Head to Head: Handicapping the 2022 Del Mar Debutante

Head to Head: Handicapping the 2022 Del Mar Debutante
Photo: Benoit Photo

The Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Debutante on closing weekend at Del Mar attracted a field of seven juvenile fillies, led by Sorrento Stakes (G2) winner Vegas Magic, who is unbeaten. 

Bob Baffert is looking for his fourth consecutive Debutante trophy and eleventh overall. He sends out maiden winners Fast and Shiny and Home Cooking.

The seven-furlong event is carded as the eighth of 11 races on Sunday with a scheduled post time of approximately 7:30 EDT.

Laurie Ross of
Pedigree Power and Ashley Tamulonis of Coast To Coast determine who will have a successful coming out party.



1.   Vegas Magic 3-1

Vegas Magic is undefeated in three starts, all at different tracks. She surprised the Sorrento field in her previous start by 1 1/4 lengths. Vegas Magic is her sire’s leading money earner out of a multiple stakes earner of $220,764. Vegas Magic isn’t a flashy winner; her largest margin of victory was in the Sorrento. However, she galloped out far in front of the field. Contender.


Vegas Magic remained undefeated in 3 starts when she upset the Sorrento (G2) here last month. Her speed figure jumped by sixteen points from her prior race. She has shown multiple dimensions, too, winning while pressing the pace and while closing. She clearly liked the Del Mar track and is one to keep an eye on here. Contender.


2.   Kissed by Fire 8-1

Kissed by Fire was green in her debut. She lugged in while challenging Home Cooking in the stretch and swished her tail in reaction to being hit. The Peter Eurton trainee had all she could handle against the game Home Cooking, and neither was a match for the winner who stormed by them. However, she was flattered when Home Cooking returned to win impressively. Nevertheless, I’ll take a reluctant pass on Kissed by Fire due to her issues in the stretch. Pass.


Trained by Peter Eurton, Kissed by Fire enters the Debutante still a maiden. In fairness, the filly that beat her is none other than the exciting Justique. Kissed by Fire looked poised to win that day, but Justique blew right by her. A similar effort could see this daughter of Friesan Fire picking up a check. Exotics.


3.   And Tell Me Nolies 3-1

And Tell Me Nolies improved considerably in her second start. She was in tight while dueling through the stretch and refused to be intimidated, pulling a neck in front at the wire. The daughter of Arrogate is out of a Grade 3 winning half-sister to Grade 1 winning handicap horse Macho Again. The Peter Miller trainee has a slow but steady work pattern. Contender.



And Tell Me Nolies debuted against fellow Debutante runner Satin Doll and could only manage fourth. She came right back and won at second asking, beating Ice Dancing and earning a 92-speed figure, which is the highest in the field. Contender.


4.   Satin Doll 20-1

Satin Doll regressed with no apparent excuse in the Sorrento, finishing 7 1/2 lengths behind Vegas Magic. The Doug O’Neil trainee beat And Tell Me Nolies in their debut. The daughter of Congrats posted a pre-race five furlongs work in 59.40 second, the seventh best of the day. Satin Doll had a sharp debut, and perhaps she can bounce back with an in-the-money finish, but I’ll take a pass.


Satin Doll debuted a winner for Doug O’Neill but had no answer for stablemate Vegas Magic in the Sorrento (G2). This filly likes to come from off the pace and will be looking for a lot of early speed in order to make her run effective. Pass.


5.   Fast and Shiny 8-1

Fast and Shiny received an excellent education in her debut. She vied for the early lead but took back to third, settling behind her stablemate Doinitthehardway. Fast and Shiny reacted slightly to dirt in her face; however she didn’t let it dull her performance, as she swung three wide and passed her tiring stablemate to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Fast and Shiny has posted two sub 1:00 five-furlong gate works in preparation for the Debutante and gets a jock switch to the meet’s leading rider, JJ Hernandez. The top jock is winning sprints at a 35 percent rate and finishes in the money at an incredible 73 percent this meet. Contender.


