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DEL MAR, CA – One half of the entries from trainer John Sadler and owner Hronis Racing, Tripoli steps up to the stakes level for the first time in Saturday’s $250,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar while looking for his third straight score.
The local prep for August 21’s $750,000 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1), the San Diego is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route open to all horses ages 3 and up. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on an 11-race card and has a local post time of 6:30 PM.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the San Diego:
1. Rushie 5/1 – One of four cutting back from the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita Park, he finished fourth beaten 4 3/4 lengths after stumbling at the start and running farther off the pace than he usually prefers. He missed winning the Oaklawn Mile by a nose in his 4-year-old seasonal debut and won his lone start at this distance, an Oaklawn Park optional claimer in May 2020.
2. Kiss Today Goodbye 8/1 – He rallied from last to defeat eventual Santa Anita Handicap (G1) champ Idol in the 1 1/16-mile San Antonio Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park, then struggled in both the Pegasus World Cup (G1) (seventh) and the Big Cap (sixth). Away since March 6, trainer Eric Kruljac wins 20% with a $2.28 ROI when runners return from similar breaks. Expect him to take back early.
3. Sheriff Brown 20/1 – He makes his California racing debut hoping to rebound from his last-out fifth in the Sexton Mile (G3) over a sloppy Lone Star Park main track. He won 3 straight mile-long optional claiming events prior to that defeat and fired 4 furlongs in :47 flat for his most recent work, but he hasn’t finished better than fifth in a stakes since winning a minor one at Sunland Park in early 2020.
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4. Royal Ship 9/5 – A Group 1 winner on turf in his native Brazil before arriving stateside midway through 2020, he struggled to make an impact on American grass but really came alive this season. He’s done nothing wrong since switching to dirt 2 starts back, winning the 1 1/8-mile Californian Stakes (G2) by a neck over Country Grammer before that rival turned the tables by a head in the Gold Cup.
5. Express Train 3/1 – The 2/1 second shot in the Gold Cup, he suffered a wide trip from post 7 and could only rally up for third, several lengths behind the top pair. Prior to that, he won January’s 1 1/8-mile San Pasqual Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park, missed winning the Big Cap by a 1/2-length, then ran third in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) behind eventual Met Mile (G1) champ Silver State.
6. Mo Mosa 6/1 – He upset the Sexton Mile at 23/1 1 start after dueling from start to finish in the 1 1/16-mile Gus Fonner Stakes at Fonner Park, earning his shot against tougher competition on a bigger stage. Those were his first wins in 8 months, so perhaps the Mike Maker trainee turned a corner at age 4, but he’ll have to prove that his wins against lesser weren’t a fluke in his hardest test yet.
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7. Magic On Tap 12/1 – After finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Californian, he cut back to 7 furlongs and won the Triple Bend Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park last time out. With that race’s rider Juan Hernandez opting to stay aboard Express Train, he’ll team up for the first time with Abel Cedillo, who’s won 31% of his mounts for the Bob Baffert barn since 2020 and earned an impressive $2.42 ROI.
8. Tripoli 8/1 – After compiling an 11-2-3-3 turf record to start his career, the Kitten’s Joy colt debuted on dirt last time out and succeeded in a 1 1/16-mile Santa Anita Park optional claimer. Though this is easily the toughest field he’s faced to date, he rides a 2-race win streak (he took a 1-mile turf allowance at Santa Anita Park 2 starts back) and jockey Tiago Pereira rides for the third straight start.
“He just won his first 2 conditions and his best race was his last race, which was the first time on dirt in his lifetime, so we want to try him back on dirt again,” said Sadler, who has won the San Diego 5 times. “He’s going to have to step up, it’s a tough race, but the horse is doing really well.”
9. Heywoods Beach 20/1 – The second of two Hronis Racing silk-bearers hailing from the Sadler barn will reportedly scratch in favor of in Sunday’s 1 1/2-mile Cougar II (G3) over this same course. Like his stablemate, he initially campaigned on turf but recently switched to dirt and defeated optional claimers going 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita Park. Trip issues in the Gold Cup saw him finish fifth.
“(Heywood’s Beach) is another one that woke up when he came off the turf,” Sadler said. “He won on the dirt and then had a rough trip in the Hollywood Gold Cup, so we want to give him another try on dirt also.”
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