Del Mar (Friday-7/28/23) By Dean Keppler


Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 5-Panthera’s Fate (Race 5)

Race #1: 4-Captain Sparrow returns off an 8-month freshening for trainer Mark Glatt after flashing speed and tiring in lone start last November over this turf course. He adds Lasix today, has worked steadily for return, and retains Hernandez who has two wins and a second on the barn’s last three second-time starter turf runners. 7-Neon Lights has run second and third against similar in the last two tries and now shortens up to 5 furlongs. Turf to dirt 3-Midnight Fury doesn’t have much grass pedigree but has shown good early zip in the last three starts for Team O’Neil and makes his second start off the bench this afternoon.

Selections: 4-7-3

Race #2: 6-Seldovia makes the all-important third career start this afternoon and takes a key plummet in class. Trainer Luis Mendez is a strong 7 for 12 (58%) with a $6.35 ROI with Maiden Special Weight to Maiden Claiming dropdowns at Del Mar for the past 3 years. A sharp gate work at SA on July 15 hints at her readiness. 8-Tambo finished an encouraging second on July 8 Los Al debut and now drops in for a tag for her second lifetime start. Tough read on a somewhat suspicious drop. 3-Asian Matriarch is one of two Peter Miller-trained juvenile first-time starter fillies entered here and lures Vasquez off the after-mentioned Tambo.

Selections: 6-8-3

Race #3: 1-Nineeleventurbo has won three straight grass turf route starts for Drysdale including exceeding par for this class level with the most recent (91) Beyer earned on June 10. This 6-year-old gelding has improved Beyer-wise with each subsequent start since March of last year and projects to get another favorable trip with rail draw. 5-Seven Wonders makes the second start off the bench today for Eurton off a decent 3rd in an allowance 1x at Santa Anita back in June. This colt broke his Maiden over this grass course last August. Kentucky shipper 4-Cowboy Justice (GB) was a multiple winner overseas and drops out of the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Ellis where he did little running. This softer spot should help.

Selections: 1-5-4

Race #4: 4-Wishtheyallcouldbe goes turf to dirt for trainer Mike Puype on the class drop and makes her second start off the bench. This mare’s main track tries have been decent, and she should get a lively pace to close into. The speedy 3-Ten the Smart Way ships down from Golden Gate off the mini-freshening for trainer Andy Mathis and has run par or better for this class level on multiple occasions—albeit over the synthetic footing. The 5-year-old mare turns back from a mile today. 6-Signora Minister held on by a nose in a recent game win at Los Al on June 24 earning a speed figure that matches up well here.

Selections: 4-3-6

Race #5: You can’t get any worse of a trip than 5-Panthera’s Fate had in his June 10 debut for D’Amato when facing several of the same rivals. The gelding broke slowly, spotting the field several lengths, rushed up into contention along the inside, and then was forced to steady numerous times while extremely hard to handle and running up on runners amongst heavy traffic. He galloped out in front past the wire when finally shaking free in a brutal journey. 4-Luke Grazie makes the second start off the extended layoff for Miller and moves back to the Del Mar turf, where he had three ITM finishes last fall going this mile trip. Hernandez takes over. 6-Grazed exits the same June 10 event as the top choice when flashing improved speed and settling for second. He stretches out in second start off the long layoff.

Selections: 5-4-6

Race #6: 5-Home Cooking looks primed for top effort making her second start off the bench today for Baffert and Hernandez. This filly was a smashing Maiden winner over this course last summer and shows a “best of 96” bullet sub :59 5-furlong drill on July 23 since that last 4th place finish at Santa Anita. The Curlin filly 9-Coffee in Bed has shown ability in both career starts for Mandella with a winning debut followed by a strong second-place finish and (86) Beyer back in March when facing winners for the first time. She turns back to 6 furlongs for her first start in 4 months. 6-Pequena Tormenta has improved dramatically as a 5-year-old with a sharp blowout 7-furlong win and a recent runner-up finish on June 17. Her versatile running style should serve her well in this spot.

Selections: 5-9-6

Race #7: Trainer Wesley Ward is 3 for 5 (60%) in the last three meets when making his first start over the surfside strip, and he sends out 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) winner 1-Twilight Gleaming who returns from Ascot off a subpar performance. This is a much softer spot and ideal to help build her confidence. She’s a serious gate-to-wire threat from the rail. 4-Unbridled Mary is back in southern California off a sharp career-best Beyer (88) in a come-from-behind minor stake win at Lone Star. She’s proven over this turf course and is eligible to move forward, making second start off the bench. 5-Amy C was a close-up 3rd in the G3 Intercontinental at Belmont in the most recent start on June 9. This mare makes first start at 5 furlongs for D’Amato.

Selections: 1-4-5

Race #8: 2-Ballymun is one of two Peter Miller-trained debut runners in the Friday nightcap. This juvenile gelding is by multiple G1 winner Midshipman who gets 14% with his 2-year-old debuting prodigy. Hernandez takes the call. The beaten favorite in the last start 9-Mr. Dreamcycle is the most experienced runner in the field, with three career starts for trainer Steve Miyadi. He’s flashed speed and tired in the last two efforts. 10-Shining Tiger (By Smiling Tiger) is nicely drawn outside with decent-looking a.m. drills, but the barn is a disappointing 0 for 16 with Maiden Claiming debut runners the past four years.

Selections: 2-9-10

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