Miller hopes to carry Santa Anita success into Del Mar
July 18, 2017 12:59pm
Peter Miller_615x400
Photo: Benoit

Peter Miller was a comfortable winner of the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting training title, notching 36 wins, 11 more than runners-up Phil D’Amato and Richard Baltas were able to muster.

The question for Del Mar will be whether he’ll be able to sustain that momentum and success for the 36-day meeting at his “home” track which starts Wednesday and continues through Labor Day, September 4.

“We fired a lot of bullets (at Santa Anita),” Miller, a Carlsbad resident who is based at the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center said Monday. “But I feel good about our chances. I believe we’ve got live horses in a lot of categories and we’ll be doing our best to put them in the right spots and try and win another training title.

“Del Mar has always been my favorite track and I can’t wait until Wednesday.”

Miller, 50, won his first training title here in 2012 with 21 wins. He swept the two meets in 2014, tying Jerry Hollendorfer with 20 wins for the summer session and taking the inaugural Bing Crosby fall meeting outright with 15 wins in as many days. Miller is the reigning Crosby meet titlist, chalking 16 wins in 2016 to eight for runners-up Doug O’Neill and Baltas.

Miller, who has 16 stakes wins over the last 10 years at Del Mar, recorded three added-money triumphs during the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting and has plans for all three winners to race at that level here.

Arms Runner, who took the Desert Code in Arcadia, is entered in the opening-day Oceanside Stakes. Stormy Liberal, a double stakes winner at Santa Anita, is targeted for the Wickerr on July 23 and Landaluce Stakes victor Surrender Now is headed for the Sorrento on August 5.

Miller will stick with established plans of recent years and keep his “first” string at San Luis Rey and a “second” string at Del Mar. Some will make the short trip from Bonsall to Del Mar to run. Miller will be on-site at Del Mar to supervise training about twice a week.

Miller’s stable ranks 17th nationally for the year with more than $3.37 million in earnings. His charges have 73 wins from 284 starts.

D'Amato gears up for defense of training title

Phil D’Amato visited the winner’s circle 23 times at the 2016 Del Mar summer meeting to claim the training title by two wins over Peter Miller. It was the first Del Mar title for D’Amato, 41, the successor to the stable of the late Mike Mitchell, Del Mar’s all-time wins leader.

Repeating in 2017 would put D’Amato among an elite list of trainers, his mentor Mitchell among them, to win two or more titles in succession. And D’Amato will be pursuing that prospect with his usual enthusiasm.

“I’m very excited to be down here and looking forward to getting the meeting off to a good start,” D’Amato said Tuesday morning. “We’ve got some very good horses for a really great group of owners and of course everybody wants to win at Del Mar.”

D’Amato notched five stakes wins last summer and added another at the Bing Crosby fall meeting to raise his Del Mar total to 13. He’s fresh off six stakes victories at the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting and five of those winners are scheduled to compete at the level here.

It starts with Bowies Hero, the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Opening Day Oceanside Stakes and continues with Ransom The Moon (Grade I $300,000 Bing Crosby, July 29), Pee Wee Reese ($150,000 California Dreamin’, July 29), Sy Sky ($150,000 Fleet Treat, July 30) and Enola Gray ($150,000 Solana Beach, August 11).

D’Amato’s stable ranks 20th nationally for 2017 with more than $3.1 million in earnings. D’Amato horses have 50 wins from 261 starts.

Fit to be tied? Prat's fit to again be a title force

Flavien Prat tied Rafael Bejarano for the 2016 Del Mar summer riding title with 38 wins. It was the first Del Mar championship for Prat and the deadlock allowed Bejarano to extend his streak of Del Mar crowns to a fifth straight year, only the last one being shared.

Prat enters Del Mar 2017 fresh after tying apprentice Evin Roman for the riding championship of the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting with 41 each. Prat needed two wins on the final day to catch Roman, who became the first apprentice to win a Santa Anita title in 68 years.

“That (tie) was great for the bug boy (Roman) and great for the sport,” said Prat’s agent, Derek Lawson. “He’s a great rider and I’m not taking anything away from him. But (Prat) had eight days of suspensions and travelled back east for a few other days.

“This is his third summer at Del Mar and it’s the first one where we come in fully expecting to compete for the riding title. He’s in excellent shape, he’s on a lot of very good horses. And with all the success he’s had, he’s still working hard to get better and is the hardest guy on himself (assessing personal performance). And when you’re not satisfied, when you’re still hungry, good things happen.

“This riding colony is tough as ever. It’s a lot stronger than most people think. But we’re ready and really looking forward to the meeting.”

Prat ranks 10th nationally in the jockey standings based on money earnings. His mounts have accunted for more than $6 million. Prat has won 99 races from 451 mounts.

CLOSERS Irap, winner of the Indiana Derby on Saturday, has been returned to the West Coast and trainer Doug O’Neill’s barn here. A decision on a next start will be made in the coming days, assistant Leandro Mora said.

Songbird was expected back at Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s barn last night following her victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.

St. Patrick’s Day, a full brother to American Pharoah, worked 4 furlongs in :48.80 for trainer Bob Baffert Tuesday in company with Jafar. The latter was timed in 49 flat. Other notable works from 78 officially timed Tuesday morning: Bendable (5f, 1:01.00) and Cupid (5f, 1:00.40).

Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club


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