Justique breaking her maiden at Del Mar July 31. Benoit Photo
DEL MAR, Calif.—Fittingly for its Bing Crosby Season makeup, Del Mar will run a pair of sprint stakes Saturday named for a couple of show business icons who were regulars at the seaside oval back in the day. The races are the Cary Grant Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds and up and the Desi Arnaz Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Both are at seven furlongs.
Cary Grant, he of the debonair demeanor and dozens upon dozens of movies starring roles in both dramas and comedies, and Desi Arnaz, the Cuban bandleader who became one of the great stars of that new medium called television when he teamed with his wife and partner Lucille Ball to create the smash hit “I Love Lucy.” Arnaz even retired to Del Mar with a house on the beach and got into the owning and breeding of racehorses.
The Desi Arnaz has attracted seven young lassies and the one who’ll draw the most eyes is likely to be C R K Stable’s Justique, a daughter of Triple Crown winner Justify who was a most-impressive winner at Del Mar in her racing debut on July 31, then came back to run third in the Grade II Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita on October 8. She’s trained by old pro John Shirreffs and will be ridden again by Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza.
Del Mar’s morning line maker Jon White has hung Justique the 8/5 favorite in the dash.
The Cary Grant has a trio of runners who’ll draw attention at the wickets and on the racetrack. They are Sondereker Racing, Felkin or Thorn’s The Chosen Vron, Downstream Racing’s None Above the Law and William Peeples’ Big City Lights.
The Chosen Vron may get an edge over his two key rivals because he’s beaten them both in his last two starts – the September 17 E.B. Johnston Stakes at Los Alamitos (where he bested Big City Lights) and the California Flag Handicap October 16 at Santa Anita (None Above the Law chased him home in that one).
The Chosen Vron, a 4-year-old gelding by the late California stallion Vronsky, is trained by Eric Kruljac and will be handled by Hector Berrios. None Above the Law comes out of the barn of Peter Miller and gets Flavien Prat in the boot. And Big City Lights is conditioned by Richard Mandella and will be ridden by Del Mar’s leading rider, Juan Hernandez.
Linemaker White sorts that trio out like this: The Chosen Vron even money; Big City Lights 9/5, and None Above the Law 5/2.
The Desi Arnaz will go as Race 6 on the nine-race Saturday program. The Cary Grant will be Race 8.
Here are the full fields for the two races in post-position order with riders and morning line odds:
Desi Arnaz – Justique; Windstar Farm or Siena Farm’s Parody (Hernandez, 4-1); Mike Powers’ Naughty Lottie (Kent Desormeaux, 12-1); Villa Rosa Farm or Harlo Stable’s Huntingcoco (Prat, 7/2); Edwin Alvarez’s Smokem for You (Francisco Orduna-Rojas, 30-1); Amestoy Jr., Amestoy and Beasley’s Blessed Touch (Drayden Van Dyke, 9/5), and Edwin Alvarez’s Daddy Classy Dill (Diego Herrera, 30-1).
Cary Grant – Lovingier, Fasihuddin or Navarro’s Finneus (Ramon Vazquez, 15-1); Hararis Farms’ Coalinga Road (John Velazquez, 12-1); Big City Lights; The Chosen Vron, and None Above the Law.
A pair of recent straight maiden winners bring an extra dimension to the Desi Arnaz. They are Parody, who registered a handy tally in her debut at Churchill Downs on October 30 on a sloppy track, and Blessed Touch, a smart wire-to-wire victress in a Santa Anita heat on October 8. Both are well bred and full of promise.
In the Cary Grant, Big City Lights might have a bit of a pace edge as he appears to be the lone speed in the dash. He’s also turned in several sharp works coming up to this start.
First post for the Saturday program is 12:30 p.m.