08/22/2011 2:46PM

Del Mar: Red Sun seeks to avoid duel in Harry Brubaker Stakes


DEL MAR, Calif. – The Del Mar turf was the wrong place for a front-runner the first four weeks of summer – only 4 of 39 grass routes were won by the pacesetter.

But the course profile began changing last week (Aug. 17-21), when 3 of 11 turf routes were won in wire-to-wire fashion. The shift comes at the right time for Red Sun, a consistent front-runner who returns Wednesday in the $85,000 Harry Brubaker Stakes.

Eleven entered the Brubaker, a 1 1/16-mile race restricted to older horses that have not won a stakes worth $50,000 to the winner since March 1. Red Sun raced only once in the past 16 months; his May 8 allowance win was his fifth from seven starts.

While the changing profile suits Red Sun, the pace scenario of the Brubaker remains problematic due to front-runner Monterey Jazz. If those two hook up, the race could unfold in favor of presser John Johny Jak or deep closer Norvsky.

Carla Gaines trains Red Sun for breeder John Harris, and when the gelding returned from a one-year layoff with a sharp Hollywood Park allowance win, it apparently set him up for summer and a possible start in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on July 2. It did not happen.

“He had a setback,” Gaines said. “He had a respiratory problem, so we gave him time for that.”

Red Sun needed only a month. From July 30 on, Red Sun has worked once a week.

“He’s training very well,” Gaines said, while suggesting the 5-year-old gelding is doing as well going into the Brubaker as he was going into his Hollywood allowance win.

That was not enough for jockey Rafael Bejarano, who has ridden Red Sun six times, winning five. Bejarano and his agent, however, chose Norvsky in the Brubaker. Red Sun will be ridden by Joe Talamo, whose 10 wins last week catapulted him to the top of the standings.

The challenge for Talamo and Red Sun is to somehow avoid a pace duel with Monterey Jazz. That will not be easy, because both are natural speed horses. The horse that figures for the best trip is John Johny Jak, runner-up by a nose July 7 in the Wickerr Stakes.

John Johnny Jak should be positioned third behind the speed and could be first to attack. Joel Rosario rides John Johnny Jak for trainer Kristin Mulhall. John Johnny Jak, 6 for 20, could start favored.

Norvsky faces open company following a solid win over California-breds in the California Dreamin Handicap on July 24. Norvsky, trained by Don Warren, is the best late threat.

Quindici Man is expected to scratch and go Sunday in the Pacific Classic; other Brubaker contenders include droppers Soul Candy and Leroy’s Dynameaux, Ashtar, Buenos Dias, No Inflation, and Run It.