On a big Del Mar Stakes Weekend, Hopes of Maxim Rate connections couldn’t be higher

August 7, 2021

Casse could ‘cash in’ in Best Pal; Lovinger homebreds prominent in Graduation; Cathkin Peak favored in La Jolla Handicap

DEL MAR, Calif.—Maxim Rate arrived at Del Mar last summer showing decent form, but no victories, in over a year.

Then the daughter of Exchange Rate won back-to-back races over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, first at a mile, then at 1 3/8 miles, and started a stepping up the competitive ladder to victories in the Grade II Goldikova last October and, most recently, the Grade I Gamely in May, both at Santa Anita.

And Nick Cosato, head of the Slam Dunk Racing ownership group, is optimistic that the 5-year-old gray/roan mare can continue on a roll in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes.

“Since she was a 3-year-old she’s improved year by year,” Cosato said Friday morning. “(Trainer) Simon Callaghan has done a great job with her and she could not be doing any better than she is right now.  She has grown, her coat looks great, and her works have been everything we’ve been looking for.”

The Gamely win was the sixth in 16 career starts for Maxim Rate, a career earner of $597,185. It was accomplished at 1 1/8 miles over the Santa Anita turf course at odds of nearly 14-1.

The Hirsch is at 1 1/16 miles, a distance at which Maxim Rate’s last two efforts have produced fifth and seventh-place results. Those were, however, at Keeneland and over a turf course rated “good” and “yielding,” respectively, in races 18 months apart.

Cosato thinks it was the ground, not the distance, that was the problem.

“The distance is not too short for her. It’s not an issue,” Cosato said. “I think she can handle anything from a mile to a mile and three-eighths.”

Del Mar’s turf course has been kind to front runners and not so much to closers. But Cosato doesn’t see that as a major problem either.

“She’s very versatile and she places herself (in a race),” Cosato said. “I would expect she’ll be in the vanguard, and while she doesn’t really have a big turn of foot, she does finish strong.”

The Yellow Ribbon field from the rail, with jockeys and morning line odds in parenthesis: 

1. Bodhicitta (Trevor McCarthy, 6-1)

2. Raymundos Secret (Tiago Pereira, 6-1)

3. Charmaine’s Mia (Joe Bravo, 4-1)

4. Dogtag (Umberto Rispoli, 4-1)

5. Brooke (Kyle Frey, 12-1)

6. Keeper Ofthe Stars (Abel Cedillo, 12-1)

7. Ippodamia’s Girl (Giovanni Franco, 12-1)

8. Princess Grace (Kent Desormeaux, 8-1)

9. Maxim Rate (Juan Hernandez, 7-2)

10. Laura’s Light (Jose Valdivia, Jr., 15-1)

Casse could cash in with favored Pappacap in Best Pal

The Del Mar based stable crew of trainer Mark Casse had plans to watch his induction into the Thoroughbred Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Friday.

But not, of course, until after taking care of the string of horses Casse has sent here for the summer meeting. Among them, Pappacap, a 2-year-old Rustlewood Farm homebred son of Gun Runner who is the 8-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Best Pal Stakes.

Casse was actually voted into the Hall of Fame as part of its Class of 2020. But the physical induction in New York was delayed for a year due to COVID.

“It’s nice to see because he has basically built everything from the ground up and made himself a heck of an empire,” said Allen Hardy-Zukowski, who is in charge of Casse’s horses here. “He has a massive farm and operation in Ocala, FL. I’ve been with him for 10 years and we have people who have been working for him for over 20 years. He’s a perfect gentleman, does everything with class. And this is a heck of an achievement for him.”

Pappacap debuted with a 2 ¾-length, wire-to-wire victory in May at Gulfstream Park. The Best Pal will be his second career start.

“Everybody at Mark’s barn in Ocala, the racing manager there and everyone else, have been high on this horse all along,” Hardy-Zukowski said. “I think after he ran in Florida this became a real option. The Best Pal is a good race for (promising) 2-year-olds that have just broken their maiden. It’s either here or Saratoga and with the Breeders’ Cup out here this year, it’s nice to be able to come out, get him acclimated and see what happens.”

