Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, July 21, 2018
It’s the first Saturday of the meet at Del Mar, and they’ve got a loaded one! The program today includes the San Diego Handicap, featuring the top older horse in the country, Accelerate. There’s also the San Clemente Stakes, for three-year-old fillies on the grass.
Mike Bench (@mikebench1991) will be providing FREE picks & analysis of all ten races on the card. He’ll be handicapping Del Mar every Saturday for the rest of the meet.We thank Mike for providing his thoughts on the card, and encourage you to give him a follow on twitter.
Take it away, Mike!
Opening week at Del Mar continues with a 10 race Saturday program highlighted by a pair of Grade 2 contests, both preps for the feature races on the Pacific Classic card. The San Diego Handicap features the return of Accelerate, fresh off his Gold Cup win having to tote big weight. Meanwhile, the San Clemente has drawn a capacity field where the favorite may go off as high as 4/1. Possibly the best betting race of the day in the country. Before I digress, let’s move onto today’s selections, with suggested pick four and five plays. Best of luck on the races.
Suggested Pick Five Play: 1,4,6 / ALL / 3 / 6 / 3,4,9 ($36 for $0.50)
1st: #1 Coco Kisses 2nd: #6 Jabber Now 3rd: #4 Desired Edge
Solid card kicks off with a Cal bred maiden. #1 COCO KISSES (3/1 ML) was sent to the lead and faded pretty tamely last time when 7/5 at today’s class level. Her pair of runner up finishes would make her tough to beat if Stevens can work out a trip from PP 1. They thought enough of her to run in a $200,000 stake as a maiden. #6 Jabber Now goes fresh for the Gary Stute barn, who popped with a big price winner in this scenario 3 summers ago. This filly ran very well in her one Del Mar race, a narrow defeat by next out winner Powder. Gets a nice outside draw and if she’s ready to fire, she can certainly be in the mix. #4 Desired Edge has an attractive pedigree sired by Breeders Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar out of an Elusive Quality dam and has a quick 46 flat work from the gate at Santa Anita. Taken awhile for her to make her debut, but these aren’t the greatest bunch of maidens so she can certainly run well here. Am concerned that Chasin Lucas was a vet scratch from the June 24 race our top pick comes out of. Combined with blowing a clear lead deep stretch, cannot see how she moves forward.
Suggested Pick Four Play: 1,3,4,5 / 3,6 / 6 / ALL ($36 for $0.50)
1st: #3 Ghostly Who 2nd: #5 Smuggler Union 3rd: #4 Gringo Star
The toughest race on the card was this $16,000 n2l claimer. Lot of uncertain form on display but a horse that I think has some upside is #3 GHOSTLY WHO (8/1 ML). He won from off the pace in his career debut at Zia Park with a 53 beyer and returned to run a credible 2nd in allowance company at Ruidoso behind an odds-on winner. The extra furlong today should be a benefit and quite frankly, he does not have to improve all that much from his Ruidoso beyer to be in the mix here for Corey Nakatani. #5 Smuggler Union goes for some dreadful connections, 0fer jockey and trainer for the year. He is the fastest runner on paper but there is concern that the wheels are falling off. Both races this year have been dreadful and they’re dropping to the bottom. With low percentage connections, seems like a time to stab against a well bet horse. #4 Gringo Star has struggled to finish in his races, though his one win came at today’s distance. One positive is that the horse has run well for jockey Alonso Quinonez and drops to his lowest claiming level ever. Will be right up on the pace for as long as he can.
