11/27/2014 12:29PM

Blue Tone back on favorite surface for Native Diver

Benoit & Associates
Blue Tone has won three of four starts at Del Mar, including this summer's Harry F. Brubaker Stakes.

DEL MAR, Calif. – With his wins over Del Mar’s Polytrack during the summer, Blue Tone looked like a horse who was headed for graded stakes company. He disappointed in his most recent start, when racing on dirt at Santa Anita, but back on Polytrack, he seeks that elusive first graded stakes win Saturday in the Grade 3, $200,000 Native Diver Handicap for older horses.

Blue Tone has raced four times here, winning three. He won a second-level allowance and then the Harry Brubaker during the summer in consecutive starts after returning from a nine-month layoff. But in his last start, the Big Bear at Santa Anita, he wound up fourth after making a bid at eventual winner Regally Ready.

“I was a little bit disappointed with his last race,” his trainer, Bob Hess Jr., said Thursday. “I didn’t think he liked Del Mar any more than Santa Anita, but obviously he likes this track, and I think the distance is perfect for him.”

All three of Blue Tone’s races this year have been at one mile. The Native Diver is at 1 1/8 miles.

One edge Blue Tone may have over several of his rivals is that he has trained here all meet.

“It’s so quiet here,” Hess said. “He’s training really well. He’s a lot more relaxed. He wanted to pull at Santa Anita. He’s not pulling as much here, so he’s training better.”

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Blue Tone will have to be at his best, for he is meeting Big Cazanova, who set a pair of track records here during the summer, including at 1 1/8 miles. Big Cazanova also trains regularly at Del Mar.

Five others are entered, including the 3-year-old Tamarando, who won the Del Mar Futurity at age 2.


Blue Tone (Last 3 Beyers: 92-96-92)

He has the ability to go for the lead but seems better with a target and gets a scenario here where he should be able to track Big Cazanova.

Big Cazanova (Last 3 Beyers: 76-78-94)

His two wins here during the summer were absolutely freakish, so a return to Polytrack should suit him.

Although he had run well on dirt previously, his last two races were below par. He faded in the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup when ridden sympathetically, then tired in the Las Vegas Marathon when going 1 3/4 miles. Besides the return to Polytrack, a cutback in distance should help him.

Tamarando (Last 3 Beyers: 86-81-66)

After a layoff of 5 1/2 months, he tuned up in a downhill turf sprint at Santa Anita in preparation for this. That was his only start against older horses.

He has never finished worse than second in three starts on Polytrack here, but all those races were in sprints at age 2.