Del Mar (Sunday-8/27/23) By Dean Keppler

Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner

BEST BET: 7-Maven (Race 4)

Race #1: 1-Ace of Clubs returns protected in first start against winners for Team O’Neill after a driving Maiden score Aug. 11. The juvenile colt by Mor Spirit earned the field’s best last out main track Beyer. 3-Salsation drops out of the graduation stakes where he was overmatched into a more realistic level for trainer Luis Mendez. The Maiden 5-Katerini has fired back-to-back runner-up finishes behind Ace of Clubs and Salsation. The Congrats colt can easily reverse those decisions with the right set-up.

Selections: 1-3-5

Race #2: 6-Crimson Rose rattled off some sharp fractions on the front end before tiring late in the most recent try July 30 and now goes first off the claim for trainer Peter Eurton. This barn has had a sensational summer meet, registering 10 wins from 34 starts as of this writing, clicking at nearly 30%. 5-Riveting Spirit rallied sharply for second against similar in last and now stretches out to a mile and a sixteenth where she’s 3 for 5. Another recent acquisition from the Eurton barn is 9-Quaria Thunder, who also exits that same July 30 race and chased a fast pace before understandably tiring late to finish seventh. She’s eligible to move forward, however, making her second start off the bench.

Selections: 6-5-9

Race #3: 1-La Paloma Blanca was a runaway Maiden winner Aug. 5 and takes the next logical step up to face winners. The (72) Beyer earned for that victory matches up extremely well against this suspect group. 3-Anybody’s Choice goes first off the claim for D’Amato off sharp score against cheaper July 23, including next-out winner She’s Resilient. 5-Big Sis Little Sis returns to the main track, where she was a good second two-back in the Pleasanton Oaks.

Selections: 1-3-5

Race #4: The six-time winner 7-Maven has been freshened since April Santa Anita gate-to-wire sprint turf score where he earned a field’s best last-out (90) Beyer. The gelding has worked well since then and likes this grass course. 3-Westward Look battled gamely for the lead in his most recent try Aug. 6 before surrendering late– but did hold the place spot in a sharp try. 1-Irish Heatwave rallied to finish 4th from a tough spot (while losing whip in stretch drive) and now cuts back to a sprint off back-to-back mile efforts. The veteran 7-year-old gelding should be making up ground late.

Selections: 7-3-1

Race #5: 4-Thermal flashed speed and tired as the beaten favorite in debut effort July 30 but is eligible to move forward off that respectable try for trainer John Sadler. The Nyquist colt cost $635k at the Fasig-Tipton August sale, so expectations are high. 7-Greer My Dear flashed speed, settled, and then ran on late again on Aug. 6 unveiling for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. The filly’s breeding suggests she’ll relish the stretch-out to a mile. 1-Bossy Bruin Gal goes two sprints to a route with an improving Beyer pattern. Her sire Good Magic was a multiple grade 1 winner going two turns.

Selections: 4-7-1

Race #6: 2-Tom Horn turned in a career-best effort with a sharp win when switched to turf in the last start July 27 and will be tough to beat if able to replicate that strong performance. 3-Billy’s Bet ran well off the year layoff to finish fourth, and this lightly raced gelding is eligible to move forward off that decent try. 10-Beaudacious has been ultra-consistent sprinting on grass since mid-March and gets some class relief this afternoon for trainer Ryan Hanson.

Selections: 2-3-10

Race #7: 9-Driver’s Ed drops in for a tag after flashing good speed in both starts for trainer Dan Blacker and should be much tighter while making the second start off the long layoff. A serious wire-to-wire threat in this softer spot. 12-Duty First is a logical threat off the field’s best last-out main track Beyer (70) and now drops in for a first-time tag for Mullins. Class dropping and turf to dirt 1-Johnny Paycheck has good positional speed, which should serve him well with the cut back to six furlongs for D’Amato. He gets in light from the rail.

Selections: 9-12-1

Race #8: Florida invader 2-Indy Lyon seems well-spotted for his first start in Southern California after battling similar all winter and spring at Gulfstream. The 5-year-old gelding projects to be on or close to the lead this afternoon. The fast closing 3-One Fast Bro is a multiple winner over the track and distance and gets some class relief this afternoon. 8-Grape Nuts Warrior is the other East Coast threat who finished ahead of the top pick back on March 19. He arrives off two subpar efforts in New York but can bounce back here at this $25k claiming level.

Selections: 2-3-8

Race #9: Baffert’s streaking filly 8-Eda has won six straight including three graded stakes and is the short-priced chalk to take another in the grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap. She’s tough to pick against despite the short number. 1-Kirstenbosch adds blinkers on the cutback in distance and projects to get a favorable ground-saving trip from the rail. The other Baffert 2-Home Cooking loses Hernandez to top choice but could potentially sit a great trip tucked in behind the pacesetters. The filly comes off a career-best winning effort against softer.

Selections: 8-1-2

Race #10: The Sunday nightcap is a challenging turf route for Maiden Claiming fillies and mares. It looks like a spread race for those partaking in multi-race exotics. 2-Oak Street Beach drops in for a first-time tag for Proctor while making her second start in Southern California. This barn is 5 for 19 (26%) with a $3.24 ROI for the past 5 years with MDSW to Maiden Claiming dropdowns. Her rider, however, was 0 for 31 at the time of this writing at the current stand. 10-Lulu Lemon Drop flashed speed and tired before settling for the runner-up spot against similar in the last try on June 17. She moves outside to a more challenging post this afternoon. 7-Port Ellen (Ire) makes the second stateside start for D’Amato after breaking slowly and having some traffic issues back in June. This filly is by multiple graded stakes winner Cotai Glory (GB) and can move forward this afternoon on the stretch-out.

Selections: 2-10-7

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