May 25, 2024

Spielberg, Weston headline Bob Hope at Del Mar

Weston (second from right) overtakes Girther (right) to win the Best Pal at Del Mar (Benoit Photos) © BENOIT PHOTO

Bob Baffert has won 10 runnings of the $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes (G3) over the past quarter-century, including four of the six editions held at Del Mar since 2014. Two of those four, Mastery and Mucho Gusto, developed into top-level runners.

Spielberg is the only 2-year-old that will carry the banner for the Hall of Fame stable on Sunday when the 7-furlong race is renewed, though the Union Rags colt has been pegged as the formidable, early 6-5 favorite.

A maiden when second in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and third in the American Pharoah (G1), Spielberg earned a belated diploma less than two weeks ago when prevailing by a neck going one mile over Del Mar’s main track.

“He came out of the last one very well and the seven-eighths should be OK for him,” Baffert said. “And he runs well at Del Mar.”

Weston kicked off his career over the summer winning his first two starts, including the Best Pal (G2) by a neck. However, he was a lukewarm 5-1 choice in the Del Mar Futurity in his most recent outing and finished a well-beaten third.

Ambivalent is still a maiden after five starts but has reasonable claims for a share or more. Behind Weston in his first pair of outings, the son of Constitution was subsequently third in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. A distant trailer behind Jackie’s Warrior in the Champagne (G1) last time, this drop in class will help.

Taking hikes in class are Uncle Boogie, a maiden claiming graduate who finished second in a starter allowance last time; Red Flag, a last-out maiden winner sprinting on the turf at Santa Anita; and Coastal Kid, whose first two appearances occurred at Emerald Downs in Washington.