09/03/2012 4:51PM

Del Mar: Know More flies banner for red-hot barn in Futurity

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Benoit & Associates
Know More and rider Garrett Gomez teamed up to win the Best Pal Stakes in the horse’s racing debut.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Over at Doug O’Neill’s barn at Del Mar, the beat has gone on. And on. And on.

Under long-time assistant Leandro Mora, who took over the stable when O’Neill began a 40-day suspension last month, the barn has continued to pile up winners. Entering Monday’s races, Mora already had nine wins, which placed him in a tie for sixth in the standings. Combine his results with those of O’Neill, who had 18 wins before going to the sidelines, and the barn has produced 27 winners, eight more than leader Bob Baffert.

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Mora is hoping to close out of the meet on Wednesday in appropriate fashion, when he saddles Know More in the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, highlight of a 10-race card on the final day of what has been a blockbuster 37-day summer season at Del Mar. As part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge program, the race winner is guaranteed a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

Know More is the perfect symbol of the Team O’Neill success story this summer. He won the Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 5 in his career debut when trained by O’Neill, then the baton was passed to Mora, who said Know More has continued to thrive.

“He’s doing very good. He’s been galloping right along,” Mora said. “We’re hoping to keep him perfect. That’s every horseman’s dream.”

Know More is a friendly sort, so much so that Mora put a sign outside his stall the other day asking visitors to refrain from bothering him. After all, a big race is coming up.

“He likes to be around humans a lot,” Mora said. “He likes to be pet. But he’s running. I don’t want to make any mistakes.”

Mora has made few mistakes so far, but that stands to reason, as he has been O’Neill’s trusted assistant for years, and before that was aligned with Brian Mayberry during his best years.

“I’m very happy about the way things have gone on,” Mora said.

Know More raced greenly in his first start, but had so much natural talent he was able to win the Grade 2 Best Pal despite never having raced. He gets an extra 110 yards with which to work in the seven-furlong Futurity, but in order to prevail, he must beat 11 others, including a strong one-two punch from trainer John Sadler.

Sadler has Capo Bastone, who won his lone start on Aug. 4, and Scherer Magic, who was a disappointing fifth in the Best Pal after winning his first two starts, including the Hollywood Juvenile Championship.

Capo Bastone was an impressive winner, overcoming a slow start and late traffic to prevail.

“We expected him to run well, but the race was a little different than we expected,” Sadler said Monday morning. “He got away worse than we thought he would, and took a bump. It probably turned out to be a fantastic schooling race for him. Everything went wrong. He could have gotten beat. But he overcame it. He acts like a 3-year-old. There’s not much baby in him.”

Capo Bastone picks up newly minted Hall of Famer John Velazquez, since Garrett Gomez chose to stick with Know More and Belmont Park does not open until Saturday.

Scherer Magic had traffic trouble in the Best Pal.

“He never got untracked,” Sadler said. “I also think I worked him a little bit fast before the race. He’s had three good works since, but his last work was a little easier than his last one before the Best Pal.”

Heir of Storm was fourth in the Best Pal.

The filly Switch to the Lead is taking on males because trainer Patrick Biancone thought this was a smarter spot for her than running against Executiveprivilege in the Del Mar Debutante last Saturday.

Gabriel Charles, Rolling Fog, and Yankee Rebel are coming off maiden wins. Rolling Fog is the only Futurity starter for Baffert, who has won this race a record 10 times, all since 1996.

Caballo Del Cielo, Pure Loyalty, and The Whole Deal are still winless.