It’s Vanderbilt Handicap day at Saratoga today, which we have you covered for in Saratoga Springs. Across the country in California, there is also a fairly big racecard happening at Del Mar. Maybe not as big as Saratoga, but there are some nice purses to be had in California.
There are three stakes races at Del Mar today, with the San Diego Handicap (Gr. 2) and San Clemente Stakes (Gr. 2) headlining the afternoon. Both races have a $150,000 purse on offer. Not the biggest out there, and doesn’t compare to the $250,000 Vanderbilt Handicap, but there’s still money to be made at Del Mar on Saturday afternoon.
If you are a trainer like Bob Baffert, you can turn a day like today into a lot of money. Baffert, who uses Del Mar as his home track in the summer, has multiple trainees entered into events today. Baffert has a total of six horses racing today, including two in Race 3 with Provocation and Merneith.
Unsurprisingly, Provocation and Merneith are the strongest horses entered into that event. The focus today will be on Baffert’s Maximum Security, who is making his comeback after getting in the middle of a drug controversy, and no it had nothing to do with Baffert.
27 people were indicted in march after a widespread doping scheme was uncovered by authorities. That included Maximum Security’s trainer, who was infamously DQ’d after crossing the wire first in the Kentucky Derby last year. Maximum Security bounced back to win the Saudi Cup, but soon after was at the center of one of the biggest horse racing drug busts.
This was before Baffert got caught using lidocaine on two of his horses. What happened there is miniscule compared to what happened with the 27 people being indicted, but Baffert who is in the middle of a controversy at the moment, takes on Maximum Security who was as well. Maximum Security returns to the track in the San Diego Handicap (Gr. 2) at Del Mar today. Head below for our free Del Mar selections for July 25, 2020.
Post Time: 3:30 p.m. PST
Distance: 6 ½ Furlongs
There are a couple of races I like at Del Mar today, with Race 4 being one of them. This isn’t a big event by any means for Bob Baffert, but he does have two entries into the race. His favorite two riders, Mike Smith and Drayden Van Dyke, will have some fun competing against one another for Baffert in Race 4. Smith was aboard Authentic in the $1,000,000 Haskell Stakes last week. Authentic was a winner in a photo finish at the wire against Ny Traffic. What an exciting race it was. Baffert will trot out Merneith and Provocation in this one.
Merneith is the betting favorite on the morning line at 9/5. She is 1 for 4 in her career, with her stakes debut in the Santa Anita Oaks (Gr. 2) on June 6. Merneith took a good run at the win in the Santa Anita Oaks, but was denied and had to settle for 3rd. Swiss Skydiver beat Speech by 4 lengths, with Speech well up on Merneith by 7 ¼ lengths. Merneith wasn’t in the equation in the stretch. She floundered in the $200,000 event, but Merneith is way down in class for Saturday at Del Mar.
Prior to that race, Merneith finished 2nd 2nd, 1st. The only win of her career came on April 19 at Oaklawn Park. She won over It’s Mine by 10 ¼ lengths in a blowout to score the top prize out of a $60,000 purse. That kind of effort in that class bodes well for her chances today. The effort has been there for Merneith in the morning in July. She completed three 5-furlong workouts with times of 1:00.60, 58.60, and 1:00.20. The run of 58.60 seconds on July 9 was incredibly impressive. Stablemate, Provocation, will likely prove to be her biggest challenger.
Provocation is 1 for 1 following a nice debut on June 21 at Santa Anita Park. This is a $360,000 horse expected to do big things in her career. It started off on the right note with a 1 ¾ length win over Himiko. That was the only competition for Provocation, as Himiko finished 11 ½ lengths ahead for 2nd. She is coming off a couple of workouts in good form on July 14 and July 20. Provocation completed 6 furlongs with a time of 1:13.20 and 5 furlongs with a time of 48.60 seconds. If I could get +300 at post time as the morning-line suggests, that’s a lot of value on Baffert’s Provocation.
Race 10 – San Diego Handicap
Post Time: 6:30 p.m. PST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
The biggest race might be at Saratoga with the running of the Vanderbilt Handicap, but the must-watch event might be the $150,000 San Diego Handicap (Gr. 2). It’s the return of Maximum Security, who thought he won the Kentucky Derby and then was DQ’d. Since that race, Maximum Security has finished 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st.
He won the 2019 Haskell Stakes (Gr. 1), Bold Ruler Handicap (Gr. 3), Cigar Mile Handicap (Gr. 1), and $3.5 million Saudi Cup on February 29. His run in the Saudi Cup is his last entry, which resulted in a romp to the top prize of the mammoth $3.5 million purse. Overall in Maximum Security’s career, he is 8 for 10, which could have been 9 for 10 if he didn’t get disqualified in the Kentucky Derby.
While he was disqualified, Maximum Security was the best horse in the 145th Kentucky Derby. Baffert has been keeping Maximum Security busy in the morning leading up to the San Diego Handicap. By Maximum Security’s standards, this is one of the easiest assignments that has come his way in his career.
Maximum Security has primarily been working out at 6 furlongs, with recorded times of 1:12.40 twice in June, and then a blazing quick time of 1:11.60 on July 18. Other workouts include 7 furlongs in 1:25.40 and 5 furlongs in 59.60 seconds. It means that Maximum Security is ready to play ball on Saturday in his return race.
Higher Power will probably give Maximum Security all that he can handle in the San Diego Handicap. He’s been getting close in some big events. Higher Power has finished 1st, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 10th, 2nd in his previous seven races. His biggest win was in the $1,000,000 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (Gr. 1) on August 17, 2019. Since then, High Power has finished 3rd, 3rd, 10th, 2nd.
He is coming off an appearance in the $300,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes (Gr. 1) on June 6. High Power ran well, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Improbable. He fell by 3 ¼ lengths, as Improbable was clear by the ¾ pole. High Power had three workouts in July recorded with times of 1:00.40 and 1:00.20 over 5 furlongs, and a time of 1:12.20 over 6 furlongs. Expect High Power to test Maximum Security in the stretch, with Maximum Security edging the field out for a win in his return and first run for Bob Baffert.