Hollywood Derby Preview and More From Del Mar

On Saturday, November 27 at Del Mar features some exciting racing including three graded stakes turf races: Grade I Hollywood Derby, Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap, and Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes. I break down those races on my podcast and give you my Win, Place, and Show predictions. Additionally, play along at StableDuel where you can enter contests and win big. Saturday features a $20,000 contest with a $150 entry fee, but also has a smaller contest with only a $5 entry fee. Get in the action and have some fun! How? Download the StableDuel app and then pick 10 horses with your $50,000 fantasy budget. If your stable comes out on top, you’re a winner! In addition to picking the winners below, I’ll also include the “price” in the StableDuel contest.

Race 1

Post time: 3:30 PM ET

Distance: 1 mile

Type: $40,000 Allowance Optional Claiming 

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Turf

Overview: Let’s kick the day off with a wide-open 11-horse field in a mile turf race. Appreciated (7-2) is the morning line favorite and certainly a horse to consider his recent speed figures and the fact that last time out he finished second behind a horse, Dicey Mo Chara, who is running in a graded stakes race later in the card. I don’t love the outside post position, but if he’s able to use his tactical speed to get into a stalking position then he should have an ideal trip. Gregory’s Pride (4-1) has run well recently but is stepping up in distance and has finished behind some nice sprint horses the last two times out. His workouts are impressive, but his speed figures are a cut below a few others in the field. Law Professor (6-1) just transitioned to turf last time out, finished third, ran his best speed figure, and is now getting a little class relief. Additionally, he’s been working out beautifully and should be fresh coming off a five-month layoff. Lincoln Hawk (5-1) has run in big races and has shown the ability to hit the board against this level of field. The mile distance should suit the horse nicely. If you’re looking for a double-digit long shot to play, I’ll Stand Taller (15-1) has some intriguing things to offer given his previous performances over a mile, though this will be a step up in competition.

Win: Appreciated ($7,500)

Place: Lincoln Hawk ($6,000)

Show: Law Professor ($5,000)

Race 2

Post time: 4:00 PM ET

Distance: 6 ½ furlongs 

Type: $50,000 Starter Allowance

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Dirt

Overview: And now we’re back to our typical five-horse field at Del Mar. The biggest longshots in this race are Mongolian Panther (6-1) and Roses and Candy (6-1). I’d probably play Mongolian Panther to hit the board considering the decision to drop her back down in distance to a sprint horse after a poor performance in a route race at Santa Anita last time out. She’s won before at Del Mar has had been working out well. Part of the reason I’d have to on the board is because I’m not convinced about Win This Vow (5-2) who is coming off a 15-month layoff. Granted, she’s been working out great fractions, but I typically like to play horses in their second race coming off a layoff and not their first. Therefore, picking a winner comes down to choosing between Smoothlikebuttah (3-1) or Little Miss Ellie (6-5). The latter has slightly better speed figures, but Smoothlikebuttah has been Little Miss Ellie two of the three times they have met, so I don’t quite understand the discrepancy in odds. Maybe I’m just trying to chase a little value in a race that doesn’t have much, but I like Smoothlikebuttah to get it down after dropping down from a non-graded stakes race last time out.

Win: Smoothlikebuttah ($8,000)

Place: Little Miss Ellie ($9,800)

Show: Mongolian Panther ($5,000)

Race 3

Post time: 4:30 PM ET

Distance: 1 mile

Type: $70,000 Maiden Special Weight

Age: 2-years-old (fillies)

Surface: Turf

Overview: Very Scary (5-1) offers decent value for a horse that has never missed the board in a turf race and while she’s shown a frustrating knack for coming up just short, she’s a consistent horse for this level of racing. Sterling Crest (7-2) is the morning line favorite and for good reason. She’s got an amazing turn of foot, making up 16+ lengths on the leaders the last time out to finish fourth behind a very strong field featuring Cairo Memories, Helens Well, and Hemmerle. My chief concern is making sure she’s not placed so far off the pace so she can use that terrific speed to get to the front for she runs out of room. Both first-time runners in North America, Duvet Day (4-1) and Annie’s Song (4-1), are nice plays and I’d lean ever so slightly toward Annie’s Song who ran a nice third place at Newmarket behind Zain Claudette who subsequently ran some excellent races after that. She’s not run since August but has been working out well at Santa Anita. Of the first-time starters, Celestia (15-1) has had the better workouts, but Isola Mia (15-1) has the better pedigree. I’m not sure I like either horse to hit the board but they’re worth monitoring moving forward. Lucky Girl (5-1) made her North American debut last month and ran a lackluster 7th-place finished well behind Very Scary.  

