04/14/2011 3:28PM

San Juan Capistrano a family tradition

Benoit & Associates
Juniper Pass, with Rafael Bejarano up, wins the San Luis Rey.

ARCADIA, Calif. – A win by Juniper Pass in Sunday’s $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap would be the latest success in the historic race for trainer Ray Bell’s family.

Way back in 1963, Bell’s grandfather, also named Ray, won the race as an owner with the English import Pardao. Trainer Bell was only 9 at the time and did not attend the race, but still recalls the scene at home later that day.

“I remember them bringing home the blanket of flowers and watching the replay on the old Gil Stratton show,” he said.

Juniper Pass, who races Robert and Betty Irvin, is already a stakes winner at this meeting, in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes over about 1 1/2 miles on a sloppy main track on March 20. The race was scheduled for turf but wet weather forced a change in surface.

Juniper Pass, 4, has won 3 of 11 starts and $194,380. Thursday, in a final major preparation for the San Juan Capistrano, Juniper Pass worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds on the Santa Anita turf course around temporary cones set about halfway out on the turf course.

“He had a good seven-eighths last week and that was the heavy lifting that he needed,” said Bell, 57.

The Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano is run over about 1 3/4 miles on turf and is the longest graded stakes in California. The race has drawn a field of 10, including Haimish Hy, the winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last November.

The San Juan Capistrano will be run for 72nd time on Sunday, and is the closing-day feature of the winter-spring meeting. It will the last race on a 10-race card. Hollywood Park begins its spring-summer meeting on Thursday.

“It’s a very historic race,” Bell said of the San Juan Capistrano. “Any time you can win a race like that, it’s good credentials. Nowadays, though, in the stallion ranks, they may not want a stayer. If he could win a race like that, it would be a feather in his hat.”

Regally Ready out for third straight

Regally Ready will seek his third consecutive win on the hillside turf course in Saturday’s $100,000 San Simeon Handicap.

Regally Ready is expected to be such a strong favorite in the race over about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf that track officials have carded the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap as the third race, and out of the pick six, which covers the fifth through 10th races.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Regally Ready has been favored in three starts on the hillside turf course this year. After finishing third in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes on Jan. 1, Regally Ready won an allowance race on Feb. 4 and the Joe Hernandez Stakes on March 18.

Regally Ready is part of a field of six that includes two other stakes winners – Compari, the winner of four stakes in 2009 and 2010 who is making his first start since July; and Gallant Son, who won the Grade 3 Inglewood Stakes last April.

Camp Victory, Supreme Summit, and Victory Pete also start.

Supreme Summit was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs last November, but last of six in the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap on a wet-fast track on Feb. 19. The San Simeon will be his turf debut.

“I think the distance is good,” trainer Mike Puype said. “He’s got a real turn of foot. He didn’t like the track last time. It was a greasy, sloppy track. I think he will run well.”

Clarke Lane works at home

Clarke Lane, second in an allowance race for 3-year-olds on March 27 in his U.S. debut, worked a half-mile in 47.40 seconds on Thursday. Trainer Simon Callaghan considered Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland for Clarke Lane, but said on Thursday that an allowance race at Hollywood Park will be targeted.

“If he wins at Hollywood, we would be confident to step into stakes company,” Callaghan said.