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DEL MAR, CA – Cannon Thoroughbreds homebred Smooth Like Strait has a strong chance to speed away early and prove uncatchable in Sunday’s $125,000 La Jolla Handicap (G3) at Del Mar.
The La Jolla is a 1 1/16-mile turf route restricted to 3-year-olds. This year’s edition attracted a field of eight and is slated as the penultimate event on an 11-race card.
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Here is a look at the full field for the La Jolla:
1. I’m Leaving You 15/1 – He broke his maiden at third asking, taking a $62.5k claiming field gate to wire while going 1 mile at Santa Anita Park on May 29. He overcame a horrid start to the Oceanside Stakes last time out, running at the rear early before passing half the field in the stretch to finish fifth over the local course.
2. K P All Systems Go 6/1 – He was surprisingly flat last time out in the Oceanside, finishing seventh after lacking any kick in the stretch. He ran strongly at Santa Anita Park earlier in the year, winning 2 straight before missing victory in the Cinema Stakes by a neck, so he stands a chance if he can rebound from his most recent effort.
3. Azul Coast 4/1 – He takes his first competitive steps on turf after failing to make a significant dent on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail, but his pedigree suggests that he could handle it. His sire, Super Saver, has produced 7% winners in turf routes and his dam, Sky Treasure, had a 13-3-1-0 turf record that includes two stakes (one a Grade 2).
4. Ajourneytofreedom 12/1 – He was a head behind fellow rival Kanderel at the wire in the Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields, then finished third in the Oceanside. He recently fired a bullet best-of-23 4-furlong work in :49.20 over the local turf and keeps jockey Ricky Gonzalez baord for the sixth straight time.
5. Kanderel 10/1 – The Alcatraz winner followed that by finishing second in the Oceanside, closing from near the rear with a strong rally. The Richard Mandella trainee has improved his Beyer speed figure in every start while routing on the turf and has jockey Juan Hernandez back in the saddle for the third straight time.
6. Smooth Like Strait 5/2 – The morning line favorite has two stakes wins on his resume: the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) over the local course last December and the War Chant at Churchill Downs in his most recent start. Perhaps the best 3-year-old male turfer on the west coast, he has a good pace advantage on paper, as nobody else looks like they’ll run with him early.
7. Storm the Court 3/1 – The 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion tries the turf after failing to menace in 4 starts along the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) trail. His sire, Court Vision, won 5 Grade 1s on turf, including the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) when he prevented the legendary Goldikova from winning the race for the fourth straight year.
8. Indian Peak 6/1 – He fought gamely to hold off two other talented California-bred turfers in the Snow Chief Stakes at Santa Anita Park last time out. That race also came at 1 1/8 miles, so there should be no doubting his ability to handle this distance – not something that can be said for every runner in this field.
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