08/23/2009 11:00PM

Injury costs Baze live stakes mounts

Email
Benoit & Associates
Einstein (right), winning the Santa Anita Handicap in March, is returning to California for the Pacific Classic on Sept. 6.

DEL MAR, Calif. - The broken finger sustained by jockey Tyler Baze before Del Mar's final race on Saturday will keep him out of action for at least a week, alter the riding situation for key stakes races this weekend, and pretty much hand over the leading rider title to Joel Rosario, who already had a six-win cushion over Baze even before Baze was injured.

Baze, who was second at the meet with 29 wins through Saturday, fractured the pinky finger on his left hand when dislodged from R. Bee Ess before the 10th race on Saturday. His agent, Ron Ebanks, said Baze would miss this week, possibly more.

"He has a splint on the finger," Ebanks said. "He's going to see a specialist to see how quickly he can come back. What hurts is that he had the best bunch of horses to ride in the upcoming stakes."

Baze was scheduled to ride Monterey Jazz in the Grade 2, $300,000 Del Mar Mile on Saturday, and Obrigado in the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap on Sunday. Ebanks was holding out hope that Baze would be back to ride Virginia Derby winner Battle of Hastings in the Grade 2, $350,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6.

Neither Craig Dollase, who trains Monterey Jazz, nor Neil Drysdale, who trains Obrigado, had yet decided on replacements.

Bejarano back in action

One rider who could benefit from Baze's inactivity is Rafael Bejarano, who will return on Friday after being in a horrible accident opening day July 22. He is already in demand.

"I took three calls for Friday and I've already got six each for Saturday and Sunday," said Joe Ferrer, Bejarano's agent. "I don't want him to do much more than that right away, but I've got enough business that he could ride nine or 10."

Bejarano will be on Victor's Cry in the Del Mar Mile, and was one of the riders being considered for Obrigado.

Bejarano worked horses both Saturday and Sunday mornings and said he was "excited to get going." He sustained multiple fractures to the left side of his face, a broken jaw, and a broken nose when his mount Mi Rey broke down in the third race on opening day, tossing Bejarano into the path of oncoming horses, one of whom clipped him.

"The operation to my face took six hours," Bejarano said. "I have 10 titanium plates. I feel blessed to have another opportunity."

The surgeons did a remarkable job. There are no scars on Bejarano's face.

"The whole surgery was through my mouth," he said.

Bejarano will wear a clear face mask, similar to what Rip Hamilton of the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons uses. Bejarano wore it when working horses over the weekend.

"I wanted to get used to it," Bejarano said. "It doesn't bother me. I just want some protection for a few weeks. You never know. A shoe could come loose from another horse and fly up. I don't want to get hit in the face and have to stop riding again. My nose is still broken."

Espinoza suspension begins Friday

Jockey Victor Espinoza begins a three-day suspension on Friday after being cited by Del Mar's stewards for careless riding on Deputy Judy R N in the eighth race last Thursday, but his suspension could be among the last of its kind. The California Horse Racing Board, at its monthly meeting on Thursday, is scheduled to vote on a proposal that would allow for fines, rather than three- or five-day suspensions, for careless riding.

"I think it's a good idea," said Espinoza's agent, Tony Matos. "When a jockey gets suspended after a condition book is out, you are penalizing the owners. In a 12-horse field, all the riders are taken. The owner gets the leftovers. This will avoid having riders appeal."

Einstein gets green light for Pacific Classic

The field for the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic continues to swell. On Sunday, Del Mar stakes coordinator Zach Soto reported that Einstein, who won the Santa Anita Handicap in March, would definitely head west for the meet's richest race on Sept. 6. He is scheduled to fly here on Aug. 31.

That sets up a showdown in the Pacific Classic between the winners of the two major races for older horses in California earlier this year. Rail Trip, the Hollywood Gold Cup winner, continued his steady preparation for the Pacific Classic with a solid one-mile workout in 1:39 on Sunday morning under his regular rider, Jose Valdivia Jr.

"He did it pretty easy," trainer Ron Ellis said as Rail Trip galloped out. "He had a little trouble adapting to the surface when he first got here, but he's doing well now. He's been happy, with a lot of energy. I'm glad the Pacific Classic is two weeks later than normal."

Ellis said Rail Trip will have another one-mile workout this weekend.

Among those also aiming for the Pacific Classic are Awesome Gem, Colonel John, Informed, Mast Track, Misremembered, Parading, Song of Navarone, and Tres Borrachos.

Gomez makes amends

Trainer Bob Baffert was steaming after Viscount narrowly missed winning the sixth race on Saturday after getting caught behind a slow pace, but he held his tongue, because his rider, Garrett Gomez, was scheduled to ride Internallyflawless in the Del Mar Oaks two races later.

"I didn't want to get in his head," Baffert said.

Gomez gave Internallyflawless a flawless ride in the Grade 1, $350,000 Oaks. When he brought her back to be unsaddled, Baffert's first words to him were, "You redeemed yourself."

Plans are uncertain for Internallyflawless. Baffert said she could go to Keeneland next for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

The QEII also could be the next start for Well Monied, who finished third as the favorite, her chances compromised by a slow pace and wide trip under Rosario.

"She's fine," Zucker said. "I wonder how many more feet she ran than the winner? The early move took away her punch. We're disappointed but not discouraged. If she runs again this year, it would probably be the Queen Elizabeth."

Cal Cup likely next for you Lift Me Up

One day after Well Monied's loss, Rosario exercised extreme patience and it paid off with You Lift Me Up, who captured the $100,000 Solana Beach Handicap for older California-bred female turf runners.

Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains You Lift Me Up, said Rosario was farther back than he expected, but realized the early fractions were too fast for the leaders.

"The pace set up nice and fast for her," Hollendorfer said.

Hollendorfer, who owns You Lift Me Up with George Todaro, said he would certainly look for a race on California Cup Day, Oct. 3, at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting for You Lift Me Up's next start.