08/21/2012 2:50PM

Del Mar: Drysdale looking to boost Liberian Freighter’s confidence

Benoit & Associates
Liberian Freighter was entered for a claiming price of $62,500.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Although he has won more than $750,000 and multiple graded stakes, Liberian Freighter has not been performing up to the expectations of his Hall of Fame trainer, Neil Drysdale, in his recent races, so he will dip into softer company in Thursday’s featured seventh race at Del Mar, a $73,000 optional claimer at one mile on turf.

Liberian Freighter is entered for the $62,500 claiming price, but considering that he is now age 7 and a gelding, it’s a calculated risk.

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By running in something other than a stakes race for the first time in more than two years, “We’re hoping to get his confidence back,” Drysdale said Tuesday morning.

Liberian Freighter has had plenty of success at Del Mar, where he has finished in the money 3 times in 4 starts, including a victory in the Harry Brubaker Stakes two years ago. In his last start on July 22, though, Liberian Freighter faded to finish last in the five-horse California Dreamin’ Handicap, though he was beaten a mere two lengths for it all.

Joe Talamo takes over on Thursday, replacing Martin Garcia, who had ridden Liberian Freighter in his eight previous races.

There are six others entered in the race, including Zimmer, who is also in for a $62,500 tag. Everyone else is using his second-level allowance condition, including Causeithertz, who owns two wins and a second this year, all since returning from a nearly 10-month layoff and moving to trainer Bob Baffert.

Causeithertz comes off a second-place finish in a similar optional claimer on Aug. 5.

“He ran a really good race,” Baffert said. “He stumbled leaving the gate and came up just a little short. He’s been doing pretty well, that horse.”

Leaving New York looms the one to catch. He was third in the 1 1/16-mile California Dreamin’ after opening up a 4 1/2-length lead in the first half-mile. He was a front-running winner in a $50,000 claimer at Betfair Hollywood Park in his prior start.

Seattle Ruler also should be prominent in the early going. He was second in a $40,000 claimer here on July 22.

Massone rarely wins – he owns just two victories in 35 starts – but one of those wins came in one of his two races on Del Mar’s turf. He was third in an optional claiming race on the Del Mar main track on July 21.

Major Art trailed throughout when he finished last of seven behind Causeithertz in the Aug. 5 optional claiming race. He has finished last in all three of his starts this year since returning from a one-year layoff.