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Del Mar Preview & FREE Picks | Seabiscuit Handicap 2023: Easter Debuts For D’Amato
Easter in the Lure Stakes winner's circle (Benoit Photo)

Del Mar Preview & FREE Picks | Seabiscuit Handicap 2023: Easter Debuts For D’Amato

Aaron previews the 2023 Seabiscuit Handicap (G2) from Del Mar, then gives his top picks & long shots from Saturday’s feature event at the seaside oval.

Easter debuts for new trainer Phil D’Amato following his Lure Stakes victory at Santa Anita Park, but could stablemate Hong Kong Harry be too tough in his 2022 title defense? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

The steady veteran Hong Kong Harry will be among eight grass runners aiming for the first prize in Saturday’s $200,000, Grade II headliner at Del Mar, the 47th edition of the Seabiscuit Handicap.

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The mile and one-sixteenth proved right up “Harry’s” alley last year when the son of the Irish stallion Es Que Love came running late to score under Flavien Prat.

The gelding won’t have Prat aboard this time (the rider is in Kentucky where he has calls on live horses in four major stakes over the next several days), but he shouldn’t mind his replacement at all: he teamed up with top rider Juan Hernandez last out at Santa Anita in the City of Hope Mile and came away a winner in a photo. Hernandez will be aboard once more as they break from Post 4 in Saturday’s headliner.

The multiple-stakes winner of more than $775,000 in purses is owned by the partnership of Anastasi, Ukegawa and Valazza and is listed as the 8/5 favorite in the morning line.

It appears that the geldings Easter and Astronomer are the chief threats to the top one.

The former had been racing out of the barn of top eastern conditioner Graham Motion, but has been turned over to top western trainer Phil D’Amato since he proved best winning a mile turf test at Santa Anita in October. The French-bred is a five-time winner of more than $300,000 and has a nifty stretch kick.

Astronomer just missed to Hong Kong Harry in the City of Hope in September, then finished far back in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on November 4. Simon Callaghan conditions the bay, who’ll be making only his ninth start in the Seabiscuit.

Here’s the full field for the Seabiscuit with riders and morning line odds from the rail out:

  1. Perry and Ramona Bass’ Sumter (Edwin Maldonado, 12-1)
  2. Madaket Stables’ Easter (Antonio Fresu, 3-1)
  3. Little Red Feather Racing and Madaket Stables’ Balnikhov (Hector Berrios, 8-1)
  4. Hong Kong Harry
  5. Kenneth Ramsey’s Yes This Time (Kyle Frey, 20-1)
  6. Kretz Racing’s Cabo Spirit (Victor Espinoza, 8-1)
  7. Bamford or Tabor’s Astronomer (Umberto Rispoli, 3-1)
  8. George Sharp’s Front Run the Fed (Giovanni Franco, 12-1)