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Big Closing Weekend on Tap at Del Mar

Del Mar Closing Weekend
A pair of Grade 1 races highlight closing weekend at Del Mar. (Photo: © Adeliepenguin | Dreamstime.com).

The nominations for next weekend’s stakes at Del Mar have been released and the five races are laden with out-of-town shippers, all coming to the seaside oval to lay claim to a piece of the $1.1 million in purse money up for grabs.

Trainers Chad Brown, Graham Motion, and Christophe Clement have nominated horses for the G3 Jimmy Durante, the first of three graded stakes run on Saturday. Brown has a pair of horses eyeing the race for 2-year-old fillies. Liguria broke her maiden last out at the Belmont at Aqueduct meet. Private Credit broke her maiden at Monmouth Park in September, winning by four lengths.

Motion is thinking of running Pallotta Sisters, a maiden winner last out at Delaware Park and Clement may bring Smokie Eyes, a third-place finisher in the Chelsey Flower at the Belmont at Aqueduct meet last month.

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Hollywood Derby One of Two Grade 1’s

The Hollywood Derby is the first of two Grade 1 races scheduled for next weekend at Del Mar. Motion has three colts nominated for the 1 1/8 mile turf race. Evan Harlan broke his maiden at the Belmont at Aqueduct meet, Speaking Scout ran second to Cabo Spirit in the G2 Twilight Derby last out after winning the Hawthorne Derby two races back. And Script just missed with an impressive closing kick in the Let It Ride Stakes at the beginning of the Bing Crosby meet.

Trainer Shug McGaughey is considering running Celestial City in the Hollywood Derby. The son of Uncle Mo won the G2 Hill Prince at Belmont at Aqueduct last out. He also ran second to Annapolis in the G3 Saranac and third in the G2 Hall of Fame, both at Saratoga this summer.

Another possible invader for the Derby is trainer Todd Pletcher’s Wit, runner up to Ready to Purrform in G2 Hall of Fame before winning the $135,000 Better Talk Now Stakes at Saratoga. He then missed by a neck to Balnikhov in the Bryan Station at Keeneland last month.

Two more would-be shippers have been nominated for the G3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes, a mile turf race for 2-year-olds that will be run Sunday. Motion, who has kept a string of horses here at Del Mar this fall, may run Disdainful, an Irish-bred who ran second in an entry level allowance at Keeneland in his U.S. debut last month.

Also under consideration is Liar’s Poker from the Clement barn. He broke his maiden in his debut at Belmont at Aqueduct.

Brown Has Pair for Matriarch

The final race of the Fall Turf Festival, and final stakes of the Bing Crosby meet, the G1 Matriarch, has attracted the eye of Chad Brown who has nominated multiple grade one winner Regal Glory and Dolce Zel.

Clement is thinking of bringing Pizza Bianca back to the scene of her best race. She won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf here at Del Mar in 2021.

Motion may run Kathryn Crosby winner Bipartisanship in the Matriarch, while trainer Bill Mott has nominated Wakanaka, runner-up to Regal Glory in the G1 Just A Game this summer at Belmont Park. She followed that with a victory in the G2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine in July and won the $350,000 Fall Harvest Stakes at Keeneland on the  Breeders’ Cup undercard.

Entries for the three Saturday races will be drawn Wednesday and for the two Sunday races on Thursday.