Phil D’Amato. Benoit Photo
DMTC Stable Notes
DEL MAR, Calif.—When Phil D’Amato drove off the Del Mar Fairgrounds in September, he brought with him a share of the trainers’ title from the summer meet and arguably the hottest barn in Southern California. Since then, the line-up has changed a bit, but D’Amato again brings a formidable force to the Bing Crosby meet which gets underway Friday.
A few of his star equines are no longer in the barn. They’ve been retired and are off to the breeding shed or turned out for the winter. D’Amato is still packed with enough talent to defend his fall meet crown, though, and notch his third consecutive trainers title at Del Mar.
“We’re bringing 40 horses down to Del Mar to train there through the remainder of the meet,” D’Amato says. “A nice array of 2-year-olds to older horses, allowance and stakes horses as well. We have them ready for all those nice races you have there.”
D’Amato tied Bob Baffert for the summer meet training title at Del Mar with 19 victories, four of them graded stakes. Going Global won the G2 Yellow Ribbon, Gold Phoenix the G1 Del Mar Handicap, Hong Kong Harry the G2 Del Mar Mile, and Bellabel the G2 San Clemente. He also took down the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes on opening day with Balnikhov and the $100,000 Juvenile Turf Fillies with Comanche Country. All of his stakes winners are Irish-breds.
“Recently we’ve had out-of-town owners who have sent me horses as well as owners purchasing horses overseas,” D’Amato explains, “so we kind of have both of those avenues going. It definitely helps coming up with a top roster of grass horses for racing in California.”
But D’Amato will be the first to tell you, it’s not the trainers titles that float his boat.
“I do not think about winning trainer titles and things like that,” D’Amato says. “I think about winning nice races and big purses. It’s not a numbers game for me. It’s quality of races won and winning stakes races.”
A couple of his stars will be making appearances at Del Mar this fall. Hong Kong Harry is being pointed to the G2 Seabiscuit on November 26th; Balnikhov may go in the G1 Hollywood Derby December 3rd. Bellabel will train at Del Mar but there’s no plan on racing her during the fall meet. Instead, she will be pointed to the American Oaks at Santa Anita.
Gold Phoenix has been turned out for a 30-day freshening with plans to get him started later next year in hopes of defending his title in the Del Mar Handicap. He has been joined at Kingfisher Farms in Solvang by Comanche Country, who will get a brief freshening before starting her 3-year old campaign.
Going Global was retired. Going to Vegas was sold to Japanese interests at the recent Fasig-Tipton November Sale at Keeneland.
D’Amato will be a fixture at Del Mar during the Bing Crosby meet with plans of staying in town for the four weeks instead of commuting back up to Los Angeles like many trainers do during the fall meet.
“I enjoy the fall meet,” D’Amato says. “I wish it was longer; I wish we could train there more. It’s just a great track to train on.