Del Mar Opening Day Picks & Analysis for July 16

Where the Surf Meets the Turf ... Del Mar is back! J.N. Campbell has our first look at Opening Day!
Where the Surf Meets the Turf ... Del Mar is back! J.N. Campbell has our first look at Opening Day!

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is ready for another summer by the surf … and we know precisely what to expect on the nearby turf. Based in La Jolla, California, the Del Mar Meet brings together the very best of SoCal racing, as they prepare to host the November Breeders’ Cup.

At, we have you covered for all of it, as we bring you picks and analysis through Labor Day. It should be a rousing good time ... Some of the highlights include this weekend’s San Diego Handicap and the forthcoming TVG Pacific Classic. Stay tuned … it is going to be another fabulous time at Del Mar!

If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Friday, be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.

Horse Racing Picks

Most Likely Winner: (Race 3: Going to Vegas #8, 8/5):

Out of Goldencents, this Richard Baltas runner has all of the necessary turf skills to take on this AOC 62.5k crowd. It is presumed that her conditioner is dropping her into this spot, in order to get her a “freshening” ahead of some forthcoming stakes competition at Del Mar. This should be a pretty easy victory, considering she has matched up with turfers in every important grass distance contest in the region. A win in the Grade III Santa Ana S. was a highlight, but really her late 2020 run into 2021 has been nothing short of stellar. Her record is littered with in-the-money finishes. Getting Umberto Rispoli to guide her is going to be a boon as well. She is a sure-fire win-bet in my estimation.

Wagering Recommendation: $100 Win, #8


Off-the-Pace Play of the Day: (Race 8: Box of Chocolates #5, 8/1):

HOF trainer Bob Baffert is still up and running, despite all of his legal battles … it is SoCal after all. He has a couple of runners drawn in for this dirt sprint on the DMR MT. They both look formidable … Savile Row #1 and Freedom Fighter #3 have experience in higher company, but they are not without drawbacks. They are coming off-the-bench for one, and though Baffert is a master of fitness when it comes to workouts, they might not be as sharp as you think. In particular, the “Fighter” went to the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct back in March, and wasn’t much of a factor. He could be fresh and dangerous, but I am willing to look elsewhere.

If you want a longer shot on the board, then look no further than John Sadler’s Box of Chocolates #5. This 5-yr-old gelding has experience, and after coming over from Steve Asmussen’s place, has not run poorly both at Oaklawn and Santa Anita. He will be shipping in for Hronis Racing with some nice works under his belt. I like the angle and the odds should be pushing double-digits, if we are lucky. Tote watch time …

Wagering Recommendation: $100 Bankroll, Graduated Wager WPS #5 ($10-W, $15-P, $75-S)


Spotlight Race of the Day: (Race 9: Turf, 1 Mile, Runhappy Oceanside S., $100k, 3):

To kick off the Del Mar Season, the regular stakes action begins, as always, with the Oceanside S. It will test these turf milers, and can be an early notch to anyone coming in first. Looking through the form, we are dealing with a full field of 14 entries! That is impressive, and should make for an excellent betting extravaganza.

Towards the top of my list, I truly think Peter Miller’s None Above the Law #11 has a fighting chance. Ridden by JJ Hernandez for the 1st time, this gelding is out of Karakontie, and we all know that sire is ripe with a turf pedigree. His offspring can handle the grass, and I see this one building on his past 2 contests nicely. Particularly, the Snow Chief 150k was a more than adequate 2nd place finish back in mid-June before Santa Anita closed out its spring-summer season. Miller’s numbers are solid, and I love the price of 8/1. Maybe it will hold … We probably want to include in our exotic recommendations, runners like Whatmakessammyrun #13 and Crew Dragon #3. Both have solid back class, and get lawn jocks like Flavien Prat and Umberto Rispoli. They have the ability to circumnavigate this field, and either of them has the ability to win the day.

One other note … it is of major interest that Peter Eurton’s Dream Shake #6 is poking his head into the yard. You may recall that the colt was a “player” along the Derby Trail, and had some excellent performances in the Pat Day Mile (G2) and the Woody Stephens (G1). The move to the grass is not outlandish, especially considering his pedigree line through Twirling Candy. Those types run well in these situations, and he could very well end up the race time favorite. He is extremely recognizable after that bout with Jackie’s Warrior at Churchill Downs. Maybe we are looking at one of the best 3-yr-old surface-switchers in the country? Will see …

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 3/6/11/13


Enjoy where the surf meets the turf! Best of Luck on another run at Del Mar!

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