DEL MAR, CA – Kaleem Shah’s impressive debut winner Schnell is ready to knock heads at the stakes level for the first time in Saturday’s $150,000 Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar.
The Sorrento is a 6-furlong dirt sprint restricted to 2-year-olds. This year’s edition attracted a field of seven and will go off at 4:30 PM Pacific as the sixth event on an 11-race card.
Here is a look at the full field for the Best Pal:
1. Sonic Brees 6/1 – The first of two runners from the Doug O’Neill barn, he was a good second on debut behind familiar rival Herd Immunity, then won next time out by over 2 lengths. His Beyer speed figures increased from his first start (44) to his second (55), but he will need at least that same level of improvement if he hopes to challenge the top runners here.
2. Ambivalent 5/1 – The field’s lone maiden ran well in his debut to finish second behind Weston, who he’ll face again here. The Constitution colt is the second O’Neill entry, but it’s not possible to hold six training titles at Del Mar while being unnecessarily aggressive, so expect him to give a good account of himself against this group of prior winners.
3. Schnell 12/1 – It’s not often that a Louisiana-bred wins in southern California, but that’s what happened on June 26 when Ruben Fuentes steered the Star Guitar colt to a 3 1/2-length score in his debut. Fuentes stays aboard for trainer Simon Callaghan, who has a 21% strike rate in 2-year-old stakes and saddled 3 winners from his first 12 starters at the current meet.
4. Roderick 9/5 – He did what so many Wesley Ward-trained juveniles do (winning his debut) at Belmont Park on June 21, earning a field-best 73 Beyer speed figure while succeeding by over 8 lengths. He’s scratching from Friday’s Saratoga Special Stakes (G2) to run here, further showing his connections’ faith in finding victory where the surf meets the turf.
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5. Herd Immunity 7/2 – The first of two from trainer Peter Miller, he defeated Sonic Brees and four others to win his debut by almost 2 lengths, then finished third in the Bashford Manor Stakes (G3) three weeks later. He’ll run for the first time without blinkers, a 22% winning move for Miller, and attracted the talented Abel Cedillo to ride.
6. Weston 5/1 – He snuck up on bettors and pulled off a 21/1 upset on debut at Santa Anita Park in late June, defeating Ambivalent and Girther in the process. He has plenty of win-early pedigree as a gelded son of freshman sire Hit It a Bomb, who won 3 straight to start his career, including the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).
7. Girther 6/1 – The second Miller runner has a notable advantage over his rivals: he’s the only one with race experience over this track, coming on July 11 when he broke his maiden at second asking. He’ll need to improve upon his career-best 59 Beyer speed figure if he hopes to turn the tables on Weston and Ambivalent, who finished well ahead of him in his debut.