09/01/2014 3:01PM

Skyway looks to cap big meet in Del Mar Futurity

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Benoit & Associates
Skyway, winning the Best Pal earlier in the Del Mar meet, has helped trainer Mark Casse enjoy a successful Del Mar meet.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Usually, it’s the Rose Parade that convinces Easterners to relocate to California. It took trainer Mark Casse just one summer at Del Mar.

Casse brought a strong group of horses to Del Mar, and they have performed well. Though Casse has far more seconds than firsts, he’s won enough races to pay for a summer rental, and the overall success of his stable has convinced the peripatetic trainer to establish a year-round presence in Southern California.

Casse is hoping to end the meet on a high note on closing-day Wednesday, when he sends out the likely favorite, Skyway, in the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity for 2-year-olds. Skyway provided Casse with his first Del Mar stakes win one month ago in the Grade 2 Best Pal, the major prep for the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity.

:: Del Mar closing day: Get PPs, watch Wednesday's card live

“I couldn’t be happier with the way the meet has gone,” Casse said. “We were a little unlucky with a couple of seconds, but overall, we’ve done well, and from a soundness standpoint, our horses have done exceptional here. I love the place. I love the temperature. And I’m looking forward to staying and racing out here year-round.”

Skyway drew the outside post in a field of nine.

“I’m very happy with the draw,” Casse said. “He’s the kind of horse who wants you to grab him and get into a rhythm.”

Casse will be trying to stop the juggernaut in this race that has been Bob Baffert, who has won the Del Mar Futurity a record 11 times, all since 1996. Baffert has two runners this year in Holiday Camp and American Pharoah.

Holiday Camp won his debut June 7 at Santa Anita but finished last of six 15 days later in the Santa Anita Juvenile. This is his first start since.

“I think I ran him back a little too soon,” Baffert said. “With the extra time, he’s come around, but I do think he’ll benefit by the race.”

American Pharoah was highly touted before his lone start but finished fifth of nine as the 7-5 choice. Both before and since that race, he has trained very well.

Four of the runners, including American Pharoah, are maidens, with many of those entered because the acknowledged leader of the local division, Om, was forced to pass the race.

The Del Mar Futurity is race 8 on a 10-race card that begins at 2 p.m. Pacific. Because it is closing day, there will be mandatory payouts in all pools, including the pick six.

KEY CONTENDERS

SKYWAY (Beyers: 80-66-N/A)

◗ Has raced twice on Polytrack and has won both times. In addition to the Best Pal, he was an easy winner of his debut at Keeneland in April.

◗ His lone loss came on dirt at Churchill Downs in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor, which Casse attributes to a sluggish start from an inside post.

HENRY’S HOLIDAY (Beyers: 77-69-76)

◗ Made a nice run to finish second behind Skyway in the Best Pal and only figures to improve with the extra 110 yards in the Futurity.

IRON FIST (Beyers: 80-64)

◗ Still a maiden but moved forward from his first start to his second and has a right to continue that improving pattern here. He likely will be even better when he gets to go two turns.

◗ Tied with Skyway for the best Beyer Speed Figure in the race, his earned when finishing second last time out to Om.

◗ The son of Tapit was a $1.55 million yearling purchase.

OH NEWMAN (Beyer: 65)

◗ Worth a longshot look in here off a troubled debut in which he finished third after breaking poorly and then encountering traffic.