Grade II winner Reneesgotzip, 2-for-2 on the Del Mar Polytrack, will be a big favorite in the $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III), a 6 1/2-furlong dash to be run Aug. 18.
Just four opposing fillies and mares are signed on to challenge the speedy Reneesgotzip in the Rancho Bernardo, including last year's winner, Winding Way. The fourth race on Del Mar's Sunday card, the Rancho Bernardo is scheduled to go off at 3:40 p.m. PDT. A second stakes, the $150,000 Solana Beach Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares at one mile on the turf, is race 8 on the program.
Off since a tough-luck second by a neck to Book Review in the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) Dec. 26, Reneesgotzip returned to action July 18 at Del Mar with a front-running 5 1/4-length romp over Executiveprivilege in a classy allowance race. The time was 1:09.48 over the Polytrack.
Trained by Peter Miller for the Lanni Family Trust, the 4-year-old City Zip miss won last year's restricted CERF Stakes at Del Mar. Her most recent graded stakes victory came in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) in January 2012 at Santa Anita Park, though she has recorded four grade I placings since then.
Garrett Gomez, who missed Reneesgotzip's last start while attending to personal problems, regains the mount on the chestnut filly. He rode her to a third-place finish in last fall's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) against males. A six-time winner from 11 starts with earnings of $565,460, Reneesgotzip will carry top weight of 120 pounds while breaking from the rail.
Reneesgotzip could have some company on the front end in 3-year-old Sweet Marini, a swift California-bred daughter of Marino Marini for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and owner Kaleem Shah. Sweet Marini blitzed a state-bred field by 4 3/4 lengths going seven furlongs in the July 27 Fleet Treat Stakes for her first stakes victory last time out. She was clocked in 1:22.25. Martin Garcia rides Sweet Marini, who carries 116.
Winding Way looked to be any kind following last year's Rancho Bernardo win when she dwelt at the start and spotted the field much ground before flying through the stretch to edge Sugarinthemorning by half a length. But she has been out of the money in her three starts since and didn't get started this season until running fifth in the Desert Stormer Handicap June 16. She was also fifth in the A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) most recently at Betfair Hollywood Park July 13.
Jerry Quinn, filling in for the suspended trainer Carla Gaines, saddles the 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon for owner/breeder Spendthrift Farm.
Stephen Weissman's Sugarinthemorning returns as well for another crack at the Rancho Bernardo for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally. While often close, the 5-year-old Candy Ride mare hasn't won since taking the 2011 Fleet Treat at Del Mar, losing 14 races in a row. She was twice grade I-placed during that span.
Rounding out the field is Curvy Cat, who rallied from far back to finish third behind Reneesgotzip last time. A California homebred for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, she rallied to capture the B Thoughtful Stakes over state-breds two starts back at Hollywood Park. She is a seven-time winner from 17 races with four seconds and four thirds.
$150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. II, Race 4, 3:40 p.m.) Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Reneesgotzip (KY), G K Gomez, 120, P Miller
2. Winding Way (KY), R Bejarano, 117, J Quinn
3. Sugarinthemorning (CA), G L Stevens, 116, R L McAnally
4. Curvy Cat (CA), C S Nakatani, 117, J Hollendorfer
5. Sweet Marini (CA), M Garcia, 116, B Baffert