Sadler filly out of danger

I spoke with John Sadler in the Del Mar paddock before Wednesday’s fifth race and he said that Dawn Before Dawn, who had to be pulled up down the backside of Monday’s Adoration Stakes at Del Mar and was vanned off, will probably never race again but will be fine for a broodmare.

Sadler said the 4-year-old daughter of High Yield suffered a “little bit of a pelvis fracture” in her right hind but she is weight bearing and in no danger of not being saved.

Immediately after the race, track stewards reported it appeared she had suffered an injury to her right hind pelvis or stifle and was being brought back to her barn. She appeared to break a bit akwardly and might have suffered the injury out of the gate

Joel Rosario rode Dawn Before Dawn, who went into the race having won 4 of 12 starts for earnings of $164,605. She was making only her second start of 2009.

Going into the ninth race on closing day of the Del Mar meet, there had been 13 fatalities — 12 on the Polytrack and one on turf. Of the 12 on the main track, eight occurred during the mornings and four in afternoon racing.

TOC group wants to purchase Santa Anita

Sunday was a big day for Arnold Zetcher, whose recent private purchase, Richard’s Kid, won the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Now he’s hoping to celebrate another big day if a group he’s aligned with is successful in buying Santa Anita in bankruptcy court. The group is attempting to purchase the track on behalf of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

The sale, originally scheduled for today, has been postponed to perhaps as late as after the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup because no acceptable bids were received by the July 31 deadline.

“Santa Anita is still for sale, but since they didn’t have all the bids in that they wanted they really couldn’t have an auction so they took it off the auction block,” Zetcher said. “But it’s still out there, and I think as soon as they do get a bid or two in, it becomes a stalking horse and then 30 days after that will be the auction.

“We are very vigorous in our efforts to buy this on a not-for-profit basis for all the horsemen. That’s what this is all about. Any profits that we would get we would try to throw back into either the purse structure or the operations of Santa Anita. We’re very enthusiastic about it and we’re very hopeful that we can succeed.”

Frank Stronach, chairman of Santa Anita parent company Magna Entertainment Corp., reportedly would like to retain control of the track.

Lukas back in the racing spotlight

D. Wayne Lukas, still the all-time leading Breeders’ Cup trainer but a horseman who had fallen on hard times of late, scored his first Grade 1 victory in nearly four years Monday when a 2-year-old colt he talked the owners into buying for $525,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September Yearling Sale won the $300,000 Hopeful Stakes on closing day at Saratoga.

Dublin, by Afleet Alex out of Classy Mirage who was jumping up from the maiden ranks, beat Aspire by two lengths. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Aikenite, and the undefeated Backtalk, who’d won the Grade 2 Sanford, finished fourth.

The winner, the 3-1 favorite, covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.52 while giving Lukas his sixth Hopeful victory but first since 2000. Lukas’ last Grade 1 victory before Monday came when he saddled Folklore for a win in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park.

Lukas, never shy with an opinion, is not happy that the Breeders’ Cup will be run over Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface on Nov. 6-7.

“They’ve screwed up the Breeders’ Cup so they’re going to force us to do things I don’t want to do,” Lukas told the Daily Racing Form. “I don’t know just where we’ll look right now. You got the Champagne (Oct. 10) right in front of us, the Breeders’ Futurity (at Keeneland) is an option. I would really prefer that we move the Breeders’ Cup to Churchill or Belmont and keep him on the dirt.”

Interestingly, Lukas’ old rival when the two both trained horses for the late Bob Lewis, Bob Baffert, also won a pair of 2-year-old races at Del Mar on Monday and it’s beginning to look like their paths could cross again during the 3-year-old classics in the spring.

Lukas and Baffert have patched up any differences they might have had, and Lukas gave the introductory speech when Baffert was inducted into the Hall of Fame last month in Saratoga Springs.

