07/20/2008 11:00PM

Harty mapping plans for Well Armed

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DEL MAR, Calif. - The easy part of the Del Mar meeting ended for Well Armed on Saturday when he led throughout the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, his second major stakes win of the year.

The more difficult part of the season will occur on Aug. 24, when he attempts to stretch his speed over 1 1/4 miles in the $1 million Pacific Classic. The result of that race is likely to determine Well Armed's path for the fall.

If Well Armed wins the Pacific Classic, his main objective will be the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at the Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 25. If he runs poorly, WinStar Farm and trainer Eoin Harty can use the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on the same day as a fallback race. Well Armed earned an automatic berth in the BC Dirt Mile because the San Diego was a Win and You're In race.

Harty said that Well Armed will be ready for the Pacific Classic.

"Physically, he can do it," he said. "It's whether the ideal scenario occurs. He didn't look tired in the winner's circle" on Saturday.

Well Armed had an ideal scenario in the San Diego, leading throughout the 1 1/16 miles. It was his first start since a third-place finish behind Curlin in the Dubai World Cup over 1 1/4 miles at Nad Al Sheba in March, and his first stakes win since a victory in the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita in February.

Earlier Saturday, Harty feared that the track was playing against front-runners such as Well Armed.

"I didn't think I could do it," he said. "I was concerned he wouldn't get a breather."

Well Armed finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Surf Cat, who also will be pointed for the Pacific Classic, trainer Bruce Headley said.

Brothers win five straight

It took until Sunday's second race, on the fifth day of the meeting, for Gary and Cecil Barber to lose a race. It was a temporary setback. Gary Barber, the man behind the Hollywood production company Spyglass Entertainment, and his brother, won with their first five starters at the meet.

The Barbers won twice last Thursday and three times on Saturday. Their winners on Saturday were Wild and Ready in a $50,000 claimer, Super Strut in an optional claimer, and Improvising Gal, who finished in a dead heat for first in a maiden claimer.

Their first setback was a fourth-place finish by Storm Machine on Sunday. Three races later, Wild Buddy, trained by John Sadler, won a $45,000 claimer over a mile on turf for them.

"We've got a nice, solid stable," Gary Barber said on Saturday. "We've got some strong claimers and some stake-caliber horses."

The Barbers could have further success this week. Brendolyn will start in a $62,500 claimer over a mile on turf on Wednesday. Friday, Becrux, whom Gary Barber owns with Team Valor Stable, will try to win the Wickerr Handicap on turf for the third straight year.

Barber has more stakes horses on the way. Joshlin, a Group 2 winner in Barber's native South Africa, is in Kentucky and is expected to join Sadler's stable in the near future.

Brazilian shows her old self

Zardana has always made a favorable impression at Del Mar. Last year, shortly after arriving from Brazil, she caught the eye of owner Arnold Zetcher and trainer Ron McAnally.

"She was working down here and she worked strongly," Zetcher said. "We thought, What do we have?"

It turned out they had very little, until Del Mar resumed racing last week. Saturday, Zardana pulled a 41-1 upset in the restricted Osunitas Handicap, her fifth start in the United States. Zardana had failed to finish in the first three in her first four starts.

"We were kind of disappointed, needless to say," McAnally said. "She was so impressive in Brazil. I told Arnold, 'We've got to try something different, maybe take her off the pace.' It worked."

Ridden by Aaron Gryder, who also rode Well Armed to win the San Diego, Zardana rallied from fourth on the final turn between horses to win by a half-length over Fleet Caroline. She ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:42.28.

The victory has McAnally considering starting Zardana in the $200,000 Palomar Handicap for fillies and mares on Aug. 30. The date happens to be Zetcher's birthday.

Turtle Creek Babe sharp in win

McAnally has a candidate for the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 1 in Turtle Creek Babe ($16.80), who won a thrilling maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies over 5 1/2 furlongs on Sunday.

Turtle Creek Babe rallied from eighth in a field of 10 to win by a nose over an unlucky Stardom Bound, who broke slowly and unleashed a remarkable rally to just miss. Montana Fields, the 7-5 favorite, finished third after leading in the stretch.

Owned by Barnett Stable, Turtle Creek Babe was timed in 1:04.32.

No straight maiden for males

There was not a maiden special weight for juvenile males on Saturday; such a race is typically offered on opening weekend. The race failed to draw sufficient entries. There were two maiden claiming races for fillies on the 10-race program.

Wednesday's eight-race program has five races for 2-year-olds - three maiden claimers, a starter allowance, and the Graduation Stakes for statebreds.

Surface holding steady

Director of racing Tom Robbins expects quality to improve now that trainers have witnessed several days of racing over a Polytrack surface that was criticized last year for inconsistencies. In 2007, the track was quick in the mornings and slow in the afternoons. This year, the surface has been quicker during races than last year. Over the winter, material was added to the surface and a watering program was started. The track was not watered last year.

"As much as we told them it would be better, they wanted to see for themselves," Robbins said of trainers.

Robbins said that comments on the racetrack have been "pretty favorable."

"I haven't heard anyone that sounds discouraged," he said. "We're delivering what we hoped to deliver."

Cal Cup winner euthanized

Runforthemoneybaby, the winner of the California Cup Juvenile Fillies last October, was euthanized on Sunday after suffering a sesamoid injury during a workout, trainer Jeff Mullins said.

Runforthemoneybaby was being prepared for the $150,000 San Clemente Handicap on Saturday. Runforthemoneybaby, 3, won 2 of 8 starts and $187,876.

The California Cup Juvenile Fillies was her only stakes win. She was third in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at 2, and third in the Flawlessly Stakes on July 4, her only stakes appearance as a 3-year-old.

"What's most disturbing about it is that she didn't have anything wrong with her, not a pimple," Mullins said.

Bet a little, win a lot

The two winning tickets in the pick six at Del Mar on Saturday were worth $356,909 and cost a combined $20, according to track officials.

One ticket was purchased for $12 through the TVG account-wagering system. Another was purchased for $8 in Las Vegas, and needed a touch of luck to prove so valuable.

The $8 ticket used the longshot Silent Smoke in the last race. When Silent Smoke was scratched a few minutes before post time, the ticket defaulted to the post-time favorite, Improvising Gal. Improvising Gal ($4) finished in a dead heat for first with Dumaani's Gold ($6.20).

The winners of the pick six races were Shesalittlepistol ($11.80), Well Armed ($5.40), Beyla ($9.60), Outrageous Limit ($13.60), Zardana ($89.60), and Improvising Gal and Dumaani's Gold.