Gervinho Literally Chomping at the Bit

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 got. “

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 shipping West.

“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 than that.”

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 Derby.

“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.”



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