In a wide-open renewal of the $100,000 Native Diver Stakes (G3) Nov. 20 at Del Mar, eight older horses will hook up for the 1 1/8-miles tussle that serves as the feature event on a nine-race card.
Grade 1 winner Eight Rings stands as the lukewarm favorite as he wheels back after finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar on Nov. 6. Owned by Coolmore Stud, Golconda Stables, Madaket Stables, SF Racing and Starlight Racing, the 4-year-old son of Empire Maker snapped a six-race losing skid when he captured an allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 2 and previously finished second in the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) in July.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Eight Rings won the 2019 American Pharoah Stakes (G1) and has three victories overall from 11 career starts.
The two runners right behind him at 4-1 on the line are C R K Stable’s Midcourt, who won this race in 2019 and finished second in it in 2020, and Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s Azul Coast, a Super Saver 4-year-old colt who now has three races under his belt this year after 10-month layoff.
Midcourt, a 6-year-old gelding by Midnight Lute, has finished in the top three in 13 of his 18 starts and sports a bankroll of $613,195. He’s a multiple-stakes winner.
Azul Coast should be ready to fire his best shot now. He’s had a series of good works of late since finishing unplaced in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 2.
Ax Man, a 6-year-old gelding by Misremembered, will be making his first start in six months. He’s won seven races and $363,797.