The $300,000 Del Mar Debutante (G1) for 2-year-old fillies has been contested at Del Mar since 1951. Held initially at six furlongs, the race was lengthened to a mile in 1974. Then, 19 years later, it was cut to the current distance of seven furlongs.
Although not a 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Challenge event, six fillies have done well in the Juvenile Fillies, producing one winner and five runner-ups. The last filly to hit the board in the Breeders’ Cup was third-placed Bast (2019).
Since 2000, nine fillies who would later be crowned champion two-year-old have contested the seven-furlong (G-1). Four of them, Halfbridled, Sweet Catomine, Stardom Bound, and Songbird, won the Debutante and completed a Debutante/BC Juvenile Fillies double.
The only Grade 1 on Sunday’s card, the Debutante is carded as race 10 with a 6:07 PM PDT post time. Let’s review the fillies most likely to hit the board.
The closely matched Elm Drive and Eda renew their rivalry in the Debutante. Only a head separated the pair in the Sorrento (G3) last out.
No. 3 Elm Drive (5-2) and Eda dueled throughout an exciting edition of the Sorrento, neither wanting to give an inch. However, Elm Drive stubbornly refused to yield.
In her most recent, the Phil D'Amato trainee breezed in company with a debut-placed maiden. It was no contest when Elm Drive was turned loose. She drew away from her mate quickly, targeting a breezing horse in front, and passed that one too.
By first-crop sire Mohaymen, Elm Drive is a half-sister to stakes-winning sprinter Mother of Dragons. Their dam is half to Grade 3 stakes-winning miler, Join in the Dance.
No. 2 Eda (3-1) is technically still a maiden. She was awarded the victory in her debut after the winner made brief contact as they dueled down the lane.
The Bob Baffert trainee worked a solo bullet six furlongs in 1:12.40 in her final work.
The daughter of Munnings is the first foal out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare. Her dam is a half-sister to Kentucky Juvenile (G3) winner Agean and to stakes-winning miler Knight Bringer.
No. 7 Grace Adler (5-1) is one of the few in the Debutante who has shown the ability to rate. In a well-timed ride by Flavien Prat, she made a wide move around the stretch and gradually wore down the pacesetters to win by a measured three-quarters length. Of three rivals to return, one placed in their next start.
Bob Baffert’s charge has logged a series of four and five-furlong breezes, topped off by two recent six-furlong moves.
By Curlin, Grace Adler is a half-sister to Virginia Key, who placed third in the 2018 Gazelle (G2). Their dam Our Khrysty is a Grade 3-winning miler, and she is a half-sister to Whitney Handicap (G1) winner Bullsbay.
It’s not often that we see a 2-year-old graduate by 25 lengths, but that’s exactly what No. 5 Myfavoritedaughter (8-1) did in her third start back in June at Gulfstream Park. She faced just three overmatched rivals over a sloppy track and is the only one in the Debutante field with a victory at seven furlongs. One of her rivals returned to win, and the other two were fourth in their next starts.
Jeff Engler wins with 13 percent of shippers and tags Jose Valdivia, Jr. to ride. The jock is winning dirt sprints at a respectable 17 percent this meet. Myfavoritedaughter was allowed to settle in at Del Mar, and appears to have done just that, firing a pre-race four-furlong bullet in 47.60.
Myfavoritedaughter is by the brilliant Carpe Diem out of a winning Sky Mesa mare. Her second dam Tres Dream is a stakes-winning half-sister to UAE Derby (G2) winner and sire Daddy Long Legs.
Keep an eye on No. 6 Rock the Belles (20-1) for a longshot chance. Yes, she raced for a tag in her debut, but it was for $150,000, and she won by 3 1/2 lengths. Two rivals from that race returned, one a next out winner and the other placed fourth.
The Luis Mendez trainee had two recent sharp four-furlong works in pre-race works. Mendez’s 2-year-olds are winning at 27 percent this meet, while New Jersey invader Joe Bravo is enjoying an excellent meet with 24 percent winners in dirt sprints.
Rock the Belles’ pedigree isn’t as illustrious as some of her rivals. She’s by Dominus out of a winning Artie Schiller mare. The blacktype in Rock the Belles distaff line skips to the third generation, which includes two Grade 1 winners, 2019 Cotillion (G1) winner Street Band, and Rock the Belles’ third dam, Minstrels Lassie.
There’s a ton of speed in the Del Mar Debutante. Eda and Elm Drive could hook up on the front end again, which could set it up for the other Baffert filly, Grace Adler. Just about any one of the other fillies could fill out the exotics, so why not go with two longshots?
No. 7 Grace Adler (5-1)
No. 3 Elm Drive (5-2)
No. 2 Eda (3-1)
No. 5 Myfavoritedaughter (8-1)