Del Mar opening week highlights

July 23rd, 2021

The racing is fiercely competitive at Del Mar, where 23 different trainers won at least one of the 32 races over the opening weekend. Here’s a look back at the first two graded stakes of the meet.

Express Train rolls in San Diego H. (G2)

In a stalking trip, Express Train took over the San Diego H. (G2) in the stretch and won by a half-length under jockey Juan Hernandez. Tripoli, who made his graded stakes debut, rallied for second, three-quarters of a length in front of favored Royal Ship in third.

Trained by John Shirreffs, Express Train has finished in the top three in eight of his last nine races, which includes three Grade 1 and four Grade 2 races.

The top three are pointing for a rematch in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 21.

Tizamagician works magic in the Cougar II S. (G3)

Tizamagician wrote a fairytale ending in the Cougar II S. (G3), winning by 2 1/4 lengths.

The 1-5 favorite has shown an affinity for the 1 1/2 mile distance. In his four races at the trip, the four-year-old colt has won twice, and finished second in the other two.

"He likes to run all day. I think Flavien (Prat) even had trouble pulling him up after all that," trainer Richard Mandella said.

Mandella said he is keeping the Breeders’ Cup in mind for the dark bay.


Stakes action is on the turf this weekend, with a pair of Grade 2 events -- the Eddie Read S. and the San Clemente S. -- on Saturday.

Eddie Read S. (G2)

Seven horses will go 1 1/8 grassy miles in the Eddie Read. Listed as the 9-5 morning line favorite is Smooth Like Strait, who has won five graded stakes. In his last start, he wired the field in Santa Anita’s Shoemaker Mile (G1) by a 1 1/2-length margin. The four-year-old holds a 7-3-2 record from 15 career starts, and Umberto Rispoli has the mount for trainer Mike McCarthy.

Opponents include United, who has won five graded stakes. He will try to improve upon a fourth in the Charles Whittingham S. (G2),. Whittingham victor Award Winner is also back for the Eddie Read.

Another runner of note is Woodbine Grade 1 winner Say the Word, who exits a second to Smooth Like Strait in the Shoemaker Mile.

San Clemente S. (G2)

Going Global headlines the San Clemente S. (G2), a mile turf affair for three-year-old fillies. The Philip D’Amato-trainee has won five consecutive races, including a trio of Grade 3s, and the last four victories have come since being shipped to the U.S. Flavien Prat has the mount.

Madone finished a distant sixth to Going Global in the Honeymoon S. (G3), but captured the Senorita S. (G3) at Santa Anita two back. Senorita runner-up Closing Remarks is also entered.