The Player’s Edge – August 9th: Del Mar, Monmouth Park & Ellis Park

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Matt Carter

August 9th, 2013


Photo: Matt Carter

Del Mar - La Jolla Handicap


Del Mar – Saturday Pick 4


Monmouth Park - Monmouth Oaks


Ellis Park – Gardenia Stakes

Del Mar - La Jolla Handicap Three-Year-Olds on the Turf

The feature race on Saturday at Del Mar is the 73rd running of the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap. The eight and one-half furlong turf race drew a field of nine and contention runs deep.

The morning line favorite for the race at 7-2 is Freakin Rocket, who is coming off a third place finish in one division of the Oceanside Stakes. The son of Rock Hard Ten made a good impression with his first start on the turf and can now move forward off that race. He came back to work well last week and should get good early position.

Other horses exiting either Oceanside entered in the La Jolla include Si Sage, Den's Legacy, Greeley Awesome and Rosengold. Greeley Awesome is the only one coming out of the Freakin Rocket race while the others ran behind Rising Legend and Gabriel Charles in the other division. The two races finished in the same, exact time.

Greeley Awesome finished second, a length in front of Freakin Rocket and only a neck behind race winner Gervinho. The son of Mr. Greeley was making his 15th career start that day and has been in-the-money in eight of them. He will be running late and jockey Julien Leparoux has been on top of his game recently.

In the other division Rosengold was fourth, Si Sage fifth and Den's Legacy sixth. Den's Legacy was the post-time favorite, but never really got much going late. He won't be favored on Saturday and may be a play back at a decent price.

Rosengold set the pace in the Oceanside and faded to be fourth. It was a good run for the Stormello colt and will once again be out winging on the front end. His workouts since that race look better, but a mile may be his limit.

Si Sage was making his debut in the U.S. so the French-bred has a right to improve in the La Jolla. Trainer Darrell Vienna has worked him twice since the Oceanside and is another contender at his morning line odds of 10-1.

The new faces in the race are Uno Dos Adios, two-time winner on the turf, Dry Summer, winner of the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf over the Del Mar lawn last summer, Dice Flavor, third in the Grade 2 Swaps last out, and Pure Loyalty, second behind Rosengold in the Tsunami Slew two starts back.

Of that group of horses, Uno Dos Adios looks to be a horse ready to take the step up to a graded stakes. The son of City Zip broke his maiden down the hill at Santa Anita in April and just won a very good allowance race on the turf at Hollywood Park. Regular pilot Mike Smith stays with Freakin Rocket so trainer Bill Spawr has called upon Agapito Delgadillo for the ride.

Truth is, any of the nine can win so in the pick-3 and pick-4, it may be worth using the undefeated "all" button.

Post time for the La Jolla on Saturday is 8:40 pm ET.


Del Mar – Saturday Pick 4 Looking for the Big Score

The La Jolla Handicap on Saturday is a tough race and is worth including as many as possible in the late pick-4. The other races in the sequence aren’t any easier, let’s take a look.

Budget minded players may single in the first leg, a maiden special weight race for three-year-olds and upward. The Bob Baffert trainer Imperial Fortune just ran a huge race in defeat last month at Hollywood Park and with another move forward will run away and hide. The biggest danger to the favorite is Holy Lute, sired by the horse trained by Baffert, Midnight Lute.

Holy Lute was third in his debut last month at Hollywood Park and will move forward as trainer James Cassidy does not have them fully cranked for the first start. Holy Lute has come back to work well over the track and will be pushing the pace early.

Wonderful Union is 3-1 on the morning line for trainer Ronald Ellis, but Ellis doesn’t win often with his debut runners. Check the tote for any clues as to how the son of Tiz Wonderful will run. Proven Warrior is the late threat if he runs back to his first two races.

Race nine is an allowance, optional claiming race for fillies and mares going six and one-half furlongs on the main track. Gifting, another Bob Baffert trainee, is coming off a two-month layoff and with a bullet five-furlong drill over the track coming into the race; she may be the early speed.