The Best Pal field from the rail, with jockeys and morning line odds in parenthesis: 

1. Bet On Mookie (Abel Cedillo, 5-2)

2. Our Empire (Tyler Baze, 20-1)

3. Pappacap (Joe Bravo, 8-5)

4. Finneus (Umberto Rispoli, 3-1)

5. Thirsty Always (apprentice Cesar Ortega, 7-2)

6. Aquitania Arrival (Juan Hernandez, 4-1)

7. Olympic Legend (Jose Valdivia, Jr., 10-1)

Lovinger homebreds prominent in Sunday’s Graduation

Terry Lovingier’s prominence among California owner/breeders will be on display in a major way in Sunday’s $100,000 Graduation Stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds.

Four of the six colts set to compete over 5 ½ furlongs in the 70th running of an event that was revelatory for California Chrome in 2013 were sired by Lovingier-owned Stay Thirsty. Lovingier maintains a part ownership interest in three of the four – Mr. T’s Thirsty, Thirsty Always and Rock N Rye – while the fourth, Trip to Spain, is owned and was bred by Myles Reed McMahon.

The Graduation Stakes field from the rail with odds and jockeys in parenthesis: 

1. Mr. T’s Thirsty (Tyler Baze, 2-1)

2. Trip to Spain (Kyle Frey, 2-1)

3. Thirsty Always (apprentice Cesar Ortega, 9-5)

4. Rock N Rye (Umberto Rispoli, 8-5)

5. Northvale Road (Tiago Pereira, 6-1)

6. Fowler Blue (Edwin Maldonado, 12-1)

Cathkin Peak favored in field of six in La Jolla Handicap

Phil D’Amato-trained Cathkin Peak, returning from a nearly six-month layoff, has been installed as the 2-1 favorite on oddsmaker Jon White’s morning line for Sunday’s Grade III, $150,000 La Jolla Handicap.

A field of six was entered in what looks to be a wide open second leg of Del Mar’s turf stakes series for 3-year-olds. None of the half-dozen ran in the opening day Oceanside Stakes, the event that kicks off a series which concludes with the Grade II, $250,000 Del Mar Derby on September 4.

Cathkin Peak won the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita in his second U.S. start since being imported from his native Ireland. In his only 2021 start he was beaten only 2 ½ lengths by Rock Your World, who later won the Santa Anita Derby and is being targeted for the Del Mar Derby, where he is the presumptive favorite.

The field for the La Jolla Handicap from the rail with jockeys in parenthesis: 

1. Stilleto Boy (Kent Desormeaux, 6-1)

2. Wyfire (Kyle Frey, 12-1)

3. Hudson Ridge (Abel Cedillo, 5-2)

4. Cathkin Peak (Juan Hernandez, 2-1)

5. Zoffarelli (Drayden Van Dyke, 3-1)

6. Sword Zorro (Umberto Rispoli, 4-1)

CLOSERS – Trainer Jorge Periban reported that CTBA Stakes winner At the Spa came out of race well. It was the first Del Mar stakes victory for Periban. “It feels very good,” Periban said. “This is the first time I’ve had a horse like this and when you have one (of this caliber) you want to do well with it.” … Selected works from 148 officially timed Friday morning: Azul Coast (5f, 1:00.80); Ce Ce (5f, 1:00.80); Independence Hall (5f, 1:00.80); Tripoli (5f, 1:00.00), and Vetoed (5f, :59.00).

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Press Release

Photo: Maxim Rate © Benoit Photo

@jonathanstettin  Morning Jonathan, I just read your Piece on its not a Santa Anita thing IT WAS OUTSTANDING. I have been playing horses for 42 yrs since my father 1st brought me to Washington Park. I could not agree with you more. There must be 1 governing board and a commissioner.

Big Boy R @vatsanman View testimonials

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