08/25/2008 11:00PM

Clement barn hunts turf stakes twin bill


DEL MAR, Calif. - Nicholas Bachalard is caring for six horses at the far end of a barn near the northwestern end of Del Mar's stable area. He's about as far from the track as one can get, but this weekend, he will be front and center.

Bachalard is the Del Mar-based assistant to trainer Christophe Clement, who will seek a sweep of this weekend's grass stakes at Del Mar. Most notable is an appearance by Gio Ponti, the best 3-year-old turf horse based in North America, on Sunday in the Grade 2, $350,000 Del Mar Derby. On Saturday, Bachalard will saddle the mare Vacare in the Grade 2, $200,000 Palomar Handicap for female turf runners.

Gio Ponti most recently won the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs. He has won four times in five starts, his lone loss the result of a brutal trip, and boggy conditions, in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last October at Monmouth Park.

"He just got here yesterday and jogged this morning," Bachalard said Tuesday morning. "He came on the same plane with Colonel John. Chris likes him a lot. And he thinks he might be even better next year."

Garrett Gomez, who has ridden Gio Ponti in both his starts this year, has the mount. Gio Ponti's rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Derby are expected to include EZ Dreamer, Kilderry, Madeo, Nownownow, Sky Cape, Tangled Tango, and Tiz West, and possibly Blue Chagall and Yankee Bravo.

Vacare, who won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland two years ago, is trying to return to her best form following two disappointing starts this year. She was eighth of 10 in the Just a Game at Belmont Park, then fourth of 10 in the Diana at Saratoga.

The 1 1/16-mile Palomar is also expected to include Ainamaa, America's Friend, Bel Air Sizzle, Forest Melody, Gula Gold, Kris' Sis, Moujane, and Zardana, and possibly Live Life.

Bachalard also oversees the training of the top sprinter In Summation, who was fourth in the Pat O'Brien on Sunday.

"Seven furlongs was a little too far," Bachalard said. "He'll run next in the Ancient Title," a six-furlong race Sept. 27 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Tough Tiz's Sis leaves for New York

Though nominated to the Palomar, Tough Tiz's Sis will not make her turf debut in that race, trainer Bob Baffert said.

"She left here this morning for New York. She's going to run in the Ruffian," Baffert said Tuesday of the Grade 1 race Sept. 6 at Belmont Park. He added, joking, "I was either going to run her in the Bustles and Bows at Fairplex, or the Ruffian."

Baffert said Tough Tiz's Sis would run against his champion filly Indian Blessing in the Ruffian.

Sherlock savors Saratoga victory

Gary Sherlock was back at Del Mar on Tuesday, accepting congratulations from fellow trainers for his victory with Intangaroo in the Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga on Sunday. Intangaroo was the first horse Sherlock had ever started at Saratoga. Including previous victories in the Humana Distaff and Santa Monica Handicap, Intangaroo has now won three Grade 1 races this year at three different racetracks.

"I'm gonna quit. I'm 1 for 1 at Saratoga and 1 for 1 at Churchill Downs," Sherlock said.

Sherlock said Intangaroo would head straight into the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita.

"That's the exact same spacing as this last one. Eight weeks, eight weeks, eight weeks," Sherlock said. "Hopefully I'll do as good a job this eight weeks as the last one."

Sherlock said he and owner Tom Grether chose the Ballerina to keep Intangaroo "on a national stage."

"It helps her Eclipse status," Sherlock said.

Sherlock returned to training only two years ago. For a decade, he sold equine insurance, and was one of the catalysts behind reforming California's workers' compensation insurance.

The first crop of 2-year-olds Sherlock began training two years ago include Intangaroo, whom Sherlock purchased for owner Tom Grether for $37,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale. "This justifies coming back after being away for 10 years," said Sherlock, who currently trains 16 horses.

Daytona done in by pace

Trainer Dan Hendricks believes Daytona could have won the Del Mar Mile on Sunday with a little more patient handling. Under Alex Solis, Daytona pressed a pace of 22.51 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.06 seconds for a half-mile, surged to the lead through six furlongs in 1:09.01 - meaning he ran his third quarter-mile in less than 23 seconds - then tired in the final yards to finish fourth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by Whatsthescript, who covered one mile on turf in 1:32.40.

"He scoped clean and came out of the race well," Hendricks said. "I just didn't expect to have to go that fast. Any slower, and I think we win."

Daytona is scheduled to make his next start in the Breeders' Cup Mile on turf on Oct. 25.

Colt prompts unusual enthusiasm

Trainer Richard Mandella is not one to get overly excited about his horses, so it may prove profitable to heed his advice on Times Gone By, a colt by Giant's Causeway who won his long-awaited debut on Saturday in a 6 1/2-furlong race against maidens.

Times Gone By, 3, was purchased as a yearling for $1.9 million by owner B. Wayne Hughes. Despite a strong series of works, he paid $22.20 on Saturday.

"He's just a gorgeous horse. He can really run," Mandella said. "He always trained like a really good horse. I just had a few little things that kept him from getting to the races. He shin-bucked working with Horse Greeley in December. Hopefully, he's got all that behind him now. I think he's got a big future."

Record payoff in superexotic

There was one winning ticket in the super high five on Monday, resulting in a record payoff of $437,893.40. A 52-1 shot, Kiamika, won the 12-horse race. An 80-1 shot, Continental Dancer, finished fourth, and favored Jane Doe finished down the track.

No one had hit the wager - which requires selecting the first five finishers, in exact order, in the day's final race - on Saturday or Sunday, resulting in a carryover of $155,430 into Monday's race. Another $356,251 was bet into the pool on Monday.

The winning ticket was purchased through a hub in Lewiston, Maine, a site used to pool several simulcast outlets in the Caribbean.

Cal Cup possible for Unzip Me

Unzip Me, who defeated 2-year-old maiden fillies in her debut on Saturday, could make her next start in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 5 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, according to trainer Marty Jones.

"She's a nice filly. We've been high on her, but I didn't know if she might need a race or two to be at her best," Jones said of Unzip Me, who is by City Zip. "It turned out she was ready to go."

* Two Step Salsa, preparing for Monday's Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park, worked four furlongs in 48.80 seconds on Tuesday at Del Mar for trainer Julio Canani.

* Midshipman flew five furlongs in 58.80 seconds for Baffert in preparation for the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3.

* Trainer Bruce Headley said the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile would be the next major goal for Surf Cat, who finished sixth in the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic on Sunday. Surf Cat will prep for the Breeders' Cup in the 1 1/8-mile Goodwood Stakes on Sept. 27 at Santa Anita, Headley said.