East Coast Invaders Descend for G1 Hollywood Derby

December 1, 2023

Program Trading (#2 inside) winning the Saratoga Derby. (Chris Rahayel)

Stable Notes By Jim Charvat

DEL MAR, Calif.—They’ve traveled 3,000 miles in hopes of landing a coveted Grade I win. They hail from the barns of Chad Brown, Charles Appleby and Mark Casse and they’re ‘invading’ Del Mar this weekend as part of the Turf Festival.

The Hollywood Derby is the first of two Grade I races scheduled for this weekend at Del Mar and Brown has brought the G1 Saratoga Derby winner, Program Trading, out west. The English-bred colt won the first three races of his career before running second in the G3 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in September.

“He had a challenging post,” Brown says regarding his last start. “He was a little close to a fast pace. It might have done him in in the end where he got caught by a good horse. Hopefully he’ll work out a better trip this time. A very consistent horse.”

Brown also will send out Redistricting, another English-bred, this one by Kingman. His lone venture into Grade I company ended in a forgettable seventh-place finish in the Belmont Derby in July. He rebounded with a win in an entry level allowance race three months later. 

“He finished well,” Brown says, “and I think he’s ready to step back up into a big race like this.”

Jockey Joel Rosario – a three-time shore riding champ – returns to Del Mar to ride Saturday and will be aboard Redistricting.

Charles Appleby will send out Silver Knott, a heartbreaking second in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when he was nosed out by Victoria Rose. Appleby took the English-bred home for the winter and, following his 2023 debut in May, brought him back to the states. 

Silver Knott has run four times since his return but has yet to get back to the winner’s circle. In his last, the G2 Twilight Agenda at Santa Anita, he finished second, a half a length behind the winner.

Webslinger comes out of the Mark Casse barn. He is an ultra-consistent son of Constitution who finished a nose behind Silver Knott in the Twilight Agenda. Of his 12 lifetime starts, he has won four wins, including the G2 American Turf on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. He finished in-the-money five other times, never more than two lengths behind the winner. 

Webslinger winning the Audubon at Churchill Downs. (JennyPhoto/Past The Wire)

“He’s very honest,” assistant trainer Shane Tripp says. “Mark has quite a few divisions and I’ve been blessed enough to have him (Webslinger) in New York. We really like the way he’s been here.”

If all goes well for the connections, Webslinger will be running late.

“You don’t ever want to put him in a position where he has a lot to do,” Tripp says. “But he’s a closer and he needs to be up there close enough where he can strike because he has a big 3/8’s mile turn of foot.”

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will fly into Del Mar to ride Webslinger.        

The local contingent is led by Seal Team, the impressive winner of the Twilight Agenda last out at Santa Anita on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.

“He’s doing really good,” trainer Richard Mandella says. “We always thought he was a really good horse and he’s proven us right.”

Others of note are Maltese Falcon, winner of the G3 La Jolla during the summer meet at Del Mar, and Reiquist, another nose back of Webslinger in fourth in the Twilight Agenda.

The 83rd running of the G1 Hollywood Derby goes off as Race 7 on the nine-race Saturday card. Past winners include Affirmed (1978); Royal Heroine (1983); Itsallgreektome (1990); Paradise Creek (1994), and California Chrome (2014). Approximate post time for the stakes is 3:30 p.m.

G1 Hollywood Derby Field 

1 Silver Knott (Jamie Spencer, 6-1)

2 Maltese Falcon (Juan Hernandez, 20-1)

3 Reiquist (Ramon Vasquez, 10-1)

4 Watsonville (Antonio Fresu, 12-1)

5 Webslinger (3-1)

6 Santorini (Alex Achard, 15-1)

7 Redistricting (5-1)

9 Program Trading (Flavien Prat, 9/5

10 Seal Team (Umberto Rispoli, 5-1)

Juvenile Fillies Clash In G3 Jimmy Durante Saturday

The juvenile fillies take center stage in the G3 Jimmy Durante, the second portion of the stakes feast at Del Mar Saturday. The Jimmy Durante is sandwiched between the $100,000 Stormy Liberal turf sprint and the G1 Hollywood Derby as the Turf Festival continues at the seaside oval.

Eleven fillies are expected to line up for the Jimmy Durante, a one-mile test on the turf. Trainer Chad Brown brings in the morning line favorite. Lady de Berry broke her maiden last out at Keeneland. It was her first time on the turf and her first time going two turns. “Her only start on the turf was very, very good,” Brown says. “She ran like she’s a stakes quality 2-year-old filly and it seemed like a good spot for her.”

