It’s called the Runhappy Del Mar Futurity, but a much more descriptive name would be the Bob Baffert Futurity. The two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer has already won the seven-furlong stakes 14 times and is well-stocked to notch win No. 15 Monday on closing day at Del Mar, where the Turf meets the Surf:
The Grade 1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity
Racetrack: Del Mar in Del Mar, California
Date: Sept. 2
Distance: 7 Furlongs
Post Time: 9 p.m. ET
Notable winners: Game Winner (2018), Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (2015), Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2014), Preakness Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky (2009), Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Silver Charm (1996), Best Pal (1990), Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol (1981).
First held: 1948
1. Storm the Court (5-1): Was sent off at 12.60-1 in his debut, but showed speed along the inside and beat Baffert’s highly regarded Garth by 1 ½ lengths. Has enough speed to be a threat but will need to break sharply from the rail in a field full of fleet runners.
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat TRAINER: Peter Eurton
2. Eight Rings (5-2): He’s Baffert’s best chance for Win No. 15, which says a lot. Romped by 6 ¼ in his debut and his recent works indicate it was no fluke. If he duplicates that first start, they will not beat him.
JOCKEY: Drayden Van Dyke TRAINER: Bob Baffert
3. Defense Wins (12-1): Unfortunately, he didn’t in his debut. Yet with four of the eight starters owning just one career start, there’s no real stigma attached to being a maiden. He showed some late speed at five furlongs and may welcome the added distance.
JOCKEY: Rafael Bejarano TRAINER: Doug O’Neill
4. Ginobili (6-1): It would be neat if he becomes a Kentucky Derby candidate, just so we can hear Charles Barkley shout his name out. He took a big step forward in his second start, winning in front-running fashion at 19.70-1 odds, but in this field, he’s anything but a slam dunk.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux TRAINER: Richard Baltas
5. Garth (5-1): Yes, he lost in his debut, but so did American Pharoah and Arrogate and look what Baffert turned them into. He adds blinkers after breaking from the rail in his loss at 1-5 odds, and with “Big Money” Mike Smith riding him, it would be a surprise if he’s not a major factor here.
JOCKEY: Mike Smith TRAINER: Bob Baffert
6. Fore Left (8-1): Has been busy lately, winning his debut at Santa Anita Park, shipping cross-country to win the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park and then returning to California to finish third in the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes. He adds blinkers here, but it’s questionable if he’ll handle the distance.
JOCKEY: Mario Gutierrez TRAINER: Doug O’Neill
7. Nucky (8-1): He won his last start by 10 ½ lengths, but that was in a maiden claimer. He’ll need to do even better than here to be a factor.
JOCKEY: Norberto Arroyo Jr. TRAINER: Peter Miller
8. Wrecking Crew (7-2): He’s been breaking slowly and that cost him last time when he settled for second in the Best Pal. The distance works in his favor but he’ll be up against it if he spots these rivals too much of a lead in the early stages. Also, losing the services of Mike Smith does not help his cause.
JOCKEY: Abel Cedillo TRAINER: Peter Miller
THE PICK: Eight Rings
LIVE LONGSHOT: Storm the Court