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Mandaloun Heads West Seeking New Riches | 2022 San Diego Handicap Preview & FREE Picks
Mandaloun (Equi-Photo / Mark Wyville)

Mandaloun Heads West Seeking New Riches | 2022 San Diego Handicap Preview & FREE Picks

Mike previews the 2022 San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar, then gives his top picks and longshots. A field of 9 including the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mandaloun (winless since January) hit the dirt in the local prep for the 2022 Pacific Classic Stakes (G1). Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Topped by a pair of deep and deeply competitive stakes races, Del Mar will present a sparkling 11-race program Saturday on Day 6 of its 83rd summer race meet. First post on the afternoon is 2 p.m.

The two stakes – the 77th running of the Grade I, $400,000 Bing Crosby Stakes and the 81st edition of the Grade II, $300,000 San Diego Handicap – have drawn stellar fields with 10 signed on for the six-furlong Crosby and nine on the roster for the mile and one-sixteenth San Diego.

The Crosby has the additional cachet of being a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, one of six that will be run at the summer meet. The Crosby winner receives a guaranteed berth, with all fees paid, in the $2 million Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland in November.

The Bing Crosby, named of course for Del Mar’s founder, had its purse enhanced by $100,000 this year, surely a factor in the topnotch crew it has lured.

A trio of crackerjack sprinters head the lineup in Michael Lund Petetsen’s Shaaz, Slam Dunk Racing and Madaket Stables’ Florida shipper Drain the Clock and Kretz Racing’s American Theorem.

The San Diego, too, has a trio of sharpsters who will draw the most attention in Zendan Racing Stables and Winstar Farm’s Country Grammer, Kentucky shipper Mandaloun, who is owned by Juddmont, and Fox Hill Farms or Sienna Farm’s South American ace Royal Ship.

Here are the full field for the stakes from the rail out with riders and morning line odds:

Bing Crosby Stakes — Nick Alexander’s Desmond Doss (Florent Geroux aboard, 10-1); Shaaz (Juan Hernandez, 7/2); Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s Bagboss (Umberto Rispoli, 8-1); Drain the Clock (Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1); David Bernsen and Mia Familia Racing’s Principe Carlo (Victor Espinoza, 6-1); It Pays to Dream Racing Stable, et al’s Howbeit (Abel Cedillo, 20-1); Brown, Klein or Lebherz’s Letsgetlucky (Tyler Baze, 6-1); Diamond 100 Racing Club, DP Racing, et al’s Diamond Oops (Ryan Curatolo, 12-1); American Theorem (Joe Bravo 4-1), and Gary Barber’s Get Her Number (Ramon Vazquez, 12-1).

San Diego Handicap – Cannon Thoroughbreds’ There Goes Harvard (Diego Herrera, 5-1); Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s Defunded (Cedillo, 5-1); Mandaloun (Geroux, 4-1); Steve Moger’s Stilleto Boy (Hernandez, 6-1); Joe Peacock Jr.’s Senor Buscador (Edwin Maldonado, 20-1); C R K Stable’s Parnelli (Espinoz, 15-1); Hronis Racing’s Tripoli (Tiago Pereira, 6-1); Country Grammer (John Velazquez, 5/2) and Royal Ship (Mike Smith, 4-1).

The Bing Crosby will be Race 8 on the card with a post of about 5:40 p.m. and the San Diego will be Race 10 going at about 6:40 p.m.

Crosby starter Shaaz has been training up the proverbial storm out of the Bob Baffert barn. The 4-year-old Uncle Mo colt has only started four times, but he’s won three (one through a disqualification) and boasts a trio of bullet works at Del Mar coming into the dash.

Drain the Clock, whose last start was in the Smile Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream on July 2 where he showed speed but fell back to finish fourth. The fast son of Maclean’s Music races for trainer Joseph Saffie, Jr. and is a seven-time winner of nearly $700,000.

American Theorem comes into the heat off a photo-finish tally in the Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita on May 29. That race was the biggest score yet for the ridgling by American Pharoah.

In the San Diego, which veteran observers at Del Mar are saying is one of the best editions of the race ever, Country Grammer appears to be a solid favorite. The Tonalist 5-year-old horse comes into the race off a smashing score in the $12 million Dubai World Cup back in March, a triumph that skied his bankroll to $10,837,320. He’s been prepping steadily for trainer Baffert for this comeback.

Mandaloun, an Into Mischief 4-year-old colt with more than $2 million in winings, finished second in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, but when the horse who was first across the line – Medina Spirit – was subsequently disqualified for a drug issue, he (Mandaloun) was moved up to first. His last start was a fourth-place finish in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on July 2.

Royal Ship, a Brazilian-bred 6-year-old, is a seven-time winner of nearly $400,000. He was third in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 30 in his most recent effort. Hall of Fame rider Smith will be aboard him for the 11th consecutive time.

The San Diego is seen as the key prep for Del Mar’s foremost race, the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic, which this year will be contested at its usual mile and one-quarter on Saturday, September 3.