February 27, 2024

Exaulted brings perfect turf mark to Del Mar Mile; Gold Phoenix, Faiza, Bran top Pacific Classic undercard stakes

Exaulted stayed perfect on turf in the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Shoemaker Mile (Photo by Benoit Photos)

Unbeaten since switching to turf, Exaulted will seek his fifth consecutive win when he lines up for Saturday’s $300,000 Del Mar Mile (G2). The Peter Eurton-trained horse heads a field of 10, and the Del Mar Mile is one of four graded stakes on Saturday’s Pacific Classic (G1) undercard.

Exaulted won only once from 15 dirt starts before trying turf in early January. The six-year-old son of Twirling Candy easily captured a pair of allowances before recording his initial stakes win, the American (G3) at Santa Anita in early April, and Exaulted exits a half-length score in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) in late May. Juan Hernandez rides.

Multiple Grade 3 winner Balnikhov merits respect following a fast-closing second in the Eddie Read (G2) on July 30. He’s one of two runners for Phil D’Amato, who will also send out last year’s Shoemaker Mile winner Count Again. A two-time Grade 1 victor, Count Again returned from a 14-month layoff with a rallying fourth in the Eddie Read, and the eight-year-old gelding will be running late with Umberto Rispoli.

Du Jour returns to graded competition following a confidence-building win in the Wickerr S. earlier this meet. Other runners of interest include I’m a Gambler, Sumter,Twist, and Visitant.

Del Mar H. (G2)

One race after the Pacific Classic, 11 horses will compete in the $300,000 Del Mar H. (G2) for an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Eddie Read winner Gold Phoenix will make a title defense in the “Win & You’re In” event, and the five-year-old gelding is one of three runners for D’Amato in the 1 3/8-mile turf affair.

Gold Phoenix opened 2023 with a victory in the Frank Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, and the versatile five-year-old gelding captured the Eddie Read at nine furlongs. Hernandez picks up the assignment. D’Amato is also responsible for Cash Equity and Cathkin Peak.

San Juan Capistrano (G3) winner Planetario is a contender for Richard Mandella following a fifth in the United Nations (G1). Charles Whittingham (G2) and San Luis Rey (G3) winner Offlee Naughty, second as the favorite in the San Juan Capistrano, is part of the mix for Michael McCarthy, and Nineeleventurbo will jump to stakes competition for Richard Mandella with a four-race win streak.

Green Flash (G3)

Unraced since a win in the Turf Sprint (G2) at Kentucky Downs last September, three-time stakes winner Bran will return to action for John Sadler in the $150,000 Green Flash H. (G3). Hernandez guides the early/presser, and the five-furlong turf race offers a guaranteed berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.

Fifteen were entered, including three also-eligibles, and Fast Buck will receive support off a win in the Daytona (G3) in late May. Two-time juvenile Grade 3 winner Packs a Wahlop, unraced since a fourth in the Sham (G3) in early January, will try turf sprinting for Jeff Mullins, and the gray colt attracts Flavien Prat.

Motorious, one of three in the main body of the field for D’Amato, has been freshened off a runner-up in the Turf Sprint (G2) on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard. The five-year-old gelding easily captured the San Simeon (G3) in early March as the favorite two starts back, and Rispoli will take over the reins. Lane Way finished second in the Green Flash and Eddie D. (G2) last year, and the six-year-old gelding will make his first appearance since taking the Clocker’s Corner S. in late January.

Turn On The Jets and Beer Can Man, separated by a head in a fast five-furlong allowance earlier in the meet, also rate as intriguing in the competitive renewal.

Torrey Pines

After sustaining her first setback, a well-beaten third in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico in mid-May, Faiza will try to get back in the win column in the $150,000 Torrey Pines (G3). The Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Girvin will be favored over nine three-year-old fillies in the mile event.

Faiza reeled off consecutive wins in the Starlet (G1), Las Virgenes (G3), Santa Ysabel (G3), and Santa Anita Oaks (G2) prior to her last appearance. Prat will be up on the up-close stalker.

Her rivals include Anywho, Ceiling Crusher, Coffee in Bed, Flying Connection, Justique, and Ocean Club.