Del Mar Race Report: Memorable

Del Mar Race Report: Memorable
Photo: Benoit & Associates
Grey Memo and Eddie Delahoussaye following upset win in the San Diego.
Published in the Aug. 10 issue of The Blood-Horse
Warren Stute, sporting his typical gray suit, made his way through the Del Mar grandstand Aug. 4, wading through well-wishers offering variations on a congratulatory theme. As he headed toward the windows, undoubtedly set to cash a hefty ticket, the praise was overflowing.

"He's the greatest," grinned fellow trainer--and nephew--Gary Stute, his esteem obvious. "I tell you what, he's the best horseman I've ever seen, above Charlie, Laz...For what he gets, there ain't nobody better."

As a devoted relative, Gary Stute has a right to a slanted opinion. As an admiring fan, however, he has an argument. In terms of longevity and output, Warren Stute may be impossible to top. The man is a California legend. His career has defined the local scene. He is a throwback to the old school, a full-fledged horseman who has dedicated the better part of his 80 years to a sport he truly loves.

"That's exactly right. He has no other hobbies," mentioned owner, breeder, and Stute devotee Pat Thompson. "He's first-class, as far as I'm concerned. And he's done a heck of a job with the horse."

"The horse" is that old pro Grey Memo, the late-running overachiever who seems to bring his best game whenever most have him counted out. He did it again in the $250,000 San Diego Handicap (gr. II), uncorking a single, sweeping blast that leveled Congaree and company. For Grey Memo, it was Dubai redux, a virtual carbon copy of his unlikely heroics last March in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II).

Of course, the 5-year-old son of Memo has made a career out of last-second surprises, much to the distress of Thompson and co-owners Russ Sarno and Ron Manzani. Predictably, he was nowhere in sight throughout much of the 8 1/2-furlong San Diego, left to his usual early devices by jockey Eddie Delahoussaye. Congaree, meanwhile, had outpaced a swarm of pursuers to the front, easing into a facile rhythm under David Flores.

The Arazi colt had things his own way, slipping clear on the far turn with no immediate threat nearby. However, Grey Memo had started to pick off rivals from behind. When he finally lumbered into view, Congaree didn't know what hit him. Grey Memo went right on by, bounding to the finish to win by three. Euchre came on to edge Congaree by a half-length for second. Bred by Thompson's Ridgeley Farm, Grey Memo got the distance in 1:43.48. Fittingly, the moment came exactly 30 years after Stute's first win in the San Diego with Argentine sensation Figonero.

The performance was clearly one of Grey Memo's best, and given the lukewarm local handicap division, he may have run himself right into the Aug. 25 Pacific Classic (gr. I). Indeed, the step would be big, but then again, the San Diego--like the Godolphin Mile--wasn't supposed to be a slam dunk, either. To Thompson, however, there was no doubt who made it happen.

"Look at that trainer I have," she smiled, nodding in Stute's direction. "I told you he was the greatest."

FOUND TREASURE

For a young filly sharing the same shedrow as Azeri and Astra, it could be easy to get lost in the shuffle. But Little Treasure certainly wasted no time making a name for herself, holding off longshot Pina Colada to win the $150,000 San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Aug. 3.

Of course, there seems to be little that trainer Laura de Seroux can do wrong these days, so Little Treasure's stateside debut wasn't much of a shock. The French-bred daughter of Night Shift looked the part the moment she hit de Seroux' base at nearby San Luis Rey Downs, acting as if she'd been raised on sea breezes and sunshine all along.

In the one-mile San Clemente, Kent Desormeaux kept Little Treasure clear and close up in second, and when a mad dash ensued turning for home--the final eighth was well under :12--she took off and outran Pina Colada by a nose. The final time was a quick 1:33.97. Little Treasure is owned by Sidney Port, Marsha Naify, and de Seroux' San Gabriel Investments.

"She's just total class," smiled de Seroux, who treats them all like her very own. "I love her. She's perfect."

In the tradition of such marquee turf milers as Ladies Din, Silic, and Val Royal--all, of course, trained by one Julio Canani--Special Ring made a meal out of a good group in the Wickerr Handicap on Aug 2. Formerly a single-minded sort with a penchant for resisting control, the son of Nureyev has since morphed into a pro. His work in the Wickerr was by far his finest effort yet.

Though the pace was hot early, Special Ring simply waited, moved in on the turn, and finally slammed the door in midstretch. The margin was two lengths. His time, 1:32.72, smashed the course mark. Ridden by Flores, the 5-year-old gelding is owned by William J. Preston. The Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) is the ultimate target.

Flores also knocked off the 5 1/2-furlong Graduation Stakes on July 31 with Icecoldbeeratreds. The latest in Mike Pegram's unforgettable line of long-drawn notables--Letthebighossroll, Silverbulletday, and Isitingood immediately come to mind--the 2-year-old son of In Excess could not be caught in the Graduation, winning by 3 1/2 lengths. The homebred colt is trained by Bob Baffert. b

At the Wire
It was quite a weekend for the Stute brothers. A day before Grey Memo's stunner in the San Diego, Mel Stute sent out Warren's Whistle for an upset in the Fantastic Girl Stakes at six furlongs. Once a $27,000 yearling, the 4-year-old Wolf Power filly has banked over $500,000 for owners Tony and Elizabeth Everard and Warren Tripp...De Seroux was right back at it, taking the 8 1/2-furlong Sandy Blue Stakes on grass with Ristra. The 3-year-old daughter of Kingmambo is owned by Sanford R. Robertson...Gary Stevens underwent surgery to remove chips from his right knee and will be out of action indefinitely...Fleet Foot doesn't show up often, but when he does, look out. Last seen at Del Mar nearly a year ago, the son of Gone West came back with a bang to win going 6 1/2 furlongs. Bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, the 4-year-old colt is unbeaten in three starts. Bobby Frankel trains...Brice Blanc has appealed a five-day suspension stemming from his ride aboard Grammarian in the July 21 Sunset Handicap (gr. IIT) at Hollywood Park...Through the first 11 days of the meet, on-track handle was up nearly 15% from last year, according to Craig Dado, Del Mar's vice president of marketing. "I couldn't be happier," Dado said, attributing the increase to improved database marketing and advertising. "But I would say the biggest thing is the racing's been strong. That's your best marketing tool of all."

(Chart, Equibase)

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