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    Del Mar Picks for Saturday, September 4 ft. Del Mar Derby

    All the picks and analysis you need for the Del Mar Derby, the John C. Mabee Stakes, and all the other races at Del Mar this Saturday.

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    Race 1

    Post time: 4:30 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $70,000 purse 

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Morning line favorite Vetoed (5-2), trained by Bob Baffert, is the best-known quantity in the race, and certainly if he improves upon his first effort the rest of the field will run for second. However, two first-time horses catch my eye as intriguing value plays. Encroachment (6-1) is posting insane workout numbers while Sumo (3-1) might be the better Baffert horse in the field. Cali Bay (10-1) provides great value for what should be a dependable horse in a race with many unknowns.

    Prediction: 9 (Sumo) – 6 (Encroachment) – 3 (Vetoed) – 2 (Cali Bay)

    Race 2

    Post time: 4:59 PM ET

    Distance: 1 mile

    Type: $32,000 Claiming Race

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: Fly to Mars (5-2) has done well on the claiming circuit this year, but I’m looking at Barristan the Bold (4-1) for better value as a horse getting significant class relief whose best racing has been done at a mile and is returning to that distance for the first time in four races. Southern Horse (10-1) provides nice value in what should be a pretty wide-open field. The biggest question in the race will be who will serve as the opening speed as nearly all the horses prefer to stalk or act as deep closers. It’s not out of the question for Fly to Mars to grab the early lead and wire the field.

    Prediction: 3 (Barristan the Bold) – 6 (Fly to Mars) – 4 (Southern Horse) – 8 (Irish Heatwave)

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    Race 3

    Post time: 5:29 PM ET

    Distance: 6 ½ furlongs

    Type: $50,000 Starter Allowance

    Age: 3-years-old and up 

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: If Took Charge (8-5) can build on his last outing then he’ll be tough to beat, but that last outing looks a bit anomalous based upon how he’s run over the last year. Meanwhile, Augusta Melody (5-2) had a clunker last time out but had put in several strong performances prior to that and perhaps a change in trainers will get him back on track. I understand why Ka’nah (2-1) is the value he is, but his workouts haven’t been that impressive and he’s not regained in 2020 form. Holden the Lute (6-1) provides a little bit of value in what should be an evenly matched race.

    Prediction: 4 (Augusta Melody) – 3 (Took Charge) – 6 (Holden the Lute) – 1 (Ka’nah)

    Race 4

    Post time: 6:02 PM ET

    Distance: 1 mile

    Type: $20,000 Maiden Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old and up

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: None of the horses in this field make a significant impression. Allaboutthemoney (7-2) is the most consistent horse in terms of speed figures, but I like the value of Roadside (6-1) who finished second last time out at the mile distance. Nobody in the field has early speed, which means Jess Pyfer should be able to put Roadside on the rail and let him set his own pace. Da Kine (5-1) seems like a safe bet to hit the board given his performance up until the last race out. If you’re basing your betting on workouts, Cant Stop This Man (4-1) is a good bet as he’s been posting strong five-furlong workouts.

    Prediction: 1 (Roadside) – 8 (Cant Stop This Man) – 6 (Allaboutthemoney) – 9 (Da Kine)

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    Race 5

    Post time: 6:35 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/16 miles

    Type: Allowance $80,000 Optional Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old (fillies)

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: Moraz (5-2) is getting massive class relief after finishing a disappointing 11th at the Grade I Kentucky Oaks. Previously, she had finished in the money at three consecutive Grade II or Grade III races. None of the other horses can tout that type of resume, but Fi Fi Pharoah (5-1) has been impressive in workouts and consistently putting up respective speed figures and finishes. Basilia (6-1) has been equally as impressive in workouts and has finished in the money two out of three races this year. Of the two horses going off at 7-2 (Miss Bella Caio and Queen Goddess), I trust Flavien Prat and Miss Bella Ciao a bit more. 

    Prediction: 9 (Basilia) – 3 (Miss Bella Caio) – 8 (Moraz) – 6 (Fi Fi Pharoah)

    Race 6

    Post time: 7:07 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: I’m Smokin Stakes

    Age: 2-years-old

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Thirst Always (5-2) took a step back after a 4th place finish at the Best Pal Stakes while Rock N Rye (9-5) is taking a slight step up in distance. I tend to prefer early speed in spring races and as such, I’m going with Zuboshi (4-1) who improved from his first start and loves to get on the lead and push a strong pace. Moose Mitchell (6-1) is another horse that might project improvement and hit the board.

