Panic Alarm To Make Stateside Debut in G3 La Jolla Handicap

August 5, 2023

Panic Alarm clocks 4F in 50.60 July 30 over Del Mar’s turf course (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Del Mar Stable Notes by Jim Charvat

DEL MAR, Calif.— Three-year-old turf runners are in the spotlight Sunday in the 83rd running of the G3 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar. The La Jolla’s storied past includes such winners as Relaunch, Tight Spot, Singletary, Sidney’s Candy and Smooth Like Strait. Last year, Cabo Spirit joined the list.

This year any one of the eight entries has a shot to take home the trophy in the mile and a sixteenth turf test including Hronis Racing’s Panic Alarm, who will be making his U.S. debut on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

“The plan has always been to bring him over for Del Mar,” trainer John Sadler says. “We put him in the Oceanside but I thought it was a little quick for him so we thought we would scratch him from the Oceanside and wait for the La Jolla. We feel he’s got some quality and we’re anxious to get him started.”

The Irish-bred won a pair of races as a 2-year-old, breaking his maiden and then winning an allowance race in Ireland but he has yet to visit the winners circle in 2023 and last out he finished far back in a small handicap at England’s Ascot.

“He didn’t run well at Royal Ascot,” Sadler says. “He’s doing fine. He’s had four works and he’s a natural distance horse.”

Henry Q works over the Del Mar turf course July 30, covering 5F in 1:03.60 (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Henry Q is the highweight in the La Jolla at 122 pounds. The son of Blame won the $100,000 Mine That Bird at Sunland Park in February, a prep for the G3 Sunland Derby which he came back in and ran third a month later.

He shipped back east and ran in the G3 Peter Pan at Belmont Park in May, finishing a respectable third behind eventual Belmont Stakes winner Arcangelo. Trainer Doug O’Neill then sent Henry Q to Thistledown where he ran fifth in the G3 Ohio Derby.

“Those have been some tough horses he’s been running against,” O’Neill says. “He’s been shipping his last few races and here he’s able to run against his own age group from his own stall.”

The La Jolla will be Henry Q’s fourth different racetrack in his last four races, and he’s trying turf for the first time.

“I thought it was a good opportunity to try it in our own backyard,” O’Neill says. “We breezed him the last couple of weekends on the grass and he seems to enjoy it, so we’re going to see what happens.”

Leonard Powell packs a solid one-two punch with Maltese Falcon and Zalamo, the latter a French-bred who is making just his second start in the U.S. His first was a distant ninth-place finish in the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar.

“He got slammed out of the gate which set him a bit farther back than what we would have wanted,” Powell says. “He ran a very good last quarter of a mile and he came out of the race in excellent shape. I think the experience of the last race and the distance will help him.”

Maltese Falcon covers 4F in 48.20 July 30 over Del Mar’s main track (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Maltese Falcon is coming off a runner-up finish to Wizard of Westwood in the $100,000 Cinema at Santa Anita in June. The son of Caravaggio is still a maiden and is shortening up from the mile and a quarter run in the Cinema and the mile and an eighth he ran the race before.

“He was supposed to run last week in a maiden but he didn’t get in,” Powell says. “The horse is ready to run. He’s doing well. He’s been progressing each start this year. I know we’re aiming high but the last time he ran second in a stakes race so I think he belongs here and I think he’ll make a good impression.”

Maltese Falcon will have the services of leading rider Juan Hernandez.

Kid Azteca could be the sleeper. The son of Sharp Azteca had a legitimate excuse for his poor showing in the Oceanside on opening day.

“He got stepped on and he pulled a hind shoe,” trainer Peter Miller says. “Not all of the way off, half of the way off which is even worse. So we’re going to put a line through the Oceanside.

“He’s doing well,” Miller continues. “It’s a wide-open race and he should run much better this time.”

The G3 La Jolla goes off as the 10th race on the 11-race Sunday program. Approximate post time is 6:30 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with the jockeys and morning line odds: Smart Mo (Joe Bravo, 8-1); Agency (Mark Glatt, 4-1); Maltese Falcon (5-2); Justin’s Legacy (Hector Berrios, 12-1); Panic Alarm (Umberto Rispoli, 2-1); Kid Azteca (Assael Espinoza, 20-1); Henry Q (Antonio Fresu, 6-1), and Zalamo (Mike Smith, 8-1).

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