08/29/2013 3:19PM

Del Mar Derby gets 24 entrants, including Gervinho

Benoit & Associates
Gervinho wins the one-mile Oceanside earlier in the Del Mar meet. He will try to get an extra furlong in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sunday.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Colts like Gervinho are the reason why Del Mar will have two $250,000 divisions of the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sunday.

There is a larger-than-normal group of 3-year-old turf horses in Southern California this year as well as several shippers expected in for the race, resulting in the racing office deciding to split the track’s top race for 3-year-olds.

There were 24 entries Thursday, according to director of racing Tom Robbins, enough for two full fields.

Gervinho has been pointed to the Del Mar Derby since he won the first division of the Oceanside Stakes on July 17. At the time, he was trained by Carla Gaines, who was suspended for 30 days on Aug. 1 for two medication violations from July 2012.

[DEL MAR 2013: Complete meet coverage, schedule, race replays]

With Gaines suspended, Jerry Quinn took over her stable and the training of Gervinho, who races for Santa Anita chief executive Keith Brackpool. The Del Mar Derby will be Gervinho’s first start in a graded stakes since a fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita last year. He was found to have a knee injury following that race and did not return to racing until June, finishing second in the Silky Sullivan Stakes for California-breds at Golden Gate Fields.

The Del Mar Derby is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf. Quinn thinks the distance is not an issue for Gervinho, who has never run farther than the one mile of the Oceanside.

“He’s moved forward and he’s breezed well,” Quinn said Thursday. “Whether he’s good enough to win a race like this, we’ll know.”

Quinn plans to saddle Gervinho, but Gaines will be on the scene. She attended the races in early August after the terms of her suspension did not specifically state that she could not be in the grandstand. In the past, suspended trainers were not allowed to attend races.

Del Mar stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward said Wednesday that Gaines will be permitted to enter horses, beginning Saturday for the Sept. 4 closing-day program. She is allowed full access to the grounds starting Saturday.

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When Gaines returns, Quinn said he plans to exercise horses for her and will resume training two horses that he turned out for the summer.