DEL MAR, Calif.— The 2-year-old division on the west coast heats up Sunday when 10 colts and one gelding go postward in the G3 Best Pal, the local prep race for the G1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity on September 11.
Several in the field won at first asking, but none have gone the six furlongs required in the Best Pal. Muir Hut Stables’ Agency, from the Mark Glatt barn, is one of those first-out winners. The son of Bolt d’Oro beat a field of seven maidens at Santa Anita in June.
“He ran really well in his debut,” Glatt says, “especially after not breaking very sharp and having to close. He really had no business winning going 5/8’s. I think the farther he goes the better. He’s been training well since that debut and I don’t know if six furlongs is even enough ground for him to excel but it’s a good next step for him.”
Another Bolt d’Oro colt also was a first-time winner. Arman beat a field of 10 at Churchill Downs in June.
“It’s certainly going to be a little nervous time,” owner Kaleem Shah said, “because he’s named after my son.”
As for bringing Arman out west from Louisville…
“This is where I like to race on the west coast.” Shah says. “He’s breezed well so hopefully he’ll get the job done, we shall see.”
Trainer Bob Baffert sends out Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s Havnameltdown. The son of Uncaptured wired a field of 10 maidens in his debut at Del Mar opening day.
“We bought him with that name,” Baffert says, “and I wished we had changed it, it doesn’t describe the horse at all. He’s doing well, it’s a good spot for him. He was impressive breaking his maiden.”
Baffert says the decision to run Havnameltdown in the Best Pal was not difficult.
“Once you break your maiden here you’re either going to run in a stake or sit in the barn. He came back and worked well for it.”
Others coming off first-out victories include Calumet Farm’s Jin Tong for trainer Doug O’Neill. The son of Goldencents won last month at Los Alamitos. Same could be said for California Racing Partners, Ciaglia Racing or Pearson et al’s Man Child, from the Ryan Hanson barn.
The Best Pal is named for the Hall of Fame Cal-bred who won the 1990 Del Mar Futurity as a 2-year-old, the 1991 Pacific Classic as a 3-year-old, the 1992 Santa Anita Handicap as a 4-year-old and the 1993 Hollywood Gold Cup as a 5-year-old. In all, he compiled over $5.6 million in earnings, the most by a Cal-bred until Tiznow won his second Breeders’ Cup in 2001.
The field for the G3 Best Pal from the rail with jockeys: King Adrock (Edwin Maldonado); Arman (Martin Garcia); Fleet Feet (Umberto Rispoli); Jin Tong (Armando Ayuso); Agency (Tyler Baze); Pop d’Oro (Victor Espinoza); Man Child (Ramon Vasquez); Quagmire Magic (Florent Geroux); Mardukas (Joe Bravo); Havnameltdown (Juan Hernandez), and Kangaroo Court (Abel Cedillo).
DMTC Press Release
Photo: Agency breaking his maiden at Santa Anita Park (Benoit Photo)