08/07/2012 3:01PM

Del Mar notes: Brother Francis bound for derby

Shigeki Kikkawa
Brother Francis won a maiden race in 1:15.29, fastest time of the meeting for 6 1/2 furlongs.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Trainer Jim Cassidy and owner Norman Cheng have thought so highly of Brother Francis that they put him in several stakes races as a maiden, and he rewarded their confidence last fall with a second-place finish in the Hollywood Prevue and a third in the CashCall Futurity.

But after a fifth-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, Brother Francis was given a break from racing, and when he returned on Sunday, he could not have looked any better, smoking maidens by six lengths in 1:15.29, the fastest 6 1/2 furlongs of the meet on Polytrack.

Next up? What else but a stakes race!

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Cassidy said Brother Francis will be pointed to the Grade 2, $300,000 Del Mar Derby at 1 1/8 miles on turf on Sept. 2.

“That’s what we’d like to do next,” Cassidy said. “He came out of the race great. He acted like he never even ran.”

In Brother Francis’s only previous try on turf, he was a close third in a maiden race at Santa Anita.

“I just hope he’s not a late-closing sprinter,” Cassidy said.

My Best Brother heads La Jolla

My Best Brother, a winner of a division of the Oceanside Stakes on opening day, will seek his fourth straight victory on Saturday at Del Mar when he heads what is shaping up as a small field for the Grade 2, $150,000 La Jolla Handicap, for 3-year-olds on the turf.

The La Jolla, at 1 1/16 miles, is the major prep for the Del Mar Derby.

My Best Brother led from start to finish in the Oceanside. Old Time Hockey, third in that division, is among his handful of challengers. Blingo and Chips All In are also confirmed.

The Grade 2, $250,000 John C. Mabee Stakes on Sunday is the championship race of the meet for older female grass horses, and it is expected to include Byrony, who finished second in the Osunitas Stakes here on July 21. Others pointing for the 1 1/8-mile race include All Star Heart, Cambina, City to City, Imperialistic Diva, and Nereid.

Include Me Out BC bound

When Include Me Out won the Clement Hirsch Stakes on Saturday, she earned a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic through the Win and You’re In program, and she became the third horse owned by Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable to win an automatic bid to a Breeders’ Cup race, joining Rail Trip (Dirt Mile) and Redeemed (BC Marathon).

Include Me Out has won four of her last five starts, including a pair of stakes races at Santa Anita, where the Breeders’ Cup will be held this fall.

“I’ve been excited about that since this winter at Santa Anita,” said her trainer, Ron Ellis. “Now she has a couple months until she has to run again at Santa Anita.”

Ellis said Include Me Out would be pointed to the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes, formerly the Lady’s Secret, on Sept. 29 as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup.

Rail Trip, who won the San Diego Handicap last month, is under consideration for the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic here on Aug. 26. He worked a half-mile in 49.20 seconds at Hollywood Park on Tuesday for Ellis.

Pioneering clocker Japhet Ward dies

A serious bettor in Southern California has to be armed with the latest workout information, and there are any number of publications and services offering to assist, but all owe their existence to Japhet Ward, a pioneer of the discipline, who died last week at his home in Pasadena, Calif., at age 83.

Ward, a native of New York who graduated from UCLA, started clocking in the early 1960s, had a handful of loyal customers for two decades, then saw his profile rise when employed by the respected publication Handicapper’s Report. He retired last December after working for seven years with the official clocking staff at Hollywood Park.

“He was a very good clocker, and he was very good at identifying horses, but, more than anything, he was a very good person,” said Gary Young, now among the most respected private clockers on this circuit, and a close friend of Ward’s.

“There wasn’t a mean bone in his body,” Young said. “And he was an amazing piano player. He could have been a concert pianist. He used to say that his mother told him if he’d have put as much effort into his piano playing as he did his clocking, he’d have been a multi-millionaire. It was truly amazing how he could play classical music.”

Ward is survived by his daughter, Kathy Welch, and a stepson, Phil. Welch said she has been genuinely touched by the busboys and waitresses who reached out to her, as Ward was known to eat out every single meal.

“Whether someone was a busboy, a waitress, or the CEO of a company, he always treated them with so much kindness and respect,” she said.