Modestly-bred Scherer Magic, a $50,000 claim who captured a graded stakes in just his second start, takes another big step in his progression with the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-olds at Del Mar Aug. 5.
The Best Pal is a major steppingstone to the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) Sept. 5. Last year's Best Pal was won by Creative Cause with Triple Crown star I'll Have Another finishing second.
Bred in Iowa, Scherer Magic was claimed for $50,000 out of his 7 1/4-length debut victory June 12 at Betfair Hollywood Park by trainer John Sadler on behalf of brothers Gary and Cecil Barber. In his next start July 12, the gelded son of Doneraile Court out of the Touch Gold mare She's a Nasty One blasted home in the stretch to claim the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) by 2 1/2 lengths.
"The reports on him were very good works so when you're looking at a young horse with good works you're not necessarily thinking you're going to win a big stake with him but you're thinking, 'Is he going to be worth the money?'" Sadler said. "So when he came over I liked the looks of him. I'd had another stakes winner by that stallion, Noble Court."
Sadler noted that since his stakes win, Scherer Magic has continued to impress in the mornings. The dark bay went six furlongs on Del Mar's Polytrack in a bullet 1:11 3/5 July 30.
"I think he's got a chance to be a pretty nice horse," Sadler added. "You know he's only two races into his career. He won his first one very easily and he showed a lot of versatility in his second race. He's got a very good stride, very athletic. He had a fabulous black-letter work here Monday at Del Mar so we think he could be pretty good.
"With young horses two or three races into a career you don't really know exactly how far or how good they're going to get but he hasn't shown me anything yet, any limitations on his distance or his ability. So we're excited about going out there for number three and see if he can do it again."
Sherer Magic is the lone graded stakes winner in the field of eight juveniles set to go 6 1/2 furlongs in the Best Pal. He carries 123 pounds, the same as Amarish. The Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes winner weakened to sixth in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship after disputing a hot pace as the 2-5 favorite.
The Best Pal is the eighth race on the Sunday Del Mar card with a 5:30 p.m. PDT scheduled post.
Joe Talamo, who was aboard Scherer Magic in his first two starts, is back aboard and they will break from post 4.
Jerry Durant's Amarish looks to rebound from his trip in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, when he dueled along the inside but had nothing left in the final furlong. The Scat Daddy gelding, trained by Jeff Bonde, looked impressive in the Proctor a month earlier, winning clear by 4 1/2 lengths. That followed a debut maiden win at Hollywood by nearly eight lengths in May. Edwin Maldonado retains the mount.
The other stakes winner in the field is the filly Miss Empire, also owned by the Barbers in partnership with Kevin Tsujihara. She captured the Cinderella at Hollywood June 16 for trainer Peter Miller. The bay returned to action July 14 with a third-place effort behind the highly regarded Executiveprivilege in the Landaluce Stakes. Kevin Krigger rides the daughter of Empire Maker once again.
Miss Empire is one of two fillies in the Best Pal field. The other is Heir Kitty, also trained by Miller. The daughter of Wildcat Heir is coming off a 4 1/2-length romp in her career debut on turf against maiden allowance opponents July 8.
Heir of Storm, a colt by Wildcat Heir, also won his debut last time out at Hollywood. He overcame a slow start to win by a half-length over maidens on the Cushion Track July 1 for trainer Alexis Barba. He'll have the rail for his return with Martin Garcia riding.
Reddam Racing's Know More is a first time starter from the barn of Doug O'Neill.
Heir of Storm and Know More race without Lasix.
$150,000 Best Pal Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 2YOs, 6 1/2 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Heir of Storm (FL), M Garcia, 117, A Barba
2. Moreno (KY), V Espinoza, 117, E J Guillot
3. Miss Empire (KY), K Krigger, 120, P Miller
4. Scherer Magic (IA), J Talamo, 123, J W Sadler
5. Heir Kitty (FL), D R Flores, 116, P Miller
6. Amarish (KY), E A Maldonado, 123, J Bonde
7. K Court (KY), Y Fukunaga, 117, J Armstrong
8. Know More (KY), G K Gomez, 117, D F O'Neill
Blinkers On: K Court