08/05/2010 2:56PM

Gaines hitting on all cylinders at Del Mar

Benoit & Associates
Temple City, winning the Cougar II Handicap, was one of trainer Carla Gaines's five winners at the meet through Wednesday.

DEL MAR, Calif. − She has won with turf sprinters and horses running 1 1/2 miles on the main track, and she has won at several distances in between. In fact, Carla Gaines is winning with nearly everything she starts this summer at Del Mar.

Through Wednesday, Gaines had five wins from her first eight starters at the meeting, including the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap with Temple City on July 30. Temple City is considered a contender for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 28 or the $200,000 Del Mar Handicap on turf Aug. 29.

Saturday, Gaines has two runners on the 10-race program: Doppio, a $25,000 claimer who will run in a sprint, and Runflatout, a promising 2-year-old maiden first-time starter.

Gaines said the wins have not been a complete surprise.

“I do have a lot of nice horses,” she said. “When I was at Santa Anita and the 2-year-olds were coming in, I kept thinking, ‘Here’s another one that’s nice.’ As it turned out, I turned out 50 percent of them. When springtime came, things started turning around.”

Gaines had a quiet Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, winning with 7 of 64 runners. At the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, she had brighter results, winning with 10 of 41.

Runflatout was bought for $165,000 at the Barretts March Sale of 2-year-olds in-training and races for the West Point Thoroughbreds partnership. A colt by Flatter, Runflatout worked well at Santa Anita and Del Mar in July, including a five-furlong workout in 1:00 here July 27.

“He’s always been a natural,” she said. “He’s been very easy and very classy.”

The maiden race, Saturday’s seventh, is run over 5 1/2 furlongs and has drawn an oversubscribed field of 13. There will be a maximum of 12 starters. There are nine first-time starters entered, including Real Heart, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, and Competent, a Medaglia d’Oro colt trained by Jenine Sahadi.

Code Buster is among the four horses in the field who have raced; he finished fifth after a slow start in his debut at Hollywood Park on July 18. Trainer Brian Koriner said he was encouraged when Code Buster returned July 28 to work better than Joy Boy, who finished second in Wednesday’s Graduation Stakes for statebred juveniles.

“Joy Boy couldn’t keep up,” Koriner said. “That’s a good sign.”

Koriner was not as thrilled that Code Buster drew the rail Saturday.

“If he breaks sharp enough to place himself in a good spot, we’re fine,” Koriner said.

Two possibilities for Bench Points

Bench Points’s sharp win in the $100,000 Graduation Stakes was trainer Tim Yakteen’s first stakes win since February 2008, and it has left Yakteen and the partnership that owns Bench Points with a decision.

They can choose between the $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes for statebreds over six furlongs on Sept. 6 or the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs on Sept. 8 for Bench Points’s next start.

“The good thing is the races are close together and we’ve got some time,” said Yakteen, 46. “It’s always nice to win and it’s better when you start winning some of the bigger races.”

The Graduation Stakes, restricted to statebreds, was Bench Points’s first start since a maiden win against California-breds in his debut at Hollywood Park on June 5. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Bench Points closed from seventh in a field of 10 to outfinish Joy Boy by 2 3/4 lengths, running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.79.

“That was the design, to come into this race with a fresh horse at Del Mar,” Yakteen said. “From the beginning, he’s shown he’s a special horse. We’ve been running against restricted horses. It’s a different story when he goes against open horses.”

Bench Point is owned by Don Crevier, Linda Mariani, Charles Martin, and Mary Jo Zuraitis. By Benchmark, he has earned $84,600.

Blind Luck works for Alabama

Kentucky Oaks winner Blind Luck worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 at Del Mar on Wednesday and remains on schedule for a start in the $500,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 21.

Blind Luck will be after her fifth stakes win of 2010 in the Alabama Stakes. Since winning the Kentucky Oaks, she was second in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks on June 6, unable to catch the leaders after trailing a slow pace, and won the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks at Delaware Park on July 10.

“She’s really been consistent the way she races and the way she’s been around the barn,” Hollendorfer said.

The Alabama will be a showdown between Blind Luck and Devil May Care, the winner of three major stakes this year.