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Del Mar’s 77th summer season of Thoroughbred racing will be climaxed Monday with a vintage renewal of the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, the seven-furlong contest for two-year-olds which has been pivotal in the development of future stars, including the last three winners of the Kentucky Derby – Eclipse Award champions California Chrome, American Pharoah and Nyquist.
Speed: #1 Chasing Aces, #2 Straight Fire
Stalkers: #3 Midnight Pleasure, #6 Klimt
Closers: #4 Vegas Itch, #5 Dynamic Ruler
Two horse race in this one, and I expect the top two horses to blaze early and keep on running late. Chasing Aces and Straight Fire are multiple lengths faster than the next best horse in this race, and should just go off on their own and have a match race up front. The fractions will be fast, but don’t expect anyone to be able to make up a lot a ground on these two horses.
Top Pick: #1 Chasing Aces
It’s a complete match race in my opinion here and basically it’s a toss up between Chasing Aces and Straight Fire. I tried to not get fancy and looked at the simple fact that Chasing Aces beat Straight Fire in their only match up, and also that Chasing Aces ran the fastest beyer of any two year old in the crop so far. He’ll get my support because of that, but in no way at all would I be surprised if Straight Fire wins.
Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers: #2 Straight Fire
Wouldn’t blame anyone for flip-flopping the top two here as Straight Fire will have every chance to win as well. Was defeated in debut by Chasing Aces, but last time out was a 10 length winner in a maiden special weight going close to the same distance as this race. It figures to be an absolute showdown as both of these horse look to be head and shoulders above anything else in the crop so far.
Exotic Plays: #6 Klimt
From a numbers standpoint he’s clearly third in this race, but he is the classiest horse in the race as he’s coming off a Grade 2 win in the Best Pal Stakes last time out. Trainer Bob Baffert definitely knows how to win this race, but I’m just not sure he has the horse today. If the top two get into a crazy speed duel and burn each other out on the front end it’s possibly Klimt could pick up the pieces, but I don’t think that’s a likely scenario.
Party Crashers: NONE
There won’t be an upset in this race. The top two are too good, and even the third best horse will be at a shorter price than he should because of Bob Baffert.
Throw Outs: #3 Midnight Pleasure, #4 Vegas Itch, #5 Dynamic Ruler
Zero chance at all for the two maidens Vegas Itch and Dynamic Ruler. In fact they’d probably be double digit odds in a regular maiden special weight. Midnight Pleasure did win on debut, but will really have to step his game up to compete.
California Chrome was a troubled sixth in the 2013 Futurity but went on to Horse of the Year honors the next year en route to becoming North America’s richest money-winner of all-time with earnings of more than $13 million.
American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought when he swept the 2015 Triple Crown, the first since Affirmed in l978, and also was acclaimed Horse of the Year after a memorable triumph in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Nyquist followed up his Futurity victory with success in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and earned recognition as 2015’s best two-year-old, setting the stage for his Kentucky Derby win last spring.
Three potential stars head the field in Monday’s 69th Futurity.
Chasing Aces bettered Soldier Girl’s 52-year-old Del Mar record for five furlongs when he blistered the distance in 56.21 seconds in breaking his maiden July 17.
Straight Fire, runner-up to Chasing Aces, returned brilliantly August 6 when he won by ten and one-half lengths in 1:14.94 for six and one-half furlongs.
Klimt won the Futurity steppingstone Best Pal Stakes August 13 in game fashion and is trainer Bob Baffert’s hopeful for an incredible 13th Futurity triumph.
Tyler Baze returns aboard Chasing Aces, who is trained by Peter Miller; Kent Desormeaux again has the call from brother Keith Desormeaux on Straight Fire and Rafael Bejarano will pilot Klimt.
Completing the line-up are stylish debut winner Midnight Pleasure, Martin Garcia, and maidens Vegas Itch, Jamie Theriot, and Dynamic Ruler, Flavien Prat. Stakes-winning Klimt carries highweight of 123 pounds, three more than rivals Chasing Aces, Straight Fire and Midnight Pleasure and five more than Vegas Itch and Dynamic Ruler.
Supporting features Monday are the $75,000 Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at six and one-half furlongs for older horses, and the $100,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf at one mile on the infield grass course.
The Futurity is carded as the fifth race on a ten-race program, preceded by the Pirate’s Bounty as the third and followed by the Juvenile Fillies Turf as the eighth event. Post time for the first race on closing day is 2 p.m.
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