With two dozen 3-year-olds overflowing the entry box, the $250,000 Del Mar Derby was split into two divisions to be contested on the turf Sept. 1.
Ten will start in each division of the nine-furlong test at Del Mar, with two also-eligibles entered in each race as well. This is the first time since 1970, the first year it was run on grass, that the Del Mar Derby required a second division. All runners were assigned 122 pounds.
The first division, race 6 with a 4:30 p.m. PDT post, features Gervinho and Rising Legend, winners of the two divisions of Del Mar's opening-day Oceanside Stakes at one mile. The second division, the ninth race scheduled for 6 p.m. PDT, is topped by Dice Flavor and Den's Legacy, the first two finishers in the La Jolla Handicap Aug. 10, as well as American Derby victor Infinite Magic.
Keith Brackpool's Gervinho, a neck winner in the one-mile Oceanside July 17, starts for trainer Jerry Quinn, who has been handling Carla Gaines' stable since she was suspended for 30 days after a couple of medication violations from last year. Gaines is eligible to return Sept. 1.
Lightly raced Gervinho, a California-bred son of Unusual Heat, has won two of four starts on grass since breaking his maiden on the Polytrack surface at Del Mar in his debut a year ago. Leading Del Mar rider Rafael Bejarano has the call.
The other half of the Oceanside went to Hronis Racing's Rising Legend, who outlasted a flying Gabriel Charles by a head. That was the second United States appearance for the British-bred son of Rock of Gibraltar, and just his first since a runner-up finish in the Generous Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park last November. Julien Leparoux is back aboard.
Gabriel Charles, racing for Sam Britt and Michael House, also returns in this spot for trainer Jeff Mullins, with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith retaining the mount.
Among several others who could have a say in the outcome are Pure Loyalty, a close third in the La Jolla last time; front-runner Redwood Kitten, a Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred who nearly wired the 10-furlong Virginia Derby in his most recent try before finishing fifth at Colonial Downs July 13; and Swaps Stakes winner Chief Havoc, making his first U.S. start on turf for trainer Peter Miller.
In the later division, Dice Flavor looks to put an exclamation point on his half-length La Jolla triumph for trainer Paddy Gallagher and owners Oda Racing Stable and US Equine. The son of Scat Daddy seems to have found his potential racing on turf, the surface over which he broke his maiden last December at Hollywood. Garrett Gomez rides back after rallying Dice Flavor from eighth at mid-stretch in the 1 1/16-mile La Jolla.
Den's Legacy rebounded from a sixth in the Oceanside with a game effort in the La Jolla for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Westrock Stables' son of Medaglia d'Oro was leading late but could not hold off the onrushing Dice Flavor.
Infinite Magic ships cross-country for Team Valor International and trainer Rick Mettee off a 12-1 upset by a head in the 1 3/16-mile American Derby at Arlington Park. The More Than Ready colt has won two of four starts since transferring from Great Britain this spring. Joe Talamo has the call.
Arriving from Kentucky via Arlington Park is WinStar Farms' General Election, winner of the Arlington Classic May 25 for trainer Kellyn Gorder before finishing seventh in the American Derby. He was vanned off following that race but has returned to work three times over the Keeneland Polytrack since, including a bullet five-furlong breeze in 1:00 flat Aug. 24.
Another shipper that bears watching is Terry Hamilton's Dorsett, a three-length winner of the Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury Park Aug. 3 for trainer Michael Stidham. Bejarano will ride. the son of Artie Schiller, who will have to overcome the outside post.
Kid Dreams steps up for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale after a sharp allowance/optional claiming win at one mile Aug. 18.