Shapiro: How to play Saturday's Pick 4 at Del Mar
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
The final Saturday afternoon of the 2017 Del Mar racing calendar is upon us headlined by the Hollywood Derby (G1).
After a summer filled with upsets, the Bing Crosby meeting in November has been kind to chalk players. The penultimate Pick 4 of the year has a couple of morning line favorites that appear the most likely winners on paper to start the sequence, but concludes with two wide-open full field events, including the Jimmy Durante (G3) to end the day.
Here are my thoughts on Races 6 through 9 on the Saturday afternoon card and how I am approaching the sequence:
A state-bred allowance/optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs over the main track gets things started.
#3 The Street Fighter is the deserving 5-2-morning line favorite off of a less-than-ideal voyage in his first start in two months for veteran conditioner Bruce Headley.
The three-year-old colt broke last from his rail draw on October 5 at Santa Anita going seven panels and then failed to find clear running room in the lane until it was too late. He still showed some determination to finish second that day and was definitely best with a clean trip.
In his lone try at Del Mar he ran a huge race, but ran into a strong runner from the Phil D'Amato barn in Touching Rainbows and had to settle for second. He stands out in this group in terms of talent despite giving away experience to the majority of his rivals and should move forward in his second start of the form cycle.
If The Street Fighter gets beat I think it will be by either #2 Eight Spokes or #5 Swiss Minister.
Eight Spokes goes turf-to-dirt for trainer Mike Puype after finishing with energy in a $25,000 claimer down the hill last month at Santa Anita. He has three wins in 14 starts and has a pair of runner-up efforts in his two starts over this surface.
Swiss Minister moves up in class for trainer Genaro Vallejo off of two straight strong efforts versus low-level claimers. Vallejo has been on fire in 2017 and this son of Lucky Pulpit offers fair value at morning line odds of 8-1.
The seventh is the 76th running of the $300,000 Hollywood Derby over 1 1/8 miles on the turf.
#4 Sharp Samurai is listed at 5-2 on the line and will likely be sent off even lower. The Mark Glatt trainee has rattled off four straight stakes wins and is a perfect four-for-four at the distance. He has shown an affinity for this course and has displayed the ability to win on the front end or from off the pace. He will be tough to beat.
The only other horse I will include is #8 Just Howard. The Maryland bred shipped out to Southern California for the Twilight Derby (G2) at Santa Anita off of four consecutive victories in Maryland for trainer Graham Motion, but was too far off the early pace and finished a disappointing sixth. I think he may have regressed a bit off of his big win in the Commonwealth Derby (G3) at Laurel in late September and is likely to get overlooked in the wagering.
The third leg of the Pick 4 is a maiden special weight event at 6 1/2 furlongs over the dirt.
Morning line favorite #3 Nero was scratched on Friday morning, which hopefully opens things up for a price.
I will include several in this one including a duo of Richard Baltas second-time starters.
#11 Kris' Rocket Kat moves outside after drawing the rail on debut during opening weekend at Santa Anita. If he can get out of the gate in cleaner order he should improve a ton.
#2 Studly Perfection makes his first start since his debut in mid-August over this racetrack. Baltas adds blinkers on this 20-1 longshot.
#1 California King is bred to win early being out of a mare that won her debut by 13 lengths and should be a big price.
#8 Praetorian makes his debut for a barn that rarely wins first out, but this son of Tiznow must have looked the part at the OBS April 2017 sale to sell for $850K since he is out of a Mineshaft mare that was unproductive both on the track and thus far after racing.
#7 Mo Over is by Uncle Mo out of a productive mare, and has worked steadily for his first start for trainer Simon Callaghan.
#10 Concur had every chance to win his debut, but could not go by Italiano. He is likely to get overbet so I will exclude him knowing that he can beat me.
#6 Samdar can certainly win, but I will toss due to probable price for this Bob Baffert trainee that I expect to get better around two turns.
The Saturday finale is the 26th running of the $100,000 Jimmy Durante run at a mile over the lawn. This is an extremely challenging race that I advise spreading as deep as possible.
I picked #5 Raucous off of two strong efforts back east over the lawn for trainer Christophe Clement, but several others can hit the wire first. Hopefully we can get there and catch a price to close the day.
Here is how I will play the Saturday afternoon Pick 4:
Ticket 1: ($.50 Pick 4)
Race 6: 3
Race 7: 4+8
Race 8: 1+2+7+8+11
Race 9: 1+2+5+7+9+11+12+13
Ticket Cost: $40
Ticket 2: ($.50 Pick 4)
Race 6: 2+3+5
Race 7: 4
Race 8: 1+2+7+8+11
Race 9: 1+2+5+7+9+11+12+13
Ticket Cost: $60
Total Budget: $100
Good luck at the windows!
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(Eclipse Sportswire photo)