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San Diego's top two target Pacific Classic
DEL MAR, Calif. - Choctaw Nation and Pleasantly Perfect, who finished first and second in Sunday's San Diego Handicap, both emerged from the race in good condition and will meet again Aug. 22 in Del Mar's $1 million Pacific Classic, their trainers said Monday morning.
Choctaw Nation ran his record to 5 for 5 in the San Diego, which marked his stakes debut.
"He'll go in the Pacific Classic. He's earned it," said Jeff Mullins, who trains Choctaw Nation. "I don't know who else will be there, other than Pleasantly Perfect. It might be like last year, a four-horse field."
Choctaw Nation was the fourth stakes winner in 15 days sent out by Mullins. He also won Saturday's San Clemente Handicap here with Sweet Win. Two weeks earlier, Mullins won the Delaware Handicap with Summer Wind Dancer, and a Claiming Crown race with Stage Player. Mullins on Sunday also proved instrumental in his friend Scott Guenther winning the $2.1 million pick six, since Mullins trainees won the final two legs in the sequence. Mullins, however, did not make the evening's celebration with Guenther.
"I went a little too fast too soon," Mullins said. "Not too long after the races, I went down."
Mullins said the San Diego was "probably the biggest victory of my career so far."
Owner Bob Bone said, "It's not even a question. This is number one by a longshot. If we'd have finished second to Pleasantly Perfect, we'd have been thrilled to death."
Pleasantly Perfect should move forward off his comeback race. He had not run in four months, since his victory in the Dubai World Cup, and was way too eager the early part of the race.
"I just got him keyed up. I jazzed him up, and he doesn't need it," said Richard Mandella, who trains Pleasantly Perfect. "It's not the end of the world, but it's one off-ramp away."
Mike Smith rode Pleasantly Perfect in the San Diego, but Mandella had already committed to Jerry Bailey for the Pacific Classic.
Pleasantly Perfect carried 10 more pounds than Choctaw Nation, 124-114. In the Pacific Classic, which is weight-for-age, both horses will carry 124 pounds.
Kamsack, She's Salty stakes-bound
Trainer Doug O'Neill has made stakes plans for Kamsack and She's Salty, winners last weekend.
Kamsack returned from an 18-month layoff on Friday to win an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Kamsack ($14.80) disputed the early lead with Rojo Toro, trailed by 1 1/2 lengths on the turn but rallied through the stretch to win by a neck over Hasty Kris in 1:15.50. Rojo Toro finished third.
O'Neill said Kamsack is under consideration for the $250,000 Longacres Mile Handicap at Emerald Downs on Aug. 22 or the $250,000 Forego Handicap over seven furlongs at Saratoga on Sept. 4.
Owned by Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez, Kamsack, 5, has won 3 of 7 starts in a career often interrupted by injury. Kamsack made three starts as a 2-year-old in 2001, including a second to Officer in the 2001 Del Mar Futurity. Since then, Kamsack has been sidelined by a knee chip and on two occasions when he sustained cannon bone injuries.
"We've always known he was a good horse," Lorraine Rodriguez said.
She's Salty scored a flashy win in a maiden special weight race over 5 1/2 furlongs last Saturday. Ridden by Jon Court, She's Salty led throughout, pulling away to score by five lengths in 1:04.40.
The race marked the second start for She's Salty, following a runner-up finish to Inspiring at Hollywood Park on July 5.
The Sorrento Stakes will be run too soon for She's Salty, but O'Neill said that the Texas-bred filly by Gentlemen will be pointed for the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante over seven furlongs on Aug. 28.
Two horses euthanized in one race
American Son and Wixoe Express were both euthanized after suffering catastrophic fractures in Sunday's seventh race, a 1 1/16-mile grass race for second-level allowance runners, or $80,000 claimers.
American Son broke down in both the left rear and right front legs while being pulled up after the race. The 4-year-old colt by Royal Academy was trained by O'Neill.
Wixoe Express, a 5-year-old gelding by Anabaa who was entered for an $80,000 claiming price, fractured his left front leg while racing on the far turn. His regular rider, Matt Garcia, was distraught.
"I didn't even talk to Matt after the race. He was crying," said Neil Drysdale, who trained Wixoe Express.
Stakes horses work out
Chandtrue, the unbeaten winner of the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, worked three furlongs in 37.80 seconds on Monday morning for trainer Bob Hess Jr. He is not expected to start until the closing-day Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 8.
Kela, who captured the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap on July 25, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 for trainer Mike Mitchell. He is scheduled to make his next start in the Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap on Aug. 15.
Noches de Rosa, who will make her next start in Arlington's Beverly D. Stakes on Aug. 14, worked one mile in 1:40.20 in company with stablemate The Tin Man. Both are trained by Mandella. The Tin Man has not raced since last year's Breeders' Cup Turf. His main goal this summer is the Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 29.
Sunday, Victory Encounter turned in her final drill for this Sunday's Clement Hirsch Handicap. She sped six furlongs in 1:11.
Baze appeals suspension
Jockey Tyler Baze, who won the title at Hollywood earlier this summer, has appealed a seven-day suspension for causing interference on July 28.
Baze was cited for failing to maintain a straight course in the stretch aboard We All Love Aleyna in the sixth race. We All Love Aleyna was disqualified from first and placed seventh.
The suspension was scheduled to start on Thursday and continue through Aug. 12.
Jockey Juan Leyva has been given a three-day ban for causing interference aboard Runn'n Wild in the fifth race on July 29.
Runn'n Wild finished ninth in the 5 1/2-furlong race for maiden claimers. Despite the suspension, which runs from Wednesday through Friday, there was no change to the order of finish.
* Court, who relocated from Kentucky to Southern California in April, has changed agents, replacing Nick Cosato with Tom Knust. Cosato will continue to book mounts for Corey Nakatani. Knust also represents Isaias Enriquez.
* Sunday's pick four pool, which had a guarantee of $500,000, reached $960,755.
- additional reporting by Steve Andersen