Saturday Plays: Can Home Cooking match hype at Del Mar?

Saturday Plays: Can Home Cooking match hype at Del Mar?
Photo: Casey Phillips/Eclipse Sportswire

Last Sunday, the blog choice Leave No Trace won the Spinaway Stakes (G1) at 14-1 and paid $31.60 to win and $9.60 to place. One day before that, the blog exacta of Flightline over Country Grammer paid $2.80 for $1 in the Pacific Classic (G1). Given Flightline’s odds, it was not a bad payoff.

There are no 14-1 shots below. Regardless, here are possible winners for the Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Debutante Stakes and Grade 2, $250,000 John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar, as well as the Grade 3, $750,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes and Grade 2, $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup, all scheduled for Saturday.

The Bob Baffert-trained Home Cooking is listed as the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Del Mar Debutante. Judging from some other public selections, she might get bet down even further. Is she worth the hype? Based on Home Cooking's impressive maiden romp, the answer is yes.

Del Mar race 8: Del Mar Debutante (G1)

When Home Cooking made her career debut, she set the pace in a local July 31 maiden sprint and faded to third after a 21.44-second opening quarter and 45.19-second half-mile. The winner Justique took advantage of the pace and closed for the win, but at least she looks promising as well. 

Home Cooking made amends when made use of stalking tactics in an Aug. 21 maiden race. She took control of the lead on the turn and blew away the rest of the fillies this time by 9 1/4 lengths with a field-high 97 TimeformUS Speed Figure.

From a visual standpoint, it is important to note how Mike Smith stops riding Home Cooking in midstretch. She powers home under her own volition and gives the impression of holding plenty more in the tank. 

Yes, the hype is strong. Nevertheless, Home Cooking gives the impression of another buzzsaw from the Baffert barn. If she starts at even-money, that is fair.

Win: 6 (at even-money or higher)

Double: 6 / 1

Del Mar race 9: John C. Mabee Stakes (G2)

Back in May, Going to Vegas held off Going Global in the stretch run of the Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita as Ocean Road went by both of them.

Going Global went on to capture the local Yellow Ribbon Stakes (G2) by three lengths and figures to start as the favorite in this spot at low odds.

Why not take Going to Vegas at slightly higher odds? She already held off Going Global in the Gamely. After sitting on the bench since the runner-up Gamely effort, Going to Vegas makes her second start for new trainer Philip D’Amato and now gets the services of Flavien Prat too.

According to TimeformUS, D’Amato hits at a healthy 22 percent off 77-129 day layoffs out of 45 starts. This mare should feel ready to run.

Going to Vegas works as a single with Home Cooking.    

Kentucky Downs race 8: Ladies Turf Stakes (G3)

After throwing a clunker in the Beaugay Stakes (G3), Stolen Holiday made amends in the Eatontown Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park on June 18.

In the Eatontown, Stolen Holiday took the early lead through a slow pace and accelerated nicely late for a one-length win. Although Stolen Holiday held the early pace advantage, she beat respectable names in the Eatontown including Vigilantes Way, Lemista, Fluffy Socks and Princess Grace.

Notice Princess Grace is entered in this spot as the 3-1 second choice. Dalika barely beat Princess Grace in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1), and she is entered in this race as well as the 2-1 favorite.

According to TimeformUS Pace Projector, the pace is supposed to run slow in the Ladies Turf Stakes with Dalika securing an uncontested lead and Stolen Holiday in second. Perhaps Stolen Holiday can apply some pressure though, while still keeping a moderate enough tempo.

With Dalika at 2-1 and Stolen Holiday at 4-1, Stolen Holiday is the more attractive play. One question is whether Stolen Holiday can handle the unique configuration of this turf course, but at least she is higher odds.  

At 7/2 or higher to compensate for the lack of experience at Kentucky Downs, Stolen Holiday is a good win bet. If she goes lower, then think twice about the bet or only using her as a backup in multi-race wagers.

Win: 9 (at 7/2 or higher)

Kentucky Downs race 10: Kentucky Turf Cup (G2)

Arklow loves this course and certainly knows this particular race. The 8-year-old horse won the 2018 edition of the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) before finishing second in 2019. Then Arklow won this race again in 2020 and ran second in 2021.

In last year’s edition, Arklow had some traffic problems late in the race. He did not get to fully stretch out his legs until near the wire when it became too late.

With Florent Geroux hopping back aboard, he might get this horse stuck in traffic once again. The two of them did not gel well together in more races than this one last year. But if Arklow can somehow get a clear trip, then his fondness for the course will give him the advantage over the other horses. Geroux gets one more chance to give him a good ride. 

Since Gufo is in the field too, demand a value price on Arklow before biting.

Win: 4 (at 7/2 or higher)


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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