Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, August 19, 2017
It’s the highlight of the Del Mar racing season today: Pacific Classic day! Eleven races and three stakes are part of the schedule, headlined by the 27th running of the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic. That race will go as race 9, and feature horses like Collected, Accelerate, and Arrogate.
To help you out with all the action, we’re happy to have Robert Criscola (@itsgood2beking) providing FREE picks & analysis of all the action! Be sure to check out Robert’s work—not only will he be handicapping Del Mar every Saturday, he’ll be providing his weekly trips column to the site every Tuesday!
Take it away, Robert!
It’s Pacific Classic day at Del Mar! We have an incredible 11-race card to consider that includes three stakes races, so let’s get right to the action.
Race 1: 1-3-6
#1 THE REAL MCCANN made his dirt debut against much tougher but earned a speed figure that makes him logical against these (if he can run back to it). He should show improved speed breaking from the rail with blinkers on and a strong three-furlong move. #3 BUCKY GOLDSTEIN tries a new low and may also flash early foot with blinkers added. #6 HOPPITY lures Roman cutting back to an appropriate distance; best of the rest.
Race 2: 2-3-5
#2 PRIME ISSUE has drawn off with ease in consecutive races; once again the waters get a bit deeper but you dismiss this speedball at your own peril. #3 LORD SIMBA drops out of a respectable third-place effort in the Kona Gold behind Bing Crosby winner Ransom The Moon; he’ll likely get the first crack at the top choice turning for home. #5 DISTINCTIVE B has run back-to-back seconds at this level, the latest coming off a long layoff.
Race 3: 4-7-6
#4 INCREDIBLE LUCK makes sense moving down from stakes company to an allowance. He showed good tactical speed in his prior two starts (both wins) and put up competitive speed figures. #7 RECORD HIGHS was too close to a contentious pace last time out; his prior effort was a game runner-up finish behind next-out stakes winner My Italian Babbo. #6 RARE CANDY is just 1-for-13 but can land a share if he improves in his second start of the year.
Race 4: 9-8-3
#9 SPECIAL STORY is the one to beat off his last-out speed figure earned earlier this month; one of several dropping in class. #8 OOPPER WALLAH is a threat if he runs back to either of his last two dirt races. #3 MT. LEINSTER hasn’t raced since March but goes first off the claim for Spawr (20%). He also cuts back to a sprint, something Spawr has excelled at this year (47%).
Race 5: 8-5-4-6
#8 TROUBLEWITHATEE looks most appealing of the stretch runners here. He managed to close for third beaten just a half-length in a similar spot back in February, his lone turf start to date. He should get a lot more pace to work with this time around and could go off at generous odds. #5 INDOCTRINATION made up plenty of ground in his stateside debut and is eligible to improve off that. Note the rider change to Prat. #4 LUCKY SOUL is logical as he continues to pick up minor shares at this level. Eventually he’ll find a field he can handle, but this looks like a tough assignment. #6 CASCADE ROCK was beaten just a nose in a similar spot last month; should be involved late.
Race 6: 6-1-5
#6 TYFOSHA improved considerably in her second career start, picking up her second straight runner-up prize. She has the experience edge over her main rivals, both firsters. #1 CROWNSTONE draws the rail for her debut for Baffert but has a strong worktab and lures Bejarano. The trainer-jockey combo is clicking at 33% this meet. #5 MOONSHINE MEMORIES, a $650k daughter of Malibu Moon, will have Mike Smith aboard for her unveiling. Her most recent work was outstanding.
Race 7: 8-5-11-12
The Grade II Del Mar Handicap
#8 ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR is as consistent as they get and is hard not to like. He’ll be looking to turn the tables on #11 HUNT, which he could very well do picking up two extra furlongs. #5 ITSINTHEPOST’s last can be dismissed as he went on a suicide mission with next-out Arlington Million winner Beach Patrol. Prior to his no-show in the Whittingham two starts ago he was a very consistent trier at this level and today’s distance would seem to be up his alley. The biggest knock against him is his 7-0-2-1 record over this course. HUNT took a surprising step up in the Eddie Read last time out but will be asked to negotiate more ground than he ever has today; tread with caution. #12 MR. ROARY was a game third in the Eddie Read; expect him to make the pace once more.
Race 8: 2-3-8-5
The Grade I Pacific Classic
#2 COLLECTED is one of two for Baffert in here, which is surprising since the Hall-of-Fame trainer has gone to great lengths to keep his handicap division stars away from each other this year. COLLECTED has demonstrated Grade I talent despite being handled with kid gloves in 2017. His 14-length romp in the Grade III Precisionist is proof positive of that. If COLLECTED is allowed to set or stalk a modest pace he could be hard to catch in the stretch. #3 ACCELERATE dazzled in the San Diego Handicap over a disappointing ARROGATE. Newly-appointed jockey Victor Espinoza sent him to the lead that day, and the addition of blinkers and switch to his favorite track (3-for-3 at Del Mar) contributed to a career-best performance. ACCELERATE stretches out considerably in the Pacific Classic, and while the pedigree says he should relish going long, he was scratched out of the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Gold Cup earlier this year due to some indecision on the part of John Sadler. That suggests the trainer isn’t confident ACCELERATE will last the distance. #8 ARROGATE’s last effort was dismal, but people will be lining up to bet him at even-money or less, and understandably so. He’s been nothing short of electrifying from last year’s Travers on. However, Baffert’s entry of COLLECTED and ARROGATE’s recent work (which was just OK for him) could be bad omens. See how he handles himself going from the paddock to the gate on this track that I worry he may not like. #5 HARD ACES is an underneath threat, as usual.
Race 9: 6-10-8-2
#6 TELL ME A STORY hinted at potential late last year before hitting the shelf. He ran well enough on turf off the bench before coming up empty going a mile last time out. If you can forgive that effort as he turns back today he looks like solid upset candidate. #10 EDWARDS GOING LEFT is the one to beat off his game third in the Real Good Deal Stakes but must prevent getting caught wide. #8 AMERICANIZE should show more early speed in his second start off a layoff; see how Prime Issue did in Race 2. #2 NARDO wasn’t Prat’s choice but has speed figures that are in the ballpark and he’s 15-1. Draw a line through that effort at Golden Gate.
Race 10: 6-5-12-11
The Grade I Del Mar Oaks
#6 MEADOWSWEET is ambitiously spotted in her fourth career start but could be the beneficiary of a slow pace setup. She nosed out a stakes-caliber foe in #11 PACIFIC WIND last time out. #5 CON TE PARTIRO bulled her way through for an unexpected score in the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot when last seen. She’d never really shown that kind of ability in the states, especially in routes, but perhaps she’s turned a corner. Prat sees fit to take the reins. #12 BEAU RECALL disappointed in the Belmont Oaks but fits well with these. PACIFIC WIND should stay on for a small share.
Race 11: 3-1-6-8-2
#3 HOPE SHE WILL should take advantage of a fast pace and speed by the frontrunners in the finale. #1 MEET AND GREET has to overcome the rail draw in her debut but shows good works for D’Amato and gets Roman aboard. #6 POWDER hasn’t run since May but earned the field’s best last-out speed figure, albeit against lesser. #8 LAYNEE had no excuse to lose her latest but wouldn’t be a surprise. #2 HAILEY RACHELE moves up if there’s a scratch.
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