With Rafael Bejarano sidelined until at least mid-August with multiple facial fractures suffered in an ugly breakdown on opening day Wednesday at Del Mar, who’s going to challenge Hollywood Park spring-summer meet champ Joel Rosario for the seaside title?
How about Tyler Baze, who won the opening day Oceanside Stakes aboard Afleet Eagle for trainer Vladimir Cerin? Baze was fourth during the recent Hollypark meeting, behind only Rosario, Bejarano and Victor Espinoza, and fourth at Santa Anita behind the big three of Rosario, Bejarano and Garrett Gomez. He’s tied with Rosario atop the Del Mar standings, both with three wins, through the first two days of the 37-day meet.
Even though Gomez figures to miss a lot of time here because of riding commitments elsewhere, you really can’t count him out either, although when a rider misses as many weekend days as Gomez might, it will be tough.
John Sadler, the defending Del Mar training champion, has signaled his readiness for another big meet by saddling three winners in the first two days. Mike Mitchell, fourth at Hollywood Park, expects to have another big Del Mar meet after finishing second here in 2008.
Even though Cerin saddled two winners on opening day, don’t expect him to challenge for any titles.
“I’m not set up that well for this meet,” Cerin said in the winner’s circle following the Oceanside. “I have maybe less than half the horses that I had last year. But you do the best you can with what you have, right?”