A relatively large field of 11 two-year-olds passed the entry box for Sunday’s $200,000 Best Pal S. (G3) at Del Mar, a tune-up for next month’s Del Mar Futurity (G1). Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Best Pal a record eight times, but the powerhouse stable has only win in the race since 2010.
The early favorite is Havnameltdown, a Baffert trainee who won on debut by 2 1/4 lengths at Del Mar July 24. Havnameltdown zipped five furlongs in :57 2/5 while defeating next-out graduate Mister Iceman.
Arman leads a trio of contenders that were based in Kentucky during the spring. The Simon Callaghan-trained Arman won at first asking by 2 1/2 lengths going five furlongs at Churchill Downs June 23, and is one of three sons of Bolt d’Oro in the field.
King Adrock, a five-length debut winner at Keeneland, fared poorly after a slow start in the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill during Derby week, while Mardukas is a longshot after pulling off a 44-1 shocker in his second start at Churchill in late June.
Others stepping up off maiden wins include Agency (Santa Anita), Man Child, Jin Tong, and Quagmire Magic (Los Alamitos). Turf Paradise grad Pop d’Oro rallied for fourth in the Fasig-Tipton Futurity at Santa Anita in his first try on the circuit, while Kangaroo Court is one of the two maidens in the race following a second-place finish against California-breds first out.
First-time starter Fleet Feet, who sold for $325,000 at the OBS April juvenile sale, is a son of 2015 Best Pal winner and juvenile champion Nyquist.