DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) California Chrome beat Dortmund by a half-length Saturday at Del Mar in the Grade 2 $200,000 San Diego Handicap, the 1 1/16-mile prep for the Grade I $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 20.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza for trainer Art Sherman, the 2014 Horse of the Year was making his first start since winning the world’s most lucrative race, the $10 million World Cup in Dubai on March 26.
“I saved something for the end. I knew I’d have to,” Espinoza said. “I have a lot of respect for Dortmund and he made me run hard. I could see he (Dortmund) was running so hard. When we came down the stretch, I was concerned. This horse was carrying a lot of weight; that was the challenge. But he was a runner all the way today. What a terrific comeback race for him. He’s back. He’s such a special horse.”
California Chrome finished in 1:40.84 and paid $3.60, $2.20 and $2.10. The 5-year-old has 13 victories in 22 starts with earnings of $12,652,650.
Dortmund returned $2.40 and $2.10, and Win the Space paid $2.10 to show.
Mokat won the $201,725 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Mokat won by almost four lengths in 1:35.23 for the mile on the turf course.
Mokat paid $16.40, $7.20 and $4.80 for her second victory in nine starts. Lady Valeur returned $9.60 and $5.60, and Stays In Vegas paid $3.80.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.
Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.
Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.
“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.
The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.
Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.
DEL MAR, Calif. — Cave Rock won the $302,000 Del Mar Futurity by 5 1/4 lengths, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record 16th victory in the Grade 1 race in which he finished 1-2.
Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Cave Rock ran seven furlongs in a stakes-record time of 1:20.99 on closing day at the seaside track north of San Diego. He lowered the old mark of 1:21.29 set by Declan’s Moon in 2004.
Baffert tied Phil D’Amato for the trainers’ title with 19 wins each at the 31-day summer meet. It was Baffert’s eighth title at Del Mar, but his first since 2003.
Hernandez won the jockeys’ title.
Havnameltdown, also trained by Baffert, finished second in the race for 2-year-olds. Skinner was another 4 1/4 lengths back in third.
Longtime Baffert clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman own the first and second-place finishers.
Cave Rock paid $2.80 to win as the 2/5 favorite. He earned $180,000 for the win.