Out Cap Da Shap at Del Mar on August 15
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
Pacific Classic Week gets started on Wednesday afternoon with a solid eight-race card headlined by the $75,000 CTT and TOC Stakes. The 1 3/8-mile event over the sod is the first leg of the "Out Cap Da Shap" late Pick 4 promo that also features a full field, state-bred maiden event for two-year-old fillies, a five-furlong dash over the lawn, and a rock-bottom maiden claimer.
Here are my thoughts:
The aforementioned feature event drew a field of seven fillies and mares, including #1 Fahan Mura for trainer Vladimir Cerin. The daughter of English Channel put forth a career best 101 BRIS speed rating in the Osunitas Stakes on July 20 when she sped to the early lead and never looked back at odds of 6-1. The main question with her is whether the added distance will be an issue. Her only try going longer than 1 1/16 miles was against some of the best in the country, including Beverly D. (G1) winner Sistercharlie, so I can easily forgive the sixth-place finish.
Fahan Mura will be tough if left alone on an uncontested lead, but I also respect the chances of both #2 Vexatious and 2-1-morning line favorite #6 Queen Blossom.
Vexatious exits a live optional claimer back on July 21 where she appeared to have a ton of run, but never found clear sailing under veteran jockey Rafael Bejarano. She appears poised for a big effort in her third start of the form cycle for Hall of Fame conditioner Neil Drysdale.
Queen Blossom has not raced since a runner-up finish in the Possibly Perfect Stakes at Santa Anita in early June. I prefer Fahan Mura and Vexatious, but the combination of Richard Baltas and Flavien Prat is tough to leave off in races of this nature. If Prat can relax this five-year-old mare off of the pacesetters she could get the right trip and find the winner's circle for the second time this year.
#4 Opus Won is a horse I have been waiting to wager on after a strong performance on Opening Day "Where the Turf Meets the Surf." This Little Red Feather Racing filly sat well off the pace in her debut, but came with a strong late rally to just miss second under leading rider Flavien Prat. Trainer Richard Baltas boasts extremely poor numbers with first-time starters because he rarely has his stock primed for their best on first asking. The fact she took significant support at the window and ran on so well late has me quite confident that she should move forward and get her picture taken for the initial time on Wednesday afternoon.
These five-furlong turf sprints have been tough to handicap for the most part this summer and this full field event for females offers a challenging analytical puzzle for horseplayers. Horses like #5 Operandi and #7 Beau Square have wins over this configuration, which is worth noting, but I can truly see anyone winning this race. I will hope to get my single home in Race 6 and a price home here.
The sequence concludes with a $20,000 maiden claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs over the main track. 5-2-morning line favorite #3 Livin On Prayer merits strong consideration based on back-to-back runner-up efforts in his first two starts for trainer Jeff Mullins, but I do not fully trust the son of Ministers Wild Cat. I will use him and several others, including fellow class droppers #2 Violent Affair, #4 Magnum Maduro, #9 Friendly Steve and #10 Serve Me a Double.
Ticket: (Subject to change with scratches)
1,2,6 with 4 with ALL with 2,3,4,7,9,10 = $90