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Jeff Siegel: Del Mar Picks & Analysis | Saturday, July 17

by Jeff Siegel

July 17, 2021

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.

The selections are posted at 6:00 a.m. and updated later in the morning to reflect late scratches and changes (approximately 10:30 a.m.). For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

RACE 1: Post: 2:00 PT Grade: C
Use: 1-Poseidon’s Kid; 2-Head for Business; 7-Just Ask Ethan

Forecast: Head for Business missed by a neck in a similar maiden $50,000 sprint at Santa Anita last month while more than five lengths clear of the rest. However, It wasn’t a great race – the Beyer Speed figure of 59 is 16 points lower than par for this level - so while the R. Hess, Jr.-trained gelding probably will go favorite he doesn’t necessarily have to win. Perhaps a tad more attractive is Poseidon’s Kid, runner-up in both of his career starts and with speed figures that match up quite favorably with Head for Business. With a repeat of his second place finish at Los Alamitos last month (when winding up four lengths clear of the others) he’s a major player but must overcome the rail draw. Debuting Just Ask Ethan certainly won’t have to be any type of world beater to be competitive with this group. The work tab over the glib Los Alamitos main track (where even modest maiden claimers can record fast times) is impressive taken on face value and the B. Koriner barn has okay stats with first-timers, so this late-to-the-party four-year-old colt has to be included in a race that we’ll otherwise sit out.

RACE 2: Post: 2:30 PT Grade: C+
Use: 1-Rocktillyoudrop; 6-Raging Waters; 9-Half Right

Forecast: Low level $20,000 3-year-old claimers sprint six furlongs in the second half of the early daily double. New York invader Half Right shows up seeking some of that lucrative ship-and-win money and is cozily drawn outside in a lackluster affair, so based on his dirt form (which is better than his grass efforts) the son of Alpha may have found his friends. We’re expecting the D. O’Neill-trained sophomore to inherit an ideal stalking trip and then have his chance from the quarter pole home. Raging Waters has finished first or second in six of 10 career starts but his recent form is below his best. Perhaps with this class drop and the presence of a seven pound bug rider the S. Knapp-trained colt could return to life. Rocktillyoudrop plummets in class while seeking his winning level and may have found it, but his lack of tactical speed makes his rail post position draw problematic. On numbers he’s a fit so we’ll use him but not with a great deal of confidence. Tread lightly here.

RACE 3: Post: 3:00 PT Grade: B+
Use: 2-Big Impact; 8-What in Blazes

Forecast: State-bred juveniles occupy the third race, a five furlong maiden sprint with What in Blazes the logical top pick after missing by less than a length at 70 cents on the dollar in his recent debut at Los Alamitos. The son of the speedy freshman sire Straight Fire earned a pretty good speed figure even in defeat, so if he produces any type of forward move the J. Hollendorfer-trained colt should be difficult to deny. Big Impact has shown a bit of run in the a.m. for B. Koriner and may be worth using as a back-up or a saver. He’s been holding his own in workouts with older stable mates and if our top pick fails to fire for whatever reason this son of Dynamic Impact may have a real look at it.

RACE 4: Post: 3:30 PT Grade: B
Use: 2-Lalic; 5-California Kook; 9-Cassie Belle

Forecast: California Kook was given sprint prep in her first outing in nearly six months at Santa Anita and today, with some of that rust shaken off, should be sharper and tighter while stretching out over a turf course we know she likes. The P. Miller-trained filly switches to good grass rider J. Bravo, shows three good breezes since that tightener last month and can pull off a mild surprise in a wide open turf miler for entry-level allowance fillies and mares. Cassie Belle adds blinkers after a series of consistently solid outings and projects to be prominent throughout in a field without a whole lot of early speed. We suspect that with the hood on the daughter of Lucky Pulpit will be on or near the lead throughout. Lalic is the most dangerous of the closing types. Unproven around two turns but a winner of three consecutive grass sprints at Santa Anita from off the pace vs. lesser foes, the French-bred filly has rising speed figure and a legitimate chance in an open fray. We’ll use all three in rolling exotic play and then press with California Kook in the win pool.

