The Del Mar Debutante—Grade I
Purse: $300,000-Race #7 Post Time: 5:10 PST
7 Furlongs on Dirt for Two-Year-old Fillies
Analysis by Michael Patricks
It’s the final weekend of racing from Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in southern California and connections are coming from far and wide to enter their horses where the turf meets the surf. 124 horses are entered on an 11-race program, with an average of 11.27 horses per race entered to compete on Saturday. With entries busting at the seams at the beach, let’s square up our focus in a sumo-wrestling sort of pre-match, ritualistic fashion by breaking down the Grade I Del Mar Debutante on Saturday.
1-Gabrielleelizabeth 20/1 ML- Light bulb beamed brightly in her debut where she devastated maidens at a healthy number. This daughter of 2005 Kentucky Derby race-favorite Bellamy Road ships across the country and is rewarded for her ambitious placement by drawing the inside stall going seven panels. Evin Roman is having a productive season in the irons and like many of her rivals, ‘Gabrielle is lightly raced with plenty of room to improve. The work tab is quite strong for this filly but given the long ship, inside draw, first time in with winners and that she’s thrust into a Grade I race on top of that, it’s my opinion she’s biting off more than she can chew; she’s not for me.
2-Moonshine Memories 6/1 ML- The gavel dropped on her for $650,000 at auction and to her credit she came out of the gates like a good thing in her debut, steaming through the stretch to prevail by a length and finish 11 conclusive lengths clear of the third place runner. She was an absolute rocket ship from the gate in debut and with her inside post it’s fair to expect her to be put in the race from jump street. Even though she’s displayed she can run hooked, she’s taking on top quality gals and she’s going to have to strut her stuff that last extra furlong which could prove her undoing. The 83 Beyer is huge in her debut, but she’s back in just two weeks and her rider from her maiden breaker opts for Poetic. No doubt she’s a runner, but it’s my impression you’ll be hearing Jackson Browne when she’s running on empty at the 3/16ths; pacesetter has too many obstacles so I’ll pass.
3-Spectator 5/2 ML- If you’ve only “spectated her” to this point, you have passed on a $21.60 win mutuel in her debut and a $10.40 payoff in her Grade II Sorrento trouncing, opening up by over five lengths in the end. Clearly, she’s a nice filly with a bright future and she’s beaten her competition by better than a second in each of her races so she rates as the one to beat. She’s versatile, naturally fast and appears to be push button when called upon. The three workouts she’s had between the Sorrento and the Debutante appear to be very solid and if she steps forward again then they are probably running for the silver medal, well back behind her once again. I’m quite interested to see how the wagering plays out as it’s on the table that she could win her third straight race without being favored in any of them. The distance will not be an issue and the race goes through her–that’s the view in my eyes watching from the sidelines; looks formidable yet again.
4-Gas Station Sushi 7/2 ML- Gave her foes plenty to digest in her unveiling as she broke running from the outside stall and ran away from the competition with devastating ease. The ante is upped with the debut against winners in a Grade I but she hails from great connections and as one of two Into Mischief daughters, she should absolutely relish the added distance of today’s assignment. She is sandwiched between a host of early speed so whether she can adapt her style a bit and still finish appears to be her primary obstacle, especially given that Moonshine Memories will likely be going like a police siren to the ½-mile pole. Let’s face it: a lot of them have a very similar style and given the long run down the back stretch it’s difficult to endorse any of them who are hell bent for leather on getting their nose in front early. It’s easy to envision Just a Smidge forcing her hand from the dispatch and since Baltas’ penchant is typically grass runners instead of two-year-olds, I’m willing to take a stand against her chances of getting the candy.
5-Just a Smidge 3/1 ML- Have to give credit to Russ Hudak on what I think is a very strong morning line and one I’m in complete agreement with for this race. As such, I’m of the mindset that Just a Smidge is in fact a smidge better than Gas Station Sushi on paper and deserves to be second choice. Even though her race was only five furlongs and her Beyer figure was five points less, she ran much faster interiorly than ‘Sushi did and the fact she’s had about six weeks off and Baffert has had said amount of time to go under the hood and rev up her engine, tells me she’s a big player in here. Back to back bullets in the holster on top of this race and you’d be a fool to think she won’t spring forward off her debut run; adds to the intrigue.
6-Piedi Bianchi 12/1 ML- The sheer fact she’s 12/1 tells you the depth of this cast, so once again, this is a very nice race on paper. The debut from the fence at Los Al was a good try and getting off the rail from her debut proved to be the soothing ointment she needed to garner her diploma. She’s back in three weeks but she does have a nice stalking style and moved up a whopping 22 Beyer points from her debut. On the downside, Just a Smidge ran only a length off ‘Piedi’s finish time of the maiden breaker and that was three weeks before Piedi’s race. Long story short: ‘Piedi looks perhaps a touch better on paper than she actually is, but tab the tote for more clues if you find her to be food for thought.
7-Dancing Belle 12/1 ML- Still a maiden and has been sent off at double digit odds in all of her four races. Dancing Belle picked up some black type last time in the Sorrento where she came home alright to finish second, yet Spectator was still widening on her through the lane. It’s tough to craft a scenario whereby she is the one who pulls clear late and graduates at the end. Granted, she will have the requisite pace to chase and run at but there are several competitors in here who figure to get the jump on her into the abbreviated stretch. Her top Beyer of just 70 in her fourth lifetime start falls well short of the benchmark required to seriously threaten. If they line up six across the track then maybe she sits behind and rolls home late, but given that scenario unlikely to take place, I’d recommend finding her in a two-turn maiden race later this fall; rates underneath.
8-Poetic 4/1 ML- Fox Hill Farms received some unfortunate news earlier in the week with the diagnosis of Songbird’s bone chip and injuries to her hind suspensories which caused her early retirement from racing. Even though that was a tough blow to Fox Hill, kudos to them for handling her send off with class and transparency by releasing to the public all the “discovery” that went into the decision to retire her. Turning to the here and now, Poetic made it look very easy in her debut and given that Richard Mandella isn’t known for having horses ready to roll first time out, so she gets extra marks for that. Secondly, she gets to load last and draws outside the other speed in the race. Lastly, Mike Smith decides to hop off Moonshine Memories and stay aboard Poetic, and with the cushy outside draw, Smith should be able to spy the early pace battle and position his filly accordingly. She’s had four weeks since the debut victory and True Royalty (second in that race) came back to win out of that heat. Have to say there would be quite a bit of justice to see Poetic strolling through the stretch, bearing the torch for her owner’s in honor of Songbird; the choice.