Race 9: The Grade I Del Mar Futurity is the first real test for the premier two-year-olds on the west coast but with the Breeders’ Cup set for Del Mar in November, Bob Baffert and co won’t have it all their own way as two top trainers have shipped juveniles out west with an eye on the BC later in the year and have entered them here to give them a good judge of where their horses are at.
We’ll start with the Steve Asmussen trained American Xperiment (#6) who has the same connections as another lovely horse - Jackie’s Warrior. This Nyquist colt broke his Maiden nicely back in late July at Saratoga and his trainer is eyeing up a run at the BC Juvenile for him. Plenty of intrigue here with a nicely bred two-year-old.
Mark Casse has also sent over Pappacup (#1) who drew the rail. He secured Gun Runner his first ever Graded Stakes win for his offspring when he took out the Grade II Best Pal in August here at Del Mar. This ten-time Grade I winner may well be one of the better new studs out there so watching how this horse races will be very interesting. Two wins from two is good but his Beyer numbers are significantly slower than his three primary rivals in this one.
Bob Baffert sends out two of the six-horse field and I like Pinehurst (#4) to come away with the win on Labor Day. He has the best Beyer number with an 86 on debut but I really like Twirling Candy colts. Early days but he looks promising as does Murray (#5). The Morning Line has the second of the two Baffert horses as the tepid 2-1 favorite but all four of the top choices are between 2-1 and 3-1 so as quite often it is with two-year-olds - tough to gauge their chances until you see them all against solid competition.
It seems a long time since the Del Mar Futurity produced a Kentucky Derby winner with Nyquist (2015) and American Pharoah (2014) the last two to win here before going on to taste victory under the Twin Spires. With Bob Baffert potentially unable to run at the Derby for the next two-years depending on litigation, a Baffert winner here may well not even get the chance to step on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Short-term though this is a small but fascinating field which could well have implications for Breeders’ Cup Friday.