Gabriel Charles among Saturday stakes spot plays
Irish Oaks (G1): Post time for this 1 1/2-mile classic from The Curragh is 12:50 (EDT), and Jack Naylor has a chance to rebound from a modest sixth-place effort in the Epsom Oaks (G1). She defeated subsequent 1000 Guineas (G1) winner and Oaks runner-up Legatissimo, as well as Group 1-winning Irish Oaks rival Together Forever, in the Flame of Tara over this course last summer. Later, she ran a solid third in the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) behind Found and Ervedya, who remain the top three-year-old filly milers in Europe.
Jack Naylor perhaps needed more ground when a rallying fourth in the Irish 1000 Guineas (G1) in her season debut, and like a lot of fillies might not have taken too kindly to the undulations and camber of Epsom. She has the class, and presumably the stamina, to give a better account of herself here, although favorites Curvy and Words look very strong on paper.
Delaware H. (G1): Flashy American failed to keep pace with the speedy Belle Gallantey and classy Princess of Sylmar in last year's Del 'Cap, but it doesn't appear there are mares of that quality in this renewal. The likely favorite is Sheer Drama, who possess a suspect pedigree for 1 1/4 miles and has developed a case of seconditis this year. Another who should also attract support, Frivolous, hasn't yet reproduced her best outside Churchill Downs.
Flashy American hasn't won in a while -- the Sixty Sails H. (G3) in April 2014 to be exact -- but she's been involved in two photo finishes this year in the Azeri (G2) and Iowa Distaff, the latter off a three-month layoff. She's done much of her best work at nine furlongs and beyond, and also picks up Edgar Prado, who showed last week he still knows how to score major upsets when guiding 54-1 longshot Calamity Kate to victory in the Delaware Oaks (G2).
Eddie Read (G1): Likely favorites Midnight Storm and Finnegans Wake both love the Del Mar turf course, but so does Gabriel Charles, who narrowly missed in an Oceanside division two years ago and then went on to take a division of the Del Mar Derby (G2).
Sidelined with infirmities throughout 2014, he's returned this year with a second-place finish to Midnight Storm in a Santa Anita allowance and a closing third to the high-class pair of Bali a Bali and Talco in the American (G3). Both of those races were over a mile, and Saturday's step up to 1 1/8 miles should suit this five-year-old son of Street Hero.
Trained by Jeff Mullins, who saddled Soul Driver to a victory in Thursday's Oceanside, he's reunited here with Mike Smith, who last rode him when he was at his previous 2013 peak.
(Gabriel Charles photo: Benoit Photos)