Royal Ship Headlines Saturday’s San Diego Handicap

July 15, 2021

Dream Shake gets class break for first turf start, Van Dyke eyes fast, fresh start following Midwest sojourn; Nine to go in Saturday’s Osunitas Stakes

DEL MAR, Calif.—Royal Ship, a Brazilian-bred son of Midshipman trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella will be the object of much attention for Saturday’s 80th running of the Grade II, $250,000 San Diego Handicap.

The 5-year-old gelding, who made his U.S. debut finishing third in the Grade II Del Mar Mile here last August, has bloomed in the Southern California handicap division this spring with a victory in the Californian in April and runner-up finish to Country Grammer in the Hollywood Gold Cup in late May at Santa Anita.

Royal Ship will be joined by Gold Cup 3-4 finishers Express Train and Rushie in the San Diego, a traditional stepping stone to the $750,000 TVG Pacific Classic on August 21.

A field of nine was entered Wednesday. The post position draw was scheduled for later in the day. 

The field*, in post position order: 

1. Rushie (Umberto Rispoli)

2. Kiss Today Goodbye (Victor Espinoza)

3. Sheriff Brown (Edwin Maldonado)

4. Royal Ship (Mike Smith)

5. Express Train (Juan Hernandez)

6. Mo Mosa (Ramon Vasquez)

7. Magic On Tap (Abel Cedillo)

8. Tripoli (Tiago Pereira)

9.  Heywoods Beach (Trevor McCarthy)

Dream Shake (Benoit Photo)

Dream Shake gets class break for first turf start

Since breaking his maiden in February, Dream Shake has had monthly assignments in Grade I or Grade II stakes on dirt against some of best 3-year-olds in the country.

And after chasing home the likes of Life Is Good (Grade II San Felipe, March), Rock Your World (Grade I Santa Anita Derby, April), Jackie’s Warrior (Grade II Pat Day Mile, May) and Drain The Clock (Grade I Woody Stephens, June) the son of Twirling Candy, trained by Peter Eurton, takes a class drop to the ungraded level and change of surface to turf for Friday’s $100,000 Runhappy Oceanside Stakes.

But while the Oceanside rivals may come up short in accomplishments compared to the company Dream Shake has been keeping, they’re long on numbers. The field of 14 for the traditional opening day stakes of Del Mar’s summer season is the maximum allowed for the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

“We didn’t want to ship again, and Del Mar’s races for him are all on grass until late in the meet,” Eurton said. “His sire won the Oceanside and then came back and won the Del Mar Derby. We thought the timing was good to run him now, and we’ll see if he likes it. You never know until you try.”

Twirling Candy, owned by the Craig Family Trust and trained by John Sadler, won the one-mile Oceanside in 2010 clear by 2 ¼ lengths as the 4-5 favorite making his first start on turf. He led throughout in scoring by 3 ¼ lengths as the 1-5 favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Derby. Both efforts were under jockey Joel Rosario and Twirling Candy was voted the Top 3-year-old of the meeting.

Dream Shake will break from the No. 6 post under veteran jockey Joe Bravo, a perennial top rider at Monmouth Park in New Jersey who has relocated to make Del Mar his summer headquarters.

“He (Dream Shake) drew well, and Joe is perfectly capable,” Eurton understated.

The field from the rail: 

1. Harbored Memories (Jose Valdivia, Jr., 8-1)

2. Fighting Force (Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1)

3. Crew Dragon (Umberto Rispoli, 6-1)

4. Brutto (Ricky Gonzalez, 20-1)

5. Petruchio (Mike Smith, 12-1)

6. Dream Shake (Joe Bravo, 4-1)

7. Jungle Cry (Tyler Baze, 20-1)

8. Flashiest (Abel Cedillo, 6-1)

9. No Foolery Here (Giovanni Franco, 20-1)

10. Mucho Del Oro (Edwin Maldonado, 20-1)

11. None Above the Law (Juan Hernandez, 8-1)

12. Ingest (Victor Espinoza, 30-1)

13. Whatmakessammyrun (Flavien Prat, 7-2)

14. Hockey Dad (Mario Gutierrez, 20-1)

Van Dyke eyes fast, fresh start following Midwest sojourn

Jockey Drayden Van Dyke wasn’t gone from the Southern California racing circuit all that long. Only a few months, from late March to early July, when the 26-year-old from Louisville went back to his Kentucky roots, plying his trade at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Turfway Park.

Statistically, it was not a triumphant return to his old Kentucky home. Wins came at roughly a 10 percent rate for just over 100 mounts with the highlight being a victory in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway aboard Like The King and a subsequent 12th-place finish on the same horse in his first Kentucky Derby opportunity.

“I did miss California a lot,” Van Dyke admitted here Tuesday morning. “There’s no place like it.”

California riding exploits earned Van Dyke an Eclipse Award as the top apprentice of 2014. And he had career year here in 2018 when he won both the summer and fall Del Mar titles and, during the summer stand, won 11 stakes races – one third of his current seaside track total.

But, as Van Dyke pointed out in interviews shortly before leaving Kentucky, he has no regrets about the temporary self-transplant and expects it to have long term benefits.

“I enjoyed my experience in Kentucky, it was a good learning experience and now it’s onwards and upwards,” Van Dyke said.

“A change can be good for anybody.”

Van Dyke was represented by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens during part of his time in the Midwest. But with Stevens back at Saratoga, N.Y., working as an expert commentator on New York Racing Association and other broadcasts, Van Dyke’s book is being handled by Brandon O’Bryan, a third-generation jockey agent. Brandon’s grandfather George, a legend in the business who represented five Hall of Famers at one time or another in a lengthy career, passed away in February at the age of 100. Brandon’s father, Craig, came out of semi-retirement last year to work with Juan Hernandez on a highly successful transition from the Northern to Southern California circuit.

“I can’t wait to get to work with Brandon and see what we can do,” Van Dyke said. “I’m excited to be back at Del Mar, excited that there’s going to be fans around again. It’s like old times. I’m in a really good state of mind and I want to build my business back up and get into a winning mode.”

Nine to go in Saturday’s Osunitas Stakes

A field of nine older fillies and mares was entered Wednesday for Saturday’s 66th running of the $80,000 Osunitas Stakes at one mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

The field, in alphabetical order: Brooke (Umberto Rispoli); Candura (Trevor McCarthy); Dynasty Of Her Own (Kyle Frey); Heathers Grey (Tyler Baze); Ippodamia’s Girl (Joe Bravo); Nasty (Ricky Gonzalez); Sedamar (Juan Hernandez); She’s So Special (Abel Cedillo) and Tapwater (Mike Smith).

CLOSERS –  Jockey John Rotz, who died Monday at age 86 at his farm in Warrensburg, Ill., built Hall of Fame credentials on the East Coast as North America’s leading stake-winning rider in 1969 and ’70 and with Triple Crown victories aboard Greek Money in the 1962 Preakness and High Echelon in the 1970 Belmont Stakes. His lone Del Mar stakes victory came aboard Morse Way in the 1973 Graduation, the same year he was honored with the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award at Santa Anita.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club News (edited)

Top Photo: Royal Ship won the Californian Stake (G2) April 17, 2021 at Santa Anita. (Benoit Photo)

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