Her 30-day suspension having been served, trainer Carla Gaines
returned to her Barn E headquarters Saturday morning. The first horse
she checked on was Gervinho, the winner of a division of the Oceanside
Stakes and the morning line favorite in the first division of Sunday’s
divided $250,000 Grade II Del Mar Derby.
“And look what he did, he bit me,” Gaines said, holding up a band-aid
adorned left hand. “I’m like ‘Come on guy, that’s not a very good
homecoming.’ He was just playing. He’s very fresh.”
From appearances, fresh and ready having gone unraced since a neck
victory over Greeley Awesome in the first division of the one-mile
Oceanside Stakes on opening day of the meeting, July 17.
The 3-year-old California-bred son of Unusual Heat has had four
workouts since the first stakes victory of a five-race career under the
supervision of Gaines’ assistant, Jerry Quinn, in preparation for
Sunday’s 1 1/8-mile assignment on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. Track
oddsmaker Russ Hudak made Gervinho the 3-1 choice over Gabriel Charles
(7-2), a fast-closing runner-up in the second division of the Oceanside,
and division winner Rising Legend (9-2).
The first division of the Del Mar Derby will go as the sixth race of 11 on the day with an approximate 4:30 p.m. post time.
“As trainers we’re always worried about something, and it looks to me
like we’re definitely in the tougher division of the stake,” Gaines
said. “(Rising Legend and Gabriel Charles) looked tremendous finishing
in their division of the Oceanside. And Peter Miller’s horse (Chief
Havoc) ran really well in the San Diego.”
Chief Havoc, the Swaps Stakes winner at Hollywood Park, took on
older horses in the San Diego Handicap and finished fourth to Kettle
Corn, who went on to a runner-up finish in the Pacific Classic.
Del Mar Derby II: Invaders At The Gates
Iain Grant, Chris Davis and John Ortiz are all assistant trainers who
have travelled from the Midwest accompanying 3-year-old colts who drew
into the second division of the Del Mar Derby.
It’s the first time at Del Mar for all three. To a man, they express the hope it won’t be the last. No surprise there.
And it wouldn’t qualify as a major surprise if any one of the three
wound up in the winner’s circle following the second division of the Del
Mar Derby, which will be run as the ninth race with an approximate 6
p.m. post time.
Infinite Magic (Grant) is the 7-2 morning line favorite ahead of La
Jolla Handicap winner Dice Flavor at 9-2. Dorsett (Davis) and General
Election (Ortiz) are both 8-1.
Infinite Magic, trained by Rick Mettee for Team Valor International,
won the Grade III American Derby on July 13 at Arlington Park, the first
stakes victory for the Kentucky-bred son of More Than Ready in four
U.S. starts since coming over from England this spring.
“They had a couple of other (race) options, but I believe he’s been
penciled in for this for quite awhile,” Grant said. “He travels well,
he’s a fit horse, he came out of the Arlington race extremely well and
he has been doing everything the right way since we got here (Tuesday).
“We know he’ll get the distance, we’ve got a good jockey (Joe Talamo)
and the draw (post position No. 3) is one of the biggest advantages we
Dorsett, trained by Michael Stidham for owner Terry Hamilton, was
fifth behind Infinite Magic after being forwardly placed in the early
going of the American Derby. The Kentucky-bred son of Artie Schiller
then cruised to a three-length victory in the Mystic Lake Derby at
Canterbury Downs in Minnesota on August 3 to reinforce thoughts of
“He was much the best in the Canterbury race,” Davis said. “We looked
this race over and while there are some very good horses there aren’t
any serious monsters. Plus it’s a Grade II and the money’s good.
“He’s a class horse, I think the distance is going to hit him right
in the head and he’s got (Rafael) Bejarano, so you couldn’t ask for more
General Election, trained by Kellyn Gorder for Winstar Farms LLC, is a
Kentucky-bred son of Harlan’s Holiday. He won the 1 1/16-mile Grade III
Arlington Classic on May 25 (Dorsett was third) but was vanned off
after finishing seventh of 10 behind Infinite Magic in the American
“He took a misstep around the 16th pole and Joe Rocco did a
good thing pulling him up and taking it easy on him,” Ortiz said of the
American Derby. “It’s not a big deal, he’s sound and he’s doing better
than ever. I’m very confident and I think we’ve got a good spot (post
position No. 5) to run from.”