Win: Very Scary ($6,000)

Place: Annie’s Song ($7,000)

Show: Sterling Crest ($7,500)

Race 4

Post time: 5:02 PM ET

Distance: 6 furlongs

Type: $16,000 Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up (fillies & mares)

Surface: Dirt

Overview: Another small dirt field in this sprint but there might be some value to be had. Did I Stutter (6-1) seems to be undervalued given the horse is getting massive class relief, breaking from the outside, and has finished very well when running against comparable fields on the east coast. Additionally, it’s going back to a one-turn race and getting off the turf, so I like this horse in a field without any overwhelming favorites. Miss Alegria (9-5) ran extraordinarily well at Del Mar three races ago in a claimer but hasn’t come close to replicating that effort the next two times out. Dozo (5-2) has run well in her last two claiming races while Big Stretch (4-1) is probably the most consistent horse in terms of speed figures. However, last time out Big Stretch ran second to Elgofranco who just finished last at Del Mar on a Thanksgiving Day race, so that’s not a great omen. It’s a Riddle is breaking from the inside post and stepping up in competition but has hit the board the last three times out and has managed to secure better finishes while moving up in class in the claiming circuit and the distance should suit her. Ultimately, this is a race where I feel like you can chase some value and fade the favorites due to their inconsistency.  

Win: Did I Stutter ($5,000)

Place: Dozo ($8,500)

Show: It’s a Riddle ($3,000)

Race 5

Post time: 5:32 PM ET

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Type: Seabiscuit Handicap – Grade II

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Turf

Overview: A very competitive field for the Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap to kick of the first of three graded stakes races at Del Mar. Morning line favorite Sacred Life (8-5) is coming off a victory at the Grade III Knickerbocker over second favorite Field Pass (5-2). Additionally, Sacred Life finished second at last year’s Seabiscuit so you know the horse will take to the surface and running out of the shoot on the turf track at Del Mar. That said, I’m slightly worried about his outside post position and potentially having a wide trip as they sweep onto the main track. Lambeau (12-1) should be pacesetting with Field Pass and Flop Shot (4-1) sitting in stalking position. I’m a big fan of Flop Shot who has run twice since coming off a 15-month layoff and has run some of his best speed figures of his career the last two times out. His second to Value Engineering last time out may not look as great now after Value Engineering’s lackluster performance at the Grade II Red Smith last week, but Flop Shot is a more experienced horse who has run in big races in the past. If you’re looking for a horse for a course, then look no further than Bob and Jackie (6-1) who has won three of six career races at Del Mar and just recently finished second to Breeders’ Cup runner Snapper Sinclair. Ultimately, I think the race will come down to Field Pass and Sacred Life and I think the inner post position and stalking trip will help Field Pass flip the result from the Knickerbocker.

Win: Field Pass ($8,500)

Place: Sacred Life ($9,400)

Show: Flop Shot ($7,000)

Race 6

Post time: 6:02 PM ET

Distance: 7 furlongs

Type: $50,000 Starter Optional Claiming

Age: 2-years-old (fillies)

Surface: Dirt

Overview: From purely a speed perspective, Awesome Taylor (2-1) might be the lock of the card and one of the horses you feel comfortable singling in a Pick 3 or Pick 5. The rest of the field hasn’t flashed like her, and she should be able to build on an impressive maiden where she came up just short. Tapit Doux (4-1) is coming off a six-month layoff and stepping up in distance but has a win under her belt at five furlongs. I think Maggie Fitzgerald (5-1) likely presents the biggest challenge to Awesome Taylor if she reverts to form after a clunker on the turf last time out. She ran her best race at Del Mar and can come from off the pace. Distance might be a little bit of a question mark but that’s true for most of the field. Sue Ettas Ghost (8-1) broke her maiden last time out has finished on the board three straight races, but this will represent a step up in class. In a small field that shouldn’t be an overwhelming task.

Win: Awesome Taylor ($9,000)

Place: Maggie Fitzgerald ($6,000)

Show: Sue Ettas Ghost ($3,000)

Race 7

Post time: 6:31 PM ET

Distance: 1 mile

Type: Jimmy Durante Stakes – Grade III

Age: 2-years-old (fillies)

