Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 3-Cholly (Race 7)
Race #1: 4-Wudi is a $725K Ocala purchase who debuts for Baffert off a string of encouraging a.m. drills. The filly is by Uncle Mo who gets 13% with his 2-year-old debut prodigy and leading rider J. J. Hernandez gets the riding assignment. 1-Sweet Trouble is a $600K Keeneland purchase by Into Mischief who gets a solid 16% with juvenile first-time starters and Prat takes the call. The filly has worked well for her unveiling, but top barn is only 3 for 60 (5%) with debut runners at Del Mar. 2-Lily Poo is the lone filly entered in the Friday opener with prior racing experience off encouraging back-to-back runner-up finishes. A sharp 4-furlong bullet drill since her last start indicates she remains on edge.
Race #2: 3-Suburban Prince was overmatched in the G3 Zuma Beach in most recent start October 9 but drops back down into a more realistic $50k claiming tag today for Team O’Neill. Recent Maiden winner 1-Rich Gold didn’t show much in only grass start in debut back in August but has the right running style in a race that’s projected to be run swiftly early on. 5-Top of My Game drops another notch looking for the appropriate winning level and comes in with an improving Beyer pattern.
Race #3: 6-Argentina Crisis (Ire) dueled through some quick opening fractions before surrendering in last and now cuts back to 6 furlongs today dropping from a $50k to $32,000 claiming tag. The juvenile gelding by Empire Maker gets a huge jockey upgrade from Alsagoor to Prat this afternoon. 2-Stop and Tres was trounced in August debut but returns as a first-time gelding; adds blinkers today and makes first start for a tag. 8-Top Gun Classic also drops from MDSW to Maiden Claimers while coming off a 4-month freshening. Although he was a non-factor, he exits a Maiden heat that’s produced a pair of next-out winners including multiple G3 winner Havnameltdown.
Race #4: 3-Johnny Paycheck returns to turf off 6-month layoff for trainer Phil D’Amato and has trained extremely well for his return. This gelding was a troubled trip 4th in grass debut two-back and is by top sire Violence who gets a respectable 14% with his turf sprint prodigy. 5-Press On has not been seen since finishing 3rd as the tepid betting choice in turf debut some 8 months ago at Santa Anita. The 3-year-old colt has trained well for his return, however, and this conditioner is solid 8 for 35 (23%) with a $4.01 ROI the past 3 years with second time starters sprinting on grass. 1-Orth makes career start number 13 today but has run some competitive figures when sprinting on grass with 4 combined second and third place finishes. 6-Tom’s X S is half-brother to stablemate Precious Baby who just scored a 25/1 debut grass upset last Sunday for these same connections.
Race #5: 4-Anacapa has good positional speed and comes off a sharp runner-up try in most recent effort on October 30. This filly is lightly raced; owns the field’s best last-out main track Beyer (76) and shows 3 sharp works since that last try. She broke her Maiden sprinting over this racetrack. 2-Rose Dawson goes turf to dirt; route to sprint and gets some class relief this afternoon dropping out of 3 consecutive stake races. This filly has proven to be just as effective over the main track for these winning connections. 1-Smoothlikebuttah is only 2 for 34 in her career but has hit the board in 11 straight races for trainer Steve Knapp.
Race #6: 2-Storming Lady stretches out off sharp win for Hernandez and Miller and owns the field’s best last turf Beyer (83). This veteran mare is a 7-time winner and has had success at this one-mile trip earlier in her career. She projects to be closer to the pace this afternoon. 9-Gallovie (GB) is drawn outside with good speed and makes first start off the Ron Ellis claim. This 6-year-old mare is 0 for 10 going a mile, however, but does have 4 runner-up finishes. 5-Varoma makes second start off the mini-freshening coming off a 2nd place finish against similar.
Race #7: 3-Cholly has been knocking on the door for trainer Ryan Hanson and exits a solid 2nd place finish in the Golden State Juvenile Filly Stakes where she earned a field’s best (63) Beyer which is above par for this Maiden Special Weight level. Prat takes over. 1-Nyvan goes turf to dirt off back-to-back beaten favorite 2nd place finishes. This filly is by Nyquist who gets 17% with dirt sprinters and she should relish her first main track try. 10-Sassy Nature debuts for barn that has above average numbers with first time starters and comes in here with a flashy worktab including a “best of 54” 4-furlong drill in eye-catching :46.1 on November 27. Her sire Straight Fire is 5 for 23 (21%) with 2-year-old debut runners. 5-Bajan Bashert is by Speightster who gets 14% with his 2-year-old debuting prodigy and this jockey/trainer combo have had good prior overall success.
Race #8: 3-Forgiving Spirit co-tops the field’s best last out turf Beyer (90) with game neck victory in last going 6 furlongs. The October 8 event has produced a pair of next-out winners. 4-Jack Sixpack returns sprinting off a 7-month freshening for great layoff barn and spirited a.m. drills. D’Amato is 7 for 20 (35%) with a $3.47 ROI the past 2 years with horses returning off >180 days at DMR. This 3-year-old gelding should be the better price of the D’Amato pair which also includes 9-In Vronsky Style who is logical off back-to-back runner-up finishes. 5-Cowboy Charlie is 2 for 2 going 5 furlongs over this turf course.
Race #9: 2-Fursace goes turf to dirt making 2nd start off the extended layoff after flashing good speed before tiring to 3rd. The 5-year-old mare is a serious wire-to-wire threat at this reduced level if she shakes free again. 3-Three Points Oh goes turf to dirt with good early zip and takes the significant class plunge from MDSW to Maiden Claimers. That last turf event on October 9 has produced 3 next-out winners, and she was a good 2nd over the main track at Los Al two-back. 1-Justin’s Lady is by G1 winner Idiot Proof who gets 14% with his 3-year-old debut starters and attracts Hernandez for unveiling.