Maximum Security made his much anticipated return to the racetrack on Saturday. What a duel it was in the San Diego Handicap. It was the first race for Maximum Security under Bob Baffert and since his win* in the Saudi Cup. Maximum Security was caught in the midst of a huge doping scandal involving his former trainer, Jason Servis.
His owners chose Baffert after Servis was indicted in the most widespread crackdown on drugs in horse racing. Baffert has a drug controversy of his own to deal with right now, though not even close to the magnitude of what Servis was doing. If you have a minute, you can read up on the indictment online.
The San Diego Handicap was the most exciting race of the weekend. Maximum Security got into a duel with Midcourt. He got the nod at the wire by a nose over Midcourt for a win in his return performance. Credit Midcourt who was able to hang with Maximum Security to make him fight for that victory. Victor Espinoza ran a really solid race on Midcourt and nearly guided the 4/1 horse to the winner’s circle. He ran about as good as he could have yesterday.
The biggest race of the day, monetary wise, was over on the east coast at Saratoga in the Vanderbilt Handicap (Gr. 1). We had a winning horse with Volatile in the Vanderbilt, so nothing to complain about there in Saratoga Springs. The two biggest races of the day were winners for us, but it could have been better overall. We have a few more selections at Del Mar before the weekend draws to a close. Head below for our free Del Mar picks for July 26, 2020.
A thrilling finish in the G2 San Diego Handicap! In a photo finish MAXIMUM SECURITY gets victory of Midcourt @delmarracing! Congrats to connections Trainer Bob Baffert, Rider Abel Cedillo & Owners Gary & Mary West. Magnier or Tabor, et al! pic.twitter.com/XcjttnIo7j
— TVG (@TVG) July 26, 2020
Post Time: 2:00 p.m. PST
Distance: 5 Furlongs
We will get started at Del Mar on Sunday afternoon with an event for a $56,000 purse over 5 furlongs of racing on the grass. Bombard and Blitzkrieg should compete for the win in the stretch. They are both in solid form and are likely going to run a strong race in Race 1. Bombard is 5 for 12 in his career and has a couple of stakes wins on his resume. In the biggest race of his career thus far, Bombard finished 6th in the American Stakes (Gr. 3) on June 23, 2019 at Santa Anita Park. However, Bombard has been good in easier events.
In his previous five outings, Bombard has finished 1st, 1st, 2nd, 6th, 1st, with a win in the $80,000 Siren Lure Stakes (Black Type) on June 17, 2018 and in his most recent appearance, a win in the $85,000 Wickerr Stakes on July 21, 2019. That was a half length win for Bombard over Higher Power, who just raced in the San Diego Handicap against Maximum Security yesterday. Bombard is coming off a lengthy year long layoff. However, he has been in excellent shape in morning workouts. Despite not having entries since July 21, 2019, Bombard has been in terrific shape in the morning.
Bombard has been running 5-furlong workouts and producing consistently quick times. He has completed 5 furlongs in 59, 59, 58.80 seconds and 1:00.60 most recently on July 18. Don’t expect the layoff to be too much of a problem for Bombard and he’s coming back to the track down in class following the break. Blitzkrieg is 6 for 21 in his career and has a lot more experience than Bombard. He is coming off a win in the $100,000 American Stakes (Gr. 3) on June 21 over Bowies Hero by a length. Prior to that, Blitzkrieg had a tough go of it for 8th in the Shoemaker Mile (Gr. 1) on May 25 at Santa Anita.
That race was out of his element and he quickly went down in class. In his previous five races, he’s finished 2nd, 3rd, 11th, 8th, 1st. Blitzkrieg made two 4-furlong workouts on the turf in July. He completed them in 48.80 and 48.60 seconds for adequate times. Nothing at all wrong with that. I think this race is going to be a little more difficult than Blitzkrieg is bargaining for. Bombard looks great off a layoff and should threaten Blitzkrieg and the rest of the field. There will likely be better value on Bombard as we get closer to post time.
Post Time: 4:30 p.m. PST
Race 6 at Del Mar has a purse of $51,000 for 5 furlongs on the grass. Hopefully we can make it two wins on the turf at Del Mar on Sunday afternoon. Bella Vita and Dim Lights are on my shortlist for this event. Dim Lights could surprise as a 6/1 horse on the morning-line. The young filly is coming off a strong performance on June 27 at Los Alamitos with a win. She won by a head over Li’l Grazen in a tight finish at the wire for a $45,000 purse.
Li’l Grazen had a 2 length lead at the top of the stretch, but was bypassed by a determined Dim Lights at the wire. It was an exciting race which could have gone in either direction. Dim Lights just had the extra kick in her step to get the win. Overall, Dim Lights is 2 for 5 in her career, with a win earlier in the year on March 21 as well.
She recorded the win over Lets Get Wild by 2 ¼ in in the $55,000 event for the first win of her career.
As a result of that effort, Dim Lights went stakes racing in her next entry. That was a failure with Dim Lights finishing 8th in the $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes (Black Type) on May 16. That class might be out of Dim Light’s reach, though this race on Sunday should be doable. I certainly see her with a better chance of winning this than the 6/1 odds suggest.
Bella Vita participated in the Evening Jewel Stakes on May 16, too. She had a better run in that outing, nearly winning the top prize out of the $150,000 purse. Smiling Shirlee got Bella Vita by a half length at the wire, with Bella Vita holding a slight lead at the top of the stretch. It was still a nice payday of $30,000 for Bella Vita finishing 2nd in that race.
She also had a bold effort in the $75,000 China Doll Stakes on March 7 to finish 3rd. Bella Vita had the lead in that race at one point, too. A mile was a bit much, but 5 furlongs should be perfect for her stamina. Overall, Bella Vita is 1 for 4 in her career, with a win on February 16 over On Mars by 5 ¼ lengths in a $55,000 race. This is another winnable race for Bella Vita as she drops in class following a couple of stakes races.
Race 8 – Eddie Read Stakes
Post Time: 5:30 p.m. PST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
The Eddie Read Stakes (Gr. 2) is the biggest race of the day in North America. A purse of $200,000 is on offer for the Eddie Read Stakes on Sunday afternoon at Del Mar. It will take 1 ⅛ miles to complete the race, which is another turf race at Del Mar on Sunday. United and Originaire are two horses to be aware of in the Eddie Read Stakes. Originaire is 3 for 17 in his career.
That doesn’t look like much, but he has been coming close in some big events. Originaire has finished 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd in his previous four races, with 2nd place performances in the Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes (Gr. 2) on December 28, 2019 and 2nd in the Charles Whittingham Stakes (Gr. 2) on May 23 in his most recent performance. He won an allowance race on February 29 in a $59,000 event by 5 ¼ lengths over North County Guy.
Originaire has been coming close in these bigger stakes races, but has yet to get over the hump. He has been in decent form in the morning in July, with recorded times of 50 and 49.40 seconds over 4 furlongs and 1:00.60 over 5 furlongs. Originaire is going to be tested by United, who appears ready to rock and roll on Sunday in the Eddie Read Stakes. United is 5 for 13 in his career and searching for a hat-trick on Sunday.
United is coming off wins in the San Marcos Stakes (Gr. 2) and Charles Whittingham Stakes (Gr. 2). He has finished in the top-3 in seven straight events, dating back to last summer. United came close in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (Gr. 1) for 2nd and the same in the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (Gr. 2). He followed up to win the $200,000 San Marcos Stakes over Cleopatra’s Strike by a half length, and then the $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes over Rockemperor by a nose. United is worth some consideration in the Eddie Read Stakes.