Best Pal Stakes

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Best Pal Stakes
Grade II race
Location Del Mar Racetrack
Del Mar, California, United States
Inaugurated 1967
Race type Thoroughbred - Flat racing
Race information
Distance 6.5 furlongs
Surface dirt
Track left-handed
Qualification Two-year-olds
Weight Assigned
Purse $200,000

The Best Pal Stakes is an American thoroughbred horse race held annually at Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, California. The race is open to horses, age two, that are willing to race six and one-half furlongs on dirt. A Grade II event, it currently carries a purse of $200,000.

Inaugurated in 1967 as the Balboa Stakes, it was raced on turf and open to horses age three and up. For 1967 only, the race was run in two divisions. It was not run again until 1972 when it was changed to an event for two-year-olds. For 1995 the race was renamed to honor Best Pal, a California-born racehorse who won the Balboa Stakes in 1990 and whose career earnings totaled more than $5.6 million for his owner-breeder, Golden Eagle Farm.

Since inception the race has been contested at various distances and surfaces:

  • 1 18 miles : 1967 (on turf)
  • 7.5 furlongs : 1972-1973 (on turf)
  • 1 mile : 1974-1985 (on dirt)
  • 7 furlongs : 1986-1992 (on dirt)
  • 6.5 furlongs : 1993-2006 (on dirt)
  • 6.5 furlongs : 2007–present (on Polytrack)


Speed record: (at current distance of 6.5 furlongs)

  • 1:15.08 - Officer (2001)

Most wins by a jockey:

Most wins by a trainer:

  • 8 - Bob Baffert (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2016)

Most wins by an owner:


2016 Klimt Rafael Bejarano Bob Baffert Kaleem Shah 1:16.11
2015 Nyquist Mario Gutierrez Doug F. O'Neill Reddam Racing 1:16.84
2014 Skyway Stewart Elliott Mark E. Casse John C. Oxley 1:16.67
2013 Alberts Hope Alonso Quinonez Mike Puype Jaam Racing 1:16.71
2012 Know More Garrett Gomez Doug O'Neill J. Paul Reddam 1:16.14
2011 Creative Cause Rafael Bejarano Mike Harrington Heinz Steinmann 1:15.62
2010 J P's Gusto Patrick Valenzuela David Hofmans Gem Inc. 1:16.61
2009 Lookin at Lucky Garrett Gomez Bob Baffert M. Pegram, K. Watson, P. Weitman 1:16.06
2008 Azul Leon † Rafael Bejarano Douglas F. O'Neill Joseph LaCombe Stable 1:16.73
2007 Salute the Sarge Michael Baze Eric J. Guillot Southern Equine Stable 1:19.43
2006 Principle Secret Alex Solis Christopher Paasch C. R. Cono LLC 1:16.15
2005 What a Song Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert Bob & Beverly Lewis 1:15.64
2004 Roman Ruler Corey Nakatani Bob Baffert Fog City Stable 1:15.93
2003 Perfect Moon Pat Valenzuela Melvin F. Stute M. Stute & The Hat Ranch 1:16.90
2002 Kafwain Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert The Thoroughbred Corp. 1:17.00
2001 Officer Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert The Thoroughbred Corp. 1:15.08
2000 Flame Thrower Corey Nakatani Bob Baffert Gary M. Garber 1:16.51
1999 Dixie Union Alex Solis Richard E. Mandella Diamond A Racing Corp./H. Sarkowsky 1:16.40
1998 Worldly Manner Gary Stevens Bob Baffert Golden Eagle Farm 1:16.60
1997 Old Topper Alex Solis Noble Threewitt Barbara Hunter 1:16.40
1996 Swiss Yodeler Alex Solis Michael C. Harrington Heinz Steinmann 1:16.00
1995 Cobra King Russell Baze Mike Puype Betty Biszantz 1:15.80
1994 Timber Country Alex Solis D. Wayne Lukas Gainsway Farm et al. 1:16.60
1993 Creston Corey Black Jenine Sahadi Evergreen Farm 1:16.20
1992 Devil Diamond Kent Desormeaux Gary F. Jones Golden Eagle Farm 1:22.60
1991 Scherando Francisco Mena Richard W. Mulhall Chase Mishkin 1:22.40
1990 Best Pal Pat Valenzuela Ian Jory Golden Eagle Farm 1:22.20
1989 A. Sir Dancer Eddie Delahoussaye Charles Marikian G. Arakelian Farms 1:23.00
1988 Rob an Plunder Chris McCarron Craig A. Lewis Diamond Jim, et al. 1:23.00
1987 Purdue King Chris McCarron Irvin Guiney John Valpredo 1:23.20
1986 Temperate Sil Bill Shoemaker Charlie Whittingham Frankfurt Stable 1:23.00
1985 Swear Eddie Delahoussaye Willard L. Proctor Claiborne Farm 1:36.60
1984 Saratoga Six Angel Cordero, Jr. D. Wayne Lukas French, Klein, Lyon, et al. 1:36.80
1983 Party Leader Ray Sibille Gary F. Jones Elmendorf Farm 1:37.20
1982 Roving Boy Eddie Delahoussaye Joseph Manzi Robert E. Hibbert 1:35.40
1981 The Captain Laffit Pincay, Jr. Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm 1:36.80
1980 Bold and Gold Dean Hall W. A. Reavis Ted Rexius 1:37.40
1979 Doonesbury Sandy Hawley Barney Willis Roberts, Roffe & Willis 1:35.40
1978 Flying Paster Donald Pierce Gordon C. Campbell Bernard J. Ridder 1:35.60
1977 Spanish Way Laffit Pincay, Jr. Laz Barrera Harbor View Farm 1:36.00
1976 Visible Laffit Pincay, Jr. Vincent Clyne Elmendorf Farm 1:35.80
1975 Crazy Channon Donald Pierce Harold C. McBride Colvin, Engelson & Nadel 1:37.20
1974 Diabolo Bill Shoemaker Sidney Martin Frank M. McMahon 1:35.60
1973 Battery E. Wayne Harris Dennis W. Sparks Diamond M Ranch 1:30.60
1972 Brave Dance Fernando Toro Wayne B. Stucki J. Kel Houssels 1:29.80
1967 Acknowledge William Harmatz Gordon C. Campbell Vicgray Farm 1:49.40
1967 Het's Cadet Miguel Yanez L. J. Brooks Wallace F. Zager 1:49.60
* † In 2008, Kelly Leak finished first, but was disqualified and set back to fourth.