Jockey Stewart Elliott, who rode Smarty Jones to wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes a decade ago, will be coming to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, starting with opening day on Thursday.
The news was first reported by Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form.
Elliott is coming west to ride a lot for trainer Mark Casse, who has sent a string to the seaside oval for the first time in the final year of Del Mar’s use of Polytrack. Del Mar will replace its Polytrack main surface with dirt after its inaugural fall meet.
Casse promised Del Mar officials he would send 30 to 40 horses this meet.
Elliott rode a lot for Casse at this spring’s Keeneland meet and finished second in the jockey standings with 15 wins from 73 mounts good for $557,650 in purses. The veteran rider showed a propensity for getting to the winner’s circle on the Polytrack as he tied for most synthetic winners (14). Elliott was just 1-for-16 on the grass.
Casse’s main stable in the summer is at Toronto’s Woodbine Race Course, which also features Polytrack.
When asked this spring if Elliott might come to Del Mar to ride for the barn, Casse was noncommittal.
“I mean there’s plenty of good riders in California,” said Casse. “I don’t think I really have to bring anybody. You know, (Hall of Fame jockey) Mike Smith and we go back probably 25 or 30 years, and so there are a lot of good riders. We’ll just have to wait and see.
“So far we’ve been very lucky recently at Keeneland with Stewart Elliott, and, you know, we’ll just have to see how things are going. I like the way he rides, and him and I have a good relationship, but we may or may not bring somebody. That just remains to be seen. But like I said, I’m not concerned. There’s a lot of good riders in California.”
Casse supposedly has brought a barn full of stakes and allowance runners so he might opt for a rider like Smith, or others, who know the circuit better at times.
Elliott has one mount (Know Plans) on opening day for trainer Barry Abrams in Thursday’s seventh race and another mount for Abrams on Friday.
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Los Alamitos thoroughbred results
Saturday’s top choice winners: 3 (Sacred Ovation $3.40, first race; Stracciatella $7, third; Rowdy Dylan $2.80, fifth)
Saturday’s second choice winners: 0
Saturday’s third choice winners: 1 (Smogcutter $22.60, second)
Saturday’s long shot winners: 1 (Doinghardtimeagain $9.80, seventh)
Sunday’s top choice winners: 4 (Swiss Heart $3.40, second race; Story to Tell $5.20, third; Sharla Rae $9, seventh; La Grange $10.60, eighth)
Sunday’s second choice winners: 1 (Patriotic Lion $6.60, ninth)
Sunday’s third choice winners: 1 (Melanistic $5.80, fifth)
Sunday’s long shot winners: 2 (Wicked City Woman $8.20, first; I’ve Had Enough $7.80, fourth)