Go With Gusto looks like the main threat. She was runner-up against the boys in the $150,000 Qatar Gold Mile at Santa Anita on the Friday Breeders’ Cup undercard. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is still looking for her first win. She broke her maiden in her debut but was disqualified. Instead of staying with maidens, trainer Mark Casse took a swing at the G1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine, and she finished third. 

Impressed with her race, Casse brought her out with his Breeders’ Cup string, and she didn’t disappoint.

“I thought she kind of had a bit of a rough trip,” assistant trainer Shane Tripp says of her race in the Gold Mile. “Kind of got stopped there a couple of times. We thought she’d probably win so I think this will be a good time to give her a shot to win the money. She’s young and I think they get better with racing. The distance will suit her.”

All of Go With Gusto’s starts have been a mile on the turf. 

Mo Fox Givin finished just a neck behind Go With Gusto in the Gold Mile. The daughter of Mo Town has done her share of traveling. She broke her maiden at Colonial Downs in August, ran second in a non-winners of two lifetime allowance race at Churchill Downs in September before her run in the Gold Mile at Santa Anita.

“She was a bit too sharp,” trainer Leonard Powell says. “She went a bit too fast early. But she was very courageous to run third. I think she’ll relax a little more Saturday and we’re going to ride her a little more conservatively.”

This will be Mo Fox Givin’s fourth different racetrack in four career starts but Powell doesn’t think it will be a factor.

“She’s a very classy filly,” he notes. “She handles everything with class.”

Del Mar’s leading trainer, Phil D’Amato, will bring two fillies to the dance. Circle of Trust broke her maiden last out up at Santa Anita but was disqualified for a bumping incident in the lane. 

“She had a breakthrough performance going long last time,” D’Amato says. “We were able to get Joel Rosario on her. You can’t go wrong there.”

His other filly, Ms Brightside, is new to barn.

“I’ve never run her, but I was very impressed with her maiden victory overseas,” D’Amato says.” She’s had some really nice, spiffy works here in the morning and I think drew a good post for her so she can save all the ground on the rail and come with a good run.”

The G3 Jimmy Durante is Race 5 on the nine-race Saturday card. It’s named after the popular comedian and actor who was a Del Mar regular. He’s the same guy whose name you see when you drive to the track on “Jimmy Durante Boulevard” and the Del Mar turf course is named after him, too. Approximate post time for the stakes is 2:30 p.m.

G3 Jimmy Durante Field 

1 Ms Brightside (Geovanni Franco, 12-1)

2 Antifona (Tiago Pereira, 12-1)

3 Yatta (Umberto Rispoli, 6-1)

4 Circle of Trust (Joel Rosario, 8-1)

5 She Is Romantic (Antonio Fresu, 15-1)

6 Mo Fox Givin (Hector Berrios, 6-1)

7 Blue Oasis (Ramon Vasquez, 15-1)

8 Lady de Berry (Flavien Prat, 5/2)

9 Go With Gusto (Tyler Gaffalione, 4-1)

10 Feisty Mitole (Kyle Frey, 20-1)

11 Zona Verde (Juan Hernandez, 8-1)

Lane Way Brings Graded Stakes Class To $100,000 Stormy Liberal

Eight of the quickest horses on the grounds will kick-off the stakes tripleheader at Del Mar Saturday in the $100,000 Stormy Liberal turf sprint. The 5-furlong dash for cash will be run on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course and launches the second weekend of the Turf Festival. Four stakes were run last week, all graded, and five more are on tap this weekend. The Stormy Liberal is the only stakes race that is not graded.

Trainer Dick Mandella brings over the morning line favorite, Lane Way. The son of Into Mischief won the G2 Eddie D last out at Santa Anita. In his last nine races, he has finished first or second in all but one.

“He always runs a pretty good race,” Mandella says. “I’m just hoping he has a little luck.”

Lane Way battling for the win in the Eddie D. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wie)
Lane Way battling for the win in the Eddie D. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wie)

This is only the fourth race of the year for Lane Way. Mandella gave him some time off between February and August.

“He got a little stoved up,” he explains. “It was no big deal, just needed a break.”

It paid off with a graded stakes win, something no one else in the Stormy Liberal field can boast. Several have run in graded stakes. 

