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Del Mar Handicap Comes Up Strong

Fire With Fire wins 2014 Whittingham.

Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale scratched Topic, the  3-1 morning line second choice for Friday’s CTT & TOC Handicap, to run her against males – among them stablemate and 7-2 morning line favorite Fire With Fire – in Saturday’s Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Handicap.

Trainer Dan Hendricks, who entered Irish Surf in both the Handicap and Sunday’s $1 million TVG Pacific Classic, will scratch from the Handicap to run in the Classic. That created an opening for Ice Cream Truck, the lone also eligible in the Handicap (and also entered in the Classic) that trainer A.C. Avila said he was “80 percent certain” to fill.

And, taking account of all the “ins” and “outs,” the 75th running of the Del Mar Handicap stacks up as an important, prestigious and certainly worthy kickoff to the biggest stakes weekend of the meeting.

The Del Mar Handicap, 1 3/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf. It will have the solo stakes spotlight one day before Sunday’s stakes triple-header of the Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Mile, Grade II $250,000 Pat O’Brien and the Pacific Classic. The Pat O’Brien and Pacific Classic are “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, respectively.

In Topic and Fire With Fire, Drysdale has two horses coming in  freshened off strong efforts. Topic, a 4-year-old Discreet Cat filly, finished second but was disqualified to ninth of 12 in the Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial July 14 at Delaware Park. Fire With Fire, a 6-year-old son of Distorted Humor, has been away from racing since winning the Grade II Charlie Whittingham on May 24 at Santa Anita.

“(Topic) ran very well but in the stretch she got the lead and she veered out a little bit,” Drysdale said. “I didn’t like it (stewards’ decision), but there you go. I thought the jockey on the other horse (interfered with) was going somewhere he shouldn’t have been going.

“(Topic) has been training very well since.”

Fire With Fire took the Whittingham by a neck over Segway with Del Mar Handicap competitor Quick Casablanca only another neck behind. It was the third victory in five 2014 starts for Fire With Fire.

“He ran quite hard this winter, so we gave him a rest,” Drysdale said. “Now hopefully he’ll have a good fall campaign.”

Irish Surf ran away to an 8 ¼-length victory in the 1 ½ mile Cougar II Handicap on Polytrack on July 25. Given that performance, and Irish Surf’s subsequent training over the surface, Hendricks opted for the Classic even though 13 of the Giant’s Causeway colt’s 18 lifetime starts have been on grass.

Ice Cream Truck, a former $20,000 claimer, was third in the Cougar II. The 4-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect two prior starts, and one of his two career wins, on turf.

Source: Del Mar

 

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