07/16/2013 2:17PM

Del Mar: Middie ships west to avoid Wise Dan in Eddie Read

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Tom Keyser
The Kentucky-based Middie is among six horses listed as probable for Saturday's Eddie Read.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer Philip Oliver is based at Keeneland, so he gets a daily dose of watching Wise Dan train, let alone having to run against him. In an effort to get as far away from Wise Dan as possible, and take advantage of a race that is coming up light in terms of entries and talent, Oliver is sending Middie to Del Mar for the Grade 1, $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes on Saturday.

“It’s probably not the toughest Grade 1 in the world,” Oliver said Tuesday from Kentucky, “and I’m trying to get away from Wise Dan as well. I figure if I’m 2,000 miles away, he probably can’t beat me.”

Middie was a distant third to Wise Dan in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, May 4. That effort came after a good comeback prep in a money allowance at Keeneland, but was followed by a poor try on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs on June 1 in a race rained off the turf.

Middie – whose biggest win came in last year’s Washington Park Handicap on Polytrack at Arlington – returns to turf for the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read, which, as of Tuesday, had just five other starters. In addition to Middie, the field is expected to include Cogito, Jeranimo, Lucayan, Slim Shadey, and Sofast.

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

“If things go right, he’s capable,” Oliver said. “He needs a lot of pace. He’s a little bit of a tricky horse. If he’s on his own, he gets a little lackadaisical. If there are a couple horses around him, he gets aggressive. I was hoping for a bigger field.”

Oliver is also bringing in the filly Closing Range for Saturday’s supporting feature, the $90,000 Osunitas Stakes. That 1 1/16-mile grass race for older fillies and mares is also expected to include A Time to Love, Appealing, Dancingtothestars, Hard to Resist, La Zubia, Long Face, Top Kisser, and Unusual Hottie, who will be going for her fourth straight win.

Corey Nakatani has the mount on both Middie and Closing Range, who are scheduled to fly to California on Thursday.

Russell Baze in town Sunday

Russell Baze, the Hall of Fame jockey who recently won the 12,000th race of his career, is scheduled to make a rare Del Mar appearance on Sunday to ride Unusual Way in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies.

Baze piloted Unusual Way to a victory in the Campanile Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on June 1, which, like the San Clemente, is at one mile on turf. The Campanile was Unusual Way’s turf debut.

In addition to Unusual Way, the San Clemente is expected to include Broken Sword, Charlie Em, Foxy Boss, Judy in Disguise, and Miss Empire.

The $150,000 California Dreamin Handicap, for older California-breds at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Sunday, is expected to be topped by He Be Fire N Ice, Soul Candy, Starspangled Heat, and Summer Hit. Lucky Primo, third in the Grade 1 Whittingham on June 8 at Betfair Hollywood Park in his first start since winning the California Cup Classic last fall, would be a heavy favorite if he goes.

Toro makes annual visit

It has been 23 years since jockey Fernando Toro retired, and though he makes his home not far from Del Mar, he keeps a low profile during the race season. Toro, 72, made his annual visit to the track on Tuesday morning to see his old friend, trainer Richard Mandella, but said he would avoid the races.

“This will be my only time out,” he said.

Instead, Toro said he spends time with his wife of 53 years, Lola, and their eight grandchildren, and golfs a couple of times a week. Long recognized for his aptitude on grass – “Toro on the turf” was a popular battle cry in the 1970s and 80s – Toro won the Eddie Read in 1977 on No Turning.

Toro retired with 3,572 career victories, and though he helped guide the careers of Mandella-trained Chilean imports Malek and Memo in the 1990s, he said he no longer does anything racing related.

Book Review benefits from break

An April illness led to a win by Book Review in last Saturday’s Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap.

In the spring, trainer Bob Baffert sent Book Review to Charles Town in West Virginia for the $200,000 Sugar Maple Stakes. Upon arrival for the April 20 race, Book Review became ill.

“She had a fever, but she was okay,” Baffert said.

Book Review was sent back to California, and was given time to recover. In the $200,000 A Gleam, her first start since February, Book Review rallied from fourth in a field of five under Bejarano to win the seven-furlong race by 2 1/2 lengths over 6-5 favorite Teddy’s Promise.

“She ran great,” Baffert said. “The little freshening helped out.”

Owned by Gary and Mary West, Book Review, a 4-year-old by Giant’s Causeway, has won 6 of 13 starts and $784,955.

The win gave Book Review a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in November through the Win and You’re In program.

– additional reporting by Steve Andersen