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2010 Del Mar: Day 6

Results: Del Mar - Day 5 (July 25, 2010)

Entries: Del Mar - Day 6 (July 28, 2010)

Race 2: Maiden Special Weight, 1 1/16 miles (Turf), 3&up, California-bred

3-Cantona (4/1) has been knocking on the maiden door in two of his last three tries against Maiden Special company on the Hollywood main track and now he'll get a chance to prove what he can do on the turf course.  The pedigree has some turf influences (sired by Benchmark out of a Kris S. mare), but the trainer numbers give me a bit of apprehension over backing him at first asking.  During the past five years, trainer Patrick Gallagher is 7-for-111 with first time starters on the turf, a tepid 6% winning percentage ($0.78 ROI). At Del Mar, however, the numbers get a bit better - he is 2-for-10 with a $2.42 ROI. 

There looks to be almost zero early pace in this race with the exception of the 5-The Unusual One (10/1), a four year old son of Unusual Heat that will be making his first start since August of 2008.  Six month lay-offs don't scare me, especially if the horse is returning for a good barn.  Two year lay-offs, however, do scare me.  If this colt shows the speed he did in his last race before his extended vacation, he'll have the lead by probably five or more lengths before the field starts their run down the backstretch.  The question then becomes: will he have the stamina to hold off the charge of his rivals in his first race in two years?  At 10/1, he might be worth a small nibble to do just that very thing.

Race 3: Allowance N1X, 6 ½ furlongs, 3&up

5-Capital Account (4/5), a three year old son of Closing Argument, won the only race of his career in a Maiden Special Weight race at Hollywood Park on June 26th by demolishing the field by 7 ¾ lengths.  He picked up a 104 Beyer in the process.  That figure dwarfs anything else in this field and you can be sure that the crowd is going to pound the beejeezus out of this Baffert runner.  The second place finisher in that Maiden Special Weight race, Distorted Economy, came back to win a Maiden Special at Del Mar on opening day by 4 ¼ lengths.

Given the apparent strength of the race he is coming out of, I wouldn't be surprised to see Capital Account win this race with ease at very, very low odds.  If he does win this race by a large margin it might be wise to add Sky Fox to the old stable mail account; Sky Fox was the 3rd place finished to Capital Account and Distorted Economy in that Hollywood race and he's yet to make his return to the track. 

Race 4: $20k Claiming, 1 mile, 3yo

A two-turn race on the main track, something we haven't seen a whole lot of in the early stages of the Del Mar meet. I'm simply looking for a horse that can come from off the pace in this situation since that generally fits the profile of route races at Del Mar since the conversion to Polytrack.  5-Luv Dragon (5/2) is taking a decent leap up in class ($12.5k N2L to $20k) but he's a patient gelding that is able to be rated in the early stages of the race and he's done well running going a route of ground (4-2-0-0).

For a long shot possibility, I like 4-Cookie Rules (10/1)...well, maybe not "like", but he at least fits the profile of an "off-the-pace" runner.  His current form has been fairly bleak but one of those disaster races was on the lawn and his most recent start was a one-turn affair.  Perhaps a two-turn route on the Poly is just want he wants in this spot.

Race 7: Wickerr, 1 miles (Turf), 3&up

6-Gallant Son (2/1) receives the favorite tag for today's feature race and it's a deserved honor after winning the Grade 3 Inglewood on April 25th followed by a 4th place finish in the Grade 1 Shoemaker.  Trainer Frank Lucarelli has this four year old son of Malabar Gold in the best form of his career and he's proved to be quite useful on the turf after struggling in graded company on the synthetics.  When you look at this colt's career numbers you kind of wonder why it took Lucarelli so long to keep him on the grass?  He loved the dirt at Emerald Downs, ran pretty poorly in most of his races on the SoCal synthetics, and has shown the best form of his career on turf. 

The lay-off is a slight concern but the 9-Fenerley (IRE) (7/2) would appear to have a leg up on most of his rivals in this race on pure class.  This horse was fifth at Sha Tin in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile last time out and it was a good fifth, at that.  He's had some success over the Del Mar turf course in the past (won the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile and third in this race in '09), and if he's able to run to his best, he's the likely winner, in my opinion.  The lay-off, however, probably makes his best effort an improbable proposition in this spot, which in turn creates a different question: how good of an effort can we expect from Fenerley off of a 7+ month lay-off?

Only two other times in Fenerley's career has he raced following a lay-off of six months or more, and both occurred while he was racing in Europe.  In September of 2006, a two-year old Fenerley finished third in the Group 3 Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket and then went to the bench for the winter.  He resurfaced at Leopardstown in late April of 2007 where he finished second in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes with a Racing Post Rating of 110.  In October of 2007, Fenerley ran in the Group 3 Joel Stakes at Newmarket where he finished a well-beaten 8th and then proceeded to take the rest of the winter off.  Trainer Frank Ennis brought Fenerley back in the Group 3 EBF Mooresbridge Stakes at the Curragh where he again disappointed, finishing 7th.

Two races following a long lay-off, two starkly different results.  Fenerley has the talent to compete with this field of restricted stakes runners but it's a tough call as to whether he'll be on his game today.  A tough, tough call.