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HRN Original Blog:
Toasting with Andrew Champagne

Tackling Sunday's Late Pick Four at Del Mar

Goldencents wins 2013 BC Dirt Mile


I make my maiden voyage to Del Mar Sunday. It’s where the turf meets the surf, but more importantly to me, it’s where large pools and huge fields converge, producing fantastic payouts for those lucky enough to skate through certain races.

First, though, to those handicapping Del Mar’s Sunday card: The two turf races (race 5 and race 9) have been taken off the grass as track personnel evaluate the course following several catastrophic injuries. Credit to Del Mar for taking these precautionary measures.

Anyway, on with the ticket:

RACE #7: Ten 2-year-old fillies will go postward here, and considering none of these have ever run on Del Mar’s quirky synthetic surface, I went five-deep here to cover my bases. I used #1 Starlet O’Hara (7/2), #3 Redshirt (12-1), #4 Ryder’s Starlight (5-1), #5 Morning Coffee (5-1), and #9 Make the Sun Shine (3-1).

My top pick is Make the Sun Shine, who showed ample speed first out for Mark Casse. Del Mar has shown a significant speed bias to this point in the meet, so if Stewart Elliott can boot this daughter of Malibu Moon to the front early, she may prove very difficult to catch.

RACE #8: Races where one can comfortably single a horse make wagers like this considerably more affordable. That’s the case with the eighth, the Grade 1 Bing Crosby, as #2 Goldencents (8/5) will go postward.

Last out, the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero finished an ultra-game second behind Palace Malice in the Met Mile. He’s worked superbly for this affair, and if you somehow get 8/5 on him as the field heads toward the gate, take it and run.

RACE #9: This race has come off the turf, and it makes it MUCH more difficult to handicap. Very few of these have any experience over the Del Mar synthetic, and some may scratch to await grass races down the line.

I did the best I could to not hit the “ALL” button here, and I wound up going five-deep. I used #4 Personal Diary (5/2), #5 Disregarded (12-1), #7 La Pequena Gigi (15-1), #8 Alexis Tangier (6-1), and #10 Vanlose Stairway (9/2).

Ultimately, Personal Diary would be my ‘key’ horse here. She just has way too much back class, and has been running against the likes of Aurelia’s Belle, A Little Bit Sassy, and Sea Queen. Her best beats these, and she’s at least got an OK work over this surface.

RACE #10: The finale is a tricky sprint for state-bred maiden claimer. I went three-deep in here, but that could expand if an also-eligible I like draws in.

I’m using #4 Miss Kit Kat (6-1), #9 Inflamed (12-1), and #11 Q’ Viva (7/2). However, don’t overlook #14 Exclusive Girl (4-1), who possesses ample speed and a decent work over this synthetic surface. If she draws in, I’m using her.

For a 50-cent wager, this ticket costs either $37.50 (if Exclusive Girl doesn’t draw in) or $50 (if she does). As a refresher, here’s the layout.

RACE #7: 1-3-4-5-9
RACE #8: 2
RACE #9: 4-5-7-8-10
RACE #10: 4-9-11 (14)

I’ll be tweeting from Del Mar all day long Sunday (follow me here!), and I’ll be posting a recap of my maiden voyage to the storied venue to this blog on Monday or Tuesday. If you’re playing the Pick Four, good luck!


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Meet Andrew Champagne


A native of upstate New York and a graduate of Ithaca College, Andrew Champagne fell in love with horse racing at a very early age on summer trips to Saratoga. His turf writing credits include time spent as a sportswriter, weekly columnist, and handicapper at The Saratogian, a summer working for The Saratoga Special, and "field research" at OTB facilities in Saratoga Springs and his hometown of Kingston. He also spent two years in the athletic communications office at Siena College, and interned with NBC Olympics at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Andrew moved to Pasadena, Calif., in October of 2013, and now serves as an Associate Producer in HRTV's Digital Media department and Horse Racing Nation's Southern California writer. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne, and email him at andrewdchampagne@gmail.com.

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