Maltese Falcon Ready To Soar in G2 Del Mar Derby

September 3, 2023

Maltese Falcon in a work ahead of his win in the La Jolla (G3) (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Del Mar Stable Notes by Jim Charvat

DEL MAR, Calif.— Trainer Leonard Powell is in a very enviable position this Labor Day weekend. He already has the top 3-year-old grass filly on the Del Mar grounds in Anisette, winner of the G2 San Clemente and then the G1 Del Mar Oaks. Come Sunday evening he could also claim to have the best 3-year-old grass colt. He has one obstacle standing in his way and it’s a big one. The G2 Del Mar Derby.

Maltese Falcon (IRE) comes into the Derby off an impressive showing in the G3 La Jolla, a race he won from off the pace.

“He got a very good trip being in a pocket inside,” Powell says. “With the three hole we’re going to look for the same kind of trip (in the Derby). It’s a step up in class but we think he’s up to it.”

Maltese Falcon came to Powell’s barn late last year. His win in the La Jolla was his maiden victory.

“We bought him at the Tattersalls sale last year for the Red Baron team,” Powell says. “He’s very straight forward, a lovely horse. He loves the job.”

Standing in his way is Conclude, the Oceanside Stakes winner who hails from the Phil D’Amato barn.

“He showed he can handle two turns last time,” D’Amato says. “It’s another little step up in class but I think he’ll be up for the challenge.”

D’Amato also brings Almendares to the Derby, an English-bred who spent the first part of his career racing in Ireland. In his first race for D’Amato, he won an entry level allowance at Del Mar on opening weekend.

“He’s got a nice style to run well in a race like this,” D’Amato says. “He’s tactical, he can come from behind and seems to have a nice late finish. I think Conclude will be sitting one, two, three and Almendares will be farther back and come running late and hopefully one of the two are best in the race.”

John Sadler’s Panic Alarm (IRE) may have a say in all that. He ran second to Maltese Falcon in the La Jolla in his first race in the states.

“We were very happy with his first race out of Ireland,” Sadler says. “He really ran a nice race. It looks like he’s moved forward since the La Jolla. He wasn’t here that long and now he’s had some time to settle in California. He had a good work on the grass last Sunday.”

Panic Alarm went 5-furlongs in 1:02.80 in Sunday’s work, seventh best out of 23 works at the distance.

The G2 Del Mar Derby was won by Slow Down Andy last year. It’s the 10th race on the 11-race card Sunday. Approximate post time is 6 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with the jockeys and the morning odds: 

1. Ah Jeez (Tiago Pereira, 15-1)

2. Conclude (Hector Berrios, 9/5)

3. Maltese Falcon (Juan Hernandez, 3-1)

4. Reiquist (Ramon Vasquez, 15-1)

5. Almendares (Antonio Fresu, 3-1)

6. Panic Alarm (Umberto Rispoli, 5-1)

7. Smart Code (Mike Smith, 12-1)

8. Justin’s Legacy (Edwin Maldonado, 15-1

9. Kid Azteca (Joe Bravo, 30-1)

@jonathanstettin you're a fuckin beast The free money you give out every week is insane. May start calling you Crazy Eddie

BIGFELLA @BigfellaATM View testimonials