Ring Weekend caps Del Mar turf stakes double for Motion, Van Dyke

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November 27th, 2016

St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Ring Weekend edged Vyjack by a head in the $201,035 Seabiscuit H. (G2), giving trainer Graham Motion and jockey Drayden VanDyke a sweep of Saturday’s turf stakes at Del Mar. At least he enjoyed a far more straightforward race than stablemate Journey Home had to navigate in the debris-strewn Jimmy Durante (G3).

Exiting a pair of sevenths in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), Ring Weekend appeared to appreciate the extra sixteenth to work with in the Seabiscuit. His previous top efforts this campaign had likewise come over 1 1/16 miles, when nearly capturing the Dixie (G2) off a 14-month layoff and setting a course record in Saratoga’s Bernard Baruch (G2).

Ring Weekend didn’t get much in the way of pace help here, but perhaps the rain made up for it. Although the chart still lists the course as “firm,” track publicity had announced a downgrading of the turf condition to “good” prior to the Seabiscuit.

The 3-2 favorite Om, last seen losing a photo to Obviously in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), reverted to his former front-running ways. What a View, who trailed in the Breeders’ Cup Mile after blazing an unsustainable pace, matched strides through more sensible fractions of :24.21, :48.48, and 1:12.29. Ring Weekend bided his time in the latter part of the field, then steadily improved his position rounding the far turn.

As Om put What a View away at the top of the stretch, Ring Weekend was bearing down and soon powered past. Vyjack split foes to threaten the new leader, but Ring Weekend was too strong and kept his head in front. The 3-1 second choice clocked 1:42.29.

Vyjack, a poor seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), was much happier back on the turf. The half-brother to champion Tepin may well stay there for trainer Phil D’Amato. Om tried determinedly another half-length astern in third.

The Seabiscuit trifecta was furnished by Breeders’ Cup alumni. Fourth-placer Hunt couldn’t get into the Turf Sprint, or else it would have been a superfecta of horses coming off Breeders’ Cup events. What a View retreated to sixth, a head in front of multiple Argentine Group 1 winner Hi Happy, who needed this one off a year-long absence.

Ring Weekend was also capping a big day for sire Tapit, who unleashed a sensational juvenile filly Unique Bella in Del Mar’s 7TH race, and as reported by the Blood-Horse, broke his own single-season North American earnings mark again.

Bred by his sire’s home of Gainesway, Ring Weekend was a $310,000Keeneland September yearling purchase. He sports a mark of 20-7-4-2, $1,448,744, reflecting additional wins in the 2014 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Saranac (G3), and Hill Prince (G3) and a Grade 1 coup in the 2015 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1).

Quotes from Del Mar

Assistant trainer Alice Clapham on Ring Weekend: “I am sure it has happened for Graham to win two stakes in a day, but this is the first time I’ve won two (on travel assignment for him). I talked to him after the first race and he was a little worried at the time that they might call the race a no contest, but he was very happy with the way the filly (Journey Home in the Jimmy Durante) ran. Drayden (Van Dyke) gave both our horses great rides and it worked out well.” 

Drayden Van Dyke on Ring Weekend: “This race set up on paper that I thought would be perfect for us. Then it played out just that way. It was sweet. We got into the lane and I let him do his thing. He was having a little trouble swapping his leads, but Graham had told me about that and I was ready for it. About the sixteenth pole he swapped to his right lead and that gave us an extra burst. He was good. This is the first time I’ve won two stakes in one day. Feels good.”

Jockey Flavien Prat on runner-up Vyjack: “I had a good trip and he ran well. No excuses.”

Hall of Famer Gary Stevens on third-placer Om: “He was game. But I had a pest with me all the way (What a View) and that didn’t help.”

Photo courtesy of Benoit