Champagne Picks 12/01: Del Mar
Sunday’s card at Del Mar is a good one, and the graded stakes action starts pretty early in the day. The third race on the program is the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille for 2-year-olds going a mile on the Jimmy Durante turf course, and it attracted a field of 13 juveniles that will traverse the two-turn distance.
The morning line favorite is 7/2, and it’s unlikely that money will be overwhelming in any particular direction. That makes this a spectacular betting race, and I’m really looking forward to attacking it Sunday afternoon. Let’s take a look!
The Top Pick
#1 HIT THE ROAD exits the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and he didn’t run badly in that race despite a horrible post position. He was beaten less than three lengths that day, and he gets a far kinder draw in this spot (in addition to significant class relief).
I think there’s plenty of speed signed on, and that this race could fall apart late. Because of that, I want a closer on top, and this one seems like the best one in the race. He’s 5-1 on the morning line, and that seems like too big a price.
The Logical Alternatives
I really liked #3 KANDAREL’s debut. It’s not easy for a 2-year-old to go two turns at first asking, and trainer Richard Mandella’s horses often need a race or two to get going. However, this one fired right off the bat, when he won by more than three lengths at Santa Anita. He’s worked very well since that effort, and a step forward would make him a major player.
I’ll also use #4 HARIBOUX. His American debut two back was no great shakes, but he stepped forward in his local debut to prevail by a neck at this route of ground. Drayden Van Dyke rides back for Jeff Mullins, and he’s another whose chances figure to improve with a fast pace.
It isn’t often you’ll get a 12-1 price on a horse that’s 2-for-2, but #5 ALBERT PARK has that designation on the morning line. He ships in from the Midwest for Michael Stidham, but I think there’s a lot to like. He’s bred to go long, being by Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and out of an A.P. Indy mare, and Florent Geroux has been enticed to ride. He has some tactical speed and could get first run on the pacesetters going into the far turn.
I’ll also lightly use #6 FORE LEFT, a horse I’ve been high on in several spots. Maybe he doesn’t want to go this far, but he’s bred to love the grass (as his 360 turf Tomlinson rating shows) and comes in off of two decent races in a row. I don’t think he wins, but he could absolutely hit the board at a big number.
How I’ll Play It
I’ll use Hit the Road in exactas with the horses I’ve mentioned. Additionally, if he’s close to his 5-1 morning line, I’ll have a win bet on him as well. 7/2 would strike me as a fair price, so I’ll use that as my baseline.
2 units: Exacta key box, 1 w/3,4
1 unit: Exacta key box, 1 w/5,6
3 units: Win, 1 (if 7/2 or higher)