Photo: Coglianese Photos
Near to a Del Mar tradition, the opening day Oceanside Stakes again will be run in separate divisions when the 74th summer season kicks off Wednesday afternoon.
Only once in the last decade has an on-track Opening Day crowd number
been less than the previous year. Since 2009, the figures have been
single-day on-track records culminating in the 47,339 of 2012.
Projections are for a similar turnout on Wednesday.
Of course, not all come strictly for the horse racing. But those who
do can look forward to double the pleasure in an Oceanside Stakes that
will be presented in divisions for the second year in a row and the 22nd time since 1989.
The one-mile grass test for 3-year-olds will be run as the sixth and
ninth races on the program. If 10 run, each will offer a $111, 450 total
purse with $66,870 to the winner.
Undrafted, a recent import from the Midwest who arrived at Del Mar on
Sunday and is 2-for-2 in grass races, is the 5-2 morning line favorite
in the first division. Freakin Rocket, 2-for-2 in a career begun in May,
is the 7-2 second choice. They’ll break side-by-side with Undrafted
from the No. 5 post under Joel Rosario and Freakin Rocket No.6 under
“He (Undrafted) is not a big horse, just average size, but he can
run,” said Blake Heap, who handles West Coast competitors for East
Coast-based trainer Wesley Ward.
“I don’t know when Wesley decided on this race for him, but he’s probably been thinking about it for awhile.”
Del Mar’s stakes series for 3-year-olds – the Oceanside, La Jolla on
August 10 and Del Mar Derby on Sept. 1, all on grass – would appear to
be a good fit.
Freakin Rocket’s two wins at Hollywood Park were by a combined margin
of 15 ¼ lengths. “He’s been training well ,” said Tim Yakteen, who
conditions the son of Rock Hard Ten for Mercedes Stable. “It will be his
first time around two turns and first time on grass, but we’re excited
to see how he handles it.”
Rosario also has the mount on the favorite in the second division of
the Oceanside, 7-2 Den’s Legacy. Del Mar’s riding champion from 2009-11
who notched his first Kentucky Derby victory aboard Orb in May, Rosario
is making a one-day appearance before heading East for the opening of
the Saratoga meeting on Friday.
Den’s Legacy has one win and two seconds in three turf races and most
recently was second in the Affirmed Handicap on the Cushion Track main
surface at Hollywood Park.
“He’s been doing well,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “The decision was
whether to run in the Swaps (July 4, Hollywood Park main track) or
Rosengold, a winner of four straight for trainer Julio Canani and
owner Bill Currin, is the 9-2 second choice and will be ridden by Martin