News and STORIES

Roderick Set to Run in Best Pal at Del Mar

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Wednesday August 05, 2020

Trainer Wesley Ward has around 2,000 races under his belt, including starts in North America and many abroad like the Royal Ascot. He will be looking to add one more to the record when he sends Roderick to the Aug. 8 Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar

Ward and owners Mike Hall and Sam Ross of Breeze Easy decided on the Best Pal after looking at the Aug. 7 Saratoga Special Stakes Presented by Miller Lite (G2). 

Best Pal Over Saratoga Special

The 2-year-old Into Mischief will scratch out of the Saratoga Special after being entered in both events.

"It looks a lot easier on paper out at Del Mar than it would here at Saratoga," Ward said. "So we just thought the ultimate goal (is) his next start, either the Del Mar Futurity (G1) or the Hopeful (G1), and probably having the Hopeful a little higher up thinking stallionwise and worth of the horse. So we were looking for the best way to get to that race, saying you'd have to win to be one of the choices into a race like that. So this looks like the best decision."

The field in the Best Pal does not have any stakes winners, unlike the Saratoga Special, which has Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) winner Cazadero, and it is also smaller. 

In the Best Pal, there are only six runners up against Roderick, and most are coming off maiden races.

Lead Up to Best Pal

Roderick is coming off a decisive maiden win, taking it by 8 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park June 21. He blitzed five furlongs in 57.86, the fastest of four events at five-eighths on dirt for 2-year-olds at the meet. 

"He's a real straightforward horse, no issues, did everything right," Ward said. "We flew him in from Keeneland for his first race. He did everything you want to see in an opening debut and came out of the race great and has trained forwardly since."

The colt will be joined by Del Mar leading rider Flavien Prat as a jockey, who galloped at Del Mar Aug. 4 following his trip to California.

Breeze Easy purchased the colt for $550,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from the consignment of Kingwood Farm. He was bred in Kentucky in partnership with David Egan, and he is a full brother to One Liner, winner of the 2017 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park. 

Peter Miller's Entrants

Trainer Peter Miller will start two horses in the event in the forms of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Herd Immunity and Altamira Racing Stable's Girther. Both entrants broke their maidens in Southern California. 

Herd Immunity won his debut at Santa Anita Park June 6, and Girther won his second race at Del Mar July 11.

Following his debut victory, Herd Immunity took third in the Bashford Manor after being shipped cross country to Churchill Downs. In that race, he was beaten by 6 1/2 lengths by Cazadero.

"Cazadero is arguably the best in the country. No disgrace to run third to him," Miller said.

The runner's blinkers will be taken off for the Best Pal after he wore them in his first two starts.

"We're just tinkering around, trying to get him to relax a little more and finish a little better," he said.

The Union Rags colt was purchased for $25,000 by Raymie Lightner, agent for Miller, from the Omega Farm consignment at the Ocala Breeders' Sales March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. 

Abel Cedillo will be aboard Herd Immunity while Ricky Gonzalez will join Girther, a son of Brody's Cause. 

Other entrants in the Best Pal include Sonic Brees, Schnell, Minit to Stardom, Weston, and Ambivalent.