by Dustin Fabian
August 15, 2019
With a pair of Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series ‘Win and You’re In’ races and five total graded stakes races on the card, Saturday’s Del Mar slate is one that savvy horseplayers have had marked on their calendar for months.
The card’s headliner, and Del Mar’s keystone race, is the $1 Million Pacific Classic, which provides an expenses-paid trip and automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. This year’s field includes the 1-2 finishers from the G2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, Seeking the Soul and Quip, as well as G3 Pimlico Special winner Tenfold, $2 million earner Pavel and San Diego Handicap runner-up Mongolian Groom.
Supporting stakes on the card are the G3 Green Flash Handicap (starring two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal), G2 Del Mar Handicap (a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf), G3 Torrey Pines Stakes and the G1 Del Mar Oaks (featuring Chad Brown’s Cambier Parc and Dogtag). The 11-race card gets underway at 5:00PM ET.
My attention will be on the Late Pick 4, which covers Races 8 – 11 and starts at 8:30PM ET. Hit the Late Pick 4 with your Xpressbet account to Split 1 Million XB Rewards Points. Plus, don’t forget to play in our $120,000 Fun in the Sun Handicapping Tournament. We’re giving away $8,500 in cash prizes every Saturday during Saratoga and Del Mar and, best of all, it’s FREE to register.
In this spot last week, we successfully hit the Arlington Park Late Pick 4. However, it’s meager payout ($55 for $1) barely made it worth the effort.
Here’s my Pacific Classic Late Pick 4 play:
Race 8 (8:30PM ET) – Torrey Pines Stakes (Grade 3, $100K)
The kickoff leg is the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes for three-year-old fillies and the pace here could be fast, as the outside drawn trio of #6 SNEAKING OUT, #7 FIGHTING MAD and #8 KIM K all have a nose for the lead. Likewise, none has won around two turns (that said, SNEAKING OUT was beaten 1/2-length in a two-turn G2 and KIM K won a one-turn, one-mile race). #3 CLASSIC FIT battled Dunbar Road in the G2 Mother Goose at Belmont and, with Dunbar Road headlining the Alabama and Guarana targeting the Cotillion, she ships out here for a more winnable race. She’s a very logical play, as is the rail-drawn #1 INTO CHOCOLATE. She keeps Mike Smith and should get a great trip from just inside of horses.
Pick 4 Horse(s): #1 INTO CHOCOLATE, #3 CLASSIC FIT, #6 SNEAKING OUT, #7 FIGHTING MAD
Race 9 (9:00PM ET) – Del Mar Oaks (Grade 1, $300K)
If we go deep in the first leg, we’ll need to pare our ticket down here. So we all know that Chad Brown is arguably the premier turf trainer in the US and we saw what he did last weekend shipping his horses to Chicago for the Arlington Million card. So why would a trip to San Diego be any different? He sends out two horses in here - #1 CAMBIER PARC and #7 DOGTAG – and I think that duo will be awfully tough to deny. CAMBIER PARC is probably the ‘better’ of the two Brown horses and you’ve got to love her inside draw in a 14-horse field. They have to go through her to win this.
Pick 4 Horse(s): #1 CAMBIER PARC
Race 10 (9:30PM ET) – Pacific Classic (Grade 1, $1 Million)
This is a fascinating edition of the Pacific Classic for different reasons than usual. While memories of this race evoke names like Free House, Best Pal, Bertrando, Came Home and Lava Man – and more recently, California Chrome, Accelerate, Beholder, Shared Belief and Game On Dude – this year’s field is relatively lacking in the ‘big name’ department. But that also could make it a better race for the bettor. ML favorite #5 SEEKING THE SOUL is a horse to have on your ticket, but is he a horse you can trust? Considering he’s 1-for-13 outside of Kentucky, skepticism is a must. How about #3 PAVEL? He’s lost seven straight and has just one win in his last 14 starts. All of a sudden, that brings horses like #2 QUIP, #8 CAMPAIGN and even #10 DRAFT PICK into the discussion. I’m not entirely picky – let’s use a bunch and try to get through this race.
Pick 4 Horse(s): #2 QUIP (9/2), #3 PAVEL (7/2), #5 SEEKING THE SOUL (3/1), #7 TENFOLD (8/1), #8 CAMPAIGN (6/1), #9 MONGOLIAN GROOM (20/1), #10 DRAFT PICK (20/1)
Race 11 (10:00PM ET) – Allowance ($65K)
The nightcap is a first-level allowance race and, honestly, this is another race where it’s tough for me to have a very strong opinion. An overdrawn field (12 plus 2 AE’s) will do that to you. To keep my ticket a manageable size, I’m going to limit myself to using only the most logical few horses. #11 AN EDDIE SURPRISE has been a relatively consistent performer, even if she more often comes up second. #8 SALSA BELLA has an interesting statline – trainer Andrew Lerner is hitting at 80% (ok, he’s 4-for-5, but still) with horses making their second start in his barn. British invader #7 BETTY F has been running against better horses than this and has performed decently and I’ll use #5 RUBY TRUST as a pace player in a race lacking it.
Pick 4 Horse(s): #1 TRUE TO HERSELF, #5 RUBY TRUST, #7 BETTY F, #8 SALSA BELLA, #11 AN EDDIE SURPRISE
Ticket Cost: We’re looking at a $70 ticket for 50-cents, which is a little steeper than I would usually give out. We could pare down the ticket by going shorter in the Pacific Classic and dropping some of the more ‘hopeful’ horses.