Labor Day stakes spot plays for Del Mar, Saratoga

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 6th, 2020

Labor Day will bring down the curtain on the 2020 summer race meets at Del Mar and Saratoga. As usual, the closing-day cards are stacked with stakes, including the first Grade 1 events of the year for 2-year-old males.

As the summer winds down and we turn our attention toward the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland, let’s aim to end the meets on high notes with a trio of stakes spot plays:

Saratoga Race 13: Hopeful (G1, 5:50 p.m. ET)

#6 Jackie’s Warrior is the established class horse after rolling to victory by three lengths in the Saratoga Special (G2), a local prep for the Hopeful. The speedy son of Maclean’s Music is 2-for-2 and has yet to be seriously challenged for the hot jockey/trainer duo of Joel Rosario and Steve Asmussen. Over the last 60 days, they’ve teamed up to win at a 36% rate.

But Jackie’s Warrior could face stiff challenges from Saratoga debut winners #5 Reinvestment Risk (victorious by 7 3/4 lengths on Aug. 1) and #3 Mutasaabeq (who cruised by 4 1/4 lengths a week later). Both bring promising Brisnet Speed ratings to the equation, and Reinvestment Risk looks especially dangerous after rocketing the final quarter-mile of his debut in :23.81.

With Saratoga’s leading jockey Irad Ortiz in the saddle for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, Reinvestment Risk is worth playing on top in the exacta and trifecta.

  • $10 exacta: 5 with 3,6 ($20)
  • $5 trifecta: 5 with 3,6 with 3,6 ($10)

Total: $30

Del Mar Race 9: Del Mar Juvenile Turf S. (8:00 p.m. ET)

#10 Rombauer made a great impression in his debut over this course and 1-mile distance on July 25. With high-percentage jockey Juan Hernandez in the saddle, Rombauer broke slowly and had to change lanes a couple times down the stretch. But despite these obstacles, he rallied furiously in the final furlong, dashing home in approximately :11.30 to win going away.

This powerful turn-of-foot can send Rombauer right back to the winner’s circle in his stakes debut. We’ll bet the Michael McCarthy trainee to win and single him in the first leg of a double.

  • $20 to win on #10 Rombauer
  • $5 double: 10 with 1,6 ($10)

Total: $30

Del Mar Race 10: Del Mar Futurity (G1, 8:30 p.m. ET)

#6 Dr. Schivel cracked the trifecta without winning in his first two starts, then stepped up significantly in a 6-furlong event at Del Mar last month. The son of juvenile Grade 1 winner Violence rallied powerfully to win by 5 3/4 lengths with a massive 101 Brisnet Speed rating.

Can Dr. Schivel repeat the feat? He’s training forwardly for high-percentage conditioner Luis Mendez, who strikes at a 43% rate with last-out maiden winners. Dr. Schivel warrants respect, but #1 Spielberg is a threat to turn the tables.

Trained by Bob Baffert, a 14-time winner of the Del Mar Futurity, Spielberg sold for $1 million as a yearling and was favored at 4-5 to win his debut. He was no match for Dr. Shivel, finishing second after tracking the pace, but the son of Union Rags has trained sharply in the interim and picks up jockey Abel Cedillo (winning at a 45% rate with Baffert) for his stakes debut.

Spielberg wouldn’t be the first Baffert runner to transition from a winless maiden to a Grade 1 victor in the Del Mar Futurity. Future Triple Crown winner American Pharoah achieved the feat in 2014, so let’s give Spielberg another try, betting him with Dr. Schivel and Best Pal (G2) winner #3 Weston in the exacta and trifecta.

  • $5 exacta: 1 with 3,6 ($10)
  • $5 exacta: 6 with 1
  • $5 trifecta: 1 with 3,6 with 3,6 ($10)
  • $5 trifecta: 6 with 1 with 3

Total: $30

Good luck!