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Rosario proves to be quick thinker
DEL MAR, Calif. – Joel Rosario won five races at Del Mar on Saturday, including two stakes, and came back to win another stakes race on Sunday, in the process wresting the lead in the jockeys’s standings from Rafael Bejarano, 43 wins to 41, going into the final seven days of this meet.
Yet Rosario may have displayed his best piece of horsemanship in Sunday’s third race, when his quick reactions kept his mount, Include Me Out, from trampling Bejarano, who had been dislodged from Wallstreeter during a bumping incident caused by Free Range and jockey Christian Santiago Reyes.
Wallstreeter, after being bumped in the right shoulder a furlong into the six-furlong race for maiden 2-year-old fillies, clipped the heels of Free Range, sending Bejarano flying. Include Me Out was right behind Wallstreeter, and was immediately steered right by Rosario to just miss Bejarano.
Bejarano was taken to Scripps La Jolla Hospital for evaluation, and nearly three hours later was released.
“He’s fine. No breaks, nothing,” Joe Ferrer, Bejarano’s agent, said Sunday afternoon. “He’s been cleared to ride, but he won’t ride again until Wednesday.”
That was good news to Rosario, who did not win a race on Sunday’s card until guiding Champ Pegasus to victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar Handicap.
“I was scared,” Rosario said. “It happened so quick. You’ve always got to pay attention. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Wallstreeter never fell, ran around the racetrack, and was picked up by an outrider.
“She appears okay right now,” her trainer, Eoin Harty, said Monday morning. “But she does have some bumps and fillings.”
Free Range, who finished fourth, was disqualified by the track’s stewards and placed last.
Reyes could be facing a lengthy penalty, which would be his second in less than a week, when the stewards meet with him on Wednesday. On Saturday, Del Mar’s stewards suspended Reyes for the final five days of this meet, beginning Friday, for a careless-riding infraction aboard Tahoe Yodeler in last Friday’s eighth race.
According to the official ruling from stewards Tom Ward, Kim Sawyer, and Scott Chaney, Reyes was cited for “crossing over without sufficient clearance and causing interference” aboard Tahoe Yodeler. The film review and hearing scheduled for Wednesday will focus again on that exact rule.
Champ Pegasus headed to Oak Tree
Champ Pegasus did not get to the races until last December, then took until April to win his first race. But he’s certainly making up for lost time now. His victory in the Del Mar Handicap on Sunday, his third in his last four starts, earned him an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.
“It gives us something to dream about,” said his trainer, Richard Mandella. “He acts like he’ll run all day.”
Before the Breeders’ Cup, though, Champ Pegasus will run in the Clement Hirsch Stakes at Oak Tree, whose meet is now scheduled to be run this year at Hollywood Park.
Champ Pegasus, 4, has found his best form at long distances. The Del Mar Handicap is at 1 3/8 miles on turf, and Champ Pegasus in his previous start was second in the Sunset Handicap going 1 1/2 miles.
“When he was young, he looked like a little sprinter,” Mandella said. Champ Pegasus is by Fusaichi Pegasus, and is out of the top-class Argentine mare Salt Champ.
Mandella said it took Champ Pegasus until December of his 3-year-old year to get to the races because of “a lot of little things.”
“He popped a splint, had a sore muscle in a hip,” Mandella said.
Mandella credited Gerald Ford, who races as Diamond A Racing Corp., and Arturo Vargas – who bred and own Champ Pegasus – with the patience that allowed Champ Pegasus to finally blossom at age 4.
“I’m very fortunate to work for people who support the time I give [the horses],” Mandella said. “These people do, and they’re being rewarded.”
The victory for Mandella was his 48th in a stakes race at Del Mar, tying him for fifth all-time here with D. Wayne Lukas.
Fourth start of meet for Quick Enough
Quick Enough, a nose shy of being a three-time winner at this meet, will make his fourth start of the season on Wednesday in the second race in a five-furlong turf dash, his specialty.
Quick Enough returned from a 15-month layoff on July 25 for trainer Ron Ellis and won for a $32,000 claiming price going six furlongs on the main track. He was taken out of that race by trainer Mike Mitchell, who won with him in a turf sprint on Aug. 5.
Doug O’Neill claimed him that day for $40,000, and brought him back Aug. 18 in the Green Flash Handicap, in which he lost a heartbreaker to last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, California Flag.
“I’m a little worried that it’s his fourth start of the meet,” O’Neill said of Wednesday’s allowance race, “but he loves this five-furlong layout.”
This year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint will be run at five furlongs, owing to the configuration of Churchill Downs’ course. O’Neill thinks Quick Enough belongs.
“I think at that distance on that surface, he’s a world-class horse,” O’Neill said.
Tough decision for partners
Expensive decisions loom on the horizon for the owners of Enriched, the winner of Saturday’s Grade 2 Del Mar Mile Handicap.
Enriched’s victory gave the 5-year-old gelding an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Unfortunately for partners Glenn Sorgenstein, Joshua Kaplan, Mark Verge, and Neil Haymes, using that automatic berth would require a hefty six-figure nomination and entry fee.
“I don’t know if I can do that to these guys,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of the costs.
O’Neill said the Oak Tree Mile at Hollywood Park in early October may be Enriched’s next start.
A half-brother to the seven-time Grade 1 winner Lava Man, whom O’Neill trained, Enriched was claimed for $32,000 last November. Since then, Enriched has earned $340,676. In his career, Enriched has won 7 of 21 starts and $494,656.
In the Del Mar Mile, Enriched set a slow pace – 23.97 and 48.53 seconds – and won by three-quarters of a length over Meteore. Ridden by Joel Rosario, Enriched was timed in 1:34.83, and ran the last quarter-mile in 22.51 seconds.
“It’s great to have this horse,” O’Neill said. “He’s very classy and he’s a relative of the greatest horse I’ve ever had.”
– additional reporting by Steve Andersen