DEL MAR, CA – Desert Steel trained so well coming into her debut in May that she was favored. She lost. She was favored in her second start. She lost again.
But those races were on dirt at Santa Anita. When she got to Del Mar, Desert Steel got on Polytrack. And she finally ran to her notices.
Desert Steel cruised to a 5 1/4-length victory against maidens on July 27, and will try to parlay that victory into a stakes win on Wednesday in the $150,000 Generous Portion for California-bred 2-year-old fillies.
Her trainer, Simon Callaghan, said he “suspects it’s the surface” that accounted for Desert Steel’s improvement.
“She’s bred for turf,” he said of the daughter of Desert Code and a Cozzene mare. “I could definitely see turf in her future. She gets over this track much better.”
Callaghan initially was reluctant to step out of statebred ranks and entertain running in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante this Saturday, owing to his respect for Luminance and Tara’s Tango. But even though those fillies have now dropped from the prospective Debutante lineup, Callaghan said the decision was made to stick with the original plan.
“It made us consider the other race more,” Callaghan said. “But we figured we’d stay with this plan.”
The Generous Portion, at six furlongs, is the eighth race on a nine-race card. Ten are entered, including My Fiona and Lost Bus, who ran one-two in the CTBA Stakes July 18.
Desert Steel (Last 3 Beyers: 73-43-40)
- She displayed keen early speed to flee the rail in her maiden win, and benefits this time by being drawn in post 4.
- The Beyer Speed Figure she earned last out equals the best among anyone in the field. The strength of that race was validated when runner-up Princess Bertrando – one of the Generous Portion entrants – came back to win.
DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 4 Desert Steel. Trainer Simon Callaghan is 1 for 9 with a $0.48 ROI over the past five years in sprints following a maiden victory. Click for more details. – Mike Hogan
My Fiona (Last 3 Beyers: 73-56-57)
- As with Desert Steel, she ran the best race of her career when moving to Polytrack when scoring a mild upset in the CTBA the first week of the meet.
- Her trainer, Walther Solis, believes she will do even better with more distance. After winning going 5 1/2 furlongs last time, she gets an extra 110 yards for this race.
**DRF FORMULATOR FACT:**No. 10 My Fiona. Trainer Walther Solis is winless in 27 starts over the past five years with 2-year-olds that won their previous start. Click for more details. – Mike Hogan
Lost Bus (Last 2 Beyers: 72-68)
- She was upset by My Fiona as the odds-on favorite in the CTBA but ran well in her own right, losing by a neck while finishing nearly nine lengths clear of the rest of the field.
- If you’re at the track Wednesday, head down to the paddock and take a look at her. She’ll tower over her rivals. That’s one reason trainer Blake Heap has spaced her races. He wants to give her plenty of time between starts and let her grow into her frame.
**DRF FORMULATOR FACT:**No. 2 Princess Bertrando. Trainer Jeff Bonde and jockey Edwin Maldonado are 6 for 14 with a $3.62 ROI over the past two years with 2-year-olds in synthetic sprints on the Southern California circuit. Click for more details. – Mike Hogan