Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will present the "Battle of the Exes," a match race involving formerly-engaged jockeys Chantal Sutherland and Hall of Famer Mike Smith on Sunday, August 7.
Besides the one-on-one battle that match races automatically engender, the event holds special interest because of the history between Smith and Sutherland, whose romance played out publicly and to great interest by racing fans in the two-year Animal Planet television series “Jockeys.”
The match will be only the fifth in 72 summers of racing at the seaside oval. The previous ones were the heralded 1938 duel won by Seabiscuit over Ligaroti, widely considered “The Race that Put Del Mar on the Map;” the 1994 “Showdown at the Seashore” in which Soviet Problem under Chris McCarron, bested Mamselle Bebette and Corey Nakatani; the 2002 “Mule Duel at Del Mar” in which Black Ruby, known as “the best ass in the West,” continued dominance over archrival Taz; and the 2003 “Battle of the Sexes” in which Patrick Valenzuela aboard Chester’s Choice won by a nose over Hall of Fame rider Julie Krone on Woke Up Dreamin.
Smith, 45, inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 2003 and the regular rider for 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, is approaching 5,000 winners with mounts that have earned more than $217 million during his 29 years in the saddle.
Sutherland, who only has been riding for 11 years, is approaching 900 winners and purses of nearly $43 million. The 35-year-old scored the biggest victory of her career when she captured the Santa Anita Handicap aboard Game On Dude earlier this year.
Two maidens, plus an “also eligible” backup, have been selected by Racing Secretary Tom Robbins, based on comparable ability. The horses are 3-year-old geldings seeking their initial career wins. The two chosen starters are Joker Face, trained by Peter Eurton and Parable, trained by Carla Gaines. The “also eligible,” who will be ready to substitute if necessary, is Tapfortexas, trained by Mike Machowsky.
Joker Face has started four times with two runner-up finishes for earnings of $16,660. Parable’s statistics are 8 0-1-2 for $21,940 in earnings. Tapfortexas is 7 0-1-1 with earnings of $15,024.
The preliminaries for the event will commence on Wednesday, Aug. 3 at 12:30 in the track’s paddock/walking ring, where a blind draw will be held to assign mounts for the one-mile, main track race. The draw and subsequent press conference will be open to the public.