The Jimmy Durante Turf Course will be the place for a couple of Graded Stakes races on the final Saturday card of the Del Mar Meet. Check out J.N. Campbell expert analysis below ...
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is readying itself for the final weekend of action from SoCal, and we can say one of many things about this Meet ... namely, it was a rousing good wagering experience! As the final Saturday dawns, we have you covered from every angle across this 11-race card ... favorites, long shots, interesting wagering recommendations, etc. etc.
Be sure to join us all weekend, as we preview, handicap, and cover the stories that will rise to the top. Should be fun, to say the least!
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country this Saturday be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
Kicking off our analysis on this final Saturday of the Del Mar Meet, we are enticed here by a challenging high-level AOC80k event on the Jimmy D. that brings together a nice group of fillies. I can tell you that I am pretty bullish on Mike McCarthy’s Queen Goddess #5. This 3-yr-old progressed strongly after her debut at Del Mar in mid-July. She broke her maiden next out in another MSW70k race, going 1/16th further. Out of Empire Maker, she seems poised to continue this ascent. With JJ Hernandez in the saddle for the 3rd time, and I am sure Aron Wellman at Eclipse Thoroughbreds is looking forward to seeing their investment go even further. If you could get 7/2 on this one, then that could be a super bet.
McCarthy’s year continues to be full of twists and turns. Winning The Preakness (G1) put him in a whole new category, but he continues to go about his business in a workman-like manner. Interesting that he has an “uncoupled” entry here in Moraz #8 ... This was a filly who made some noise out in SoCal through their version of the “Oaks Series.” She had a few solid moments, and then has not been seen since that last “Friday” in April. How will she react taking to the grass? A half-sister (Empire Maker) to her stablemate, maybe Umberto Rispoli can teach her the ropes in as expedient a fashion as possible? Still, I want the Eclipse runner … great potential moving forward. McCarthy’s Oaks alum still needs a race coming from the layoff.
Race 6: Dirt, 6F, I’m Smokin S. $100k, 2 Cal Breds
We find ourselves in the midst of a “Non-G” event on the MT that is sure to bring some excitement and heat down the stretch. Watching how the track sets up in earlier races is a tactic handicappers use to determine whether speed is holding, or if the closers have a shot at redemption.
It looks as though trainer Walther Solis is holding a strong hand with his uncoupled entry, Rock N Rye #5 and Thirsty Always #7. The former won in a similar contest in early August, and most will suspect that the colt can do it again. I am not so sure because it is awfully tough to comeback and repeat a performance like that one. Plus, this time around, the field is much bigger, and there are challengers aplenty. Even with Umberto Rispoli as pilot, it may not make much of a difference. The same could be said, but for different reasons with the other entry. Out of Stay Thirsty, this colt is dropping out of the Best Pal (G2), where he finished 4th out of 6 runners. Losing steam is never a good sign, and even with an easier race like this one, that might not assist.
I will use both of these Solis sprinters, but on top I particularly like the way George Papaprodromou’s Moose Mitchell #8 ran last time out in a MSW70k event, as recently as 22 August. It is a good sign that his conditioner is bringing him back this quickly, and with the addition of leading rider Flavien Prat, I like the action at 6/1. Of course, the odds will not stay there, but do not judge that 2nd place finish he put up when he was on the MT. It showed some real heart, and he only missed by a head. I think we can expect much better out of the gelding by Danzing Candy. I will be betting him on top, and banking on him having the ability to move forward nicely.
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Trifecta Box, 5/7/8
Race 9: Turf, 1 1/8th, John C. Mabee S. (G2), $200k, F&M 3+
One of a pair of “Features” on this Saturday card is this race for older fillies and mares, who will be exiting the DMR turf chute, trying to settle down for the long haul. To be very honest, I do not see how any of these runners can match the ability of Simon Callaghan’s Maxim Rate #1. If she runs to her ability, and if Juan Hernandez can work out a traffic-free trip, then I think she has an excellent chance of repeating what she did so ably in the Gamely S. (G2) back at Santa Anita in late May. I will not go as far as to say that this is her race to lose, but I am not far off with implementing that phrase. Her conditioner has this 5-yr-old getting back to a distance that clearly gives her more ground to work with, especially considering her late-running ability. Her fitness, experience at this class level, and that running style of hers, are all weapons that suit my interests when it comes to handicapping. Mandella’s Dogtag #3 and Baltas’ Going to Vegas #8 have nothing on Callaghan’s mighty grass router.
Wagering Recommendation: $25/$50 WP #1
Race 11: Turf, 1 1/8th, Del Mar Derby (G2), $250k, 3
In what is probably one of the toughest handicapping challenges in the country this weekend, the “Derby” brings together a well-matched field of 14. Coming up with a “Single” for your multi-race wagers is going to be exceedingly difficult, as is trying to discern which one of these colt(s) has the upper hand when it comes to fitness. Do you want a runner that is battle-hardened at this distance, or would you rather have a more lightly-raced sort, that has energy in spades? What to do …
When it comes to “preps” for this race, those that contested the Oceanside100k and the La Jolla (G3) for sure have the inside track when it comes to fitness. Those were tough races with more than adequate fields, and I think it is safe to say that a winner exiting one of those contests could have an upper hand. The top 3 horses from the La Jolla … Sword Zorro #13, Zoffarelli #9, and Hudson Ridge #1 are back for this Grade 2 go, and you could take any of them. Shake ‘em up in a bag, and whoever comes out 1st could be your pick. That was such a contentious race that I am not really sure who came out best.
The same could be said for the Oceanside100k. We have Flashiest #14, Crew Dragon #12, and No Foolery Here #5 … they will try to make the class jump into this spot. To put it bluntly, I do not trust any of them. That was a raucous race, and I am not sure how you can glean much out of that result. Again, any one of these could be game … I find it interesting that Leonard Powell’s #14 tried to ratchet up by shipping to NYRA for the Saratoga Derby (G1). That was a disaster and clearly the wrong move. As for John Sadler’s #12, he dropped into an OC80k in mid-August and won, but that could have been a miss, considering how close the finish was with Doug O’Neill’s Hockey Dad #3.
No, I am not interested in any of the aforementioned, despite their crafted resumes … For something different, let me have a crack at Andy Mathis’ Jimmy Blue Jeans #10. There is some major upside with this gelding, who is coming into this class elevator off 3 wins in-a-row. Based on the odds, especially of the last 2 turf races he contested, the Snow Chief150k and an OC80k, bettors did not think much of his chances. He was well over 10/1 both times on the tote, and that speaks to just what an underlay he went off as in both attempts. I want to back him with Kyle Frey in the saddle, who is a pretty solid lawn jockey. Mathis does not run an expansive stable, but his record during the Meet is not half bad (26: 3-5-2). The 3-yr-old out of James Street is moving upward, and that is always a good sign, having won at this specific distance in the “Chief150k.” What a price these connections will have on their hands if Frey can get this done in the end against a field with a ton of parity!
Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Box, 10 w 1/5/9/12/13/14
Enjoy where the “Surf Meets the Turf!” Best of luck on this final week at Del Mar!