Majestic Heat Gets Acid Test in Del Mar Oaks
August 15, 2015 11:08am
Del Mar Starting Gate 615 X 400
Photo: Benoit Photo
At 15-1 on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line, Majestic Heat is the longest shot in the field for today’s Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks. But trainer Barry Abrams, who co-bred and co-owns with Madeline Auerbach the daughter of their stallion Unusual Heat, a proven superior sire for any surface, is expecting Majestic Heat to acquit herself well.
“She’s sharp right now and we can’t deny her a chance to win a big stake like this,” Abrams said.
It will be the fourth start of the meeting – not uncharacteristic for an Abrams charge – for Majestic Heat. Her most recent was win in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer only last Sunday. Majestic Heat drew the No. 1 post position and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani.
“Obviously the post could be trouble,” Abrams said. “But hopefully Nakatani can get her out from there and if she gets a clean trip like last time, she could win.” 

The Grade I Del Mar Oaks is the championship race of the season for three-year-old fillies. Oaks is a traditional term indicating a title deciding race for  fillies just as the term Derby is for  three-year-old males (although fillies can run in a Derby).

The Triple Crown champion galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider George Alvarez. Sunday morning, in an approximate 7:45-8 a.m. time window, American Pharoah is scheduled for his first work since winning the $1.75 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on August 2.

Victor Espinoza, the veteran rider who stirred racing history and glory when he guided the exceptional colt American Pharoah through his Triple Crown triumph this spring, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award.
Espinoza will receive the award and its distinctive trophy from Pincay on Sunday in a winner’s circle ceremony following the third race.
The Pincay Award, given annually by the Hall of Fame rider since 2004 to those who have served the sport “with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction,” originated at the now-closed Hollywood Park, but shifted to Del Mar in 2014.
Espinoza, 43 and a native of Mexico City, has ridden more than 3,200 winners in his sparkling career, but may always be remembered for his trio of scores in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes on the smooth-striding American Pharoah, making him only the 12th American Triple Crown winner and the first to accomplish it in 37 years. The rider first handled American Pharoah in a winning effort in last year’s Del Mar Futurity and in seven starts since then they’ve never been beaten.
Espinoza’s Triple Crown feat this year came on the heels of winning two of the three Triple Crown legs in 2014 with California Chrome for trainer Art Sherman, winner of last year’s Pincay Award. Additionally, the rider had won two legs of the Triple Crown in 2002 with the speedy War Emblem, meaning he is the only jockey to have had three chances to capture the Triple Crown.
“Anytime I win an award of any kind I am honored and humbled,” Espinoza said. “And an award like this is very special. I rode against Laffit for many seasons and he was not my friend on the racetrack; he was a tough customer out there. But we are friends now and for him to select me for this award is a true honor.”
Pincay, who rode for 39 years and won a then world’s record 9,530 races, earned five Eclipse Awards as America’s top rider and led the nation in earnings on seven occasions. The now 68-year-old competed for 27 summers at Del Mar and is the track’s winningest rider with 1,011 victories prior to his retirement in 2003.

Paul Espinosa, Jr. took a shot and flew all the way from Lexington, KY, in hopes of getting to call a race at Del Mar Saturday afternoon.
Saturday morning – after going head-and-head with two rivals in the first “America’s Next Race Caller” contest at the track -- he found out he “got the call” from the four-person judging panel and will in fact get to call Del Mar’s 10th race today, a mile on the grass with a 12-horse field.
The judging panel consisted of current or former race callers Trevor Denman, John Lies, Travis Stone and Vic Stauffer and – after hearing the three finalists’ calls of American Pharoah winning last year’s Del Mar Futurity – were unanimous in selecting the 26-year-old graduate of the University of West Virginia. The former TV sports broadcaster and current real estate salesman in Lexington was “totally thrilled and very nervous” about his victory and upcoming call, but completely ready to take on the assignment. He’ll get to call his first race ever in Denman’s booth on the seventh floor of the grandstand with Del Mar’s longtime caller at his side.
The unique contest drew more than two dozen entrants who were winnowed down by Del Mar staff to the three finalists: Espinosa, Corey “The Dog” Kwok, a public address announcer from Los Angeles, and Shane Conlon, a native of Ireland and currently an exercise rider for trainer Paddy Gallagher.
The contest was held at a “Donuts at Del Mar” session near the head of the stretch in front of approximately 1,200 fans. Todd Schrupp from TVG emceed the event, which was co-hosted by Del Mar and the Little Red Feather Racing Club.
One of the stars of the morning was 6-year-old Maddox Hackworth, who had submitted a race call and was saluted with an “honorary” award in the contest. The local lad called the American Pharoah race in a knockout imitation of Denman with an exciting flourish at the finish that drew the largest round of applause of the session. 

CLOSERS-- Del Mar will provide a special training time for all Pacific Classic horses and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah Sunday morning from 7:45 to 7:55 a.m. Those horses will have the racetrack to themselves to work or gallop following the mid-morning break. At 7:55, the track will be fully open to all horses … The Pacific Classic post position draw, specifically targeted for media, will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the Plaza de Mexico area behind the grandstand … Ship And Win eligible horses on Saturday’scard are: Black N Beauty (4th, Henry Dominguez, trainer), Dive Down (5th, Eric Kruljac), Patentar (6th, Simon Callaghan) and Allidoisdreamofyou (9th, Ron Ellis) … Del Mar based jockeys Drayden Van Dyke and Kent Desormeaux are at Arlington Park for mounts on the  Arlington Million Day card. Van Dyke will be aboard Up With the Birds for trainer H. Graham Motion in the 33rd running of the Million… Selected workouts from 187 officially timed Saturday morning: Imperative (7f, 1:26.20), Class Leader (7f, 1:26.40), Kobe’s Back (5f, 1:00.40), Big Macher (5f, 1:00.80), Pure Tactics (4f :49.80), Honey Ride (4f, :47.20), Bailoutbobby (4f, :50.00), Distinctiv Passion (3f, :35.40).

Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club


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