Del Mar (Friday-8/11/23) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 8-Black as My Heart (Race 3)

Race #1: 2-Eligio came up a nose short in a sharp Los Al debut effort July 8 after a tardy start. The one to beat based on standard second-out improvement. 6-Ace of Clubs exits that race as the top choice and attracted decent tote support. The colt had an eventful Los Al debut when forced to check in-between horses before the quarter-mile pole. He finished a well-beaten 3rd but can improve with that experience. Florida shipper 3-Always on Cay drops in for the $100k tag for Desormeaux and Hess off a non-threatening 7th place finish back in May over the synthetic footing. He’s worked four times locally since then and can improve. Trainer Time Yakteen sends out a pair of well-bred firsters with 4-Thompson and 7-Bowtie Boys, but the barn is only 1 for 30 (3%) with debut runners at DMR.

Selections: 2-6-3

Race #2: Turf to dirt 7-Stotland adds blinkers today on the class drop and mini-freshening and will likely try and wire this field. The geldings breeding suggests the switch to the main track should be fine. 6-Big Swede goes two sprints to a route this afternoon for trainer Hector Palma with an improving Beyer pattern and was a decent winner two-back at Los Al from off the pace. 1-Mr. T’s Thirsty stretches back out on the class drop and can slug up for a part of this with a ground-saving rail trip.

Selections: 7-6-1

Race #3: 8-Black as My Heart finished a decent 5th (beaten less than 3 lengths) on June 10 debut for Sadler and should be ready for a top effort making start number two. This barn clicks around 25% with second-time grass starters– and the addition of Hernandez and a bullet drill August 4– adds to the appeal. 6-Ghostly Act has three second-place finishes from 8 starts with a pair of those efforts coming on grass. The gelding shortens back up to 5 panels today and gets in light. 1-Double Jab has run well in both synthetic starts at Golden Gate and is bred to handle turf for trainer Andy Mathis.

Selections: 8-6-1

Race #4: 8-Mystic Flyer returns off a 9-month layoff for trainer Michael McCarthy but has trained superbly during a.m. drills for today’s return effort. The gelding adds Lasix today and has run well over this racetrack with a Maiden win and second-place N1x finish. The 6-year-old gelding 12-In Vronsky Style continues to race gamely every start for D’Amato and successfully handled the switch to the main track with a runner-up finish June 24. He makes his second start off the bench today, shows a solid 5-furlong drill Aug. 6, and has enough positional speed to get a decent position with outside draw. 6Lemon Sushi hasn’t been out since November 2022 but has proven he can fire fresh and has Beyer figs that match up well with this group.

Selections: 8-12-6

Race #5: Trainer Carla Gaines is only 3 for 56 with turf debut runners the past five years, but two of those three wins came with jockey Umberto Rispoli in the saddle. 6-Longhorn Lassie (By Texas Ryano) comes in with a modest work tab but is worth a flier in this wide-open MDSW grass sprint for juvenile fillies. 1-Runamileinmyshoes (By Street Boss) has been well-prepped for this by trainer Jeff Mullins and should come away running from the rail with Hernandez. 2-Pondergating has shown some zip in the a.m. and gets aggressive gate pilot for today’s sprint debut.

Selections: 6-1-2

Race #6: 3-Last Call London lost all chance in Pleasanton stake July 9 when stumbling out of the gate but is a significant threat against this group with a clean break. Although his Beyer didn’t come back particularly strong his Maiden win two-back June 11 was visually impressive. Hernandez is back aboard for trainer Peter Miller. 1-Refocus was no match for runaway Fasig-Tipton Futurity Stake winner Tranche but makes career start number three for Team O’Neil and can rebound in this spot. 5-Smokem Z finished strongly for the Maiden win back in May despite a slow start and has had plenty of time to recover and regroup for the first crack against winners in this small stake.

Selections: 3-1-5

Race #7: 8-Corporal Violette (Ire) stretches out for the third stateside start after back-to-back slow beginnings April 12 and June 17. The 4-year-old filly drops in for a tag this afternoon and can improve in this softer spot for an excellent grass rider. Upset chance.  5-Abhita needs some pace to close into but makes her second start off the bench today and drops in class for trainer Craig Lewis. 1-Inner Beauty (Ire) has been plagued by layoff lines throughout her career but has run par or better for this class level on numerous occasions and can work out a decent trip with rail draw.

Selections: 8-5-1

Race #8: 6-L L L Cool flashed speed and held on to finish 2nd in the first start off an extended layoff for trainer John Sadler. He’s since come back to drill a bullet 4-furlongs and is a logical threat off that last start. The gelding sports the fields best last-out main track Beyer. 2-Big Gun ran a better-than-looks 9th in the last start July 27 when off slowly and facing traffic issues. The gelding makes second start off the bench today and deserves another chance at this bottom $20k Maiden claiming level. 3-Commissioner H goes turf to dirt and drops in for a first-time tag.

Selections: 6-2-3

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