DEL MAR, Calif.— While aspiring Triple Crown hopefuls will be in the spotlight Sunday in the G1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity, an equally talented group of 2-year-olds, who choose to run on the grass over the dirt, will do battle in the G3 Del Mar Juvenile Turf. A full field of 14 is expected to go to the post for the first of two stakes races on closing day.
Trainer Jeff Mullins brings a pair of talented colts to the race. Dandy Man Shines is an import from England making his U.S. debut. He was keeping Group 2 company before shipping over to the States last month.
“We’ve only had him for a week,” Mullins says. “He came out of quarantine a little dehydrated but he seemed to bounce back good and he’s had a nice work over the track.”
Mullins says the connections of Red Baron’s Barn or Rancho Temescal have always had high hopes for Dandy Man Shines.
“He’s still a maiden,” Mullins says. “He’s never run in a maiden race. They spent the money to nominate him to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Mullins also has Packs A Wahlop, a winner last out in a maiden special weight turf sprint. This time he’ll have to go two turns and get the extra three furlongs, but Mullins says he has no choice.
“We have nowhere else to run him,” he says. “Sometimes you’re forced into spots because there’s no other option.”
That’s a common theme among many trainers of grass horses as the Del Mar meet comes to an end and the Santa Anita meet doesn’t open until September 30.
Doug O’Neill trains Mackinnon, last year’s winner of the Juvenile Turf, and this year brings three horses to the dance. Syntactic, a son of Nyquist, broke his maiden two weeks ago at Del Mar.
“He’s doing well,” O’Neill says. “Some deep waters there but we’re optimistic. Having run well on the grass it didn’t seem that out-of-line to give it a try.”
Don’tthinkjustdoit beat maiden special weight horses by five lengths at first asking last month for trainer Brian Koriner. He also won at the one mile distance on the lawn.
“He’s doing well and we just hope he settles the same and can handle more experienced horses,” Koriner says. “That first time you don’t know what you’re beating but you know you did it the right way.”
He says it’s nice to have jockey Hector Berrios back on his horse.
“At least now, he (Berrios) knows what the horse is capable of doing,” Koriner says. “He’ll probably ride him with more confidence than he did last time. He loved him when he got off of him last time.”
Here’ the field from the rail with jockeys and morning line odds: Ah Jeez (Abel Cedillo, 8-1), Wound Up (Mario Gutierrez, 12-1); De la Luna (Armando Ayuso, 12-1); Don’tthinkjustdoit (5-1); Syntactic (Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1); Dandy Man Shines (Umberto Rispoli, 4-1); Stone Point (Ryan Curatolo, 20-1); Ti Sento (Flavien Prat, 6-1); Packs A Wahlop (Mike Smith, 8-1); President Z (Ricardo Gonzalez, 20-1); Park City (John Velazquez, 5-1); Mas Rapido (Edwin Maldonado, 15-1); Tahoma (Juan Hernandez, 8-1), and Valiancer (Kyle Frey, 20-1). Also Eligibles: Buffett and Taltariate.
DMTC Press Release
Main photo: Packs a Wahlop (Ernie Belmonte)