Om reverts to turf in La Jolla
Om, already known as the answer to a trivia question, hopes to build a more substantial resume. He can start that project in Sunday's $150,000 La Jolla H. (G3) at Del Mar.
At the moment, Om is a footnote to racing history, as the winner of the only race that American Pharoah has lost so far. In that Polytrack maiden here last summer, Om ran off by 7 1/4 lengths from Iron Fist, with One Lucky Dane third, Calculator fourth, and 7-5 favorite American Pharoah fifth.
But Om wasn't seen again until the April 12 San Pedro, where he could do no better than fifth on the Santa Anita dirt. The Munnings colt had filled that same position in his career debut over the same track. Apparently the dirt didn't bring out the best in him.
Trainer Dan Hendricks accordingly switched him to turf, and Om responded with a front-running display in a one-mile allowance at Santa Anita. He tried the dirt once more in the June 7 Affirmed (G3), but yielded to the progressive Gimme Da Lute and Prospect Park.
The La Jolla marks the first anniversary of Om's sensational maiden win. Might it also mark a stakes breakthrough back on turf? Om, who blew out three furlongs in :35 over the course Thursday, will likely try to carry that speed for the duration of the La Jolla's 1 1/16 miles.
Prospect Park is a wild card in his turf debut for Cliff Sise Jr. The well-bred son of Tapit has repeatedly flashed talent without putting it all together, and he's been a frustrating work in progress. Second to Dortmund in the San Felipe (G2) earlier in the season, Prospect Park has been outbattled by Gimme Da Lute in the Affirmed and in the July 4 Los Alamitos Derby (G2). Every time he appears ready to go to the next level, he finds a way to shrink back from the brink.
The surface switch may just get Prospect Park over the threshold. Not only can Tapit sire turf horses too, but Prospect Park's half-sisters -- Grade 1 heroine Silent Sighs and multiple Grade 2 winner Proposed -- have both produced graded stakes performers on turf. He also descends from a Chilean female line, and his inbreeding pattern includes duplications of *Le Fabuleux and full siblings Moon Glitter and Relaunch.
The respective third through fifth from the opening-day Oceanside -- Royal Albert Hall, Tried and True, and Papacoolpapacool -- are all back in this second leg of Del Mar's turf series for three-year-olds.
Of that trio, Papacoolpapacool has the most appeal. The Phil D'Amato trainee brought the best form into the Oceanside, having won the Pasadena and La Puente and finished a sneakily-good seventh in the Penn Mile (G3) (to subsequent Belmont Derby [G1] romper Force the Pass). But Papacoolpapacool never seriously threatened after a wide passage in the Oceanside. Although he's winless after four attempts on the Del Mar turf, the Temple City gelding placed a couple of times as a juvenile, and the added ground should help.
Cross the Line didn't pan out on the Triple Crown trail after trudging home fifth in both the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Illinois Derby (G3). Given his earlier prowess on synthetic, however, when capturing the California Derby and finishing second to Metaboss in the El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate, the Jerry Hollendorfer colt could enjoy the turf.
The Jeff Mullins-trained Hero Ten All can factor if recapturing the form that saw him finish second to Papacoolpapacool in the La Puente, while Pain and Misery was a sharp runner-up in the Baffle in his only prior turf try. Pretentious and Over Par have to step up off recent maiden wins.