BEST BET: RACE 9, BARTLETT HALL
SWALLOWS INN GAL has been knocking on the door of late. She added blinkers last time out but didn’t sustain her bid so they are removed for this, and her 2 prior starts, sans blinkers, were better. She might have a tad more tactical speed than her main rivals K P’S SMOKIN and CEE SAM’S GIRL meaning she might get the jump on them. Her lone win came here, too. K P’S SMOKIN made a nice mid-race move vs. $16K N2L foes at this trip at DMR Nov. 15 but then gave way to end up 6th as the 2.40-1 favorite. She’s mired well outside but has at least shown speed on occasion. CEE SAM’S GIRL ran on well for 2nd in a sprint at this level at DMR Nov. 10. Her lone win came on this track at this trip in June. Still, her lack of speed sometimes leaves her with a lot to do turning for home.
SCOUTED had a troubled start in his debut at DMR Nov. 18 but kept to his task well for 4th. He can surely benefit from that experience and has a good work sine for a trainer who does well 2nd time out. He’s kin to Coach Bob (35-4-5-5, $211K, 3 SPs). SPENDAHOLIC flashed talent in his first 2 starts a few months ago. He’s been given some time since and has worked well, and it’s nice to see no drop for start No. 3. GRANDPA LOUIE debuts with plenty of works including some brisk ones over this track. LOUD MOUTH debuts and is kin to 3 multiple winners.
OPTIMUM showed ample ability when a sharp 2nd at this trip and level at SA Oct. 8. He then pressed a brisk pace before fading to 8th at this game and level at DMR Nov. 11 but can surely bounce back. That speed can have him in it from the start and he has 2 good works since. CAPTAIN N. BARRON has had plenty of chances, yes (13), but if you focus on just his work over this track things look a lot better. Those 4 good outings show this is the place he likes and maybe returning here can get that breakthrough. THE BULL MOUSSE pressed the issue in his debut at this level at DMR Nov. 11 before ending up a well-beaten 3rd (7 1/2 lengths). That was an encouraging first run as he still finished well clear of the others and it won’t take much of a move forward to take this.
FROM THE DISTANCE may be ready to turn the corner. He dueled and gave way badly vs. $12,500 N2L foes at SA Nov. 2, but then fared better for $14K at DMR Nov. 17, setting the place before finishing 3rd. He drops quite a bit in price and has a smart work since. His lone win came on this track at this trip in the summer. MICHAEL MUNDO looked like a new horse when posting a 19-1 upset over $12,500 N2L foes at SA Oct. 6, but then dueled and gave way to end up 5th vs. $16K N3L foes there Oct. 27. This drop may get him back on track. LOVE YOUR LIFE continues his good form, including a nice 2nd and 3rd on this track at this trip in September. He has ample speed.
Trainer Bob Baffert has dominated this race, winning 10 times including the last 4 when the event moved to this track. His run may continue here with a couple bullets led by IMPROBABLE. IMPROBABLE gamely won his debut at SA Sept. 29, then shipped to CD for the Street Sense on the first day of BC activity and dominated the proceedings. The $200K son of City Zip has worked well since and the way he drew that day at a mile off hints the added half-furlong won’t be an issue. EXTRA HOPE looks to spoil the Baffert fun. He was a smashing winner the only time he tried this distance at SA Oct. 21 before finding the 7f of the G3 Bob Hope at DMR Nov. 17 a bit too sharp. But he kept to his task well and it’s encouraging his HOF trainer, who’s won this twice, takes a shot. After all, he knew who he’d be running against. MUCHO GUSTO, the other Baffert, was a smart winner of the Bob Hope. He routes for the first time but this $625K purchase is a son of Mucho Macho Man, who won the G1 BC Classic. SAVAGERY gave
‘GUSTO a scare when 2nd in the Hope. He races without blinkers for the first time and is bred to go at least this far, being by Bellamy Road (17-length winner of the G1 Wood). His trainer won this in 2010.
