Best Pal attracts six maiden winners

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Jen Caldwell

August 10th, 2016

All six juveniles entered in Saturday’s $200,000 Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar have broken their maidens…but that is all they’ve done.

Each runner brings exactly one win into the 6 1/2-furlong contest, but one will exit the race a graded winner.

Big League will break from the far outside and is the only runner in the group with just a single start to his credit. The Peter Miller pupil made his debut on July 30 at Del Mar, dueled early in the 5 1/2-furlong affair, and emerged a clear 3 1/4-length victor under returning jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr.

The Speightstown colt earned an 88 BRIS Speed rating for that effort and is one of just two entrants in the Best Pal with experience over the track.

The other is Rinse and Repeat, who will be saddled by Doug O’Neill. The Square Eddie colt finished third in his racing bow at Santa Anita Park on June 17, then filled that same spot in the Everett Nevin Stakes during the Oak Tree at Pleasanton meet.

Rinse and Repeat broke through with a 2 1/2-length victory last out on July 16 at Del Mar going five furlongs under regular rider Mario Gutierrez, who has the call again on Saturday.

Thirstforlife also boasts a stakes-placing on his resume thanks to finishing third in his debut in the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes on May 5 at Churchill Downs. Trainer Mark Casse sent the Stay Thirsty colt out a month later to break his maiden under the Twin Spires by 6 1/2 lengths, good for an 84 BRIS Speed figure.

Thirstforlife will get his third jockey in as many starts when Joe Talamo climbs aboard Saturday.

Secret House and Drafted both tried stakes rivals after taking their debuts, but were unable to earn a placing. Secret House did the better of the two when missing third by only a neck in the Santa Anita Juvenile Stakes on July 9. The O’Neill-trained son of Tiznow gets Santiago Gonzalez in the irons for the first time here.

Drafted broke his maiden at Keeneland, earning a 91 BRIS Speed rating for trainer Eoin Harty, who then sent the Field Commission ridgling to Royal Ascot for a try in the Windsor Castle Stakes. The gray juvenile was never in contention in that soft grass effort and returns to the main track for the Best Pal with Gary Stevens aboard.

Klimt finishes out the field and brings a 5 1/4-length maiden victory at Santa Anita into his stakes bow. The Bob Baffert charge ran fourth in his debut on June 25 before returning two weeks later to earn a field-best 92 BRIS Speed rating in a July 10 contest. Rafael Bejarano sticks with the Quality Road colt in this spot.

Thirstforlife photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography