We hope you’re enjoying this fabulous Thanksgiving weekend of holiday racing. Coast-to-coast programs are strong and Del Mar’s no exception. In the last few years, they’ve developed a collection of late-fall turf races that have attracted serious runners from the east, particularly from the Chad Brown stable. He’s back with a few more monsters this weekend and two of them are entered in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby Saturday.
#6 Public Sector is the most highly regarded of the duo, but #8 Sifting Sands has a recent race that fits quite well, too. Local hope #12 Subconscious seems strongest of the rest and he hails from the recently cool-ish Richard Mandela stable. Eastern invader #11 Camp Hope hopes to transfer outstanding wet turf form to firmer conditions in San Diego. A repeat of either of his last two races will find him right there.
The Hollywood Derby is the final race in what should be an interesting Late Pick 4. From our perch, much will be at stake in the eighth race where #10 Sumo, from the Bob Baffert Barn, likely will take much mutuel consideration. Top SoCal jock Flavien Prat rides and he and Baffert are deadly together. Still, this race appears a pretty loaded bunch and #10 Sumo really hasn’t done that much. His lone score came against 4 foes in a Los Al maiden race. Can he win? Sure. At a short price, though, he’s worth playing against. We think, anyway.
The wager kicks off with a seven-furlong starter optional claiming race where the ice-cold Peter Miller sends out #2 Awesome Taylor against #6 Youteyourhonor. The former has made just one start and it was solid. The latter won his first out at Los Alamitos like a good thing at nearly 7-1. Those ‘in the know’ cashed that afternoon. Cagey trainer Cliff Sise must have known what he had and the filly’s ownership group never has been averse to sending it in. #6 Youteyourhonor returned at Santa Anita to be a well-beaten second at about today’s level. The race appears to be between those two.
The remaining leg is the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante for 2-year-old fillies at one mile on turf. There are several ways for horseplayers to go in this event and we’ve listed a few price runners that might have chances to upset the apple cart.
All things considered; Saturday’s Late Pick 4 at Del Mar seems playable but unlikely to be chalk-fest. Don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of wager yours truly loves to swing at…even if it’s a miss. Here’s hoping we can hit one out of the park Saturday.
Below is one man’s humble opinion on how Del Mar’s Saturday Late Pick 4 might turn out.
Starter $50 Optional Claiming
Fillies Two Year Olds
#1 Miss Reno is one of two Peter Miller-trained runners in here. Often a trainer, especially one with a deep roster, will enter two horses in a race to make it ‘go’—that is, to enable it to be carded. Seems the case here with #1 Miss Reno and #2 Awesome Taylor in a field of only 6 runners. This filly has top jock Prat and has trouble in all 3 of her starts.
#2 Awesome Taylor, while still a maiden, seems the most likely winner in here. She finished second in her only start for trainer Peter Miller who appears to have made this race ‘go’ by entering 2 of the 6 runners. A repeat of her last will be enough to put this filly in the winner’s circle and Miller is 26% with maiden 2nd time starters…note that stat is mainly maidens against maidens.
#3 Sue Ettas Ghost keeps coming. In 6 starts—all against fellow Cal-breds--she’s finished with some late run. She’s steady, too, running about the same speed figure each time. That’s a good thing. The 7-furlong distance is right up her alley. She will need to go a bit faster though to win this.
#4 Tapit Doux is a new face in these SoCal parts. Claimed by her owner last out at Indiana for $35k in May out of a more than 9-length victory, the filly makes her third career start for a bit higher tag than that. She was third going four and one-half furlongs at Churchill for maiden $50k. Low-profile trainer Capestro is 11% off the layoff and 18% with new runners. Figure-wise her last start wasn’t bad at all. Still, trainer Capestro is just 1-34 this year.
#5 Maggie Fitzgerald broke maiden two back at Los Al and tried turf last out to little success. She showed some speed at Del Mar in August when just missing by a neck. 7-pound apprentice Ellingwood probably will try similar tactics in here.
#6 Youteyourhonor broke maiden at Los Al against fellow Cal-breds for $50k first out and the Thoro-Graph speed figure from that race fits well in here. She returned to run second last out and didn’t run quite as fast as the first time. She’s got a cozy outside box, enough speed to be stalking and she hasn’t given up in either start. Hot riding Hernandez is her co-pilot and he knows her well. She’s a must-use.
Use for the Win: #2, #6
Jimmy Durante – Grade 3
Fillies Two Year Olds
One Mile (Turf)
#1 Awake At Midnyte won a six-furlong dirt maiden sprint first time out and now stretches out to one mile on turf. She should show speed from the rail and there is other speed in this race. She’s one of two Doug O’Neill-trained runners in the race. The other, #2 Miss Bellatrix is a ‘closer’ who will appreciate a hot early pace.
#2 Miss Bellatrix just missed last out in a first-level allowance, optional claiming race. Before that she was outrun in a pair of turf stakes. She ought to find the rail in here at the back of the pack and save ground. From there she’ll need to work out a trip under Hall of Famer Johnny V. Outsider but not hopeless.
