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Mike previews the 2022 Bob Hope Stakes (G3) from Del Mar, then gives his top picks & long shots. Could trainer Bob Baffert’s 3 entries – Hard to Figure, Havnameltdown, & Newgate – all go down at once? Find out who Mike took on top & tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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Not surprisingly when it comes to a 2-year-old race at Del Mar, trainer Bob Baffert has the power hand. Not only is he running the favorite in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes, but he’s got the second choice and the third, too. He’s got them surrounded.
It’ll be little consolation to other trainers with horses in the seven furlong test, but it could have been worse. The Hall of Fame conditioner actually named five of his youngsters to the dash, but only went with three.
His trio are led by Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s big colt Havnameltdown, a son of the Florida stallion Uncaptured who won two races at Del Mar this past summer – including the Grade III Best Pal Stakes – then ran second in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity to Cave Rock, yet another colt trained by Baffert. Havnameltdown has put in a series of sharp works for his first outing in just over two months and has leading rider Juan Hernandez aboard, all of which adds up to his morning line role as the 6/5 favorite.
The other two Bafferts are SF Racing, Starlight Racing or Madaket Stables, et al’s Newgate, who gets John Velazquez in the irons and 5/2 in the morning line, and Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s Hard to Figure with Flavien Prat named on and a ML price of 3-1.
Three other runners will tackle the Baffert trio, a group led by Amestoy Jr., Amestoy or Beasley’s Practical Move (Drayden Van Dyke in the saddle at 5-1); George Todaro’s Lloyds Logic (Edwin Maldonado, 12-1), and Calumet Farm’s Mixto (Umberto Rispoli, 12-1).
Again, not surprisingly, Baffert has a history in the Bob Hope, which used to be called the Hollywood Prevue Stakes when it was run at the now-closed Hollywood Park. Of the eight previous runnings of the Bob Hope at Del Mar, the white-haired wonder has made a trip to the winner’s circle afterwards on five occasions, including last year when his colt Messier took the prize.
Newgate was an $850,000 Keeneland yearling who won a first asking at Del Mar this past July. Subsequently the colt by top sire Into Mischief ran fourth in the Del Mar Futurity and fifth in the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland, both Grade I races.
Hard to Figure finished third in a pair of straight maiden races this summer, then registered his first victory in and overnight stakes at Los Alamitos on September 25. He’s by Hard Spun and was a $200,000 purchase at a horses in training sale in Florida this past March.
Practical Move was a winner of his most recent outing via disqualification. That was October 10 at Santa Anita in a straight maiden affair.
The Bob Hope is the eighth of nine races on the Sunday card with a post time of approximately 4 p.m. First post that afternoon is 12:30.
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