07/18/2011 4:51PM

Del Mar: Motion planning rare trip out west

Tom Keyser
Smart Bid, second in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, will likely make the trip to Del Mar for the Eddie Read.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer Graham Motion, who won the Kentucky Derby earlier this year with Animal Kingdom, is expected to make a rare Del Mar appearance on Saturday when he sends out the consistent older grass horse Smart Bid in the $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes, the first Grade 1 race of the meet.

Motion on Monday said that Smart Bid likely would travel west for the Read, which will include such accomplished grass runners as Acclamation, Caracortado, Jeranimo, and Victor’s Cry. But Smart Bid certainly fits. He won the Mervin Muniz Handicap at Fair Grounds in March, was second to Get Stormy in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, and most recently was second in the Colonial Turf Cup. This will be his sixth start of the year, at his fifth different track.

“I’m definitely leaning toward coming out,” Motion said by telephone. “It’s very logical to take a shot in it. There’s a flight for him on Wednesday. He’s doing well, and the race seems like a good fit for him, both the distance and being a Grade 1.”

The Read is at 1 1/8 miles, a distance at which Smart Bid owns a win and two close second-place finishers in three starts. He stretched out to 1 3/16 miles in his most recent start.

“I think he favors a stalking trip,” Motion said. “There was no speed in the race last time and he ended up setting the pace, but it wasn’t a bad race at all.”

Edgar Prado has ridden Smart Bid in all five of his starts this year and is expected to ride him in the Read, Motion said.

In addition to Acclamation, Caracortado, Jeranimo, and Victor’s Cry, others expected for the Read include Goldwaki, Kid Edward, and the mare Celtic Princess.

Celtic Princess breezed three furlongs in 37 seconds on the Del Mar turf course on Monday morning, while Acclamation (1:01.40), Jeranimo (1:03.60) and Kid Edward (1:03.80) all worked five furlongs on turf. Orange cones, called dogs, were up.

Valet strike may be avoided

A potential opening-day work stoppage Wednesday by valets, who help saddle horses and prepare the equipment used by jockeys, may have been averted, though the valets are set to begin this meet, as they did at Hollywood Park, without a contract.

To guard against a potential opening-day walkout, Del Mar management on Sunday and Monday sent out a text message to trainers, soliciting potential replacements from amongst their on-track help.

But Joe Harper, Del Mar’s president and chief executive officer, on Monday said he thought cooler heads would prevail.

“I think so, but we don’t want to be caught short,” Harper said. “We have to be prepared. They want a raise. I wish I could give it to them. All employees of California racing have had their salaries frozen. That applies to management, too. We’re all in the same boat.”

Manny Avila, 48, an exercise rider in the mornings who works as a valet in the afternoons, said a meeting has been scheduled with Del Mar management for July 26, and that the valets intend to work on opening day.

Avila said there are 10 full-time valets and four others who work occasionally. He said the contract discussions have focused on higher wages for a dangerous job. Among their responsibilities, valets assist trainers with saddling horses, and prepare saddles to ensure jockeys are carrying the correct weight “We’re just trying to get a better deal,” Avila said. “We want something that is fair.”

New Yorker takes contest

Lisa Schroeder of Farmington, N.Y., won the $2,500 winner-take-all, on-line Show Me The Money contest at the Hollywood Park meeting that concluded Sunday.

A total of 3,803 contestants began the contest on May 5. Both Schroeder and Doug Bauwens of Oak Park, Calif., made it through the final day without getting knocked out, but Schroeder was the winner based on a tie-breaker, having selected more winners than Bauwens.

◗ Simulcasting at Del Mar begins at 11 a.m., which is approximately post time for the third race at Saratoga, so those desiring to play the daily double at Saratoga must bet elsewhere. Del Mar does not have live racing on Mondays or Tuesdays. The track will be open for simulcast players on Mondays, but not on Tuesdays.

– additional reporting by Steve Andersen