Del Mar (Saturday-7/22/23) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 3-Anisette (GB) (Race 9)

Race #1: 5-Wyfire has been as effective on dirt as turf, as indicated by a decisive win two-back when that event was washed off the grass. The 5-year-old takes a substantial class drop this afternoon and has enough positional speed to stay within striking range early on. 2-Strike That was a sharp winner when last seen back on May 20 at Santa Anita and now makes the first start off the claim for conditioner Steve Knapp. This gelding won his debut in lone start over this racetrack and has run par or better for this class level in three of his last four starts. 1-Self Taught goes first off the claim for trainer Bob Hess and is reunited with winning rider Edwin Maldonado.

Selections: 5-2-1

Race #2: 6-Soul of Midnight has speed and drops to a career-low claiming tag for trainer Dean Pederson who had a sensational 2022 meet going 8 for 12 (67%). 5-Jam Session drops from $25k to $16,000 claimers after finishing 2nd as the beaten favorite at Los Al on June 25. 1-Spiritist was a fast-closing 4th in the most recent effort on June 25 at Los Al and now stretches out an additional furlong off the Steve Knapp claim. He shows nice work for this on July 15, and Hernandez climbs aboard.

Selections: 6-5-1

Race #3: This $20k Maiden Claimer for three and 4-year-old geldings looks like an optimum spot to try a price play in what appears to be a wide-open event. 4-San Jac goes two sprints to a route for trainer Tim Yakteen and exits a race on June 10 that’s produced a pair of next-out winners. 1-Ice Storm came up a neck short against similar in his most recent try on June 9 and now makes 3rd start of the form cycle. First-time gelding 3-Buffett drops in class off the mini-freshening and shows an improved 4-furlong work on July 16.

Selections: 4-1-3

Race #4: 5-Mrs. Astor ships in with improving Beyer pattern and recent 3rd at Churchill in the Grade 3 Regret. The 3-year-old filly drops in class for winning barn and is proven at the distance.7-Alvina (Fr) broke slowly and was wide for a good portion of the first stateside try for D’Amato on June 18 and now tries two turns for the first time. The French import is by Shalaa (Ire)—a multiple grade 1 winner overseas. Recent Maiden winner 1-Ruby Nell has not been off the board in all four career starts and appears well-spotted for the first crack against winners.

Selections: 5-7-1

Race #5: 5-Conquest Celsius has good early speed and just missed in a much-improved effort at Los Al. Another forward move makes this filly a dangerous foe against this suspect group. 8-Bella Vienna is by multiple Grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger, who gets a respectable 13% with his juvenile debuting prodigy, and this barn can fire with first-time starters. 10-Borntostaythirsty is a logical threat off back-to-back 2nd place finishes at Santa Anita.

Selections: 5-8-10

Race #6: 4-Affable has not been out in 10 months for trainer Mark Glatt but returns as a first-time gelding on the turnback and has proven he can fire fresh. 7-Moose Mitchell has arguably put in two of his best career efforts at Santa Anita in the last pair of starts with smashing wins and has worked three times since that last score on June 4. The 4-year-old gelding is a multiple winner over the racetrack but must avoid a potential bounce in this competitive spot. 5-Escape Route was an excellent 2nd against similar in his most recent effort on June 16 when battling hard through taxing fractions. This 5-year-old has a solid record of (4-2-2-0) over this racetrack.

Selections: 4-7-5

Race #7: 9-Awake At Midnyte only has one prior turf try for Team O’Neill, but it was a strong effort in the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante in 2021, where she came up just a nose short of the win. She adds blinkers today on the stretch-out and surface switch today and could upset this wide-open field. 8-Nevisian Sunrise was last seen 11 months ago at Saratoga when spurting clear early by double-digit lengths before tiring to finish second. This 5-year-old mare has proven she can fire off the bench and has a sharp bullet 5-furlong drill over the DMR main track in preparation for this. Hernandez takes the call and adds to the appeal. 3-Warrens Candy Girl is a 4-time winner over this racetrack and distance and should get a live race flow to utilize his sharp closing kick.

Selections: 9-8-3

Race #8: 10-Ur in Trouble is nicely drawn outside for today’s initial outing for Team O’Neill and R3 Racing, who were a potent combo in 2022, going 5 for 11 (45%). This juvenile filly is by Maximus Mischief, who is a sharp 4 for 19 (21%) with 2-year-old first-time starters. 8-Dua (By Arrogate) debuts for Baffert and Hernandez off barn’s typical flashy work tab. 6-Hope Road is one of two fillies from the Sadler barn that have worked well for today’s initial outing.

Selections: 10-8-6

Race #9: 3-Anisette (GB) was visually impressive in her first U.S. start on May 29 when closing stoutly to win from last and looks primed to tackle graded-stake caliber fillies for trainer Leonard Powell. Grade 2 winner 4-Delight ships in for trainer Jonathan Thomas off a 1x win at Horseshoe Indianapolis in her lone start of 2023. She’s a multiple winner going this mile trip, and her versatile running style makes her a strong contender with top turf pilot. 8-Paris Secret (Ire) was a lukewarm beaten favorite in last but adds blinkers today for D’Amato and won the Grade 3 Providencia two-back with a competitive Beyer.

Selections: 3-4-8

Race #10: 10-Dr. No No is a juvenile colt by Smiling Tiger who draws nicely outside off some fast a.m. drills for conditioner Brian Koriner who has solid success with debut runners. A strong gate-to-wire threat with an alert break. 5-Capo Luigi finished well for 3rd in Golden Gate debut on June 11 after a slow start, and that event has produced a pair of next-out winners. 3-Buraq’s Reflection was a much-improved 2nd in start number two when falling a neck short at Los Al. Another forward move makes him a strong factor against this large field of inexperienced juveniles.

Selections: 10-5-3

Race #11: The speedy 2-Cane Creek Road makes the second start off a long layoff for winning owner and trainer combo and should be tough to reel in late. 1-Sarwar (Fr) should work out another favorable ground-saving journey with an inside draw. 7-Vancougar makes an initial start around two turns for Mullins, and the gelding’s recent running style suggests he should enjoy the extra real estate. A strong “best of 63” 5-furlong drill over the main track on July 14 indicates he remains razor sharp.

Selections: 2-1-7

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