Del Mar Horse Racing Picks for Saturday, August 22, 2020

Del Mar Handicap – Race 7 at Del Mar – Post Time 8:06 PM Eastern/ 5:06 PM Pacific

We start a four race series, including three stakes, with a race in which United is the one to beat and there’s little point in taking a shot with another horse as a win contender. We make money from this kind of race by betting exactas and trifectas as well as pick 3 tickets. United is going for his fourth straight graded stakes win and could be going for his sixth if not for coming up a neck short in the Hollywood Turf Cup in December and a head short to champion Bricks and Mortar in the Breeders’ Cup Turf one month earlier. His consistently high 118 – 120 Equibase figures pretty much tower over the rest here and he gets the ground saving rail although at this three turn trip that really doesn’t matter. The horse he beat last time out in the Eddie Read has decided to heck with the turf division and is running in the Pacific Classic (race 10) today and Prat rides the horse fantastically well.

There’s potential for a sweet profit if Another Mystery finishes second or third. Shipping in from Florida, this colt has run a marathon distance just twice in his 13 race career, finishing third and sixth. Both weren’t bad efforts and now he’s in the sharp McCarthy barn which can’t hurt. He’s bred to be a true “stayer” who can run as far as the day is long on both sides of his pedigree, which many in here are not. His dam produced the superb marathoner Ioya Bigtime ($540K) who won up to 1 11/16 miles. When sent a marathon distance in the 2012 Stars and Stripes Handicap at Arlington Park, off a 1 1/16 mile prep, Ioya Bigtime won. That’s the reason I’m expecting an effort good enough to finish in the money here as Another Mystery is stretching out off a mile prep last time out.

Others we can use on exotic tickets are Ward ‘n Jerry, Red King, Oscar Dominguez and Originaire. Red King won the Grade 3 San Juan Capistrano Stakes at 1 ¾ miles in June, with Ward n’ Jerry third. Ward ‘n Jerry fits also because he was beaten a neck and a head in a three horse photo last December (by Oscar Dominguez and United) in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup at 12 furlongs as well as won the Grade 3 San Luis Rey Stakes at 12 furlongs in March. Oscar Dominguez has faced United three times, winning once and finishing behind that one twice. Originaire finished third behind United in the Whittingham Stakes in May.

Win: Although it’s likely United will be the prohibitive betting choice, I would bet United to win at 3 to 2 odds or higher as a low odds overlay.

Trifectas: (this is the bet where we hope lightning strikes and Another Mystery runs second or third)
United over Another Mystery over ALL
United over ALL over Another Mystery

Exactas: (the exactas below leave Another Mystery out of second because that’s covered by the trifecta but you can certainly include him in the exacta as well).
United over Ward ‘n Jerry, Red King, Oscar Dominguez and Originaire

Then play the following exacta boxes in the unlikely event United finishes second, which gives us a second winning ticket if he wins: Box United and Ward ‘n Jerry. Box United and Red King. Box United and Oscar Dominguez. Box United and Originaire.

Race 7: United
Race 8: Unbroken Star, Potantico, Take the One O One, Extra Hope

Pick 3:
Race 7: United
Race 8: Unbroken Star, Potantico, Take the One O One, Extra Hope
Race 9: Miss Extra, Neige Blanche, Laura’s Light, Guitty


Race 8 at Del Mar – Post Time 8:36 PM Eastern/ 5:36 Pacific

Take the One O One and Potantico are the top two contenders, and Unbroken Star and Extra Hope can also win but have a bit less probability to do so in my opinion. In the end I’m not going to split hairs so for doubles and pick 3 tickets I’m using all four.

Take the One O One is likely to use his best asset, his early speed, from the start. Given the horses inside in the gate have no desire to lead, he should have the rail and the front from the start. That’s the way he won at the one lower NW1X allowance level three back in May before two poorer efforts when overmatched in stakes, one on turf. Valdivia rode him perfectly to that 5/22/20 win and can do the same thing here.

