May 18, 2024

Cave Rock leads Baffert trio in nine-horse Del Mar Futurity

Havnameltdown and jockey Juan Hernandez win the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar (Photo © Benoit Photo)

Bob Baffert will seek his 16th victory in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity (G1) when he sends three juveniles postward in the seven-furlong test Sunday.

Cave Rock, who registered a whopping 104 Brisnet Speed rating when leading wire-to-wire in an Aug. 13 maiden special weight, is the one to beat for the Hall of Fame trainer. By Arrogate, the dark bay colt drew off to a six-length decision over 6 1/2 furlongs last time, and Juan Hernandez retains the mount.

Havnameltdown, a 2 1/2-length scorer in the Aug. 14 Best Pal (G2) for Baffert, is the possible second choice. A Florida-bred son of Uncaptured, the bay colt has rolled wire-to-wire in both starts, and Mike Smith replaces Hernandez aboard the speedster.

Newgate completes the Baffert trio. After a tardy start in his July 30 debut, the $850,000 Into Mischief colt rallied to win going away by 3 1/2 lengths at odds-on, and John Velazquez will be back up.

Best Pal runner-up Agency and fourth-placer Pop d’Oro are also part of the mix. Classical Cat, a sharp first-out winner for Phil d’Amato, will look to make an impact from just off the pace, and Umberto Rispoli rides the son of freshman sire Mendelssohn. The Big Wam will receive a class check following a one-length tally over state-breds in the Aug. 12 Graduation S. at Del Mar.

One race earlier on the program, 16 two-year-olds, including a pair of also-eligibles, have been entered for the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf (G3). Runners with local experience include stakes runner-up Tahoma and maiden winners Ah Jeez and Wound Up, and Dandy Man Shines and Mas Rapido are a pair of intriguing European invaders making their U.S. debut for Jeff Mullins and Bob Hess Jr., respectively.