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Del Mar Preview & FREE Picks | Hollywood Derby 2023: Program Trading, Webslinger Renew Rivalry
Program Trading (2) defeating Webslinger in the Saratoga Derby (Gary Johnson/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Del Mar Preview & FREE Picks | Hollywood Derby 2023: Program Trading, Webslinger Renew Rivalry

Aaron previews the 2023 Hollywood Derby (G1) from Del Mar, then gives his top picks & long shots.

The Saratoga Derby (G1) 1-2 finishers Program Trading & Webslinger renew their rivalry on the west coast, but could another horse upset them both? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

They’ve traveled 3,000 miles in hopes of landing a coveted Grade I win. They hail from the barns of Chad Brown, Charles Appleby and Mark Casse and they’re ‘invading’ Del Mar this weekend as part of the Turf Festival.

The 83rd running of the G1 Hollywood Derby {whose past winners include Affirmed (1978), Royal Heroine (1983), Itsallgreektome (1990), Paradise Creek (1994), and California Chrome (2014)} goes off as Race 7 on the nine-race Saturday card. Approximate post time for the featured event is 3:30 p.m.

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The Hollywood Derby is the first of two Grade I races scheduled for this weekend at Del Mar and Brown has brought the G1 Saratoga Derby winner, Program Trading, out west. The English-bred colt won the first three races of his career before running second in the G3 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs in September.

“He had a challenging post,” Brown says regarding his last start. “He was a little close to a fast pace. It might have did him in in the end where he got caught by a good horse. Hopefully he’ll work out a better trip this time. A very consistent horse.”

Brown also will send out Redistricting, another English-bred, this one by Kingman. His lone venture into Grade I company ended in a forgettable seventh-place finish in the Belmont Derby in July. He rebounded with a win in an entry level allowance race three months later.

“He finished well,” Brown says, “and I think he’s ready to step back up into a big race like this.”

Jockey Joel Rosario – a three-time shore riding champ – returns to Del Mar to ride Saturday and will be aboard Redistricting.

Charles Appleby will send out Silver Knott, a heartbreaking second in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when he was nosed out by Victoria Rose. Appleby took the English-bred home for the winter and, following his 2023 debut in May, brought him back to the states.

Silver Knott has run four times since his return, but has yet to get back to the winner’s circle. In his last, the G2 Twilight Agenda at Santa Anita, he finished second, a half a length behind the winner.

Webslinger comes out of the Mark Casse barn. He is an ultra-consistent son of Constitution who finished a nose behind Silver Knott in the Twilight Agenda.

Of his 12 lifetime starts, Webslinger has won four wins, including the G2 American Turf on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. He finished in-the-money five other times, never more than two lengths behind the winner.

“He’s very honest,” assistant trainer Shane Tripp says. “Mark has quite a few divisions and I’ve been blessed enough to have him (Webslinger) in New York. We really like the way he’s been here.”

If all goes well for the connections, Webslinger will be running late.

“You don’t ever want to put him in a position where he has a lot to do,” Tripp says. “But he’s a closer and he needs to be up there close enough where he can strike because he has a big 3/8’s mile turn of foot.”

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will fly in to Del Mar to ride Webslinger.       

The local contingent is led by Seal Team, the impressive winner of the Twilight Agenda last out at Santa Anita on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.

“He’s doing really good,” trainer Richard Mandella says. “We always thought he was a really good horse and he’s proven us right.”

Others of note are Maltese Falcon, winner of the G3 La Jolla during the summer meet at Del Mar, and Reiquist, another nose back of Webslinger in fourth in the Twilight Agenda.

Here’s the field from the rail with the jockeys and the morning line odds:

  1. Silver Knott (Jamie Spencer, 6-1)
  2. Maltese Falcon (Juan Hernandez, 20-1)
  3. Reiquist (Ramon Vasquez, 10-1)
  4. Watsonville (Antonio Fresu, 12-1)
  5. Webslinger (3-1)
  6. Santorini (Alex Achard, 15-1)
  7. Redistricting (5-1)
  8. Program Trading (Flavien Prat, 9/5)
  9. Seal Team (Umberto Rispoli, 5-1)