HHR’s 2 Year Old Stakes Watch- Del Mar Closing Day

2 Year Olds on Del Mar Closing Day

Strong MandateToday, September 4th, 2013, is closing day at Del Mar and we have 2 two year old stakes races to handicap in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf Stakes and the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. In case you missed it, let’s start with a recap of the Labor day 2 year old stakes. In the Aspirant Stakes at Finger Lakes, Fox Rox rocketed home putting the rest of the field to bed winning by 18 1/4 lengths! The Lady Finger Stakes was a little closer when our value play, Alwaysinstilletos, won by 4 lengths over Noon Time Shower. Alwaysinstilletos paid $13.20 for the win and $7.40 for the place. In the I’m Smokin Stakes at Del Mar, Jedi Mind Trick mesmerized Gangnam Guy by a neck and paid $12.20 for the win. Ashleyluvssugar came in for third. In the Oak Tree Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes at Del Mar, favorite Clenor cleaned house and won by 3 1/4 lengths over Nesso with Pleasant Miss third. For the big 2 year old racing event on Labor Day, we had the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga where the favorites Corfu and Wired Bryan were completely left behind!  Taking advantage of the dueling speed and sloppy track was Strong Mandate who won by 9 3/4 lengths! Strong Mandate paid $16.60 for the win. The second place finisher was Casiguapo who paid $24.40 for the place. Let’s see what we can find on the closing day at Del Mar!

Oak Tree Juvenile Turf Stakes

Gary Stevens to Ride Station HouseThe $100,000 Oak Tree Juvenile Turf Stakes is the 3rd race on the card at Del Mar today. Set at 1 mile on the turf the race will host a field of 8 two year olds. The 9/5 favorite is Diamond Bachelor, trained by Patrick Biancone and ridden by Julien Leparoux. Diamond Bachelor is fresh from his August 8th career opener at Del Mar where he won a straight maiden 75k, 1 mile over the turf by 3 1/4 lengths. He was able to get the distance easily in that race and there is no reason why he shouldn’t do the same here. His speed figure is a little lower than many in this field, but I believe he will improve in this race. The second favorite is Station House at ML 5/2. Station House also won his career opener on the Del mar turf at 1 mile on July 24th where he won by 1 1/2 lengths. Gary Stevens will be on board again today, with trainer Richard Mandella giving instructions. Look for this son of Rock Hard Ten to be on the lead.  For a value play, although probably not much of one as I feel his morning line of 5 to 1 will diminish quickly once the betting public gets involved, is Ontology. Ontology has yet to break maiden, but he does have the best speed figure in this race. He also has stakes experience having run 2nd in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes and 4th in the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar.  I look for Ontology to make a big run here today and with Rafael Bejarano in the irons he’ll do fine over the turf. Another possible value play here is Home School. Home School will be making his American debut in this race and has a great jockey/trainer combo in jockey Mario Gutierrez and trainer, Doug O’ Neill. He has shown some pretty good efforts in Ireland races, including a Grade 3 place on July 25th and I expect he will perform well over the turf at Del Mar. With first time Lasix being administered in this race, I look for him to make a good run today.

 Del Mar Futurity

SkydreaminRace 8 on the card at Del Mar is the $300,000 Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity spotlighting a field of 11 two year olds battling it out over 7 furlongs. Alberts Hope is the 7/2 morning line favorite. Undefeated in 2 starts, Alberts Hope’s most recent victory was in the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on August 4th. His work outs are sharp and he looks good for this race, but I think he’ll get beat here. The next horse in the ML to consider is Can the Man at 9/2. Can the Man just won his career debut on August 17th by 1 1/2 lengths at Del Mar. He has a great jockey/trainer combo in jockey, Martin Garcia and trainer, Bob Baffert. His works are solid and he looks good here. My only problem with this, and many of the horses entered here, is that he likes to be up front. With so many front runners entered, I’m looking for a stalker or come from behind horse to get the job done. California Chrome may very well be the horse to do that here. He recently won the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar, where he stalked past the second call before taking the lead and pulling away clear by 2 3/4 lengths. He has the ability to get the job done here if he doesn’t pull the trigger too soon. Alpine Luck could run well here too, depending on how he positions himself in the race. He generally likes the lead, but as we saw in the Best Pal, he didn’t have enough kick to maintain it. Gary Stevens is the master at reassessing situations like this and I believe he will stalk the pace in this race. If so, Alpine Luck could pull off a nice upset here at 15 to 1 morning line odds. For my “way out in left field” choice for a longshot, I like Skydreamin, also at 15 to 1. Before bouncing in the Best Pal, Skydreamin had won his last 2 races, including his maiden win in the Lost in the Fog at Golden Gate. His work outs look good and he will have the blinkers on for the Del Mar Futurity. Look for the son of Sky Mesa to make a late rally here.




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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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