Scenic Blast will step up to 1600m for only the second time in his career at Del Mar on Saturday. The Australian Horse of the Year will carry top-weight of 55kg against a half-dozen rivals on turf in the G2 Del Mar Mile.
Scenic Blast (6g Scenic – Daughter’s Charm by Delgado) was runner-up to Weekend Hussler in the 2007 Caulfield Guineas in his other attempt at the distance. He is coming off a fast finishing second to Smiling Tiger (Hold That Tiger) in the G1 Bing Crosby Stakes over 1200m on August 1. That was the first time he raced on anything other than a turf surface.
Jockey Mike Smith is confident the gelding is getting back to his best. “He ran dynamite in the Bing Crosby,” Smith said. “He’s getting that old confidence back and he’s only going to get better. Just you watch.”
Among his rivals on Saturday will be Testa Rossa gelding Blue Chagall. The French bred import was a Listed winner of the Wickerr Handicap (1600m) at Del Mal on July 28.
The Del Mar Mile winner gets an automatic entry into the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile although trainer John Shirreffs has indicated Scenic Blast has an alternative goal in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Sherriffs has champion mare Zenyatta (Street Cry) heading to Churchill Downs to defend her Breeders’ Cup Classic crown on November 6.
Smiling Tiger will also be in action during the Pacific Classic meeting at Del Mar on Saturday. The son of Swettenham Stud sire Hold That Tiger will be going for a hat-trick of features in the G1 Pat O’Brien Stakes.
Before the Bing Crosby victory, he was a G3 winner of the Laz Barrera Memorial at Hollywood Park in May.
Smiling Tiger has built up a 7: 4-0-3 record since winning by six lengths on debut at Golden Gates 12 months ago. He was also placed behind champion colt Lookin At Lucky in the G1 Del Mar Futurity and G2 Best Pal Stakes late last year.
The Del Mar Mile is scheduled to start at 2:30pm (PDT) on Saturday – 7.30am (AET) on Sunday.