Saturday's excellent Del Mar race card has J.N Campbell focused on a mix of best bets and long shot plays. He has you covered with selections for all 11 races. Another weekend of beautiful weather from Southern California awaits ... the surf and the turf will meet!
If you're looking for picks elsewhere around the country on Saturday, be sure to check out our free Horse Racing Picks via the gold button below.
HOF Trainer Mark Casse was slated to be inducted into the HOF in Saratoga Springs last year … then COVID-19 hit, and everything was put on hold. Just yesterday, the trainer who is based in both Canada and Florida, gave the speech and walked into history. Well-deserved … More work to do, of course … and he is sending this young colt out to SoCal to contest the $200k Grade II Best Pal. Casse won this race back in 2014 with Skyway, and he has a solid history of shipping 2-yr-olds into tough spots. This is a son of Gun Runner, and now that we will start to see more and more of his offspring hit the track, it will be intriguing to see how they run. My guess is … look out! Seasoned rider Joe Bravo gets the call, and he can guide this one to another victory, after the colt won his 1st race (MSW65k @GP) on debut.
Wagering Recommendation: $100 Win, #3
Off-the-Pace Play of the Day: (Race 11: Katie’s Paradise #6, 12/1):
If you are looking for a true price play from a barn that does not get much notoriety, then this is the opportunity. A David Bloom homebred, here is a dirt sprinting specialist, if there ever was one. Marcelo Polanco doesn’t have an expansive stable, but given the right spot, he can win. Class-wise, this filly is entered in the appropriate MC race to be sure. In her last 2 contests at Santa Anita and Los Alamitos, she just missed in a pair of blanket finishes. The point? She is due … Her time has arrived, and she also gets Abel Cedillo aboard for the 3rd time.
Spotlight Race of the Day: (Race 10: Turf, 1 1/16th, Yellow Ribbon Handicap (G2), $200k, F&M 3+):
This edition of the Yellow R. came up with a fairly tough field. There is really no prohibitive “fave” in here, but of course, that doesn’t mean some will not take significant money.
Charmaine’s Mia #3 (D’Amato), Dogtag #4 (Mandella), and Maxim Rate #9 (Callaghan). Of these, I particularly like #4 because these War Fronts have amazing turf ability. The cutback could be advantageous, and Umberto Rispoli is super in the saddle on the green. It is hard to spurn Callaghan’s #9, though. I scored with this mare in the Gamely S. (G1), which was a career best. Slam Dunk Racing has a good one, and JJ Hernandez is highly-proficient. I am just not as enthusiastic about her in this spot, even though I will use her in the exotics.
As for some of the others to think about … I am pretty interested in a horse-for-the-course like Raymundos Secret #2. Out of talented turf sires like Treasure Beach (GB) and Galileo (IRE), you cannot beat those lines. This 5-yr-old is classy, and she is 3/4 at Del Mar, which bodes well coming into this spot. The downside is jockey Tiago Pereira is pretty “green” on this surface, and just does not get the opportunity to hone his craft. That gives me pause.
If I am really hunting for a top selection, then it has to be Mike Stidham’s Princess Grace #8. I was pretty high on her last year at Keeneland in the Valley View (G3), and she did well to finish 2nd to Stunning Sky in that contest. The Moores bred and own this one, and Stidham has managed her well. After a long layoff over the course of the winter and spring, she returned for a freshening at Parx in a Grade III contest that she won by a neck. It is going to certainly take a “best effort” in here, but I think she can do it. I do not care for Kent Desormeaux on the grass as a rider. But his numbers belie such misgivings. He can rate well, and manage traffic. This one is a bet at anything higher than 6/1 in my estimation. Out of Karakonite (JPN), one of my favorite sires, the 4-yr-old filly is graduating today.