Monterey Jazz gets back to his favorite distance and is reunited with former jockey David Flores for the Aug. 29 Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT).
The 5-year-old son of Thunderello is the obvious choice in a field of 10 for the $300,000 turf event, which is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series. The winner of the Del Mar Mile earns a berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita Park.
Monterey Jazz, who carries top weight of 120 pounds, gets Flores back because Tyler Baze is out of action with a broken finger sustained last weekend. Trainer Craig Dollase said the decision to rehire Flores was a quick one.
"David was very influential to Tyler on how to ride the horse, and we're going to return the favor," Dollase told Daily Racing Form. "Hopefully, it will be fruitful for us on Saturday."
Often unpredictable, Monterey Jazz was brilliant in two starts at Hollywood Park prior to a fifth-place finish as the 11-10 choice in the 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) July 25 on opening weekend at Del Mar. On May 24, he broke a long-standing mark for one mile on the turf, clocking a time of 1:32.59 in an allowance race. He returned July 24 to score a smashing 3 1/4-length win in the 1 1/8-mile American Handicap (gr. IIT).
He had an excuse in the Eddie Read. Settled into a stalking position behind Thorn Song on the clubhouse turn, Monterey Jazz appeared to spook when Thorn Song suddenly bolted to the outside rail. Monterey Jazz ran off to a substantial lead on the field but tired at the top of the stretch was easily passed by Global Hunter, who went on to victory.
Monterey Jazz is the likely pacesetter in the Del Mar Mar Mile.
Now comfortable in a turf career after also enjoying success on dirt and synthetic tracks, Montery Jazz has won four of eight starts at a mile. Two of his biggest victories last year, the Strub Stakes (gr. II) and the Texas Mile (gr. III), came with Flores in the saddle. Owned by A & R Racing Stables and Class Racing Stable, the dark bay has won eight of 20 starts overall while earning $677,880.
"He's kind of a tough horse to ride," Dollase told DRF. "David has ridden him and knows him. We feel good about it."
Among the rivals for Monterey Jazz, who breaks from post 7, is Medici Code, returning to action after a five-month layoff, and the fillies Lethal Heat and Allicansayis Wow.
The British-bred Medici Code has not won since taking the 2007 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT), missing most of the 2008 season with an injury. In his last start, he finished a game second to Midships in the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Rey Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita March 21. He lost the San Marcos Handicap (gr. IT) by a nose to Artiste Royal earlier in the Santa Anita meet. Darrell Vienna trains the chestnut gelding for Herrick Racing.
Lethal Heat is entered against males after nearly stealing the Clement L. Hirsch (gr. I) from Zenyatta at 24-1 odds Aug. 9 on Del Mar's Polytrack. The 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat opened up a two-length lead mid-stretch in the 1 1/16-mile Hirsch before being caught late by Anabaa's Creation, who would lose by a head to the undefeated Zenyatta. Lethal Heat, winner of the 2008 Hollywood Oaks (gr. II) wound up beaten by three parts of a length.
Allicansayis Wow, trained by Patrick Biancone, was up the track to Zenyatta twice at Hollywood before scoring a win over second-level allowance foes July 11.
Seven-year-old Becrux, trained by John Sadler, and the Ben Cecil-conditioned Ferneley were separated by a neck when second and third, respectively, behind Colonel John in the July 31 Wickerr Stakes.
Temple City pressed the pace on the outside in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) on Polytrack Aug. 2 before weakening to fourth. The Spendthrift Farm competitor won an allowance on turf at Hollywood for trainer Carla Gaines prior to that. The 4-year-old son of Dynaformer and jockey Michael Baze may need to work out a trip from the far outside post.
Knockout Artist, returning from an 11-month layoff for Art Sherman, won a division of the 2007 Oceanside Stakes on the turf at Del Mar,
Victor's Cry brings back-to-back allowance wins to the fray for trainer Eoin Harty. Red Alert Day, from the Neil Drysdale barn, completes the field.
$300,000 Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Medici Code (GB), M A Pedroza, 116, D Vienna
2. Victor's Cry (VA), R Bejarano, 114, E G Harty
3. Allicansayis Wow (KY), G K Gomez, 110, P L Biancone
4. Becrux (ITY), J Talamo, 115, J W Sadler
5. Lethal Heat (CA), A O Solis, 112, B Abrams
6. Knockout Artist (KY), C S Nakatani, 114, A Sherman
7. Monterey Jazz (KY), D R Flores, 120, C Dollase
8. Red Alert Day (GB), M Garcia, 113, N D Drysdale
9. Ferneley (IRE), J Rosario, 115, B D Cecil
10. Temple City (KY), M C Baze, 114, C Gaines