Del Mar (Saturday-11/18/23) By Dean Keppler


Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 8-Jarama (Race 6)

Race #1: 3-Inventing Anna adds blinkers and heads west on the class drop for trainer Michael McCarthy while finishing a close-up fifth on July 21 Ellis Park sprint turf attempt which was a decent effort. Prat takes over this afternoon and is a strong 5 for 9 (56%) with a lofty $4.84 ROI with this barn’s turf starters at Del Mar. 7-Princess Midnight is a logical threat off three consecutive runner-up finishes on grass and was a runner-up to repeat winner Annie’s Joy over this turf course two-back. 6-Viewer’s Discretion comes off a career-best turf Beyer but gets her tenth different jockey in 12 starts.

Selections: 3-7-6

Race #2: The Uncle Mo juvenile filly 4-Royal Slipper heads to Southern California off an impressive gate-to-wire Keeneland debut score Oct. 6 for trainer Wesley Ward where she earned a field’s best (80) Beyer figure. She’s worked three times since that encouraging unveiling– including one local drill Nov. 11. Baffert’s 1-Nothing Like You comes off an eye-catching 6 ½-length Maiden romp Oct. 14 over a next-out winner in her first attempt around two turns. Her stablemate 5-Halone (By Justify) should not be overlooked despite a ninth-place finish at 3-1 on Sept. 10 debut. She got bounced around at the start, raced wide, and never got going late. She’s eligible to move forward off that subpar try with several encouraging works since then. This jockey-trainer combo clicks close to 50% with second-time starters at DMR.

Selections: 4-1-5

Race #3: 6-Neon Lights (Ire) makes start number nine today while exiting a career-best grass Beyer (71) and runner-up effort against four familiar rivals Oct. 27 for conditioner Steve Knapp. The 3-year-old gelding shortens up to five furlongs this afternoon, makes his second start off the layoff, and appears primed to finally break through the Maiden ranks with Prat taking over the riding duties. A strong sub :47 “best of 53” 4-furlong bullet drill Nov. 12 adds to the appeal. 7-Petcoff switches to Rispoli and has had several close tries at this level including finishing second to top choice in the last try. 5-Anniversaire d’Or is a $250K April OBS purchase by Bolt d’Oro who gets a respectable 15% with his 3-year-old and up debuting prodigy. This gelding has worked well for today’s unveiling and attracts Hernandez for trainer Peter Miller. This barn is, however, only 3 for 31 (3%) with turf debut runners at Del Mar.

Selections: 6-7-5

Race #4: 2-Super Enticing makes first start around two turns over the main track and drops back in against straight $50k Maiden Claimers for trainer Peter Miller and new pilot Flavien Prat. This juvenile filly posted a field’s best (62) Beyer with a runner-up effort two-back over this strip. Her stablemate 3-Asian Matriarch is a barn re-claim after flashing good speed and losing the rider in her most recent start Oct. 22 as the short-priced stretch-out chalk. 4-High Flying Gracie was much-improved on the after-mentioned Oct. 22 stretch-out to a mile when flashing improved speed and finishing second in that short field.

Selections: 2-3-4

Race #5: The late-closing 1-For A Laugh (Ire) moves inside on the class drop for conditioner Simon Callaghan who had a win and third-place finish opening weekend. The 3-year-old colt broke his Maiden over this turf course last August. 6Kid Azteca is winless since allowance 1X downhill score May 29 at Santa Anita but returns as a first-time gelding today for Team Miller and is reunited with winning rider Herandez. 4Syntactic makes a second start off the extended layoff and can move forward in this spot despite the class hike.

Selections: 1-6-4

Race #6: 8-Jarama ran on well for the place spot at 11-1 behind next-out repeat stake’s winner Magic Spoon on Oct. 7 debut. The juvenile gelding draws another cozy outside post with good positional speed and should be tough to beat with any normal second-out improvement for trainer Tim Yakteen.7-Stolen Treasure removes the blinkers today and is slowly on the improve. 4-J Dutton is by multiple grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger and debuts for a barn that can fire at first asking. The gelding need not be a superstar to compete against this suspect group.

Selections: 8-7-4

Race #7: 1-Gypsy Tears ran a bang-up second to next-out winner Grazed in the most recent start Oct. 27 and now moves inside today on the cut back from 6 ½ to five furlongs. The colt came back with a sharp 3-furlong blowout in :36 flat Nov. 9 at Santa Anita. 5-Book Smart is in stellar form right now, having won three straight, and is wheeled back on a week’s rest while switching to grass. The 4-year-old gelding is not as efficient on turf but must be respected nonetheless based on recent raging form for conditioner Bob Hess. The lightly raced 8-Double Jab has been freshened off his most recent Maiden victory where he earned an impressive (83) grass Beyer on Aug. 11. Red-hot Prat takes over for his first crack against winners.

Selections: 1-5-8

Race #8: 7-The Chosen Vron had his eight-race win streak snapped when outpaced in the grade Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 4, but should bounce back today in this easier state-bred stakes spot stretching back out to 7 furlongs. Turf to dirt 3-None Above the Law is reunited with jockey Flavien Prat who was aboard for a 7-furlong main track stakes win over this course back in 2021. 6-Big City Lights returns off an extended 10-month freshening for trainer Richard Mandella but has trained smartly for today’s return effort and brings an impressive (3-3-0) record from six career starts into today’s $100k stake event. He’s finished behind The Chosen Vron in the last three tries, however.

Selections: 7-3-6

Race #9: 2-Hot Box is a multiple winner over the track and distance and takes a sizable class drop today for trainer Brian Koriner. The short-priced 4-Give Me The Lute has won back-to-back grass sprints and cuts back to five furlongs today where he’s a 4-time winner. The speedy six-time winner 6-Silardi returns to Southern California off a successful stint on the East Coast the last several months and has run well over this turf course in the past.

Selections: 2-4-6

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