Del Mar commences its summer season Wednesday with the traditional opening-day feature, the $100,000 Oceanside S., and 12 sophomores have signed up for the grassy mile affair.
Restricted to non-winners of a sweepstakes worth $50,000 to the winner at a mile or over in 2019, the Oceanside is the first of a trio of turf stakes in the division. The next, the 1 1/16-mile La Jolla (G3) on August 4, leads to the September 1 Del Mar Derby (G2) at 1 1/8 miles.
Legends of War, who was third in Jasikan’s allowance in his only try at a mile, sports useful form lines in sprints both as a juvenile in Europe and stateside for Doug O’Neill. But as a son of Scat Daddy, he’s worth another chance at the distance.
The 900,000-guineas (approximately $1.3 million) Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up topper was second in last summer’s Gimcrack (G2), fourth in the Flying Childers (G2) and Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte (G2), and sixth in both the Middle Park (G1) and Coventry (G2). He entered the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint but failed to draw in from the also-eligibles list.
Legends of War resurfaced with a closing third in the April 27 William Walker at Churchill Downs, and in his latest in the June 9 Desert Code, he was runner-up to Listing, who came back to land the Quick Call (G3) at Saratoga. If Legends of War can adopt similarly stalking tactics, instead of contesting for the lead as he did in the mile allowance, perhaps he can see out the trip.
Irish import Jasikan, third in the Singletary in his American debut, comes off a last-to-first allowance score at this trip. By up-and-coming sire Bated Breath, John Sadler trainee tops the field in BRIS Prime Power and picks up Flavien Prat.
Three shorten up from the nine-furlong Cinema. Gregorian Chant, fourth in the Cinema after a slow start, was suffering his first loss. Well-regarded when taking his debut over Roger That at Dundalk in December, the British-bred scored first out for Phil D’Amato at Santa Anita as well. Gregorian Chant can bounce back with a sharper break, and it could be significant that the blinkers come off.
Cinema third-placer King of Speed had captured a pair of stakes at two, notably the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. Cinema fifth More Ice, well exposed in stakes company, makes his first start for Dan Ward, hitherto Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer’s assistant. Rijeka, placed in three juvenile stakes including the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) at this track and trip, was a troubled seventh in the Singletary.
Well-bred stakes debuters worth noting are Nolde and City Rage. Jerry Moss’s homebred Nolde, a son of Pioneerof the Nile and Grade 3-placed Sister Moon, is two-for-two since John Shirreffs switched him to turf. The Mark Glatt-trained City Rage, a City Zip half to Endorsement from a deep Argentinian family, steps up from a front-running maiden victory.
Manhattan Up, runner-up to Haskell (G1)-bound Mucho Gusto in the May 18 Laz Barrera (G3), was fourth to the same rival in the June 16 Affirmed (G3). Although pulled up in his only prior turf attempt in last December’s Eddie Logan, the son of Street Boss is eligible to take to the lawn. Synthesis, another dirt stakes familiar, has been gelded since his fifth in the Laz Barrera.
Rounding out the dozen is Cal-bred maiden scorer Golden Birthday, second in a state-restricted allowance.
Post time for the Oceanside is 8:30 p.m. (EDT)/5:30 p.m. (PDT), and you can watch and wager at TwinSpires.com.