Seven Set for Del Mar Futurity

Sunday’s $300,000 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity (G1) marks closing day of the prestigious summer racing season at Del Mar, but before heading back North to Santa Anita Park (and some to Los Alamitos), seven juveniles will square off over seven furlongs in an attempt to claim the title as the West Coast’s leading 2-year-old heading toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), which returns to Santa Anita in two months.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert basically owns this race, having saddled 16 winners since his first in 1996 (1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm) and won seven consecutive editions from that first victory through 2002 and this year sends out a pair in maiden winners Prince of Monaco and Mirahmadi. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah claimed this race for Baffert in 2014 en route to racing immortality the following year.

Bob Baffert and Maximum Security – Courtesy of Santa Anita press release

Since first contested in 1948 some exceptionally good horses have reached the winner’s circle after capturing the Del Mar Futurity, but the event rose to national prominence in the late 1970s when Flying Paster won just a few months before his standout 3-year-old campaign, which included a runner-up finish to Spectacular Bid in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Since then, some of the more recognizable Futurity winners include Kentucky Derby winners, champions and grade 1 heroes like Gato Del Sol, Saratoga Six, Tasso, Best Pal, Bertrando, the aforementioned Silver Charm, Officer, Declan’s Moon, Stevie Wonderboy, Lookin at Lucky, Nyquist, Bolt d’Oro and Game Winner in 2018.

Bill Shoemaker still owns the most wins as a jockey with six, his first in 1954 and his last in 1974. He retired from the saddle in 1990 and passed away in 2003, his record in this race still standing nearly 20 years later.

Jay Em Ess’s champion Declan’s Moon still owns the stakes record, 17 years after he posted a final time of 1:21.29.

Prince of Monaco won the Best Pal S. (G3) last out and is therefore the only graded stakes winner of the bunch. The son of Speightstown drew the rail, which is not ideal at the distance, and carries Flavien Prat. He prefers to sit off the pace and will get a nice pace to run at, so if he gets out of the gate in good order he will be tough to beat at short odds.

The Del Mar Futurity field includes Rothschild, who broke his maiden on July 23 in a race where Raging Torrent finished fifth. Other runners include maiden winner Mary’s Boy Bolt and maidens Mirahmadi and Next Level. Valiant Knight ships in off a win in the Sweetwater Thoroughbred Futurity in Wyoming and may be the first Wyoming-based shipper to start at Del Mar. The Uncle Mo colt, who was a $45,000 Keeneland September yearling, is trained by David Hinkins.

The Del Mar Futurity is the afternoon’s 10th race with a post time of 6:09 p.m. PT.


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