After a couple days off to recharge our batteries, the second week of the Del Mar season begins with another nice set of races that comprise the Pick 4.
Deep and competitive fields on a Wednesday are an encouraging sign that the remainder of the meet will move forward with good cards.
In the featured $75,000 Wickerr, Ferneley (pictured) makes his first start of 2010 after competing in three straight Grade 1 races, including the Breeders’ Cup and Hong Kong Mile, to close out last year’s campaign. He finished third in this race last year, but can he improve on that effort after a seven-month layoff?
We’re off to the races!
Leg 1 – Race 5 (2,3,5,9,10) – A difficult $25K maiden claiming event kicks things off.
No. 2 Pride of Wilshire has three second place finishes and a third in four starts and trainer Bob Hess Jr. is notoriously good in the maiden claiming ranks. He drops to his lowest level yet and got a feel for the track with a five furlong spin. His front-running style is not a disadvantage sprinting.
No. 3 Mytigerisnosissy was nailed on the wire in his debut here last year after pressing the pace and opening up turning for home. He hasn’t raced since, so the long layoff is an obvious concern, but he shows a steady work tab including a blow out over this track for Peter Miller, who excels with horses coming off long layoffs.
No. 5 Minister Machine comes from a sire that hits with nearly 20% of his debut runners and his dam has dropped seven winners. He hasn’t missed a beat in the morning and shows a decent five furlong gate drill here at Del Mar. He could shock at a big price.
No. 9 Swongs had a super four furlong work over the track that can’t be ignored and his sire clicks with 15% of his debut runners. We’ve used this combo of Nakatani and Abrams on a couple first-time starters already this meet and have gotten unlucky with them breaking poorly.
No. 10 Mister Jazz has finished in the money in all three starts and his race two back probably wins this. He has shown the ability to sit just off the lead, which should benefit him with the speed drawn to his inside here.
Leg 2 – Race 6 (2,4,6,7,8,9) – Starter allowance fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on the Poly offers up another challenging race to handicap.
No. 2 Word Association has finished in the money in 7-of-8 career starts and just missed last time in her first start off a layoff against Ninth Infantry, who came back to win here on the turf last week. This will be the second time Joel Rosario rides. She was knocking on the door last year in better maiden races than the others had competed in.
No. 4 Ascot’s Highflyer got a perfect rail skimming trip in her debut, and showed the professionalism to take advantage of that and win from inside of horses. The daughter of Speishstown was purchased for $95K at Keeneland so she has a license to get better.
No. 6 Really Elegant has done nothing wrong in two starts, coming up short by a neck in her debut and then winning after breaking from the inside post. Both of those races were against bottom level claimers, but there are no monsters in here and she too can improve at a huge price.
No. 7 Our Bellini Bikini is another consistent sort that has finished in the money in 5-of-8 lifetime and comes off an impressive maiden breaking score. She’ll be forwardly placed, but has also shown the ability to pass horses from just off the pace.
No. 8 Naughty Mariana has come close on a few occasions at this level after breaking her maiden by over eight lengths and finishing just behind Word Association in her last. She can win from just off the pace as well.
No. 9 Movie Duty has finished second at this level twice since breaking her maiden and will likely try to take them wire-to-wire. She missed by half a length as the odds-on favorite last time, but retains the services of Rafael Bejarano, who should get her to relax better today.
Leg 3 - Race 7 (2) – The three likely favorites in the Wickerr are all coming off layoffs and might need a race to be at their best.
But, the biggest factor here is that with the scratch of stretch-out sprinter A Lil Dumaani, No. 2 Aggie Engineer should find himself alone on the lead. This will be his second try going a mile on the turf, so improvement can be expected and he has been running well against some tough horses throughout his career.
After winning three races in 2009, he is due for a win in 2010 after three in the money finishes, and he will truly make our ticket a separator if he can score.
Leg 4 – Race 8 (1,3,5,12) – Maiden claiming $40K two-year old colts round out the card in another race where going deep is the only option.
No. 1 Tahoe Yodeler looked great before his debut, but after pressing the pace he stopped badly. Trainer Jeff Bonde is super with his second-time starters, winning Sunday’s finale with a runner in a similar situation.
No. 3 Trouble Rules lost all chance at the start last time when he was pinched and found himself at the back of the pack. He made a decent move down the back stretch, but in expectable fashion flattened out turning for home and ran mid pack. If he can stay in the race early he can make an impact.
No. 5 Call Me Later come from a barn that scores with nearly 30% of its first-time starters and his sire wins at 16% with debuters. He hasn’t missed a beat in the morning culminating with a nice six furlong work over this track.
No. 12 Swiss Tart comes out of the best races and drops into a claimer for the first time. He should be forwardly placed even with the blinkers coming off.
Recap – (2,3,5,9,10) w (2,4,6,7,8,9) w (2) w (1,3,5,12) – Total cost of ticket = $60
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @mdoche for last minute changes caused by scratches.
Sunday’s Result – (-$50)
Total for meet – (+$28.85)