Before we begin, i need to apologize for my lack of posts. I had a computer issue that left me without one from Travers Day up until this last weekend. I apologize and will attempt to make it up to you over the coming weeks.
Wednesday is closing day at Del Mar. The traditional closing day feature is the 63rd running of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, run at 7 furlongs. This race has had some great winners such as Silver Charm, Bertrando and Best Pal. Recent victors are Stevie Wonderboy and Lookin at Lucky. Four of the last six winners (Declan's Moon, Stevie Wonderboy, Midshipman, Lookin at Lucky) have gone one to win the Eclipse Award for two year old male. Two of those also won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Stevie Wonderboy, Midshipman). Who will join the historic list of winners? Here is the field:
#1 Jaycito M Garcia 12/1
#2 Riveting Reason A Solis 12/1
#3 McKenzies Way D Flores 8/1
#4 J P's Gusto P Valenzuela 5/2
#5 Just Imagine M Pedroza 20/1
#6 Major Art (GB) M Smith 8/1
#7 Western Mood J Rosario 7/2
#8 Indian Winter R Bejarano 5/1
#9 Comma to the Top C Nakatani 20/1
#10 Road Ready V Espinoza 8/1
#11 Gahnzo Bob A Quinonez 30/1
The morning line favorite is #4 J P's Gusto. This son of Successful Appeal has swept the 2yo stakes in Southern California so far and looks to continue the trend with a victory. He has 3 steady works in the interim. He is rather tractable, as he has come from just off the pace, but can assert himself on the lead, as he did last time out in the Grade 2 Best Pal. Three steady works, including the last one in a crisp 4f work in 46 & 4/5, shows that he is still in top form. But he is not the selection.
The selection is #7 Western Mood. This son of West Acre finished a so-so third last time out in the Best Pal. This blog admits to picking Western Mood the last two times against J P's Gusto. J P was simply the better horse both times, but this is the best time to turn the tables. Too close to the pace last time out, he will hopefully be given a more patient ride this time by jockey Joel Rosario. He totes 3 nice works, including a smart 5 furlong work last time out in 1:00 & 3/5. He will have no problem with the distance, and should get a nice trip with all of the potential front end horses signed up for the race.
The most interesting horse in this race to this blog is the British invader, #6 Major Art. This British-born son of Compton Place finished off the board in his most recent start 24 days ago in the listed stake Prix Francois Boutin at Deauville in France going 7 furlongs over the soft going. He previously finished 3rd in a Grade 3 at Goodwood in England. This is his first start over a synthetic track. He has been supplemented into this race by his new connections for his first start in the U.S. and for trainer Eric Kruljac. Major Art will be ridden by jockey Mike Smith, who has good numbers when riding for Kruljac. Will he take advantage of the classic "fresh off the plane" angle to score the upset?
Others to consider are: #8 Indian Water who won smartly 1st time out for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. (Also the trainer of #7) He will have the services of leading rider Rafael Bejarano and has two maintenance works; #1 Jaycito who lead most of the way in his debut until the #8 caught him in the final strides. He has experience with the rail and should be winging from the inside; and #3 McKenzies Way, who blasted a field of maidens last out gate-to-wire.
This should be a great race to determine the current top 2yo on the west coast. Will the chalk prevail once again? Will revenge be exacted instead? Will a new shooter shock the world? We shall see what happens as this appears to be a smashing renewal of the Del Mar Futurity. Hopefully a future star will announce his presence to the world with a scintillating performance.