08/02/2013 2:55PM

Del Mar notes: Paynter may travel for Woodward

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Paynter overcame severe bouts with colitis and laminitis last fall to return to training over the winter.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Paynter, second in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on July 27, is likely to make his next start in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 31, trainer Bob Baffert said on Friday.

Baffert said he would prefer to run Paynter on a dirt track for his next start as opposed to the Polytrack synthetic surface at Del Mar. He did not rule out staying at Del Mar and starting Paynter in the $1 million Pacific Classic Stakes on Aug. 25.

“I’d like to make the Woodward,” Baffert said. “I’ve got two options – the Pacific Classic or the Woodward. I can always change my mind.”

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Owned by Zayat Stables, Paynter overcame severe bouts with colitis and laminitis last fall to return to training over the winter. A 4-year-old colt best known for his win in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park in July 2012, Paynter won his 2013 debut in an allowance race at seven furlongs at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 14.

Hollywood Park has a synthetic track, but Baffert said on Friday that the Hollywood surface “is more like dirt” compared with Del Mar’s synthetic track.

In the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile San Diego, Paynter led in the stretch but was caught by Kettle Corn in the final strides and lost by a half-length as the 3-5 favorite.

By Awesome Again, Paynter has won 4 of 8 starts and earned $1,029,424.

Baffert has the favorite for the Pacific Classic in Game On Dude, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 6.

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

El Commodore a pleasant dilemma

El Commodore is scheduled to start in a stakes at the end of August after winning his California debut in an optional claimer at a mile on turf on Thursday. Now trainer Mike Machowsky has to choose between races such as the $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs or the $200,000 Del Mar Mile on turf on Aug. 25, or the $90,000 Harry Brubaker Stakes at a mile on Aug. 31.

“It’s a good question,” Machowsky said. “He trains so good on the main track.”

El Commodore ran brilliantly on the turf on Thursday. Ridden by Mike Smith, El Commodore led throughout and won by 2 1/2 lengths in the quick time of 1:32.99.

“He was impressive,” Machowsky said.

El Commodore, age 6, has won 6 of 30 starts and earned $231,986. He races for Tom Kagele and John Gallegos, who acquired him earlier this year. For previous owner Kinsman Stable, El Commodore was graded stakes-placed at Calder, Monmouth Park and Tampa Bay Downs.

Clubhouse Ride on hold

Clubhouse Ride, the winner of the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park in June, emerged from his last-place finish in the San Diego Handicap with a low red and white blood count, trainer Craig Lewis said on Friday.

The setback jeopardizes Clubhouse Ride’s chances of a start in the $200,000 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 18. Clubhouse Ride finished fourth in the Hollywood Gold Cup, a loss that Lewis said may be attributable to his current illness.

“It impacted the horse’s performance,” Lewis said. “His red count was low and his white count was low. We’ve been thinking that’s why he started to tail off. But I’ve never seen a horse that does so good and has a blood disorder.”

Lewis said that Clubhouse Ride suffers from stomach ulcers, which could have contributed to his condition. Further blood tests will be done in 10 days, the trainer said.

Skydreamin looks ready for bigger

Skydreamin, the undefeated 2-year-old colt, earned trainer Jeff Bonde’s respect with a trouble-filled win in the Lost in the Fog Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in his debut on June 15.

“He got wiped out leaving there,” Bonde said. “He climbed the surface for a while. He moved outside and off he went.”

Ridden by Russell Baze, Skydreamin won the Lost in the Fog Stakes by a head, and returned to win the Everett Nevin Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs by 5 1/2 lengths at Pleasanton on July 7.

Those wins gave Bonde a reason to bring Skydreamin to Southern California for Sunday’s $150,000 Best Pal Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs. The Best Pal is a prep for the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 4.

Skydreamin will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, who is likely to have the Sky Mesa colt in a stalking position on the backstretch.

“If they want to go fast, he can wait,” Bonde said.

“He’s a big, strong horse,” Bonde said, watching Skydreamin walk at his stable on Friday morning. “I think he’ll run well.”

Beholder prepping for Torrey Pines

Beholder, champion 2-year-old filly of 2012, worked six furlongs in 1:13.80 on Friday, preparing for an expected start in the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes at a mile on Sept. 1.

Trained by Richard Mandella, Beholder finished second in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3 in her most recent start.