Unseen Visitor has won her last two races for trainer Mike Puype and now moves up in class. She is a contender as is the undefeated Glorious Luck. Glorious Luck won her debut by an easy three and three-quarters then was just up by a nose last month, both races over the turf at Hollywood Park. By Lucky J.H., Glorious Luck could go higher than her 9-2 morning line just like stable mate Wednesday did earlier this week.

Ubelongtomemissy, Bench Glory, Llandudno, Mum’s Truckee and Possible are worth including on deeper pick-4 plays. Possible is 8-1 on the morning line with a good looking drill on July 23 on the tab.

The finale is a seven-furlong sprint for $30,000 maiden claimers so anything can happen. If people do not single in the first leg, they may choose to single Wildcat Candy here.

Wildcat Candy just finished second in a race at $20,000 on opening day behind a horse that has already come back to win. As the comments state, Wildcat Candy was actually loose pre-start so her second-place run was huge.

Wheeler Gorge fits the profile of a Barry Abrams-trained upsetter, Trouble X Two drops from a maiden special weight race to a level where he finished second in his debut, and Cinco de Mario, who will win one of these days, look like the ones to challenge the favorite.

As a debut runner trained by Peter Eurton, Soul Crusher would normally get a pass; however, Eurton won with a first-time-starter earlier this week giving him his first debut win since 2011. The jockey on the winner was Alex Bisono, who has the mount on Soul Crusher. Another bombs away for Eurton? Lighting may just strike twice.

First post on Saturday at Del Mar is 5:05 pm ET with the pick-4 scheduled to break from the gate at 6:10.


Monmouth Park - Monmouth Oaks Eight Fillies at the Jersey Shore

Just when you thought the "Oaks" races were over with, the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks takes center stage at Monmouth Park on Saturday. The eight and one-half furlong race drew a field of eight led by morning line favorite Seaneen Girl.

Seaneen Girl may be the morning line favorite, but she is once again a bet against. The daughter of Sprint At Last has not won in her last six starts, a streak that includes the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, Grade 3 Iowa Oaks and Grade 3 Arlington Park Oaks. Perhaps the fifth Oaks is the charm.

The problem when deciding whether or not to play against the favorite is that none of the other seven fillies have won a stakes and only Makayla's Angel and Alli Leigh have graded stakes experience. Those two fillies come out of the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks with Makayla's Angel finishing fourth and Alli Leigh finishing sixth. Makayla's Angel had made the pace in her three previous races, but in the Delaware Oaks she was taken back. Over a speed favoring Monmouth Park track, going to the front may be her best bet.

The horse-for-course at Monmouth is Lucky Rag Doll, the Silver Train filly that has won two of her four career races and has yet to finish worse than third. Lucky Rag Doll has won her last two races at odds-on and she looks like a filly ready to tackle a graded stakes race.

Lucky Rag Doll won her last race sitting off a slow pace, but the pace may be more swift on Saturday so Lucky Rag Doll may be farther back early. In addition to Makayla's Angel, C C Gold and Mr Hall's Opus look like they will be pushing the pace. Mr Hall's Opus goes sprint-to-route, a move that worked for her last September while C C Gold just won an allowance race over a sloppy, sealed Delaware Park track.

If the pace is ridiculous and the track is playing fair, Zenzara and Mary Bernice are the two to back. Zenzara has run her last two races over the turf, but may be a better filly on the dirt, especially if it rains.. In February she broke her maiden on a muddy track at Parx then in April won an allowance race over a muddy track at Pimlico. Trainer John Servis has freshened her up a bit for her first run since June 23.

It took Mary Bernice 10 starts to finally break her maiden and she did so by three-quarters of a length over the Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs. The Bernardini filly cost five times less than her sire's stud fee, but may have finally figured this game out. She caught a lot of "next-out" winners during her 10 race career and often maidens that take awhile to win their first race come right back to win again. At 15-1 with a favorite that doesn't win often, it may be worth finding out.

Carded as race 11 on the 12-race card, post time for the Monmouth Oaks on Saturday is 5:50 pm ET.


Ellis Park – Gardenia Stakes Groupie Doll Returns

Eclipse champion Groupie Doll returns in the Grade 3 Gardenia Stakes on Saturday at Ellis Park and if she is ready to roll, then good night and the others are running for second. She will be a huge favorite to win and a single on most, if not all, pick-4 tickets.

