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Artiste Royal likely staying home
DEL MAR, Calif. - The choice for trainer Neil Drysdale was to take Artiste Royal to the Arlington Million on Aug. 8 or stay here at Del Mar for the Grade 1, $350,000 Eddie Read Handicap on Saturday. The Million is worth a lot more money. It's also shaping up as a far deeper race. So after Artiste Royal worked a sharp six furlongs on the Del Mar turf on Monday morning, Drysdale pretty much got the answer he needed.
"The chances are pretty good we'll stay here," Drysdale said. "The race in Chicago looks like it's coming up pretty tough. I thought his breeze was very good."
Artiste Royal worked in company with the filly Mrs. Kipling, who started off behind Artiste Royal but, being overanxious, rocketed past him down the backstretch. Artiste Royal was in a comfortable stride throughout and wound up finishing on even terms with Mrs. Kipling, though he looked to be going the easier of the two. He was timed in 1:15.40 around orange cones, known as dogs, that were placed in the middle of the course.
Instead of running against the likes of Gio Ponti, the division's leader, Artiste Royal will take on Awesome Gem (Alex Solis the rider), Dakota Phone (Garrett Gomez), Global Hunter (Corey Nakatani), Thorn Song (Mike Smith), and Whatsthescript (Joel Rosario) in the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read. Richard's Kid, who worked five furlongs on turf in 1:00.20 on Monday morning, also is possible for the race, trainer Bob Baffert said Monday.
Neither Drysdale nor Baffert had a firm commitment from a jockey for the Eddie Read.
Dakota Phone worked a half-mile on turf in 51 seconds for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
"He was moving really well," said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer's assistant.
Carlsbad looks good in turf try
At Del Mar, 3-year-old stakes racing is largely confined to the turf. Horses who have thrived on the main track can either remain on that surface and face older horses or move to the turf. Jeff Mullins is not about to put Carlsbad, the Hollywood Oaks winner, against Zenyatta, so he was hoping she would like the turf in a workout Monday.
She did. Carlsbad glided through a five-furlong drill in 1:01.60 under jockey Tyler Baze, giving Mullins encouragement to try Carlsbad on turf in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Clemente Handicap on Aug. 1.
"She really relaxes on the grass," Mullins said as Carlsbad breezed through the stretch.
Mrs. Kipling, who disappointed last time out in the American Oaks, also is pointing for the San Clemente, Drysdale said.
Response to injury to be reviewed
The response to a catastrophically injured horse on Sunday morning at Del Mar is being reviewed by officials at Del Mar, whose president, Joe Harper, was critical of the way the situation was handled.
Mad for Plaid, a maiden claimer trained by Peter Miller, was euthanized after fracturing her left front sesamoids following a workout Sunday morning. There was a long delay in reaching her. There was no outrider near the incident, a warning horn never sounded, and an ambulance did not arrive on the scene until several minutes passed. By the time the track was reopened for training, 25 minutes had elapsed.
"There's no excuse for this," said Harper, who is at the track each morning. "Everybody's pointing fingers right now. We'll get everybody in a room and see where the fingers point. We want to make sure this doesn't take so long."
The track's clockers said they had no radio with which to reach an outrider, even though the track has been open for training for a week. The clockers did not know why the horn did not sound when an attempt was made to activate it. Harper said there are four outriders on the track, and each is supposed to be positioned a quarter-mile from one another.
Mad for Plaid at one point got away from her handlers and tried to escape, but she could not get far on her injured leg. After being caught, she was given a heavy sedative on the track by a veterinarian, fell, then was pulled into the ambulance with a winch. The ambulance was an old trailer pulled by a tractor. The two high-tech ambulances used on this circuit were at Hollywood Park, whose closing day was Sunday. Those ambulances will be at Del Mar no later than Wednesday.
Dr. Rick Arthur, the equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, followed up by calling Miller and several witnesses. On Monday, he called the incident "unacceptable."
"It sounds like there were so many things not tied together," Arthur said.
Rosario wins first riding title at Hollywood
Joel Rosario's first riding title came at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. It will be difficult for him to repeat at Del Mar, according to the jockey's agent.
Vic Stauffer, the Hollywood Park announcer who doubles as an agent, predicted Sunday that 2008 Del Mar champion Rafael Bejarano is the rider to beat between Wednesday's opening day and closing day, Sept. 9.
"I'd make us the co-second choice," Stauffer said, listing Garrett Gomez as another rider to follow.
Stauffer noted that Bejarano lost six days to suspension and another five days to following the Triple Crown during the Hollywood Park meeting.
"We only missed three days," he said. "I understand the mathematics of that."
Rosario ended Hollywood Park with 79 winners, 10 more than Bejarano.
The runner-up finish by Bejarano ended his streak of six consecutive riding titles at major meetings in Southern California, a streak that began at the 2007-08 Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.
Bejarano has nine mounts on Wednesday's 10-race program at Del Mar, while Rosario has eight rides. In the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes, Rosario rides Rendezvous, while Bejarano rides Meteore.
Rosario will ride Unbridled Meeting in Friday's California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes and Whatsthescript in Saturday's $350,000 Eddie Read Handicap on turf.
"I'll be trying hard to be leading rider," Rosario said Sunday. "I think I have a good chance. If I work hard every day, let's see what happens."
Battle of Hastings has options for next start
Trainer Jeff Mullins is undecided where his star turf 3-year-old Battle of Hastings will make his next start, with races at Arlington Park or Del Mar possible.
Mullins's options include the $400,000 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 8 and the $350,000 Del Mar Derby over 1 1/8 miles on turf on Sept. 6. One factor is owner Michael House's residency in California.
"Mike lives here and he may just want to leave him here," Mullins said.
Saturday at Colonial Downs in Virginia, Battle of Hastings won the fourth stakes of his career in the Virginia Derby over 1 1/4 miles on turf. Battle of Hastings has won stakes ranging in distances from about 6 1/2 furlongs on Santa Anita's hillside turf course in March, the Grade 3 Baldwin Stakes, to 1 1/4 miles.
A winner of 6 of 11 starts and $906,592, Battle of Hastings is eligible for a $5 million bonus if he wins the Secretariat and the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 7. Known as the Grand Slam of Grass, the four-race series began with the Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial on Juneo20. The Virginia Derby was the second leg.
Mullins said Battle of Hastings will spend a few days in Kentucky this week before returning to California at the start of next week.
- additional reporting by Steve Andersen