A year after Tom Proctor shipped Banned west to win the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) for Glen Hill Farms, the trainer is back for the turf event Sept. 3 with La Jolla Stakes (gr. IIT) winner Old Time Hockey.
Old Time Hockey, who wore down favored My Best Brother for a nose victory in the La Jolla Aug. 11 on the Del Mar sod, is one of several vying for favoritism in the 1 1/8-mile Del Mar Derby. Eleven sophomore colts and geldings were entered in a deep field that will decide Del Mar's 3-year-old championship.
The cast for the $300,000 event includes My Best Brother, who wired a division of Del Mar's Oceanside Stakes and nearly led all the way in the La Jolla, as well as Midnight Crooner, who captured the second Oceanside division. Also sure to attract strong support is Eastern invader Howe Great, a grade III winner on turf who most recently captured the Jersey Derby July 21 at Monmouth Park.
The Del Mar Derby keys a Labor Day program that includes $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on Polytrack. The Del Mar Derby is the ninth race on the second-to-last card of the seaside track's summer season with a 6 p.m. PDT scheduled post.
Banned nipped the Bob Baffert-trained Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Midnight Interlude in last year's race. Midnight Interlude is a full brother to Midnight Crooner, who is also trained by Baffert for Arnold Zetcher, who owns both colts.
Glen Hill Farm's homebred Old Time Hockey, a 3-year-old gelding by Smarty Jones , was a closing third behind My Best Brother in the Oceanside, his stakes debut for Proctor. The chestnut, a three-time winner from nine lifetime starts, is to be ridden by Joe Talamo from post 8.
My Best Brother, owned by William Currin and Alvin Eisman, had a three-race win streak for trainer Julio Canani ended in the tough La Jolla loss. The Stormy Atlantic colt, a full brother to grade I winner Stormello, fought off all challengers in wining the second Oceanside division July 18 by a half-length. Martin Garcia retains the mount and they break from post 5.
Canani, who has won the Del Mar Derby a record four times, last captured the race in 2004 with Blackdoun.
Midnight Crooner, a son of War Chant, was held out of the La Jolla and has not raced since taking the earlier Oceanside division by a neck over Chips All In. Rafael Bejarano will attempt to give Baffert his second victory in the Del Mar Derby following Anet in 1997.
Team Valor International's Howe Great will be making his seventh start of the year for trainer Graham Motion. The son of Japanese sire Hat Trick has three stakes wins to his credit in 2012, including the Kitten's Joy and Palm Beach (gr. IIIT) stakes at Gulfstream Park to begin the year.
Irish-bred Tones rallied impressively to finish second to My Best Brother in the Oceanside and must be respected in his first start since. Leandro Mora, subbing for Doug O'Neill while the veteran trainer serves a lengthy suspension, saddles Tones.
Others worth considering are recent allowance winners All Squared Away for Del Mar leading trainer Peter Miller, and Smart Ellis, from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
Brother Francis gets back on turf following a six-length maiden score on Polytrack Aug. 5. Power Foot, fourth behind My Best Brother in the Oceanside, and Santa Rosa turf stakes winner Tribal Tributecomplete the lineup. Desormais is on the also-eligible list.
$300,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT, Race 9, 6 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Tones (IRE), K Krigger, L Mora
2. Tribal Tribute (CA), A T Gryder, T McCanna
3. Brother Francis (KY), V Espinoza, J M Cassidy
4. All Squared Away (KY), G K Gomez, P Miller
5. My Best Brother (KY), M Garcia, J C Canani
6. Power Foot (KY), E A Maldonado, D A Jackson
7. Midnight Crooner (KY), R Bejarano, B Baffert
8. Old Time Hockey (FL), J Talamo, T F Proctor
9. Smart Ellis (KY), C S Nakatani, R E Mandella
10. Howe Great (KY), M E Smith, H G Motion
11. Desormais (KY), M E Smith, J M Cassidy
All carry 122 pounds.