Groupie Doll has to face a field of 12 so it’s not going to be easy, but she’s a champion, she’s supposed to win. Of course there are plenty of wagers to play around her so let’s take a look at some of the contenders underneath then the other three races in the pick-4.

It’s always good to start with a horse-for-course when trying to beat a favorite, but none of the other fillies have a win over the surface and only one has a start over it. Groupie Doll, on the other hand, is two-for-two at Ellis.

The track configuration for the mile run at Ellis is a bit strange, it’s basically one and one-half turf. The inside draws can be advantageous so give preference to Awesome Flower, post one, and Ice Cream Silence, post three. Just FYI, Groupie Doll is in post two.

Other ones to consider are Dixie Strike, Magic Hour, Devious Intent and Twice the Lady. Sharp Sally comes in off a win in a stakes race at Mountaineer, but the four-year-old filly is stuck in post 12. She has won three straight against lesser, so it’s time to take on the champion.

Race six, a $5,000 claimer for fillies and mares, kicks off the late pick-4 and there are seven fillies between 3-1 and 8-1 on the morning line. Awesome Story is the 3-1 morning line favorite dropping down in claiming price for trainer Bernie Flint. Flint is a 19% trainer for the year, but winless with four starters at the current Ellis Park meet. Mi Ermana Tina drops steeper in claiming price and was good enough to win a maiden claimer at Churchill in May.

On the turf for race seven with fillies and mares going eight and one-half furlongs. Again contention runs deep with the morning line favorite Fly Again at 4-1. Second choice on the line is Bremusa, who has not run since January 2012.

Zadina is 6-1 on the line and may be worth a bet even though she only has one win in 10 career starts. New trainer Helen Pitts puts the blinkers on the daughter of Malibu Moon, which may get her over the hump. Countess Clare should be on the ticket as should School Mascot.

Maiden special weight fillies and mares go five and one-half furlongs on the turf in the finale with Comfort and Joy the filly to beat. The daughter of Harlan’s Holiday will break from the rail and can improve off the seven week layoff. If she doesn’t get it done, look to Naughty Nightie, A Fitzing Reward and Belle Natalie. Rockport Honey has been working well for her first start since September, but must deal with an outside draw.

Look at the races, even if Groupie Doll wins, the other three races are so wide open and a flat profit could still be made. If Groupie Doll does get beat, that’s going to pay extremely well.

Post time for race six is 4:10 pm ET with the Gardenia off at 5:10.


Thoroughbred Racing Action

Great racing action from across the country this weekend. Watch these races all on

Saturday– Aug 10
  • Del Mar: La Jolla Handicap - G2, $150,000, 3yo, 8.5f turf
  • Monmouth Park:  Monmouth Oaks - G3, $100,000, 3yo f, 8.5f
  • Ellis Park:  Gardenia Stakes - G3, $100,000, 3yo & up, 8f
  • Canterbury Park:  Minnesota Oaks, $75,000, 3yo, 8f 70y
  • Canterbury Park:  Minnesota Derby, $75,000, 3yo & up, 8f 70y
  • Woodbine:  Ontario Debutante Stakes, $125,000, 2yo f, 6f
  • Charles Town:  Sadie Hawkins Stakes, $50,000, 3yo & up f&m, 7f
  • Emerald Downs:  Washington Oaks, $65,000, 3yo f, 9f
  • Northlands Park:  Sales Stakes, $50,000, 2yo, 6.5f
  • Northlands Park:  Fillies Sales Stakes, $50,000, 2yo f, 6.5f
  • Santa Rosa:  Jess Jackson Owner's Handicap, $50,000, 3yo & up, 5f turf
Sunday – Aug 11
  • Del Mar:  John C. Mabee Stakes- G2, $250,000, 3yo & up f&m, 9f turf
  • Woodbine: Vandal Stakes, $150,000, 2yo, 6f
  • Monmouth Park:  Colleen Stakes, $60,000, 2yo f, 5f turf
  • Emerald Downs:  Emerald Downs Derby, $65,000, 3yo, 9f
  • Santa Rosa:  Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes, $50,000, 2yo, 6f