DEL MAR, Calif.— A six-pack of speedsters will go to the post for the 51st running of the G3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap, a six-and-a-half-furlong sprint on the dirt at Del Mar Sunday. Last year’s winner is back.
Hronis Racing’s Edgeway was too good for the compact field of four in last year’s Rancho Bernardo, outdueling Stellar Sound and breaking loose in the last sixteenth of a mile to win handily. Two and a half months later, the daughter of Competitive Edge was runner-up to Ce Ce in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar, besting heavy favorite Gamine, who finished third.
Edgeway would hold her form into the new year, winning the $75,000 Kalookan Queen in January and the G3 Las Flores in March, both at Santa Anita. Trainer John Sadler decided to throw her in the deep end and shipped her back to Churchill Downs on Derby Day for the G1 Derby City Distaff. She finished sixth.
“Her last race wasn’t that good,” Sadler admits. “She ran a very tough race at Churchill, got stuck in a speed duel, but she’ll be good here.”
Sadler likes the way Edgeway has looked in the morning.
“She’s coming off of a freshening but she’s training super down here,” Sadler says. “She’s been going great on it (the track). She’s last year’s winner so she’s out to defend her crown and she looks great.”
Edgeway will have her hands full with Baoma’s Private Mission, a multiple-graded stakes winner who is shortening up for the Rancho Bernardo. The two met earlier this year in the Las Flores and Edgeway got the best of the deal, defeating the daughter of Into Mischief by seven lengths.
Private Mission would rebound off that race, stretching out to a mile and a sixteenth and winning the G2 Santa Maria at Santa Anita in June but she set the pace and faded to last in the G1 Clement Hirsch last month at Del Mar.
“We were disappointed in her last race,” Baffert says. “She came back and worked well and I thought that this might be a good spot for her.”
Private Mission may be best known for hooking up with Letruska and cooking the heavy favorite in a grueling pace duel in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last year.
“We think she had PTSD after the Breeders’ Cup last year when she went so fast,” Baffert says with a smile.
Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal’s Dance to the Music ran a game second to the highly touted Becca Taylor in the G3 Desert Stormer at Santa Anita in June, but got into trouble in an allowance race at Del Mar last month and finished fifth.
“She got left and got dirt in her face,” trainer Mark Glatt says. “She’s not the type that’s going to run that way so I think the race is a throw out.”
The winner of that allowance race, Fincher Racing, et al’s Slammed, wired the field and won by five lengths in her first race ever at Del Mar. The 4-year-old filly had raced entirely in New Mexico previously and comes out of the Todd Fincher barn.
“I wanted a little stiffer work last time but other that she’s ready to roll,” Fincher says. “She already got one solid race here so she should be plenty fit.”
The G3 Rancho Bernardo goes off as the eighth race on the nine-race Sunday program.
Here’s the field for the Rancho Bernardo from the rail with jockeys: Empire House (Ricardo Gonzalez); Cover Version (Ryan Curatolo); Dance to the Music (Abel Cedillo); Slammed (Drayden Van Dyke); Edgeway (Juan Hernandez), and Private Mission (Mike Smith).
DMTC Press Release
Main photo: Edgeway waltzes to a score in the Grade 3 Las Flores at Santa Anita Park on March 13th, 2022 (Benoit Photo)