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2023 Oceanside Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Game Time Headlines Del Mar’s Opening Day Feature
Game Time (Benoit Photo)

2023 Oceanside Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Game Time Headlines Del Mar’s Opening Day Feature

Mike previews the 2023 Oceanside Stakes from Del Mar‘s Opening Day, then gives his top picks & long shots. The John Sadler-trained Game Time headlines the annual Opening Day feature race following his Alcatraz Stakes victory at Golden Gate Fields. With a full field of 13 rivals signed on to face him, could a long shot come out the winner? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

Del Mar’s multi-million dollar stakes schedule starts off with a bang this Friday, with the 77th running of the $100,000 Caesars Sportsbook Oceanside Stakes, the traditional opening day feature at the seaside oval.

A full field of 14 3-year olds will line-up for the one mile test on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course led by a pair of runners from the Phil D’Amato barn. Del Mar’s leading trainer in 2022 won last year’s Oceanside with Balnikhov.

The Oceanside goes off as race eight on the 10-race card and is part of the guaranteed $1-million Pick Six at Del Mar on Opening Day.

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Classical Cat broke his maiden here at Del Mar last summer and then went on to victories in an entry level allowance at Santa Anita in October and two months later in the $100,000 Eddie Logan. Both races were at the Oceanside distance. The Mendelssohn colt had a freshening since that stakes victory in December and has drawn the inside post for Friday’s race.

D’Amato’s other hopeful is Conclude, a son of 2017 Pacific Classic winner Collected, who won the $100,000 Desert Code on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in May. He nosed out First Peace for his second victory in four lifetime starts for Little Feather Racing, Madaket Stables or Jones. Conclude will break from the #9 post.

The D’Amato pair could have their hands full with Escape Artist, who missed by just a half a length to Mi Hermano Ramon and Wizard of Westwood in the $100,000 Singletary at Santa Anita in May. The Michael McCarthy trainee came back a month later and cleaned-up in an entry level allowance, winning by four lengths.

“I’ve always been very high on him,” McCarthy says of Escape Artist. “I expected him to win last time. The horse has come back and trained well. We’ll get a good idea of where we’re at on Friday. I expect a solid effort.”

Bob Baffert will take a crack at the Oceanside with Mr. Fisk, runner-up to Geaux Rocket Ride in the G3 Affirmed at Santa Anita in June. The son of Arrogate will be trying turf for the first time. He’s coming into the race off of a pair of bullet works last month.

Here’s the field from the rail out with jockeys:

  1. Classical Cat (Umberto Rispoli, 4-1)
  2. Mas Rapido (Edwin Maldonado, 20-1)
  3. Zalamo (Mike Smith, 8-1)
  4. El Oro (Kyle Frey, 30-1)
  5. Ah Jeez (Tiago Pereira, 30-1)
  6. Mr Fisk (Joe Bravo, 8-1)
  7. Agency (Abel Cedillo, 15-1)
  8. Kid Azteca (Ramon Vasquez, 12-1)
  9. Conclude (Hector Berrios, 6-1)
  10. Escape Artist (Kent Desormeaux, 7-2)
  11. Panic Alarm (Assael Espinoza, 5-1)
  12. Ever A Rebel (Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1)
  13. Game Time (Armando Ayuso, 8-1)
  14. Ze’bul (Diego Herrera, 30-1)