John Harris is going to have a busy week. Graded winner Closing Remarks is slated to take on six others in the Aug. 12 Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2T) at Del Mar. Three days later Harris Farms will sell a consignment at the Northern California yearling sale. And Aug. 18 in Rancho Santa Fe, near Del Mar, John Harris will be honored by the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation at its annual dinner “for his extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to the prominence of the Thoroughbred horse racing industry.”
The proceeds from the dinner benefit the California backstretch community, and plenty of Harris Farms runners have populated those backstretches, often in the barn of trainer Carla Gaines. Though Harris homebred Closing Remarks has had her share of bad luck in races, she brings a classy resume to the 1 1/16-mile Yellow Ribbon and is the only 5-year-old against a field of 4-year-olds.
Gaines noted that in the March 4 Buena Vista Stakes (G2T) at Santa Anita, Closing Remarks was boxed in and blocked on the first turn, and then the mare and jockey Joe Bravo got crowded again into the second turn.
“Bravo’s foot actually skimmed the rail,” Gaines said.
Closing Remarks still managed to finish third, and she then came back to win the April 1 Royal Heroine Stakes (G2T), beating School Dance , who is also returning in the Yellow Ribbon. Unplaced in two subsequent efforts, Closing Remarks gets a new jockey in Umberto Rispoli and drew the rail.
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School Dance is one of trainer Phil D’Amato’s three Yellow Ribbon entries. The last time D’Amato ran multiple horses in a Del Mar graded race, he finished first through fourth in the Eddie Read Stakes (G2T).
School Dance made her graded stakes debut in the Dec. 26 American Oaks (G1), finishing second after three consecutive victories to D’Amato-trained Rhea Moon . Ramon Vazquez will ride School Dance from post 4 in the Yellow Ribbon.
Bravo this time will ride another of the Amato trio, Lucky Girl , from post 5. Winner of the 2022 China Doll Stakes and Lady of Shamrock Stakes, Lucky Girl has only started once for D’Amato, when sixth in the July 22 Osunitas Stakes at a mile on the turf at Del Mar.
D’Amato’s third entrant, Turnerloose , will be making her first start for the conditioner. Previously trained by Brad Cox and based in Kentucky, Turnerloose hasn’t run since finishing third in the Oct. 28 Valley View Stakes (G3T) on turf at Keeneland. She has won two stakes, the 2021 Aristocrat Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Kentucky Downs on turf and the 2022 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds on dirt.
Awake At Midnyte , trained by Doug O’Neill and to be ridden by Mario Guitierrez from post 7, finished second in the Osunitas. She has placed in six other stakes, all graded, including a second in the 2022 La Brea Stakes (G1) and a third to Turnerloose in the Rachel Alexandra.
Bob Baffert has entered Ganadora (Juan Hernandez, post 6), who won the 2022 Dark Mirage Stakes and finished second in the Jan. 15 La Canada Stakes (G3) but has not started on turf.
Spirit And Glory invades from Monmouth Park, where she won the May 28 Miss Liberty Stakes on turf. Last year she captured the Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs, also on turf. Robert Falcone Jr. trains the filly and has named Hector Berrios to ride from post 3.
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