08/06/2010 3:35PM

Big bucks on display in Del Mar maiden race

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DEL MAR, Calif . - Between the first-time starters Blazing Along and Star Presence, owner Kaleem Shah has invested more than $1 million in 2-year-old fillies starting in Sunday’s sixth race at Del Mar.

The two fillies, both trained by Bob Baffert, have worked together in recent weeks. They will start as a strongly backed entry on Sunday in a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs.

“Star Presence seemed to work a little better than Blazing Along when they worked together,” Shah said on Friday morning, while watching workouts with Baffert. “She has more speed. Blazing Along may be better going longer.”

Star Presence, who has drawn the outside post in a field of 10, is a Forest Wildcat filly purchased for $450,000 at the Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale. She will be ridden by Martin Garcia.

Blazing Along was supposed to be ridden by Talamo. A replacement had not been named as of Friday morning. By Medaglia d’Oro, Blazing Along was purchased for $500,000 at the 2009 Saratoga yearling sale.

Sunday’s maiden race includes nine first-time starters, including two trained by Jerry Hollendorfer – Darly Concerned and Anniversary Girl.
Trainer Carla Gaines, whose stable won with five of its first eight starters at the meeting, starts Lofty Ambition, a Sky Mesa filly. Owned by John Harris, Lofty Ambition is out of Blind Ambition, the winner of the 2003 California Cup Distaff who won her career debut as a 4-year-old in 2002.

Shah is the president and founder of Virginia-based Calnet, an information and technology company. Shah has been active in acquiring bloodstock in recent years, and has spent considerable time in California. Saturday, his Concord Point was scheduled to start in the West Virginia Derby.

◗ Shah owns Smash, a Smart Strike colt who scored an impressive win against maidens at Hollywood Park on July 18. Smash was nominated for Sunday’s Best Pal Stakes but Baffert passed the race with him and said the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 8 is more likely.

“He worked well the other day, but he was real quiet,” Baffert said of Smash. “I don’t think he was himself. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t coming down with anything.”