Friday 5: Hidden Message a classy Del Mar Oaks choice

August 16, 2019 02:55pm
Watching workouts plays a role in most of the five selections listed below, especially in the choice for the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks on Saturday. How did anyone handicap 15 years ago without this tool?

But the Del Mar Oaks selection also brings proven European form and class, too. Here is a deeper analysis for my top five horses to bet Saturday.

Del Mar Race 9: Del Mar Oaks (G1)

Hidden Message comes to North America with some notable stakes experience on record, including a fourth-place finish in the Prix de Sandringham (G2), only 1 ¾ lengths behind the winner Obligate.

Not every European Group 1 or Group 2 is the same in quality, but it is notable that Obligate went on to finish third in the Prix Rothschild (G1), two lengths behind a big name in Laurens and five lengths ahead of the fifth-place East. East finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. 

New to trainer Simon Callaghan's barn, Hidden Message will also get pace for her closing style, with speed horses such as Raymundos Secret, Keeper Ofthe Stars and Sold It lined up. 

Flavien Prat gave up the mount on Raymundos Secret for this filly, and she easily handled her workmate Premier League on July 28, too. 

Post 14 is a negative, but the run-up to the turn is a bit longer because of the nine-furlong distance. At 3-1 or higher, Hidden Message is fair.

Del Mar Race 6: Maiden

Hydrogen only shows up once in the XBTV archives and looked about on par with Notre Dame through the actual work itself.

But there are a two important notes to point out. Hydrogen broke sharply and also galloped out far ahead of Notre Dame after the work. It is not a huge surprise Hydrogen owns early speed, as his older half-brother is Gettysburg, who you'll remember as the rabbit in the 2016 Belmont Stakes.

The competition for Hydrogen is not strong in this maiden race.

Even though Tizamagician finished second to Best Pal Stakes (G2) runner-up Wrecking Crew in his career debut, he probably wants more distance. As for Brann, who finished fourth to the Best Pal winner Collusion Illusion in a maiden race, he burned a lot of money at 6-5 while fading in the stretch.

Brann is, as with Hydrogen, trained by Bob Baffert. But typically, the Baffert horses owned his wife, Jill, aren't quite as precocious.

In all likelihood, Hydrogen will get bet down as an expensive Baffert 2-year-old owned by roughly the same connections to Justify.

At 2-1 or higher, he is still fair to play.

Del Mar Race 8: Torrey Pines Stakes (G3)

Sneaking Out
gets the nod in this race for two reasons: early position and value.

TimeformUS' Pace Projector puts Sneaking Out in third early, just behind Fighting Mad and Kim K. The projection is probably accurate, as Fighting Mad owns enough speed to contest the lead in six-furlong sprints, while Kim K went for the lead in her last two starts. Sneaking Out can follow them.

As for route experience, Sneaking Out finished second in the Summer Oaks (G2) by a half length. This race is a bit shorter at one mile.

Plus, Sneaking Out is 7-2 on the morning line.

Fighting Mad is the favorite at 5-2 and shows no route experience at all, while the 3-1 Classic Fit looks too slow to win.

Saratoga Race 7: Maiden

Todd Pletcher has not brought out as many sharp first-time starters in the past year, but Candy Tycoon's workouts are too good to ignore.

In Candy Tycoon's Aug. 3 breeze, he easily handled stablemate Fort McHenry, an unraced Tapit half-brother to California Chrome. Seven days later, he finished even stronger against Croi Mor, a $150,000 purchase.

To offer some negatives, there's no certainty Fort McHenry possesses any significant talent, and Croi Mor ran fifth in his career debut. Plus Candy Tycoon broke a touch slow against Croi Mor.

Regardless, Candy Tycoon shows strong gallop-outs against both of them deserves a watch. His raw talent will probably overcome a slow start at 2-1, and Pletcher says this one can win first out.

Saratoga Race 8: Smart N Fancy Stakes

While Fire Key did keep Morticia hemmed in through the stretch of the Caress Stakes before finishing second, there is no value in betting Morticia. On the morning line, Morticia is even money and likely to remain there.

Fire Key is 4-1, and that is fair value on a mare that keeps turning in consistent races. Prior to the Caress, she also finished second in the Intercontinental Stakes (G3) and won the License Fee Stakes by a nose.

Even though she drew the rail in this spot, Fire Key does own some speed and could use it to secure position. TimeformUS' Pace Projector backs this theory up, as it places her third early through a slow pace.

Morticia might win anyway. But at 4-1 or higher, Fire Key is the play.


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Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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