LUCKY STUDENT looked like a new horse at DMR Nov. 25 when pressing the issue, then going on to blast $8K rivals by 5 1/4 lengths. And while Hollendorfer risked her for $8K that day it’s most encouraging he takes no risk of losing her via a claim here, and that Van Dyke stays. GEMINI JOURNEY beat the top pick when 2nd at SA Oct. 7 (‘STUDENT was 4th), won there Nov. 3 when claimed for $8K and was then a rallying 3rd vs. more expensive at DMR Nov. 23. As with the top pick it’s a good sign they place her in a spot where they can’t lose her via a claim. HERUNBRIDLEDPOWER dueled and faded to 9th at DMR Nov. 11, but that run came on turf, vs. much tougher and she wasn’t beaten all that far (2 1/2 lengths). She drops, moves back to her best footing and a track she loves.
Baffert hasn’t dominated this like the Futurity but 4 wins shows he’s done well enough. He may be poised to add to that here with 2 bullets, led by MOTHER MOTHER. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile was destined for the G1 BC Juvenile Fillies after her 2nd in the G1 DMR Debutante Sept. 1 but a setback lost her preparation time so the BC was scrapped. Still, she trained well enough to earn a shot at a stakes at CD Oct. 28 (Rags to Riches) and ran well, dueling and edging clear to win. It’s most encouraging Baffert wheels her back for this after first saying she might go for the G2 Golden Rod there a couple weeks ago. She’s bred to route, too, as this $450K daughter of a multiple G1 route SW is also kin to Commanding Curve, who ran 2nd in the G1 Ky. Derby. VIBRANCE was 2nd in the G1 Chandelier and then a respectable 3rd in the G1 BC Juvenile Fillies so she has quality. Her speed on the rail may play well. CHASING YESTERDAY is Baffert’s other bullet. She’s won 3 of 4, the only loss being a dull run when she shipped to SAR for the G1 Spinaway and failed to fire. She returned to SoCal and bounced back with 2 SWs and is kin to HOY and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. OXY LADY looked super blasting rivals in AQU’s G3 Tempted Nov. 2, her first start with blinkers. If that’s the real deal she’s scary, but the Beyer was so much better than what she’d done before you wonder if it was the exception and not the rule. Still, it’s a great sign they supplemented her for this, necessitating a trip across the country.
Tough race. KING ABNER looked like a new horse when sent a mile (this distance) for the first time at DMR Nov. 15 as he blasted Cal-bred optional claimers. He must deal with open foes but obviously the mile suits, he’s run well here and a repeat of that type of Beyer makes him scary right back. KYLEMORE dueled before ending up a well-beaten 3rd in a tough race at this level at SA Nov. 4. He’s worked well since and is reunited with Prat, who was up for his smart starter allowance win at DMR Sept. 2. CROATIAN flashed talent for Baffert, beating maidens here Sept. 13. He then pressed the issue but gave way readily to finish 9th in his first start vs. winners, at about this level, at SA Oct. 8. He’s been given time since and it’s most encouraging to see strong works and no drop by Baffert, who of course is strong off the bench.
BARTLETT HALL has had plenty of chances but 2 of his best outings have come in his last 3 starts, and came at this level. He gets blinkers, there’s no drop and a bullet work at DMR Nov. 28 may be a sign he’s ready to peak. BITTER RING HOME dropped to this level and ran on dirt for the first time at DMR Nov. 16 and ran on decently for 3rd, even if well beaten (8 lengths). Could be he’s found his proper level and footing. He’s worked well since, too. STERLING’S TEMPLE was a sharp rallying 2nd (beaten just a neck) sprinting at this level at DMR Aug. 8. He didn’t repeat that run when fading to 9th for this price there Sept. 3 but was claimed by Vallejo (a super 38% off a claim) who freshened him, brings him back for the same price, moved to a route with blinkers added. SPEND IT has certainly had more than enough chances (22) but 3 2nds (all here) and 8 3rds show he has some ability so he may well break through one of these days, particularly with the return to this track.