* The first race was won from well off the pace by 10-1 long shot High Stakes Silver, bringing back memories of the first two years of Del Mar’s Polytrack surface when speed was much less effective than during the recent Hollywood Park spring-summer meet. But just when you think speed is no good here, along comes Via Zavata to post a gate-to-wire victory in the second. Guess we’re going to have to watch a few races to see how the track’s going to play this summer.
* High Stakes Silver was ridden by apprentice Christian Santiago Reyes, who has been riding well since arriving at Hollywood Park. There are some press box observers who believe he’s going to have a big Del Mar season. Victor Espinoza, who won aboard Via Zavata and finished a strong third in the Hollywood Park rider standings behind Joel Rosario and Rafael Bejarano, is having a nice year and could very well crack the top five here at Del Mar as well.
* Monterey Jazz, coming off an impressive victory in the Grade 2 American Handicap on July 4 at Hollywood Park in his most recent start, heads a top-flight field of eight for Saturday’s $350,000 Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the grass. Other runners entered in the 36th running of the stake include Whatsthescript, Artiste Royal, Awesome Gem, Thorn Song, Global Hunter, Dakota Phone and Richard’s Kid.
* John Sadler, second behind Doug O’Neill in the Hollywood Park spring-summer trainer standings, believes he has the horses to successfully defend his 2008 Del Mar title. “We’re looking to have a nice summer here,” said Sadler, who won his first Del Mar title last summer by easily outdistancing Mike Mitchell, 31-19. “We’ll let the horses take us where they can. We’ve brought a nice bunch down here.”
* Eoin Harty is hoping to run both Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed and 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes champion Colonel John in the $250,000 Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on Aug. 2. The San Diego Handicap will be Well Armed’s first start since his 14-length score in the $6 million World Cup. If they run well, Harty said he may start both in the $1 million Pacific Classic, Del Mar’s signature race, on Sept. 6. Life Is Sweet, a credible third in the $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11, may try the boys again in the $250,000 San Diego Handicap.
* It took a while, but trainer Lisa Lewis’ first California stakes win was worth the wait. Lewis, who moved her stable from New York to California during Hollywood Park’s 2006 autumn meet, saddled Black Astor for a front-running victory in Sunday’s closing-day Sunset Handicap at Hollypark. “It took quite a while to get to this, but it’s very nice,” said Lewis, who added that Black Astor will probably go next in the Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 30.