Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 5-Freight Train Baby (Race 4)
Race #1: Beaten favorite 5-North East Star (Ire) makes her second start off the bench this afternoon for D’Amato after encountering serious traffic issues in the most recent effort July 21. The 3-year-old filly appears ready for her best effort this afternoon making the third stateside start. 9-Star of The Night (Ire) is by multiple grade 1 winner Sea the Stars (Ire) who gets a respectable 15% with his debuting prodigy. This 3-year-old filly has trained well for her unveiling and attracts leading rider Juan Hernandez. 2-Bolt’s Broad has been shuffled around from barn to barn the past few months but comes off an encouraging second-place closing finish exiting the same race as the top choice.
Race #2: 6-Frost Alert goes turf to dirt and slices his claiming tag in half for conditioner Steve Knapp. This gelding has good positional speed and has run just as well over the main track. The 1 for 23 1-Group Hug is a beaten favorite in the last pair and makes the second start off the claim today for Kristen Mulhall. The gelding has finished third in his last three starts and makes his second start at this reduced $16 claiming tag level. 2-Sippin N Kissin is 0 for 5 at Del Mar but makes the first start off the claim for trainer Vladimir Cerin who is a solid 5 for 19 (26%) with a $3.94 ROI the past 5 years with new barn acquisitions.
Race #3: 8-Beneficial (by Malibu Moon) has the Baffert barn’s typical encouraging a.m. drills, and this lucrative jockey/trainer combo is 5 for 9 (56%) with a $2.71 ROI with debut runners at Del Mar for the past 3 years. His stablemate 4-Wine Me Up is a $300k OBS purchase by multiple grade 1 winner Vino Rosso. This colt has an attractive well-spaced work tab and lures Hernandez for today’s unveiling. 1-Mc Vay must negotiate the tricky rail draw but is a $1.25 million Fasig-Tipton purchase by multiple grade 1 winner Constitution who debuts for Sheriffs and jockey Mike Smith. 9-Stay Hot is one of only two runners in this field with racing experience coming off a decent third in debut Aug. 5. This hot barn has clicked close to 30% this entire meet.
Race #4: The Jeff Bonde-trained 5-Freight Train Baby (by Stay Thirsty) may have tipped his hand with a much-improved last 4-furlong drill in :47.1 on Aug. 26. This jockey/trainer combo has had great success with debut runners from limited opportunities including a pair of wins and two seconds from last four starts. Recent winners included 12-1 Lord Prancealot on 7/29 and 2-1 Shady Appeal 6/11. 8-Petesoldfashioned flashed good speed and held on gamely for the place spot in an encouraging July 22 unveiling defeating next-out winner Dr. No No. 9-Red On Sunday is by multiple grade 1 winner Smiling Tiger debuting off a decent work tab for Prat and Miller.
Race #5: The lightly raced 2-California Bay comes off a beaten favored troubled wide trip at this level when facing winners for the first time July 30 and can bounce back in this spot with a cleaner journey. The 3-year-old gelding projects to get a live race flow to close into. 3-Donner Lake has not been out in seven months but has run solid races over grass and has proven he can fire off the bench. The addition of Prat in the saddle adds to the appeal. The speedy 11-Talklessworkmore is a logical threat off back-to-back runner-up finishes and (82) turf Beyers.
Race #6: A mandatory payout in the 20-cent pick six begins in race six. 2-Navy Man was a good third–beaten less than a length– when last seen facing this class level July 3 at Los Al. That race produced a pair of next-out winners, and the 3-year-old colt has trained well since then. The Ghostzapper gelding 7-Dr. Venkman was an impressive runaway maiden winner July 21 earning a field’s best last-out (91) Beyer. He followed up that inspiring debut win with a “best of 126” 4-furlong work in :47 flat Aug. 26. A huge repeat threat if he doesn’t regress off that sharp unveiling for trainer Mark Glatt. 8–Giver Not a Taker gets some class relief this afternoon and has proven he can handle 7 furlongs.
Race #7: 4-Exaulted has won four straight since moving to turf for trainer Peter Eurton including the grade 1 Shoemaker in the most recent start on May 29. The short-priced 6-year-old has trained well since then. The veteran 8-year-old gelding 3-Count Again has banked over $1 million in career earnings and has a stellar 7-1-4 record from 18 starts. Improvement is likely off his recent fourth-place finish in the grade 2 Eddie Read when coming off a 14-month layoff. 1-Du Jour comes off a career-best closing effort in the Wickerr Stakes on July 23 but was no match for top choice two and three-back. Prat takes over for Hernandez.
Race #8: 9-Faiza won the first five starts before finishing 3rd in the grade 2 Black Eyed Susan May 19 and has worked extremely well since that effort for Baffert. The 3-year-old filly by Girvin is fresh and fit for her return to Southern California. 10-Ceiling Crusher suffered her first loss in the July 27 Fleet Treat but is eligible to bounce back after some eye-catching smashing runaway victories against softer at Santa Anita this spring. An aggressive gate pilot ensures she can negotiate the outside draw. 1-Justique moves inside, makes the second start off the layoff, and is 2 for 2 over this Del Mar strip.
Race #9: Trainer Phil D’Amato has three strong entrants in an extremely competitive rendition of the grade 3 Green Flash Handicap. 3-Turn On The Jets (Ire) got up in between horses to score the allowance victory Aug. 4 over a trio of the same colts and geldings he faces this afternoon, and this 4-year-old looks primed for another strong effort making his third start of the form cycle for D’Amato. His stablemate 5-Beer Can Man finished behind the top choice in that same race and is eligible to potentially reverse that decision making his second start off the layoff. This multiple stakes winning gelding loves this distance and this turf course. Graded stakes winners 8-Motorious and 10-Bran (Fr) will close strongly through the lane, and both are proven to run well fresh.
Race #10: The multiple grade 1 winner 5-Defunded through in an uncharacteristic 4th place clunker in the grade 2 San Diego but has returned to work five times since that subpar try for Baffert and is eligible to bounce back this afternoon. Haskell-winning 3-year-old colt 1-Geaux Rocket Ride returns to Southern California off his impressive 12-1 upset and is nicely drawn again on the rail for Mandella giving hall-of-fame rider Mike Smith plenty of tactical options. He’s bred to handle the 1 ¼ mile distance. The lightly raced 9-Arabian Knight will likely try and go gate-to-wire here after tiring in the grade 1 Haskell as the beaten favorite. The $2.3 million Uncle Mo purchase makes the second start off the layoff and can move forward off that effort.
Race #11: A multiple graded stakes winner routing on grass 6-Offlee Naughty has been freshened since a runner-up finish in the grade 3 San Juan Capistrano. He was successful in lone try at this 1 3/8-mile distance. 4-Missed the Cut moves back to grass and projects to be forwardly placed in a pace-less affair for trainer John Sadler. The 4-year-old colt by Quality Road could shake loose here if allowed to settle at a modest pace. Last year’s grade 2 Del Mar Handicap winner 10-Gold Phoenix (Ire) wasn’t helped with the outside draw but comes off a sharp win in the grade 2 Eddie Read and makes the second start off the layoff for D’Amato who has won this race seven times.