Del Mar's Bing Crosby Season: Motion Goes From Coast To Coast - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Del Mar’s Bing Crosby Season: Motion Goes From Coast To Coast

Trainer Graham Motion

Trainer H. Graham Motion sent two horses west to Del Mar over the summer from his base at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland and came away with two stakes victories on consecutive days. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Sister Otoole won the CTT and TOC Stakes by a half length going 1 3/8 miles on turf under Umberto Rispoli on Aug. 19. The next day, Gainesway Stable's Spendarella, making her first start since a second-place finish in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, dominated a dozen other 3-year-old fillies in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, winning by 4 1/2 lengths under Tyler Gaffalione.

“It's going to be tough to keep that streak going,” said Motion, who figures to have a presence throughout the ninth Bing Crosby Season that kicks off on Friday with an eight-race card with a 12:30 p.m. PT first post.

The 58-year-old native of Cambridge, England, has been sending runners to the seaside track north of San Diego since the first Crosby meet in 2014.

“It just works out really well after Keeneland,” Motion said of the Lexington, Ky., track's fall meet. He also likes the availability of grass racing, which goes into hibernation late in the year at many tracks in the East and Midwest. “It's so unpredictable around here this time of year,” Motion said from Maryland. “That's a big reason I've done this the last few years. And Del Mar has been extremely accommodating.”

Del Mar, located just north of San Diego, is cooler during the Bing Crosby Season than in summer, but rain in November remains relatively rare and few races are washed off the grass.

“And it's not a tough sell for the help to go out there,” said Motion's wife, Anita, an important part of the team working together at Herringswell Stables.

Indeed, who doesn't love coming to Del Mar?

Motion said assistant trainer Alice Clapham and a stable foreman traveled West for the meet to accompany the four runners flown out in time for opening day. More horses will be sent as the meet progresses, he said, with a focus on the stakes run over the final two weekends of the Crosby Season.

In Friday's opening race, a 1 1/16-mile maiden contest on turf, the stable will be represented by Eclipse Thoroughbred's Sareeha, an Irish-bred maiden coming off a second-place finish under Flavien Prat in a Sept. 18 race at the Belmont at the Big A meet in New York. Flavien Prat rides the 8-5 morning line favorite.

“It's been frustrating trying to get Sareeha in a maiden race around here so we decided we'd wait for Del Mar,” Motion said.

In the opening day stakes, the Let It Ride at a mile on turf, he'll have 3-1 morning line favorite Script, a Stone Farm homebred to be ridden by John Velazquez. The Algorithms colt won a Keeneland allowance last out Oct. 12 after eight months on the shelf.

“Script I always thought highly of,” said Motion. “In the spring he just didn't come around to be the horse we thought he'd be, but we found a touch of non-symptomatic pneumonia. He's come back really well after getting the summer off. Last out he showed some of the potential I always thought he had.”

Other horses from the Motion stable Del Mar fans can expect to see include Madaket Stables' Wootton Asset, winner in 2021 of the G3 Virginia Derby. The French-bred gelding is being pointed to the G2 Seabiscuit Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf Nov. 26. He also has Sister Otoole penciled in for a Del Mar return in the G3 Red Carpet Stakes on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24. The trainer said Madaket's. G Laurie, scratched from the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, could be ready in time for the G3 Jimmy Durante Stakes on Dec. 3. Another possibility for the meet is the 2-year-old Irish-bred colt Disdainful, who was a good second in his U.S. debut at Keeneland in late October. He races for Eclipse.

Jose Ortiz guides Wootton Asset to victory in the New Kent County Virginia Derby

Motion has enjoyed success during Bing Crosby Season, particularly in 2016 when he won four stakes: the G1 Matriarch with Miss Temple City; the G2 Seabiscuit with Ring Weekend; and the G3 Jimmy Durante with Journey Home. French-bred Arles, a fourth stakes starter from Motion's eight runners during that meet, finished second in the G3 Red Carpet.

Two years ago, the Motions made a decision to cut back on the number of horses they oversee, selling one of the two barns they operated out of at Fair Hill.

“Numbers wise, we're running fewer horses,” said Motion. “We've had two rebuilding years after making a conscious decision to cut back and concentrate on quality over quantity.

The Fair Hill barn has 70 stalls and another 10 horses are stabled at a  small farm the couple purchased about a mile from the training center.

“Alice (Clapham) is always on the road with a string, so it adds up to about 100 horses when we're busy,” he said.

Despite being down in numbers, 2022 has been a strong year for Motion, with purse earnings through Oct. 10 of $6.6 million from 373 starts, higher than any of the previous four years when he's had as many as 574 starts. The stable peaked in terms of yearly starts in 2014 with 782.

Looking beyond the Bing Crosby Season, Motion said he is entertaining the idea of maintaining a stable at Santa Anita during winter. “I'm ambivalent about it,” he said. “I think about it every year.

“It's a huge commitment,” he added. “Once you're out there you're a long way from home. The pluses are the turf racing. The turf course is terrific, the weather is usually pretty good and so is the money. It's very appealing.”

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