    Prediction: 1 (Zuboshi) – 7 (Thirsty Always) – 5 (Rock N Rye) – 8 (Moose Mitchell)

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    Race 7

    Post time: 7:37 PM ET

    Distance: 1 mile

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $70,000

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

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: Buzz of New York (5-2) is hard to bet against given his strong US debut in July to go along with the general trend that international horses tend to improve between their first and second races in the United States. That said, her workouts haven’t been blowing anyone out of the water and I prefer Floral Essence (4-1) who has been burning up the workout track at five furlongs leading up to the race. Rhythm and Grace (5-1) should be consistent in what is like a four-horse race with Sommer Daisy (6-1) being an outside factor. Buy American (12-1) is probably the best long shot to hit the board. 

    Prediction: 9 (Floral Essence) – 4 (Buzz of New York) – 10 (Buy American) – 7 (Rhythm and Grace)

    Race 8

    Post time: 8:07 PM ET

    Distance: 6 furlongs

    Type: $20,000 Claiming

    Age: 3-years-old

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: Diva’s Finale (2-1) is a vulnerable morning-line favorite, and I’d look elsewhere for a winning bet in this race. Test Drive (4-1) provides better value and showed significant improvement between his first and second race and any additional improvement in his third race should land him in the winner’s circle again. Gator Shining (7-2) and Charge Cash (5-2) are taking some class relief and stepping down a level in the claiming game.

    Prediction: 6 (Test Drive) – 4 (Gator Shining) – 7 (Diva’s Finales) – 5 (Charge Cash)

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    Race 9

    Post time: 8:37 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/8 miles

    Type: John C. Mabee Stakes – Grade II

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

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: If Maxim Rate (7-2) is placed closer to the lead this time around then I like his chances as distance won’t be an issue and he’s got the best-graded stakes resume of the group. Meanwhile, I’m not the biggest fan of morning-line favorite Dogtag (3-1) who appears to like finishing second and always has an excuse as to what. Additionally, he’s a deep closer in a race that won’t have overwhelming pace, so he’s not going to be able to run into a collapsing field. Of the next field of horses, I really love the value of Bodhicitta (6-1) who has run against great competition and posted strong speed figures while running competitively with the favorites. Flavien Prat’s decision to jockey Going to Vegas (4-1) means you have to take the horse seriously since Prat likely had his choice between the three Baltas horses in the race and thought this one gave him the best chance to win. The key with Going to Vegas is whether she gets a slow pace as anything that resembles an honest or fast pace will cook her in the home stretch.

    Prediction: 1 (Maxim Rate) – 6 (Bodhicitta) – 3 (Dogtag) – 8 (Going to Vegas)

    Race 10

    Post time: 9:07 PM ET

    Distance: 5 ½ furlongs

    Type: Maiden Special Weight $70,000

    Age: 2-years-old

    Surface: Dirt

    Overview: There are rumblings on horse racing Twitter as to whether Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has it anymore, but that might not matter when he appears to have a dynamo under him in the form of $1.5 million yearling Corniche (9-5) who has been just crushing workouts week after week. Cover Me Up (8-1) and Breakfast Ride (4-1) have also been impressive in that space and Apprehend (4-1) must be taken seriously as the progeny of Arrogate. Quality Wins (12-1) might be the best long shot given his workout figures, but it will be hard to crack the top three in this group.

    Prediction: 10 (Corniche) – 3 (Cover Me Up) – 4 (Breakfast Ride) – 8 (Quality Wins)

    Race 11

    Post time: 9:37 PM ET

    Distance: 1 1/8 miles

    Type: Del Mar Derby – Grade II

    Age: 3-years-old

    Surface: Turf

    Overview: This is an insanely crowded field, which concerns me as breaking from the gate could easily determine the outcome of the race with horses getting pinched, bumped, or cut off. Due to the large field, I tend to like the horses on the inside and outside post positions for getting a slightly cleaner break than those in the middle. Sword Zorro (5-1) got DQ’ed last time out but can do the distance and has been constantly improving the last four races. Hudson Ridge (9-2) is a good horse who has been working out well and might really eat up the distance but has lost of other horses in the field while hardly being dominant in his victories. Jimmy Blue Jeans (12-1) is on a roll in lower-level races and is taking a step up but is a live long shot to include in exotics. A final good value play is No Foolery Here (8-1) who can do the distance and is a deep closer who will make up a ton of ground late.

    Prediction: 13 (Sword Zorro) – 5 (No Foolery Here) – 1 (Hudson Ridge) – 10 (Jimmy Blue Jeans)

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