08/18/2016 1:10PM

Miller still has faith in aging Finnegans Wake

Shigeki Kikkawa
Finnegans Wake, now 7, is seeking his first stakes win of the season in the Del Mar Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif. – At the age of 7, Finnegans Wake is a senior member of trainer Peter Miller’s massive stable – and one of the most well respected.

Finnegans Wake has won 8 of 36 starts and earned $1,594,320 in his career. Last year, Finnegans Wake won three stakes, including the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.

Finnegans Wake has yet to win a stakes this year but has trained well enough in recent weeks to leave Miller encouraged about the horse’s chances in Saturday’s $250,000 Del Mar Handicap.

“He’s acting like his old self,” Miller said.

Owned by Donegal Racing and Rockingham Ranch, Finnegans Wake was fifth in the Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf here July 17, losing by 2 1/4 lengths to Midnight Storm. Earlier this year at Santa Anita, Finnegans Wake was sixth in the Grade 3 Thunder Road Stakes at a mile in April and fifth in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes in May.

A win in an optional claimer at Santa Anita on June 16 erased some of the sting of the losses but has left Miller wondering if age has crept up on Finnegans Wake.

“I don’t know if the races have less pace to them, or less setup for him, or if he’s lost a step,” Miller said. “He is 7, so we’ll cut him some slack for age.”

Finnegans Wake was 10th in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita. The winner of the Del Mar Handicap will receive a fees-paid berth to that race at Santa Anita on Nov. 5. Finnegans Wake will be after his sixth stakes win in the Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf.

“I hope he can put it together,” Miller said. “We’d like to win it. I think it’s an open race. I think five or six can win it.”

Traffic alert for L.A. drivers

:: PACIFIC CLASSIC: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live on DRF.com

Los Angeles-area racegoers traveling to Del Mar on Saturday should allow extra time for the journey because of scheduled construction work on Interstate 5.

A portion of Interstate 5 in San Clemente is scheduled to be reduced to one lane from 10 p.m. Friday to approximately 11 a.m. Saturday, according to signs posted on the freeway Wednesday. This is a tricky section of the freeway through hills and is often congested without a reduction in lanes.

First post for Saturday’s 11-race Pacific Classic program is 2 p.m. Pacific. Track officials said on Wednesday that they hope to draw a crowd of 30,000.