This year’s version of the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap Presented by The Japan Racing Association may be the toughest race of the entire weekend to handicap. A solid field of 12 will contest this Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Longines Turf. The headliner in the race is the talented Itsinthepost. Though he finished second in this spot a year ago, he is yet to win at Del Mar during his career, but he is a multiple Grade 2 winner. Tyler Baze will have the mount when Itsinthepost breaks from post 6 in the sixth race on Saturday, with a local post time of 4:30 PM Pacific Time.
The winner of the Del Mar Handicap will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally
The Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap will share the card on Saturday at Del Mar with the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, which is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The card will also feature other stakes races, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-olds fillies on the turf. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue next Saturday at Saratoga with a massive day of racing. The upstate New York track will host four “Win and You’re In” events including: The Sword Dancer (Longines Turf), Personal Ensign (Longines Distaff), Ballerina (Filly and Mare Spint), and Forego (Dirt Mile). Del Mar will also feature the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes which is a “Win and You’re In” for the Dirt Mile.
The field from the rail out: Kenjisstorm, Flamboyant, Whoop Whoop, Ya Gotta Wanna, Unapologetic, Itsinthepost, Multiplier, Ashelyluvssugar, Colonist, Ritzy A.P., Cashman, and Fashion Business.
#12 Fashion Business – The year started out great for Fashion Business. A nice-looking allowance win at Santa Anita prompted his connections to take on tougher company in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park. He finished fifth in that race but was only beaten by a length, so you have to consider it a solid effort. Last time out, though, he struggled to an eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes. If he can rebound here, then he will have a shot, as he seemed to be trending in the right direction before that last effort.
Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers
#6 Itsinthepost – The big question coming into this one is if he can finally pick up a win at Del Mar. At times, he has been very close, but overall, he is now 0-for-10 at this track. To make matters worse, he was a well-beaten ninth last out in the Eddie Read. This is a horse with seven Grade 2 wins under his belt, which easily makes him the class of this field, and he also competed in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf, held here, where he finished seventh. Will he finally have a big day at Del Mar?
#1 Kenjisstorm – This horse is still looking for his first stakes victory, but he nearly got it last time out when finishing second in the Grade 2 Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita. He also finished third in the Grade 3 American Stakes this year, giving him back-to-back solid efforts against graded company. This is a logical spot for him, but he must overcome a poor Del Mar record, as he is just 1-for-9 at this track.
#7 Multiplier – He was a nice allowance winner at Santa Anita three races back, which earned him a spot against stakes company next time out in the Manhattan. That ended up being a tough ninth-place effort for him, but he did improve last time out at Del Mar when finishing fifth in the Eddie Read. From a class perspective, this race is very similar to his last start. If he continues to show improvement, then he could make some noise in this one.
#8 Ashleyluvssugar – This millionaire-plus earner has had a tremendous career but is still trying to find his best stride in 2018 coming into this spot. He’s making his fourth appearance in the Del Mar Handicap, which he won in 2016. He has 10 wins from 27 lifetime starts while hitting the board in 18 of those. However, he must turn around his form here because he has finished outside of the money in each of his three 2018 starts.
#2 Flamboyant – His consistency is Flamboyant’s strongest asset; he is always near the top at the end, having hit the board 21 times. His main struggle has been actually getting up for the win, as he is only 6-for-35 lifetime. The good news is that, two races back, he won the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate by a hard-fought neck. This is his fourth appearance in the Del Mar Handicap.
#11 Cashman – The wild card of the race is making his first start in the United States. The French-born shipper has won 4 of 18 overall, including a stakes victory last time out at Dreden in the Grosser bwin Semmerpreis. If he takes to the American-style of racing, then he could be competitive in this spot.
#10 Ritzy A. P. – This colt enters off of a stakes win at Santa Rosa last time out and back-to-back runner-up finishes at Del Mar and Santa Anita against allowance company. His victory at Santa Rosa was a blowout, which could give him confidence as he steps up in class for this competitive spot.
#5 Unapologetic – After a failed dirt experiment last time out, Unapalogetic gets back to the turf here, a surface over which he had won two in a row at Santa Anita. This spot seems to suit him very well from a class standpoint, which makes this an excellent start to try his luck at graded stakes company on the lawn. He is another horse that has to improve on his form at Del Mar, as he is just 1-for-9 at this track.
#9 Colonist – He takes another swing at stakes competition after a tough fifth last time out in the $75,000 Wickerr Stakes at this race track. Since winning an allowance event at Santa Anita earlier in the year, he has been in all stakes races and managed to hit the board in one, finishing second in the American.
#3 Whoop Whoop – This overseas shipper gives American racing another try after a seventh-place finish in his stateside debut at Del Mar. He fell way behind early in that allowance race and never really got going with much of a rally. Before coming to the United States, he had been running poorly in Handicap races at Sha Tin.
#4 Ya Gotta Wanna – He makes his stakes debut in this race after a couple of off-the-board finishes against allowance company in his last two starts. However, he was hot earlier in the year, notching three straight victories at Santa Anita. Those wins have given his connections confidence that he can get back to his previous form and have a shot to make some noise here at big price.