Spellbinder trying something new in O'Brien
DEL MAR, Calif. -- The enigmatic Spellbinder makes his sprint stakes debut in Sunday's $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar, a race that has drawn a strong field of eight.
The Pat O'Brien is one of three stakes on Sunday's card, which is highlighted by the $1 million Pacific Classic.
Earlier this year, Spellbinder seemed to be a candidate for the Pacific Classic. A 5-year-old, Spellbinder won the Grade 2 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in February, suggesting that he would have a significant role in the handicap division. He is winless in four subsequent starts, ranging from a game second to Surf Cat in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park in May to a seventh in the Santa Anita Handicap in March.
In his most recent start, he finished fourth in the Wickerr Handicap on turf on July 29, fading from contention in the final furlong.
Trainer Richard Mandella considered Sunday's Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs for Spellbinder, but stayed at Del Mar for the Pat O'Brien at the request of owner Jerry Moss.
In the Pat O'Brien, Spellbinder faces Siren Lure, the winner of the Triple Bend Handicap last month at Hollywood Park; Pure as Gold, the upset winner of the Bing Crosby Handicap here last month; and Declan's Moon, the champion 2-year-old male of 2004.
Mandella hopes that Spellbinder's stamina will help him in the stretch.
"His last race wasn't bad," he said. "Going seven-eighths, he can set back and fire."
Fast Parade sets record
Fast Parade lowered the course record for five furlongs on turf to 54.75 seconds with an emphatic win in Wednesday's $95,545 Green Flash Handicap.
Ridden by Norberto Arroyo, Jr., Fast Parade ($12.20) stalked pacesetter Slew's Prince to the head of the stretch and quickly pulled clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Osidy rallied from sixth to finish second, a head in front of Slew's Prince in the field of eight.
Fast Parade was making his first start for owners Gary and Cecil Barber and his first start since finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on April 22.
"We gave him a lot of time to recover from going long," Gary Barber said. "He's a pure sprinter."
The Green Flash was Fast Parade's first start on turf. Trainer Peter Miller worked him on the surface Saturday and was pleased with what he saw.
"He worked great on the grass and I thought he might like it," Miller said.
Fast Parade has won 4 of 7 starts and $161,873. He has won sprints on turf and dirt and could run on either surface, Gary Barber said.
"We have multiple options," he said.