Jimmy Durante Stakes – Race 5 at Del Mar – Post Time 5:30 PM Eastern (2:30 Pacific)

Javanica gets a top billing in this mile turf stakes for two year olds. Stretching out to two turns on turf for her second career start in mid-September, Javanica put in a strong effort to rally from fifth and win. Moving to the all-weather at Woodbine for her next start, the filly cut back to one turn (seven furlongs) and was no match for the heavy favorite which won by four lengths but she still rallied nicely from last to second. Moving back to turf and to a mile, on a continuing pattern for improvement, this well-bred daughter of Medaglia d’Oro out of the mare who produced top three year old filly turf start Antoinette ($500K, second in the Saratoga Oaks and Belmont Oaks this year), Javanica offers a lot of value with a morning line of 6/1.

The other main win contender is Fluffy Socks, opening at 5/2 and likely bet lower because Chad Brown is her trainer and Irad Ortiz, Jr. is in from New York to ride. Fluffy Socks also won in her second career start, at a mile on grass, then like Javanica tried stakes company next out, winning the Selima Stakes in October. Next out in the Chelsey Flower Stakes, Fluffy Socks rallied from sixth to make the lead in the stretch, only to be beaten inches on the wire in a tight photo. The 86 Equibase figure she earned in the Chelsey Flower (and the 84 before that) is a bit lower than the 88 Javanica (80 before that) earned in her last start and Fluffy Socks should improve as well, but she shouldn’t be 5/2 compared to 6/1 here as she’s no faster than her main competitor.

Bets:

Win: Javanica at 2/1 or more.

Instead of a win bet on Fluffy Socks I’ll play an exacta of Fluffy Socks over ALL

Exactas:

Javanica and Fluffy Socks over JavanicaFluffy SocksPlum SexyConsternationPizzazzQuattroelleBay Storm and Invincible Gal

Seabiscuit Handicap – Race 7 at Del Mar – Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern (3:30 Pacific)

Although it appears on paper both Blitzkrieg and One Bad Boy can only win when they lead from the start, and therefore there will be an early pace battle of epic proportions, I do not believe that to be the case. One Bad Boy, who hails from the Richard Baltas barn, the same as Next Shares, is the one who is more likely to lead early as he breaks from the 10 post. That puts Blitzkrieg in the catbird seat, and looking at many of his earlier races that will work out well. Before leaving California for Dubai this past winter, Blitzkrieg showed the ability to relax in the early stages, such as when winning the San Francisco Stakes with a rock-solid 111 Equibase Speed Figure. Perhaps overmatched when returned to trainer Doug O’ Neill’s base in southern California and placed in the Shoemaker Mile, Blitzkrieg returned to stakes winning form in the American Stakes in June, duplicating the 111 figure earned 14 months earlier. Two races later he set a nearly unbelievable early pace in the Tourist Mile when he ran the opening six furlongs in 107.8 before tiring to sixth behind eventual winner Flavius. Then, last month in the City of Hope Mile, Blitzkrieg once again went too fast early for his own good, running the opening six furlongs in 108.6. Still, Blitzkrieg was beaten only a head for third and earned a career-best 114 figure. In the Seabiscuit, with red hot jockey Abel Cedillo riding back after getting familiar with him and with One Bad Boy able to provide a solid target, Blitzkrieg should be able to pass the tiring leader in the stretch and hold off the others for the upset win.

If the early pace scenario above does not pan out, particularly if Blitzkrieg and One Bad Boy can’t avoid battling for the early lead on sizzling fast fractions, Flavius appears most likely to pass them for the win. After returning from six months off and finishing third with a 109 figure when beaten less than a length, in the First Defence Stakes in June, Flavius won the Tourist Mile Stakes. That race doesn’t carry a graded designation yet but it will, considering the $712,000 purse and the quality of the field. Putting that in perspective, the 115 figure Flavius earned in the Tourist Mile is better than the 111 figure 2019 Seabiscuit winner Next Shares earned. Returning one month later in the Shadwell Turf Mile, Flavius found himself in traffic at a critical stage in the stretch run and lost any chance he had to win, eventually finishing fifth. Getting a jockey change to North American leading rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. and with plenty of pace to run at just like he had in the Tourist Mile, Flavius could be in high gear and get up for the win in the Seabiscuit Handicap.

