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O'Brien offers Cup berth
DEL MAR, Calif. - Sunday's card at Del Mar is highlighted by the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, but there are two other graded stakes on the program, and all three races are part of the "Win and You're in" series for the Breeders' Cup in October at Monmouth Park.
The Grade 2, $300,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap for sprinters going seven furlongs on Polytrack is expected to include Bilo and Surf Cat, who were first and second in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 7, and Bordonaro and Greg's Gold, who finished second and third behind In Summation in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap here on July 29.
Greg's Gold worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 on Monday at Del Mar. Bilo worked six furlongs in 1:18.40 on Sunday.
Midnight Lute, who has not raced since finishing fourth in the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland in April, was nominated to the Pat O'Brien and sizzled seven furlongs in 1:22 from the gate on Sunday morning at Del Mar, but trainer Bob Baffert on Monday said Midnight Lute would not run here and would instead be sent to Saratoga for that track's Grade 1 Forego Handicap on Sept. 1.
"He worked really good. If post time was 7 in the morning, I'd run him here," said Baffert, who has said Del Mar's track is tighter in the morning for training than in the afternoon for racing. "You don't get the same deal in the afternoon."
Midnight Lute was third in Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, and last year captured the Perryville Stakes on Polytrack at Keeneland.
In addition to Bilo (Joe Talamo the rider), Bordonaro (Richard Migliore), Greg's Gold (Victor Espinoza), and Surf Cat (Alex Solis), others under consideration for the Pat O'Brien are Absolute Glory (Alonso Quinonez), Publication (Michael Baze), and Soul City Slew (Martin Garcia).
Art Sherman, who trains Siren Lure, last year's O'Brien winner, on Monday said he hoped to run Siren Lure in this year's O'Brien, too. Siren Lure was entered in Monday's seventh race. Sherman approached the stewards and asked to be let out of Monday's race, which had a six-horse field. The stewards refused to let him scratch, according to steward Albert Christiansen. Later in the morning, Siren Lure was scratched by the track veterinarian.
Stewards Christiansen and Scott Chaney on Monday afternoon said a horse who is a vet scratch cannot run for 10 days unless the track vet rules otherwise.
"Now that he's on the vet's list, it's up to the vet whether he can come off quicker and be eligible to run," Christiansen said. "At this point, it's out of our hands."
Sunday's other stakes race is the Grade 2, $400,000 Del Mar Mile on turf. Crossing the Line, who won two races impressively at Hollywood Park after arriving from his native New Zealand, will make his graded stakes debut in the Del Mar Mile against Out of Control, the runner-up to After Market in the Eddie Read Handicap.
In addition to Crossing the Line (Gomez) and Out of Control (Baze), others expected for the Del Mar Mile include Becrux (David Flores), Captain Kurt (Espinoza), Lang Field (Jon Court), Porto Santo, and Zann.
Out of Control worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Polytrack on Sunday.
After Market may go in Del Mar Cap
After Market, scratched from the Arlington Million on Saturday because of soft turf conditions, may start in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 26, trainer John Shirreffs said.
After Market was scheduled to return to California on Tuesday. Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod, After Market, 4, was scratched from the Arlington Million on Saturday morning.
"He's proved he doesn't like the soft going," Shirreffs said.
Shirreffs said there was "a better than 50-50 chance" that After Market would start in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap.
After Market has won 7 of 11 starts and $703,685. He has won his last three races, all stakes, including the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on June 9 and the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar on July 22.
The Del Mar Handicap would be his first start at 1 3/8 miles on turf.
Sherman wins 2,000th race
Art Sherman splits his stable between Northern and Southern California, and though he spends far more time here, his attention was riveted on the Bay Meadows Fair on Sunday. He won four straight races, including the 2,000th of his career with Oneanwin in the day's fourth race.
"It was kinda neat, winning four in a row and in the process winning my 2,000th," Sherman said while watching his horses train at Del Mar on Monday morning.
Sherman will run Lang Field in the Del Mar Mile. He was third behind Becrux and Zann after setting a hot pace (45.89 seconds for a half-mile, 1:08.84 for six furlongs) in the one-mile Wickerr Handicap on turf here on July 27.
"He's training great," Sherman said. "He ran a super race last time. I couldn't believe he held on as well as he did with those fractions.
"I was thinking of going to Washington," he said, referring to Sunday's Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs, "but I didn't want to run him on a track that he hasn't been training on. For the same amount of money, I thought I'd stay here."
San Clemente 1-2-3 lined up for Oaks
Passified, Fleet Caroline, and Spenditallbaby - the first three finishers in last month's San Clemente Handicap - are scheduled to face Eastern invader Rutherienne on Saturday in the Grade 1, $400,000 Del Mar Oaks.
Others expected for the 1 1/8-mile grass race for 3-year-old fillies include Gotta Have Her, Super Freaky, Supposition, and Valbenny, who was second in the American Oaks in her last start.
Black Seventeen's foot still a problem
Black Seventeen, the winner of the Grade 2 Carry Back Stakes at Calder last month, will miss the $250,000 King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 25 because of a lingering foot problem, trainer Brian Koriner said.
Black Seventeen was scheduled to resume training on Monday after being given five days off following a workout last week, Koriner said. He said the gap in the 3-year-old's schedule was too long for a start in the Grade 1 King's Bishop.
Koriner said the foot "has been a little bit of a problem."
The Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27 is a long-term goal for Black Seventeen. A prep race in late September or early October has not been selected, Koriner said.
Landeros, Nakatani draw bans
Jockeys Chris Landeros and Corey Nakatani have been suspended for three days this week for causing interference in races last week.
Landeros was cited for his ride through the stretch on Dr. Zaentz in the eighth race Aug. 8. His suspension is to run from Thursday through Saturday. Dr. Zaentz was disqualified from first to third for bumping a rival.
Nakatani was cited for his ride through the stretch on Black Mallou in the fourth race last Friday. He is suspended from Saturday through Monday, but will be able to ride Lava Man in Sunday's Pacific Classic, and other graded stakes over the weekend, because those races are exempt from routine suspensions.
- additional reporting by Steve Andersen