Turf Beckons Midnight Interlude in La Jolla

Turf Beckons Midnight Interlude in La Jolla
Photo: benoitphoto.com
Midnight Interlude won the Tsunami Slew Stakes in his only turf start.
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The withdrawal of Mr. Commons from consideration in the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) left a big hole in the $150,000 turf event, one that Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Midnight Interlude will attempt to fill at Del Mar Aug. 13.

So impressive in winning Del Mar's opening-day Oceanside Stakes in his turf debut, Mr. Commons was forced out of the La Jolla by a foot bruise, according to trainer John Shirreffs. That leaves the 1 1/16-mile La Jolla, the major stakes prep for the $250,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) Sept. 4, with a field of seven. The La Jolla is the eighth race on the program and is slated for a 5:30 p.m. PDT start.

Arnold Zetcher's homebred Midnight Interlude has had one start on grass for trainer Bob Baffert. It produced a winning effort in the Tsunami Slew Stakes at Hollywood Park June 17. The son of War Chant did not return to the work tab until July 21, however.

Midnight Interlude won the Santa Anita Derby at 13-1 odds by a head April 9 in his first start after breaking his maiden three weeks earlier at Santa Anita. Two tries in the Triple Crown were not fruitful -- 16th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and 13th in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) -- preceding the bay colt's switch to the turf.

Midnight Interlude pressed the pace in the one-mile Tsunami Slew, getting the lead near mid-stretch and holding on for a neck victory at 13-10 odds. Rafael Bejarano, who rode Midnight Interlude for the first time in the Tsunami Slew, has the call for Baffert once again. They break from the far outside post with top weight of 122 pounds.

The horse Midnight Interlude edged that day, Surrey Star, is entered in the La Jolla, as is third-place finisher Temple's Door.

Like the favorite, Class Racing Stable's Irish-bred Surrey Star has not been out since the Tsunami Slew. Trained by Jim Cassidy, the Dubawi colt won the nine-furlong La Puente Stakes on the Santa Anita lawn in April, one of his two victories from 14 lifetime starts. The other came in Great Britain. Joe Talamo retains the mount on Surrey Star, who gets three pounds from Midnight Interlude.

Temple's Door, from the Carla Gaines barn for owner I.E. Truman, returned from his third-place finish in the Tsunami Slew with a troubled try in the Oceanside. The son of Leroidesanimaux pressed the pace in the one-mile event but was forced to steady in upper stretch and weakened thereafter to be last of nine.

Burns was second in the Oceanside, rallying five wide to finish 1 1/2 lengths behind Mr. Commons. Trained by Barry Abrams for Madeline Auerbach and Sonny Pais, the son of Unusual Heat won an optional claiming allowance test on grass at the La Jolla distance in his previous start at Hollywood June 25. Patrick Valenzuela is aboard.

Lil Bit O'Fun won the Oliver Stakes on yielding turf at Indiana Downs in June for trainer Tom Proctor. He stopped cold in his next start, the American Derby (gr. IIT) at Arlington Park July 9, however, and finished last. A lifetime winner of four of 10 starts, the Langfuhr   gelding tries Southern California for the first time.

Thirtyfirststreet popped up with a 21-1 surprise for trainer Doug O'Neill in the Lone Star Derby May 30. The California-bred son of Good Journey gets back to his roots after a 10th-place showing in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) at Colonial Downs July 16.

Fort Hastings lacked room in his United States debut in the Oceanside and the Irish-bred son of Aragorn should improve in his second start for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

$150,000 La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Temple's Door (KY), B Blanc, 115, C Gaines
2. Thirtyfirststreet (CA), A Quinonez, 118, D F O'Neill
3. Surrey Star (IRE), J Talamo, 119, J M Cassidy
4. Burns (CA), P A Valenzuela, 118, B Abrams
5. Fort Hastings (IRE), M Garcia, 114, J Hollendorfer
6. Lil Bit O'Fun (KY), D R Flores, 117, T F Proctor
7. Midnight Interlude (KY), R Bejarano, 122, B Baffert
 

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