How to Bet the Bob Hope at Del Mar
By DICK POWELL
I love the names of the stakes races for the fall meeting at Del Mar. It shows my age but they make sense when you understand the demographics of horse racing.
Bob Hope was as big a star as there was when I was growing up. A major movie star that transitioned to television, he was as big as it gets for 70 years and although I can’t find a connection to horse racing, he did co-star with Del Mar founder Bing Crosby in their “Road to …” series of hits.
Formerly known as the Hollywood Prevue, the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) is run for two-year-olds going seven furlongs on the Del Mar main track. Even after Hollywood Park shut down, Bob Baffert has won two of the four runnings at Del Mar and the race has been won by three longshots with the only exception being the 3-10 Mastery in 2016.
This year, six juvenile colts and one gelding race will enter the gate and it is an intriguing field. My word of caution is to handicap this race for this day and not for future success as a three-year-old. We’re not picking out horses for a future bet on the Kentucky Derby (G1); we are trying to figure out who we like in the Bob Hope.
#1 METROPOL is from the Bob Baffert barn and won his career debut at 7-10 odds 40 days ago at Santa Anita going 6 ½ furlongs. The odds indicate that there were some big expectations from the barn and the son of Shackleford lived up to them when he ran by the leader in the stretch. Post 1 is going to force Drayden Van Dyke to make some quick decisions out of the gate but you have to trust a rider that is winning an amazing 28% with his sprint mounts this year.
#2 EXTRA HOPE just missed here first time out in August when an even third. Dick Mandella stretched him out to two turns at Santa Anita with no success but he added blinkers last out and the son of Shanghai Bobby romped by over eight lengths. I’m kind of surprised to see him here on the turn back in distance 27 days later but at least the blinkers got him to show much better gate speed.
#3 MUCHO GUSTO romped by four lengths in his even-money career debut for Bob Baffert at Los Alamitos 58 days ago. He had to use some from post 1 but once clear showed excellent cruising speed. The big talking point with Mucho Gusto is that he sold this year for $625,000 despite his first-crop sire (Mucho Macho Man) standing for only $10,000. Off for 58 days, he is working like a Baffert star is supposed to and Joe Talamo rides back.
#4 SAVAGERY did nothing in his first two career starts but romped by 11 lengths gate to wire when dropped down to maiden $62,500 claimers. That win woke him up and he came back nine weeks later to run a good second against restricted stakes foes. According to his BRIS Speed ratings, Savagery has improved in every start and Peter Miller is clicking on all cylinders with his sprinters no matter the surface.
#5 OWNING looked good breaking his maiden first time out at Los Alamitos in July and paid the price after dueling with the ultra-talented Instagrand in his second start, weakening to fourth in the six-furlong Best Pal (G2). He lost all chance when breaking poorly in his two-turn and turf debut and now returns to the main track 76 days later with blinkers removed.
#6 SPARKY VILLE broke his maiden second time out at Santa Anita and finished a good second in the Best Pal. He never fired in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Game Winner and exits a restricted stakes win over Savagery at 6 ½ furlongs.
#7 SUENO was a distant third in his career debut against $62,500 maiden claimers behind Savagery and came back to beat maiden $80,000 claimers here going 5 ½ furlongs 78 days ago. Keith Desormeaux moves him up in class and I would wait for him to stretch out to two turns before getting interested.
Both Baffert colts (Metropol and Mucho Gusto) look tough in here and how do you not like Peter Miller’s Savagery? Extra Hope woke up with the addition of blinkers but I don’t think he’s fast enough to run with these early.
I am going with Sparky Ville, who has two wins and a decent second behind a monster winner. His last win was very good and he sports the highest BRIS Speed rating (94) in the field. The gelded son of Candy Ride draws well with Gary Stevens and I like his ability to pass horses when asked.
Exacta Key Box:
6 with 1,3