I won't be doing a full blow Del Mar and Saratoga post today (I didn't have enough time yesterday to get through the full card), but I am going to take a look at the feature race for each track. Del Mar will run the Grade 1 San Clemente Handicap at a mile on the turf for three year old fillies, while Saratoga will present one of the key juvenile races of the year, the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes. Let's take a look at each one.
Grade 1 San Clemente, 1 mile (Turf), 3yo, Fillies, Post Time: 5:30 PDT
In my opinion, the key filly in the San Clemente is the 8-Cirsis of Spirit (15/1); if she is hustled to the front and attempts to run with Evening Jewel in the early stages of the race, she might be able to soften the favorite up enough for others to have a chance. If Cirsis of Spirit can't get the lead, and Evening Jewel is left all alone on the front end...well, I think it's going to be a tough ask for these other fillies to run her down in the stretch. Of course, the problem with Crisis of Spirit trying to tackle Evening Jewel on the front end is that it will likely cost her any chance of winning; she's kind of in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.
6-Evening Jewel (3/1) tried the lawn for the first time in her last race, the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood, and she ran one of the best races of her career. She got away with a pedestrian 50.29 half mile that day and if she gets that kind of time on the front end in this spot she'll be extremely tough to catch.
Here's a down-the-road question for Evening Jewel: if she wins the Clement today, where do you point this filly if you have aspirations for the Breeders' Cup? She ran well in the Kentucky Oaks on traditional dirt, so the Ladies' Classic would appear logical. But if she shows more ability on turf do you try and stretch her out for a shot in the Filly & Mare Turf? That might be a bit of a stretch for her in terms of distance of ground, but I'm not sure she'd want to make a go at the Mile since she'd have to deal with the monster that is Goldikova. I would guess that the connections will point towards the Ladies' Classic but they do have options.
If Evening Jewel is off her game at all today there is a good chance that the 2-Fortunia (7/2) will be there to take advantage of it. This daughter of former champion Leroidesanimaux (BRZ) started her career on the dirt and, predictably, showed little to no real talent. A switch to the lawn three races back woke her up and in her last start she just missed winning her first graded stake when she finished second by a neck to Wasted Tears in the Grade 3 Ouija Board Handicap at Lone Star. Wasted Tears is a solid graded stakes mare on the lawn, winning the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley and the Grade 3 Honey Fox prior to the Ouija Board. Fortunia is lightly raced (only six career starts), and would appear to have lots of room to improve going forward.
Grade 2 Sanford Stakes, 6 furlongs, 2yo, Post Time: 5:30 EDT
The only colt in the field that has run in anything other than a maiden race in his career is the 1-Lou Brissie (3/1), who finished second, beaten nine lengths, in the Grade 3 Bashford Manner at Churchill Downs last time out. Prior to that, Lou Brisse won the Kentucky Juvenile on the Oaks day under card.
From a speed figure perspective, 3-Nacho Saint (10/1) is a step below many of his rivals but while he's still a maiden (2nd in two MdSpWt at Monmouth), he's shown an ability to sit off the pace in both of his starts. Most of the colts in this field are your typical "gun it from the gate and go wire to wire" two year olds, but Nacho Saint has displayed a bit of patience in his early career. I think that's a nice sign to see in a juvenile and it might play to his advantage in this race where we are likely that we see several horses setting a swift early pace. Garret Gomez obviously thinks enough of this colt to stay on the mount, which is a good sign.
6-Chipshot (7/2), a Steve Asmussen trained son of Peace Rules, was finally able to get a clean trip in his last start at Monmouth Park and it lead to his first career win. The place and show horses in that last race have each come back to run second against Maiden Special Weight company next time out. This colt won't offer much value on the board, but he seems like a logical win candidate.
7-Commonwealth Rush (12/1) is coming out of a race where the he dueled through extremely fast fractions for the first quarter of a mile. If he's able to display that type of speed again in this race he'll likely be the leader heading into the far turn. Given the presence of other early speed types in this race it would seem unlikely that this colt will be able to get loose on the lead.