Top 3-Year-Old Grass Runners Hook Up in G2 Del Mar Derby

September 2, 2022

DEL MAR, Calif.— Trainer Doug O’Neill will bring two of his top 3-year-olds to the 78th running of the G2 Caesars Sportsbook Del Mar Derby on the TVG Pacific Classic undercard Saturday at Del Mar. The Derby will be the first time on the grass for Slow Down Andy, who finished second to Big City Lights in the $175,000 Real Good Deal Stakes at Del Mar last month.

“He’s doing well,” O’Neill says. “It’s in our own backyard, big purse so we thought we’d take a chance. He fits with them.”

Mackinnon ran a disappointing fourth in the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes on opening day. The son of American Pharoah went off favored that day.

“I think the race under his belt will do him good,” O’Neill says, “and I think going a mile and an eighth will do him a world of good. That’s the hope.”

The horse that won the Oceanside and defeated Mackinnon, Balnikhov, is also in the Derby.

“Balnikhov is training very well,” trainer Phil D’Amato says. “I think he’ll be the favorite or second choice in there. He’ll come running late.”

A horse that defeated Balnikhov earlier this year is running in the Derby. War At Sea has not run since he beat Balnikhov in the $100,000 Cinema at Santa Anita in June. The son of War Front is riding a three-race win streak for trainer Ron Ellis.

“He stumbled pulling up after a workout before the La Jolla, which he was supposed to run in,” Ellis says. “It kind of scared us so we checked him out, sent him to a nuclear scan at Santa Anita. Everything checked out great. He’s working great, training great so I think he’s fit now.”

Cabo Spirit is coming into the Derby off his breakout win in the G3 La Jolla at Del Mar last month for trainer George Papaprodromou.

“He was an expensive 2-year-old that we paid for so obviously he’s a nice horse,” Papaprodromou says. “I always had high hopes for him and we still do.”

Here’s the field from the rail with jockeys: Cabo Spirit (Joe Bravo); Slow Down Andy (Mario Gutierrez); War At Sea (Mike Smith); Spycatcher (Ryan Curatolo); Dandy Warhol (Flavien Prat); St Anthony (Hector Berrios); Mackinnon (Juan Hernandez); Barsabas (Diego Herrera), and Balnikhov (Umberto Rispoli).

DMTC Press Release

Photo: Slow Down Andy (Benoit)

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