“You always root for Wayne, you know what Wayne’s done for this sport,” said Mike Pegram, whose Real Quiet won the 1998 Kentucky Derby for Baffert and who owns part of Lookin At Lucky, who won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Monday. “And you know what Bobby’s done for this sport. And they both cut their teeth here at Del Mar.

“I rooted for (Lukas) today, but now he’s got to beat two of ’em.”

Along with Lookin At Lucky, Pegram also owns a piece of the Baffert-trained Indian Firewater, who broke his maiden in Monday’s seventh race at Del Mar and also looks like a talented colt.

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Update on Sadler’s filly Dawn Before Dawn

Dawn Before Dawn, who had to be pulled up down the backside of Monday’s Adoration Stakes at Del Mar and was vanned off, reportedly fractured her right hind pelvis.

According to an unconfirmed report, Dawn Before Dawn was back in John Sadler’s barn and efforts were being made to save the 4-year-old filly.

Immediately after the race, track stewards reported it appeared she had suffered an injury to her right hind pelvis or stifle and was being brought back to her barn.

Joel Rosario rode the daughter of High Yield, who went into the race having won 4 of 12 starts for earnings of $164,605. She was making only her second start of 2009.

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Pacific Classic runners’ connections weigh in a day later

Trainer Ron Ellis, whose Rail Trip was sent postward as the 5-2 favorite in Sunday’s $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar and finished third, offered no excuses Sunday morning.

“It was the first time he’d been behind horses and caught ‘dirt’ in his face, and he handled it well,” Ellis said. “He came out of the race in good shape and we’ll look forward to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

Ellis said he’ll likely train Rail Trip, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup in July and has won six of nine lifetime, up to the Classic on works.

“He ran very well off a seven-week break, so we’ll keep him fresh that way,” he said.

The connections for fourth-place finisher Parading are undecided about the Breeders’ Cup. He could be shipped to Santa Anita to prepare for the Classic, according to Jorge Molina, the horse’s groom.

Molina said Shug McGaughey assistant Robbie Medina returned to New York on Sunday night and will let Molina know where Parading will go next.

Fifth-place finisher Colonel John, who had a troubled trip according to jockey Garrett Gomez, could resurface in the Goodwood Stakes on Oct. 10 in advance of the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7.

The Pacific Classic’s runner-up, Einstein, is not Breeders’ Cup eligible and would have to be supplemented at a large fee. The 7-year-old was reported in good shape Sunday morning. Trainer Helen Pitts flew back to her Churchill Downs base Sunday night, and Einstein is scheduled to ship back to Kentucky on Wednesday.

The 24-1 surprise winner, Richard’s Kid, might go next in the Goodwood, or trainer Bob Baffert might elect to bring him into the Breeders’ Cup Classic on workouts. He’s undecided.

I’m Smokin Stakes winner’s connections excited

Carla Gaines, who trains I’m Smokin Stakes winner John Scott, who rallied wide again and got up to win for the second time in two starts at Del Mar, was worried early in the race when the Bertrando colt fell so far back again.

“He was that way in his maiden race, but it’s easier to make up ground in a maiden race,” she said. “It’s a lot harder if you’re running against winners like today. I can hardly wait to stretch him out. We think he’ll be a really good two-turn horse.”

Said winning jockey Victor Espinoza: “The farther the better.”

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Keep an eye on John Scott

The Carla Gaines-trained John Scott made it two for two in his career Monday at Del Mar, rallying from far back again to win the $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes for 2-year-olds bred in California.

The son of Bertrando broke his maiden here on Aug. 2, breaking slowly and racing wide before getting up by a half-length in his debut at 7-2 under Victor Espinoza.

Espinoza was back aboard Monday, and John Scott broke a tad slow again in the 10-horse field before beginnng a huge run around the turn and passing Daylight Storm and Tribal Face in the final strides. He beat Daylight Storm by three-quarters of a length, running the six furlongs in 1:10.26.

