08/26/2012 5:38PM

Del Mar: Howe Great coming cross country for Del Mar Derby

David Owens/Equi-Photo
Howe Great has won three turf stakes this season, including the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Howe Great, the three-time stakes winner on turf, has had a summer campaign geared toward a Labor Day weekend appearance in California.

He will arrive on the West Coast this week with an excellent chance to win Sunday’s $300,000 Del Mar Derby, a Grade 2 race over 1 1/8 miles on turf. He is the lone shipper from another circuit, but could pose the greatest danger for the locals.

The winner of the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park on July 21, Howe Great will be shipped from trainer Graham Motion’s base in Maryland on Wednesday.

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He will face a local group led by Old Time Hockey, who won the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap here on Aug. 11, and Midnight Crooner, the winner of a division of the restricted Oceanside Stakes here on July 18.

Howe Great, a colt by Hat Trick, races for the Team Valor International partnership. The Del Mar Derby will be his first start in California, but is a race that Motion has been considering through the summer.

“We kind of used his last race as his prep race,” he said.

The Jersey Derby was run over 1 1/16 miles on turf. Howe Great stalked the pace in a field of six and took the lead in early stretch before winning by 1 1/4 lengths as the 3-10 favorite. Earlier this year, Howe Great won two stakes on turf at Gulfstream Park – the Kitten’s Joy Stakes and the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes in January and March.

“He’s a consistent horse,” Motion said.  “We had a great run with him in Florida.”

The Del Mar Derby field is also expected to include All Squared Away, Brother Francis, My Best Brother, Smart Ellis, and Tones.

Smart Ellis, trained by Richard Mandella, will make his 2012 stakes debut in the Del Mar Derby. The colt, by Smarty Jones, won an optional claimer here on July 20 in his first start since January. Sunday, Smart Ellis worked six furlongs in 1:14.40 under retired Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone.

Krone has worked horses in recent weeks in advance of an appearance in a retired jockey’s charity race at Doncaster, England, on Sept. 12.
Krone won the race last year.

Apprentice Flores ordered off all mounts indefinitely

Apprentice jockey Eswan Flores was removed from his mounts on Saturday by the California Horse Racing Board and will not ride for the near future because of “personal issues”, according to his agent, Joe Griffin.

Del Mar stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward declined to discuss Flores’s absence or whether the jockey faced any possible hearings in the near future.

A racing board spokesman said, “The California Horse Racing has ordered Eswan Flores off all mounts indefinitely.” The spokesman did not elaborate on a reason.

Griffin said on Sunday that he was not booking mounts for Flores in coming days.

“He has something personal come up and he had to go to LA,” Griffin said. “He won’t ride for a few days.”

Griffin did not elaborate on the reason for Flores’s absence.

Flores, 19, has won eight races at this meeting from 105 mounts, and was tied for ninth through Saturday. Earlier this year, he was fourth in the standings at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting with 54 wins and was seventh at the Betfair Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting with 24 wins.