#3 Tezzarayer is one of three Pete Miller runners in here. #5 Travel Smart and #6 Liam’s Dove are the other two. This filly broke maiden nicely in her first North American start under Irad Ortiz, who coincidentally is in town to ride her again. She’s got to be considered among contenders. Trainer Miller has announced he will be stepping away from the game for a while and his 3-for-34 mark at the stand is very uncharacteristic. Still, filly fits ok on paper.
#4 Toeris broke maiden last out going one mile while trained by Mark Casse. She now races for Dan Blacker, probably in SoCal for the winter since there’s no turf in NY where she maide her first two starts at Saratoga. She’s been a troubled sort and needs to move a bit forward to be a real threat in here. Not impossible but not one of our favorites in here.
#5 Travel Smart is ‘another’ Miller in here and she broke maiden for $50k last out in her second career start. Top jock Prat rode her then and returns for this step up in class. That was the filly’s first turf try so improvement is possible and will be required.
#6 Liam’s Dove is the third Peter Miller runner in this race and was part of a hot pace last out and faded to next-to-last in the Surfer Girl at Santa Anita in October. Before that she went wire-to-wire to win the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar. She should be part of early proceedings again. Don’t think she can wire this bunch but could help set things up for uncoupled entry #5 Travel Smart from off the pace.
#7 Reem Zabeel makes first US start for trainer Anna Meah who is 0-3 with first-time runners in North America. She won 1 of 2 starts in Great Britain, both synthetic sprints. Pass for now.
#8 Virulente makes a first US start for trainer D’Amato and he’s excellent with this kind at 28%. D’Amato also is 23% with new runners in his care. This filly won her only start at 20-1 in France over soft ground. She’s been working steadily at Del Mar and has a nice 1:00 3/5 move Nov. 14. This one appears to have some run but jockey Van Dyke is not one of the trainer’s ‘go to’ guys.
#9 Half Past Twelve is another runner in this race with speed and she should show it in this first route, first turf test. She has a good-race/off-race pattern and an ‘off’ one is due. Not for us.
#10 Sparkle Blue shipped here from Laurel and took down a first level allowance/$80k optional claiming race in early November. Jockey Jose Ortiz was in town that day and, coincidentally, he’s back again to pilot the filly in her fourth lifetime start. She has two wins and must be respected. This post is no bargain.
#11 Helens Well has the fastest last out Thoro-Graph figure of any horse in the race. That came in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf where she finished eighth, beaten just over two lengths at 50-1. Before that she was second twice and a winner in 3 North American starts—two of those at Del Mar. She doesn’t have any speed and must close from the clouds. There is plenty of pace to set things up for her, but she’ll need to save some ground from this outside slot to get there in time. Rispoli, who was aboard for her win and her effort in the BC race, will be challenged.
Except for the Post: #10, #11
Except for the Cold Trainer: #3
Price is Nice: #2
Allowance/$40k Optional Claiming
Three Year Olds & Upward
Six & One-Half Furlongs
#1 Next Revolt is one of several in here that come off sharp recent performances. This guy takes a sizeable jump up the class ladder and needs to get faster, according to Thoro-Graph figs. That’s not likely to happen from the rail.
#2 Took Charge has speed and has performed well for trainer Baltas in his last three starts. He may be a cut below these and there appears to be other speed in the lineup. He has won at six and one-half furlongs here at Del Mar but this race seems deeper than that one was.
#3 California Street has won 3 in a row and moves up the class ladder again. This might be a leap he can’t make. This guy got good again at age 7 when dropped in class. He became popular at the claim box and was haltered for $20k twice in a row—both wins. Asking a bit for this guy to step up in class and reproduce those recent big figs.
#4 Teton Valley has faced mostly Cal-breds throughout his career until he was claimed by trainer Knapp for $20k and placed in an open $50k starter which he won in a gallop. Knapp may have found the key to this colt and, if that’s the case, he’ll be dangerous right back at a decent price. His best races have come from on the pace and he won’t be far off the leaders. Negative is that things should be very contentious up front.
#5 Heartfullofstars had a race and it wasn’t rated too badly according to Thoro-Graph figs. There should be plenty of pace in this race and this 6-year-old gelding has the right style to get a piece of the exotics, especially tris and supers. He’s difficult to endorse on the ‘win’ end though.
#6 Escape Route was a sharp $40k claim first out at Keeneland. He loves Del Mar with 2 wins and second in 3 starts there. His figures are solid in here and he’s got the right style from just off what should be a hot pace. Irad Ortiz rode him to one of his wins and is back for more.
#7 Affable just broke maiden in his sixth try and steps up to face a tougher group. He is trained by Mark Glatt, who also has the #6 Escape Route in here. He has an ‘even’ running style and could be part of the exotics as he’s usually around.
#8 Letsgetlucky faces open foes for the first time in his career after competing against Cal-breds at various levels. He comes off a sharp score in a state-bred first level $20k optional claiming race. He’s fit, sharp and has good speed. He should react off his last race but can’t totally be ignored.
