Beholder stars; speed bias not as extreme as portrayed at Del Mar

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

August 26th, 2015


A quartet of graded races highlighted the signature weekend at Del Mar Race Course.

Pacific Classic (G1): Spendthrift Farms’ BEHOLDER (Henny Hughes) glided to the front with ease nearing the turn for home and poured it on late, posting a dominating 8 ¼-length romp beneath Gary Stevens. The dual champion finished off 1 ¼ miles on the fast dirt oval in a splendid 1:59 3/5 for trainer Richard Mandella.

Pat O’Brien S. (G2): Gary Barber’s APPEALING TALE (Tale of the Cat) gained the lead soon after the break, was challenged hard nearing midstretch but found another gear to earn a half-length decision under Joe Talamo. The five-year-old gelding went seven-eighths in 1:21 2/5 for conditioner Peter Miller.

Del Mar H. (G2): Michael House’s BIG JOHN B (Hard Spun) sat in last, started to gain momentum approaching the turn for home and finished best to record a 1 ½-length tally with Rafael Bejarano. The Phil d’Amato trainee captured his second straight edition of the 1 3/8-mile turf race, stopping the teletimer in 2:16 1/5.

Del Mar Mile (G2): Lanni and Youngblood’s AVANZARE (Candy Ride) went five-wide entering the lane and moved best of all late in securing a half-length score under Stevens. The five-year-old gelding, who was making his first run since January, got a mile on the firm turf in 1:35 /5 for trainer Tom Proctor.

Track Stats

From a total of 44 races held at the Southern California racetrack during the past week, favorites won at a 32 percent clip and the top two betting choices combined for 57 percent of the wins. From 29 frays contested on the dirt oval, eight animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (28 percent), while one of the 15 grassy tussles went all the way on the lead (7 percent).

The main oval was a bit more “speedy” this week, as a local jock stated over the weekend. However, all eight wire jobs came in sprint runs, so the track was not as biased in our view.

Horse stalking and closing from off the pace on the green had the best of it this past week. But we think the turf has played mostly fairly for the duration of this meeting.

Meet Totals












75 (29 percent)



54 (21 percent)



12 (15 percent)



36 (21 percent)



Wednesday (8/19)

7TH – HOLY LUTE (Midnight Lute) made us look good in this tough turf dash, offering a nice run in the lane to go by the odds-on choice at a decent price for trainer James Cassidy. The five-year-old will be stakes bound in his next outing.

Thursday (8/20)

2ND – BIG DISCOVERY (Mr. Big) couldn’t reel in the winner but closed with excellent energy, more than eight lengths clear of third in a fine try for conditioner Tim Yakteen. The sophomore gelding will not be a maiden for long with anything like this try.

Friday (8/21)

5TH – We’re not sure what he beat in this allowance tilt but the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained CHIEF OF STAFF (Majestic Warrior) was visually impressive, running away in the lane en route to a daylight score. The capable California-bred was geared down late by pilot Rafael Bejarano and will be facing stakes foes in his return.

6TH – DIDO (Bernstein) finished second again in this marathon, but the five-year-old mare is surely in very good form and has never been better for trainer Graham Motion. We like this mare at marathon turf trips and she would likely be a player even with better if she advances any next time out.

Saturday (8/22)

1ST – SKELTON PASS (Temple City) took command early and gave his foes little chance with a powerful 8 ¾-length maiden romp for trainer Peter Miller. The gelded three-year-old looked good in his previous race as well and appears to be a nice prospect going forward.

4TH – WILD DUDE (Wildcat Heir) has now run a pair of big races on this oval and loves the surroundings it seems. The Hollendorfer trainee was taken out of his game when put into the race early, but the five-year-old was still ultra-game in trying hard to the finish behind a peaking runner.

7TH – UNBRIDLED SUMMER (Broken Vow) broke best, pressed the pace, opened up a lead in midstretch and finished well clear of third after being run down late in a fine first try. The Jeff Bonde pupil was facing a field with plenty of potential, and the juvenile filly should be sitting on a win very soon.

9TH – RED VINE (Candy Ride) made a fine move, advancing into second entering the stretch, and turned in a nice showing in his first Grade 1 tilt. The Christophe Clement trainee ultimately finished third, but nobody had a chance with Beholder on this day.

Sunday (8/23)

2ND – GOOD FOR IT (Neko Bay) couldn’t catch the even-money favorite but ran a winning race in defeat, finishing more than 13 lengths clear of third beneath Corey Nakatani. The juvenile colt could be any kind going forward for trainer Clifford Sise, who doesn’t win first out often.

3RD – SUPER MAJESTY (Super Saver) let us, and many others down in defeat at 3-10 odds in this spot, though the Hollendorfer trainee did show some heart in battling back after being passed by a pair of runners in the lane. The sophomore was still making only her third lifetime start and has plenty of time to improve.

9TH – GLORYZAPPER (Ghostzapper) is now perfect from a pair of career runs, displaying a nice turn of foot in each for trainer Phil d’Amato. The three-year-old filly could be a nice one and should be heading to the stakes ranks in the near future.

A Look Ahead

The $100,000 Torrey Pines S. (G3) on Sunday is the lone graded race this week at Del Mar.