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Baze, Espinoza hit with whip fines
DEL MAR, Calif. - Jockeys Victor Espinoza and Tyler Baze have received substantial fines from Del Mar stewards for recent whip violations.
Baze was fined $2,500 for two incidents of hitting a horse on the flank and causing a break in the skin. According to steward George Slender, the incidents occurred aboard Presidential Pull, who finished fourth in the fifth race on Aug. 12, and Jack Grandi, who finished finished last in the seventh race on Aug. 16.
Espinoza was fined $2,000 and suspended for Monday, a decision that he intends to appeal. Espinoza has been fined repeatedly for whip violations. He was cited for his actions on Mabel Kent, who finished second in the fifth race on Aug. 15.
More violations could be announced over the weekend. Jockeys Garrett Gomez, Chris McCarron, and Macario Rodriguez were scheduled to meet with stewards over the same infractions and could face penalties.
Mabee times it right
Del Mar chairman John Mabee, who owns Golden Eagle Farm with his wife, Betty, has not attended the races as often this year as in years past because of a stroke. But he picked the right day to attend on Friday, when his filly Favorite Funtime led from start to finish in the $95,150 Piedra Foundation Handicap.
Favorite Funtime benefited from the early scratch of the graded stakes winner Feverish, the morning-line favorite. She set fractions of 22.68 seconds, 46.41, and 1:11.35, turned back bids from both Queenie Belle and Red Hot and Blue at the top of the stretch, and kicked clear, winning in 1:36.28 for one mile on a fast main track. She won by two lengths over Queenie Belle, with Red Hot and Blue another length back in third.
Favorite Funtime, the 2-1 second choice, paid $6 to win. Victor Espinoza rode Favorite Funtime for trainer Bob Baffert, who was in Saratoga on Friday.
John Mabee, who turned 80 on Tuesday, said he was thrilled with the win. "We had two losers, and then this one," he said in the winner's circle.
The victory was the fourth in seven starts for Favorite Funtime, and her second straight at Del Mar. A daughter of Seeking the Gold and the Youth mare Promising Girl, she was bred by the Mabees.
Tout Charmant returns
Tout Charmant, who won the Matriarch Stakes last November, will make her 2001 debut in Saturday's $150,000 Palomar Handicap, one of the highlights of the final full week of the meeting. The meeting concludes on Sept. 5.
Unraced this year due to a bout with colic, Tout Charmant is a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 27, according to trainer Ron McAnally.
"She's doing very good," McAnally said. "We're anxious to get with it. There's a very good chance for the Breeders' Cup, if all goes well."
The Grade 2 Palomar is run over 1 1/16 miles on turf for fillies and mares and is one of nine stakes run between Wednesday and Labor Day. The Palomar field is expected to include Paga, the winner of the Osunitas Handicap on Aug. 8.
Tranquility Lake, the winner of the Clement Hirsch Handicap on Aug. 5, probably will run in the Palomar. According to owner Marty Wygod, other options include the Ruffian Handicap at Belmont Park on Sept. 15 and the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 29.
Full field for Del Mar Derby
The richest race of the final week is the $300,000 Del Mar Derby on Labor Day over 1 1/8 miles on turf. The race is almost certain to have a full field of 10.
The candidates include Bayou the Moon, Blue Steller, Dr. Park, Euribor, Indygo Shiner, Marine, No Slip, Romanceishope, Sigfreto, Sligo Bay, and Top Hit.
Sigfreto and Dr. Park are guaranteed starting spots as winners of divisions of the Oceanside Stakes on July 18. If more than eight more horses are entered, the other spots in the field will be determined by a horse's graded or group stakes wins, graded or group placings, or earnings in non-claiming races.
In other stakes, El Corredor is the likely favorite in next Sunday's $250,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap. He won the Pat O'Brien Handicap over seven furlongs in his 2001 debut on Aug. 12. On Friday, Tamara Princess, a 3-year-old full-sister to Riboletta, the champion older female of 2000, makes her stakes debut in the restricted Torrey Pines Stakes.
Owner faces board hearing
The California Horse Racing Board has issued a complaint against owner Greg Long, who allegedly used his status as an owner to gain access to the backstretch and sell herbal products that trainers say caused drug positives in July and early August.
Long did not have a license to sell products on the backstretch, according to the CHRB. A hearing is scheduled before Del Mar stewards on Sept. 2. Long could be fined and suspended by the board.
Trainers have said that Long sold them Herbal Advantage, a product that the CHRB says contained the prohibited drugs phenylpropanolamine and norpseudoephedrine which are prohibited to appear in post-race tests. At least five trainers have been notified that they have had horses test positive for those medications. No complaints have been filed against those trainers, pending the results of second tests.
The CHRB conducted an independent analysis of Herbal Advantage before reaching its conclusion. The board has recently told trainers not to use Herbal Advantage.
Horsemen are saved increase
A $4 a day increase in stall rent at the San Luis Rey Downs training center in Bonsall, Calif., will be paid by a vanning and stabling committee administered by the organization that manages offtrack betting sites in Southern California.
Southern California Off-track Wagering Inc. will pay Magna Entertainment, the parent company of Santa Anita, which owns San Luis Rey Downs, $4 per day for each horse stabled at San Luis Rey Downs. The rate is scheduled to go from $8 to $12 on Sept. 1.
The arrangement was approved late Friday at a meeting of the stabling and vanning committee and will last through the end of the year.
Meetings are scheduled in September to find ways to provide long-term funding for San Luis Rey Downs, which currently receives far less money from the vanning and stabling committee than Fairplex Park at Pomona, the other off-track stabling location in Southern California.
In addition, owners with horses based at San Luis Rey Downs will continue to receive $650 for a horse's first start and $400 for each start thereafter, Baker said.
- additional reporting by Jay Privman