June 24, 2024

Oceanside draws 14 on Del Mar opener

Mackinnon burst clear in the Zuma Beach (© BENOIT PHOTO)

The traditional opening-day feature of the Del Mar summer meet, Friday’s $100,000 Oceanside S., came up as an enticing event for handicappers. A full field of 14 three-year-olds is set for the restricted one-mile turf affair, the first of 39 stakes events during the 31-day stand.

Multiple stakes victor and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) third-placer Mackinnon, unraced since a neck second in the El Camino Real Derby in mid-February, will return to action for Doug O’Neill. Juan Hernandez will guide the chestnut American Pharoah colt.

Balnikhov, second in the American Turf (G2) on the Kentucky Derby undercard, will remove blinkers following a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the June 4 Cinema S. at Santa Anita. Umberto Rispoli takes over the reins for Phil D’Amato.

Castle Leoch merits serious respect for Wesley Ward. A commendable allowance scorer at Belmont Park on June 18, the bay son of American Pharoah will make his stakes debut with Mike Smith. Sydney Street will make his first U.S. start for new trainer John Sadler following back-to-back handicap wins in England. Florent Geroux, who has moved his tack to Del Mar this summer, will pick up the mount.

Other runners of interest include Barsabas, Boise, Heaven Street, and St Anthony.