This guy figures to get only better as the distances increase and you might see him surface in the Norfolk Stakes during the Oak Tree meet on Oct. 4 as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 7.

He’s a colt of much promise.

Another breakdown at Del Mar

The John Sadler-trained filly Dawn Before Dawn had to be pulled up down the backside by jockey Joel Rosario in today’s third race at Del Mar — the $85,000 Adoration Stakes — and was vanned off.

The stewards reported it appeared she suffered an injury to her right hind pelvis or stifle. She was being brought back to her barn.

We’ll update when more information is available.

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Taking a small stab at Del Mar’s pick six

There’s a $427,333 pick-six carryover at Del Mar today and I need some money. Translation: I’m going to take a stab at the pot and see what happens.

Exile — Second-timer for Richard Mandella, he ran well in his debut and has every right to improve.
Payment Approved — has the speed to wire this field, depending on how the inconsistent Polytrack surface is playing at the time.

John Scott
— Broke poorly, had a wide trip and still won like a good colt in his debut.

Indian Firewater
— The Indian Charlie colt, a $400,000 purchase, figures to improve off a fourth-place effort in his debut.
Via Verde — First-timer for leading trainer John Sadler has some good works.

Lookin At Lucky
— The Smart Strike colt is 2 for 2, and why bet against Bob Baffert now after he’s already won two Grade 1 stakes this weekend?

Draft Choice
— Won for $10,000, finished fourth for $16,000 and now drops one peg higher than level he won at. Carava-Pedroza team is tough.

Kalookan Commando
— Leonard Powell-trained gelding had a brutal trip in his debut here on Aug. 14, did some running and deserves another shot.
Zees Echo — Swiss Yodeler colt finished third, beaten only two lengths, after a wide trip. Joe Talamo stays aboard, and trainer Mike Harrington is good with 2-year-olds.

That’s a $16 ticket, and I think I’m live in all six races. Of course, you need luck too.

Good luck!

Zensational is scary good … so far

How impressive was Zensational’s summer campaign at Del Mar? Well, consider this: He swept both Grade 1 sprint stakes — the Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien — without hardly breaking a sweat. He became only the fifth 3-year-old to win the Bing Crosby in its 64 runnings and then, for good measure, became the first sophomore to win both races when he swept to victory in Sunday’s Pat O’Brien. He’s only the third 3-year-old to win that stake since its inception in 1986.

He’s fast … very, very, very fast. Trainer Bob Baffert, who’s won the past two Breeders’ Cup Sprints with Midnight Lute, says he’s the fastest horse he’s ever trained. Jockey Victor Espinoza knows just how quick the Unbridled’s Song colt is first-hand.

“He’s fast. He’s REALLY fast,” Espinoza said after the Pat O’Brien. “I’ve ridden some very good, very fast horses. But I’ve never ridden one like him. If you’re talking sprinters, he’s the fastest horse I’ve ever ridden. I wanted him to break quiet today. I didn’t want him to come busting out of there. He came away easy and I had a hold in the first part. He ran :23 and something (:23.10) and I knew I was getting away with it right there. I thought we’d be going at least :22 and change. Twenty-three for this horse is just for fun. From there I just eased him on out. I let him run a little bit down the lane, but that was it. Never drew my whip. No reason to. Like I said, he’s fast. And when we pulled up, he wasn’t breathing hard at all. Not at all.”

Baffert says he’ll skip the Ancient Title Stakes at Oak Tree and head right into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on works alone. To be fair, he hasn’t faced much in his career. No horse has been talented or fast enough to hook him so we could see what he’s made of, how he reacts if a horse looks him right in the eye and says, “Let’s see what ya got.”

We’ll know just how good Zensational is after the Breeders’ Cup, but for now, we can just go by what we see as he beats overmatched opponent after overmatched opponent. What I see is a colt who’s going to be mighty tough to beat in his own backyard on Nov. 7.