Unconquerable Keen, one of three Phil D’Amato entries, ran seventh in the Eddie D but his conditioner doesn’t think that was a fair assessment of what the Irish-bred can do.

“He got bothered a lot,” D’Amato says. “We didn’t get to see him with his true run. But he got back on the beam in the allowance race and hopefully he’s back to a trip that he likes here at Del Mar.”

Unconquerable Keen won an open allowance race last out up at Santa Anita. His stablemate, Turn On The Jets, ran in the G3 Green Flash at Del Mar this past summer and finished fourth. He’s back to defend his crown in the inaugural edition of the Stormy Liberal.

“He had a little traffic trouble in his last,” D’Amato notes. “He’s been reunited with Juan Hernandez who won the stake on him last year. He’s doing very well and should be ready to go.”

D’Amato’s other entry is Honey Pants, who came to him from the Christophe Clement barn in the spring. In three subsequent starts he has a second and a third.

Ah Jeez has tested graded stakes company in the past. He ran fourth in the G3 Cecil B. DeMille at Del Mar last year then went to Dubai where he finished 13th in the G2 UAE Derby. Trainer Doug O’Neill brought Ah Jeez back to the states only to run last in the G2 Del Mar Derby and last again in the Eddie D. But then he rebounded with a nice runner-up finish to Dandy Man Shines in the $75,000 Let it Ride on opening day of the Bing Crosby Season.

This is the second running of the Stormy Liberal, named after the Peter Miller trainee who twice won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. It goes off as Race 3 on the nine-race Saturday card. Approximate post time for the stakes is 1:30 p.m.

Stormy Liberal Field 

1 Unconquerable Keen (Flavien Prat, 4-1)

2 Lane Way (Mike Smith, 9/5); Turn On The Jets (5/2)

3 Honey Pants (Antonio Fresu, 12-1)

4 Ah Jeez (Joel Rosario, 10-1)

5 Daniel’s Magic (Tyler Gaffalione, 6-1)

6 See Through It (Geovanni Franco, 12-1)

7 Johnny Podres (Kyle Frey, 12-1)


Today could be the day for jockey Geovanni Franco. He sits at 999 career wins and has four mounts on the Friday card at Del Mar…

Juan Hernandez took full advantage of Flavien Prat’s absence last week and has built a seven-win lead in the Del Mar jockey standings heading into the final three days. Meanwhile, Phil D’Amato sits atop the trainer standings with a three-win lead…

Jockey Ramon Vasquez has decided to ride this winter at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. He rode at Oaklawn for 10 years before coming out to Southern California in the spring of 2022. He plans to finish the meet here at Del Mar and then ride Oaklawn before returning to Santa Anita in the spring…Free admission to anyone who donates a non-perishable food item Sunday. It’s part of Del Mar’s San Diego Food Bank Food Drive. Donations can be made at the admissions gate…

Notable works this week – Monday – Dirt: Lane Way (3f, :36.80), and Desert Dawn (5f, 1:00.80); Wednesday – Dirt: Justique (4f, :48.00), and Lady T (4F, :49.20).

Del Mar Statistics

Jockey Standings
(Current through November 26, 2023, Inclusive) 

JockeyMts1st2nd3rdWin%In-money%Money Won
Juan Hernandez591912632%63%$899,180
Flavien Prat40126530%58%$526,888
Antonio Fresu638131613%59%$681,960
Kyle Frey53611511%42%$295,776
Umberto Rispoli4668513%41%$385,700
Edwin Maldonado4156612%41%$297,060
Hector Berrios2352522%52%$337,272
Ramon Vazquez3444512%38%$279,400
Tiago Pereira2943514%41%$212,312
J.G. Torrealba2343317%43%$191,400

Trainer Standings
(Current through November 26, 2023, Inclusive) 

TrainerSts1st2nd3rdWin%In-money%Money Won
Philip D’Amato40117528%58%$663,200
Bob Baffert2382235%52%$429,488
Peter Miller3976118%36%$328,840
Doug F. O’Neill3856913%53%$300,308
Robert B. Hess, Jr.1851228%44%$196,160
Steve R. Knapp2545116%40%$163,440
Mark Glatt1836617%83%$173,700
George Papaprodromou2733511%41%$143,164
John W. Sadler1733418%59%$170,480
Jeff Mullins1433121%50%$150,400

@jonathanstettin great pick!

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