O'Brien offers Breeders' Cup berth

DEL MAR, Calif. -- Sunday's card at Del Mar is highlighted by the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic, but there are two other graded stakes on the program, and all three races are part of the "Win and You're in" series for the Breeders' Cup in October at Monmouth Park.

The Grade 2, $300,000 Pat O'Brien Handicap for sprinters going seven furlongs on Polytrack is expected to include Bilo and Surf Cat, who were first and second in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 7, and Bordonaro and Greg's Gold, who finished second and third behind In Summation in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap here on July 29.

Greg's Gold worked five furlongs in 1:02.80 on Monday at Del Mar. Bilo worked six furlongs in 1:18.40 on Sunday.

Midnight Lute, who has not raced since finishing fourth in the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland in April, was nominated to the Pat O'Brien and sizzled seven furlongs in 1:22 from the gate on Sunday morning at Del Mar, but trainer Bob Baffert on Monday said Midnight Lute would not run here and would instead be sent to Saratoga for that track's Grade 1 Forego Handicap on Sept. 1.

"He worked really good. If post time was 7 in the morning, I'd run him here," said Baffert, who has said Del Mar's track is tighter in the morning for training than in the afternoon for racing. "You don't get the same deal in the afternoon."

Midnight Lute was third in Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, and last year captured the Perryville Stakes on Polytrack at Keeneland.

In addition to Bilo (Joe Talamo the rider), Bordonaro (Richard Migliore), Greg's Gold (Victor Espinoza), and Surf Cat (Alex Solis), others under consideration for the Pat O'Brien are Absolute Glory (Alonso Quinonez), Publication (Michael Baze), and Soul City Slew (Martin Garcia).

Art Sherman, who trains Siren Lure, last year's O'Brien winner, on Monday said he hoped to run Siren Lure in this year's O'Brien, too. Siren Lure was entered in Monday's seventh race. Sherman approached the stewards and asked to be let out of Monday's race, which had a six-horse field. The stewards refused to let him scratch, according to steward Albert Christiansen. Later in the morning, Siren Lure was scratched by the track veterinarian.

Stewards Christiansen and Scott Chaney on Monday afternoon said a horse who is a vet scratch cannot run for 10 days unless the track vet rules otherwise.

"Now that he's on the vet's list, it's up to the vet whether he can come off quicker and be eligible to run," Christiansen said. "At this point, it's out of our hands."

Sunday's other stakes race is the Grade 2, $400,000 Del Mar Mile on turf. Crossing the Line, who won two races impressively at Hollywood Park after arriving from his native New Zealand, will make his graded stakes debut in the Del Mar Mile against Out of Control, the runner-up to After Market in the Eddie Read Handicap.

In addition to Crossing the Line (Gomez) and Out of Control (Baze), others expected for the Del Mar Mile include Becrux (David Flores), Captain Kurt (Espinoza), Lang Field (Jon Court), Porto Santo, and Zann.

Out of Control worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Polytrack on Sunday.

After Market may go in Del Mar Cap
After Market, scratched from the Arlington Million on Saturday because of soft turf conditions, may start in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf on Aug. 26, trainer John Shirreffs said.

After Market was scheduled to return to California on Tuesday. Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod, After Market, 4, was scratched from the Arlington Million on Saturday morning.

"He's proved he doesn't like the soft going," Shirreffs said.

Shirreffs said there was "a better than 50-50 chance" that After Market would start in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap.

After Market has won 7 of 11 starts and $703,685. He has won his last three races, all stakes, including the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on June 9 and the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar on July 22.

The Del Mar Handicap would be his first start at 1 3/8 miles on turf.