Potantico may be close up to Take the One O One as he raced in third early last out on 7/25 over the track, missing by a half-length to Dark Vader, who is overmatched in the Pacific Classic but who is trying that level today. Potantico won last November at Del Mar at this mile trip at the NW1X level and is making his third start off a layoff so should run as well or better than he did last month.

Unbroken Star won around two turns at the one lower allowance condition in June then was a non-factor in the race Potantico finished second in at this level last month. If he rebounds he could be dangerous. Extra Hope finished second to Midcourt (who is running in the Pacific Classic) in the Native Diver Stakes last November but hasn’t been seen since. It’s tough to run a winning race around two turns off that kind of layoff but he has run well enough on occasion to be considered a contender here if he’s ready.

Win Bets: Potantico and Take the One O One to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

This is 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.

Exactas: Potantico and Take the One O One over Potantico, Take the One O One, Unbroken Star and Extra Hope.
Box Potantico, Take the One O One, Unbroken Star and Extra Hope.

Race 8: Unbroken Star, Potantico, Take the One O One, Extra Hope
Race 9: Miss Extra, Neige Blanche, Laura’s Light, Guitty

Pick 3:
Race 8: Unbroken Star, Potantico, Take the One O One, Extra Hope
Race 9: Miss Extra, Neige Blanche, Laura’s Light, Guitty
Race 10: Higher Power, Maximum Security, Sharp Samurai

Pick 3: (ticket 2 – because Maximum Security will be the prohibitive favorite)
Race 8: Unbroken Star, Potantico, Take the One O One, Extra Hope
Race 9: Miss Extra, Neige Blanche, Laura’s Light, Guitty
Race 10: Maximum Security


Del Mar Oaks – Race 9 at Del Mar – Post Time 9:06 PM Eastern / 6:06 Pacific

If the race goes with all 11 as drawn, there’s going to be a pace battle. It might not be sizzling, but it will still take its toll on three need-the-lead types in Aqua Seaform Shame (stretching out from sprints), Trickle In and Parkour. The resulting pace meltdown benefits four horses almost equally. Those are Miss Extra, Guitty, Neige Blanche and Laura’s Light.

Of the quartet, I give Miss Extra a bit of preference based on class as she ships into the U.S. and into the Mandella barn for her French owners, having just contested the Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines, otherwise known as the French Oaks. One of the biggest races for three year old fillies in the world, Miss Extra was sent off at 20/1 and those aren’t really longshot odds in that group. She had never raced farther than a mile so the 1 5/16 trip may have been too far as well. Before that Miss Extra won the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham at a mile, the equivalent of a grade 1 race in the U.S. like the Del Mar Oaks. She rallied strongly from near the rear to win that race and should be able to take advantage of the tiring leaders to show her class here under leading rider Umberto Rispoli.

Guitty and Neige Blanche form an uncoupled entry from the barn of Leonard Powell and if we consider one we have to consider the other as they share ownership as well as the same barn. Guitty ran on fast from last of 10 to miss by three-quarters of a length behind Laura’s Light in the San Clemente Stakes last month over the course in a career- best effort and can run even better third off a layoff. Neige Blanche, like Miss Extra, makes her first U.S. start after importing from France. She won the Group 3 Prix Cleopatre stakes in June, a slight bit lower class race than the Prix de Sandringham Miss Extra won in June, but it’s still the equivalent of a grade 2 stakes and with Prat riding if she’s acclimated she could have a say here.

Laura’s Light is by far the best of the locals and she may be bet heavily because of it. She’s won four of her last five, all stakes, including the Honeymoon at this nine furlong trip. She will likely get first run on the tiring pacesetters as she’s been no farther back then third in any of her races and if the Europeans or the deep closing Guitty aren’t able to run her down she can hang on.

Win Bets: Bet Miss Extra to win at 2 to 1 or higher.
Also, for just a slightly lesser amount, consider win bets on Neige Blanche and Guitty to win at 3 to 1 or higher.

This is 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.

