Souvenir Gift Towers Over Debutante Field

(from Del Mar report)
With Sorrento (gr. III) winner Inspiring sidelined, nine 2-year-old fillies led by dual stakes winner Souvenir Gift will go postward Saturday for the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) at seven furlongs on the main track.

The Bob Baffert-trained Inspiring, who decisively defeated Souvenir Gift in the Sorrento by 2 1/2 lengths, has been troubled by shin problems. Another Baffert runner, Excessively Nice, an impressive maiden winner Aug. 8, apparently will run in next Wednesday's $100,000 Generous Portion for Cal-bred 2-year-old fillies.

That leaves Baffert with one entrant, No Bull Baby, who won at first asking on Aug. 15.

Trainer Sam Semkin, who thought he'd be seeking redemption for his Souvenir Gift against Inspiring in the Debutante, now will be working on starting a new win streak for the daughter of Souvenir Copy. She had a three-win streak stopped by Inspiring in the Sorrento.

Semkin says his filly is sitting on "go" for the race. "She's doing good," he said. "She worked on Sunday (1:02.60 for five furlongs at San Luis Rey Downs) and she went really nice.

"I'm happy with where she is right now. I wouldn't trade places with anybody."

Souvenir Gift gets a new jockey for the Debutante, the seaside's leading rider Tyler Baze, who replaces Mike Smith, who rode her in her previous three outings.

"I'm not changing strategy," he said. "The strategy last time was to take her back but she did not get taken back. I want Tyler to let her break, let her settle and let her make her run."

Souvenir Gift will ship to Del Mar on race day, Semkin said.

Also included in the field is an entry of maidens Proposed and Sweet Catomine, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Martin Wygod and trained by Julio Canani. Both have run once. Proposed finished third in the CTBA Stakes at Del Mar on July 23 and Sweet Catomine was second in a maiden race July 31.

Hello Lucky, who finished third in the Sorrento, will be supplemented to the Debutante for $10,000.

Trainer Christopher Paasch is hoping Hello Lucky, who was bought by Paasch client Charles Cono in July, will show improvement.

"She's a wonderful little filly," Paasch said. (Trainer Ernesto) Sarmiento did a wonderful job with her down in Florida, where she was two-for-two.

"When we got her here we had lost eight days of training with her and we almost weren't going to run in the Sorrento, except we had nowhere else to go with her. She was really a little short on training."

Paasch believes she'll be farther along this time. "She's improving with everything she does," he said. "Hopefully, she improves four or five lengths and we'll be tough Saturday."

Hello Lucky worked a half-mile in :45 3/5 Tuesday.

Four fillies in the field of nine are non-winners who will be trying to emulate the feat of Cindy's Hero in 2000, the only maiden to win the Debutante.

$250,000 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I), 2-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Ninadivina, 122, Paul Atkinson
2. Hello Lucky, 122, Mike Smith
3. Girly Girl, 120, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
4. No Bull Baby, 118, Corey Nakatani
5. Proposed, 120, David Flores
6. Souvenir Gift, 122, Tyler Baze
7. Sweet Catomine, 120, Victor Espinoza
8. Princess Godiva, 114, Matt Garcia
9. She's Salty, 122, Jon Court