07/17/2010 11:16AM

Gallant Gent ready for Del Mar's Oceanside Stakes


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Regardless of how Gallant Gent runs in Wednesday’s Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar, the gelding was a bargain acquisition for $40,000 last summer.

“I think he was a good claim,” trainer Craig Lewis said. “He’s exceeded our expectation.”

Since being claimed in July 2009, Gallant Gent has won 2 of 7 starts, a minor stakes at Fairplex Park last fall, and has earned $95,400.

The Oceanside, run over a mile on turf for 3-year-olds, will be Gallant Gent’s second start of 2010, preceded by a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park last month.

For an ex-claimer, Gallant Gent has kept good company for most of his career. The Oceanside will be Gallant Gent’s sixth consecutive appearance in a stakes. He won the C.B. Afflerbaugh Stakes at Fairplex Park last September, was third in the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes last October, and seventh, beaten 3 3/4 lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November.

Gallant Gent was rested in early 2010 after injuring his back in the Delta Jackpot Stakes in Louisiana last December.

“The unlikelihood of snow occurred,” Lewis said. “The track was soupy with a lot of puddles. He had a back injury. We’ve given him a lot of time.”

The Oceanside will be Gallant Gent’s second start on turf. In the Affirmed, Gallant Gent was a 29-1 outsider and finished four lengths behind Golden Itiz in the field of eight. On Wednesday, Gallant Gent worked a half-mile in 46.80 seconds on the synthetic main track at Del Mar.

“I think he’ll make a good showing” in the Oceanside, Lewis said. “He worked real well down here. I think he got a lot out of the Affirmed. He hadn’t run in six months.

“He ran credible. He just got tired. I don’t know if he’s better on grass or dirt.”

Lewis described his approach to the Oceanside as “cautiously optimistic.”

Wednesday’s race will help determine Gallant Gent’s summer campaign. The Del Mar 3-year-old stakes program is geared largely toward turf, but there is the $100,000 El Cajon Stakes on the main track Sept. 3.

The Oceanside drew 25 nominations. The leading contenders this year are Macias, winner of three minor stakes who was third in the Grade 3 Will Rogers Stakes at Hollywood Park last month; Dave in Dixie, who was 11th in the Belmont Stakes; the undefeated Twirling Candy, who has yet to start around two turns; and Face and an Ace, Hockley, and Just Magic, winners of optional claiming races at Hollywood Park in recent weeks.

Mona de Momma out with injury

Mona de Momma, winner of the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 1, has been turned out with a cannon bone injury, trainer John Sadler said.

The injury may prevent Mona de Momma from making any further starts, depending on how she trains in late summer and early fall, when she is expected to return.

“She’s on the farm for a little while,” Sadler said.

Sadler would like to have Mona de Momma ready for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs in November.

“A lot will do with how she’s training and how she looks,” he said.

Sadler described Mona de Momma’s chances of reaching the Breeders’ Cup as “borderline.”

Owned by Michael Talla, Mona de Momma has won 5 of 11 starts and $377,619. She won the Grade 3 Las Flores Handicap at Santa Anita earlier this year.

◗ Dancing in Silks, winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the joint California-bred horse of the year last year, worked three furlongs in 38 seconds at Santa Anita on Friday, preparing for a comeback. Trainer Carla Gaines is considering the Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 8 for Dancing in Silks’s first start since winter.