Las Vegas, NV - California's Del Mar Race Track will play host to the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap this Saturday, August 23. Horses three years old and upward will take to Del Mar's turf track and race 1 3/8 miles for the winner's share of the $200,000 purse and an automatic bid into the Breeders' Cup Turf in October.
A full field of 12 plus one Alternate Entry will line up in the Del Mar Handicap - race 8 on Del Mar's Saturday card. Post time is 5:30 PM. Here is a brief glance into the past performances of all 13 possible entries for this Grade 2 stakes - a race that should come down to old rivals Fire With Fire and Quick Casablanca.
Fire With Fire - Neil Drysdale trained gelding finished fifth in this race last year but had a nice two race win streak to start 2014 - in gate-to-wire fashion in the 1 1/2 mile Grade 2 San Luis Rey Stakes March 22 and in the Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile Handicap at Turf Paradise January 18. He followed those results with a good second to Quick Casablanca in the Grade 3 Last Tycoon Stakes April 25 and most recently recorded a win over Quick Casablanca in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes May 24. He has been terrific this year with three wins and a second place finish and is expected to be the one to catch Saturday. Fire With Fire has 32 career starts with seven wins, eight seconds and five third place finishes but enters this week in the best form of his life. Tyler Baze will be in the saddle of the 123 pound highweight from post 11.
Quick Casablanca - Ronald McAnally trained Argentinean trained entry had 11 starts in South America with three wins, six seconds and two third place finishes. He won two of his last three starts in Chile before shipping to North America including a Grade 1 race last March. He has seven starts in North America with mixed results. He made his 2014 debut April 25 with a terrific win at 16-1 odds over Fire With Fire in the Grade 3 Last Tycoon Stakes. He followed that with an OK third as favorite behind Fire With Fire in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes May 24 and was a good second last time out in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita June 29. Quick Casablanca has placed in five of eight North American starts and his last three overall and hopes to build on a recent good run. Joe Talamo rides the most from post 9.
Topic - Neil Drysdale trained filly hit the track for the first time since September March 16 and finished sixth in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes and has been up and down since. Last time out was a second but was DQ's to ninth in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park July 4 after a second in an Allowance Optional Claiming in June, a third in the minor Keertana Stakes in May and a seventh in the Big Cap at Santa Anita in April. She has 14 career starts with just two wins, two seconds and two third place finishes and enters in less than spectacular form. Fernando Hernandez Perez gets the call from the rail.
Bench Light - has 23 career starts with seven wins, three seconds and three third place finishes but Saturday marks his graded stakes debut. He enters having won three of his last five starts including an Allowance Optional Claiming by 6 1/4 lengths at this distance here July 24 and a pair of Claiming races in the spring at Santa Anita. Bench Light will have Kent Desormeaux guiding him from gate 8.
Big John B - has won five of eight starts this year and three straight ahead of this weekend - an Allowance Optional Claiming by 7 1/4 lengths last time out on this track, a Starter Handicap June 29 and a Claiming score in May. Big John B has 27 career starts with10 wins, five seconds and three third place finishes and steps into stakes company for the first time Saturday. He departs from post 4 with Mike Smith aboard.
Bright Thought - has four wins and two third place finishes in 13 career starts - none bigger than in his graded stakes debut - a win in the Grade 2 San Luis Stakes here way back in March, 2013. He has placed in just two of six starts since - a third place finish last time out in the minor Wickerr Stakes followed a fifth in the Grade 3 Charles Whittingham, Stakes May 24, a ninth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and a third in the minor Thunder Road Stakes in April. Bright Though hasn't been great this year but hopes to channel his San Luis Stakes form when he lines up in post 5 with Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.
Unbridled Command - won five straight races ahead of the 2013 Gulfstream Park Handicap in February of last year including the Grade 3 Saranac Stakes, the minor McMahon of Del Mar Mohawk Stakes by 6 3/4 lengths and the uber-competitive Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November, 2012 - by far his most impressive career result. He was forced to the sideline for 16 months after the Gulfstream Park Turf and recently returned to action with a disappointing eighth in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Santa Anita June 21. Last time out was a fifth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes here July 20. Unbridled Command certainly has the past results to open a few eyes and looks to get back to his 2012-2013 form Saturday with Elvis Trujillo in the saddle from gate 10.
Poshsky - Peter Miller trained gelding races in stakes company for the first time Saturday having raced 12 times and recorded four wins and two second place finishes. He enters in the best form of his career having won two straight Allowance Optional Claiming races (the last coming on this track) and two seconds in similar races in the Spring. He steps up in competition with Drayden Van Dyke in the saddle from post 2.
Irish Surf - had a two race win streak last summer including a MSW in July but failed to place in his next seven starts - before a terrific win last time out - by 8 1/4 lengths in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap here July 25. Before that was an OK fourth place finish in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes here May 24 and a fourth and a fifth respectively in a pair of Allowance Optional Claiming races here this year. He has 18 career starts with three wins, a second and four third place finishes and enters off by far his best career result. Irish Surf looks to keep the momentum going with Victor Espinoza aboard from gate 3.
Starspangled Heat - finished fifth in the Grade 2 City of Hope Stakes here in October and has placed in three of seven starts since - a second in the minor California Dreamin' Stakes two back, a third in the Grade 3 San Juan Capistrano Stakes June 29 and an Allowance Optional Claiming score October 26. Starspangled Heat is coming off a disappointing fifth in an Allowance here August 15 but had looked OK before that. He has 35 career starts with five wins, five seconds and 10 third place finishes. Edwin Maldonado rides from post.
Si Sage - French bred colt makes his eighth start on North American soil - a pair of fifths in his first two was followed by a tenth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby September 1 and a breakthrough -a third in the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort here December 26. He started 2014 out well with a good second in the Grade 2 San Marcos but has since posted consecutive sixths - the last coming in a Grade 1 Stakes at Singapore. At home he had three wins, five seconds and a third place finish in 11 starts. Si Sage has certainly been inconsistent - he looks for his first win since March, 2013 when he leaves from gate 7 with Corey Nakatani in the irons.
Cogito - Edward Freeman pupil raced for the first time since a sixth in the 2013 Eddie Read Stakes and finished sixth again in the 2014 edition of that race. He also had another sixth in an Allowance Optional Claiming in May, 2013 and six months away. Before the layoff his graded stakes results included a seventh in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Turf and a fourth in the Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap in October, 2012. He has two wins and a second place finish in nine career starts but hasn't placed in his last five overall. Cogito lines up in the outside with Mario Gutierrez aboard.
Ice Cream Truck - Alternate Entry and AC Avila trained gelding made his stakes debut July 25 and finished a good third in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on this track after 16 career starts yielded just two wins, seven seconds and two third place finishes. He has placed in all nine starts this year - two wins, five seconds and two third place finishes. Tiago Josue Periera will get the call if he does indeed race.