There were 60 people packed into the circle of the winner as the sun was fading all trying to fit into what should be the most happy photo, at Del Mar.
On final day, Mick Ruis produced the best feel-good story of this meet.
The 56-year-old who assembled a fortune at scaffolding, dropped from El Capitan High and was raised in El Cajon, won his first Grade I stakes a coach when Bolt d’Oro made a fee to catch the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity. As an owner, Ruis won the Grade I Del Mar Debutante with Union Strike Shelbe, together with his daughter, as the coach. Sometime after, he took over the entire operation and fired his daughter.
Before the field of eight — five of which had won dearly in their 2-year-old debuts — went into the post, Ruis said Hall of Fame coach Bob Baffert joked that there wouldn’t be enough space in the winner’s circle for people who thought they were going to triumph.
Baffert had two prospects at the Futurity, and Simon Callaghan had the betting public’s favorite.
Nevertheless, it was Ruis who was happily tapping on the front pocket of his cream-colored shirt following Bolt d’Oro ($9.80) and jockey Corey Nakatani powered past Baffert’s Zatter at the final strides to win $180,000.
“I’d show you the tickets, but I don’t want the IRS for me,” Ruis joked.
Founded in East County’s Rios Canyon — known for his grandfather — Ruis finally came to own a scaffolding company left high school to work in the construction business and purchased a horse ranch in Descanso 20 years ago.
He trained and owned his horses, but found himself in debt after he sold his company the first time.
Another firm, American Scaffolding was assembled by Ruis, to the Navy to the most significant supplier in its boat building, and he decided to dive back into racing, if he sold 80 percent of it two or three years ago.
“This was supposed to be a small bit of a break, but once I got this horse I could not sleep,” Ruis stated. “I’ve a guard on him at night watching him. So much for my comfort.”
Ruis’s representative in a yearling sale in Saratoga, Ike Green, got into a bidding war for Bolt D’Oro, whose sire was Medaglia d’Oro and mare was Globe Trot from A.P. Indy. Ruis did not wish to pay more than $500,000, and Green decided to go up in increments, which peeved the bidder that is other, once the bidding rose past that.
“He threw his book down, walked off and we got the horse,” explained Ruis, who paid $630,000.
Ruis stated Bolt d’Oro has had a calm, professional manner. Before he won his maiden on Aug. 5, the coach said, “I thought he was nearly too tranquil. He then bit me in the back before the race and I guessed he was ready to go.”
Ruis considers the horse is something special and is excited for the prospect of him continuing to advance toward the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in Del Mar in November.
“That’s what I am training him up to,” Ruis stated. “I was not training up with this race.”
An emotional win in the Juvenile Filly Turf could have been the best story.
The winner was Terra’s Angel ($40.00), whose proprietor, Terry Eoff, known for his daughter, a mom of three who died of cancer following the filly broke her maiden.
The success was the first win of any kind in Del Mar for jockey Sasha Risenhoover.
“This really is the most special race I’ve ever been involved in my own life,” a tearful Risenhoover explained. “Knowing the story behind her, it merely set a fire in me. I wanted to triumph on her so much.”
From the day’s first stakes race, Miss Sunset made it obvious that she adores by winning the 75,000 CERF Stakes, the Del Mar surface, new and old.
The Jeff Bonde-trained 3-year-old won for the fourth time in as many starts here. Miss Sunset ($8.40) seized the Fleet Treat in Del Mar on July 30, and she won two last summer. She has two wins in six starts that are other elsewhere.
The jockey name of last year came down to the ninth race on final day. It was close this time.
The 25-year-old won two races on Monday and ended with 35 victories, six more than apprentice Evin Roman (29) and Rafael Bejarano, whose streak of winning or sharing five Del Mar summer riding names was halted.
Prat and Bejarano divide the honors last year.
The trainers race went with Phil D’Amato scoring at the final race of the year. Baltas had taken the lead earlier with a success in the seventh race.
Far fewer deaths
“Night and day” is how Del Mar CEO and President Joe Harper explained his feelings when the meet was over.
Last summer, Harper had to consume 17 horses’ deaths throughout the meet, including one on final day. With an Attempt to soften the surface and monitor horses’ health more carefully, there were a total of six deaths on the grounds
Three came in gardening racing in dirt racing, one, one in dirt coaching and one was a heart attack.
Dennis Moore prepared for the first time the track. And though trainers expressed the opinion that the racing surface was different than they’d experienced elsewhere it was safer.
“I thank the horsemen for understanding that this problem is something which isn’t likely to go away, unless we’ve got that collaboration, and that has been part of our success this past year,” Harper explained.
Del Mar reported that daily handle was up 5.1 percent from a year ago, in a mean of $12.5 million, using a projected meet total of $451.5 million; presence was down 1.5 percent, in a mean of $ 13,240; and the field size was 8.6, up from 8.3 at 2016.
The media and monitor officials, voted the wire-to-wire winner at the TVG Pacific Classic of Baffert, collected horse of this meeting. He was named top older horse.
Another winners: Stellar Wind (older filly or mare), Ransom the Moon (sprinter), Hunt (bud horse), Dream Dancing (3-year-old filly), Sharp Samurai (3-year-old), Moonshine Memories (2-year old filly), Bolt d’Oro (2-year-old).
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