08/09/2011 3:18PM

Del Mar: Showdown looms for Creative Cause, Majestic City in Del Mar Futurity

Benoit & Associates
Creative Cause, with jockey Rafael Bejarano up, wins the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes on Sunday at Del Mar. Creative Cause is pointing to the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 7.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The impressive win by Creative Cause in Sunday’s Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar sets up an intriguing showdown between two undefeated colts in the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 7.

Creative Cause won his stakes debut in the Best Pal Stakes, stalking the pace and winning by 1 3/4 lengths over I’ll Have Another, another candidate for the Del Mar Futurity.

The Best Pal field did not include Majestic City, who won two stakes at the Hollywood Park meeting – the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes in June and the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship in July. Owner Jeff Bloom and trainer Peter Miller deliberately skipped the Best Pal in favor of the Del Mar Futurity and in doing so may have lost the role of favorite.

On Monday at Del Mar, Majestic City worked five furlongs in 1:01.60. Miller plans four more workouts before the Del Mar Futurity, which is run over seven furlongs.

“We’ll start to get a little more serious next week,” Miller said. “We’re still a month away. There is no point in getting him ready too early.”

Monday’s workout was Majestic City’s second since the Hollywood Juvenile, the colt’s third win.

“He lost a little bit of weight after the race, but he’s put more on – plus,” Miller said. “His energy is good, and he seems to like this racetrack. Everything is looking up.”

Creative Cause has won twice for owner Heinz Steinmann and trainer Mike Harrington. The colt won his debut at Hollywood Park on July 16, a day before Majestic City’s win in the Hollywood Juvenile.

Harrington described the colt’s win in the Juvenile as ideal.

“It couldn’t have gone any better,” he said Sunday. “I was a nervous wreck. I’m glad to get it over with.”

The Del Mar Futurity has added appeal for Harrington. The Grade 1 race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge program, offering a fees-paid berth for the winner to the BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November. This week, though, Creative Cause will have it easy.

“I’m going to back off him a little while,” Harrington said. “I don’t want to get carried away.”

Avila has pair for Mabee Stakes

Trainer A.C. Avila will have two of the expected 10 starters in a strong running of the $250,000 John Mabee Stakes on Sunday.

Avila will start the quick Celtic Princess, winner of the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes at Hollywood Park last month, and Go Forth North, who won the Grade 3 Ramser Handicap at Hollywood Park last October.

Go Forth North was later third in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes in November and Grade 2 Robert Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita in January, emerging from the latter race with an injury, a hairline fracture in a cannon bone, Avila said.

Go Forth North, 4, will face a tough field in the Mabee. The race is led by Harmonious, who won two Grade 1 races last year and was a game second to Celtic Princess in the Royal Heroine, and also includes the graded stakes winners Cozi Rosie, Malibu Pier, Medaglia d’Amour, Turning Top, and Wasted Tears.

City to City and Lilly Fa Pootz also may start. Wasted Tears won the 2010 Mabee Stakes.

In a sense, the two Avila-trained runners complement each other. Celtic Princess is likely to race near the lead, a style that nearly led to a win in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park in May. Go Forth North is best suited to racing from off the pace, which gives Avila hope that she will be a factor in the final stages of the race over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“She’s got a chance to finish,” Avila said of Go Forth North. “I don’t expect her to win, but . . .”

Ex-jockey agent Barisoff dies at 67

Bill Barisoff, a jockey’s agent who represented such riders as Chris Antley, Eddie Delahoussaye, David Flores, Terry Lipham, and Bill Shoemaker until his retirement in the early 2000s, died Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer, according to his son, Aaron.

Barisoff was 67 and was at his home in Long Beach, Calif., at the time of his death.

Best known as Bear, Barisoff was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and retired a few years later. He was hospitalized until Aug. 1 before going into hospice care.

“He wanted to be at home, Aaron Barisoff said.

Aside from representing top jockeys in Southern California, Barisoff was an accomplished golfer and even attempted to join the Senior Tour at one point.

“When there wasn’t racing, he was playing golf,” Aaron Barisoff said.

Flores, 43, recalled Sunday that Barisoff played an important role in his career more than 20 years ago as the rider was becoming more established in Southern California after moving from his native Mexico.

“He helped me and made a difference when I came here,” he said.

A memorial service celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date, Aaron Barisoff said. Bill Barisoff is survived by his wife, Shannon, and another son, Austin