08/31/2011 2:36PM

Del Mar: Pride of Silver gets a test in El Cajon Stakes

Benoit & Associates
Pride of Silver is seeking to use the $100,000 El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar as a prep for more lucrative 3-year-old stakes this fall.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Last winter, the dream was to get Pride of Silver into the Kentucky Derby. This fall, the dream is to get Pride of Silver into a lucrative stakes for 3-year-olds.

Friday at Del Mar, Pride of Silver starts in the $100,000 El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds over 1 1/16 miles, his second start after a seven-month layoff caused by injury.

Trained by Bob Hess Jr., Pride of Silver approaches the race with promising form; he was second under jockey Victor Espinoza in an optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles in his comeback Aug. 13.

“He got a little tired, but he’s come back to train well,” Hess said. “Victor had to shoot him through an opening earlier than we wanted.”

A win in the El Cajon Stakes may result in a more lucrative stakes appearance in coming weeks. The $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 24 and the $500,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on Oct. 1 are not far off. Hess did not want to speculate about such races Wednesday.

“It depends on how he runs,” Hess said. “If he runs well, we can dream a little.”

The El Cajon drew a field of 10, although Great Warrior could defect to Sunday’s Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on turf. The likely favorite will be Uncle Sam, trained by Bob Baffert.

Uncle Sam was third in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 9, his most recent start and fourth in a stakes.

“He ran well that day,” Baffert said. “He’s been working well.”

Uncle Sam was fourth in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in January, a race in which Pride of Silver was last of five. Pride of Silver was later diagnosed with a hairline fracture of a shin following the race. The injury did not require surgery, Hess said.

There are two stakes winners in the field – Ain’t No Other, winner of two sprint stakes; and Celestic Night, winner of the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex Park last year. Celestic Night was claimed for $80,000 by trainer Mike Mitchell in March and makes his first start since that race in the El Cajon.

Trainer Vann Belvoir has two starters – the stakes-placed Moment of Weakness, claimed for $50,000 on Aug. 13; and Macho Dorado, second in a $50,000 claimer on Aug. 6.