Cost of Freedom, who has looked close to invincible in his two starts this year, heads a solid field of seven sprinters in the $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar Aug. 1.
The Bing Crosby, at six furlongs, also attracted recent grade I winner E Z's Gentleman from the Bob Baffert barn, and the champion Australian turf sprinter Scenic Blast, making his synthetic track debut on Del Mar's Polytrack.
Third by a head in an exciting renewal of the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) last fall at Santa Anita, the front-running Cost of Freedom has not been headed in his two races this year at Hollywood Park, both at six furlongs.
Trained by John Sadler for brothers Gary and Cecil Barber, the California-bred son of Cee's Tizzy won an optional claiming allowance by 4 1/2 lengths May 6 in 1:08.36 over the Cushion Track. He then returned to defeat E Z's Gentlemen by three-quarters of a length in the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III).
The lightly raced 7-year-old gelding has won eight of 15 starts, including the 2008 Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I), while earning $666,105. Cost of Freedom has won three of five races at Del Mar.
Rafael Bejarano takes over on Cost of Freedom for the injured Tyler Baze. They will break from post 5 with 121 pounds, two fewer than E Z's Gentleman.
E Z's Gentleman could not catch Cost of Freedom in the Los Angeles but he overwhelmed his rivals in the seven-furlong Triple Bend July 10, pounding to a 3 1/4-length victory over Baffert stablemate Sangaree . Owned by Arnold Zetcher, the 5-year-old son of Yankee's Gentleman has won three of his past five starts and sticks with Martin Pedroza, who rode him in both of his most recent starts. They drew the rail.
Baffert also entered El Brujo, who has competed mostly at Woodbine for trainer Malcolm Pierce. The 4-year-old Candy Ride gelding has not raced since May 15. He won the Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. III) at Turfway Park and Keeneland's Perryville Stakes (gr. III) last year.
"I worked them together and I thought maybe El Brujo, the way this track is playing has been sort of tiring, and it seems like horses that have more recently raced have an edge on the track right now," Baffert said. "So El Brujo might come up a little short. (If so) he'll be ready for the next one."
In addition to earning Australian Horse of the Year honors in 2009, Scenic Blast was named the nation's top sprinter and earned International performer honors for his victory in the group I King's Stand Stakes at the prestigious Royal Ascot race meet. He has won eight of 22 starts and $1.4 million.
Scenic Blast has had one start in the United States for trainer John Shirreffs, rolling late to get fourth, 1 3/4 lengths behind Crosby rival My Summer Slew in the Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap over six furlongs on the grass at Hollywood June 27. Mike Smith has the call.
My Summer Slew, from the Craig Dollase barn, ran third in the Los Angeles Handicap at 34-1 before winning the Kerlan by three parts of a length.
Three-year-old Smiling Tiger showed good speed in winning the seven-furlong Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. III) May 22. The Jeff Bonde trainee drew the advantageous outside post with Victor Espinoza aboard.
Sky Cape, returning to action after a one-year absence for trainer Kristin Mulhall, completes the field. Sky Cape, now 5, won the 2008 La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) over 3-year-olds on the Del Mar turf.
$250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. E Z's Gentleman (KY), M A Pedroza, 123, B Baffert
2. Sky Cape (KY), J Talamo, 119, K Mulhall
3. Scenic Blast (AUS), M E Smith, 121, J A Shirreffs
4. El Brujo (ON), J Rosario, 119, B Baffert
5. Cost of Freedom (CA), R Bejarano, 121, J W Sadler
6. My Summer Slew (CA), A Quinonez, 119, C Dollase
7. Smiling Tiger (KY), V Espinoza, 119, J Bonde
Blinkers On: El Brujo