‘Little Pharoah’ and other maidens of interest at Del Mar

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

July 27th, 2018

The Bing Crosby (G1), featuring TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) hero ROY H, is the headliner Saturday at Del Mar. A strong field has been assembled in what could prove to be a really good one.

But a trio of maiden special weight events are also on the slate, and much of my focus will be on those.

Race 1 is for maiden two-year-old fillies. What makes this race so interesting to me is the presence of first-time starter CHASING YESTERDAY. Daughter of Tapit gets a great outside post for her unveiling and has trained positively for Bob Baffert to this point.

A half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh, Chasing Yesterday is also half to a pair of other stakes types, including 2016 Del Mar Debutante (G1) runner-up American Cleopatra and the recently stakes-placed St. Patrick’s Day.

I am excited to see what the filly has to offer in the opener.

In Race 2, GREAT RETURN will debut in a turf sprint for Richard Mandella. Exchange Rate filly has not missed a morning work since late April and seems poised to run big.

Kentucky-bred draws well while in the clear and hails from a precocious family.  Her full-brother Exfactor didn’t win at first asking, though he did graduate second time around. Gray then powered home a clear winner of the 2011 Bashford Manor (G3) and Sugar Bowl S. to conclude a fine juvenile campaign.

Great Return has two additional half-siblings that made good first time out, including eventual stakes hero Market Magic, and Mandella often gets on a roll at some point at Del Mar. Great Return could get it started. 

Race 10 is for juveniles trying a route of ground on the turf and I am intrigued by a pair to close out the card.

FORLOVEOFCOUNTRY ran an even one in the slop at Churchill at first asking for Jimmy DiVito. $300,000 Sky Mesa colt is bred to route and love the turf.  Dark bay two-year-old counts himself as a half-brother to Rapid Rhythm, who was a multiple stakes victor on the green. And his dam was stakes-placed on the sod, as well.

DiVito might be a new name on the California racing scene, but he is no stranger in the Midwest where has been a high-percentage conditioner for some time. He also wins at a sharp 24% rate first time on the turf.

Doug O’Neill’s TARIQ was a very god second in a dirt debut. Son of Into Mischief has an especially modest pedigree, so the $450,000 sales price tells me he is a fine mover.

And that appears to be the case after watching his debut at Los Al as the bay colt leveled off nicely in the stretch and gave the impression he wants more ground.

The post is tough but I think Tariq will handle the draw and the course just fine with Flavien Prat inheriting the mount.