Closing day of the 80th summer racing season at Del Mar is an occasion to reflect on the past seven weeks for horsemen.
Without doubt the preeminent human figures of the meeting have been jockey Flavien Prat, trainer John Sadler and the Hronis Racing stable of brothers Kosta and Pete Hronis.
With two wins on Saturday, Prat, 26, wrapped up the riding title with a day to spare. Prat has 40 wins from 149 starts and seven mounts scheduled on the final program. Forty wins and a riding title were the goals that Prat and his agent, Derek Lawson, set before the meeting started.
“We set a goal of 40 because we thought that was achievable,” Lawson said Monday morning. “It would be more victories than we've had in any of the four years we've been riding here all summer long. The other thing was a goal of $3 million in purses.”
Prat's horses have accounted for nearly $2.9 million.
“This keeps Flavien among the top jockeys in the country and hoping that he can be a finalist (top three) for an Eclipse Award as the top jockey. It would be tough to win it but nice to be considered.”
Prat clinched his third title in the past four years when Encoder nosed out Billy Batts, with Drayden Van Dyke up, in the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes. It came one day after a similarly close finish involving the two riders in the John C. Mabee with Vasilika edging Juliet Foxtrot.
Drayden Van Dyke is second with 29 wins from 142 starts with 27 seconds and 20 thirds – a 20-20-20 season! – and purse earnings of just over $2 million. Van Dyke is booked to ride eight of the 10 closing day races.
Prat tops all jockeys for stakes wins with 10, four of them in combination with Sadler/Hronis, among them Sunday's Juvenile Turf.
Sadler counts nine stakes among his 15 victories from 79 starters. Seven of the stakes wins came with colorbearers of his major client, Hronis Racing. With the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic victory of Higher Power – a Hronis-Sadler-Prat production – as key, Hronis has established a Del Mar summer record $1,441,077 in earnings entering the final day.
“It has been a great summer,” Sadler said. “To have the Hronises break the record for most money ever won here is sensational. Who would have thought I'd win more stakes here this year (9) than last year (8). Not that I'm counting.”
It is the second-most stakes wins in a season behind Bob Baffert's 13 in 2000.
“So it has been great. I have great help, great owners and we've gotten some great rides.”
Driving home Saturday night and starting to feel a little down about Inspiressa's runner-up effort to Bast as the favorite in the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Debutante, Sadler said he quickly snapped out of it. “Hey, running second in a Grade I … it's been a good summer,” Sadler said.
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