A field of 10 is entered for the 1 1/16-mile Polytrack test, with the winner gaining a berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita this fall. Besides Well Armed, the other leading contenders are multiple grade II winner Surf Cat and Rebellion, a back-to-back graded stakes winner on synthetic racing surfaces. Surf Cat packs top weight of 120 pounds, one more than Rebellion and three more than Well Armed.
Trained by Eoin Harty, the WinStar Farm homebred Well Armed defeated Heatseeker by a head in the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita in February, prompting his connections to take a shot at the $6 million World Cup. The 5-year-old Tiznow gelding led for much of the 1 1/4-mile journey before being collared by Curlin, who went on to win easily by 7 3/4 lengths.
Well Armed, who will be ridden by regular jockey Aaron Gryder, should be able to get another front-running trip in the San Diego. He worked four furlongs in :46 4/5 over the track July 15. Well Armed, with four wins in 16 starts and earnings of $850,803, would go over the $1 million mark with a win. This will be the first start at Del Mar for the gelding.
Also knocking on the million-dollar door is Surf Cat, who won the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track April 26 for trainer Bruce Headley before finishing third, seven lengths behind Heatseeker, in the Californian (gr. II) one month later. Owned by Aase Headley and Marsha Naify, the 6-year-old Sir Cat horse is a model of consistency with a record of 9-6-2 in 19 starts and earnings of $955,420. Surf Cat, to be ridden by David Flores, ran second over the Del Mar surface during last summer's Pat O'Brien Handicap (gr. II).
Surf Cat worked a half-mile at Del Mar in :47 3/5 July 16.
Hickory Tree Stable's eastern invader Rebellion stretches out in the San Diego looking for his third straight win for trainer H. Graham Motion. The Great Britain-bred 5-year-old by Mozart won the seven-furlong Commonwealth (gr. II) over Keeneland's Polytrack this spring. He came back to capture the Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) at 7 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood June 7, coming from last to score by 1 1/2 lengths. Del Mar will be the eighth different track for Rebellion since transferring to the U.S. late in 2006.
Racketeer finds a softer spot here for trainer Barry Abrams after running seventh in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) June 28.
Global Hunter turned in a respectable fourth-place finish in the seven-furlong Triple Bend (gr. I) July 5 and comes right back for conditioner A.C. Avila. The Argentina-bred Global Hunter is also entered in the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) July 20.
$300,000 San Diego Handicap (gr. II, Race 6, 4:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Mostacolli Mort (KY), 114, Tyler Baze
2. Surf Cat (KY), 120, David R. Flores
3. Rebellion (GB), 119, Rafael Bejarano
4. Magnum (ARG), 115, Martin A. Pedroza
5. Racketeer (KY), 113, Corey S. Nakatani
6. Well Armed (KY), 117, Aaron T. Gryder
7. Global Hunter (ARG), 114, Mike E. Smith
8. Tall Texan (KY), 112, Victor Espinoza
9. You Got Me Rocking (KY), 112, Joel Rosario
10. Mr Napper Tandy (GB), 112, Joseph Talamo