DEL MAR FUTURITY | PURSE: $300,000 | TWO-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 1 | 7 FURLONGS
Arnold Zetcher LLC's Rolling Fog tracked in second throughout Wednesday's Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on the track's closing day before gaining command in the lane and holding off the late-running, 6-5 favorite Know More by 1 1/4 lengths on the wire.
With the win, the gray son of Posse gave jockey Rafael Bejarano his 13th stakes victory of the meet, the most ever recorded by a jockey in a single meet in Del Mar's 75-year history. It broke a 12-win tie with five other riders who had accomplished the feat, including Joe Talamo this year.
"This horse had been training so great and today he ran to it. Great trip today; everything worked out perfect," Bejarano said. "The distance was a bit of a question in my mind with him, but now I see he can handle it. In fact, I think he'll go longer. A really good race for him. He's a nice horse. A very nice horse.
"Sweet. Oh, so sweet," he added of his milestone 13th stakes score.
The race was briefly delayed when Yankee Rebel showed his more rebellious tendencies in the gate. The Yankee Gentleman gelding was scratched after getting fractious and turned around in post 4, forcing the gate crew to back out the rest of the field while the numbers were changed on the top of the stalls.
Once everyone was resettled in the gates and the doors finally sprung, Caballo Del Cielo headed straight to the front to lead the way through splits of :22 4/5 and :45 4/5. He was dogged every step of the way by Rolling Fog to his outside, and that one took over in the lane through six furlongs in 1:10 2/5. The Bob Baffert trainee lived up to his name by rolling home to finishing seven furlongs on the Polytrack in 1:22 4/5.
Rolling Fog gave gave his Hall of Fame conditioner an 11th victory in the Del Mar Futurity, easily the most by any trainer, and bumped Baffert's total Del Mar stakes wins up to 102, the most by any trainer.
Despite capturing his maiden debut over the track on August 4 by 2 1/4 lengths, Rolling Fog was sent off the 7-1 third choice in the field. He returned $16.60, $7 and $4.80 for taking his stakes bow and now boasts $222,000 in career earnings.
"This horse was ready to run when we left Santa Anita," assistant trainer Jim Barnes said. "He was one of our top horses when we left Santa Anita but we got down here and worked him a couple of times and he was struggling with the track a bit. We entered him and he got in, then he ran a low-grade fever and we had to scratch.
"That was probably the best thing, because then we worked him a couple more times and won the first time out. He just kept improving on this track and he really likes dirt, I know that. Look for better things from him in the future."
Know More came with a game rally to take second by 1 1/2 lengths over Scherer Magic, who just had a nose to spare on fourth-placer Capo Bastone on the wire. Caballo Del Cielo filled the fifth spot while Gabriel Charles, Switch to the Lead, The Whole Deal, Ive Struck a Nerve, Pure Loyalty and Heir of Storm completed the order of finish.
"We were down inside and that wasn't the place where you wanted to be," explained Know More's jockey, Garrett Gomez. "He was back behind horses for the first time and he was having a bit of a hard time figuring it out. But I got him out and we made our run. Not the right day to be doing that. All the front runners are holding up this afternoon."
Bred in Florida by British Mist Racing and Breeding, Rolling Fog was a $13,000 RNA as an OBS October weanling before selling for $7,500 last January as an OBS yearling. He visited the OBS pavilion once more this past April, bringing $62,000 from Zetcher as a two-year-old in training.
Rolling Fog is out of the Unbridled's Song mare Fog Dance, who is a half-sister to Grade 2-placed stakes winner Quiet Dance. That one is better known as the dam of 2005 Horse of the Year and sire Saint Liam, Grade 2 victress Quiet Giant, Grade 3 hero Congressionalhonor and stakes vixen Dance Quietly. Quiet Dance also produced the unraced Beatem Buster, herself the dam of last year's Grade 1 Mother Goose winner Buster's Ready.
Rolling Fog's third dam is Flight Dancer, who in 1984 foaled Irish champion and multiple Group 1 queen Minstrella. That one would go on in the breeding shed to produce Grade 2 heroine Colonial Minstrel, Grade 3 diva Minidar and Grade 2-placed multiple stakes winner Unrestrained, all three of whom were black-type producing dams themselves.
Flight Dancer is also the dam of Grade 2 scorer Misty Gallore and the granddam of last year's Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Pants on Fire.