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Del Mar: Mullins has strong team of turf horses
INGLEWOOD, Calif. – They came out one-by-one onto Betfair Hollywood Park’s turf course Friday morning, three horses trained by Jeff Mulllins, bound for workouts.
Unusual Hottie, the stakes-winning California-bred miler, was followed by the 3-year-olds Dry Summer and Gabriel Charles, each going five or six furlongs. Individually, they give Mullins excellent chances for stakes wins at Del Mar this summer. Add the older horses Chips All In and Wilkinson, and Mullins has his best team of turf horses for Del Mar.
Mullins may have a winner on Wednesday’s opening-day program. Gabriel Charles, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Preview on the hillside course at Santa Anita last November, will make his first start of 2013 in the $100,000 Oceanside, which is run over a mile on turf for 3-year-olds who have not won a stakes worth $50,000 or more to the winner this year.
Gabriel Charles, who races for Michael House and Sam Britt, made one start after the Juvenile Turf Sprint Preview, finishing second to Avare in the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita last December. The Logan was scheduled for turf but was switched to the main track because of rain.
Gabriel Charles emerged from that race with a fractured pelvis, which ended his Santa Anita winter-spring season. The Oceanside Stakes will be his second start on turf.
On Friday, Gabriel Charles worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds, a little quicker than Mullins expected. Mullins is hopeful that Gabriel Charles is ready for the Oceanside after the layoff.
“It’s a question if he can get a distance,” Mullins said. “It would be nice to have a race in him. Nice horses seem to overcome the roadblocks.”
The Oceanside Stakes and the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf Aug. 10 are possibilities for Gabriel Charles. The $300,000 Del Mar Derby over 1 1/8 miles Sept. 1 does not have as much appeal because of the distance, Mullins said.
“That might be stretching him,” Mullins said.
The La Jolla or the Del Mar Derby could work for Dry Summer, who has not started since finishing eighth in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby in New Mexico on March 24. The winner of the Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park on Feb. 23, Dry Summer was trained in New Mexico by Joel Marr but returned to Mullins’s stable this spring.
Dry Summer, who worked six furlongs in 1:15 on Friday, won the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf at Del Mar last summer for Mullins, his only stakes win in nine starts. Dry Summer has been gelded since the Sunland Derby, Mullins said.
Unusual Hottie had a perfect campaign during the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, winning three times – an optional claimer in April, the Fran’s Valentine Stakes in May, and the Redondo Beach Stakes in June. A 4-year-old filly, Unusual Hottie can make it four straight in Saturday’s $90,000 Osunitas Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles.
Chips All In, unraced since winning the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita in April, is a candidate for the $90,000 Wickerr Stakes over a mile on turf July 24. Mullins did not intend for Chips All In to have that long of a break between starts. The four-time stakes winner was entered for the $70,000 Robert Kerlan Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 30, but the race did not draw sufficient entries.
Wilkinson, who won the Grade 2 American Handicap in 2012, was third in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on June 29. He could run in the $200,000 Del Mar Mile on turf Aug. 25.
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