08/26/2010 3:41PM

Del Mar Mile will be a test of Scenic Blast's limits


DEL MAR, Calif.-Scenic Blast is trying something new with each start this summer.

He was fourth in the Robert Kerlan Handicap for turf sprinters at Hollywood Park in June, and second in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes for sprinters on Del Mar’s synthetic main track on Aug. 1.

For Saturday’s $250,000 Del Mar Mile, Scenic Blast will start again on turf and over a distance that equals the longest race of his 23-race career. “We’re trying to find a niche for him where he can distinguish himself,” trainer John Shirreffs said.

Scenic Blast won Group 1 races for turf sprinters in Australia and England last year, but suffered repeated incidents of bleeding in Group 1 stakes in England and Asia last summer and fall, which led to him joining Shirreffs’s barn over the winter.

In the Bing Crosby, Scenic Blast was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Smiling Tiger, who led throughout. Shirreffs was encouraged by Scenic Blast’s performance considering the 6-year-old gelding had a poor start. “He got banged around coming out of the gate and he didn’t get to settle,” Shirreffs said.

Mike Smith rides Scenic Blast in the Del Mar Mile, the gelding’s first start over the distance since a second in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas in Australia in October, 2007.

To win the Del Mar Mile, Scenic Blast must catch expected pacesetter Enriched, who has been third in two graded stakes at this meeting. Other contenders are Blue Chagall, who won the restricted Wickerr Handicap here on July 28; Moudez, who has won three consecutive races in a span of 3 1/2 years; and Bruce’s Dream, who won the California Dreamin Handicap for statebreds here on July 25.

Enriched was considered for Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic until mid-August. Enriched was third in the Eddie Read Stakes behind The Usual Q. T. on July 24 and third behind Dakota Phone in the San Diego Handicap a week later. Both The Usual Q. T. and Dakota Phone are entered in the Pacific Classic. “This looks like a better spot to me,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of the Del Mar Mile.

Blue Chagall won his second restricted race in the Wickerr, which was run over a mile on turf. Last fall, he won the Lure Stakes at Santa Anita. In both races, he raced on the inside for most of the way, which trainer Julio Canani insists is vital for Blue Chagall to have any chance. “He got a good trip here,” Canani said. “His race at Oak Tree, he was on the rail. When he was at Hollywood, he was outside and he was rank.”

Earlier this year, Blue Chagall lost three starts during the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.