After being separated by a neck in the August 4 La Jolla (G3), Kingly and Neptune’s Storm will renew their rivalry in Saturday’s $250,000 Del Mar Derby (G2). The pair highlight a field of 10 three-year-olds in the 1 1/8-mile turf affair.
Kingly captured the California Derby on synthetic earlier this season but was making his turf debut in the La Jolla. Bettors overlooked the Bob Baffert-trained colt at 8-1 and the well-bred son of Tapit showed speed from the start of the La Jolla, opening a clear lead on the backstretch before withstanding the late surge of the 9-5 favorite. Mario Gutierrez retains the mount and Kingly will show speed from the far outside post.
Neptune’s Storm reeled off consecutive wins in the Singletary and Cinema at Santa Anita before coming up a little short last time. By Stormy Atlantic, the gelding likes to race up close to the pace and Florent Geroux picks up the mount for Richard Baltas.
Other contenders include Nolde, most recently a nose second in the opening-day Oceanside; Originaire, who exits a nice allowance triumph over the course for Jeff Mullins; stakes winner Visitant; Nolo Contesto, who was on the Kentucky Derby trail earlier this year and finished a head second when trying turf last time; and last-out maiden scorers Hacklebery and Moody Jim.
Earlier on the program, seven two-year-olds will square off in the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf. Encoder will receive support following a convincing debut score for John Sadler and Flavien Prat. Billy Batts also merits respect after posting a sharp tally at the same one-mile distance three weeks ago. Drayden Van Dyke has the call for Peter Miller.