Saturday’s URC Del Mar Handicap has drawn a competitive field of eleven horses for Saturday’s race which will be contested at 11-furlongs on the turf. Seven runners will enter the starting gate at single-digit odds affording bettors numerous options. Skill will be required to divine the winner in the late summer southern California sunshine.
Post one features the longest shot in the field, 16/1 4yo gelding Dimanche, a scratch bred son of Scorpion. He was claimed in his maiden victory on a $3000 tag winning at today’s distance. He’s put together a series of respectable runs including two wins, one of them a 2x also at the 11-furlongs being contested Saturday. Dimanche certainly has the ability to get the distance. The big question here is speed. He has hit 104 twice, both at 11, but he’ll need to elevate that by about 10 SP and run a career-high. With only 14 career races it isn’t inconceivable he hasn’t completely fulfilled his promise just yet. Would require a lot of things to break his way.
Stakes winner Jutlandia Rover is the second betting choice at 9/2 and there is a lot to like from this son of Pivotal despite a career that has seen only 4 victories from 17 starts. Another scratch bred, he sports an impressive backend of Dynaformer x Irish River. After winning 2 of his first 3 career starts, Rover has been inconsistent and maddening to predict. In February and March, he put together two straight wins posting a 114 and 118 and it looked as if he had turned a page and may even have become a graded contender. After a poor showing in a G3 at a likely too short 8.5 event, he rebounded with a 113 at 10 which was good enough for a hard-luck 3rd. Testing 13 last out his time fell off significantly. Dropping down to 11 should be to Rover’s benefit and if he runs back to the 113-118 range he has shown is within his wheelhouse the winner’s circle would beckon.
Sometimes a trainer will get wrapped up in trying certain distance/surface conditions and realize, often late in a horses career, that there may yet be an avenue for improvement. Such may be the case with Empire Maker filly VT Humbug. She’s never run past 9-furlongs but the two times that she has tried 9 on the turf she’s won. Oddsmakers have taken notice and placed the filly at 5/1. Her last race was a fast loss in allowance company at 8.5 where she ran a 114. Will she be able to carry that time up to 11 and against colts? Trainer is fearless running her against colts 8 times in her 19 race career however discretion is sometimes the better part of valor as she is 0-8 in those races. Despite the potential for improvement past 9 and the 114 SP, the 5/1 odds are tough to stake facing the winless record vs colts.
Next runner Sadira is no stranger to URC Stakes competition having won the BC Turf last year and running the Pegasus Cup (5th) and Sheema Classic (6th) this year. Sadira has won 9 races from 17 starts and always hits 100 running past the triple-digit mark in his last 11 races. However, the son of Nathaniel hasn’t been able to put up that big number, his best mark coming on the off-track URC BC Turf where he ran a 112. Fears abound that Sadria may have done his best racing, his only win this year was in a HOT race and last time out he ran 4th in open stakes at 11 with a 107 SP. Can he raise that up to a 114 Saturday? Nothing is impossible but the trend doesn’t look promising. He’s had a lot of time off between his last couple races so the trainer is doing everything they can to give Sadira the boost. Up to the horse now.
Criterion is Great has had a chaotic career that has seen him change hands four times. The gelded son of Criterion is longshot 15/1 reflecting cautious curiosity in his routing ability. With so many owners he was bound to be mismanaged and his 0-11 record in sprints reflects this. When looking at his routing ability Criterion is significantly better posting a 7-3-2-1 record. He’s won both his turf races over 9 furlongs, his best effort coming at 9 in a $150,000 claimer where he ran a 109 SP on an off-track. His DS is A.P. Indy and there is some talent lurking in this 4yo gelding. Would not be a total surprise to see him run well Saturday. My favorite longshot.
Anything can, and sometimes does, happen in horse racing, but you really have to gameplan scenarios to see No One Has to Know winning Saturday’s race. From 18 races the son of King Kamehameha only has a maiden win. He just lost at 9 by 15 lengths, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and toss that race. He ran 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, and 2nd previously which seems to indicate maybe he could win. Yes, I think he could win a race, however, he hasn’t won a 2L, a 3L a 2x or a low-level open allowance so I struggle to believe he can win stakes. Has tried 11-furlongs once with poor results although he does seem to handle a route of ground against the right horses. I don’t see it, would be a shocker here. Probably would go over 110+ in a claimer which he hasn’t tried.
Stardom remains elusive for lightly raced 4yo New Approach son Asserted. After a winless, up and down 2yo season, he was given six months off then broke his maiden in style with a 103 SP. Won coming back in a 2L at 10 with a 112. A 2nd and 3rd followed in stakes with strong times then Asserted sort of leveled off and lost 5 more, most of them in disappointing fashion. That is except last race where he woke up a bit taking a 6+ length lead before fading for 2nd in a 12-furlong allowance. Will that runaway speed be enough on the lead a furlong shorter? He’s 9/1 because he hasn’t won since last September which puts him perilously close to 1y conditions. A win here salvages his career and with only 13 starts could be a springboard to something more.
Also at 9/1 is Half Ours son Tropical Isle who also happens to be the most experienced horse in the race with 26 starts. He’s had an excellent career winning 9 of those contests while accumulating $450K in earnings so a win here would snag Tropical Isle the $500K badge. Claimed back in 2016, connections really have gotten a lot of use out of the Lousiana bred. He’s only run past 9.5 once and that was three years ago. He was closing and ran a time comparable with his other figures. Likely can get the distance, his big issue will be posting a career-high SP in his 27th race. It’s happened before, and a win caps off his grinding, successful racing efforts. Interesting trivia; he has run 22 of his career 26 starts in Lousiana.
Successful on the dirt, Ghostzapper son NYS Troopers Gold takes a stab at the turf. Oddsmakers are lukewarm on his chances tagging the blue-blood scratch bred as a 13/1 longshot. Gold has crushed two straight dirt marathons winning at 16 and 13 by 4 lengths each time. Will a cut back to 11 and a surface switch be the formula which unlocks his first stakes victory? He has tried the turf before to the tune of 4-1-1. Backend pedigree is Seeking the Gold x MdO so it’s possible. Your guess is as good as mine but Gold certainly looks to be in top racing form.
Favorite Auxerre enters the race riding a three-race winning streak which would be formidable except there is a question of quality in the wins with two of those coming in claims and a starter allowance. A son of Dubawi, Auxerre has really been a disappointment for me which culminating in him being dropped down twice into the claiming ranks. No one wanted to make the BP investment in him despite the Dansili x Galileo backend offering breeding potential. The question is, after dominating in claims and starter allowance competition does he have the ability to save his career and pick up a stakes win? Ran a 114 once but then followed that up with a 102 and his career is littered with ups and downs. Has some stakes placings but has never shown the ability to be consistent until this season. Maybe a late-developing 5yo or maybe he took advantage of weaker horses. That’s the bet at 7/2.
Closing out the field is Kymarb Triumph, who at 7/1, is my pick to win the race. The 4yo son of Trappe Shot ran a 115 at 11-furlongs in the G3 Golden Bridge two races ago. Last out he went up to 12 in the G2 Dawn to Dusk Cup. Dropping back down to 11 and running his third straight race in California makes a 115 seem all but inevitable for Triumph. Good odds, almost certain to run well, this horse seems to have the whole package and should be the one to beat in the URC Del Mar Handicap.
There is a good mix of horses in this race, many have questions but some are going to put it together to make this a fast competitive event. Good luck to everyone don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine and the surf.