FRAC DADDY--Once unbeaten on synthetics, the former all weather
king has seen his form slip in his two most recent starts. He's been training
well over Del Mar's surface, and the rail post has been winning at a 21%
clip. The biggest questions will be how he handles a distance he has yet to
have success at and whether or not he and Game On Dude will burn each other
out on the lead.
FRAC DADDY (Scat Daddy - Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away) may like the Poly,
but Del Mar plays different than the East Coast tracks. Scat Daddy’s babies
are 1-23 on the Del Mar Poly. Plus, although he has the advantageous rail
position, he’ll need slower fractions on the lead to be effective. Pass.
Editor's Note - SCRATCHED
the Cougar Handicap field in his last start, pulling away to win by 8 1/4
lengths in track record time for the 1 1/2 mile affair. Fluke or evidence
that the colt is coming into his own? This weekend will likely determine the
answer to that all important question. As for me, I see a good bit of upside
SURF (Giant's Causeway - Surfside, by Seattle Slew) is the best bred
colt in the field. His dam was a champion three year old filly and his second
dam, Flanders, was a champion two year old filly. As Ashley noted, Irish Surf
set a new track record in his last start.
His previous victory was exactly one year ago. I don’t think he’ll win
here, but he is a contender underneath.
IMPERATIVE--Is definitely not as good as his Charles Town Classic
win would suggest. For whatever reason, the gelded son of Bernardini liked
the bull ring track, and his speed figures have declined since that rich
IMPERATIVE (Bernardini - Call Her, by Caller I. D.) pulled and had to
steady off heels in the San Diego Handicap, finishing a lackluster eighth.
Bernardini’s babies are 1-18 at Del Mar. Kenty D. is having an excellent
meet, but even his guidance won’t get this one in the top four. Pass.
ICE CREAM TRUCK--Was well beaten by Irish Surf in the Cougar in his
stakes debut. This field is deeper than what he faced that day. Pass.
CREAM TRUCK (Pleasantly Perfect - Coconut Popsicle, by Smart Strike) is a
son of the 2004 Pacific Classic winner. He ran as fast as an ice cream truck
trolling for customers in his last race.
Although he’s hit the board in two of three tries on Poly, this guy is
much better over the dirt. Pleasantly Perfect’s offspring are 1-21 over the
Del Mar Poly. Pass on the Bomb Pop.
GAME ON DUDE--The once mighty "Dude" just hasn't been the
same racehorse this year. Whether he's lost a step or two off last season or
everyone else has just figured out how to beat him is irrelevant. The fact
remains that this time last year I was all in on the Dude. This year, I have
to look elsewhere. Exotics.
GAME ON DUDE (Awesome Again - Worldly Pleasure, by Devil His Due) is a
veteran of 33 races. Love him or hate
him, you have to give Baffert kudos
for keeping this guy competitive at the highest level for five years
straight. Has he lost a step, as Ashley stated? The Dude has finished out of the money only
three times since last November, but his speed figures have declined in his
last three races. Unless he’s on the
lead, he doesn’t win. Plus, long time jock Mike Smith
jumps off of him in favor of Shared Belief.
I’m going to take a pass on the Dude for the win. He’s certainly one
to include on exotic wagers.
YOU KNOW I KNOW--Has not won a race since this time last year and has
not finished any better than 3rd in the 6 starts in the interim. He did run
third in this same event last year, but I don't like his chances to replicate
or improve upon that particular performance. Pass.
YOU KNOW I KNOW (Simon Pure - Magic Show, by Notebook) has hit the board in all
three starts at Del Mar. He’s one of the few stalkers in a race with plenty
of early speed. He could clunk up for
third or fourth and spoil the exotics.
MAJESTIC HARBOR--Has turned into a beast at the classic distances this
year. He owns graded stakes wins at 10 and 12 furlongs, including a smashing
victory in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He's been working smartly at Del Mar
and his speed figures have been improving. Contender.
