning line will not be established until Saturday, but it’s expected he’ll be the favorite. Smith picks up the ride.
Baffert has another horse in the race, Game Winner, who won his only race by 5 ¾ lengths. Joel Rosario rode him in that race, but no one has been declared on him for Monday’s race.
The next step for these colts, and maybe Instagrand, is the American Pharoah Stakes, also on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita. The race used to be called the FrontRunner. Three of the past four winners of this race are Bolt d’Oro, Nyquist and American Pharoah.
The rest of the weekend
The feature Sunday is the Del Mar Derby on the turf. River Boyne is the favorite in the race. The Jeff Mullins colt has won five of 10 lifetime and five of his last six races. Also, on Sunday is the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. An additional stakes Saturday is the John C. Mabee Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Monday has the Del Mar Juvenile Fillies turf and a minor stakes, the C.E.R.F., for fillies and mares.
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