I have to say, I like that Del Mar is not going with the All-Stakes Pick 4. It forces bettors to successfully handicap multiple levels, which gives an advantage to those playing every day. Since that’s me, taking a stab at sequences like these makes me excited!
Sequence of the Weekend: Del Mar Pacific Classic Pick 4 (Races 8-11)
Base Wager: $0.50
Races: 8 thru 11
Level of Difficulty (1-10): 6
This particular sequence is about as diverse as it gets. We start with Grade 1 fillies, go into a 2-year-old MSW, then take on the top older dirt males before ending with a tough turf allowance/optional claimer. If we can get this one home, then we will get paid!
Del Mar Race 8: Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks
Must Use: What a way to kick things off! I’ve been waiting for #4 Ollie’s Candy to run back ever since her close second in the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes. I’m happy to see her back on turf and getting some extra distance. She would have been a winner last time out if she had not been compromised by the 13 post. The winner that day wired the field when speed was dominant at Del Mar, but now, closers are getting it done on the turf, especially at distances over a mile, which plays to Ollie’s Candy. If she takes a step forward, she’ll be ultra-tough. I don’t see how you can leave #6 Paved off of the ticket here, either. She has been very consistent and will be facing easier competition here than she did last out while cutting back in distance.
Dismiss at Your Own Risk: The rest of the field? Ah, I kid, we don’t need the ALL button here, but we are definitely not going to stop with two. #5 Fatale Bere finished ahead of Paved in New York while being fairly one-paced, but she should not be chucked out in this spot. #7 Colonia looked very good coming from off the pace at Arlington in her first North American race and it’s logical to think that she takes a step forward here. I don’t like her adding 6 lbs or her lack of experience over the Del Mar turf, or else you’d see her in the section above. If I only used one horse from this section, though, it would be #8 Californiagoldrush. Coming off of a six-month layoff, I expect this horse to take a BIG step forward here in what is effectively the first start of her 3-year-old campaign. The fact that she’s making her return in a Grade 1 means that she will fire, plus you get Flavien Prat aboard, the best turf jockey in Cali.
Unused Horse That Bettors Will Like: I expect #9 Ms. Bad Behavior to take some money here, and while she should hit the board, this is a great example of playing horses based on your best betting skill set (which I talked about in Handicapping 301: Know Yourself). She’s extremely logical in trifecta/superfecta bets, but that’s not what we are betting here. She’ll be out front early, but I just don’t think that she can take this field wire to wire.
Del Mar Race 9: $60k MSW for 2-year-olds
Must Use: If you listen to The Magic Mike Show, you know that #8 Dueling is getting played in this spot. A $475k yearling purchase by one of my favorite sires, Violence, that got bet first time out from a 20/1 ML down to 5/1. He didn’t break well, his rider lost the whip, and he still nearly chased down the 4/5 favored winner, Rowayton. If Dueling takes a step forward, and he should, then watch out! You also have top rider Drayden Van Dyke picking up the mount.
Dismiss at Your Own Risk: #7 Istanbul ran behind the second-best male juvenile horse in California this summer, Roadster, last time out in his debut and looked good doing it. My major knock on this one is that he went off at 61/1 in that spot, and his morning line here is 4/1. I’m not sure that taking anything less than 5/1 makes sense. Of the first-time starters, I’d lean toward #6 Asano from Team Desormeaux. They can score with horses like this, and I especially like his works from 7/14 (5 furlongs from the gate in 1:00.80) and 7/21 (4 furlongs in :48 flat).
Horse for Deep Tickets: A 20/1 morning line seems a little high for #5 Toas from the Richard Mandella barn, especially since this is a Godolphin homebred by Tapit. I may use this one to spice up a ticket if I single Accelerate in the next leg, since he could really juice up the payouts.
Unused Horse That Bettors Will Like: I may be overthinking this one, but I’m going to leave off #10 Game Winner on my main ticket. Everything looks like a go, but the fact that the New York-based Joel Rosario is taking the mount (and not one of Baffert’s go-to California riders) makes me wonder how good this horse will be. Additionally, you’ve got to think that DVD was offered this horse but took the aforementioned Dueling over him, so I will, too.
