A full field of 2-year-olds close a banner meet at the seaside track in the 65th running of the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity (G1) going seven furlongs on synthetic Polytrack surface.
Of the 12 juveniles entered, only 8-to-1 longshot Scherer Magic has more than one win to his credit from a field-high three starts, and a third of the field is looking for their first career win at what will surely be monstrous odds.
Scherer Magic is one of a pair trainer John Sadler will send out, looking for his first Futurity triumph. After getting claimed for $50,000 when breaking his maiden by more than seven lengths, the Iowa-bred son of Doneraile Court cruised to a 2 ½-length victory in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G3). He subsequently was soundly defeated as the even-money favorite in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar on August 5.
Corey Nakatani takes over for the first time on Scherer Magic, 19 years after capturing his only win in the Futurity aboard Winning Pact.
Sadler’s other entrant appears more formidable, with Capo Bastone installed as the 3-to-1 second choice on the morning line after an impressive local maiden score on August 4. Far back early in that debut, the son of Street Boss exploded late to win in hand for Garrett Gomez at the abbreviated 5 ½-furlong sprint distance.
With Gomez opting to stick with 5-to-2 morning line favorite Know More, three-time (Belmont) Futurity Stakes (G1) winner John Velazquez ships in from New York to ride in his first Del Mar Futurity aboard Capo Bastone. Velazquez will get a test spin on Del Mar’s Polytrack surface earlier in the card by riding Byrama in the $85,000 C.E.R.F Stakes for the same owners, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
A remarkable 2012 continued for Team Doug O’Neill and Paul Reddam with Know More’s debut win in the Best Pal Stakes. The Lion Heart colt rallied down the center of Del Mar’s main track to defeat a pair of fillies trying the boys, but those two runners returned to disappoint back in against their gender this past weekend in the Del Mar Debutante (G1).
With O’Neill currently serving a 40-day suspension, Know More runs under the name of O’Neill’s longtime assistant, Leandro Mora, who has won with 25% of his 36 starters in the two weeks he’s been in charge.
Bob Baffert has a record ten wins in the Futurity, including a remarkable seven straight from 1996-2002, and enters closing day on top of the trainer standings. His 19 wins at the meet leaves him four ahead of Sadler and one in front of both Peter Miller and O’Neill, although combined with Mora’s tallies O’Neill would be well in front.
Baffert’s dominance in this race appears to be in jeopardy, as his juvenile stock is not what it has been in recent years and his 2012 entrant, Rolling Fog, is 6-to-1 off a modest 62 Beyer Speed Figure in his maiden win on August 4. Leading rider and Baffert’s current go-to-guy, Rafael Bejarano, is in the irons and enters the day tied at 12 for the most stakes wins in a Del Mar meet.
All three of David Flores’ Del Mar Futurity wins came during Baffert’s streak of seven straight, but a fourth seems unlikely as he rides one of three runners listed at 30-to-1 with Pure Loyalty, who was the runner-up for trainer Mark Glatt at 32-to-1 in his debut on August 18.
Switch to the Lead is the only filly tackling males in the Del Mar Futurity, listed at 12-to-1 on the morning line to become the fourth female winner in the Futurity (Lost Kitty in 1987, Althea in 1983 and June Darling in 1970). The daughter of Songandaprayer gave Japanese riding champion Yuichi Fukunaga his only win of the Del Mar meet when breaking her maiden on July 29, but Julien Leparoux also ships in from New York to replace Fukunaga after a third-place finish in the Sorrento Stakes (G3) on August 8.
After winning aboard Drill last year for Baffert, Martin Garcia looks for consecutive Futurity scores with 8-to-1 shot Heir of Storm for Alexis Barba, who can become the second female trainer to win the Del Mar Futurity after Kathy Walsh won with Georgie Boy in 2007.
Heir of Storm lands in cozy post position six after being stuck breaking from the rail in both previous starts, notching a maiden win at Hollywood Park on July 1 before finishing fourth in the Best Pal Stakes.
Bob Hess Jr. sends 20-to-1 longshot Yankee Rebel off maiden win in an $80,000 claimer on the day after opening day and is the only other trainer in this group with a previous Del Mar Futurity win, having captured the 1992 edition with River Special.
Looking for his fourth Futurity win, Victor Espinoza gets the call aboard the Yankee Gentleman gelding. He was aboard the shortest priced winner in the history of the race when Officer paid $2.20 for Baffert in 2001.
Mike Smith can add the Futurity to the long list of major stakes race successes in his Hall of Fame career with 12-to-1 shot Caballo Del Cielo, who just got caught late in his only career start on August 12. The Songandaprayer colt trained by Jeff Bonde fetched the highest price tag of the bunch at auction selling for $250,000 at the Barrett’s May 2-year-olds in training sale earlier this year.
Keith Desormeaux looks for his first training win at Del Mar with 30-to-1 longshot Ive Struck a Nerve, who wheels back just 10 days after missing by half a length in his second try in a maiden race at the meet.
Desormeaux’s brother, Kent, was in the irons for a pair of Futurity wins, with Future Quest for Ron McAnally in 1995 and Worldy Manner for Baffert in 1998.
The Futurity goes as the eighth race on a ten-race Del Mar card with post time slated for 5:40 p.m. PDT and can be seen live on TVG and select channels across the Fox Sports Networks.
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$300,000 Del Mar Futurity (G1)
Wednesday, Del Mar, Race 8, 5:30 p.m. PDT
2-year-olds, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP., Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Gabriel Charles (KY), Joe Talamo, 118, Jeff Mullins
2. Capo Bastone (KY), John Velazquez, 118, John Sadler
3. Switch to the Lead (KY), Julien Leparoux, 115, Patrick Biancone
4. Yankee Rebel (KY), Victor Espinoza, 116, Bob Hess, Jr.
5. Know More (KY), Garrett Gomez, 112, Leandro Mora
6. Heir of Storm (FL), Martin Garcia, 118, Alexis Barba
7. The Whole Deal (KY), Alonso Quinonez, 116, S. Knapp
8. Pure Loyalty (FL), David Flores, 116, M. Glatt
9. Caballo Del Cielo (KY), Mike Smith, 116, Jeff Bonde
10. Rolling Fog (FL), R. Bejarano, 118, B Baffert
11. Scherer Magic (IA), Corey Nakatani, 122, John Sadler
12. Ive Struck a Nerve (KY), Jose Valdivia, Jr., 116, Keith Desormeaux