February 20, 2024

Lieutenant Dan returns in BC WAYI Green Flash; Desert Dawn in Torrey Pines clash

Lieutenant Dan was best in the 2021 Green Flash H. at Del Mar (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Unraced since chasing home Golden Pal in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), Lieutenant Dan resurfaces as the defending champion in Sunday’s $150,000 Green Flash H. (G3) at Del Mar. Now a newly-minted Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In,” the five-furlong dash is one of the card’s highlights along with the $125,000 Torrey Pines (G3).

Green Flash H. (G3) – Race 9 (8 p.m. ET)

Lieutenant Dan has a history of running well off the bench, including his 2021 comeback at this venue. That course-and-distance allowance win set him up for another sharp score in the Green Flash, followed by his signature victory in the Eddie D. (G2) at Santa Anita. His only loss last term came at the hands of Golden Pal. A Cal-bred from the Steve Miyadi barn, Lieutenant Dan totes the top weight of 125 pounds from post 9 with Juan Hernandez.

Phil D’Amato’s Irish import Coulthard captured a July 30 allowance in last-to-first fashion, beating a few re-opposing rivals. Lane Way, a close second in his reappearance, is eligible to improve for Richard Mandella. Third in that same race was fellow D’Amato trainee Yes He Can on the class hike, with Chasin Munny a troubled fifth off a long layoff for Mark Glatt.

Chilean Group 3 scorer Dubai Key is 3-for-3 stateside following an Aug. 5 allowance coup here, his first start back from a seven-month absence. The Amador Sanchez pupil projects speed on the rail with a returning Hector Berrios. The respective second and third to Dubai Key, beaten favorite Whatmakessammyrun and Nero, are back again. Note that Glatt adds blinkers to Whatmakessammyrun, who keeps Umberto Rispoli. Sanchez has another chance with Super Ocho. Twice a Group 2 winner going a little farther in Chile, he showed high speed to crush a Mountaineer allowance on the dirt June 22.

Maven has back class as a Group 3 winner for Wesley Ward, who dropped him in for a tag last time. Ryan Hanson haltered him out of that front-running victory at this track and trip July 28, and the son of American Pharoah makes his first start off the claim here. Barristan the Bold, a course record-setter sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on the Santa Anita turf in a starter allowance, proved his stakes class with a third in the July 16 Grand Prairie Turf Sprint at Lone Star.

Torrey Pines (G3) – Race 5 (6 p.m. ET)

Most recently runner-up versus elders in the Aug. 6 Clement L. Hirsch (G1), Desert Dawn reverts to sophomore company in the Torrey Pines. The D’Amato filly will face a trio from the Bob Baffert barn, notably Under the Stars and Grace Adler.

Desert Dawn was an impressive maiden winner over this same mile last summer. Subsequently looking exposed at the graded level, she took a leap forward to surprise Adare Manor in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2). The Arizona-bred daughter of Cupid validated that effort when third to Secret Oath and Nest in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). After a bad-start third in the Summertime Oaks (G2), Desert Dawn resumed her progress with a fine second in the Hirsch, splitting Blue Stripe and Shedaresthedevil. Regular rider Rispoli will guide her from the rail.

Under the Stars, a three-quarter sister to Bodemeister, has lived up to her pedigree with a pair of Grade 2 wins in the Santa Ynez (G2) and Summertime Oaks. Hernandez retains the mount. Last year’s Del Mar Debutante (G1) romper Grace Adler lost her way thereafter. Her comeback second to Slammed, however, in a six-furlong allowance suggests that she’s poised to rebound with new pilot Mike Smith. The least accomplished of the Baffert brigade, Midnight Memories, makes her stakes and two-turn debut in this spot. Third in the Slammed and Grace Adler allowance, she takes the blinkers off and gets Ramon Vazquez.

Kirstenbosch was a distant, dead-heat fourth in the Summertime Oaks two back, but employs the lucrative turf-to-dirt angle for John Sadler, a 31% trainer in that category. Michael McCarthy gives Cinnamon Cat a stakes chance in her third career start. Rounding out the field is Malibu Marie, who had won four straight before being claimed off Brad Cox. Her skein ended when trying turf for Paula Capestro.