For bettors, Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 San Clemente Stakes at Del Mar is a tough race to decipher, and one that handicappers need to decide whether it is worth the time and effort.
On the one hand, an evenly-matched field of 11 horses brings decent prices, even to the lowest odds on the board. Bettors cannot just play a race because it offers value though without a strong opinion or two, making even fields a catch 22.
With that said, there are three fillies who appear half a step above.
The first and best filly to consider is Laura's Light, who recently won the nine-furlong Honeymoon Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. In that race, Laura's Light let the run-off pacesetter Parkour secure the lead and open up by 10 lengths on the backside, as she sat in second early.
As Parkour came back to the field, Laura's Light moved forward.
Parkour felt the effects of opening up too soon and conceded to Laura's Light. After securing the lead, Laura's Light then held off Stela Star and Croughavouke in a good winning effort.
Laura's Light earned a 104 TimeformUS Speed Figure. She only crossed the wire a neck in front of Stela Star, but Laura's Light did more pace work. Notice that even when Parkour opened up by 10 lengths, Laura's Light had two lengths on the rest.
Four starts ago in Laura's Light's record, she took the one-mile Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita by 3 1/4 lengths over Croughavouke.
Prior to that in the local Jimmy Durante Stakes, Laura's Light set the pace and settled for second as Alms won. Alms went on to capture the Shantel Lanerie Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds before losing twice.
Peter Miller trains Laura's Light and he typically fires at Del Mar. When paired with Abel Cedillo over the past year, the trainer/jockey combination has hit at 21 percent (source: TimeformUS).
Laura's Light owns good tactical speed combined with some proven class and sharp connections. She is the narrow top selection.
Related: San Diego Handicap Analysis
Another second option is Cheermeister, the lone eastern invader. She is appealing on that angle alone, as it feels like most of these local fillies take turns beating each other.
Cross out Cheermeister's dirt flop in the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Dirt races are irrelevant when handicapping for turf.
Prior to that race, Cheermeister ran second in the Sanibel Island Stakes at Gulfstream after setting the pace uncontested, losing by a neck to Highland Glory.
Back in February, Cheermeister picked up two graded stakes wins in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) and Sweetest Chant Stakes (G3), both at Gulfstream. Cheermeister set the pace each time before holding on.
The main concern is that Cheermeister needs the lead. On paper, she shows no ability to run any other way besides setting the pace and holding on in the stretch run. If Cheermeister gets her preferred trip though in front and alone, then she is a major threat to take this race.
Also think about Warren's Showtime, whose connections tend to switch her between dirt and turf. She is successful on both surfaces.
In her last turf start in the June 6 Fran's Valentine Stakes at Santa Anita, Warren's Showtime could only manage to run evenly in third for the entire race. Check out the conditions of that Cal-bred stakes race though. She ran against older fillies and mares, which made it more difficult.
Four starts ago, Warren's Showtime won the China Doll Stakes against 3-year-old fillies after finding a path through the inside. As mentioned, the runner-up Stela Star ran second in the Honeymoon Stakes behind Laura's Light in her next start.
Back in January, Warren's Showtime also took the California Cup Oaks by 3 ½ lengths, in a race limited to 3-year-old fillies and Cal-breds.
Warren's Showtime is probably not a “true” Grade 2-level filly. But this is not a true Grade 2 field either. Where are the European invaders? Where are the other eastern invaders besides Cheermeister? Compare this field to the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, which contains a champion in Sistercharlie.
From Post 9, Warren's Showtime owns enough speed to get in position around the first turn and find a good spot right behind the leaders.
If the pace heats up, Warren's Showtime is live.
For those playing multi-race wagers, Laura's Light, Cheermeister and Warren's Showtime are the three fillies to consider. Some bettors will spread even further and that is not a bad idea either. As for a vertical ticket, there is none recommended in this conclusion. The only reason to play this race is for the late pick 4.
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
|A. De La Cerda|
D. Van Dyke