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2022 Seabiscuit Handicap Preview & FREE Picks | Santin Returns To Del Mar With Grade 1 Resume
Santin (Coady Photography)

2022 Seabiscuit Handicap Preview & FREE Picks | Santin Returns To Del Mar With Grade 1 Resume

Mike previews the 2022 Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) from Del Mar, then gives his top picks & long shots. The 2022 Arlington Million Stakes (G1) winner Santin returns to California for trainer Brendan Walsh after nearly winning the 2021 Hollywood Derby (G1), but did Mike stay local as far as a win bet goes? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Millionaire Santin, a well-bred colt who ships in from Kentucky to try his luck in the Grade II, $250,000 Seabiscuit Handicap Saturday, looms as the one to beat in the nine-horse lineup for the Thanksgiving weekend headliner.

And while the son of Distorted Humor figures strongly in the mile and one-sixteenth turf test, it appears a long way away from a walkover.

Santin ran previously at Del Mar last year as a 3-year-old and missed in a photo to a handy colt named Beyond Brilliant, who he’ll have to face again Saturday. Also in the hunt is another millionaire, the speedy 5-year-old horse Smooth Like Strait. Then, just to make the stew extra spicy, we’ve got a pair of last-out stakes winners in Masteroffoxhounds and Hong Kong Harry, as well as another stakes-winning Kentucky shipper in Set Piece.

All in all it adds up to one of the most competitive and interesting races Del Mar fans are likely to see this fall.

Here’s the full field for the dandy stakes from the rail out with riders and morning line odds:    Godolphin’s Santin, Umberto Rispoli in the tack, 3-1; Rockingham Ranch’s Masteroffoxhounds (Mike Smith, 12-1); Anastasi, Ukegawa or Valazza’s Hong Kong Harry (Flavien Prat, 7/2); Cannon Thoroughbreds’ Smooth Like Strait (John Velazquez, 4-1); C R K Stable’s Beyond Brilliant (Victor Espinoza, 4-1); Supreme Racing or Rockingham Ranch’s Lincoln Hawk (Joe Bravo, 20-1); Pozo de Luna’s Irideo (Hector Berrios, 10-1); Juddmonte’s Set Piece (Juan Hernandez, 5-1), and BBN Racing’s Kentucky Ghost (Ramon Vazques, 20-1).

Santin has a bankroll that reads $1,449,600. Among his four victories is the Grade I Arlington Million, run this year at a special meet at Churchill Downs on August 13. The bay also captured the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill on May 7, Kentucky Derby Day. He’s trained by veteran Brendan Walsh.

Beyond Brilliant is a triple stakes winner who has earned $726,780 under the care of conditioner John Shirreffs. His most recent tally was the Grade II City of Hope Mile at Santa Anita on October 1.

Smooth Like Strait rarely runs a bad race and has 19 in-the-money finishes in 23 outings, good for $1,795,573 in winnings. The quick son of former sprint champion Midnight Lute knows only one way to go – to the front – and no doubt will be the one they’ll all have to catch Saturday. He’s trained by Mike McCarthy.

Masteroffoxhounds is a last-out winner, having captured the John Henry Turf Cup at Santa Anita on October 1. His stablemate, Hong Kong Harry, also is a last-out winner, proving best in the Del Mar Mile on September 3. Both horses are trained by Phil D’Amato.

Set Piece was shipped west by top trainer Brad Cox. The 6-year-old Dansili gelding is an 11-time winner who sports a bankroll of $919,573.

Seabiscuit, of course, was one of America’s great racehorses. He took part in a famed match race at Del Mar in 1938 that helped put the fledging track on the map. It also was the forerunner of his eastern match race with Triple Crown winner War Admiral. “The Biscuit” won them both.

First post Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. for the nine-race card.

ARLINGTON MILLION WINNER BACK AT DEL MAR FOR G2 SEABISCUIT

The last time an Arlington Million winner ran at Del Mar was in 2017 when Beach Patrol came for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Before that it was in 2015 when The Pizza Man came to the seaside oval for the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup.   

This year’s Arlington Million winner has ventured out west for Saturday’s feature, the $250,000 G2 Seabiscuit, a mile and sixteenth test for horses 3-years old and up. Santin won the re-located Arlington Million at Churchill Downs this summer.

“He’s doing good,” trainer Brendan Walsh says. “He got out there last Saturday.”

