Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 6-Exclusive Joni (Race 7)
Race #1: Team Baffert sends out a pair of juvenile colts in the Saturday opener that are difficult to look past and separate. These connections are off to their typical fast start. 1-Heartland is a $575K Keeneland purchase by Triple Crown winner Justify, who gets a strong 24% with his 2-year-old debuting prodigy. Hernandez lands here. His stablemate 4-Head Lad is by freshman sire St. Patrick’s Day, who is off to a flying start in the breeding shed, going (7-3-2-0) (42%) from limited starters. Bravo takes the call and has a first and second in two starts for barn’s debuting runners. 3-Invincible and 2-Flight Way have worked well for O’Neill, who has also started exceptionally well this summer meet.
Race #2: 6-Unconquerable Keen was a beaten favorite on June 10 but has flashed good speed in the last two starts and could be tough to reel in shortening up to 5 furlongs. The gelding regressed in his last start but was a solid gate-to-wire winner two back with a strong (94) Beyer in the first stateside effort. 4-Cherubic Factor has won two of his last three starts for Hernandez and Eurton and cuts back from 6 1/2 to 5 furlongs this afternoon. 1-Standing O has been a gem of consistency for D’Amato since last April and projects to get another favorable ground-saving trip from the rail with Rispoli.
Race #3: 5-Only One America is by Marking, a solid 10 for 49 (20%) with his juvenile 2-year-old debuting prodigy. The filly faces all males and shows decent a.m. drills for trainer Peter Miller. 9-Mr Chivas holds the experience edge over her main rivals and comes off back-to-back second-place finishes. 4-Episode Five ran an even 4th on June 11 debut at Santa Anita and can move forward this afternoon in the second career start for a barn with decent numbers with second-time starters.
Race #4: 3-Talkative Gal was a 7-length runaway winner in her recent start at Los Al on July 8, earning the field’s best last-out Beyer (75). She moves up a notch today in class but will be tough if she can repeat that performance with 7 lb. bug back aboard. 5-Awesome Taylor goes turf to dirt today on the class drop and has run equally well over the grass and the main track. The 4-year-old filly projects to be forwardly placed in this spot and perhaps get the first run. 7-Renegade Princess comes here with an improving Beyer pattern and has run well at this mile trip. The 5-year-old mare can land part of the vertical exotics.
Race #5: The D’Amato import 5-Loterie makes the first U.S. start off a 3rd place finish in a bulky field at Curragh and looks to have some ability. Her sire, Ten Sovereigns (Ire), was a multiple grade 1 winner overseas. 3-Angiolleta (Ire) makes the first stateside start for Team O’Neil off a strong runner-up maiden finish in France. Today’s mile trip should be ideal. 9-Roscoe Village ships in from Gulfstream for trainer Tom Proctor to make the all-important 3rd career start off a solid second over the synthetic footing on July 7. This filly’s breeding suggests turf is where she should excel.
Race #6: The sample is small, but trainer Andy Mathis is 2 for 4 (50%) with a $5.90 ROI with second off the claim runner at DMR. The filly 5-Like No Other fits those criteria this afternoon and drops out of a much stricter starter allowance at Pleasanton. 8-Sugar Sugar is 1 for 18 but drops in class this afternoon and returns to a racing surface she’s had some minor success over. 3-Blackened ships in from Golden Gate off the mini-freshening and has trained well at San Luis Rey for today’s return try. She drops in class today and did break her maiden over the local footing in debut back in December 2022.
Race #7: Dirt to turf 6-Exclusive Joni makes the first start off the claim for Hess and Desormeaux and closed well for third at Gulfstream two-back on grass. This veteran jockey/trainer combo has won many races from coast to coast. 2–Ankyrah comes off back-to-back 4th place finishes at Santa Anita against maiden special weight caliber foes and fits well on the class drop making 3rd start of the form cycle. 9-Adelie (Ire) shows up for a first-time tag off a 10-month layoff for D’Amato but has shown enough in seven grass starts to merit some consideration for part of this at this reduced level.
Race #8: 6-Defunded is the class of this field and has been freshened for Baffert off grade 1 Gold Cup win at Santa Anita. The 7-for-17 gelding has banked over $1.5 million and proven he can lead or come from behind if need be. He looks tough off the bench off the sharp work tab. 2-Royal Ship (Brz) has proven he can fire fresh for Mandela and has worked superbly for today’s return. The gelding was a 9/1 upset winner of this race last year. Multiple grade 2 winner 1-Slow Down Andy has speed and the rail and drops out of three consecutive tough spots for Team O’Neill while facing Cody’s Wish in the last pair. He makes his second start off the bench today and can improve.
Race #9: Irish import 4-Impact Warrior (Ire) adds Lasix for the initial stateside try and has a decent 5-furlong drill over the local turf course. This filly has a win and second-place finish from 4 starts overseas. 12-Shocking Grey will have to overcome a tough outside draw but likes this turf course, the one-mile trip, and has been freshened since a decent 3rd place finish in the Fran’s Valentine. That race has produced a pair of next-out winners. 3-Rebel Girl has been freshened for a hot barn, and Hernandez lands here. Don’t dismiss.
Race #10: Multiple grade 1 winner 11-Dr. Schivel loves the Del Mar course (4-3-1-0) and makes his third start off the bench today for trainer Mark Glatt. He sports the highest Beyer speed figure (105) in the field and retains the winning pilot. 4-The Chosen Vron has won 7 consecutive races on varied distances and surfaces. The 5-year-old gelding has never been better and deserves a crack at this grade 1 to add to his impressive resume. The lightly raced 5-year-old 2-Spirit of Makena has won 4 of 5 starts including back-to-back graded stake scores.
Race #11: The Arrogate colt 8-Chay’s Tornado flashed speed and tired on his June 3 debut but now stretches out for his second career start and is likely to show vast improvement switching to Hernandez. 3-Caribbean King makes the third career start off an improving Beyer pattern and projects to be forwardly placed this afternoon. First-time gelding 5-Legitimate Target (GB) adds Lasix for today’s U.S. unveiling off a long layoff and sixth-place finish at Dundalk back in December 2022. The 3-year-old shows a steady work tab locally over the main track.