RACE 5: Post: 4:00 PT Grade: B+
Use: 3-Smash Ticket; 6-Baby Steps

Forecast: Smash Ticket tipped her hand with an excellent runner-up effort in her debut at Lone Star Park in early June, overcoming a slow start and a wide trip to wind up second behind the speedy Wicked Halo in a hot race while finishing more than 10 lengths clear of the rest. Nothing more should be needed in this five furlong maiden special weight sprint for this daughter of Midnight Lute to earn her diploma. The best of the newcomers may be Baby Steps, a first-timer by Jimmy Creed that brought $70,000 through the ring at the OBS March sale after she previewed in :10 flat. Locally, she’s displayed good speed in her gate works and in fact may be quicker than our top pick. So might Ruby Ray, a decent runner-up in her debut and likely to improve with that bit of experience behind her. However, she drew the rail, which pretty much takes all of her options away.

RACE 6: Post: 4:30 PT Grade: C
Use: 2-Drop Anchor; 4-Play the Wildcard; 6-Gates of Heaven; 10-Pelican Way

Forecast: This race looks treacherous, with nothing but question marks surrounding the main contenders. Anything can happen. Gates of Heaven, away since February and returning as a first-time gelding, is a prior winner over the Del Mar main track and has numbers that make him a solid fit in this $16,000 extended sprint for restricted (nw-2) older horses. The barn’s “go-to” rider J. J. Hernandez takes the call and should have this son of Kantharos in a good early stalking position, ready to pounce when called upon. Drop Anchor, a $30,000 claim by R. Hess, Jr. last time out at Churchill Downs, shows up for $16,000 (and as a first-time gelding) in his California debut and could improve considerably, although his recent form looks ugly. He broke his maiden first time out from far back sprinting so similar strategy likely will be employed by U. Rispoli. Play the Wildcat, off the track since February of 2020, invades from Oaklawn Park and was awful in a pair of outings early in his sophomore season. His debut maiden win over the all-weather surface at Woodbine was actually quite good. Who knows what we’ll see today. Pelican Way earned an okay speed figure when beating a moderate band of maiden $20,000 foes in mid-March and hasn’t been seen since. He’s not being protected in his first start back, but he does have the proper closing style for this extended sprint trip, so we’ll toss him in on a few tickets as well.

RACE 7: Post: 5:00 PT Grade: B
Use: 2-Anatarctic; 5-Luck of the Draw

Forecast: Here’s another challenging affair, a mid-grade claiming miler on grass with a pair of shippers looking like the ones to beat. Antarctic arrives with good form from Lone Star Park that if duplicated on this circuit can land him in the winner’s circle. Always thoroughly genuine and consistent with 15 first or second place finishers from 32 career outings, the J. Thomas-trained gelding is drawn nicely in the two-hole and should inherit an ideal ground-saving pace-setting or forcing trip and then have his chance to seal the deal when it counts. On pure numbers he’s a strong fit and worthy of top billing. Luck of the Draw, a $32,000 M. Maker claim at Churchill Downs last month, drops a notch in his first start for his new connections, attracts top turf rider U. Rispoli, and is another that should be prominent throughout. He’s not quite as fast on figures as our top pick but seems certain to enjoy the type of trip that will at least land him in the frame. We’ll try to survive and advance using just these two in rolling exotic play but if you feel the need to include a few more, go right ahead.