Imperador (ARG) is an intriguing horse who is very likely to go to post at high odds. Winner of three of eight races in his native Argentina, Imperador (ARG) made his U.S. debut in September at Churchill Downs in a third level allowance race and ended up second, beaten a half-length, at the end. However, Imperador (ARG) ran the same kind of race that day I expect Blitzkrieg may run today as he sat in second from the start before making up two and one-half lengths to lead in the stretch. In this case Imperador (ARG) was passed late, but not only was he extremely game in holding second by a neck on the wire, he should be more physically fit in his second start back from six months off. Based in Kentucky with trainer Paulo Lobo, Imperador (ARG) reminds me of another one of the trainer’s top turf stars, Ivar, who posted the 14 to 1 upset in the Shadwell Turf Mile in October, beating Flavius and Bowies Hero in the process.

Bets:

Win: Blitzkrieg and/or Flavius at 5 to 2 or more.

For a smaller amount, Imperador (ARG) at 5 to 1 or more.

When making multiple win bets, use a “Dutching” tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. A Dutching tool lets you set the amount you want to bet or the amount you want to win, then based on the odds your bets are proportioned accordingly. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.

Exactas:

BlitzkriegFlavius and Imperador over BlitzkriegFlaviusImperadorCamino Del ParaisoSpirit AnimalCount Again and Majestic Eagle

 

Hollywood Derby – Race 9 at Del Mar – Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern (4:30 Pacific)

Gufo gets the 13 post for this nine furlong trip and some people may think that’s disadvantageous but this race starts in the chute and there is ample time to get a good position before the first turn. Gufo showed talent from the get go, rallying from nearly last in a field of 11 to get third in his debut one year ago. Winning four in a row after that including two stakes, he just missed by a head in the Saratoga Derby (behind Domestic Spending), Gufo rebounded to win the Belmont Derby with a career-best effort at 10 furlongs. The cut back to nine furlongs means he’s going to have a strong kick once again and as he gets Prat he’s the one to beat.

Scarto and Smooth Like Strait finished second and first, respectively, in the Twilight Derby at this trip last month at Santa Anita, both running very well. Considering Scarto was just a length and one-half from Smooth Like Strait, it’s out of line he opens at 10/1 compared to 7/2 because in my opinion they have an equal chance to win, based on the fact the horse right behind them (Field Pass) came back to win a stakes last weekend.

Domestic Spending rounds out the quartet of win contenders, having defeated Gufo in the Saratoga Derby then passing the Belmont Derby and rested for this race. He was beaten by a couple of these at this distance before the Saratoga Derby in the Hall of Fame Stakes and did run his best in the Saratoga Derby but as a Chad Brown trainee he’s likely to get bet down from his 5/1 starting odds so although a win contender I think I’ll just use him on exacta tickets.

Bets:

WinGufo at 5 to 2 or more.

For smaller amounts, consider win bets on Scarto and Smooth Like Strait (and Domestic Spending) at 7 to 2 or more. Truthfully the only horse I think will meet that threshold is Scarto.

This is EXACTLY the kind of race where a “Dutching” tool like the free one at Amwager really comes in handy as it proportions your bets based on the odds so you don’t have to do the math for yourself because we can bet two, or even three horses to win at the right odds.

Exactas:

Box GufoScartoSmooth Like Strait and Domestic Spending

GufoScartoSmooth Like Strait and Domestic Spending over GufoScartoSmooth Like Strait and Domestic SpendingTaishanStorm the CourtDecorated Invader and Ever Dangerous