Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 8-Doinitthehardway (Race 4)
Race #1: Trainer Bob Baffert sends out two Curlin juvenile colts in the Saturday opener. The multiple grade 1 winner gets about 12% with his debuting prodigy. 3-Mission Beach has been working swiftly in his a.m. drills and this jockey/trainer combo is 4 for 8 (50%) with a $3.43 ROI the past two years with debut runners. His stablemate 7-Dagger Ranch also has a flashy work tab and is nicely drawn outside. 2-Bigredandribeyes (By Vinno Rosso) have worked well for Team O’Neill, who has sent out a handful of live runners so far this meet.
Race #2: 5-Rakassah (Ire) returns from a 12-week freshening for D’Amato and takes a substantial drop in class. 6-Annie’s Song (Ire) was a beaten favorite over the Los Al main track July 8 but now returns to her preferred footing. Dirt to turf 7-Teen Drama adds blinkers while making the second start of the claim for trainer Steve Knapp. This filly had a pair of wins at Monmouth Park, going 5 furlongs on grass last spring and summer.
Race #3: 7-Colette’s Joy rallied for 2nd on June 4 debut earning the field’s best last-out main track Beyer. She has five works since that encouraging effort. 6-Duchessofbayridge flashed improved speed and gained nearly 30 Beyer points from her initial debut on April 23 to her last start on June 4. Another move forward makes her the one to beat in here. 1-Jensco was beaten only three lengths despite a tardy start on her April 30 debut and now switches to the main track for start number two. This filly has plenty of dirt breeding and shows an eye-catching “best of 67” 5-furlong bullet drill in :58 flat July 29.
Race #4: 8-Doinitthehardway is drawn outside with good early speed for Baffert and drops out of the grade 2 Summertime Oaks where she finished a non-threatening fifth. This is a much softer spot, and she’s back at her preferred mile trip. Her stablemate 4-Lucky for You has had plenty of time to recover from a sharp gate-to-wire Maiden win on May 14. If she runs, Chilean-bred 3-Yuki (Chi) would be wheeling back on only four days’ rest for trainer Amador Sanchez who has clicked over 40% with horses making their first start of the meet.
Race #5: 4-Johnny Paycheck has run some competitive races at this level going today’s mile trip for D’Amato and projects to get a favorable stalking trip behind likely pacesetter Seattle Surf. 6-Maxville this gelding’s turf Beyers has increased with each subsequent start, and he had a legitimate excuse in the last effort when hitting the gate and breaking slowly. He rallied nicely for fourth despite a wide trip. 3-Defender Foris also exits a wide trip in a bulky Maiden field on June 18 and makes the all-important 3rd career start this afternoon for trainer Kristen Mulhall. The colt adds blinkers today.
Race #6: 10-Prety Rena comes off a career-best second-place effort when moved back to the main track and dropped to bottom-level $20k claimers. She draws outside today with good gate speed and perhaps has finally found a group she can handle. A solid work over the track July 28. 4-Exclusively Noble goes turf to dirt and drops in for a tag in the second career start for conditioner Dean Pederson who had a phenomenal 2022 meet. 3-Copper Bo Ten drops from $50k to $20,000 for trainer Carla Gaines and can improve in this softer spot.
Race #7: A challenging 1x optional $20k claiming grass sprint for colts and geldings awaits here with several directions a handicapper can go. 9-My Man Bags has won three of his last four for trainer Mark Glatt, but the previous two grass tries back in 2021 were subpar efforts. Perhaps he’s just a better horse at the age of 5 as opposed to not handling turf. 5–I’m Dr. O has never tried grass but has several sharp synthetic efforts at Golden Gate against better. Dirt to turf 2-Geezer adds Lasix off a six-month freshening and has some grass pedigree to suggest he’ll successfully handle the surface switch. He shows a solid bullet turf drill July 30 for a good layoff barn.
Race #8: 10-Got Thunder drops from $50k claimers to $16,000 for Sadler after a series of dull tries but has enough positional speed to get a favorable spot early on and may simply be better than this group. 3-Keen to Go takes a huge class drop for trainer Jeff Mullins and owns the field’s best last-out main track Beyer (77). Turf to dirt 4-Sippin N Kissin goes first off the claim for Kristen Mulhall and fits well here based on main track figures.
Race #9: Multiple stakes winner 5-Carmelitas Man won this race last year and comes off the mini-freshening for trainer Dean Pederson. The 6-year-old gelding loves this turf course (7-3-2-0). 6-Kings River Knight is back on turf and clearly the one to beat having won back-to-back stakes in gate-to-wire fashion for Sadler and is a perfect 2-for-2 over this grass course. 10-Indian Peak returns off a two-month break for Miller and would be the likely beneficiary of a pace meltdown. This gelding was a runner-up in this race back in 2021 and should be rallying strongly through the lane.
Race #10: Multiple grade 2 winner 3-Adare Manor has won three straight for Baffert and brings a stellar overall record (11-5-4-0) into today’s grade 1 Hirsch. The daughter of Uncle Mo has shown the versatility to set the pace or sit and pounce which makes her extremely hard to pick against at short odds. Hernandez lands here as opposed to selecting to ride Baffert’s other star filly 2-Fun to Dream. She’s won 6 of 8 career starts and was a head short of winning the grade 1 Beholder Mile when last seen back in March. A “best of 101” 5-furlong work for this July 30 proves she’s ready to fire big off the bench and give her stablemate all she can handle. 4-Kirstenbosch was second best to top pick in the grade 2 Santa Margarita and is proven over this racetrack.
Race #11: 5-De Joria makes the first start off the claim for Hess and the initial outing in southern California. A slim nod in another wide-open nightcap. Beaten favorite 7-Irish Patsy goes two sprints to a route for McCarthy and worked well over the main track July 29. Top turf pilot is likely to work out a favorable trip. 2-In Your Face broke her Maiden nearly a year ago over this racetrack for Sadler but hasn’t been seen since that winning effort. She’s worked well for her return.