Hanson: Looking for a little longshot magic in the Del Mar Oaks

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 20th, 2016

Obviously overshadowed by the Pacific Classic (G1) but also by the Del Mar H. (G2), which is included a national stakes Pick 4, Saturday's Del Mar Oaks (G1) is nonetheless an interesting handicapping exercise.

With the exception of perhaps Stays in Vegas, who drew an outside post, none of the main contenders have shown much in the way of speed. In a relatively pace-less affair, the 1 1/8-mile turf feature could be ripe for an up-and-coming filly with early some zip.

Mines and Magic (#4, 20-1) is rightly a big price on the morning line. The daughter of Mineshaft has won twice on dirt around a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs, and ships to Del Mar following a distant third in the Indiana Oaks (G2) to Family Tree, who takes on Songbird in the Saturday's Alabama (G1).

In addition to the positional speed she's shown in the past, there are other things to like about Mines and Magic. The first is trainer Vicki Oliver, who's brought live longshots to Del Mar over the past several meets. The older mare She's Not Here has won back-to-back renewals of the Yellow Ribbon H. (G2) at odds of 6-1 and 9-1, respectively. In the latter she was ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, who will climb aboard Mines and Magic in the Oaks.

Two years ago, Oliver saddled Personal Diary to a 9-1 upset of the Del Mar Oaks without so much as an allowance win to the filly's credit. In a nutshell, there's something about Del Mar that Oliver's fillies seem to like.

Mines and Magic has raced once previously on the turf, that being her debut last fall at Kentucky Downs. Falling back 20 lengths early, she made a modest late rally to be fourth, beaten eight lengths, but it's worth noting she faced males that day. The winner, Airoforce, became a multiple graded stakes winner and nearly won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1).

Mines and Magic has a pedigree that suggests she could like turf even more than dirt. Her stakes-placed dam, Magical Theater, is out of Moments of Magic, a Grade 2-placed winner of the Dowager over the Keeneland turf who also reared Grade 1-placed turf performer Zann.

Farther back in this female family we find the half-brothers Ten Below and Fortnightly, both of whom were Grade 2 winners on the turf. Ten Below won twice at that level, including the Eddie Read at Del Mar, while Fortnightly's biggest win came in the Secretariat at Arlington.

With two bullet works at Keeneland the last two weekends and with Oliver possessing one win and two seconds from her first three starters at the meet, Mines and Magic has upset potential in the Del Mar Oaks. She concedes experience at this level, but at a big price I'll take a swing with her.