Race Previews

Del Mar Futurity Preview: Run Away Ready for the Next Challenge

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A field of nine are entered for this year’s Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, the traditional Closing Day feature as the 78th summer Del Mar season ends.

Run Away, a 3 1/2-length winner of the local Futurity prep Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes on August 12, puts his undefeated record on the line against the 2-3-4 Best Pal finishers Dia de Pago, Fleetwood, and Master Ruler, along with five more that made winning career debuts here during the meeting.

It will be the first 7-furlong assignment for all nine.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert saddles two first-out winners. Soul Streit was a 5 1/4-length winner at 5 furlongs on August 13. A week later, Zatter scored by 1 1/2 lengths over 6 furlongs.

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Baffert has won the Futurity 13 times and two of the last three. Eventual Triple Crown champion American Pharoah signaled things to come in 2014, while Klimt was 4 1/4 lengths clear under the wire a year ago.

“We don’t talk about that (past win numbers) because it doesn’t mean anything,” Baffert said. “It’s what you’ve got now.

“It’s a tough race. They’re all good horses. I think the post position draw is going to mean a lot.”

The field from the rail: Soul Streit (Mike Smith), Master Ruler (Evin Roman), Run Away (Flavien Prat), Tatters to Riches (Tyler Baze), Fleetwood (Kent Desormeaux), Bolt d’Oro (Corey Nakatani), Gracida (Victor Espinoza), Dia de Pago (Santiago Gonzalez), and Zatter (Rafael Bejarano).

Top Choice

#9 Zatter – Simply put, his debut race was super impressive. In a loaded Del Mar maiden race, Zatter took the field wire-to-wire to win by 1 1/2 lengths, defeating American Pharoah’s full brother St Patrick’s Day, who finished second then and just broke his maiden this past Saturday. Zayat Stables has two really nice colts running on both sides of the country, so this could be a massive weekend for them. Zatter has been hyped for a while as one of Baffert’s best 2-year-olds, and I think that he’ll show up here with a big-time effort. The field is very tough, though, so I would advise against trying to single or key him in any wagers.

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#3 Run Away – I’m probably a bit crazy for not putting this horse on top, as he’s been absolutely flawless in three lifetime races. Last time out in the Best Pal, he simply dominated the competition to win by 3 1/2 lengths. He looked like the real deal down the stretch in that contest and showed improvement from his two other wins, both of which came at Santa Anita. You must use him heavily in everything you play, but in the end, I just liked the upside of Zatter too much. However, it’s important to note that Run Away easily disposed of a hyped Baffert horse last time out.

#1 Soul Streit – When a Bob Baffert horse debuts as well as this one did, you must take notice! Soul Streit was a runaway 5 1/4-length winner on debut, and immediately after the race, he was pointed towards this spot. Obviously, the competition will be tougher, but this colt seems to be ready for the challenge. His speed figures match up with anyone in the race, and he gets the services of Mike Smith once again. There are a lot of positive signs for him leading up to this race.

#4 Tatters to Riches – An eye-catching $1,000,000 purchase who won on debut in workman-like fashion, he’s been working out like a horse that has a very bright future. A lot is expected of him here and I think that he’ll run well in this spot. I’m unsure if he’s as talented as the horses I have ranked ahead of him when going this distance, but as we move onto the Kentucky Derby trail, he should be a player.

Exotic Plays

#7 Gracida – He won his debut race here at Del Mar by over 2 lengths, defeating Fleetwood, who finished third in the Best Pal. It’s a good sign that he beat a nice horse, and I like that they’ve given him plenty of time between races. He faces a field here that looks very tough, but he’s an interesting player amongst this group. I’ve put him as an exotic play, but if he wins, it won’t be that big of a surprise.

#6 Bolt d’Oro – Yet another runner that won by over 2 lengths in his debut at Del Mar. The jury is out on how good that field was, but a win over this track is always an accomplishment. Like Gracida, he’s an interesting player here, but I just prefer others a bit more in comparison. He should be set up to perform well, though, and certainly deserves a shot.

Party Crashers

#8 Dia de Pago – The second place finisher in the Grade 2 Best Pal stakes who earned a shot to try stakes company again after that effort. He was never any match to Run Away in that race, but it’s important to note that he didn’t break cleanly and fell well behind early in the race. He made up enough ground to at least give you some hope if you want to back him today at what will surely be a big price.

Throw Outs

#2 Master Ruler – The Best Pal was his first race in the United States, and he wasn’t awful, finishing fourth. However, he was beaten 9 lengths by Run Away, and that seems like a margin that will be hard for him to make up here.

#5 Fleetwood – He finished second in a maiden race, then was entered in the Best Pal and finished third. It’s hard to see him turning the tables against this sort of competition.

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