Del Mar Race Report: Finally, Affluent Gets Job Done
Updated: Tuesday, July 30, 2002 10:54 AM
Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2002 9:01 PM
Published in the August 3 issue of The Blod-Horse
Photo: Benot Photos
Sarafan, winning the Eddie Read Handicap.
For the past few months, things have been rather nightmarish for Affluent. She lives in the lap of luxury, sure, always treated like a queen and smothered with care from her cautious trainer, Ron McAnally. But Affluent has been sleeping with one eye open of late, gripping her pillow tightly, fearing that star-spangled monster may come knocking once more.
You can't blame her. Minus Azeri, Affluent might very well be the most talked-about filly around. Since April, however, the two chestnuts have gone head-to-head in a trio of grade I gems--the Apple Blossom, Milady, and Vanity Handicaps. Each time Affluent gave her usual first-class effort. Each time, though, Azeri was a few steps better. The blows were tough. In some cases, the misery might have been too much for one horse to handle.
"I think if you have a cheap horse, yes," commented Affluent's jockey, Eddie Delahoussaye. "When you have a classy horse, no. I think if she'd have been discouraged, she wouldn't have come back and run the race that she ran."
After all that, she certainly had a big one coming her way. With Azeri out of sight--for the time being, at least--Affluent changed gears on July 27 and finally got her due reward, edging Golden Apples in the $400,000 John C. Mabee/Ramona Handicap (gr. IT) at nine furlongs.
It didn't come without a fight, however. Though Affluent eased into a close second along the rail, defending champ Janet got away with a slow pace, slipped clear on the far turn, and threatened to steal it all. Affluent finally got her in deep stretch, and though Golden Apples charged into the picture late, the early fractions had sealed her fate. Bred and owned by Janis Whitham, Affluent was clear by a neck at the finish in 1:48.37, with Janet just a half-length behind Golden Apples in third. At this point, the versatile 4-year-old seems equally adept on grass and dirt.
"The only other filly I've ridden that was pretty good like that was Hollywood Wildcat. There's not too many of them that do it," said Delahoussaye. "You know, it just goes to show you how good Azeri is, because this filly I've been riding, she's no slouch. In my book, she's a champion in her own right."
Delahoussaye and McAnally agree Affluent seems to relax better on the turf. Where Affluent turns up next, however, may depend on where others don't.
"The grass races could come up a little tougher, especially if Astra's in there," McAnally conceded. "On the other hand, on the dirt, we've got the one filly, Azeri."
Tough choices, true. Then again, Affluent's one tough filly.
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If Corey Nakatani's early results in his return to action are any indication, the guy hasn't missed a beat. Rebounding from a concussion and a fractured vertebra that has kept him grounded since May, Nakatani got right back into the thick of things July 28, guiding Sarafan to victory in the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) at 1 1/8 miles.
"It's been a while, but I feel pretty damn good, buddy," Nakatani said, grinning back in the jocks' room. "A nice horse like that one makes it easy."
A crafty move on the far turn made all the difference, however. With heavily-
favored Beat Hollow still plugged up down inside, Nakatani shot Sarafan through a small hole and drew a bead on Redattore and Night Patrol. By the time Beat Hollow untangled himself from the mess, Sarafan was long gone. Owned by Gary Tanaka and trained by Neil Drysdale, the Lear Fan gelding finished up 1 1/4 lengths in front of Beat Hollow. Redattore, last year's winner, was a neck back in third. The final time, 1:46.77, just about mirrored Al Mamoon's 1:46 3/5 stakes mark set in 1986.
"Neil's done a great job with him. He ran awesome," said Nakatani, just thrilled to be in the saddle again. "I'm a hundred percent healthy body-wise. Hopefully we can keep the ball rollin'." Peaceful Assent
While Nakatani looked polished from start to finish aboard Sarafan, Disturbingthepeace still seems a bit rough around the edges. No matter, though. The 4-year-old Bold Badgett gelding shows up when it counts, and he ran his streak to five on July 27, muscling past Freespool to take the $169,000 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at six furlongs.
The rise to the top has been quick for Disturbingthepeace, an immature sort who spent the earlier part of his career fooling his riders and generally finding ways to lose. Despite the frequent disappointments, however, trainer Darrell Vienna always figured the bay had much more to offer. Vienna's confidence never wavered. The validation has been sweet. Almost overnight, Disturbingthepeace has gone from underachiever to bona fide big shot.
"We were aiming for the moon with him all the time. Our options were always higher than his conditions," Vienna said. "I mean, I loved him in the Triple Bend, and I'm not saying that after the race. I've got a TVG account to prove it."
Disturbingthepeace made his initial splash in early July, upsetting the seven-furlong Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at 16-1. That day, he found himself in front the entire trip. In the Bing Crosby, Disturbingthepeace tracked Freespool and gradually wore him down in midstretch, pulling ahead to win by three-
quarters of a length. The effort has persuaded owners David and Rita Milch to now aim at the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) as the primary target.
"You know, he is a young horse still,"
reminded Vienna. "What he has that most horses don't have is he can make any kind of pace and keep running. He's a relentless runner. He just keeps going, whatever kind of pace." Seaside...
A crowd of 37,439, the second-largest gathering in track history, got Del Mar's 63rd season rolling on July 24...Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. kicked things off with an opening day triple, highlighted by a stakes-record effort from Rock Opera
in the first division of the Oceanside Stakes. The 3-year-old Royal Academy colt, trained by Clifford Sise, got a mile on grass in 1:34.14. The second division went to True Phenomenon,
a son of Afternoon Deelites from the Bobby Frankel barn...The last six runnings of the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) have all gone to one man--Bob Baffert--and it looks like he'll have a good shot at No. 7 with Vindication
. The 2-year-old son of Seattle Slew looked sensational in his six-furlong debut July 27, winning by an easy 5 1/2 lengths. A $2.15-million yearling purchase, the colt is owned by Satish Sanan's Padua Stables...Bear Fan
ran off with the seven-furlong Fleet Treat Stakes for Cal-bred 3-year-old fillies July 28. Bred and co-owned by trainer Wesley Ward, the daughter of Pine Bluff won by 7 1/2 lengths and never broke a sweat. She's now three-for-three...Sky Jack
is back to work following a couple of weeks off, and the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner already has trainer Doug O'Neill considering the Aug. 25 Pacific Classic (gr. I). "I'm trying not to. Date-wise, I had it in my head I wanted to give him a few months before I ran him back," O'Neill said. "But if he's training great--you know it's that old cliché, they kind of tell you when they're ready."... The news isn't as good, however, for Mizzen Mast.
The Cozzene colt is through for the year, according to trainer Bobby Frankel. Blame a touchy ankle.
(Chart, Del Mar, July 27, Equibase
(Chart, Del Mar, July 28, Equibase
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