by Dustin Fabian
November 21, 2019
Will he or won’t he?
Bob Baffert has entered his G1 winner, Roadster, in the G3 Native Diver Stakes Saturday at Del Mar. They’ve also mentioned Churchill Downs’ G1 Clark Handicap next Friday as potential next start.
So where will he go?
If he goes this Saturday at Del Mar, it would add significant appeal to a solid 9-race card that kicks off at 3:30PM ET. After all, this race could well prove to be an essential step on Roadster’s path to races like the $9 million G1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 25, 2020.
Also scheduled to race Saturday is the aptly named Del Mar May in Race 4. While she’ll never race at Del Mar in May, she does have solid back class, including a runner-up performance behind Bellafina in the G2 Sorrento here last August.
But regardless of the caliber of competition, Saturday’s card at Del Mar is one worth playing. Their Early Pick 5 features a reduced 14% takeout, while the Late Pick 4 includes the aforementioned Native Diver Stakes.
Here are my thoughts on both sequences, along with race-by-race analysis:
Early Pick 5 – Races 1 – 5
The opener is a solid field of mid-level claiming horses and they’ll all need to catch #6 ROYAL INSIDER (Carava/Cedillo). Tactically you have to expect Cedillo to play ‘catch me if you can’ with him. I’m also going to use #2 BIRD (Hess/Prat). He would benefit from a fast pace in his first start off the claim for Bob Hess Jr. #5 ZORICH (Glatt/Talamo) has a good stalk-and-pounce style that works here.
I’m not a huge fan or Race 2, which attracted six maidens entered for a claiming price and #6 MONGOLIAN LEGEND (Ganbat/Gutierrez) is probably the horse to beat despite his 0-for-5 lifetime mark. He’s been beaten twice by a neck at a lower level but has been consistent. #5 THE LONGEST NIGHT (D’Amato/Baze) drops out of maiden special weight races and should be the favorite. It’s hard to not use #2 C FALLS (Ruis/Cedillo) and #3 CHALLAH (Baltas/Prat).
If we’re 3x4 to start this bet we’ll need to find some quantity relief at some point. Race 3 might be a tough place because this is a big (10) field of maiden claimers on the turf. I’ll roll the dice with #2 MAGICALLY HONORED (Lerner/Cedillo) on a slight class drop. He’s the one they’ll need to catch on the front-end. I don’t love anyone else in this field - #6 DIPPING IN (O’Neill/Gutierrez), #3 ESTABLISH JUSTICE (Puype/Baze) and #5 LACE (Mandella/Pereira) were all considerations – but that lack of confidence makes me want to single MAGICALLY HONORED.
Race 4 is an allowance race for fillies and mares and #1 ROAD RANGER (Koriner/Gryder) and #1A ANDYOUSHALLRECEIVE (Koriner/Cedillo) are coupled for wagering purposes. All eyes will be on #3 DEL MAR MAY (Baltas/Prat) here. Her 2018 resume includes bouts in the G1 Chandelier (5th) and the G2 Sorrento (2nd) before finally breaking her maiden in April 2019 at Keeneland. She ran 7th in the G2 Eight Belles at Churchill. She’ll be very heavily bet here. Nobody else in this field shows much solid recent form (ROAD RAGER is the lone last-out winner and nobody else finished better than 3rd in their most recent start). I will use the entry, assuming ROAD RAGER stays aboard. She’s the ‘speed of the speed’ here.
Nothing looks easy about Race 5, a turf claiming race, so my ticket will include #4 SEASIDE DANCER (O’Neill/Cedillo), #5 QUERELLE (Cassidy/Espinoza), #7 CLOCKSTRIKESTWELVE (Gallagher/Smith), #9 FACTOR OF TWO (O’Neill/Gutierrez) and #10 POSH HOLLY (D’Amato/Franco). Hopefully if we get this far we can slam the door and cash the ticket.
Pick 5 Ticket:
2, 5, 6 / 2, 3, 5, 6 / 2 / 1, 3 / 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 = $60 for 50-cents
Late Pick 4 – Races 6 – 9
In Race 6, a maiden special weight, I’m going to use #7 GARTH (Baffert/Van Dyke) and #1 ANCIENT WARRIOR (Hollendorfer/Prat) and reserve the right to add #8 SNAP CHAP (Chatlos/Smith) if that one takes money on the toteboard. GARTH was bet like a sure thing in his debut (1/5 odds) but he ran into eventual G1 BC Juvenile winner Storm the Court. ANCIENT WARRIOR has been working bullets in the AM.
This looks like a great spot for #2 RIJEKA (Baltas/Cedillo). He’s been facing tougher horses in stakes events for the last five starts and just hasn’t been on par with that competition. The step back in class today should suit him very well. Let’s also use #8 MORE ICE (Hollendorfer/Van Dyke) and #9 SHINING THROUGH (Hollendorfer/Prat) in a race that figures to have plenty of early pace, assuming no major scratches.
This is the G3 Native Diver and the question is whether #4 ROADSTER (Baffert/Van Dyke) runs here or next week at Churchill Downs in the Clark. Reports have them leaning to the Clark but he’s entered here, so there’s that. He’s a single in the Pick 4 if he runs here, but if he doesn’t, let’s use #3 ZESTFUL (Glatt/Roman) and #2 MIDCOURT (Shirreffs/Espinoza). ZESTFUL has been a win machine this year, scoring in 7-of-12 races. He has a 6-race win streak snapped in the G2 Marathon last out.
The nightcap is a tricky maiden claiming race on the turf and in this type of race I’m usually on the lookout for horses dropping from maiden special weight events. That list includes #2 FIVESTAR LYNCH (Baltas/Prat) and he’s the likeliest winner. I’ll also use #6 CAMPS BAY (Sadler/Baze) as his best races could win this and #9 FRIENDLY OUTTHEDOR (Eurton/Cedillo) in his second start off the pine.
Pick 4 Scenario 1 (Roadster Scratches):
1, 7 / 2, 8, 9 / 2, 3 / 2, 6, 9 = $18 for 50-cents
Pick 4 Scenario 2 (Roadster Races):
1, 7 / 2, 8, 9 / 4 / 2, 6, 9 = $9 for 50-cents