Bouncing back quickly from a disappointing trip to Saratoga two weeks earlier, Irish Gypsy heads the field in the $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III) at Del Mar Aug. 21.
Trained by Bob Baffert for Mike Pegram and John Sikura, 5-year-old Irish Gypsy was heavily backed at odds of 19-10 in the Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Aug. 7, but had problems handling the track, which was rated "good."
Breaking from the rail she dropped back after the break and was unable to make headway while attempting to rally wide from last in the small field of five. She wound up fourth, 8 1/4 lengths behind the victorious pacesetter Tar Heel Mom.
Irish Gypsy had a three-race win streak prior to that, including a desperate nose victory over Ultra Blend in the A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track July 16. Ultra Blend returned to capture the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar Aug. 6.
With Martin Garcia back aboard, Irish Gypsy faces six rivals as the 121-pound high weight in the 6 1/2-furlong Polytrack test for fillies and mares. The Rancho Bernardo is the third race on Del Mar's program and is set for a 3 p.m. PDT post.
Irish Gypsy, who breaks from post 5, sports a career mark of 6-4-1 in 15 races and leads the field in earnings with $368,420. The Hennessy mare drilled a bullet three furlongs in :35 4/5 over Del Mar's main track Aug. 16, the fastest of 12 at the distance.
Baffert won the Rancho Bernardo consecutively in 2005-06 with Behaving Badly.
Tanda, third in the A Gleam for trainer Mike Mitchell and owner Tommy Hutton's Dream Stable, looks to return to the winner's circle for the first time since the Railbird Stakes (gr. III) at Hollywood in May 2010. The 4-year-old daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint was third in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park last spring as well. She is winless in four starts this year. Joe Talamo, one of four riders vying for the lead in this year's Del Mar jockey standings, regains the mount.
The Peter Eurton-trained Jet Blue Girl is one of two starters in the Rancho Bernardo coming off a win. The 4-year-old daughter of Gimmeawink won an optional claiming allowance on Del Mar's Polytrack July 21 as the favorite the a seven-furlong race. She defeated Rancho Bernardo foe She's Cheeky by 1 3/4 lengths.
Suarez Racing Team's California Nectar, a 3-year-old trying older rivals for the second time for trainer Doug O'Neill, is the other filly that won last time out. She led all the way in defeating elders by a half-length in an optional claimer at five furlongs on the Del Mar turf Aug. 11.
Mildly Offensive tries blinkers following her fourth-place finish in the A Gleam last time for trainer Carla Gaines and owner Warren Williamson. The Sharp Humor filly won the Santa Paula Stakes on a sloppy track at Santa Anita by more than four lengths in March.
$150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III, Race 3, 3 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. California Nectar (CA), P A Valenzuela, 116, D F O'Neill
2. She's Cheeky (KY), J Rosario, 116, P Eurton
3. Saanneen (KY), V Espinoza, 113, L Powell
4. Mildly Offensive (KY), R Bejarano, 113, C Gaines
5. Irish Gypsy (KY), M Garcia, 121, B Baffert
6. Tanda (FL), J Talamo, 117, M R Mitchell
7. Jet Blue Girl (FL), B Blanc, 117, P Eurton
Blinkers On: Mildly Offensive