How to Wager on the Del Mar Debutante

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TwinSpires Staff

September 2nd, 2016


Saturday’s feature at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is the Del Mar Debutante (G1).

Fox Hill Farms’ Songbird won last year’s rendition en route to the Eclipse Award for champion two-year-old filly. While it is doubtful that anyone in this year’s field can match the brilliance of Songbird, a strong seven-horse group headlined by Bob Baffert runners American Cleopatra and Noted and Quoted, as well as Sorrento S. (G2) winner Champagne Room is set to go to the post at 6PM local time Saturday evening.

Four fillies will likely take the lion’s share of the action in the Win pool in the Debutante with the full-sister of American Pharoah, American Cleopatra and Champagne Room listed as the top two betting options on Russell Hudak’s morning line.

#4 Champagne Room has done very little wrong in the first two starts of her two-year-old campaign. She was buried on the rail in debut and finished a solid second to fellow Debutante rival, Morganite. Then, she drew to the outside and bested a compact group in the Sorrento Stakes last time out. She has the look of a filly that should get better with added distance, so I have no concerns with her stretching out a half-furlong to seven panels. She merits strong consideration.

#3 American Cleopatra was all but forgotten at the pari-mutuel windows in her debut despite her pedigree. Instead, stablemate Jeweled took all of the action going off as the odds-on favorite. Despite the lack of respect from gamblers, American Cleopatra broke alertly, stalked the early pace and drew off under jockey Stewart Elliott.

Bob Baffert takes off the blinkers for the Pioneerof the Nile filly’s second start and legs up Rafael Bejarano. While there is little to knock about American Cleopatra, I have concern that the maiden race she came out of is significantly less “live” than the one many of her rivals exit.

Additionally, the move from Elliott to Bejarano is an upgrade on the surface, but it is a downgrade in terms of getting a speed horse out of the gate. If the defending riding champion struggles to get the Zayat Stables runner out of the box, she could get caught inside her chief rivals. This would result in a much different voyage than she had first time out and potentially a disappointing outcome. For that reason, I am going to side against the probable under lay and look toward others in Saturday’s Debutante.

On the other hand, I absolutely love the chances of American Cleopatra’s stablemate, #5 Noted and Quoted. This daughter of The Factor had a terrible voyage in her debut when finishing fourth to Morganite and Champagne Room. Despite the poor trip, she ran on gamely and finished full of run.

In her second start, she broke better, got into the race from the get-go and finished incredibly well. I think the added ground will only help Noted and Quoted and love that she is drawn outside her main rivals on Saturday. Jockey Mike Smith comes off two huge wins at Saratoga last weekend. He has not had a good Del Mar meeting, but he fits this filly well and wins big races. Noted and Quoted is my top choice in the 2016 Del Mar Debutante.

#2 Morganite was extremely impressive at the start of the meeting when she defeated Champagne Room and Noted and Quoted on debut. Instead of racing her back in the Sorrento Stakes, trainer John Sadler elected to give her the time off and train her up to the Debutante. She has the talent to win this race, but I have two questions.

Firstly, she had an outside stalking trip in her first start, but she draws inside all of her main rivals on Saturday. I am concerned with whether Victor Espinoza can relax Morganite while inside or in between rivals. If not, can she wire this group at seven-eighths of a mile?

Also, Morganite won at five furlongs on July 16. I am worried that going from the short five-eighths distance to seven panels in addition to taking on winners for the first time may be a bit too much to ask for this Hronis Racing runner in her second start. 

In the end, the combination of the two might be her undoing in the Debutante and leave her a little short late.

Outside of the top four contenders, #1 Miss Southern Miss and #7 Union Strike are both worth consideration underneath in the exotics.

Miss Southern Miss had a less than ideal trip in the Sorrento Stakes and has had trouble breaking. If she can get out of the gates well, she could get involved early, but she is probably most likely to take off the pace and make one big run for the Desormeaux brothers. I do not think she is good enough to pass them all in the lane, but she could certainly pass a number of tired ones late.

Union Strike enters the Del Mar Debutante as a maiden, but had a promising first start for trainer Shelbe Ruis when running second to American Cleopatra. I think her best-case scenario is a minor reward on Saturday, but at a big price I am willing to include her in my horizontal wagers.

Here is my wagering strategy for the Del Mar Debutante:

$50 Win 5 ($50)

$20 Exacta Box 4+5 ($40)

$10 Exacta Wheel 5 with 1+2+4+7 ($40)

In terms of horizontal wagers, I will look to the often overlooked Daily Doubles that start in Race 8.

The 8TH is a maiden special weight event for two-year-olds at one mile over the turf. Unless a runner draws in off the Also Eligible list, it will be all first-time starters that break from the gate in this one.

Very few runners in here inspire confidence, but one that does is #9 Pacific Coast Hwy. This son of Cape Blanco is out of Qaraabba, a mare that won 7 of 15 over the turf, including both of her starts at two turns in the States. Simon Callaghan trained that British-bred and he also trains this colt. Callaghan has a win and a second with nine two-year-old firsters going long on the grass over the past five years. He “legs up” Hall of Famer Gary Stevens in this spot suggesting to me that this colt is live. Callagahan and Stevens have won 3 of 10 starts together at Del Mar over the past five years with half of those finishing in the money.

I will play a big Double with my top choice Noted and Quoted to Pacific Coast Hwy and also play smaller ones to #3 Odyssey Explorer for trainer Hector Palma, as well as #6 Offshore and #7 Lyrical Passage.

$25 Double 5-9 ($25)

$10 Double 5 with 3+6+7 ($30)

The Del Mar Debutante is the 9TH race on the 11-race Saturday afternoon card that is a part of a big closing weekend “Where the Turf Meets the Surf.”

Good luck on Saturday!