Six were entered in the turf event, which features the return to action of Champ Pegasus, last year's Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) runner-up. The Del Mar Mile is the eighth race on the program with a 5:30 p.m. PDT start.
Courageous Cat's connections reportedly could not make satisfactory shipping arrangements from New York, where the 5-year-old is part of Bill Mott's stable. So besides Champ Pegasus, the Del Mar Mile field includes leading contenders Caracortado, who was beaten by a neck in the Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park July 2, and Oceanside Stakes winner Mr. Commons.
Champ Pegasus, the 121-pound highweight, has not been out since he failed to factor in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at Meydan Race Course March 26. The 5-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus has been given plenty of time to recover from the trip by trainer Richard Mandella, who conditions the bay horse for co-owners and breeders Diamond A Racing and Arturo Vargas.
The mile is considerably shorter than what Champ Pegasus is accustomed to. His last victory came in the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Obispo (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park in February, a race he won by a nose over Bourbon Bay. Champ Pegasus won his only prior start on the Del Mar turf, last year's 1 3/8-mile Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT).
Champ Pegasus boasts a career mark of 5-4-1 in 12 starts and earnings of $1,018,520. Regular rider Joel Rosario has the call from the rail.
Just to the outside of Champ Pegaus is Caracortado, who returned from his tough loss in the Shoemaker Mile to finish third as the favorite behind Acclamation in the Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) July 23. The well-regarded 4-year-old Cat Dreams gelding won the Sunshine Millions Turf in January at Santa Anita but has lost five in a row since.
Caracortado is to be ridden by leading Del Mar jockey Joe Talamo for trainer Mike Machowsky and owners Blahut Racing and Lo Hi Racing. Caracortado has won seven of 16 lifetime starts and banked $654,105.
Mr. Commons, a 3-year-old son of Artie Schiller , tries older rivals for the first time while staying at his more comfortable one-mile distance. In the one-mile Oceanside against 3-year-olds on opening day at Del Mar, Mr. Commons was an impressive 1 1/2-length winner, coming from well of the pace to get the job done.
Mike Smith retains the mount for trainer John Shirreffs and St. George Farm Racing.
Our Nautique, from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn, should set the pace. The New Zealand-bred 6-year-old gelding won the San Francisco Mile (gr. IIIT) in front-running fashion on the Golden Gate Fields turf April 30. He is coming off a similar two-length score in the James T. Grace Handicap at Santa Rosa Aug. 7.
$200,000 Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Champ Pegasus (KY), J Rosario, 121, R E Mandella
2. Caracortado (CA), J Talamo, 120, M Machowsky
3. Mr. Commons (KY), M E Smith, 114, J A Shirreffs
4. Calimonco (KY), V Espinoza, 118, J W Sadler
5. Our Nautique (NZ), G K Gomez, 117, J Hollendorfer
6. Victory Pete (FL), R Bejarano, 115, A Barba