Mike Smith at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on Oct 26, 2019. Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders' Cup

Del Mar Diaries: Smith Impressed With What He Sees From Pinehurst

Each week, a series of jockeys at Del Mar will share their thoughts in interviews with members of the TVG team on the weekend’s card and reflect on some of their favorite racing memories.

By Mike Smith (as told to Joaquin Jaime)

On Saturday, I’m on Corniche, a first-time starter for Bob Baffert. I worked him a couple of weeks back out of the gate and he worked really well. Bob has got some really nice 2-year-olds so we’re excited about another one here. He’s training very forwardly and acts like he can run some.

In the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, I’m on Petruchio for Richard Mandella. Last time out (sixth in the Oceanside), it wasn’t necessarily a bad trip but what we did kind of find out was I got shuffled back a little bit into the first turn, a little farther back than we normally have him, but he ran extremely well. He finished sixth, but it was much better race if you actually look at it than what you see on paper. He finished up really strong and now we’re stretching out to 1 1/8-miles and we’re hoping that’ll make up the difference. You don’t have to make up much, about a length, length and a half is all he needs to do. So if we can do that going a little further than we’re not without a chance.

Depending on how you jump, you know you want to get away good and be able to get into that pocket position. Anytime you can get into that on the grass, it’s a plus. Again you just got to get get away well – and eight others might have the same idea – but I think going 1 1/8-miles, we can just let him jump out of there however he does and then just put him in a happy, comfortable place and keep in mind that I think that he’ll finish, so I don’t want to put him somewhere forward that he don’t want to be. If anything, just see if I can get him comfortable and get into a really nice stride and if he finishes like he did the other day, he’s not without a chance.”

In the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Monday, I’m on Pinehurst who I thought showed a lot of guts when he won first time out (on Aug. 1). Coming out of the one hole is extremely hard anyway but he left the gate really well, but kind of slipped to the side and broke into the horse next to me. He was about two or three (lengths) behind when that happened but within a matter of a jump or two, he got right back up and got himself in the game and that’s pretty hard to do to run you know pretty much all out from the word go. We’ll see where he draws on Monday, but I’ve liked him a lot since the first time I got on him. So I’m hoping that he’ll be improved and draws well and get a chance to run like I know he can.

For these 2-year-olds, without a doubt every race, especially about the first three or four or even five races, you’re trying to teach them something. Whether it’s making sure that they that they take the dirt well, get inside and get a little bit in their face at times, or if they’re just that quick or just naturally that fast. But a lot of times there will be a maiden that wins the Futurity so there’s still a lot that they’re learning.”