Cave Rock wins Grade I, $302,000 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity in a stakes-record time

Cave Rock (far right) receives a trophy for winning the Grade I, $302,000 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity Sept. 11 at Del Mar.
Cave Rock (far right) receives a trophy for winning the Grade I, $302,000 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity Sept. 11 at Del Mar.
(Kelley Carlson)

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Chief Executive Officer Joe Harper presents the trophy for the Grade I, $302,000 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity to Paul Weitman, one of the owners of Cave Rock, on Sunday, Sept. 11, at Del Mar (pictured above). Weitman was joined by Cave Rock’s other owners, Karl Watson and part-time Del Mar resident Mike Pegram, in the winner’s circle.

Cave Rock led wire-to-wire, crossing the finish line 5 1/4 lengths in front of stablemate Havnameltdown in a stakes-record time of 1:20.99 for 7 furlongs. Skinner was an additional 4 1/4 lengths behind in third.

“He’s a good horse; very professional. And he’s fast,” said Cave Rock’s jockey, Juan Hernandez. “He broke a step slow, but then he got right in gear and made the running. I tried to slow him down some, but he wasn’t having it. So I just let him go on and do his thing. When we hit the quarter pole, I asked him and he changed leads and took off. He just wanted to go. He’s something.”

The 2-year-old Cave Rock is trained by Bob Baffert, who won his 16th Del Mar Futurity.

Cave Rock’s connections all won titles during the Del Mar summer meet. Pegram, Watson and Weitman were the top owners, with nine wins during the meet. Hernandez was the leading rider, victorious in 49 races. Finally, Baffert tied Phil D’Amato for the trainer title, each with 19 first-place finishes.

One race earlier, Packs a Wahlop stalked the pacesetter, took the lead near the quarter pole and drew off to win the Grade III, $104,500 Del Mar Juvenile Turf by 4 1/4 lengths. He is owned by the father/son duo of Jed Cohen and Del Mar resident Tim Cohen, who race under the names of Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal.

Additional stakes winners during the final weekend of racing for the summer were And Tell Me Nolies (Grade I, $301,000 TVG Del Mar Debutante Stakes, trained by part-time Encinitas resident Peter Miller), Avenue de France (Grade II, $251,000 John C. Mabee Stakes), Giver Not a Taker ($125,000 I’m Smokin Stakes) and Comanche Country ($103,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, whose co-owners include Marsha Naify of Solana Beach).

According to a Del Mar news release, average daily handle for the 31-day summer race meet was a record $18.69 million, an increase of 1.5 percent from last year’s $18.41 million, the previous record. Total wagering for the meet increased to $579.24 million, compared with the $570.78 million wagered during the 2021 summer session.

Also, on-track business increased over 2021, as average daily wagering of $1.52 million represented 4.8 percent growth over last year’s $1.45 million. Total attendance of 278,702 resulted in a gain of 16.1 percent from 2021’s total of 240,030.

In addition, Del Mar reported no catastrophic injuries among its 2,688 starters in its 294 races during the season.

“Just an incredible meet on all levels,” Harper said. “All season long, the racing was ultra-competitive and extremely safe. Our racing office, led by Tom Robbins and David Jerkens, was phenomenal. We’re also very appreciative of the support we received from our fans and our players both here on track and all across the country.”

Racing at Del Mar will resume Nov. 11 and continue through Dec. 4.