09/16/2016 12:16PM

Rockingham, Miller have two in Barretts Juvenile

Emily Shields
Big League wins his racing debut at 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar.

CYPRESS, Calif. – Big League was beaten 2 3/4 lengths when second to Klimt in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 13. The loss led owner Gary Hartunian and trainer Peter Miller to point Big League to Sunday’s $100,000 Barretts Juvenile at Los Alamitos.

Hartunian, who races as Rockingham Ranch, paid $125,000 for California Diamond at the Del Mar Paddock Sale of horses of racing age in July, the most-expensive hip of the sale. California Diamond was second in two stakes for California-breds at Del Mar, earning back $47,500 of his purchase price.

California Diamond is also entered in the Barretts Juvenile, giving Rockingham Ranch and Miller the two leading runners in a race restricted to horses offered at Barretts sales. Rockingham purchased Big League for $100,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. auction of 2-year-olds in training in March and then bought the ridgling back for $275,000 at the Barretts May sale of juveniles.

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The Barretts Juvenile is run at 6 1/2 furlongs and drew a field of six. The only other runner with success in stakes is the well-traveled Crosscheck Carlos, who won the D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity for Louisiana-breds at Evangeline Downs in July.


Big League, by Speightstown
Last 2 Beyers: 75-74

◗ Big League won his debut in a maiden race at 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar on July 30 and set the pace in the Best Pal before Klimt pulled clear. Klimt returned to win the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs on Sept. 5.

“We were pointing to this race all along after the Best Pal,” Miller said. “This race made sense.”

◗ Miller said on Thursday that he is not playing favorites with his two runners.

“I think they both could win,” he said. “They’re both doing well.”

California Diamond, by Harbor the Gold
Last 3 Beyers: 77-69-78

◗ California Diamond won his first two starts, including the Santa Anita Juvenile at 5 1/2 furlongs when trained by John Brocklebank. At Del Mar, California Diamond was near the front in the Graduation and I’m Smokin stakes but could not keep pace with a rival in the final furlong.

◗ Of his two runners, Miller thinks California Diamond could be most effective as a stalker.

“I would think we’ll probably take California Diamond off the pace,” he said. “That might be the logical thing to do, but you never know when the gates open.”

◗ Kent Desormeaux rode California Diamond in the I’m Smokin Stakes at six furlongs on Sept. 2. California Diamond led narrowly with a furlong to go but was beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Mo Soul.

“It was the first time that Kent rode him,” Miller said. “He thought the horse idled when he hit the lead and pulled himself up.”

Crosscheck Carlos, by Custom for Carlos
Last 3 Beyers: 50-66-68

◗ Crosscheck Carlos, bought back at the Paddock Sale for $95,000, has raced at three tracks in three starts, including a well-beaten second in the Gold Rush Futurity at Arapahoe Park on Aug. 14. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Crosscheck Carlos was a sharp maiden-race winner in his first start at Santa Anita in June. The Barretts Juvenile will be the California stakes debut for Crosscheck Carlos.