Closing Remarks Eyes Consecutive Grade II’s

September 8, 2023

Closing Remarks looking spry in a work Sep. 3 at Del Mar (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Del Mar Stable Notes by Jim Charvat

DEL MAR, Calif.— The last of the stakes races for older horses, in this case fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up, will be run Saturday afternoon. It’s the 66th edition of the John C. Mabee, a mile and an eighth affair on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Harris Farms’ Closing Remarks will be the horse to beat off of her last out victory in the G2 Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar last month. It was the second Grade II win of the year for the daughter of Vronsky.

“The first race off of her freshening has really got her on the muscle,” trainer Carla Gaines says. “She actually laid close the other day going a mile and a sixteenth, so a mile and an eighth she’ll be right up there with hopefully a couple of horses in front of her to take a run at.”

Co-champion trainer last year and co-leading trainer going into the final week of this year’s Del Mar summer meet, Phil D’Amato, brings two contenders to the six-horse field.

Oakhurst is coming into the race off of a victory in a second-level allowance race on opening weekend at Del Mar. The daughter of Mr. Speaker had not won since April of 2022. But in her third start for D’Amato she held off Eddie’s New Dream, who went on to win the $150,000 Solana Beach one month later.

“I think she’s a filly on the improve,” D’Amato says. “She likes it down here. She trained really well, and I like the spacing. She’ll come running late.”

Oakhurst put in a bullet work on the Del Mar turf course Sunday, covering the five furlongs in 1:01.60, best of six at that distance that day.

“I like the way she did it,” D’Amato adds. “I like the gallop out, so I think she’s set and ready to go.”

D’Amato’s second entry is Turnerloose, a horse who finished fifth behind Closing Remarks in the Yellow Ribbon in her first start in over a year. It was her first race for D’Amato after coming over from the Brad Cox barn.

“I think she was a filly that just needed the race last time,” D’Amato says. “So, I think second off the long layoff she should be much better and hopefully ready to win.”

Neige Blanche in a workout July 12 (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Neige Blanche (FR) returns for her second race at the meet. She ran third as the race favorite behind Sister Otoole and Eylara in the CTT & TOC last month.

“I thought she would run a little better,” trainer Leonard Powell says. “It was her second start off of the layoff. Maybe that had a little bit of an effect on her.

“It’s a small field,” Powell continues. “That’s why we entered her. A mile and an eighth is shorter than her liking but it’s her last year of racing so we’re looking at all of the opportunities.”

Paris Peacock (IRE) and Free and Humble round out the field. Paris Peacock ran fourth in her last race, a half-length behind Neige Blanche in the CTT & TOC. Free and Humble won an entry-level allowance for trainer Peter Miller last month.

The G2 John C. Mabee, named after the owner of the once-popular Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona and breeder of champion Best Pal, is the seventh race on the Saturday card. Approximate post time is 4:30 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with the jockeys and morning odds: 

1. Paris Peacock (Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1)

2. Free and Humble (Hector Berrios, 15-1)

3. Oakhurst (Juan Hernandez, 4-1)

4. Closing Remarks (Umberto Rispoli, 9/5)

5. Neige Blanche (Diego Herrera, 5/2)

6. Turnerloose (Antonio Fresu, 5/2)

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