California Chrome Tries to Overcome the Rail Post and Eight Opponents in Del Mar’s Pacific Classic!
Del Mar R9 (post 9:15 PM Eastern), Pacific Classic, Grade 1, 10 Furlongs, 3 up
Class: California Chrome has earned more money than any thoroughbred in history with a bankroll of $12,652,000, with an incredible $10,907,800 earned at this 10 furlong distance.
Expected Pace: Beholder likes to sit a close second or third, so Dortmund should take this group as far as he can on the lead.. With only two starts at 10 furlongs it seems this distance may stretch his stamina. Six furlongs in 1:11 seems about right.
Form: California Chrome and Dortmund ran near career-top races in the San Diego and it will be interesting to see if either can duplicate that form in this race. Beholder ran a nice race in defeat to Stellar Wind in the Clement L. Hirsch. Dalmore loves routing at Santa Anita against three year olds. He needs to step it up here but he drew well outside of horses and seems to be one of the few in here on the improve.
Track Bias: In Del Mar 2016 dirt routes, the rail is only 3% winners from 15% of all starters for the meet, which is causing many of the “wise guys” to say California Chrome is beatable here after drawing post 1. That may be true, but this start is way back into a chute and is 3/16ths (330 yards) of a mile farther away from the 8.5 furlong start. My belief is Victor Espinoza and Team Chrome know this and will alter their game plan as needed.
1st – #1 California Chrome (8/5) 2nd – #7 Beholder (3/1) 3rd – Dortmund (5/2)
I think the San Diego Handicap showed CALIFORNIA CHOME is the best dirt horse in the world and he will easily handle this bunch. BEHOLDER will get a great trip in this race but her numbers were better last year. Hard to believe she can handle razor sharp males for the win. Dortmund just doesn’t look like a Classic horse to me and it will be “put up or shut up time.” I look for him to fade late.
Turf Marathoners go 11 Furlongs in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap!
Del Mar R8 (8:43 Eastern) Del Mar Handicap, 11 furlongs (turf), Grade 2
Class: Ashleylivssugar has a strong record on turf and all-weather and has two wins at 12 furlongs (a mile and a half). Flamboyant has faced some real toughies lately and earned $707,000 over 19 turf starts. Neither has a win at the 11 furlongs on turf distance. Finnegans Wake is a Grade 1 winner with $1,508,000 in earnings from 30 turf starts but his best wins were last year.
Expected Pace: El Huerfano has a better record on dirt and with his dirt speed he figures to lead what should be a below average to slow pace. I would expect Metaboss to be much closer to the pace in this race than in his recent mile allowance win, as that race was very fast early for the level.
Form: Flamboyant has been right there in several Grade 2 races in a row. If he can handle the longer 11 furlongs distance he is a major threat. Metaboss‘ return to California was really strong but I always considered him a miler, not a long distance turf horse. I think the logic here is his connections are trying to determine if he can run well going longer. Finnegans Wake has put in three sharp works in row and he is due to run a big race. An exotics threat for sure.
1st – #8 Ashleyluvssuger (3/1) 2nd – #7 Flamboyant (7/2)
3rd – #4 Metaboss (4/1) 4th – #9 Finnegan’s Wake (8/1)
ASHLEYLUVSSUGAR has a sneaky-good distance pedigree and as noted above, is a proven distance horse on the grass, while most of these are not. FLAMBOYANT is in top form and deserves to win a race like this. Second off the Dubai carnival layoff helps chances. METABOSS has the most raw talent in this field, but can he perform at the 11 furlong distance while the early pace will be slow? FINNEGANS WAKE is a proven veteran that has put in three sharp works coming into this race. Worth including in your exotics at the 8/1 quote.
Three Year Old Fillies go Nine Furlongs on turf in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks!
Del Mar R6 (post 7:43 Eastern), The Del Mar Oaks, 9 furlongs (turf), Grade 1
Class: Mokat romped while winning the local prep for this race 4 weeks ago and she has a great Del Mar turf record (3-2-1-0) and a very high earnings per turf start of nearly $45,000.
Expected Pace: Lady Valeur, Mines and Magic and Stays In Vegas all have pressing speed. Stays in Vegas can grab the lead if she wants it. Pace should be moderate for a Grade 1.
Form: Mokat is the hot horse off her Del Mar races. Barleysugar is one for one wins in the USA and has been in the money in six of her seven career races. Stays in Vegas has been in the money in all five of her turf starts and eight of nine overall (in the race she missed the board she ran against Songbird).
1st – #3 Mokat (7/2) 2nd – #11 Stays in Vegas (5/1) 3rd – #5 Barleysugar (5/1)
MOKAT is a huge threat to hit the top two. Her last race was a stunner and it implies she is ahead of schedule, as this race was the target race for her. STAYS IN VEGAS was very poorly ridden last time and she gets a “jock upgrade” from Alex Solis to Flavien Prat. We will see if this was the right move for a very talented and game filly. BARLEYSUGAR exceeded expectations in her first US race, and often imported horses that win in their first race are for real. Consider her for horizontal wagers.
Songbird Tries to Get the 10 Furlong Distance in the Grade 1 Alabama!
Saratoga R10 (6:18 PM Eastern), The Alabama Stakes, Grade 1, 10 furlongs 3yo Fillies
Class: Songbird (undefeated)
Expected Pace: Family Tree can run, but if they want a big chunk of the purse I would think they would let Songbird set her own pace and take her on in the last quarter mile.
Form: Songbird has never lost. Family Tree is 8 for 9 in the money (and 7 for 7 in the money on dirt).
1st – #6 Songbird (1/5) 2nd – #5 Family Tree (10/1) 3rd – #1 Dark Nile (20/1)
SONGBIRD just keeps on winning. We will see what happens this weekend but she seems to be going well in her training. FAMILY TREE has the pedigree to be a two mile runner to go with her natural route speed. Upset special. DARK NILE comes from a noted long shot barn. Potential for the trifecta.
Turf Milers “Throw Down” in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap!
Saratoga Race 9 (Post 5:40 Eastern): The Fourstardave Stakes (Grade 1). 8 Furlongs (turf), 3up
Class: There are many good horses in this race, but Force the Pass has earned $1,227,000 on the lawn in only 11 grass starts.
Pace: On paper King Kreesa will lead from post 1 but many can run early and the pace should be fast.
Form: Force the Pass has never been out of the money at the one mile distance (8-3-4-1). Tourist has a very good record at the mile also (8-3-1-2) and comes out of multiple Grade 1 races. Grand Arch has won over $1.4 million at the mile distance, and reunites with trainer Brian Lynch.
1st – #4 Force The Pass (8/1) 2nd – #8 Tourist (5/2) 3rd – #2 Grand Arch (6/1)
FORCE THE PASS may not win this weekend, but the morning line odds are fantastic for a horse that is very competitive at this distance. TOURIST is in top form, looks to rebound after mildly disappointing run at Santa Anita. GRAND ARCH won this race last year over budding 2016 star Ironicus. Certainly fits with the top two.