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Bosque Redondo enters Classic fray
DEL MAR, Calif. - The starting field for Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic grew in size, and the potential for more speed increased as well, when trainer Paco Gonzalez said that Bosque Redondo would join stablemate Came Home in the Classic, Del Mar's richest race of the season.
The marquee horse for the Pacific Classic is the speedy War Emblem, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner, whose status for the race will be determined after a workout Tuesday morning, according to trainer Bob Baffert. Bosque Redondo, Gonzalez candidly admitted, will be in the race to ensure a fast pace, sparing Came Home that dirty work.
"We're going to send him," Gonzalez said of Bosque Redondo. "That's the only way he runs. Came Home can sit a couple lengths behind. Came Home is easy to rate."
Bosque Redondo finished last of eight in the San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles here on Aug. 4. Before that, however, he was second to Milwaukee Brew in the Californian Stakes, finishing in front of Momentum, and was second to Sky Jack in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap. Milwaukee Brew, Momentum, and Sky Jack all are scheduled to run in the Pacific Classic.
"The last time, he was wide, and everybody was go, go, go," Gonzalez said. "This time, it's a mile and a quarter. The pace is different. You can throw out his last race. He can run back to his two races before that."
Gonzalez said David Flores would ride Bosque Redondo, but trainer Ron McAnally said he was going to ride Flores on Tapatio. Jim Pegram, Flores's agent, said Monday morning that both Gonzalez and McAnally had inquired about Flores's services, but that he had not yet given a call to either trainer.
McAnally said he will run both Tapatio and Jimmy Z. He also might run Seinne, who is owned by Nelson Bunker Hunt and who worked six furlongs in 1:13.40 Monday. Another Hunt-owned horse, the South American import Oh Take, worked six furlongs Monday in 1:13.60 with jockey Goncalino Almeida, but McAnally said Oh Take came back from the workout with "crap running out of his nose."
Milwaukee Brew and Sky Jack both worked on Sunday. Milwaukee Brew, with exercise rider Marco Ramirez, was timed in 1:13.20 for six furlongs. Sky Jack zipped five furlongs in 59.80 with jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.
"He went really good, for a horse who never really impresses when he works," said Doug O'Neill, who trains Sky Jack. "Laffit was really happy. We're running."
Also set for the race is Arbiter, who worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 on Sunday morning with jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. The other runners expected to go in the Pacific Classic are Bonus Pack, Grey Memo, Pleasantly Perfect, and perhaps Speedy Pick.
War Emblem galloped on the main track on Monday. On Sunday afternoon, he had schooling session in the Del Mar paddock with the runners in that day's fourth race. He made a grand appearance, his black coat looking far more robust than it did this spring.
O'Neill strikes with import
O'Neill picked up a little pocket change one week before the Pacific Classic when his recent Argentine import, Avanzado, scored a front-running victory at 12-1 in Sunday's third race.
For Avanzado, it was his first start in this country after winning five of 15 races in Argentina, where he was third in a Group 1 sprint. Since Avanzado was out of allowance conditions, and since O'Neill was not sure Avanzado was up to handling stakes-class runners, he and owner Michael Cooper's Cees Stable risked him for a $62,500 claiming price. Fortunately for them, there were no takers after Avanzado zipped six furlongs in 1:08.93.
"He didn't have any conditions, so we ran him for a tag," O'Neill said. "I don't think they paid much more for him than the claiming price. It's so hard to translate that form. He had trained well, but there's no way I thought he'd go 1:08 and four-fifths."
O'Neill said Avanzado, who has been in this country for just four months, was sick when he first was in quarantine at Hollywood Park. "But that's not that uncommon," O'Neill said.
Avanzado was purchased privately in Argentina for Cooper by bloodstock agent John Fulton, the former trainer who is active in the South American bloodstock market.
Black Ruby to race at Del Mar
The popular mule Black Ruby will meet arch rival Taz in a match race at Del Mar on Sept. 8. There will be no wagering on the race. According to John Harris, a member of the California Horse Racing Board, "You technically can't have wagering on mule races other than at fairs."
Harris, however, was disappointed that Del Mar chose not to offer simulcast wagering on Black Ruby's race at Ferndale on Sunday. Black Ruby was in the eighth race, and while the seventh and ninth races appeared in the Del Mar program, there was a house ad in place of the eighth race.
"The CHRB is going to look into it," said Harris, who owned a mule that faced Black Ruby on Sunday. "When you have a horse as popular as Black Ruby, it's a disservice not to at least allow exotic wagering on the race."
Craig Fravel, Del Mar's executive vice-president, said allowing exacta betting only was not an option, since Ferndale's menu offered win, place, and show betting, too. Last year, when Black Ruby raced in the summer, Del Mar suffered major hits on outsized show wagers that created significant minus pools.
"We could either take the wagering menu as offered by Ferndale, or not at all," Fravel said. "If it was just exacta wagering, we would have offered it. There's no question Black Ruby is very interesting. But last year, certain mule races cost us and the horsemen $250,000 each in revenue and purse money. Considering the size of the fields, and the lack of competitiveness, we decided the risk wasn't worth it."
Black Ruby won Sunday's race, her 47th victory in 53 starts.
* Saturday's attendance of 30,723 was the biggest at the track for a day other than opening day or Pacific Classic day. The lures were a microbrew festival and a post-race concert by the Violent Femmes.
* Jockey David Flores was fined $300 for hitting a horse on the flank during a race and causing a break in the skin.