Masochistic looks for fourth straight in Bing Crosby
Masochistic aims to continue his meteoric rise in the sprint division in Sunday's $300,000 Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar, where he figures to be heavily favored over just five rivals. The six-furlong dash serves as a "Win & You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), and Masochistic has looked well up to that standard.
After a front-running allowance win in his seasonal reappearance at Santa Anita February 28, then-trainer A.C. Avila sold his interest in the five-year-old gelding to Jay Em Ess Stable. Masochistic subsequently switched to the Ron Ellis barn and stepped up in class. A gritty winner of the April 11 Kona Gold (G2) in his graded debut, he was more emphatic in the June 27 Triple Bend (G1). Not only did Masochistic draw off by 3 1/2 lengths from Appealing Tale, but he also notched a lofty 110 BRIS Speed rating.
In both the Kona Gold and Triple Bend, Masochistic disposed of pace rival San Onofre. On Sunday, he faces a more accomplished pace opponent in multiple Grade 3 victor Distinctiv Passion. The Jeff Bonde trainee was last seen sprinting clear early and holding off San Onofre by a neck late in the May 23 Los Angeles (G3).
The presence of two torrid speedsters has the potential to set it up for a closer, especially if Masochistic doesn't relax early. Ellis has mentioned that the key is persuading the California-bred to switch off, and jockey Tyler Baze believed that helped him perform better in the Triple Bend. He's drawn in post 5, while Distinctiv Passion will be on the inside in post 2.
Should Masochistic get too keyed up and eyeball Distinctiv Passion, Kobe's Back and Wild Dude may stand to benefit the most.
Kobe's Back was only fifth in last summer's Bing Crosby, but he was a three-year-old racing over Polytrack at the time, and headed to the sidelines thereafter. Now with Peter Eurton, the muscular gray flew late for second to Wild Dude in the March 7 San Carlos (G2) in his comeback, then went last to first in the April 4 Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland. Indeed, Kobe's Back might be considered as more of a seven-furlong type, since he also cruised in the 2014 San Vicente (G2). But a hot pace battle, on a surface that's been demanding of late, would play to his strengths. Most recently sixth in the Met Mile (G1), Kobe's Back will break from the rail and drop back early with Hall of Famer Gary Stevens.
Wild Dude, who rallied to upset Secret Circle in the 2014 Palos Verdes (G2) at this distance, was third in his title defense off a nine-month layoff. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee pressed a moderate (for this division) pace en route to victory in the aforementioned San Carlos, but he hasn't bridged the gap with the leaders when third in the Los Angeles (to Distinctiv Passion) and Triple Bend (to Masochistic). Wild Dude will probably get first run on Kobe's Back here.
The Peter Miller-trained Appealing Tale shortens up to six furlongs for the first time since his premiere as a juvenile, when he was a slow-starting fourth to Distinctiv Passion. Appealing Tale has spent much of his career in the vicinity of a mile. But he is effective on Santa Anita's about 6 1/2-furlong downhill course, and finished third to Distinctiv Passion at that trip in last December's Midnight Lute on dirt. Likely to be stalking early, he could end up being in the right place to pounce if the principals falter.
[Friday update: According to Del Mar publicity, Appealing Tale will likely run in Saturday's San Diego (G2) over 1 1/16 miles instead of the Bing Crosby.]
Rounding out the group is Caminetto, who makes his stakes debut for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. A $500,000 Keeneland September yearling with a couple of long gaps in his race record, the six-year-old gelding has strung together three good efforts this season. In his latest, he got up by a head over Cherubim. Note that third-placer Heir of Storm came back to win a hotly competitive turf sprint here Wednesday. That formline ties in to Distinctiv Passion, since Heir of Storm had been second to him in the Midnight Lute.
Two races later, the $150,000 California Dreamin' H. has attracted 11 state-bred turf runners, including multiple Grade 3 hero G. G. Ryder; defending champion Rock Me Baby, who won the 1 1/16-mile event when it was transferred to Polytrack last year; Ambitious Brew; the respective top three from the Crystal Water, Patriots Rule, Awesome Return and Weewinnin; Surfcup, who returns from a two-year layoff for new trainer Mike Machowsky; and promising sophomore Temple Keys from the Tom Proctor barn.
Photo of Masochistic courtesy of Benoit.