Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 5-Zoes Pride (Race 10)
Race #1: 4-She’s Resilient has won 3 of 4 career starts and ran well to finish 3rd against older rivals in her most recent start when stumbling out of the gate and chasing the front runner through snappy fractions. She drops a notch today and returns to face straight 3-year-olds and should be tough to reel in late. 5-Silver Lightning adds Lasix off an 11-month freshening for Team O’Neil and was a smashing maiden winner here last summer. Class dropping 1-Just a Little Luck has speed and the rail and attracts circuits leading rider.
Race #2: Beaten favorite 2-Strighten Up had a troubled trip in his last effort at Los Al when shuffled out of contention and should rebound in this spot as today’s potential front-runner. First-time gelding 6-Too Much Info arrives from Lone Star for trainer Robert Diodoro and merits respect on the class drop, surface switch, and the addition of blinkers. 5-Colonel Vargo ships in from Pleasanton in super sharp form and owns the field’s best last-out main track Beyer (71).
Race #3: 1-Eddie’s New Dream moves inside with good positional speed and came up just a length short against similar on June 18. The 5-year-old mare likes this turf course and projects to work out a favorable journey. 5-Oakhurst hasn’t been out since February but lands in a much softer spot than she’s accustomed to running against and has trained exceptionally well for D’Amato. 6-Paris Peacock ships in from Florida for trainer Tom Proctor and comes off back-to-back 2nd-place finishes with an improving Beyer pattern.
Race #4: 1-Cowboy Mike stretches out for Baffert and adds blinkers in career start number four. The equipment and distance change are all winning moves for this top barn, and Hernandez stays aboard. 2-Ship and Scam is 0 for 11 but comes off a career and field’s best Beyer (79) that’s 3 points above par for this class level. 4-Don’t Fight the Fed was a troubled trip 4th in debut, but it’s hard to get passed the trainer’s 0 for 23 record with second-time starters.
Race #5: 2-Kissed by Fire showed good speed to finish 2nd in her first turf start back on May 21 and has trained well since that sharp effort. A pair of runners from that May event have returned to win and this filly should be tough cutting back to 5 furlongs and adding Lasix. 5-Just Nails has not been seen since her encouraging second-place finish last year at Los Al as the beaten favorite, but she’s worked well enough for today’s return, and she’s bred to handle turf. 8-Make It Snow returns off a 4-month freshening for the Papaprodromou barn and returns to the turf where she finished a close-up 3rd in her debut with a respectable Beyer figure.
Race #6: 5-Ghazaaly looms an upset chance in the grade 3 Cougar II stakes. The 5-year-old by Curlin projects to be forwardly placed going this marathon distance. He has already proven he can handle an extended route of ground with a win and two second-place finishes going a mile and an eighth. 1-Azul Coast returns off an 8-month layoff for Baffert off barn’s typical fast works, and this grade 3 winner has run some of his best races at Del Mar. Hernandez taking the call adds to the appeal. 4-Kiss Today Goodbye gets some class relief dropping out of the grade Gold Cup when finishing a respectable 3rd at 37/1 and makes third start of the form cycle this afternoon.
Race #7: 3-Horace Man had a useful prep for this in the last start at Santa Anita when finishing 3rd and now stretches out to his preferred mile trip. This lightly raced runner from the D’Amato barn has worked three times since that effort. 8-Smart Code exits the same race as the top choice when falling just a neck short as the beaten favorite. This colt owns the field’s best last-out turf Beyer and should be a handful with any regular second off-the-bench improvement. He broke his Maiden going a mile. European import 9-X J Rascal (Ire) is the unknown making his first stateside start for trainer Kristen Mulhall. He brings an encouraging wok tab to the table.
Race #8: 8-Pony Express is a $500k Keeneland purchase by multiple G1 winner Gun Runner who gets a solid 18% with his 2-year-old debuting prodigy. This colt arrives on the scene with some snappy a.m. drills for Sadler. Odds-on-beaten favorite 1-Mirahmadi finished 2nd in the Fasig-Tipton Futurity on June 11 and should be a handful with any standard second-out improvement for Baffert. His stablemate 2-Tall Paul (By Frosted) shows a quickened 4-furlong drill in :47 flat on July 17. This barn traditionally brings over a stable of well-bred and well-meant juveniles that typically shine at the prestigious surfside meet. No reason to believe Paul doesn’t meet that criteria.
Race #9: 1-Cathkin Peak (Ire) makes first start since October for D’Amato but has proven he can fire off the bench and is a multiple winner going this mile trip. 7-Du Jour exits four consecutive graded stake events for Baffert and should appreciate today’s class relief. The 5-year-old gelding is winless since May 2021, however. 9–Salesman (Ire) finished a well-beaten 9th in the G1 Shoemaker on May 29 on his first stateside try but in his defense, he was off a tad slowly and raced wide. The 6-year-old gelding could improve in this spot for Mandella.
Race #10: Trainer Tim McCanna is 0 for three at Del Mar with MDSW to Maiden Claiming droppers but a solid 31% elsewhere. 5-Zoe’s Pride ships in with some of the better Beyer speed figures in the field and should find today’s cheaper level much to her liking. A best-of-39 4-furlong bullet drill on July 16 at Pleasanton hints at her solid intentions this afternoon. 2-Lone Mountain Girl flashed speed and tired to finish 4th in Sunland debut back in March and now drops in for a tag for trainer Todd Fincher. She’s eligible to carry that speed further against Maiden Claimers. 6-Twin Soul finished an improved 2nd when dropped to this level at Santa Anita on June 4 and makes second start off the layoff this afternoon.
Race #11: 7-Comradery (Ire) makes the third start off the bench this afternoon and projects to get a favorable trip for trainer Steve Knapp. 6-Overdue exits the same race as Comradery and makes his second start off the bench for D’Amato. Florida shipper 1-Light Fury is a three-time winner over this mile trip. and has trained well for his first start in Southern California.