Dortmund towers over Native Diver; Om aims for sweep in Hollywood Derby
A slow-healing quarter-crack reportedly forced a change of plans for the star three-year-old Dortmund this week. Instead of shipping to Louisville for Friday's Clark H. (G1) at Churchill Downs, the Bob Baffert trainee will stay closer to home for Saturday's $150,000 Native Diver (G3) at Del Mar.
Dortmund will be an overwhelming favorite against six rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Native Diver, his first start since the retirement of his Triple Crown-winning stablemate American Pharoah. Literally and figuratively in the shadow of that turf giant all year, Dortmund spent much of the summer on the sidelines after running third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and fourth in the Preakness (G1). He made his return to action at Santa Anita on October 24, where he defeated overmatched older rivals in the $75,000 Big Bear over a mile.
The Santa Anita Derby (G1) is one of several pace players in the Native Diver. Big Cazanova loves to be on the front end, but hasn't been successful since taking last year's Native Diver, the final contested on Del Mar's old Polytrack strip. However, his form has been stronger of late with second place efforts in the City of Hope Mile (G2) and in allowance company, both on turf.
Fellow sophomore Iron Fist could pose a threat. The Jerry Hollendorfer charge was a sharp second to Frosted in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) two back, and most recently defeated second-level allowance company at Del Mar.
Likely fighting for minor scraps are the mare Yahilwa, who took the Sixty Sails H. (G3) at Hawthorne in April and later placed in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) and Spinster (G1), and Imperative, a deep closer whose best form in recent campaigns has come in the past two editions of the Charles Town Classic (G2).
Om will attempt to sweep Southern California's leading grass stakes for three-year-olds in the $300,000 Hollywood Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles. The Munnings colt has already claimed easy wins in the Del Mar Derby (G2) and Twilight Derby (G2) in his previous two starts.
The Hollywood Derby attracted a full field of 14, with one also-eligible. Other leading contenders include Mister Brigade, second in the Twilight Derby in his U.S. debut; Del Mar Oaks (G1) heroine Sharla Rae, and Dueling Grounds Derby winner and Secretariat (G1) runner-up Closing Bell. Trainer Chad Brown has entered four, including multiple Grade 3-placed Money Multiplier and $100,000 English Channel winner Offering Plan.
Mirage, who suffered rough trips in both the $101,000 Surfer Girl and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), drew post 13 for the $100,000 Jimmy Durante (G3), a one-mile grass test for two-year-old fillies. Other potential contenders in a wide-open field include Coppa, Riri, Jeremy's Legacy, Corps de Ballet, and Mokat.
Dortmund photo courtesy of Benoit.