Del Mar Kicks off 2YO Stakes Action With $125K CTBA

August 5, 2023

Grand Slam Smile after her Debutante score June 17 at Santa Anita (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Del Mar Stable Notes by Jim Charvat

DEL MAR, Calif.— The first of the Del Mar summer meet’s 2-year-old stakes races is set to be run Sunday. The $125,000 California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, or CTBA for short, is a 5 ½-furlong sprint on the dirt for juvenile fillies.

All eight of the entrants have at least one start under their belt and all have broken their maidens.

Grand Slam Smile broke her maiden at Golden Gate Fields in May, winning by four lengths and then came back and won the $100,000 Fasig Tipton Debutante at Santa Anita in June.

“She got a decent trip out of it,” trainer Steve Specht says. “Kind of stuck down inside and you never know how they’re going to get away from the gate. But she’s got speed. I don’t think she needs to be on the lead; I think she can sit off it if need be. She’s been training great.”

The daughter of Smiling Tiger has put in five works at Pleasanton since that victory, the most recent a bullet work last Saturday. Specht says in the beginning Grand Slam Smile was a bit of a challenge.

“She was a little rough to handle in the beginning,” the trainer says. “She had an attitude about her. But now she’s a piece of cake. I put her behind horses, let her get a little dirt in her face in case that happens to be the situation and she seemed to handle it okay. I think she’ll be real tough.”

Pushiness romps to a 6 ¼ debut score June 9 at Santa Anita (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Pushiness is out of the Michael McCarthy barn. She broke her maiden first time out in June at Santa Anita, going off as the heavy favorite in a seven-horse field and winning by six lengths. The daughter of Kantharos is the morning line favorite in the CTBA.

Trainer Jeff Bonde will bring three horses to the race. It’s Saul Good, Fly a Fantasy and Crazy Hot, who was a heavy favorite in her debut, a 4 ½-furlong maiden race in April. She made it easy for her backers, winning by 10 lengths.

The daughter of Goldencents was again the odds-on favorite in her second outing, the Fasig-Tipton Debutante and she finished third behind Grand Slam Smile.

“They had a bunch of gate incidents,” Bonde says of the load before the race. “The whole field had to wait about 20 minutes to run so we’re looking at it as a throw out race.”

Crazy Hot was off a step slow that day, was four-to-five wide in the turn and flattened out in the lane.

The CTBA is restricted to Cal-breds. It’s the first of back-to-back stakes on Sunday and is the ninth race on the 11-race card. Approximate post time is 6 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with jockeys and morning line odds: Fly a Fantasy (Mike Smith, 8-1); Grand Slam Smile (Frank Alvarado, 5/2); Pushiness (Umberto Rispoli, 8/5); Stay Quiet (Ricky Gonzalez, 20-1); It’s Saul Good (Edwin Maldonado, 20-1); Putt for Dough (Mario Gutierrez, 6-1); Crazy Hot (Geovanni Franco, 3-1), and Stealthespotlight (Ramon Vasquez, 20-1).

@jonathanstettin I for one can still actually feel the pall cast over the crowd and game that day. It was palpable. Kudos 2/2

William G. Gotimer (@WilliamGotimer) View testimonials