Box Miss Extra, Neige Blanche, Laura’s Light and Guitty

Trifectas: (We can throw in Warren’s Showtime for third as that’s where she finished behind Laura’s Light and Guitty in the San Clemente).
Miss Extra, Neige Blanche, Laura’s Light and Guitty over Miss Extra, Neige Blanche, Warren’s Showtime, Laura’s Light and Guitty

Race 9: Miss Extra, Neige Blanche, Laura’s Light, Guitty
Race 10: Higher Power, Maximum Security, Sharp Samurai


Pacific Classic – Race 10 at Del Mar – Post Time 9:36 PM Eastern / 6:36 Pacific

Based on how fast he’s run, Sharp Samurai can post the upset in this year’s Pacific Classic, the only question being whether he can transform his recent effort last month in the Eddie Read Stakes to dirt. In that race, Sharp Samurai rallied from last of six into a moderate pace and was gaining on the favorite and eventual winner United. Beaten just a half-length at the wire, Sharp Samurai earned a 118 Equibase Speed Figure. To put that in perspective, Maximum Security earned a 107 figure winning the San Diego Handicap last month. Maximum Security’s career-best speed figure of 123 came when winning the Cigar Mile Handicap last December, but Sharp Samurai earned a very similar career-best figure (122) winning the City of Hope Mile Stakes. As the purpose of a speed figure is to normalize all horses’ performance regardless of surface or distance, it’s fair to say Sharp Samurai can run as fast as Maximum Security.

As Sharp Samurai and Maximum Security match up in terms of how fast they can run, with those figures better than any of the other four runners in the race have earned, the question then becomes whether Sharp Samurai can run as well on dirt as he did on turf. That question is answered in two ways. The first is Sharp Samurai ran his first three races on dirt, winning in his second start at a mile by nine lengths. Using Stats Race Lens to answer the second, we can look up the performance of sons and daughters of his sire, First Samurai, at longer distances on dirt. Going back five years, a simple Stats Race Lens query reveals those horses have won eight of 39 races on dirt from one mile and one-eighth to one mile and three-eighths. That tells me there is no question Sharp Samurai can run as well on dirt as he has on turf and therefore can give betting favorite Maximum Security all he can handle in the Pacific Classic.

There’s not much more to be said about Maximum Security other than what was stated above. He has shown he can handle the distance successfully as when winning the Kentucky Derby (although disqualified for interference). He transferred to the barn of Bob Baffert before the San Diego Handicap and considering he had been away from the races for five months, that effort with a 107 figure may be exceeded significantly in his second start off the rest. Still, in the San Diego, Midcourt battled with Maximum Security for the entire last eighth of a mile and although Maximum Security prevailed by a nose, it wasn’t the kind of dominant effort we saw in his last three victories of 2019. Therefore, if Maximum Security does not improve second off the layoff, he could be beaten.

Higher Power was privately purchased between March and May of 2019 and sent to the barn of John Sadler. His first start for the new connections resulted in a fifth place finish in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Following that he won an allowance race on turf and finished second in a stakes on the grass. Then, in the 2019 Pacific Classic, Higher Power stalked the pacesetter in second and drew off to win by five lengths, earning a 113 figure. Taking time off following a third place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Higher Power shipped to Florida and ran poorly (10th) in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, then finished second in this year’s Gold Cup at Santa Anita with a 111 figure. He didn’t run nearly as well when third behind Maximum Security and Midcourt last month in the San Diego Handicap, but it could be the mile and one-sixteenth distance is too short for him at this stage of his career. Stretching back out to a mile and one-quarter, Higher Power could reach back and find the effort he put forth in last year’s Classic to be a factor.

Win Bets: Sharp Samurai to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher

Trifecta: Box Higher Power, Maximum Security and Sharp Samurai

Special Note: You can catch me, Dan Tjordman (of America’s Best Racing) and others LIVE on the Breeders’ Cup Live stream Saturday from 7:45 pm eastern (4:45 pacific) until 9:45 eastern at all these places on the internet:
Breeders’ Cup Facebook
Breeders’ Cup YouTube
ABR Facebook
ABR YouTube


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Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

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