Pinehurst wires the Del Mar Futurity under veteran Smith

September 7, 2021

Mackinnon outruns eight rivals in the Juvenile Turf as Del Mar’s meet ends

DEL MAR, Calif.— Starlight Racing, SF Racing, Madaket Stables and partners’ Pinehurst scooted to the front in the seven-furlong Runhappy Del Mar Futurity Monday, then just kept on scooting all the way around to score a handy four and a half-length triumph in the 74th edition of the seaside track’s Grade I, $300,000 2-year-old championship race.

It was closing afternoon for Del Mar’s 82nd summer season and it ended as many have over the past 25 years, with trainer Bob Baffert saddling the winner of the Futurity. This time was No. 15 for the Hall of Fame conditioner who has shown an affinity with young horses that few other trainers can even think of.

“I could see that (3/5 favorite) Murray didn’t have it today. He was struggling early on. I’m just glad that I had two good horses and one of them had it even if the other one didn’t. I’ve been blessed over the years with so many good owners and so many good young horses. Mike Smith broke his maiden, so it was natural to have him back. He’s a great rider and you give him a live one he knows what to do,” Baffert said.

Another Hall of Famer, old pro Mike Smith, rode Pinehurst and nursed him through quick fractions of :22.09, :44.77, 1:10.17 and a final of 1:23.55. It was Smith’s first stakes score of the summer and his first in the Futurity.

“When we ran last time, he stumbled pretty badly coming out of there, but he still made the lead. So, I knew he was plenty quick. We beat a horse that day (August 1) named Enbarr and I knew they were real high on him. So I figured I was sitting on a good horse. When you ride for Bob (trainer Baffert), you ride with confidence. He puts so much foundation under them and they all come running. So glad I got to win a stakes at Del Mar; and best to do it with a Grade I,” Smith commented.

With 73 stakes wins at Del Mar it was the first stakes win of the meet for rider Smith and his first in the Runhappy Del Mar Futurity. Baffert scored his 15th in the Runhappy Del Mar Futurity and 4th of the meet. He now has 143 stakes wins at Del Mat, the most of any trainer.

Finishing second was Lovingier, Fasihuddin or Navarro’s Finneus, who had a half-length on Downstream Racing’s American Xperiment.

Del Mar Futurity Replay

Pinehurst won a first prize of $180,000 for his efforts and, added to the $42,000 he was awarded for his maiden victory here on August 1, he now shows a bankroll of $222,000. He’s a bay colt by Twirling Candy who cost $385,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September Sale.

Pinehurst paid $10.00, $5.40 and $4.00 across the board. Finneus returned $18.00 and $7.80 and American Xperiment paid $5.00.

Mackinnon and jockey Juan Hernandez, win the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf. (Benoit Photo)

Earlier in the card, ERJ Racing and Kenney’s Mackinnon outran eight rivals in the $102,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf, finishing the mile on the grass in 1:36.24.

The winner was handled by Juan Hernandez and is trained by Doug O”Neill.

“He broke his maiden (here July 31) in a manner that we were hoping this day would come but you never know. So much credit to the owners being so patient and Juan (Hernandez) being so patient with this colt. I was a little bit concerned as the race unfolded. I knew that (Optimising) was the X-factor. I knew he was in from Europe and had been working well and had great connections and was in a great spot. But when Juan called on MacKinnon and he responded I started smiling. If he stays injury free the ($1 Million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on November 5) is the goal,” O’Neill explained.

O’Neill won his first Del Mar Juvenile Turf and his 40th stakes at Del Mar. It was also Hernandez’s first Juvenile Turf and his 11th stakes win. 

“Doug just basically told me to ride him with confidence. We were doing OK until we got to the far turn, and I felt him get a little lazy on me. So, when we went for home and he changed leads, I hit him left-handed with the stick on time and he jumped back into it. From there we just went on with it. He’s a nice horse and the way he finished out today, I think he’ll like to run on,” Hernandez said.

Finishing second was Aiden Butler’s Thirty Four Coupe, just a nose ahead of Sierra Racing or Sterling Stables’ Silver Surfer.

Mackinnon earned $60,000 for his win and increased his bankroll to $117,860. As the 8/5 favorite he paid $5.20 $3.40 and $240. Thirty Four Coupe returned $14.60 and $7.00, while Silver Surfer paid $3.20.

Mackinnon is a chestnut colt by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Del Mar Juvenile Turf Replay

In the track’s Pick Six Single Ticket Jackpot wager, the “mandatory payout” pool reached $5,153,316 and rewarded 8,238 ticket holders with $561.74 each.

Racing will resume at Del Mar on Wednesday, November 3.  The track will host its second Breeders’ Cup Championship on November 5 and 6.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Press Release

Top photo: Pinehurst with veteran Mike Smith in the irons wire the Del Mar Futurity. (Benoit Photos)

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