Flame Thrower, under jockey Corey Nakatani, winning the Best Pal Stakes.

Flame Thrower, under jockey Corey Nakatani, winning the Best Pal Stakes.

Associated Press / Benoit

Bailey to Ride Flame Thrower in Del Mar Futurity

Jockey Jerry Bailey will venture west to ride Gary Garber's Flame Thrower in the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) next Wednesday for trainer Bob Baffert. Considered one of the West Coast's top prospects for this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), the Saint Ballado colt is unbeaten in two starts under Corey Nakatani, who fractured his left clavicle in a spill on the Del Mar turf on Aug. 26. Flame Thrower was an impressive maiden winner on Del Mar's opening day program July 26, then came back a month later to win the 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal Stakes (gr. III) by 2 3/4 lengths.

Bailey comes off a record-breaking Saratoga meeting, where he won 50 races. He has teamed up with Baffert previously with the recently retired Silverbulletday. Baffert is expected to have two other entrants in the Del Mar Futurity, Arabian Light for The Thoroughbred Corp. and Glorious Bid for Ed and Natalie Friendly. Baffert has dominated the Futurity in recent years, winning with Silver Charm in 1996, followed by Souvenir Copy, Worldly Manner, and Forest Camp. Other likely starters in the seven-furlong race are Street Cry, High Cascade, Revelling, Squirtle Squirt, and Trailthefox.

The Futurity is part of the NTRA Two-Year-Old Challenge, a bonus program for a series of televised races for juvenile colts and geldings that carries a potential bonus of $1.3 million. The Challenge will award $250,000 to the owner of an eligible horse who wins any of seven designated races plus the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. If the horse was sold at public auction, the consignor will be awarded $50,000. If that horse goes on to win the 2001 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), the owner will earn an additional $1 million.