Defending Champion Cambodia the One to Beat in Saturday's Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar

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August 3rd, 2018

As usual the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon Handicap conducted at a mile and a sixteenth over the sod drew a solid field of fillies and mares.

The $200,000 event is not only a challenging part of the late Pick 4 on Saturday afternoon “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” but it also presents a great opportunity for those that like to get involved in vertical wagers.

Defending champion #11 Cambodia has failed to hit the board in two starts this year for trainer Tom Proctor, but those have come versus better. The six-year-old mare has taken on Grade 1 competition in both of her 2018 tries, so the drop in competition should help the Winter Quarter Farm mare’s chances on Saturday afternoon. Her success over this course (2 wins and a third in 4 tries) and class make her the most likely winner, but jockey Drayden Van Dyke will have to avoid significant ground loss from the outside draw to give this daughter of War Front her best chance.

A trio of females return quickly after competing in the Osunitas on July 20th, including the winner #10 Fahan Mura. The daughter of English Channel sped to the lead in that start a couple of weeks back and never stopped under jockey Edwin Maldonado. Once again the Pennsylvania bred should be able to dictate terms, but the big question is can she put forth a similar effort off a quick turnaround time. Regression is likely.

#3 Midnight Crossing and #12 Pantsonfire also exit the Osunitas, but they will need to do much better to be competitive against this bunch.

A number of runners in here exit the Grade 3 Wilshire at Santa Anita. The mile event over the lawn saw #6 Storm the Hill come from off the pace with a wide move into the lane to get the best of a field of 9. The daughter of Get Stormy will need to avoid taking a step back off of the 102 BRIS speed rating, as well as overcome an 0 for 3 record at a mile and a sixteenth to make it two straight. I prefer others.

#1 Beau Recall, #2 Sassy Little Lila, #8 Sophie P, and #9 Ancient Secret also exit the Wilshire.

gets a positive rider upgrade to veteran Corey Nakatani and can compete at this level, but will need a hot pace to run this bunch down. Ancient Secret is in great form, but the mile and a sixteenth distance is a bit further than she prefers. Sophie P should appreciate getting a bit more distance than she did last time out, but will need a better ride from Kent Desormeaux than he has given for the most part this summer. Sassy Little Lila has seen better days, but could keep Fahan Mura honest.

#7 Madame Stripes has not been seen since leading all the way in the Grade 1 Gamely before finishing a tough luck third to Sophie P. The Argentinian bred mare has a win and a third in 3 starts over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course and merits consideration against this bunch.

New shooters #4 Hallie Belle and #5 Tisbutadream complete the field. Hallie Belle ran well going longer in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap where she lost momentum before coming up the rail to finish a solid third. She could thrive on the cutback to a mile and a sixteenth. Tisbutadream gets Lasix for her Stateside debut for trainer Ben Cecil. She ran a well beaten seventh in her only start in 2018 at Newmarket, but has won 5 of 16 overall.

The pace should be fairly honest in the Yellow Ribbon given the presence of Fahan Mura, Sassy Little Lila, Madame Stripes and even Midnight Crossing. It should allow Cambodia to angle in some and avoid an extremely wide voyage from the 11-post. If that occurs the Proctor trainee should be able to best this bunch. I will key her on top of the exotics. If she does not fire her best shot this becomes extremely wide open, so for those playing horizontals around this race I recommend either singling or using several.

Suggested Wager:

$2 Trifecta Key

11 with 1+4+7+8 = $24