Del Mar Race 10: Grade 1 Pacific Classic
Must Use: Let’s just get this out of the way. #5 Accelerate is the best horse with the most class, but I cannot single him here in my main ticket. While he will go off around 6/5, he’ll be much shorter than that in multi-race wagers. He will be a single on the mass majority of tickets that cost under $50, and the best way to hit a big score is to beat this horse, so let’s go for it!
Dismiss at Your Own Risk: I’m not sure how many more chances I can give #2 Dr. Dorr, but it’s logical to expect him to improve off the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, which would put him in the mix here. Since I’m using Dr. Dorr, I’ve got to use #4 Roman Rosso, too. This is a classic “unknown” horse that I will rarely leave off of a ticket, especially when the trainer (Baffert) has another horse in the field that is a contender (Dr. Dorr). I’m also going to use #8 Two Thirty Five here. Baltas said that they wheeled him back too fast for the San Diego and that he bounced in what was still a pretty good effort, so if he can improve off of his race two back, then he actually fits at 20-1. Finally, I’m going to include #3 Prime Attraction who has been good enough on dirt and should be ready to go 2nd off a layoff here!
Unused Horse That Bettors Will Like: This one was easy for me. #7 Pavel has run some big races, but I don’t trust that Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap even a little bit, and his best probably isn’t good enough here. He’s another one that I would include if I was betting trifectas and superfectas, but he’s not one that I would use in a multi-race sequence.
Del Mar Race 11: $62k Allowance for Non-Winners of 2 or an Optional Claiming Price of $40k
Must Use: Del Mar did not make it easy to close this one out! My top pick is the #2 Pioneer Lad. I don’t love that he will be on the front end early, but there isn’t much speed in here. The 1 1/16-mile distance is more of a concern, but I can’t hold his only previous effort going this long against him because he dueled for the lead between horses and the rider lost the whip that day. #4 Royal Albert Hall has been running against better in New York, but I really wish he had won that $40k claiming race two weeks ago (he finished second). When a horse runs second or third 17 times in 34 starts with just 2 wins, then it’s not one that you can trust as a single. I do think that if the pace does collapse, then #12 Avalanche is most likely to pick up the pieces, and his closing style fits Rosario wonderfully!
Dismiss at Your Own Risk: Okay, stick with me now, because we’re going to get a little crazy! #5 Comma Sister actually make sense in here at 20-1. He’s making his third start off of a layoff, his third start as a 4-year-old, and his third start in a distance progression (6 1/2 furlongs to 1 mile to 1 1/16 miles). His best races at age 3 were on the turf at 1 1/8 miles, so if he improves with the added distance, then it could be bombs away. #11 Malibu Music is awfully interesting at 15-1 as well. It’s his second time running without blinkers and his second off of a seasonal layoff. He’ll like the added distance and finished within a 1/2-length of Avalanche and Comma Sister last time out. #3 Morse Code scares me because you could make a case that he’s due for a major improvement, but I’m worried that we’ve already seen the best he has to offer.
Unused Horse That Bettors Will Like: Having won 3 of his last 4 and getting the services of jockey Rafael Bejarano means I love #8 Ky, Colonel, right? No, thanks. Those wins came at lower claiming levels ($25k and $20k) and in a $41k stakes where he carried 4lbs less than he does here. Add in the distance (he quit hard at 1 1/16 miles over this course last year) and he’s a hard pass for me.
Must Use + Risk ticket: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 / 6, 7, 8 / 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 / 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12 = $225
I don’t want to fire at a ticket that size, even though it has the possibility of paying out five figures, so I’m going to play a couple of tickets that focus on the first three legs before going very deep in the last:
$.50 ticket #1: 4, 6, 8 / 8 / ALL / 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12 – $72
$.50 ticket #2: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 / 3, 5, 6, 8 / 5 / 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12 – $60
$2 ticket: 4, 6, 8 / 8 / 5 / 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12 – $36
Good luck on Pacific Classic day!