The action starts with Garrity's first post at Monmouth Park at 2:29 pm EDT.
It’s the biggest day of the summer on the West Coast, as the Pacific Classic headlines a spectacular Del Mar card that features five graded stakes. Back East, there are not quite so many black-type races, but the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga is a sensationally good race, and there’s a Grade 3, the Iselin Stakes, at Monmouth Park. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get to it. We expect fast dirt and firm turf in all seven of these races.
Monmouth Park, Race 5, 2:29 pm ET
Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
The Iselin at the Jersey shore is a great way to kick off a day of great stakes action, mostly because we think it’s an easy race: 2-Warrior’s Charge has been butting heads with some of the best older horses in training, running in some tough stakes at Oaklawn Park over the winter, and finishing a very, very good fourth in the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park last out. He sticks out like a sore thumb in this field, especially coming out of the Met Mile, which was perhaps the strongest race of the year so far, on any surface and at any distance.
Warrior’s Charge sticks out, and in a good way: he’s in excellent form, and he simply appears to outclass the other five horses in the field. If we thought we could get his 8/5 morning line price, we’d recommend betting a kidney; since we think he’ll be shorter, we will be a bit more prudent. He’s the likeliest winner of the day, and we will bet him to win. The bet: Monmouth Park, Race 5, $50 to win on 2-Warrior’s Charge.
Saratoga, Race 9, 5:46 pm ET
Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
The day’s lone graded stakes at Saratoga drew nine entrants, and to call it a strong field is an understatement: This is a tremendously accomplished group. It’s also a terrific betting race, as the field is pretty evenly matched. It’s a real handicapper’s race, as the lack of a standout means that getting a good trip, in terms of both pace and avoiding traffic, will likely determine the winner.
We think the early pace will be legitimate, not crazy fast, but not dawdling, either. This will compromise the chances of both the speed horses and the deep closers, and makes us look for a horse who can sit in the middle of the pack, not too close to the leaders, but not too far back either. We think that will be 1-Raging Bull, a Chad Brown trainee who has somewhat quietly turned into perhaps the best turf miler in North America. He’s run twice this year, both times in a Grade 1 race at a mile on the grass, and he’s acquitted himself well each time: he won the Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita in May, and finished a close third, only a neck behind the winner, in the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland last month. Raging Bull had to go wide around the far turn in the Maker’s Mark, losing precious momentum, but the stretch at Saratoga is longer than at Keenland, which will give him a longer straightaway to launch his powerful late charge. We think he wins the Fourstardave this afternoon, and will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Saratoga, Race 9, $40 to win on 1-Raging Bull.
Del Mar, Race 3, 6:05 pm ET
Grade 3 Green Flash Handicap, 5 furlongs, Turf, 3 & Up
Eight go in the Green Flash. We’re expecting a fast early pace, and that makes 7-Chaos Theory the pick. He was claimed for $62,500 last out by trainer John Sadler, a race he won, and we like two things about that effort: one is that it was a key race, with four horses who finished behind him that day coming back to win subsequent starts, and the other is that Sadler has placed him aggressively here, running him in stakes company off the claim. He has a strong finishing kick, and he should get a good stalking trip, just behind the pacesetters, and be ready to pounce when the field turns for home. He’s also been training sensationally well leading up to this. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 3, $30 to win on 7-Chaos Theory.
Del Mar, Race 4, 6:36 pm ET
Grade 3 Torrey Pines Stakes, 1 mile, Dirt, 3-Year-Old Fillies
The Torrey Pines has seven sophomore fillies going a mile on the dirt. We found this race easy to handicap: 3-Harvest Moon, who starts for Simon Callaghan, is undefeated in two starts on the dirt, and has won both on the front end and coming from off the pace. Her combination of speed and pace figures mark her as overwhelmingly the likeliest winner. We will bet her to win at 2-1, and will do so aggressively. The bet: Del Mar, Race 4, $50 to win on 3-Harvest Moon.
Del Mar, Race 7, 8:06 pm ET
Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap, 1 ⅜ miles, Turf, 3 & Up
Short fields have plagued the Del Mar meeting this summer, so it’s good to see that a full field of eleven will go to the gate in the Del Mar Handicap. The headliner, and 8/5 morning line favorite, is 1-United, who has won three graded stakes races in a row, and who is probably the best distance turf runner on the West Coast.
But United is going to be a short price, certainly lower than his morning line odds, and we’re consequently playing against him. We are doing so with 5-Ward ‘n Jerry, a 7-year-old gelding from the Mike Puype barn. This 11-furlong distance is right up his alley, and we think he looks poised to run the race of his life. At 10-1, we will bet him to win and to place. The bets: Del Mar, Race 7, $20 to win/$10 to place on 5-Ward ‘n Jerry.
Del Mar, Race 9, 9:06 pm ET
Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds
A terrific field of eleven 3-year-old fillies goes to the post in the Del Mar Oaks, and we are absolutely smitten with one of them: 3-Miss Extra. She’s a French-bred who makes her North American debut today after eight starts in the big leagues in France, at tracks like Chantilly, Deauville, and Longchamps. She won three of those eight, including a win in the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham at Chantilly in June, in which she showed a powerful late kick to win by three-quarters of a length. We firmly believe that at its highest level, European grass racing is superior to American grass racing, and we think that Miss Extra is going to show that today. She looks poised to deliver a knockout performance for trainer Richard Mandella and jockey Umberto Rispoli. We will bet her to win, and we will do so with gusto: she’s 9/2 on the morning line, and if she runs the way we expect her to, you won’t see a price like that on her again for a long, long time. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $50 to win on 3-Miss Extra.
Del Mar, Race 10, 9:36 pm ET
Grade 1 Pacific Classic, 1 ¼ miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
The Pacific Classic may not have a huge field, with only six going to the starting gate, but it’s a terrific race, headlined by even-money favorite 5-Maximum Security, who was a participant in the most famous disqualification in racing history in last year’s Kentucky Derby. He has run some big races since the Derby debacle, but they were all for former (and disgraced) trainer Jason Servis, and while he did win his first start for Bob Baffert in his last, taking the San Diego Handicap by a nose on July 25, we think he’s an underlay of mammoth proportions, and can’t wait to bet against him.
We like an outsider at a big price here, 3-Mirinaque, who makes his U.S. debut after nine races in Argentina. He’s started six times on dirt, and won four of them, and finished second in the other two. If the leading contenders falter, and we think they just might, Mirinaque should be able to pick up the pieces, and to do so at a big price: he’s 10-1 on the morning line, and may be higher at post time. We will bet him to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 10, $30 to win on 3-Mirinaque.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.