Del Mar racing: Dr. Schivel provides trainer Luis Mendez with first career Grade I victory

Dr. Schivel gave trainer Luis Mendez the first Grade I victory of his career Monday, winning the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on closing day under jockey Flavien Prat.

So what does Mendez get as a reward?

Dr. Schivel will now be transferred to Mark Glatt’s barn after the 2-year-old Violence colt was privately sold to the father-son team of Jed and Tim Cohen following his 5 3/4-length maiden victory on Aug. 8.

Mendez remained the colt’s trainer for the Futurity.

“I have good owners,” he said. “Thanks to them I got this win, because they were thinking of transferring him. Good thing they didn’t do it before the race.”

The victory didn’t come as easily as his maiden score, but Dr. Schivel was pulling away at the end to eliminate any drama.

“I was not worried,” Mendez said. “Once the gates opened, I was not worried at all. I thought he was moving comfortable, and on the turn Flavien had a lot of horse left under him and I felt really good.

“That number one (Spielberg) put a little pressure on us, but we got it.”

Dr. Schivel didn’t look like anything special in his first two starts, finishing third in his debut at Santa Anita on June 21 and then running second in a Los Alamitos maiden special weight on July 4.

But he put it all together in his third start, rating kindly off the pace and then pulling away from Spielberg, still a maiden, in the stretch for his first career victory.

This time Spielberg took the lead out of the gate, going 22.49 and 45.14, before Dr. Schivel, the 7-5 favorite, took the lead in the early stretch and then put away the pacesetter in the final sixteenth to win by 1 3/4 lengths while running the 7 furlongs in 1:24.16 — a second slower than Princess Noor’s 1:23.15 winning time in Sunday’s Del Mar Debutante for juvenile fillies.

Mendez might be losing Dr. Schivel, but that didn’t put a damper on the milestone victory.

“I don’t even know how to explain it,” he said. “It feels really good, to be honest, and hopefully it’s not the last one. I’m really proud of myself and the team. I have to give credit to my help. I got a good group around me.”

The victory gave Prat his fourth Del Mar summer riding title in the five years he’s ridden at Del Mar. He outfinished Umberto Rispoli, 50-49, with two victories Monday while Rispoli was blanking with 10 mounts.

It also gave Prat his 15th stakes victory of the 27-day meet, breaking Rafael Bejarano’s record of 13 set in 2012.

“He broke well, then he got a little aggressive on me,” Prat said. “I tried to give him a little breather on the turn, then when I asked him he was a runner. He’s a nice colt.”

Prat took the riding title in stride.

“It was good competition,” he said. “He’s (Rispoli) a real competitor and an excellent rider. It was great to go against him.”

Despite not having fans at the track because of the pandemic and running 25 percent fewer races than in 2019, Del Mar finished the meet with an 8 percent increase in overall betting handle. Wagering totaled $466.68 million this summer, an increase of $34.71 million compared to 2019.

Del Mar handled more than $24.8 million on Kentucky Derby day, the fourth highest wagering day in its history. Average daily handle for 2020 was $17.28 million, an increase of 44 percent over the daily average of $12 million for the 36-day meet last summer.