Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 4-Secret Fix (Race #1)
Race #1: One of the strongest handicapping angles in racing is a horse with good gate speed dropping from Maiden Special Weight to Maiden Claimers. That’s the case with morning line 8/5 favorite 4-Secret Fix who goes turf to dirt for low-profile trainer Shelbe Ruis. This 4-year-old filly earned a strong dirt Beyer two-back behind a pair of next-out winners and a repeat of that strong performance would bury these. Today’s Best Bet. 5-Darling Donna drops in class; goes turf to dirt and makes her second start off the layoff for trainer Vladimir Cerin. Improvement likely. 6-Kitten Calls is another dropping in class and going turf to dirt for a barn that has above average numbers with this surface change.
Race #2: 3-Cribbage Board attracted decent tote support in June 26 unveiling when finishing a decent 3rd beaten only two lengths and now switches to grass for career start number two. The gelding’s sire Stanford has a pair of turf sprint winners from 11 starts so he may take to the sod and offer decent value in this spot. 11-Laughing Legacy debuts with Lasix and comes in with some snappy morning drills over at Los Al for trainer Brian Koriner. This barn won with a turf sprinting debut runner last year. 8-Mastermind had a slow break and wide trip in Tampa turf debut back in March and has worked extremely well for his new hall of fame connections since moving west.
Race #3: 1-Proverb finished an even fifth at Churchill in most recent start but returns to California for new barn where he’s run par or better for this level on multiple occasions and can move forward here today with top rider Florent Geroux taking over. Upset chance. The speedy 4-Loud Mouth has been tiring against much better as of late but takes a significant class plunge this afternoon for Sadler and should be tough to reel in if left alone early. 3-Sol Del Sur ships west for new barn that clicks close to 25% with newly acquired purchases. This 4-year-old gelding was runner-up at Keeneland in last start against $50k caliber claimers. We’ll soon find out how that matches up against the $32k level here in Southern California.
Race #4: 5-January Magic is by multiple Grade 1 winner Good Magic who is a strong 3 for 13 (23%) with his 2-year-old prodigy first time starters and this lucrative jockey/trainer combo are 3 for 11 (27%) with debut runners. This colt should come out running. 9-Pure Fire holds valuable racing experience edge over the rest of this field with a closing 3rd place effort in the $100K Fasig-Tipton Futurity on June 18 and now drops back down to face straight Maiden Special Weight types. This colt is by multiple Grade 1 winner Practical Joke and Sadler is 3 for 12 (25%) with second time starters sprinting on dirt at Del Mar. 7-Havnameltdown is by Grade 2 winner Uncaptured and debuts for Baffert off a series of bullet drills including an eye catching “best of 55” 4 furlongs in :46 flat from the gate on July 15. One to beat off flashy drills.
Race #5: 10-Johnny Podres owns the field’s best last our turf Beyer (82) and should get a favorable stalking journey off a projected swift early pace. This ultra-consistent gelding was a sharp winner at this 5-furlong trip over this course last summer and appears well-spotted again today for trainer Steve Miyadi. 3-Circleofchampions returns sprinting for trainer Carla Gaines off an extended layoff and this barn has been known to pop with these types of absentees. A sharp 3-furlong blowout drill for this on July 20 indicates this colt should be motoring home late. Today’s likely pacesetter 5-Atomic Drop cuts back in distance and moves back to turf for D’Amato.
Race #6: 10-Hacking It Up is eligible to move forward with a race under his belt for the winning connections of Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill. This jockey/trainer combo had 5 runner-up 2nd place finishes here last year with 2nd time starts. This son of Nyquist shows three drills since that encouraging 3rd place unveiling. 4-Theuntouchableone finished and even fourth in debut but could also move forward substantially in second career start for trainer Ryan Hanson who is 3 for 12 (25%) with 2nd time starters at Del Mar the past 2 years. The colt is by win-early sire Danzig Candy. 7-Stay in the Game has improved with each subsequent start and another move forward this afternoon would make him a main contender in here.
Race #7: The 6-year-old gelding 7-Neptune’s Storm returns off an extended layoff with an $80k price tag for trainer Peter Miller. The multiple graded stakes winner has obviously seen better days but is projected to be on or close to the lead today and looms a big threat against these if still half the horse he once was. Beaten favorite in last 6-Gold Phoenix arrives at Del Mar in top form for the D’Amato barn off back-to-back strong grass routes where he earned a 93 and 95 Beyer respectively. A sharp 5-furlong drill since that last effort indicates he remains in razor sharp form. 3-Shadow Sphinx comes in off back-to-back scores from off the pace for trainer Kristin Mulhall and has run well over the Del Mar sod in the past. This 7-year-old gelding owns the field’s best late TimeformUS pace figure (110) and would be the main beneficiary of swift early fractions.
Race #8: Of the pair of Mandella-trained runners 4-Extra Hope should offer the better value. He makes his 2nd start off the bench today and could find himself or close to the lead at this marathon distance. The gelding has been plagued by layoff lines but has had prior success at this oval and may hold the fitness edge over his stablemate. Multiple Grade 3 winner and last year’s edition winner 2-Tizmagician also has good early tactical foot, but he’s been off since November 2021. He shows a series of stamina drills for this, however, and attracts top rider. 3-Heywoods Beach drops out of the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile and moves back to the main track for Sadler. The 5-year-old finished 3rd in this race last year and barn is 3 for 6 (50%) with $4.50 ROI the past two years with this surface change.
Race #9: Grade 1 winner 12-Smooth Like Strait has never been worse than second in six Del Mar starts (6-2-4-0) and despite the challenging post draw looks to lay over this field dropping out of far superior races for trainer Michael McCarthy. This 5-year-old fires each start and has posted 8 consecutive triple digit Beyers. Jockey Juan Hernandez takes over the riding assignment. 4-Gregorian Court stretches out this afternoon and drops out of the Grade 1 Jaipur for trainer Phil D’Amato. This gelding is 7 for 21 lifetime and looks to be main threat to top choice. 3-Sword Zero is making his 3rd start off the bench today for Sadler and should get a snappy pace to run into this afternoon. The 4-year-old colt faces a stiff class test today but returns to his preferred mile trip and could fill out the vertical exotics at a big price.
Race #10: If a fast pace materializes as projected 5-Ajaaweed could be the beneficiary for trainer Vladimir Cerin. The 5-year-old adds blinkers today and come off a troubled start and wide trip when making his first start in 11 months. He’s likely to move forward this afternoon. Recent claim 8-Divine Armour is another who stands to materialize on a hotly contested run pace and goes first off the claim for trainer George Papaprodromou. This barn clicks over 30% with new barn purchases at Del Mar and this gelding has run well here in the past. 9-Hail Freedom seeks third straight score for O’Neill and was a dominate runaway wire-to-wire winner when returning to dirt in most recent start earning the field’s best last out Beyer (96). A repeat of that try would make him extremely tough today, but he might face other pace pressure breaking directly outside of him.
Race #11: The claiming sample is small, but 5-Annie’s Song could repeat on the stretch-out for Sadler in the nightcap. This barn is 3 for 6 (50%) with a $3.60 ROI with 1st off the claim runners on grass at Del Mar. This filly has returned to work 4 times since that last win sprinting and gets in light today with to[ apprentice that’s done very well for these connections. 10-Rhea Moon (Ire) is a recent Maiden victor for D’Amato moving up to face winners for the first time and appears more than ready for the class hike. 8-Fuente Ovejuna (GB) adds Lasix; comes off a mini-freshening and drops out of the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes for trainer Leonard Powell.