Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Absent from the starting gate since a close 4th place finish in the G3 Eddie D Stakes, Caracortado begins his comeback in Friday's 6th race, a NW3X optional claimer, at Del Mar. Last year, a sore foot knocked the popular gelding out of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. The injury was so minor that trainer Mike Machowsky was confident that his charge would make the Hollywood Turf Express on December 8, but in horse racing, things cannot be counted on to go according to plan.
Now nearly 10 months removed from his last start, Scarface, as the gelding is affectionately known, is ready to rumble. Under Machowsky's care, Caracortado has put in good work after good work, but a newly widened turf course at Del Mar has equated to larger "allowed" fields in turf sprints. Whereas only 7 could previously start in a turf sprint at Del Mar, Caracortado will face 9 rivals in his comeback.
The five furlong optional claimer drew a rather deep cast of 10, and as racing luck would have it, all the early speed drew to the outside. While Caracortado is the class of the field as a multiple graded stakes winner, he still faces as tall task since the field is comprised of six other stakes winners. Pure Tactics won the Siren Lure last out and is accustomed to facing tough rivals. Highly regarded Boat Trip won the Hollywood Turf Express three starts back, and Wine Police gets a major class break when dropping into this spot off three consecutive graded stakes attempts.
Merit Man also takes a drop in class after finishing a well beaten 11th in the G2 Woody Stephens. Artest most recently finished 4th in the Siren Lure behind Pure Tactics, and Rosengold finished 2nd in that same event. The field is rounded out by Giant Ego, Ankeny Hill and Celzo's Birdie, who stretches out in distance after running Quarter Horse type distances in his most recent starts.
Giant Ego, Rosengold and Ankeny Hill should all ensure a lively pace. Drawing posts 7-9 respectively, the trio will have to be quick out of the gate to clear the field and establish their early running positions. Wine Police, Merit Man, Artest and Celzo's Birdie all like to be near the lead and could even contest the early pace should the three speedsters fail to get good front-running positions. That should set things up nicely for Pure Tactics, Boat Trip and Caracortado in the stretch.
"Scarface" receives a 4 lb break in weights from high weights Pure Tactics and Boat Trip under the conditions of the race. Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard for the gelding's G3 Daytona win, gets the call, and the duo will break from post 5 in the field of 10. With only one start in both 2012 and 2013, here is to hoping the often absent runner is healthy and ready to return to his 2011 form.