08/01/2012 3:27PM

Del Mar: Rousing Sermon gets class relief in Real Good Deal Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Rousing Sermon will race with California-breds for the first time since last October in Friday's $200,000 Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Five times earlier this year, Rousing Sermon started in graded stakes in California, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

He was beaten each time, with performances ranging from a third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in April to an eighth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 5.

Fourth in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park on July 4, Rousing Sermon has an easier task in Friday’s $200,000 Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar. He faces California-breds for the first time since he won the California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita last October.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer for Larry and Marianne Williams, Rousing Sermon could have been sent to Monmouth Park or Saratoga for a major stakes last weekend, but there is appeal to the conditions of the Real Good Deal Stakes.

“Two-hundred-thousand dollars is $200,000,” said Dan Ward, Hollendorfer’s assistant. “He hasn’t run against Cal-breds in a while. That’s why we’re running in the Cal-bred race and not one of the races last weekend.

“We think he needs to win a race.”

A victory Friday could lead to a start in the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 8.

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The Real Good Deal Stakes is run over seven furlongs. Rousing Sermon has not started around one turn since finishing third in the Graduation Stakes over six furlongs here last September. He did win a maiden race over five furlongs at Hollywood Park in June 2011 in his career debut.

In the Real Good Deal Stakes, Rousing Sermon’s primary rivals are the stakes winners Derby Gold and Unusual Heatwave.

Derby Gold won the $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita in March, but missed the Betfair Hollywood Park meeting.

“He’s had little things, like shins,” trainer Bob Baffert said.

Baffert said he was encouraged when Derby Gold kept pace with the Grade 1 winner Coil in a recent workout.

“He worked really well with Coil,” Baffert said. “He has the speed, and hopefully no one goes to the front with him.”

That scenario may not develop. Champions Gate, stakes placed here last summer, has shown speed.

Unusual Heatwave won the $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes for California-breds over 1 1/8 miles at Hollywood Park on April 28.

Trainer Alexis Barba said that Unusual Heatwave can be effective around one-turn “in a Cal-bred race. He sprinted as 2-year-old, but that’s a whole different ballgame.”