Stoneside Bears Watching in Del Mar Derby

With no standout apparent in the 3-year-old turf division in Southern California this summer, trainer Julio Canani could well hold the trump card in the $400,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) Sept. 2 with the French import Stoneside.

Few trainers can match the success that Canani has enjoyed on the Del Mar turf course over the years. He has won the Del Mar Derby four times since 1988, and has three victories in the 1 1/8-mile test in the past nine years. His last win came in 2004 with Blackdoun, another European invader who was owned by Marsha Naify and Woodside Farms.

Canani trains Stoneside for Naify. In his last start overseas, the 3-year-old Irish-bred colt by Marchand de Sable chased the French star Lawman vainly in the Prix Jean Prat (Fr-I) at Chantilly July 8. He finished three lengths behind in second.

Stoneside won two stakes in France and finished worse than third just once in 13 starts, that coming when 10th in the French Two Thousand Guineas (Fr-I) at Longchamp in May.

Canani acquired Stoneside soon after the Jean Prat and the bay colt has worked comfortably over the firm Del Mar turf throughout the month of August. Stoneside leads the Del Mar Derby in earnings with $268,446.

Corey Nakatani rides Stoneside, who must break from the rail.

A full field of 10 was entered for the popular event and four others are listed as "also eligible."

Medici Code got a superb stalking trip and kicked home in the final eighth to score a 1 1/4-length win in the La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIT) for trainer Darrell Vienna Aug. 11. As impressive as the Herrick Racing runner's effort was, several are back to challenge from the La Jolla, which is the seaside track's major prep race for the Del Mar Derby at 1 1/16 miles. It was the Great Britain-bred Medicean gelding's first win in three U.S. starts after shipping from England in early spring.

Worldy, another British bred, rallied nicely from mid-pack in the stretch to finish second as the favorite in the La Jolla. After winning the Will Rogers (gr. IIIT) and Cinema Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park turf this spring, the Selkirk gelding was a bit rank early in his first start on the Del Mar lawn for trainer Ben Cecil and owner Christopher Wright.

Knockout Artist, a gelding by Exploit, makes his return to action for trainer Art Sherman after defeating Medici Code by a head in one of three divisions of the Oceanside Stakes on opening day July 18. The Art Sherman trainee, owned by George Krikorian, has won his last three starts.

The French-bred Bleu Intense, second by a head last out in a group III event at Longchamp June 25, makes his U.S. debut for owner Gary Tanaka.

The Craig Dollase trained Souvenir Slew won a 1 1/8-mile allowance test over the Del Mar turf by a nose Aug. 12. Prior to that, the dark bay Souvenir Copy colt finished third in both the Swaps Breeders' Cup (gr. II) on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track July 14 and the Colonial Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs a month earlier.

Warning Zone, a son of Chester House who romped in in the Generous (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood in November, finally returned for trainer John Sadler in an allowance race at Del Mar Aug. 9, finishing fourth after a rough trip. Del Mar Derby rival Augment was up at the wire to win that heat.

Others coming out of the La Jolla are Irish-bred Vauquelin (sixth) and Unusual Suspect (seventh), and also eligibles Ten a Penny (fourth), Swiss bred Karazi (fifth)  Star Inside (eighth).

$400,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT, Race 9, 6 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Stoneside (IRE), Corey Nakatani
2. Augment (KY), Richard Migliore
3. Bleu Intense (FR), David R. Flores
4. Worldly (GB), Victor Espinoza
5. Souvenir Slew (KY), Mike E. Smith
6. Knockout Artist (KY), Jon K. Court
7. Vauquelin (IRE), Alex Solis
8. Unusual Suspect (CA), Joseph Talamo
9. Warning Zone (VA), Jose Valdivia, Jr.
10. Medici Code (GB), Martin A. Pedroza
-- Also Eligible --
11. Ten a Penny (KY), Michael C. Baze
12. Star Inside (IRE), G. F. Almeida
13. Yario (IRE), Aaron T. Gryder
14. Karazi (SWI), Brice Blanc
Each assigned 122 pounds.

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