La Jolla, Graduation Stakes Headline Sunday Card At Del Mar

Stakes horses will once again double up for a Del Mar crowd, this time on Sunday with the presentation of the 81st La Jolla Stakes and the 70th edition of the Graduation Stakes. The races will go as the 6th and 9th races, respectively, on the shore track’s 10-race program.

The La Jolla, a Grade 3 affair that carries a purse of $150,000, has drawn a half-dozen 3-year-olds for a mile and one-sixteenth jaunt on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course at Del Mar Thorughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif. The Graduation also has drawn six California-bred 2-year-old starters for its five and one-half furlong spin on the main track. It offers a purse of $100,000.

The Irish horse Cathkin Peak, owned by Sterling Stables, Nentwig, and CYBT, is a candidate to be the favorite in the La Jolla. A bay son of the Irish stallion Alhebayeb, Cathkin Peak raced once in his native land as a 2-year-old, then was purchased privately and shipped to California where he won a pair of races, including the overnight Eddie Logan at Santa Anita Park last December. He subsequently chased home the blossoming star Rock Your World in February’s Pasadena Stakes, also at Santa Anita, then went on the shelf. This will be his first start in nearly six months, but trainer Phil D’Amato has put a series of steady works into him for this comeback.

Double L Stable and Natalie Baffert’s Hudson Ridge hails from the powerful Bob Baffert barn and is a son of one of Baffert’s Triple Crown winners, American Pharoah. The colt broke his maiden with a dead-head score in a straight maiden race at Santa Anita on May 1 and came back to win a pair of races after that, including the Cinema Stakes.

Two of the other La Jolla runners — Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal’s Zoffarelli and Yuesheng Zhang’s Sword Zorro also first saw light of day in Ireland. The former will be making his U.S. debut in the La Jolla, while the latter owns a victory in the Singletary Stakes at Santa Anita on grass April 25.

The Graduation – like many 2-year-old races at this time of year – is a tough one to sort out with only minimal past performances to work with. Morning line maker Jon White could barely separate two of the runners, hanging Lovingier, London, and Zondlo’s Rock N Rye as an 8/5 favorite, just a tick better than Lovingier, Beckerle, and Carrillo’s Thirsty Always at 9/5.

Rock N Rye is a homebred by Always Thirsty who was a handy winner of a straight maiden race in his second start at Santa Anita on May 30 in his most recent outing. He’s been training steadily for this return date at both San Luis Rey Downs and Del Mar.

Thirsty Always, also by Stay Thirsty, scored in his first start at Santa Anita on May 16, then shipped up to Pleasanton and captured the Nevin Stakes there on July 10.

Trainer Walther Solis conditions both juveniles.

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Here’s the lineup for the La Jolla from the rail out with riders and morning line odds: Steve Moger’s Stilleto Boy (Kent Desormeaux, 6-1); Gary Barber’s Wyfire (Kyle Frey, 12-1); Hudson Ridge (Abel Cedillo, 5/2); Cathkin Peak (Juan Hernandez, 2-1); Zoffarelli (Drayden Van Dyke, 3-1), and Sword Zorro (Umberto Rispoli, 4-1).

The field for the Graduation lays out like this: Lovingier or Templeton Horses’ Mr. T’s Thirsty (Tyler Baze, 2-1); McMahon or Rudy’s Trip to Spain (Frey, 2-1); Thirsty Always (apprentice Cesar Ortega); Rock N Rye (Rispoli); Moger, Burke or Estrada, et al’s Northvale Road (Tiago Periera, 6-1), and Branch or Hill’s Fowler Blue (Edwin Maldonado, 12-1).

First post for Sunday’s card is 2 p.m.

The post La Jolla, Graduation Stakes Headline Sunday Card At Del Mar appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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