Fifteen years after teaming up with the speedy Swiss Yodeler, owner Heinz Steinmann and trainer Mike Harrington sent out another unbeaten juvenile, Creative Cause, to capture Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Best Pal at Del Mar.
Unlike Swiss Yodeler, who always hinted at his distance limitations, Creative Cause has the pedigree and scope to progress over a route of ground, and the manner of his emphatic 1 3/4-length victory bodes well for the future. The son of Giant's Causeway and Grade 1-winning millionaire Dream of Summer argued the pace before drawing off in his career debut, but employed rating tactics in this stakes premiere, and proved that he was just as effective as a stalker.
Bet down to 4-5 favoritism off his stylish maiden win, Creative Cause relaxed beautifully beneath Rafael Bejarano and watched others sprint to the fore. I'll Have Another grabbed control from the rail, but a keyed-up Brigand dragged his way forward to press him through an opening quarter in :22 2/5. As the pair matched strides through a half-mile in :45, Creative Cause worked his way up into third.
Turning for home, I'll Have Another dispatched Brigand and began to pull away. But just when the early leader gained a brief respite, Creative Cause delivered his potent rally down the outside. The favorite barreled past with authority, reaching six furlongs in 1:09 2/5, and continued his momentum to finish 6 1/2 furlongs in a sprightly 1:15 3/5.
Creative Cause, who posted the fastest final time in the Best Pal since the track was converted from dirt to Polytrack in 2007, paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.10.
"Perfect trip -- I couldn't have asked for better," Bejarano said. "It set up just right for me. He gave me a big kick, but I got after him and let him gallop out strong. He's a good horse. And I think the farther the better for him."
I'll Have Another was easily best of the rest by 3 1/4 lengths. Mighty Monsoon closed from last for third. Brigand faded to fourth, one length ahead of his stablemate from the Bob Baffert barn, Night Tide. Galex brought up the rear, and Curfew Tower was scratched.
Now two-for-two, Creative Cause has bankrolled $123,000. He turned heads with his 4 3/4-length maiden romp at Hollywood Park on July 16, when he sizzled five furlongs in :56 4/5 and earned a gaudy 107 BRIS Speed rating.
"The horse ran exactly the race I wanted to see him run," Harrington said of the Best Pal. "He had a lot of (conditioning) background before I ran him the first time, so I wasn't worried about him bouncing.
"This is really special for Mr. Steinmann. He spent a lot of money for three horses. I might have a couple better than this one, but you won't see them for a while. Maybe this fall, maybe next year. We bought them all for three-year-olds and we're in no hurry with any of them."
Bred by James C. Weigel in Kentucky, Creative Cause brought $135,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. His dam, Dream of Summer, was a six-time stakes winner who garnered such major events as the Apple Blossom, A Gleam Invitational and Rancho Bernardo, and she was twice runner-up in the Santa Margarita Invitational. Dream of Summer has since produced an unnamed yearling filly by Distorted Humor and a 2011 filly by Tiznow.
Creative Cause aims to use the September 7 Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity as a stepping stone to the November 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
"If all goes well we'll run him in the (Del Mar) Futurity," Harrington said. "It's a 'Win and You're In' race (for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile), so why wouldn't you run him in it?"