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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekend Handicapping: Another Baffert Interlude in the Derby today


Today we head back to the west coast and have a race where the turf meets the surf.  I’m going to look at the Del Mar Derby (G2) for 3YO’s on turf going a mile and an eighth.   It’s a field of 10 fighting for a purse of $250,000, all but one are west coast turf horses, with Banned being the outsider.  There is virtually no front end speed in this race, and while I don’t necessarily subscribe to the “pace makes the race” in turf races, the lack of it here makes this race wide open for an upset or a surprise.  Here we go …

Contenders:

#1  Midnight Interlude ML 7/2:  Baffert trained winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) comes right back from his even effort in the LaJolla.  He faces several from that warm up again today, but I look at that last race as a tune up.  He has had two nice works since 8/13 and Baffert hits 24% on 2nd off races.  I know many think Bejarano is the plague on turf but with an inside ride, saving ground in a pace less race and getting some distance added he should come through and win. 

#7 Banned ML 5/2: Here is another tough horse.  Back to back wins at Churchill Downs and seems to race well anywhere.  This will be his first visit to Del Mar and while many don’t take this turf course too seriously it will be interesting to see how he does.  He is cutting back in distance and has the ability to go out a bit, so might work. His Beyer’s show him to be red hot, and Proctor doesn’t goof around when enters a horse in Graded races.  I’m writing as if he is the winner and will be the favorite, but with nothing to chase he might not kick into gear.

#5 Cloud Man ML 6/1:  This colt is dangerous and believe he is ready to break through.  Granted it took him several efforts to move through his allowance condition but improving Beyer’s, a string of pearls on his workouts and Sherriffs has excellent ROI in these situations.  Talamo stays with him, and might struggle with the distance but like his chances here.

Dark Horses:

#6  Dreamy Kid ML 8/1:  Had him as my selection at the West Virginia Derby and had a horrible effort.  This will be his first try on grass, his breeding suggests that he will be fine and has won at this distance.  He has the dangerous Rosario on board and while Drysdale isn’t having a great meet, you have to respect him here.  I look for him to bounce back and show us that same game race he had in the Swaps(G2) at Hollywood Park.  He will sit in the middle and can get up and win.

#9 Burns ML 9/2:  He won his last out in the LaJolla(G2) and some would have him the favorite here.  PVal is on board and right there makes Burns a player.  The knock on him is the distance; his only two tries at this distance were on dirt and didn’t fare well.  His last three races while at shorter distances don’t show him holding on and not stretching out.  One last thing, a minor point but his Beyer’s while very good are range bound in the high 80’s and don’t see any break outs, it will take a big effort today.

“Bomb’s Away”:

#4 Extensive ML 12/1:    Here is an interesting play.  Proctor runs him in the Oceanside and shows a decent effort coming in 3rd behind Burns and brings him back in an Optional Claimer where he wins and lo and behold gets claimed! Now his connections place right back into a G2 race.  His Beyer’s are improving and think the distance will be no problem; and gets a very dangerous Martin Garcia.  With no pace and the ability to close smartly he becomes a fun pick on the “recent claim” angle, and who would think to play it in a Graded race.

Selections:

1 – 7 – 5 

A near miss last night at Balmoral in the Pick 4. Will be posting later today at  http://the-clocker.blogspot.com/  the selections for tonight’s $25,000 Guaranteed Pick 4 at Balmoral Park.  Have a great holiday and may you cash all your tickets today!

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