1st: #3 Allaboutaction 2nd: #6 Horse Greedy 3rd: #4 Jan’s Reserve
My best bet of the day starts her in the 3rd. #3 ALLABOUTACTION (5/2 ML) has been a revelation since adding blinkers, with 3 wins and a second in four starts. He faces his toughest test to date here but finds a nice pace advantage in this spot. Peter Miller is a major trainer upgrade from Chuck Treece, and he could be able to find what is needed to win at this tougher level. Miller is 46% off the claim the last three years at Del Mar. Tiago Pereira takes the mount on this sharp horse and will take him to win again even at this slightly longer 6 ½ furlong distance, which is surprisingly the most speed friendly of the sprint distances at Del Mar. #6 Horse Greedy has paired 101 beyers, dramatically improving his form when running 3rd in a Grade 2. Protected in an allowance today, he may bounce as he was merely picking up pieces in that event. When horses run top races in losses, it kinda makes me question the figure, knowing that they’re overbet the next time. Could very well win but will try against today. #4 Jan’s Reserve moves from the Craig Lewis barn to David Jacobson’s, who is seeking his first Del Mar summer win. He was not far behind Allaboutaction off a layoff last time and if the top pick is pressed, this one can certainly run on late at a price.
1st: #6 Vasilika 2nd: #9 Sheeza Milky Way 3rd: #1 Barleysugar
High end allowance horses take to the grass here and one of the sharpest horses on the circuit starts here. #6 VASILIKA (6/5 ML) has won six of her last seven starts and is only a neck away from a seven race winning streak. She has won each of her last two in most decisive fashion, and has run figures that make her good enough for stakes company. That is what awaits if she runs as expected for Flavien Prat and red hot Jerry Hollendorfer. #9 Sheeza Milky Way comes off a nearly year long layoff, but finds a realistic spot to return. She likes this mile distance and will be offering her typical kick. Has run well over the Del Mar course and trainer Peter Eurton is a decent trainer running fresh. #1 Barleysugar was inexplicably placed going 10 furlongs off a layoff last time and did very little running. A concern is that she is fit for today’s race, but in non graded events, this filly is 2 for 2 over the Del Mar turf course. Gets to save ground for Tyler Baze and if she gets a suitable pace, she can flash home nicely for Jeff Mullins.
1st: #4 Fortnite Dance 2nd: #9 Seven Scents 3rd: #3 No Treble
Two year old premium maiden claimers take to the track here, pretty much a “B” level maiden race. #4 FORTNITE DANCE (4/1 ML) gets the call here as Peter Miller has had by far the most success in these types of maiden claimers and the workouts check out as good enough for me. I like that hustling jockey Heriberto Figueroa takes the mount on this gray who has had plenty of work from the gate for this one. #9 Seven Scents debuts for Craig Lewis, a $40,000 buy debuting for the $150k tag has a couple swift 3f works early on, so there may be some early speed there. Has to negotiate the outside post but is a use here. #3 No Treble was 2nd behind the well regarded Instagrand, but had no real visible excuse. Perhaps the drop in class is all he needs, but he will be overbet off that Instagrand form, and there was nothing from the replay that suggested to me that he would significantly move forward from that debut.
Suggested Pick Five Play: 4,5 / 1,7 / 1,2,4,9,12 / 10 / 4,8,9,10 ($40 for $0.50)
1st: #5 Vexatious 2nd: #4 Libby’s Tail 3rd: #1 Princess Roi
A full field allowance race on the turf, and one that I think has a pretty solid chance is #5 VEXATIOUS (9/2 ML). This filly has only made one career start, when she finished 6th in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. This is a much softer race that that was. Her last at Los Alamitos could be excused for needing the race, and being sired by Giant’s Causeway, there’s no reason to think she does not handle the lawn. Can work out a nice trip for Bejarano and solid turf trainer Neil Drysdale. #4 Libby’s Tail has run well in each of her two turf starts and is knocking on the door at this condition. This filly starts third off the layoff today and that additional fitness could be what it takes for her to hold on. Has a pace advantage on the top selection. #1 Princess Roi comes back off an extended layoff but was faring well vs Sircat Sally prior and is one of only two in here that sport a win on the Del Mar lawn. Will be saving ground, and if nothing else should be worth a bet next time out.
