'It's a thrill' for Lerner to take on powerhouse Del Mar trainers

Del Mar Stable Notes
November 16, 2019 10:07am
'It's a thrill' for Lerner to take on powerhouse Del Mar trainers
Photo: Benoit

Up-and-coming trainer Andrew Lerner will be seeking his first graded stakes victory in a 2 ½-year career when he sends out Rager in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar.

On Sunday, Lerner, 30, will also saddle Queen Bee to You in the $100,000 Betty Grable Stakes.

The competition features runners from powerhouse trainers like Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill in the Bob Hope and Peter Miller in the Betty Grable. Is that intimidating?

“No, I love it,” Lerner said. “I have great admiration for them, and I love to see my name in the program with them. It still gives me goosebumps. I’ve watched them, and I try to emulate their training styles and it’s a thrill to be in against them.”

A third-place finish by Ippodamia’s Girl in the Ken Maddy Stakes (G3) on Breeders’ Cup Saturday marked the highest accomplishment by a Lerner runner to this point in a career that saw his stable earnings increase from $81,785 (2017) to $265,384 (2018) and then $778,939 this year.

Rager, a 2-year-old son of Into Mischief that was an $87,000 purchase at the Ocala sale earlier this year, rallied from a slow start for a three-quarter-length victory on turf in his racing debut last month at Santa Anita.

Bob Hope rivals include Baffert-trained High Velocity, a $350,000 sales purchase. Baffert is expected to scratch $1 million yearling Thousand Words, reducing the high-priced competition a bit. There's also $220,000 purchase Strongconstitution trained by O’Neill.

“(Rager) has trained well since he won on turf, and Into Mischief (progeny) have shown they can run on turf or dirt, so we thought we’d give him a shot,” Lerner said. “I don’t necessarily like the No. 1 post, but it’s going to be a small field and hopefully Martin (Garcia) will be able to get good position and go from there.”

Queen Bee to You, a 5-year-old California-bred daughter of Old Topper, won the $100,000 Bertrando against males at Los Alamitos in June in her first start for Lerner, but was overmatched in the Clement Hirsch (G1) here on July 28. She has run twice since, and most recently was fifth in the $100,000 California Distaff at Santa Anita at 5 ½ furlongs on turf. The Betty Grable is seven furlongs on the main track.

“We knew the Betty Grable was the goal and the 5 ½ furlong was a prep,” Lerner said. “She’s in a good post and Flavien (Prat) will be able to play the break and go from there. She’s 3-1 on the morning line, and I think that’s fair.”

2019 Betty Grable (RS)


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