The son of Distorted Humor ran in the G1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last year and missed by a neck to Beyond Brilliant. He’s also won the G1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard earlier this year.

“There wasn’t a lot of other options for him,” Walsh says, using the same reasoning most out-of-town trainers use for coming out to Del Mar this time of year. “He liked it out there last year and there isn’t a lot going on on the east coast without any turf racing this year. There wasn’t any obvious spot for him here (Churchill Downs), so we decided to give it a shot.”

Juddmonte Farm’s Set Piece, from the Brad Cox barn, also is entered in the Seabiscuit. He ran in the Turf Mile at Keeneland, too, running fourth but beaten by only 1 ¾ lengths in the G1 event.

“He’s doing very good,” assistant trainer Blake Cox says. “He shipped in Sunday. He’s galloped everyday he’s been here and he’s taken it in well.”

The son of Dansili has run against nothing but graded stakes company this year, winning twice. He took the G2 Dinner Party on the Preakness undercard in May and the G3 Baltimore/Washington Turf Cup three months later, also at Pimlico.

“We were going to run him at Churchill but the race came off the turf,” Cox says. “This was kind of the only other option. Either this or sit him home for a little winter vacation and we decided to do this.”

Kentucky Ghost is another Midwest ‘invader’ in the Seabiscuit. He ships in from the Victoria Oliver barn. He pulled off a last-to-first win in a non-winners of four allowance at Keeneland last out. In the past, the son of Ghostzapper has had a rough go of it in graded stakes company. He has never finished better than fifth in his five graded stakes starts.

While all three invaders have the potential of getting their picture taken, the ‘locals’ in the G2 Seabiscuit are no pushovers.

Smooth Like Strait has been running with some of the best turf milers in the country the past two years. Since his last win, the G1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita in May of 2021, the 5-year old son of Midnight Lute has finished second in six of his last eight races. It’s something that can get frustrating for a trainer.

“Sure it does,” trainer Michael McCarthy says. “I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t. But the horse shows up every time, he seldom runs a bad race. I’d say you can draw a line through the Breeders’ Cup. I expect him to run a big one on Saturday.”

Smooth Like Strait faded to ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. In the race prior, he finished second to Santin in the Arlington Million.

“He had a little bit of an extended break between the Arlington Million and the Breeders’ Cup Mile,” McCarthy says, “so he’s a horse with some fresh legs. He’s run well at Del Mar and we thought we’d go ahead give this a shot.”

Beyond Brilliant, out of the John Shirreffs barn, beat Santin in the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last year. He’s since won the G1 Charlie Whittingham at Santa Anita in April and the G2 City of Hope last month. The 4-year old son of Twirling Candy faded to eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile three weeks ago.

“He came out of the Breeders’ Cup in great condition and he’s training well for this race,” according to Shirreffs. “We thought he ran really well in the Breeders’ Cup, he was only beaten by about four lengths against the best horses in the world.”

A couple of horses who won during the summer meet at Del Mar are back for the Seasbiscuit. Irideo won the $100,000 Wickerr Stakes in July and then was runner-up to Hong Kong Harry in the G2 Del Mar Mile in September. Trained by Marcelo Polanco, the 6-year-old gelding ran fifth in the G2 City of Hope behind Beyond Brilliant last out.

Trainer Phil D’Amato brings a powerful one-two punch to the fight in Hong Kong Harry and Masteroffoxhounds. Hong Kong Harry looked brilliant in his win in the G2 Del Mar Mile after finishing second behind Master Piece in the G2 Eddie Read.

Masteroffoxhounds didn’t’ fare so well in his two trips around the Jimmy Durante turf course this summer, finishing fifth in both the G2 Eddie Read and the G2 Del Mar Handicap. But he went up to Santa Anita and won the G2 John Henry Turf Championship last out.

There are those in the know saying the G2 Seabiscuit is the race of the meet. It goes off as the seventh of nine races on the Saturday card. First post is at 12:30 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with the jockeys and the morning line: Santin (Umberto Rispoli, 3-1); Masteroffoxhounds (Mike Smith, 12-1); Hong Kong Harry (Flavien Prat, 7/2); Smooth Like Strait (John Velazquez, 4-1); Beyond Brilliant (Victor Espinoza, 4-1); Lincoln Hawk (Joe Bravo, 20-1); Irideo (Hector Berrios, 10-1); Set Piece (Juan Hernandez, 5-1), and Kentucky Ghost (Ramon Vasquez, 20-1).

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