#9 American Theorem
#10 Sumo has a great post for an outstanding jockey/trainer combination (Prat/Baffert) that’s a stunning 50% from 28 Del Mar starts and 39% from 82 starts, according to Daily Racing Form. Reason we’re really wrestling with this one (pun intended) is because there’s a good chance the colt could react off a sharp recent Thoro-Graph figure followed by short rest. Six and one-half furlongs also is a concern based on ground loss in the stretch of his most recent start. He’ll probably get hammered in the wagering and that’s another excuse to look elsewhere in a bold move that could add value to a ticket.
Slight Edge: #6
Sharp Ones: #4, #7, #8,
Against at Short Price: #10
Hollywood Derby – Grade 1
Three Year Olds
One Mile & One-Eighth (Turf)
#1 Dicey Mo Chara won a first-level optional claiming race last out. These are tougher and Prat moves to #3 Cathkin Peak. Useful sort has been in the money in 5 of 7 lifetime.
#2 Beyond Brilliant has had just 2 turf starts and they include an $80k optional claiming race and close third in the Gr. 2 Twilight Derby—a common race to many in here. A :59 1/5 work suggests fitness and there could be more in the tank with this one.
#3 Cathkin Peak was runner-up in the common Gr. 2 Twilight Derby. He’s been difficult to ride recently, and top jock Prat will try his hand. Prat won the Eddie Logan with him and they finished second as a team in the Pasadena—both at Santa Anita. The gelding comes from off the pace and also has been close up. They should save ground. Demand a decent price but the trainer/jock combo is a strong 28% over 126 mounts.
#4 Team Merchants proved sharp over lesser while winning a restricted stakes at Del Mar in fast time. It was only the colt’s second try over turf and he figures to race close up in the early going. The son of Nyquist just might be a turf horse and his Thoro-Graph figure from his last puts him in the picture at a big price. Blinkers were added with the switch to turf and the combo may work again.
#5 Hudson Ridge has tried 3 consecutive graded turf stakes races with mixed results. Best was third in the Gr. 3 La Jolla at Del Mar and worse was troubled ninth in Del Mar Derby. Prat moves to #3 Cathkin Peak and Mike Smith replaces. The colt’s been a handy type just below this level, but he has improved this season.
#6 Public Sector invades from New York for a trainer who does well at Del Mar in stakes races this time of year. He exits a trio of graded stakes races—all wins! His Thoro-Graph figures continue to improve and he’s won 3 of the last 4 and 4 of the last 5. Irad Ortiz rides this mid-pack closer. He’s best on paper.
#7 Flashiest exits a trio of graded stakes races with his best effort coming in the Gr. 2 Del Mar Derby when second by less than one length. He had trouble last out and in his third back when eleventh in the Saratoga Derby. He’s a big price and is making incremental forward moves in Thoro-Graph figures so he’s liable to be a decent exotics play.
#8 Shifting Sands is another Chad Brown-trained runner. He’ll likely need a decent pace for his best and he should get that in here. He was seventh, beaten four lengths by barnmate #6 Public Sector last out in the Gr. 2 Hill Prince. Before that he won three of four, including a maiden race, an optional claiming allowance and a restricted stakes race.
#9 It Can Be Done invades from the east and usually races close to the pace. Those tactics will find the pace of a California route race much quicker than those in the east. That should tucker this one out.
#10 Zoffarelli offered great promise when second by a nose in the Gr. 3 LaJolla at Del Mar in his first North American try. Troubled trips in subsequent starts have clouded his form. He exits the common Gr. 2 Twilight Derby. One has to wonder what will happen when and if this guy gets a clean trip.
#11 Camp Hope romped in his last pair of races—a first-level allowance and a sophomore stakes race at Keeneland. The ground had some ‘give’ in it for both wins and that may have been the reason for this colt’s for turnaround. Handicappers will need to decide how to handle an obviously razor-sharp runner and a firmer turf surface in San Diego. Figures earned in those two recent starts fit well in here.
#12 Subconscious has been solid. He’s got 3 wins in 6 starts with a second and a third. He’s got speed, enough to flee this outside post and he’s got class, he won the common Gr. 2 Twilight Derby last out as the most recent of 3 consecutive scores. Hot jock Hernandez is aboard and he hasn’t ever lost on this one’s back. This guy’s gonna take some beating.
#13 In Effect hasn’t been fast enough to win this recently. Pass
#14 Santin has to negotiate a tough post and he doesn’t have enough speed to flee his outside box. He’s unbeaten in two starts at Indiana and Keeneland so its easy to understand his connections taking a shot. Unfortunately, he’ll have his hooves full trying not to lose ground. Jockey Rispoli helps but this one needs to move forward to hurt these.
#15 Airman is not good enough on paper. Pass.
Ones to Beat: #6, #12
Consider: #4, #8, #11
$.50 Pick 4 ($32)
Race 6: #2, #6
Race 7: #2, #3, #10, #11
Race 8: #4, #6, #7, #8
Race 9: #6, #12