Surface: Turf

Overview: Some very nice two-year-old fillies are running in this race. Let’s start with a horse that just ran three weeks ago at the Breeders’ Cup—Helens Well (7-2). She’s a very classy filly who has run increasingly strong speed figures and against good competition even prior to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf. She appears to have come out of that race fresh as evidenced by some strong workouts over the last week. Starting directly to her inside is another win contender, Sparkle Blue (4-1) who has also progressed nicely and traveled across the country from Virginia to Maryland to California previously and is now running a second time at Del Mar where she won last time out. With Jose Ortiz aboard, she’s got a real chance to show her class and get a victory in a tough field. Upfront we could see a hot pace with Liam’s Dove (12-1) and Awake At Midnyte (10-1) both vying for the early lead. While some like Awake At Midnyte, who ran a monster maiden on dirt at six furlongs, I’m concerned about the surface change and that she might get compromised by speed. Tezzaray (4-1) broke her maiden last time out at Del Mar after running twice in Great Britain. She’s got a nice turn of foot and can certainly pass horses down the stretch, which is what you like to see in a young turf horse. I really like Travel Smart who transitioned from dirt to turf last time out and saw over a 30-point increase in her Beyer Speed Figure while lapping the field down the stretch. Admittedly, this will be a big jump from the $50,000 maiden claiming race she ran last time, but with Flavien Prat aboard, you know she’s got a chance.  

Win: Helens Well ($7,500)

Place: Sparkle Blue ($7,000)

Show: Travel Smart ($5,000)

Race 8

Post time: 7:00 PM ET

Distance: 6 ½ furlongs

Type: $40,000 Allowance Optional Claiming

Age: 3-years-old and up

Surface: Dirt

Overview: This race might be defined by early speed and whether it falls apart late. Took Charge (6-1) and Sumo (5-2) are going to battle for the lead and could push a hot pace but both horses have shown the propensity to fade late. With Sumo wilting under a hot pace last time out despite turning in an impressive performance while Took Charge did nearly the same thing while finishing third. The benefactor should be Escape Route (4-1) who just keeps getting faster and already took advantage of Took Charge’s speed last time out. I’m not as high on California Street (4-1) despite all the wins because he’s stepping up in class and hasn’t faced this strong of a field before. If you’re willing to roll the dice on a long layoff, American Theorem (5-1) might also be a nice play as he should be sitting right off the early pace and has shown the ability to run behind a hot pace before. His workouts are very crisp and should quiet concerns about any track rust. If you’re looking for a long shot, Affable (12-1) is a nice play. He broke his maiden last time out and while he’s stepping up in class, he also is getting his preferred distance and has run against some very nice horses at the Maiden Special Weight level like Subconscious, Prince Abama, Risk and Reward, and Bobby Bo. I think he’s a live longshot play and a great bet in StableDuel where he’ll be a very inexpensive addition to your stable.

Win: Escape Route ($7,000)

Place: American Theorem ($6,000)

Show: Sumo ($8,500)

Race 9

Post time: 7:29 PM ET

Distance: 1 1/8 miles

Type: Hollywood Derby – Grade I

Age: 3-years-old

Surface: Turf

Overview: The final race on the card is an absolutely stacked 14-horse field for the Grade I Hollywood Derby. Honestly, this is a field where you could go so many different directions and as is typical with large fields, a lot of this will depend on the type of trips different horses are able to get while some might be compromised by post position being so wide coming out of the shoot at the Del Mar turf track. Interestingly, only Flashiest (15-1) has run in a Grade I race previously so we will see how many of these horses perform stepping up in class against other quality 3-year-old turf horses. Public Sector (5-2) has won four of his last five including three straight graded stakes races. There is very little to quibble with on Public Sector who has shown increasing speed while stepping up in distance while the Chad Brown-Irad Ortiz Jr. combo is lethal right now. While he’ll sit off the pace, he’s not a deep closer and will have the leaders well within range coming down the stretch. Toward the outside, you have three horses that are very intriguing. First, Camp Hope (5-1) has won the last two races, but is taking the step up from non-graded stakes to a grade I. However, the horse has speed and that translates. My biggest concern with Camp Hope is that he’s run well on yielding and good turf the last two times out but didn’t fare as well on firm turf prior to that. Subconscious (4-1) is another strong horse who just won the Grade II Twilight Derby last time out over several other horses entered in today’s field. He’s been working out beautifully the last few weeks and looks to be fresh for the race. Then there is Santin (10-1) who is breaking from the far outside but who has won his only two starts. He’s shown improving speed and should take to the distances well. He’s got an incredible turn of foot, has Umberto Rispoli on his back, and is a Godolphin horse. Those facts alone are enough for me to take a shot. Another horse on the inside that is worth looking at is Beyond Brilliant (12-1) who has only recently come back to the turf his last two races and showed a lot of class finishing a close third at the aforementioned Grade II Twilight Derby. He’s working out great and if you believe in projecting a bit, I think this horse has yet to run his best race. I like for him to get a piece of the board. Cathkin Peak (6-1) finished second in that Twilight Derby but hasn’t bounced back with as fresh of workouts as some of the others so I’m concerned about his performance against such quality competition.

Win: Public Sector ($8,500)

Place: Beyond Brilliant ($750)

Show: Santin ($1,000)

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