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Updated on 09/15/2011 1:55PM
Where should El Corredor run next?
DEL MAR, Calif. - El Corredor, who could start in Sunday's Grade 2 $250,000 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, worked a sharp six furlongs Tuesday morning, but trainer Bob Baffert was still unsure whether he would run this weekend, or await the Grade 1 Vosburgh Handicap in two weeks at Belmont Park.
El Corredor's main goal this fall is the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park. The seven-furlong Vosburgh, at the Breeders' Cup track, is a tempting option. But El Corredor is the defending champ in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, and Baffert on Tuesday reiterated that El Corredor "likes this track."
"With him, I worry about his feet," Baffert said after El Corredor zipped six furlongs in 1:11.80 with exercise rider Dana Barnes. "I'll see how he is tomorrow [Wednesday]."
Baffert said this would be El Corredor's last year on the track. "A lot of people are interested in standing him," Baffert said. El Corredor has won 6 of 8 starts, including last year's Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. He returned from an 8 1/2-month layoff on Aug. 12 to win this track's Pat O'Brien Handicap, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 119.
Others scheduled to run in the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap are Bright Valour, Budroyale, Figlio Mio, Jorrocks, Performing Magic, Smile Again, and Sumitas. Jorrocks worked four furlongs in 47.60 seconds Tuesday morning.
Point Given, loud and clear
Point Given arrived safely at Del Mar on Monday afternoon, none the worse for wear following his victory in Saturday's Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
"He came off the van screaming and hollering. He was in his 'T-Rex' mode," Baffert said.
Point Given will have one start before to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park. Baffert said it will be in either the Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, or the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
Name game for Habibti
Habibti, the Del Mar Debutante winner, means "my love" in Arabic, according to Jim Barnes, the assistant to Baffert, her trainer. Habibti raced as Habibaty in her debut, but her intended name was Habibti, according to Richard Mulhall, the racing manager for Habibti's owner, Prince Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation.
"It was a misspelling, a typo," Mulhall said. "It was part our fault, part The Jockey Club's fault." The Jockey Club is the sport's registrar for naming horses. "They were very good about getting it changed so quickly, especially after she had already run," Mulhall said.
Another controversial DQ
Del Mar's stewards, who have been quite active this summer, disqualified not one but two horses in Sunday's final race, yet on Monday afternoon said that neither rider was responsible, so neither Felipe Martinez nor Jose Valdivia Jr. received a suspension.
The stewards - Ingrid Fermin, David Samuel, and George Slender - disqualified both Leaven (Valdivia) and Manly Valentine (Martinez) for interfering late with Buggy Ride. Manly Valentine originally finished in a dead heat for second. He was placed fourth. Leaven was moved from fourth to fifth. Buddy Ride was promoted from fifth to third. The incident did not involve the winner, Salish Bull. The race had exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagering, all of which were affected by the disqualifications.
Samuel on Monday said that the stewards had to rule on the disqualifications without the full benefit of the standard pan shot, because the cameraman zeroed in exclusively on Salish Bull in the final 50 yards, thus missing the incident. A head-on shot was analyzed, as well as a shot from the quarter-pole tower, giving a rear view of the incident.
Earlier this meet, on July 30, the stewards disqualified Revillew Slew and jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., ruling they, not Rebuild Trust and jockey Kent Desormeaux, had interfered with Lunar Surprise. The stewards at that time said Desormeaux was not at fault, despite Rebuild Trust drifting out, because "he was in the clear," according to Samuel, who cited the pan camera angle.
Manly Valentine on Sunday crossed over in front of Buddy Ride. The question was whether he was clear at the time. Asked how the stewards could disqualify Manly Valentine without benefit of the pan camera angle, Slender said, "It was a judgment call."
"What little we had of the pan camera, the quarter-pole shot, and head-on, and Felipe said he wasn't sure if he was in the clear," Slender said, outlining the reasons factored into the decision.
The quarter-pole camera is not aligned with the main track. It is set up for a straight on shot of the rear of the turf course stretch, so the main track shot is at an angle. Del Mar does not have a head-on shot for its turf course, despite repeated promises over the years by track president Joe Harper to install one.
Slender said both riders were held blameless because "they were making some effort" to keep their horses running straight. "We gave them a pass. We blamed the horses," Slender said.
Doug O'Neill, the trainer of Manly Valentine, on Tuesday said he believed his horse "was clear of the other horse.
"I was surprised they took him down," O'Neill said. "It seems like every time Felipe is involved, he gets taken down. But Pincay was involved earlier in the meet," he added, referring to the Revillew Slew disqualification, "and that was the most insane call I've ever seen."
McCarron fined for whip violation
Chris McCarron was fined $750 by Del Mar's stewards on Monday afternoon for a recent whip violation. According to the stewards, McCarron was cited after the Paddy Gallagher-trained horse Dream Weekend returned from the first race here on Aug. 12 with a break in the skin near the flank. The CHRB was notified by the track's official veterinarian, Dr. B. William Bell, who observed the horse in the receiving barn following the race.
Jockeys Tyler Baze and Victor Espinoza received fines over the weekend for similar violations. Espinoza, who also got a one-day suspension, may be in line for an additional penalty after another horse he rode last weekend came back with a break in the skin. Jockey Garrett Gomez was scheduled to have a hearing with the stewards on Wednesday for an alleged whip violation here earlier in the meet.
Jockeys have holiday travel plans
McCarron will be absent from Del Mar on Friday and Saturday in order to ride Came Home in Saturday's Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.
David Flores and Gary Stevens will be gone on Monday, Labor Day. Flores rides Janet in Saratoga's Diana Handicap, and Stevens rides Macho Uno in the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park.
Solis, Pincay neck and neck
With seven days to go in the meeting, Alex Solis and Laffit Pincay Jr. were locked in a battle for the riding title. Each won one race on Monday, so Solis maintained a one win lead, 30-29, over Pincay.
Pincay and Solis waged a similar battle at Hollywood Park's meeting, which preceded Del Mar. Pincay won the title there by 64-63 by winning the last race of the meet.