A daughter of Bernardini, Fast and Shiny was just that on debut. She pressed the pace from third, nabbed the lead and then lost it. She did not lose the race, however, as she battled back to win by 1 1/2-lengths. From the barn of Bob Baffert, you have to know she is going to be ready to go. Contender.


6.   Home Cooking 9-5

Home Cooking improved and grilled the field by 9 1/4 lengths in her second start. However, she ducked from one right-handed smack in the stretch. The Baffert trainee bounced back with a bullet five-furlong work in 59.40 seconds. Still, her pre-race breeze of six furlongs in 1:12.20 with Gandolfini, an unraced Justify colt, left much to be desired. Home Cooking was all out, the rider scrubbing and tapping to keep up. Veteran jock Mike Smith has won three of twenty dirt sprints this meet but has completed the exotics in half of them. Baffert wins juvenile stakes at a rate of 39 percent, with 77 percent in the money. Contender.


Home Cooking also debuted in the maiden race that Justique won, coming in third behind that one and Kissed by Fire. Three weeks later she flattered Justique’s performance by romping in her second start. She earned an 88-speed figure, three points higher than what her stablemate Fast and Shiny received in her debut. Contender.


7.   Arella Star 15-1

Arella Star shoots in from Gulfstream Park, where she beat a decent group of maidens by two lengths. The contest yielded two next-out winners and four runners-up from ten starters. Nyquist’s daughter’s speed ratings aren’t as flashy as her counterparts. However, she recorded the third-highest late-pace rating in the field. Trainer Rodriguez rarely ships, and none of his charges have hit the board. Pass.


Arella Star shipped west from Florida, where she made her first two career starts. She was a distant third in her career bow but got her picture taken after her second start. At this time of year, the Gulfstream fields can be questionable as all the best horses are in New York, Kentucky, or California. Pass.


8.   Ice Dancing 8-1

Ice Dancing was off a step slow in her debut but made a wide, late move to finish third, 2 3/4 lengths behind And Tell Me Nolies. The pretty gray daughter of Frosted is out of a multiple stakes-winning turf mare. She gets a jock switch from Mike Smith to Flavien Prat, who has won three of the last six editions of the Debutante. Richard Mandella’s juvenile second-time starters have a 22 percent win and 67 percent in the money rate over the previous three years. Additionally, the conservative trainer has saddled only two 2-year-olds in stakes in the last three years. Both hit the board. Longshot Exotics. 


Like Kissed by Fire, Ice Dancing is still a maiden. In her only start, she finished third behind winner And Tell Me Nolies, closing from the back of the field to nab that minor award. Her 87-speed figure for that race is quite good, but she will have to take a step forward if she wants to turn the tables on And Tell Me Nolies. Pass.



Final Thoughts

None of these fillies are “need the lead” types, so the pacesetter could be any one of Vegas Magic, And Tell Me Nolies, Fast and Shiny, or Home Cooking. I would not be surprised to see the Baffert duo of Fast and Shiny and Home Cooking hook up early as his runners typically are pacesetters. Kissed by Fire, Arella Star, and Ice Dancing will likely make up the second flight with Satin Doll at the back of the field. This could conceivably be anyone’s race to win, but I really like Vegas Magic and her versatility.

Race Keys: Favorites have won or placed 60 percent of the time in the last decade. Four prepped with a win or place in the Sorrento, while the rest won or placed in their debut.

Stating the obvious, Vegas Magic is the class of the field. Her speed figures are average, but she does what it takes to win, nothing more or less.

The Baffert duo of Fast and Shiny and Home Cooking must be considered.




1. Vegas Magic 3-1

1. Vegas Magic 3-1

3. And Tell Me Nolies 3-1

5. Fast and Shiny 8-1

6. Home Cooking 9-5

6. Home Cooking 9-5

5. Fast and Shiny 8-1

8. Ice Dancing 8-1




Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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