Unbeaten graded stakes winners Majestic City and Creative Cause square off in the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) on closing day of the seaside track's 2011 season Sept. 7.
Eight juveniles are set to take part in the seven-furlong Polytrack test. The Del Mar Futurity is the eighth of a 10-race program with an expected start time of 5:30 p.m. PDT. The race is a "Win and You're In" contest for the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) this November at Churchill Downs,
Creative Cause, winner of Del Mar's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) one month ago, and Majestic City each carry top weight of 122 pounds. Included in the field of promising youngsters are two colts from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert, who will seek to add to his record nine wins in the Futurity with last-out maiden winners Gun Boat and Drill .
Majestic City is unbeaten in three starts for trainer Peter Miller. The son of City Zip has not been out since July 17 when she won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) at six furlongs by 2 1/4 lengths as the 9-10 favorite over Hollywood's Cushion Track. He defeated five opponents that day, stalking in third before rallying three wide in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Owned by Jeffrey Bloom's Bloom Racing Stable, all three of Majestic City's wins have come at sprint distances at Hollywood, including a 3 1/2-length triumph in the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes prior to the Juvenile Championship.
Miller said he does not believe the added furlong of the Del Mar Futurity will be a serious obstacle to the chances of Majestic City, who is out of the Meadowlake mare It'schemistrybaby.
"The way he won the Hollywood (Juvenile), (he) really finished up strong the last sixteenth of a mile and galloped out. And the way he's training, I think the seven-eighths is definitely within his scope," Miller said. "But, as is the question with all these young horses, you never know until they actually do it."
The Kentucky-bred Majestic City was a $180,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders' Sale Company in March and has earned $135,570 so far. David Flores, who has ridden the chestnut colt in all of his previous starts, will guide from post 4.
Like Majestic City in the Juvenile Championship, Creative Cause was a heavy favorite at 4-5 in the Best Pal, which he won by 1 3/4 lengths while defeating five rivals. The gray/roan colt raced near the rear of the field early before rallying three wide into the stretch and sweeping clear late for an impressive win.
Mike Harrington trains the the Kentucky-bred son of Giant's Causeway out of Dream Summer, a grade I-winning mare by Siberian Summer that earned more than $1.1 million in her career. Creative Cause, who broke his maiden by nearly five lengths in his debut at Hollywood July 16, brought $135,000 at Keeneland's September yearling sale last year.
Rafael Bejarano, who has ridden Creative Cause in both of his starts, has the call once again. They drew the far outside post.
Only one other starter in the Futurity comes out of the Best Pal. Mighty Monsoon, a son of Forestry trained by Jeff Bonde, ran third at 14-1, finishing five lengths behind Creative Cause. Also stakes-placed in a pair of races in Northern California, Mighty Monsoon picks up the services of Joe Talamo, who is battling Joel Rosario for the Del Mar riding title.
Baffert, who last won the Futurity in 2009 with Lookin At Lucky , brings out Gun Boat for George Bolton and Fog City Stable, as well as Drill, owned by Mike Pegram and partners Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
Gun Boat, a $150,000 Barretts 2-year-old sale in May, is a Florida-bred son of Congrats that won at first asking by a game head as the front-runner at 12-1 Aug. 6 at Del Mar. Martin Pedroza rides back.
Drill, a Kentucky-bred son of Lawyer Ron, scored by a neck as the favorite in his second start Aug. 13 at Del Mar after leading by three lengths in the stretch. The $300,000 Keeneland September yearling began his career by finishing eighth as the even-money choice July 30.
The 18-1 upsetter in that six-furlong race, Sheer Talent, is also in the Futurity field. From the Dan Hendricks barn, the Wildcat Heir colt broke his maiden at first asking by a half-length over Cloud Hopper. He will have Victor Espinoza in the irons for the second race of his career.
Trainer John Sadler, chasing Mike Mitchell in the Del Mar trainer standings, entered Corsa Di Cavalli, a first-out winner at the $62,500 maiden claiming level Aug. 10.
Basmati, a maiden that narrowly lost to Gun Boat in his his most recent start for trainer Doug O'Neill, completes the field. To be ridden for the first time by Garrett Gomez, Basmati will race without blinkers.
$250,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 7 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Corsa Di Cavalli (KY), A Quinonez, 116, J W Sadler
2. Gun Boat (FL), M A Pedroza, 118, B Baffert
3. Sheer Talent (FL), V Espinoza, 118, D L Hendricks
4. Majestic City (KY), D R Flores, 122, P Miller
5. Basmati (KY), G K Gomez, 116, D F O'Neill
6. Drill (KY), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
7. Mighty Monsoon (KY), J Talamo, 118, J Bonde
8. Creative Cause (KY), R Bejarano, 122, M Harrington
Blinkers Off: Basmati