It was a thrilling day in Saratoga Springs, NY on Saturday. Tiz the Law further cemented his claim as the leading contender for the Kentucky Derby in September. He torched the field in the Travers Stakes for another textbook win for the electric 3-year-old. Uncle Chuck hung around with Tiz the Law until falling back and giving way to the champ in the stretch.
When it was all said and done, Tiz the Law won by 5 ½ lengths in an impressive tune-up before the Kentucky Derby. Only Tiz the Law can say that a $1,000,000 Grade 1 race is a tune-up, but it looked like a workout for the New York bred colt.
Tiz the Law was not the only winner for us on Saturday at Saratoga. Gamine was equally impressive for Bob Baffert. That magnificent filly isn’t losing without some bad luck getting caught in traffic or an injury. She is a class above the rest and might need a meeting with Swiss Skydiver to find another girl that can match her.
Even then, Gamine might have to enter some of the big boy events to garner a real challenge. We are also a winner with Mutasaabeq in Race 5. He was making his debut on Saturday and is a horse to watch for the future. Expect to find Mutasaabeq stakes racing soon. Del Mar has one stakes race on the schedule today. The running of the $125,000 La Jolla Handicap (Gr. 3) is set for Sunday at Del Mar. Head below for our free Del Mar picks for August 9, 2020.
Post Time: 4:00 p.m. PST
Distance: 1 Mile
Race 5 is our starting point on Sunday at Del Mar. This is a late afternoon race on the west coast, and early evening race in the east with post time scheduled for 4:00 p.m. PST. A purse of $57,000 is on offer in Race 5, which will take place on the dirt. Rookie Mistake and No Name Fred are on my shortlist, with both horses likely running bold bids.
Rookie Mistake primarily participates in stakes races. Six of his previous seven races have been Black Type events. None of them resulted in wins, but was competitive in all of those races. He’s coming off a 2nd place finish on July 31 in the $125,000 Real Good Deal Stakes (Black Type). Rookie Mistake came 4 ¾ lengths short of a win in that outing.
In his most recent non-stakes event, Rookie Mistake won a $57,000 allowance race on March 6 by a nose over Wakes Up Happy. Rookie Mistake also won a $55,000 maiden race on January 3. He’s more than capable of competing in this class and winning and has shown it in the past. Overall, Rookie Mistake is 2 for 11 in his career, and following his good form in the Real Good Deal Stakes, he should be in contention on Sunday.
No Name Fred is looking for a hat-trick today after finding a lot of success at Golden Gate Fields. He beat Big Buzz by 2 lengths on June 11 in a $31,000 event, and 1 ¼ lengths in a $17,000 event on March 8. Prior to that, No Name Fred finished 7th and 5th in two $31,000 events. He has 5 wins in 19 career races in his career.
I don’t believe Rookie Mistake is getting enough respect running in this class. He’s dropping in class today after coming close in a stakes race just over a week ago, and is accustomed to racing in Black Type events throughout his 11-race career. His two wins have been for $55,000 and $57,000 purses in this class. I’m with Rookie Mistake to pull off a mini upset in Race 5.
Post Time: 5:00 p.m. PST
Race 7 has 6 furlongs of racing on the dirt for a $41,000 purse. Seven horses are registered to participate, with the end of the gate where you will likely find the top contenders. Sheza Girly Girl and With This Vow are going to be tough outs for the rest of the field. Sheza Girly Girl has been consistent for three straight top-3 performances and in 6 of his previous 7 entries.
She has finished in the top-3 in 6 of 8 career races with one win. In her latest outing, Sheza Girly Girl placed 2nd on July 19 in a ¾ length loss at the $27,000 level. She closed fast and had good kick in the stretch. In the only win of her career, Sheza Girly Girl won on February 29 by ¾ lengths for a $39,000 purse. Expect her to run closely and play a role in the stretch.
Drayden Van Dyke will be aboard With This Vow who will have a good look at the winner’s circle on Sunday. With This Vow is coming off a win in her sophomore run on June 21. She finished 9th as a first-time runner at Santa Anita Park on May 25 in a $50,000 event, but responded in good form on June 21 for a 3 ½ length win for a $28,000 purse. $50,000 was too tough, but $28,000 was too easy, so she will meet in the middle on Sunday.
The $195,000 With This Vow looked good in the morning on August 2 in preparation for today. She completed 4 furlongs in 48.80 seconds and should be ready to compete at Del Mar on Sunday. With This Vow has the potential to show progression and even more than she showed in her most recent win on June 21. That bodes well for her in Race 7.
Race 10 – La Jolla Handicap
Post Time: 6:30 p.m. PST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
The feature race of the day at Del Mar is the $1250,000 La Jolla Stakes (Gr. 3) on the turf. There are some familiar names in the race, including Storm the Court and Azul Coast. Storm the Court was a major Kentucky Derby contender at one point.
However, he has failed to run up to expectations and has faltered hard in 2020. He is still on the bubble for the Kentucky Derby with 36 points. If Storm the Court runs well on the grass on Sunday, other options may be available other than the Kentucky Derby, though.
Storm the Court is 2 for 8 in his career and winless in four straight races. His last win was on November 1, 2019 in the $2,000,000 TVG Breeders’ Cup. That prompted some attention for the Kentucky Derby, but he has been an underperformer since that victory. Storm the Court has finished 4th, 3rd, 6th, 3rd. In his most recent entry, Storm the Court finished 3rd in the $500,000 Ohio Derby (Gr. 3) on June 27 at Thistledown. He had a promising workout on August 2 with a time of 59.80 seconds at 5 furlongs.
Azul Coast was another potential Kentucky Derby runner getting attention earlier in the year. That dream is over for Azul Coast, though, as Baffert didn’t receive what he wanted out of him. Azul Coast finished 7th in the Santa Anita Derby (Gr. 1) on June 6 and that was the end of that. That was his first Grade 1 event and he couldn’t keep up against an elite field.
Overall in his career, Azul Coast is 2 for 4 with a maiden win in his debut on December 8, 2019 and a win in the $100,000 El Camino Derby on February 15 at Golden Gate Fields. In his other graded event, Azul Coast finished 2nd in the Sham Stakes (Gr. 3) on January 4 to lose by 7 ¾ lengths against Authentic.
I am quite familiar with Smooth Like Strait. He completed the last leg of my Pick 5 win at Churchill Downs a few months back. Running as an underdog in that race, the secret is out on Smooth Like Strait. He is 3 for 7 in his career with a win in the $100,000 War Chant Stakes (Black Type) by 1 ¾ lengths over Pixelate.
His lone graded win was in the $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (Gr. 3) by 2 ½ lengths on December 1, 2019 on this same track at Del Mar. Smooth Like Strait has finished 1st, 1st, 4th, 2nd, 1st in his previous four outings. He’s a grass specialist that should have an upper hand on dirt runners like Storm the Court and Azul Coast. I have to go back to my old pal Smooth Like Strait who played an important role in my biggest horse racing score ever at Churchill Downs in May.