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NorCal Stakes Winners Intriguing in Learn at Del Mar


It doesn’t matter what occurs with the Northern California circuit within the wake of Golden Gate Fields’ closure this December, for the quick time period, turf racing shall be scarce within the space. That makes the addition of Northern California turf stakes winners I’mgonnabesomebody  and Balnikhov  in the July 30 Eddie Read Stakes (G2T) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf at Del Mar especially interesting.

I’mgonnabesomebody has been racing exclusively in Northern California, while Balnikhov is a Southern California-based runner who shipped up and won the April 29 San Francisco Mile Stakes (G3T) at Golden Gate. Bill McLean trains I’mgonnabesomebody, and Balnikhov is part of trainer Phil D’Amato’s strong turf stable.

It’s been a year since I’mgonnabesomebody competed in Southern California. The 5-year-old gelded son of Will Take Charge  has started three times at Del Mar, with one win in two races at the starter allowance level and a fifth in the 2022 Wickerr Stakes at a mile on turf. He has won three stakes in Northern California–one on turf and two on synthetic. McLean has named Kyle Frey to ride I’mgonnabesomebody in the Read from the rail.

D’Amato trains four of the nine Eddie Read contenders: Balnikhov, Gold Phoenix , Masteroffoxhounds , and Count Again . D’Amato always brings his stable ready for Del Mar’s turf stakes, as he proved by winning the opening-day Oceanside Stakes with Conclude .

“With Del Mar, the money’s great and turf racing is at a premium here,” D’Amato said as the meet began. “We always try to do our best here. You can tell by the deep fields it’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to come out firing.”

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D’Amato’s four bring diverse resumes to the Read. The trainer has won the race three times, with Midnight Storm   in 2016, Hunt  in 2017, and Bowies Hero  in 2019. D’Amato led all trainers at the 2022 Del Mar fall meeting and tied for first with Bob Baffert at the 2022 summer meeting.

In addition to his Northern California win, Balnikhov captured the 2022 Bryan Station Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland and last year’s Oceanside at Del Mar. Antonio Fresu will ride from post 3.

Gold Phoenix (Hector Berrios, post 2) captured the March 4 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1T) at Santa Anita after running unplaced in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T) with a wide trip. At the 2022 Del Mar summer meeting, Gold Phoenix won the 1 3/8-mile Del Mar Handicap (G2T).

Masteroffoxhounds (Edwin Maldonado, post 4) hasn’t won in five starts since taking the Oct. 1 John Henry Turf Championship (G2T) at Santa Anita, though he placed in two stakes. Count Again (Umberto Rispoli, post 9) comes into the Read not having starting since winning the 2022 Shoemaker Mile (G1T) at Santa Anita 14 months ago.

Trainer Leonard Powell has gotten off to a good start at Del Mar, winning the July 22 San Clemente Stakes (G2T) with Anisette . He brings Dicey Mo Chara  to the Read, owned by Red Baron’s Barn LLC or Rancho Temescal LLC, the leading owners at the 2022 Del Mar fall meeting.

Winner of the Dec. 26 San Gabriel Stakes (G2T) at Santa Anita over the same distance as the Read, Dicey Mo Chara has started four subsequent times without a win. He finished second to Offlee Naughty  in the April 8 Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2T) after leading for most of the 1 1/4-mile distance. Juan Hernandez, last summer’s leading jockey, is slated to ride from post 5.

Entries: Eddie Read S. (G2T)

Del Mar, Sunday, July 30, 2023, Race 9

Grade IIT1 1/8mTurf $250,0003 yo’s & up6:00 PM (local)


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