There may not be a single name more synonymous with summer racing at Del Mar than “Bing”. Academy Award winner, singer and legendary entertainer Bing Crosby built the beautiful ocean-view racetrack with a few of his celebrity pals. And every day racing fans are happily reminded, as patrons with courage attempt his famed diddy, “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” between races every day — and prove it’s no simple tune to sing.
Saturday’s $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (GI) at Del Mar is the first Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In event of the summer meet and a field of 11 will race the six furlongs in search of a spot in the starting gate for the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs. The race has been carded as the day’s ninth with a post time of 6:00 p.m. PT.
The weather in Southern California continues to be beautiful and Saturday will be no exception, with highs in the mid-70s and a nice ocean breeze expected. The humidity from earlier in the week will have subsided and the day is expected to be beautiful.
The Bing Crosby has consistently showcased the best sprinters west of the Mississippi river and over the years some of the names to have graced the winner’s circle have included several prominent names, including champion sprinters Chinook Pass, Lit de Justice, Kona Gold (twice) and Points Offthebench. Last year, Ransom the Moon posted a slight upset when defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong dropped Mike Smith after ducking in leaving the gate and he returns this year for Agave Racing and trainer Phil D’Amato in search of the repeat.
Champion and Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) winner Roy H. makes his first start since his third-place finish in the Dubai Golden Shaheen four months ago and has been working extremely well. The Pete Miller-trained son of More Than Ready was second in here a year ago after a wide trip, which should be minimized this year with his spot in the three-hole in the gate. He has a nice stalking style, field-high speed and pace figures and his best is certainly good enough to win here.
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Used to be that Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was known for managing sprinters, but, of late, his reputation has been bolstered by Triple Crown winners. Nonetheless, he’s still got an ace or two in the one-turn race division and American Anthem will be the conditioner’s attempt at a record fifth winner in the Bing Crosby.
This son of Bodemeister, who is owned by the majority of the group that owns Triple Crown winner Justify, is riding a two-race win streak, including the San Carlos (GII) at a furlong farther, and has been training really well for months. While this may be a bit short for his preference, he has a win at three-quarters of a mile and is undefeated in one start at Del Mar (his maiden) and he has strong figures overall, with room to improve. He’ll be right up on the engine with Mike Smith aboard.
Ransom the Moon hasn’t been able to duplicate his impressive victory of a year ago in four subsequent starts, including a nice second in the Kona Gold Stakes behind the recently deceased Bobby Abu Dhabi. At his best, the triple-digit speed figures he’s earned show he belongs here, nut the son of Malibu Moon needs to find that form again. He’s worked well since his flat fifth in the Met Mile (GI) in June and is back on a track he’s won over and a distance he’s been successful with. He’ll get a pace to run at, he just needs to be moving early enough to get to the wire in front under Flavien Prat.
American Pastime is making his 2018 debut and his first start since a strong fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint over this track nearly nine months ago. The Bob Hess-trained son of Tapizar has been working very, very well since May and has a nice bullet five furlongs in :59 3/5 on Monday, and his best (comparable to his second in the Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx last September) makes him a must-use for exotics. Will he be fit enough? That’s the big question.
Edwards Going Left has done much of his best running in restricted company, but has had some success in tough, Grade 1 races, including a second in the Malibu Stakes (GI) last December. This John Sadler trainee has his best trip on the front end, so it’s a good bet jockey Drayden Van Dyke will be hustling from near the outside from the break. He’s earned big numbers, the question for this nice son of Midnight Lute is if the class hike and open company will be too much.
Stallwalkin’ Dude won last year’s Fall Highweight toting 134 pounds, but has been winless in two starts since. The David Jacobsen-trained and co-owned (with Sol Kumin) 8-year-old gelded son of City Place has a lot of racing under his belt and a lot of class, coupled with some nice victories in graded stakes company over his 60-race (and 20-win) career. That could certainly be enough to help him earn a larger piece of this purse.
St. Joe Bay, who was second in the San Carlos after being haltered by trainer John Sadler and Hronis Racing for $62,500 two back, returns, looking for a graded stakes win. The 6-year-old son of Saint Anndan was eighth here a year ago and won the Palos Verdes (GII) and Midnight Lute Stakes (GII) in early 2017 before tailing off a bit, but improved and showed glimpses of old form even before he was claimed. His last was a career best and a repeat, coupled with his loads of back class, surely makes him dangerous to hit the board at a decent price.
Former claimer Touching Rainbows likes Del Mar and this distance (he’s yet to lose at six furlongs in three tries) and, after a tough break in the San Carlos, returns to try graded stakes again. Gary Stevens will be aboard and they will also be hustling toward the front for early position near the lead, but will the level of competition keep this son of Aragorn out of the winner’s circle?
Stone Hands has been a useful optional claiming type who has a win here at Del Mar and two (from seven starts) at the distance. His Brisnet speed figures have yet to break the triple-digit mark and he does have room to improve, but he seems in a bit tough here against Grade 1 winners and champions.
Fomer claimer Annie’s Candy ships in after winning the Oak Tree Sprint at Pleasanton, and while a useful horse who is clearly improving, the gelded son of Twirling Candy seems a touch below the better runners here and more suited to the non-graded ranks. Stablemate Tribal Storm, also a former claimer who was second in the Oak Tree Sprint, will also head to the gate with a lot to overcome.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law in Kentucky known as the “Borell Law.”Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time.She lives in Robinson, Texas, with her longtime beau, Tony. She is the executive director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue, The Bridge Sanctuary.