A field of nine will take to the turf Saturday to contest the running of the $200,000 Del Mar Handicap (G2), one of five stakes on the track’s biggest card of the year. This turf event will test its entrants’ endurance over the course of 1 3/8 miles.
The field for this year’s version of the race is about as wide-open as it gets. Both this and the Pacific Classic lack a headliner, but they both should provide solid betting opportunities. The most familiar horse in the race is the Jeff Mullins-trained Itsinthepost, who finished second in this two years ago. He started 2019 off with a poor effort at Churchill Downs in the Wise Dan Stakes (G2) before trying the local dirt last time in the Cougar II Handicap (G3), where he finished second. While he has always performed well at Del Mar, he is still seeking his first victory over this course.
The winner of the Del Mar Handicap will receive an automatic position in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
Here is a look at the full field:
#1 Oscar Dominguez – He’ll give graded company a try for the second race in a row after finishing second in the San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park last time out. Based on that effort, he deserves a shot here, even if it is a tougher field. This will be the experienced gelding’s 35th lifetime start.
#2 Ritzy A. P. – He exits a strong show last time out at Del Mar, finishing third against a tough field in the Eddie Read Stakes (G2). He has had his chances at grades stakes success in the past, but he is still searching for his first stakes victory. This will be his third start off of the layoff, which often yields a horse’s best effort.
#3 Blended Citizen – It has been a rough 2019 season so far for this son of Proud Citizen after he picked up a marquee victory in last year’s Peter Pan Stakes (G3) over the Belmont Park dirt. However, has failed to hit the board since then. It’s been all turf racing for him this year and was seventh last time out in the Wickerr Stakes over this track. He does get to stretch out in distance, which could be what he needs.
#4 Marckie’s Water – This has been his best year yet and he could be ready to run a big one. He has won two of his last three starts, including the Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park. Last time out, he nearly made it back-to-back Grade 2 victories, finishing second behind Bowies Hero in the Eddie Read. All systems seem to be go for a horse who has been doing his best running in the last few months.
#5 United – This up-and-coming prospect is lightly raced, but he has been solid recently. Two starts back, he was the runner-up in the Charles Whittingham behind Marckie’s Water before winning an allowance optional claiming event over this course. That win signals that he is ready to step back up in class, and Del Mar’s top jockey, Flavien Prat, stays aboard.
#6 The Great Day – After a solid career in Argentina, The Great Day has made two starts in the United States, coming up short in both. His American debut at Laurel Park in the Prince George’s County Stakes did not go well, but he improved greatly in the Arlington Handicap (G3) next time out, finishing second. With another improvement, he could be a player here.
#7 Itsinthepost – This horse needs no introduction to California horse players who have seen him compete for many years. His 2019 has been a bit different, though. He kicked off his season in the Wise Dan Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, where he was a well-beaten 13th. He then tried the local dirt last time out, finishing second in the Cougar II Handicap (G3). He’s back on familiar ground here, which is good, but he’s still looking for his first win at Del Mar.
#8 Arizona Moon – This surprise entry will ship in from Arizona Downs for his first start against graded stakes company, so the step up in competition will be a tall order. He has won just once in five starts this season, taking an allowance race at Turf Paradise. This will be his second appearance at Del Mar; he finished 10th as a juvenile in 2015’s Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G2).
#9 Acclimate – He’ll look to shake off a poor effort last time out when he finished 11th in the California Dreamin’ Stakes over this course. Before that effort, he had won two in a row, including the San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park, which was 1 3/4 miles long. That race makes you think that he is much better than what he showed in his last start. Look for an improved effort out of him in this spot.
The Del Mar Handicap serves as one of two Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this Saturday at Del Mar. The other race is the Pacific Classic (G1), which will be contested as the feature race on the card. That race will be a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on August 24 with three races at Saratoga Race Course: the Ketel One Ballerina (Filly and Mare Sprint), the Sword Dancer (Longines Turf), and the Personal Ensign (Longines Distaff). Del Mar will also host one challenge race next Saturday, the Pat O’Brien Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” for the Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile.