It was Saratoga’s turn on the weekend with the running of the Grade 2 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes. Shanghai Bobby made it look easy with a 3 3/4 lengths win over favorite Fortify and Bern Identity. For Shanghai Bobby, it continued his winning streak as he is now 3 for 3 with wins on all three New York tracks. He won the Track Barron Stakes at Belmont Park on June 27 and his maiden score at Aqueduct on April 19. For Fortify, it was a solid effort to his maiden opener. He held off a game Bern Identity who suffered the loss after taking his maiden and Sanford Stakes (G2) in his last two races.
We switch gears and head out West for the final day of racing at the Del Mar summer meet. The feature race on the card is also for two year old colts and geldings. The Del Mar Futurity (G1) has a field of 11 colts and geldings along with one filly. The morning line favorite is the Leandro Mora (while Doug O’Neill is serving his suspension) trained Know More. Garrett Gomez will ride him again.
The Lion Heart colt won his debut in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on August 5. A nice way to introduce yourself to the racing World. Aside from lugging in down the stretch, this colt was extremely impressive coming from near the back of the field to win by 1/2 length. He was even 4 wide on the far turn and 3 wide at the top of the stretch.
Scherer Magic is back in action after finishing 5th in the Best Pal Stakes as the even money favorite. He had a rough trip after the break, then got shuffled back twice on the far turn and stretch turn. He was claimed for $50,000 by Owner Gary Barber and trainer John Sadler after winning his maiden debut by 7 1/4 lengths. The claim paid immediate dividends for the connections as he took home the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G3) to close out the BetFair Hollywood Park meet on July 14. Can he close out another meet with a win? Interesting to note that regular jockey Joe Talamo chose another mount. Corey Nakatani gets the nod.
There are a few horses coming into the Futurity off solid maiden wins. The first is the Bob Baffert trained Rolling Fog. Guided by leading rider Rafael Bejarano, The Posse colt sat off the early pace in the 5 1/2 furlongs sprint, then made a strong move as they turned for home. He cruised to a 2 1/4 lengths win. His final time was 1:04.65. Bejarano will ride him again.
Another John Sadler trained colt, Capo Bastone, was just as impressive as Rolling Fog in his debut. He came from last to first to win by a neck and posted a time of 1:03.98 for 5 1/2 furlongs. The time was quicker as the race was still in doubt until the last jump. So it’s tough to compare the times between these two. Will this Street Boss colt be able to achieve the same success going an additional 1 1/2 furlongs. I believe it will benefit him. Jockey John Velasquez comes in from New York to ride. That certainly helps his chances.
Joe Talamo decides to go with the Jeff Mullins trained Gabriel Charles instead of Scherer Magic. Should we read much into this? Well, he is having a solid meet and this colt had a nice debut on July 21. He too came from off the pace to get up and win by a nose at the wire. His final time of 1:04.48 is good, but nothing stellar. I like the recent workout on August 29 which had him go 59:40 for five furlongs. Not a bullet but certainly a sign that he is ready to go. Talamo must see something in this colt to jump off a horse that already has a stakes win on his resume.
The lone filly in here is Switch to the Lead. Trainer Patrick Biancone decides to test the boys after failing against the top filly on the grounds, Executiveprivilege. She had a good maiden debut going 6 furlongs, finishing in 1:10.48. However, in the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes, she was no match for the top filly as well as Speedinthruthecity who finished 2 1/2 and 3 3/4 lengths respectively in front of her. Jockey Julien Leparoux comes out West to take this ride. She is a solid filly, but this isn’t the place for her.
One of the maidens in the race that could pose a threat is the likely speed, Caballo Del Cielo. Trained by Jeff Bonde, a great sprinting trainer, this Songandprayer colt had the lead in his opener on August 12, but couldn’t hold off the late charge from He’s Had Enough. He lost by 1/2 length. That was going 6 1/2 furlongs. With the one race under his belt and battle tested against a good horse, he might be a threat to hang on late. That will only happen if he can get the lead and post moderate fractions. Jockey Mike Smith has been know for the occasional upset over his hall of fame career.
Here is the rest of the field:
Del Mar Futurity (G1) at Del Mar – $300,000 – Seven Furlongs – All Weather Track
1. Gabriel Charles (KY) – Joe Talamo – 118 – Jeff Mullins – 6/1
2. Capo Bastone (KY) – John Velazquez – 118 – John Sadler – 3/1
3. Switch to the Lead (KY) – Julien Leparoux – 115 – Patrick Biancone – 12/1
4. Yankee Rebel (KY) – Victor Espinoza – 116 – Robert Hess, Jr. – 20/1
5. Know More (KY) – Garrett Gomez – 122 – Leandro Mora – 5/2
6. Heir of Storm (FL) – Martin Garcia – 118 – Alexis Barba 8/1
7. The Whole Deal (KY) – Alonso Quinonez – 116 – Steve Knapp – 30/1
8. Pure Loyalty (FL) – David Flores – 116 – Mark Glatt – 30/1
9. Caballo Del Cielo (KY) – Mike Smith – 116 – Jeff Bonde – 12/1
10. Rolling Fog (FL) – Rafael Bejarano – 118 – Bob Baffert – 6/1
11. Scherer Magic (IA) – Corey Nakatani – 122 – John Sadler – 8/1
12. Ive Struck a Nerve (KY) – Jose Valdivia, Jr. – 116 – Keith Desormeaux – 30/1
I love the fact that Know More came out and won a stakes race in his racing debut. He will be tough again on Wednesday, as long as there is a decent pace setup for his late run. You have to include any top colt that comes from the Baffert barn. No matter what stage of their career, he has his horses ready to run come race day. That puts Rolling Fog into my predictions. As we mentioned above, he didn’t need to finish his opener strong. Bejarano had him under a hand ride with 1 1/16 mile to go. Look for him to challenge for the lead as they straighten out down the stretch. He is my favorite to win. Talamo didn’t switch mounts for no reason. He knows something or felt a difference between the colts that he has ridden. That says enough for me. I have Gabriel Charles in the equation. As always, I like to add some odds to a wager prediction. I don’t believe Caballo Del Cielo will have an easy trip early on up front, but he will have enough left in the tank to hang around to complete the board. I’m keeping Capo Bastone off my ticket.
1. Rolling Fog
2. Know More
3. Gabriel Charles
4. Caballo Del Cielo
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