BEST BET: RACE 6, ST. JOE BAY
VEGAS STRONG BABY adds blinkers, drops from maiden special-weight to maiden-50, and makes her second start in California as the deserving choice over STAYTHIRSTYMYAMIGO. The latter misfired last time on turf, but she was a 34-1 longshot in that MSW and simply overmatched. But her runner-up finish two starts back, a race from which she was claimed for $32k, puts her in the photo with the top choice. The inside post was a tough go the first two and a half weeks of the meet, however. EASY PEASY broke slowly and went nowhere in her debut, but she is likely to improve second time out. Wagering value will be tough to find on this card; six-horse fields the first six races.
One final class drop to the maiden-20 bottom makes D D’S LUTE the one to beat. Maybe. Her efforts vs. MSW company in winter and spring would be good enough. The obvious knock is her last two starts were subpar. The “now” filly is ESKENFORADRINK, claimed from a runner-up finish last out, and returning at the same level. First-time starter CHARMING ALEXIS debuts with a bunch of slow works, but after the top two choices, this field is shallow.
With acceptable current form, recent speed figures fast enough for this $6,250 claiming level and proven form on this track, REVEREND AL is the one to beat. He missed by only a length and a half last time in an $8k claiming race; the winner Lambo Luxx returned Thursday to win a starter allowance with a 77 Beyer. HACKLETON was cold in the betting and subsequently disappointed nine days ago when he finished third vs. restricted $6,250 claiming rivals. That race actually earned a decent figure however, so he figures as a contender moving up in class to unrestricted claiming. ROUGH PASSAGE won three in a row vs. lower-level claiming foes at shorter distances than this five-furlong trip. The sharp speedster might handle the class hike/longer trip.
FOXY FRESH moves up the ladder and stretches to five furlongs seeking her third straight after back-to-back wins at four furlongs, and four and a half. She is proven at this distance, she will be setting or pressing the pace, and enters as simply the fastest in the field. CIOPPINO PASADINO drops from $12.5k claiming to $6,250 claiming. She has speed, this is her easiest chance in a while. LISA LARGO steps up following a big nighttime win over lesser.
EIGHTY THREE, runner-up two weeks ago after setting a fast pace in a $20k claiming sprint, gets the call in this $25k claiming starter allowance. His most recent start was very good. He is typically a presser/stalker, but instead found himself dueling for the lead. He shook off two pace rivals (they faded to finish last and next to last), and did well to hold second. If ‘THREE can ration his speed this time, despite a murky pace scenario, he can deliver a win. HITTERS PARK is in top form, a win and two seconds from his last three starts including a runner-up try behind the top choice in late July. Good form, advantageous outside post. BOY HOWDY drops from a highly rated $40k claiming sprint, while TREASURE HUNTER should be forwardly placed.
Graded stakes winner ST. JOE BAY enters this fivefurlong open allowance with much in his favor. He drops from a fifth-place finish in a Grade 1 sprint, he is quick enough to make the lead, and his recent speed figures are tops in the field. The best, fastest horse in the field, ST JOE BAY is spotted for a low-odds victory as the most probable winner on the card. Lightly raced CAPTAIN SCOTTY, 2-for-4, could give the favorite a battle if he runs back to his first two starts. Those were highly rated wins in a
MSW at Laurel and N1X at Santa Anita. But he fell short of expectations both recent starts: fourth in a Grade 1, and seventh last out after he broke slowly and did not establish position. He worked well since raced, is drawn outside, and on speed figures fast enough based on his first two starts. RIGHT HAND
MAN broke slowly both starts on turf at Del Mar, but finished okay both times. He switches surfaces, gets a new rider, and could get a good trip in the second flight. ARTISTOCRATIC set a fast pace and weakened 10 days ago; he adds more speed.
Three in a row for MAJESTIC DESIGN? She won both starts since dropping to the bottom and switching to dirt, including a decisive victory last month in a N2L. She has tactical speed, won a maiden-claiming route on this track by 10 lengths in July, and looks relatively solid in this restricted $16k claiming mile. Trainer Richard Baltas is 7-for-9 with dirt-route favorites the past six months. MIDNIGHT LILLY finished second to the top choice, then missed by a neck last time while finishing more than three clear of third. She was claimed, the claim was voided. ‘LILLY will rally from behind. SHE BEGAN AGAIN looms a live longshot, claimed for $6,250 from a runner-up finish on synthetic and returning to dirt. She is 3-for-6 on conventional footing, and should be positioned close to the pace. BRIDAL ARCH has speed, is in light with a five-pound apprentice rider and runs for a stable that that does very well first start off the claim.
YA GOTTA WANNA, compromised by a tough trip while finishing second in the G2 Del Mar Handicap last out, can win this $100k stake if he transfers his turf form to dirt. He improved significantly since being gelded prior to his Feb. 16 maiden win. He won three in a row, finished unplaced in two allowance races, then ran the race of his career last out in the G2 marathon. ‘WANNA took up twice on the far turn, was virtually stopped the second time, wheeled outside for the drive, finished with a rush and galloped out in front of the field. It was a super runner-up effort, better than it looks on paper. (Replay video worth watching: DMR, Aug. 18, race 6). If he avoids trouble this time, and handles the main track, ‘WANNA should win this $100k mile-and-a-quarter stake. He will have to catch pacesetter LITTLE SCOTTY, who is proven on dirt and proven at this trip. The last time he raced a mile and one quarter on dirt he won by seven lengths. A front-runner that can carry his speed, ‘SCOTTY could get brave. DABSTER won a four-horse stakes race last time after setting a fast pace. He could get a good trip positioned right behind the speed. COLONIST will rally late; GIANT INFLUENCE occasionally posts a big number, but a mile and a quarter might be a long way for him.
Tough inside post for TUSCANY BEAUTY; the rail was 1-for-30 in sprints the first week and a half of this meet. But she gets the call notwithstanding the draw. Both starts on this track in summer were solid (win, second), she was claimed last out by a winning stable. PRINCESS ARENI dropped in class and returned to form 10 days ago with a game victory by a neck. The runner-up finished five lengths clear of third. Obvious threat right back. SMART RACHEL dueled and cracked to finish fourth last out as the favorite; her maiden win on this track three starts back puts her in the hunt. LADY KRISHNA drops from allowance with speed to make her presence felt, while LOVELY LINDA seeks her second win of the meet. CHRISTY JACKSON will rally late. Tough race, many contenders.