HARBOR (Rockport Harbor - Champagne Royale, by French Deputy) is
enjoying life in California, having hit the board in four of five starts
since traveling west of the Rockies. As Ashley commented, he’s really found his
niche at classic distances. Majestic
Harbor has never tried Polytrack, but his sire’s progeny have a 13% win rate
at Del Mar, plus his morning works indicate that Majestic Harbor should
handle the track just fine. Contender.
TOAST OF NEW
YORK--Invaded from across the
pond to run 6th in the Belmont Derby on the turf. Take that in conjunction
with his 5th place finish on the turf in his career debut and it becomes
clear that synthetics are what this colt prefers. He'll be facing his elders
for the first time, a task that not every 3-year old is necessarily up for in
their first outing under those conditions. Pass.
TOAST OF NEW YORK (Thewayyouare - Claire Soleil, by Syncline) is a Polytrack
monster, at least in Europe and Dubai.
Sure, he won the U.A.E. Derby, but the previous three winners of that
race never won again, making that race’s form very suspect. Yes, he’s the other three year old in here
facing older horses, but I think he’s an interesting long shot. The only
other foal by Thewayyouare won at Del Mar. Maybe this guy can hit the board
at long odds. Exotics contender.
CLUBHOUSE RIDE--Is a nice intact son of Candy Ride, but he's always
been a cut below the best of the California runners. He got a break through
win in the Californian back in May, but he then lost to Majestic Harbor, who
he beat at 9 furlongs in the Californian, going 10 furlongs in the Gold Cup.
He has yet to completely hold his own against a bunch this strong, and I
don't foresee that changing. Pass.
RIDE (Candy Ride (ARG) - Seeking Results, by Seeking the Gold)
always shows up. He’s a consistent trier and you can’t knock that. He’s won
one race a year since 2012, and he’s had his win for this year. He also has a 5-1-0-0 record at Del
MYSTERY TRAIN--Is certainly a mystery. A glance at his past
performances shows that this Argentinian import relishes a route of ground.
This will be his first U.S. start, and sometimes it takes a race or two for
the South American shippers to get their hooves under them. I took a look at
the replays from some of his South American races and drew one major
conclusion: he is the Argentinian Game On Dude. He's fast and he can run his
competitors off their feet. Dirt to all weather is a question, but I find
myself liking this guy. Contender.
MYSTERY TRAIN (Not For Sale (ARG) -
American Whisper, by Quiet American) hit the board in all but one start in
Argentina. Is he as good as the Two Argentinian
horses have won the Pacific Classic, Gentlemen in 1997 and Candy Ride in 2003?
Unlike Gentlemen and Candy Ride, who were
named champions in their home country before heading to the U.S., Mystery Train has been bested by lesser
horses, making his class here suspect.
While, Mystery Train’s works at Del Mar have been average, both of his
sire’s previous runners over the Del Mar Poly have failed to hit the board.
Trainer Darrell Vienna has won with one of eight foreign shippers. Pass.
by listening to people talk, you'd think Shared Belief was the second coming
of Secretariat. Sure he's undefeated, but he's also untested. I never bought
into the hype, and I still don't. He may have a perfect record going into the
weekend, but I doubt that will be the case come Sunday evening. Pass.
BELIEF (Candy Ride (ARG) - Common Hope, by Storm Cat) brilliant,
undefeated, but also untested. Sorry
Ashley, I’m going to buy into the hype. He’s by a superior Polysire. This colt descends from a quality female
family. His dam is a full sister to recently deceased California sire Tribal
Rule (a top Polysire). She’s a half to Grade 1 winner Key Phrase, who is the
dam of sire Yankee Gentleman (another top Polysire) and Key Phrase is also
the grand-dam of Grade 2 winner Half Ours.
I see only two chinks in Shared Belief’s armor. One is that he’s
borderline for getting 1 ¼ miles in top company. Candy Ride has sired only one stakes winner
at 1 ¼ miles (Misremembered). The
second is – for the first time in his young career, Shared Belief is facing
top company in the form of older horses. Hollendorfer
has been pointing Shared Belief to this race, Smith elects to stay with him
over Game On Dude, and you know this colt will be ready to give it his best.