08/05/2011 2:14PM

Del Mar: Best Pal a proving ground for Creative Cause

Email
Benoit & Associates
Creative Cause makes his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Best Pal after airing in his debut.

DEL MAR, Calif. – It has been 15 years since owner Heinz Steinmann and trainer Mike Harrington won the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar with Swiss Yodeler, a five-time stakes winner in his career.

They may have a 2-year-old as good as, or better than, Swiss Yodeler this summer with Creative Cause, the likely favorite in Sunday’s $150,000 Best Pal Stakes.

Creative Cause has made one start, winning a five-furlong maiden race by 4 3/4 lengths in 56.90 seconds at Hollywood Park on July 16. Ridden by jockey Rafael Bejarano, Creative Cause broke from the rail, disputed the pace, and pulled clear through the stretch.

To some extent, the style of the win surprised Harrington.

“The horse just dragged him up there,” Harrington said. “I suppose Rafael let him run a little bit from the 1 hole.”

“This is two-turn horse. I don’t think he has to be a speed horse.”

Creative Cause has drawn post 2 in a field of seven in Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes, run over 6 1/2 furlongs. Harrington said the draw is not ideal, and that he could use this race to teach Creative Cause to run from off the pace.

“I would rather be on the outside,” Harrington said. “I’d like to teach him something and this is a good time to do it.”

The trainer is cognizant that Creative Cause may regress from his debut, but does not expect that to happen.

“A lot of horses that run big races first time don’t run that well the second time,” Harrington said. “He had a lot of foundation so I’ve not worried about it, but nevertheless . . .”

Steinmann bought Creative Cause privately during the spring, Harrington said. The colt is by top stallion Giant’s Causeway out of the multiple stakes winner and millionaire Dream of Summer.

Creative Cause’s maiden win caught the attention of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who starts Brigand and Night Tide, the second- and third-place finishers in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 17.

“Creative Cause is the horse to beat,” Baffert said. “He ran like a freak the other day. He looked pretty good.”

Earlier this week, Baffert downplayed the chances of his starters, worried about how they’ll handle the Polytrack synthetic surface.

“I want to give them one more race and then they’ll head back East,” he said. “They get tired on this track.”

Night Tide is likely to set the pace, but could be joined on the front by the maiden race winner I’ll Have Another. Trained by Doug O’Neill, I’ll Have Another won his debut by three-quarters of a length on July 3, leading throughout.

There are no stakes winners in the field of seven, but five runners are stakes placed. Galex and Mighty Moonsoon were second and third in the Everett Nevin Alameda County Stakes at Pleasanton on July 9 and Curfew Tower was third in the Chenery Stakes on turf at Colonial Downs on July 16. The Best Pal Stakes is Curfew Tower’s California debut.

If Creative Cause repeats his maiden race, he will be the colt to beat in the stretch. Harrington admits that the prospects for the colt on Sunday are exciting.

“I’m anxious to get it over with,” he said. “I’m getting pretty nervous. I’m not like Baffert and get 15 good ones a year. I get a good one every 15 years.”