Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
BEST BET: 3-Musical Rhapsody (Race 4)
Race #1: 6-Mongolian Kingdom makes first start in nine months for new conditioner Librado Barocio who excels with low-level claimers going a route of ground. The 6-year-old gelding has excelled over this strip (3-1-2-0) and should get a hot pace to close into. 4-Man on the Moon ships back in from Gulfstream and drops his claiming tag in half for trainer Bob Hess. He was a wire-to-wire winner over this course back in 2021. 7-Secret Touch makes a second start off the claim and is a 5-time winner at Del Mar.
Race #2: 5-Ifuainfirsturlast showed positive progression in her second career start and now drops into Maiden Claimers for the first time for conditioner Val Brinkerhoff. This filly has a decent work over the track on July 19 and should run well here with another move forward. 9-Miss Pixy Stix adds blinkers after fractious gate antics in her initial start in South Florida when failing to fire and now drops in for a $32k tag for start number two. The class drop and equipment change should result in an improved performance. 2-American Tsunami has shown little in two starts at Golden Gate and Keeneland but drops in for a first-time tag and the barn is off to a quick start.
Race #3: 1-Anywho was a beaten favorite 4th when moved up to face better in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks on June 3 after a solid Maiden win two-back. The 3-year-old filly drops back down to a more appropriate level this afternoon for Berrios & Sadler and will be tough if she can work out a decent trip from the rail. Grade 3 winning 3-Lady T returns off a 5-month freshening and turns back to her preferred 6-furlong trip for Sheriffs. She gets some class relief today and projects to get a favorable stalking journey. 2-Doris Mae is 4 for 8 lifetime and has been most effective when able to control the tempo early on for trainer Carla Gaines. The 4-year-old filly appears to be the speed of the speed in here and could very well take her second straight on the engine.
Race #4: Irish import 3-Musical Rhapsody (Ire) adds Lasix for her initial stateside start and is a 3-time winner overseas. Trainer Phil D’Amato excels with these long-distance grass specialists who enter his barn, and this filly looks to hold a class edge over her main rivals. Her stablemate 8-Eylara (Ire) makes her first start for new barn since a troubled trip at Saratoga last September but has proven she can fire fresh. This lucrative jockey/trainer combo is 8 for 24 (33%), with turf runners returning off >180 days’ rest. 5-Unfaithful Ways moves up in class off a solid win and owns the field’s best last-out turf figure. Today’s distance appears well within her reach.
Race #5: A full field of inconsistent $20k Maiden Claimers line up here for a 6-furlong main track sprint. First-time gelding 7-Big Gun off since October 2022 drops from $50k to $20,000 Maiden Claimers for Hernandez and Yakteen. The 4-year-old has run competitive figures for this class level in all three career starts and should be able to close well against this weaker group. He’s no slam dunk, however, as the 7/2 tepid morning line choice. 11-UR Pressed returns off a seven-month layoff and ran well at this level in the last two starts over this racetrack. The 4-year-old gelding shows a nice 4-furlong bullet drill over the strip on July 20 in preparation for this. A beaten favorite in the last pair 10-Anthony’s Best adds blinkers and drops in for a first-time tag on the turnback. This barn clicks around 30% with this class dropdown angle.
Race #6: 8-Lansdowne (GB) was a beaten favorite in the last three starts with back-to-back 2nd place finishes going 6 furlongs, but his last pair of grass Beyers are tops in this field. The D’Amato gelding cuts back to 5 panels, and this looks like the right spot for him to get back in the winner’s circle. Dirt to turf 1-Devil Moon has speed and the rail and was a sharp Maiden winner two-back. Florida shipper 5-Raka Raka Cruz makes initial grass start after running mainly on synthetic but has enough turf pedigree to suggest he can handle it.
Race #7: The undefeated 3-Ceiling Crusher is a rare 1-5 morning line odds-on favorite who has won by a combined 37 lengths in four lifetime starts for Team O’Neill. The ultra-talented filly by Mr. Big turns back in distance this afternoon of a 17-length romp in the Melair Stakes and has trained steadily for her return. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where she gets defeated in this spot at short odds. 1-Chimosa was 3 for 3 to start her career at Del Mar and comes off a career-best Beyer (91) in the G2 Great Lady M S at Los Al on July 4 when falling just a neck short to multiple graded stakes winner Eda. The 7-furlong trip should be ideal. 6-Big Pond scored a decisive Maiden debut win on June 16, earning an (85) Beyer, and might be fast enough to clear.
Race #8: 6-Annie’s Hope was a much-improved 2nd on the stretch-out in the most recent start on June 4 against similar earning the field’s best last-out grass Beyer. Another forward move makes her the one to beat in the Thursday afternoon finale. 5-Ashleys Sandcastle exits the same race as the top choice when bumped and crowded at the start and deserves another chance to rebound off that subpar performance. A similar effort to her second-place finish two back at Santa Anita puts her in the middle of this. 11-Ruff Ride goes two sprints to a route and ran like a filly who should relish two turns in her last two efforts. She must, however, overcome the challenging outside draw.