DEL MAR — There have been some mighty superb 2-year-olds that gained the Del Mar Futurity, together with three — Silver Attraction, American Pharoah and Nyquist — that went on to seize the Kentucky Derby prior to now quarter century.
It’s method early, people, however you would possibly need to observe Cave Rock subsequent yr if he can keep wholesome and journey the Triple Crown path. He regarded each bit a Derby horse Sunday on closing day at Del Mar when he gained the $300,000 Grade I Futurity in a stakes record-setting time of 1:20.99 for the 7 furlongs.
“That was fairly spectacular,” stated coach Bob Baffert, who watched the race on TVG and was reached by phone whereas attending a horse sale at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
Baffert has gained the Futurity a report 16 occasions and located the winner’s circle seven consecutive years from the late 90’s into the early 2000’s.
He owns the Del Mar Futurity, very like Cave Rock owned Sunday’s race that included two different Baffert juveniles — Havnameltdown and Newgate. The son of Arrogate, who additionally sired the winner of Saturday’s Del Mar Debutante (And Inform Me Nolies), went gate to wire whereas carving out insane fractions of 21.56, 43.65 and 1:08.55 en path to a 5 1/4-length victory over stablemate Havnameltdown.
“All of them ran effectively,” stated Baffert, who described the lightning-fast splits as “loopy.” “I might have preferred to run 1-2-3, however that horse (Cave Rock) has simply been actually spectacular in his two outs down right here.”
Cave Rock, ridden by the meet’s main jockey, Juan Hernandez, gained his debut in gate-to-wire trend by six lengths at Del Mar on Aug. 13. He was despatched postward because the 2-5 favourite Sunday by advantage of that victory, and he didn’t disappoint his backers.
Whereas Baffert believes runner-up Havnameltdown can be higher at one-turn races, he thinks fourth-place finisher Newgate will thrive when the distances enhance and that he sees no cause why Cave Rock can’t rock the world when he stretches out.
“After I noticed that first fraction (21.56), often 2-year-olds don’t preserve going,” he stated. “These have been actually good 2-year-olds in that race. They have been working. My horses, all of them had kinda the identical model, and (Cave Rock) simply went quicker. Cave Rock, he’s by one of many bests horses I ever skilled. He’s only a freaky horse.”
Mike Smith, who rode Havnameltdown, agrees.
“He’s a beast,” stated Smith, who ended the 31-day meet Sunday with a using triple. “I gave myself an opportunity to be with him, however he simply took off.”
Cave Rock’s victory gave Hernandez, who dominated the jockey race this summer time, his meet-leading twelfth stakes victory and his first within the Futurity. He has 27 stakes wins at Del Mar.
“He broke a step gradual, however then he acquired proper in gear and made the working,” Hernandez stated. “I attempted to gradual him down some, however he wasn’t having it. So I simply let him go on and do his factor. After we hit the quarter pole, I requested him and he modified leads and took off. He simply wished to go.”
Is Hernandez as impressed by Cave Rock as Smith?
“He’s one thing,” he stated.
Cave Rock’s remaining time broke Declan Moon’s report of 1:21.29 set in 2004.
However whereas Baffert, who shared the coach’s title with Philip D’Amato with 19 victories apiece, continues so as to add to his assortment of Futurity wins, he’s nonetheless haunted by the losses. These 16 victories within the Futurity? He says they’re good, however he was nonetheless desirous about Saturday’s Debutante and House Cooking’s shut loss to And Inform Me Nolies.
“I’m nonetheless upset I acquired beat within the Debutante,” he stated. “I take into consideration the losses. I don’t take into consideration the wins.”
Spoken like a real Corridor of Famer.