How to find value in the San Diego Handicap

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TwinSpires Staff

July 21st, 2017


On Saturday afternoon Southern California racing fans will be fortunate to see one of the most impressive racehorses -- Arrogate -- I have ever set eyes on. The 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner returns to the races for the first time since a breathtaking last to first victory in the Dubai World Cup (G1) back in March.
The son of Unbridled's Song towers over a field of six in the $300,000 San Diego H. (G2) carded as the ninth of ten races run at Del Mar on the first Saturday of the 2017 summer meeting.
The heavy 1-5-favorite is all but certain to go off at 1-9 and is about as likely of a winner as one will ever see. Sure, the Juddmonte Farms colt is better at further distances, but he has put weight back on after his long voyage overseas and appears set for the first of three likely runs over the main track "Where the Turf Meets the Surf."
Wagering on Arrogate to win is obviously not an option for most players at the short price and trying to beat him is a futile strategy, so the question becomes how to find a way to make money on the San Diego Handicap without laying 1 to 20.
One approach could be playing a cold exacta with Arrogate on top.
#1 Accelerate is the second choice on odds maker Russell Hudak's morning line at 8-1. The son of Lookin at Lucky has won both of his starts at Del Mar, but those were against significantly lesser fields. He was outrun last time out in the Precisionist (G3) where he was all out late to get third place as the 2-1-second choice. He certainly is capable of being the best of the rest in this spot, but that exacta is likely to be the shortest by far and is an unattractive option to me.
The runner that I prefer to consider for second is #4 Donworth. The Reddam Racing charge made his first start off a 14-month layoff in the aforementioned Precisionist and despite tiring badly late ran pretty well. He was sent to the lead from his inside draw and was pressed the entire way by eventual winner Collected. I think he moves forward after shaking off the rust last time out and has a big shot to finish behind Arrogate if Mario Gutierrez can relax him just off what should be an honest early pace.
Depending on the probable payout at post, I think a 3-4 exacta is a viable option if wanting to get involved in the San Diego. I would not go crazy because Donworth is a tough read, but his upside makes it worth consideration.
Another worthwhile game plan could be to play a Daily Double.
The finale is a wide-open full field maiden special weight event at a mile and a sixteenth. Those that have already gone two turns on the lawn in Southern California appear rather common to me. For that reason I will lean on a barn going well and a horse that makes his turf debut.
#5 Borg is a son of Candy Ride that has drawn the rail in each of his first two starts sprinting over the main track. The Kaleem Shah owned colt moved out of the Doug O'Neill barn and into the care of Simon Callaghan after his debut and ran fourth in his first try for him on July 1. I expect him to move forward on the lawn.
The $290,000 Barretts May 2016 purchase is a half to $249,000 earner Our Way, a son of Tizway that is four-for-12 over the lawn with eight in-the-money efforts.
Callaghan boasts solid statistics in several applicable categories, including a 31% record with his last 16 starters going sprint to a route, a 38% clip over a limited sample of eight runners since 2016 going dirt to turf and 23% with a $2.00 ROI with his last 31 runners going second off a 45-to-180 day layoff.
Callaghan legs up Rafael Bejarano who won four races on Opening Day and appears locked in for the Del Mar summer meeting.
A 3-5 Double starting with the San Diego is a solid option to close the day.
Regardless of whether you get involved or not, enjoy the show Arrogate is all but certain to put on. Best of luck this weekend!
You can find my full card Daily Selections each and everyday for the Southern California circuit here.

(Adam Coglianese Photography)