RACE 8: Post: 5:30 PT Grade: B
Use: 3-Silver Moon Road; 4-Beyond Brilliant; 5-Established

Forecast: Here's a strong, competitive race for the level, a main track miler for entry-level allowance older horses. Beyond Brilliant was visually quite impressive breaking his maiden at Santa Anita when earning a career top speed figure, and while another forward move will be required to repeat on the raise the son of Twirling Candy should be forwardly placed, free of trouble, and have every chance. Though he won his most recent start as the controlling speed, he’ll probably have to stalk and pounce today. Established exits a fast, highly-rated sprint while leaving his Midwest form far behind for new trainer R. Baltas and his past performance charts suggests today’s two-turn stretch out will be well within his capabilities. The lightly-raced Constitution gelding projects to be prominent throughout, maybe even on the lead depending upon whether Brutto from the 9-hole is sent from the bell. Though on paper he appears to be biting of more than he can chew, recent maiden claiming winner Silver Moon Road might be worth including as well, at least as a saver. The lightly-raced gelding earned a giant number when beating a modest field on the front end sprinting at Santa Anita in mid-June and is protected today in a sign of confidence by trainer T. Yakteen. Numbers-wise, he’s really not far behind the main contenders.

RACE 9: Post: 6:00 PT Grade: B
Use: 2-Sedamar; 4-Tapwater

Forecast: Tapwater just failed to see out the trip when weakening late to wind up third in the 12-furlong Santa Barbara S.-G3 at Santa Anita last time out but shortens to a mile today in this year’s renewal of the restricted Osunitas S. The lightly-raced five-year-old daughter of Tapit has won over the local lawn in the past, continues to impress in the a.m. and should enjoy the patient, covered up trip that brings out her best. Sedamar, three times stakes placed but not yet a black type winner, has been freshened since the winter but has won off layoffs in the past and has worked like she’s fit and ready for trainer S. Ruis. The California-bred daughter of Richard’s Kid has a good stalking style and sports a superb record over the Del Mar turf course (seven starts, five wins, two seconds), so we suspect she’s extremely live and well-meant. We’ll give Tapwater the slight edge on top but include both in our rolling exotics.

RACE 10: Post: 6:30 PT Grade: B-
Use: 4-Royal Ship; 5-Express Train; 7-Magic On Tap

Forecast: Royal Ship appeared on his way to victory in the Hollywood Gold Cup but lost his steam close home and dropped a head decision to Country Grammar while far clear of the rest in a tough beat. This shortened trip won’t bother in him the least and his recent workouts indicate he’s maintained his form, so the R. Mandella-trained import from Brazil should be set to regain his winning form. In a race that lacks pace and may produce soft early fractions, we’re hoping that jockey M. Smith uses him just a bit during the early stages to gain a favorable position. Express Train, a well-beaten third in the Gold Cup and a tad disappointing in his last pair after narrowly missing in the Santa Anita Handicap, could easily return to top form over the Del Mar main track which the form says he’s partial to. Based on the “horse for course” angle, we have to consider him a major player. Magic On Tap finished almost 24 lengths behind Royal Ship two races back in the Californian S.-G2 but then snapped back to life with a clever score in the Triple Bend S.-G2 when shortened to a sprint in late May. The son of Tapit certainly can handle two turns and continues to train well, so we’ll have a ticket or two with him as a back-up while reserving the main punch for Royal Ship.

RACE 11: Post: 7:00 PT Grade:
Use: 2-Wyfire; 7-Mohawk King; 10-Lincoln Hawk

Forecast: The nightcap looks more like a listed stakes event for 3-year-olds than a first-level allowance affair. A few of these no doubt will be seen later in the season in the La Jolla S. and/or Del Mar Derby. Mohawk King has yet to be tried around two turns, but his sprint form is excellent and his pedigree suggests he’ll improve as the distances increase. Since being imported from England, the son of Siyouni finished second in a pair of hot affairs, both times behind the talented Whatmakessammyrun, and if he can project that ability over a distance of ground, the S. Callaghan-trained colt will be tough to beat. Wyfire is another being sent long for the first time while removing blinkers (love that angle) and with a good sprint prep under his belt off a long layoff the P. Miller-trained gelding should be primed for a significant effort. His speed figures have risen in each of his four career starts and from where he’s drawn the son of Dominus could find himself as the controlling speed. Lincoln Hawk will be running on late and if the pace turns up contested, all the better. It may be significant, though, that regular pilot J. J. Hernandez jumps off to pilot Mohawk King, who he’s been riding regularly as well.