Chad Brown, No. 1 trainer in America by money earnings, has shipped five horses for the final weekend stakes of the Bing Crosby meeting. He'll have two from his stable in the Grade I $300,000 Hollywood Derby on Saturday and one in the Grade I $300,000 Matriarch on Sunday.
Brad Cox, No. 4 by earnings nationally, has brought one from the Midwest to Del Mar for the second time in three months to run in the Matriarch.
Mark Casse, No. 5 nationally, has dispatched one from Canada for the Derby and another from Florida for the Matriarch
The forecast for major storms bringing heavy rains to Del Mar at midweek, which forced cancellation of the Thanksgiving Day card and rescheduling of two of the seven graded stakes on the final days of the meeting, apparently didn't dampen the spirits of three of the top five trainers in the country. Not when there's the prestige of the two events of the highest rank in racing as enticement.
“I couldn't speak for Mark, but I don't think there was any (serious thoughts about not shipping),” Shane Tripp, assistant to Casse, said Wednesday morning. “I didn't hear anything anyway. The rain is supposed to let up for Saturday and Sunday, so I believe we'll have a shot there.”
The shippers from the east arrived on Monday night and spent the next two days getting acclimated to new surroundings and galloping over the Del Mar track under mostly sunny skies. Both Tripp and Jose Hernandez, assistant to Brown, said the journeys were mostly uneventful and the horses have settled in well.
Casse has sent Uncle Bull, a lightly-raced son of Uncle Mo owned by Gary Barber and John Oxley, for the Hollywood Derby. Four of Uncle Bull's five starts have been on turf, the other on the synthetic of Woodbine. He has three wins, among them his last two starts, but the Hollywood Derby will be his first stakes-level test.
Got Stormy, a 4-year-old daughter of Get Stormy, has career earnings of more than $1.2 million from 17 lifetime starts. Nearly $1 million of that has come in 2019, a seven-race campaign begun in March. In her last three starts, all at the Grade I level, Got Stormy won the Grade I Fourstardave at Saratoga in August, was second in the Grade I Woodbine Mile in October and the runner-up in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita on November 2.
All three were against males. The Fourstardave came one week after a victory against females in the De La Rose.
“She's been solid all year,” Tripp said of Got Stormy. “What she did at Saratoga, winning two stakes a week apart, kind of speaks for itself. She shows up every time.
“(Uncle Bull) has won his last two and we're looking forward to leading him over there on Saturday. We couldn't be more excited for either one of them.”
Brown, whose stable has turf talent in such depth that is the envy of all west of the Atlantic Ocean, has won the Hollywood Derby in two of the last three years and the two most recent runnings of the Matriarch. He has Digital Age and Standard Deviation for the Derby and Significant Form for the Matriarch.
Standard Deviation, a son of Curlin, has three wins from nine career starts, two of them coming since a switch to turf four starts ago in June. His most recent races have produced a win in the Jersey Derby at Monmouth in August and third in the Grade II Hill Prince in October.
Digital Age, an Irish-bred colt, won his first three career starts, capped by the Grade II American Turf at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, but has gone winless in four races since.
Significant Form, a 4-year-old daughter of Creative Cause, was fourth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf when Del Mar hosted the Breeders' Cup in 2017 and has competed at the stakes level in nine starts since. She comes in off wins in the Grade II Ballston Spa at Saratoga in August and the Noble Damsel at Belmont Park in September.
“They've all been training very well and we think they're ready to go,” Hernandez said.
Cox had success sending 4-year-old filly Juliet Foxtrot from Kentucky to Del Mar for the Grade II John C. Mabee on August 31. The English-bred filly finished second, beaten a nose at the wire by Vasilika. The Juddmonte Farms-bred-and-owned filly was second to 2018 Matriarch winner Uni in the Grade I First Lady at Keeneland in October and has been training at Churchill Downs for a return trip to the West Coast.
The field for Hollywood Derby from the rail: Mo Forza (Paco Lopez), Kingly (Mario Gutierrez), Uncle Bull (Joe Talamo), Digital Age (Javier Castellano), Neptune's Storm (Abel Cedillo), Nolde (Victor Espinoza), Proud Pedro (Tiago Pereira), Henley's Joy (Drayden Van Dyke), Standard Deviation (John Velazquez), Moody Jim (Flavien Prat), Mr Dumas (Joe Rocco, Jr.,), Originaire (Heriberto Figueroa) and Succeedandsurpass (Rafael Bejarano).
The Hollywood Derby goes as the eighth on a 10-race card. The Matriarch post positions were not drawn at time of writing.
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