Part of the journey from Canada to California behind him, Delegation
is in Louisville, Ky., awaiting a Monday plane for Del Mar and a date in
the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Sunday, August 25.
“Our options were to go to Saratoga and wait there for a plane that
would stop in Louisville, or go to Churchill Downs and wait there,”
trainer Mark Casse said Saturday by phone. “So we vanned him from
Woodbine to Churchill Downs and he’s been training there the last few
Delegation, a 4-year-old gelded son of Speightstown, was an early
commitment for the Classic after winning the Dominion Day Stakes at
Woodbine on July 1 by 9 ¼ lengths. The Dominion Day was at the same
distance, a mile and a quarter, and on a similar Polytrack surface as
The Grade III victory made Delegation 5-for-6 on synthetic surfaces,
accounting for $333,553 of his career $537,751 earnings from 12 career
“He’s got pretty good form on any surface, but he likes the
synthetic, likes the distance and the million dollars helps too,” Casse
said of the factors in the decision to come West.
Luis Contreras, aboard for the Dominion Day victory, will be back in the irons for the Pacific Classic.
Casse, 52, has been a prominent trainer in Canada for more than a
decade, winning four Sovereign Awards, counterpart to the U.S. Eclipse,
as Canada’s top trainer as well as conditioning several champion horses.
He also has been a successful manager of farms in Kentucky and, currently, Ocala, Fla. But he’s never been to Del Mar.
“I’ve been to a lot of racetracks but not Del Mar,” Casse said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Avila Might Have Brazilian 1-2 Punch For Classic
A.C. Avila has saddled four horses in the $1 million TVG Pacific
Classic since 1998. Only six trainers have had greater representation
and their names are Robert Frankel (19), Bob Baffert (15), Richard
Mandella (14), Ron McAnally (11), Doug O’Neill and Craig Dollase (six
Now Avila, 59, appears set to add to his total with Hawk’s Eyes and possibly Holding Glory in the 23rd renewal of Del Mar’s signature event on Sunday, August 25.
Avila’s Classic runners to date have been Ayrton S. (8th, 1998), Jack Grandi (7th, 1999), Oceanus (7th, 2005) and Global Hunter (8th, 2009). All but Ayrton S. were, like Hawk’s Eyes and Holding Glory, bred in Avila’s native Brazil.
Hawk’s Eyes and Holding Glory, 4-year-old sons of Public Purse and
stakes winners in Brazil, were brought to the U.S. this spring. Hawk’s
Eyes was fourth in the Grade III Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park in
his U.S. debut on July 14 and eighth of nine after being forwardly
placed for a half-mile in a featured, $100,000 optional claiming race
at one mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course on August 1.
“He was running well the first part that day then he (kicked) himself
at the three-eighths and lost a shoe. So he had an excuse that day,”
Avila said. “The (1 ¼-mile Pacific Classic) distance won’t bother him
and the reason I nominated him is because he has been training much
better on the synthetic here than he had on the dirt at Santa Anita.”
Holding Glory was second in a mile optional claiming race on August
3. The race winner, You Know I Know, is nominated to the Pacific Classic
and a likely second starter in the event, with Kettle Corn, for trainer
“I just tried him on the synthetic because I had nowhere else to go
with him,” Avila said. “He did OK, but he looks more like a turf horse
to me.” The $200,000 Del Mar Handicap, a 1 3/8-mile turf marathon on
August 24, is an option being considered in addition to the Pacific
Hawk’s Eyes and Holding Glory are both owned by Luiz Fernando
Dannemann, a Brazilian businessman and major owner/breeder in the
country who owns and operates the Coudelaria Jessica thoroughbred
facility in Bage do Sul there.
Hawk’s Eyes worked seven furlongs on the main track in 1:27.20 on
Wednesday. Holding Glory worked six furlongs in 1:13.00 Saturday
morning. Avila planned to consult with Dannemann overnight to finalize
Pacific Classic plans with the horses.
“It will be up to the owner,” Avila said. “He pays the bills and he calls the shots.”