09/05/2011 12:05PM

Del Mar: Carbonite on middle ground

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Carbonite, the 5-year-old gelding trained by Mike Mitchell, has gone from claimer to Grade 1 runner this year, and on Wednesday lands somewhere in between.

He was claimed for $32,000 in May, and won a $50,000 claimer in June before finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar on July 31.

Mitchell debated whether to start Carbonite in another claiming race before Wednesday’s closing day of the Del Mar meeting, but has opted for a more lucrative target – the $85,000 Pirate’s Bounty Stakes over six furlongs.

“I was thinking of running in the $62,500 [claimer], but I’m not ready to do that yet,” Mitchell said.

A winner of 7 of 15 starts, Carbonite often races from just behind the leaders, a style Mitchell hopes to utilize in the Pirate’s Bounty.

“We’re looking for a race with a lot of speed in it,” Mitchell said.

There was plenty of speed in the Bing Crosby. Euroears led throughout and set a six-furlong track record of 1:08.17. Carbonite, who was third in the 2009 Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park when trained by Anthony Dutrow, finished 2 3/4 lengths behind Euroears.

“He just got outrun,” Mitchell said.

Carbonite’s recent races may give him an edge in the Pirate’s Bounty, which features the major stakes winners California Flag and Square Eddie.

California Flag won the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, but has one victory in five subsequent starts. He was last of eight in the Robert Kerlan Handicap at Hollywood Park in July, his only start this year. Trainer Brian Koriner is taking a cautious approach to the Pirate’s Bounty, California Flag’s first start on Del Mar’s Polytrack surface.

“He could be a little short,” Koriner said. “He’s never been on this surface.”

Square Eddie won the 2008 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, but has made only 10 starts since that race. In the last two years, Square Eddie has been bred to mares at Vessels Stallion Farm and then returned to training.

Last winter, Square Eddie set a track record of 1:13.11 for 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita. He was taken out of training in March because of concern over a suspensory and was bred to approximately 40 mares, according to owner Paul Reddam.

“I don’t know how many quality horses have done that,” Reddam said. “He may need a race. “Physically, he’s okay. He’s had a lot of issues.”

CERF Stakes: Rumor gets class test

Rumor, never worse than second in five starts, makes her stakes debut in Wednesday’s $85,000 CERF Stakes for fillies and mares over six furlongs.

Trained by Richard Mandella, Rumor was second as the 4-5 favorite in an optional claimer on July 27, losing by three-quarters of a length.

Mandella said his goal for Wednesday’s race is to get Rumor a stakes win or placing, and that the filly has been consistent in recent training.

“She’s in good shape,” he said. “I want to get her some black type. I wouldn’t say she’s better. She’s been about the same.”

Rumor is part of a field of seven and will be ridden by Garrett Gomez. Rumor can race near the front, but may be in pursuit of Strawberry Tart and Givine. Strawberry Tart won two turf stakes in the summer of 2009, but is winless in her last nine starts.

Givine, who drew the rail, won the Great Lady M Stakes for turf sprinters at Hollywood Park on May 29 and was third in the Daisycutter Handicap for turf sprinters here last month. The CERF Stakes will be her first career start on a synthetic track. She has won 6 of 12 starts and $165,217 in France and California.