Suggested Pick Four Play: 1,7,9 / 1,2,4,9,12 / 10 / 4,6,8,9,10,11 ($45 for $0.50)
1st: #1 Catalina Cruiser 2nd: #7 Accelerate 3rd: #9 Dabster
The feature race of the day is the San Diego Handicap, featuring the return to Del Mar of Accelerate in a vastly different role as the headliner. However, he has been training lighter than usual for this and today is merely meant as a prep for the Pacific Classic so will try to beat him from the top spot. #1 CATALINA CRUISER (8/1 ML) has been superb in his first two starts, winning from off the pace on debut and gate to wire in his second start. He earned an eye popping 107 beyer from that race, which puts him in the mix here. He is a half to G3 winner Eagle, who had no problem with the two turns and is sired by Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags. Getting 10 pounds and on the lead, I think this one could be very dangerous for Drayden Van Dyke. #7 Accelerate has a big impost to carry and would think different tactics will be used for this year’s San Diego as he went gate to wire in last year’s renewal. Certainly likes Del Mar and cannot be a toss, but there are bigger fish to fry for one of the top older horses in the country. Has to give a bunch of weight all around too, will have to be much the best. #9 Dabster beat City of Light in his one appearance at Del Mar, so perhaps there is hope that he likes this track and can fire another good shot. Won at a mile two back against n2x company, his figures are a little light but if e moves up on this Del Mar surface, he can place here.
1st: #2 Ms Bad Behavior 2nd: #9 West Palm Beach 3rd: #4 Miss Sienna
A capacity field takes to the turf course in a $200,000 Grade 2. The call here goes to #2 MS BAD BEHAVIOR (9/2 ML) who has been freshened since a 2nd place finish in the Grade 3 Providencia. Perhaps that race was a little too far, and this one mile race should be more up her alley. Can save ground in this full field and get the jump on the closers. Kent Desormeaux takes the mount for Baltas, and am a fan of Desormeaux on the lawn. #9 West Palm Beach should get a nice pace setup here. She was the beaten odds-on favorite in the Grade 3 Senorita when wide the whole way. Her race two back when she got a nice pace to close into, she rattled home against several others who are also in this spot. Flavien Prat takes the mount for Simon Callaghan and should be bang there in contention late. #4 Miss Sienna had a wide trip in the Grade 2 Honeymoon in her first domestic start. This filly adds blinkers for Phil D’Amato and cuts back in distance. Think both should flatter her late kick here with Mike Smith in the irons. Form in France at today’s distance was not bad at all.
1st: #10 Rowayton 2nd: #7 Synthesis 3rd: #9 Truck Salesman
The opening weekend two year old colt maiden race looks to be the spot for Jerry Hollendorfer to unveil his next good horse. #10 ROWAYTON (5/2 ML) has some sparkling works for his career debut, including multiple bullets from the gate. Sire Into Mischief is very useful first time out out of an Indian Charlie dam. Tho the dam was unraced and the first foal from the dam, the Indian Charlie in the blood helps the confidence in getting the 5f. Drayden Van Dyke takes the mount on this $320,000 purchase. #7 Synthesis has run alright in two career starts, and is probably good enough to eventually break his maiden at this class level. Neither figure earned has been that impressive so far, but he offers a fair standard to judge this race. Should be in the mix. #9 Truck Salesman was sold for 65 times the stud fee of Can the Man ($3,500). Horse has a couple decent gate workouts for red hot trainer Doug O’Neill. O’Neill is poor with first time starters at Del Mar, his winners have usually had a race under their belt. Prefer this one to the other O’Neill who should be better at a longer distance.
1st: #9 Innocent 2nd: #8 Camino Song 3rd: #10 Take a Leap
The finale is a turf maiden where you can go a number of ways. I will try the new face on top, #9 INNOCENT (9/2 ML). She ran too good to lose at Churchill Downs last time but got caught by a Brad Cox trainee who had hit the board in each of her three prior starts. Her other turf race for Victoria Oliver was a solid 3rd in a Keeneland maiden. That form makes her competitive in this spot and there is not a ton of pace on paper so can get a forward trip. #8 Camino Song is knocking on the door for Little Red Feather. She starts 3rd off the layoff but it is encouraging that she has been a better horse this year, capable of breaking her maiden at this level. Will need to be timed right but can be in the mix. #10 Take a Leap steps up off a troubled 4th in a maiden claimer. Like that they confidently jump her into straight maidens and with a turfy pedigree, perhaps there is more to show here. Was a $100k purchase after all.
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