McLean’s Selections for Del Mar Races 6-7-8-10 on Wednesday, July 18

2018 Overall 964360-359-425
Win % of Top Pick37.30%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall39.60%

We will once again be providing full card handicapping picks this coming weekend. Until then, we are picking a few, selected races from around the country that have piqued our interest. Here is a look at four races from the Opening Day at Del Mar — “Where the Surf Meets the Turf.” We hope you enjoy a beautiful day to kick start the beginning of the mid-summer race meet.

6th: 1-8-7-9-4…This 1-mile Optional Claiming event will mark the first race since May 11 for Shivermetimbers (1), a 3YO colt by Shanghai Bobby who once was considered for some of the minor KY Derby prep races back in the Spring. After running fourth against Dark Vader — who was in the Indy Derby last Saturday — in an allowance race the week after the Derby, though, this one was put away for a bit of a vacation by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Today, he will return at a distance and a track where he broke his maiden last November. In addition, he is training lights out in the mornings up North at Santa Anita. A couple of bullet moves in the last four morning exercises. And, he will get the services of HOF rider Mike Smith — who was up for the MSW win here last year, as well. This one has run third to Ax Man; second to Justify; and third and fourth to McKinzie. Nice company. Regulate (8) is a Quality Road gelding who finally broke his maiden for Bob Baffert over at Los Al in his last start on July 4. After running a nice second in his second start — when he beat teammate Restoring Hope — the connections tried him in the G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita back in February despite the fact that he was still winless. Ran a distant fourth that day to Lombo and behind Dark Vader, but it indicated that the barn thought highly of him. Ran third to Core Beliefs, another good one, in March before getting some time. Came back to win at Los Al, rallying from the back. Had a super work at Santa Anita on July 13 — going a bullet half mile. May have turned the corner? Giant Influence (7) has already won two races, and has the experience edge over most of these, and Show Me Da Lute (9), who is training well for his 2018 debut for Baffert, both rate an outside chance for an upset. I bet the 1 to win/place and then box the 1-8 solidly in one exacta. I key the 1-8 over the 7-9 in a smaller version.

7th: 7-2-9…Brill (7) will be making her career debut for the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer today, and he hits with .17% of first time starters. But this one packs a lot of nice credentials. The 2YO daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and out of the Stakes-winning Malibu Moon mare Hung the Moon cost $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton July Sale a year ago. That was the second highest price out of 45 to sale, and the sire’s average was $388,500. Obviously, she looked the part, right? Now, it will be time to see if she can act the part, and if the morning preps are any indication, she appears ready to prove her worth. On July 13, she fired a 5-furlong wok in :59.1 — which was the second best time out of 68 to go that far. The week before that, she went even faster. She has three 5 furlong works under her girth, and that’s the distance she will contest today. Looks like Jerry has another nice filly in the barn. True Validity (2) looked like a winner on debut at Santa Anita on June 21. Made the lead late in that one before tiring just before the wire and getting past by two others. Trainer hits with .10% of those returning for the second career race, and with .23% of those sprinting. Was well supported in the debut effort at the windows, too. Should be fitter today. Bizwhacks (9) was one of the horses that got past True Validity nearly the wire in the last out. Has come back to work nicely for trainer Doug O’Neill. Trainer hits with .17% as 2YOs. Experience should help. I bet the 7 to win/place and then key the 7 over the “all button” in one exacta, and then key the 7 both over/under the 2-9 in two more at a smaller rate.

8th: 13-2-9-10-1-11-5-…The post position should, by all counts, eliminate Afleet Ascent (13) from much of the consideration in this 1-mile turf event today. And, after watching the Breeders’ Cup races from this beautiful locale last November, I do recognize the distinct disadvantage those that start from this extreme outside post. It is most unfortunate. But I am still going to take a bit of a shot with this 3YO son of Northern Afleet, who gets back to the surface that he was bred to run over with some distinction. And, here’s why. The last race, on the dirt in the G3 Affirmed Stakes, was a very nice effort against some really good horses. Axelrod, in fact, closed nicely to win the Indy Derby last Saturday. And, Draft Pick was narrowly edged by Once On Whiskey in the Los Al Derby on the same day. That was a solid race. He is 1-for-1 on this grass course, having broke his maiden her last November. And, this one has an abundance of early speed. If Kent Desormeaux can break cleanly and quickly, they may be able to clear and get a better running position. Truthfully, there are only a couple others in here that appear to like the front, so he should be able to get there. Love these 8-1 odds. My Upset Special of the Day. I go inside for my next selection in Texas Wedge (2), who gets the services of Flavien Prat back in the saddle today. They teamed up to win two back — and that was here at Del Mar last November, as well. This one has 3 wins and a third in 5 career starts and has been really good in the last three starts. Probably should have won the last time out, if not 4 wide. Move Over (9) is another long shot possibility in this one. Ran a very promising third — going a mile on the turf — in the Singletary Stakes at Santa Anita two back and then came back to win going down the hill in a nice closing rush. Stretches back out today, but the trainer hits with .19% of those running in non-Graded Stakes and with .17% of those trying to win the second in a row. Has a nice 3-4-1 record in 14 starts lifetime. Good right now. I bet the 13-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

10th: 6-8-12-4-10-5-9-1…A nice MSW event over the sod to close out the inaugural card for Del Mar 2018. I go with Henry County (6) in a mild upset. This one is trained by Richard Mandella, and will be making his first start on the grass and initial start routing, as well. Trainer hits with .11% of those starting on the grass for the first time, and with .15% first time routers. This one is bred for the grass, though. The Stakes-winning mare has two turf winners from 8 starters and they have combined for 7 wins. One Stakes winner from the dam, as well. Trainer scores with .21% of those away from the races this long. Like the 5-1 odds. Data Central (8) has hit the road in 3 of 4 lifetime starts to date and the lone miss was a fourth on debut. Has burned some money in the past as the PT favorite, but has had some excuses along the way, as well. Time to put up, though, and the trainer does hit with .27% of those making the third start off a layup. The added distance is a question mark, though, and can’t be dismissed lightly. Tired at a mile last time out. The dam has had three turf winners out of 5 starters, and they have combined for four wins. Breeding is there. HOF trainer is not known for turf runners, but Lipman (12) has to figure with these types today. Has 3 seconds and 2 thirds in the first 8 starts, and has run up against some good ones in the past. Dam was Stakes placed and has 2 turf winners from 4 starters and has a SW, to boot. Last three losses have been by a total of 21/4 lengths. Right there closing each time. Today the day? I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I key the top 3 over the rest in a smaller version.

Good Luck & All the Best/Gene

We never lost confidence in her.  We worked with her and got her to run a good race today–thank God. Mike (Smith) and I both thought she went too fast early last time (when well beaten as favorite in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 4), and she didn’t finish. Today, he let her lay a little off the pace and kept her wide and she finished well.  I have confidence in Unique Bella.  She gets into it and I thought she’d beat her (Paradise Woods), and down the lane, she did it.

Jerry Hollendorfer, the trainer of Unique Bella, who won the G1 La Brea at Santa Anita on Dec. 26
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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