07/26/2013 5:04PM

All Star Stakes Analysis For Del Mar, Saturday July 27


Brad Free, July 27

Del Mar, race 8
G2 San Diego Handicap

2-Clubhouse Ride


A likely underlay below the 9-5 (pre-scratch) morning line, PAYNTER (#3, 9-5) should win this G2 route. A top 3-year-old last year, he returned with a vengeance last month at BHP winning a fast sprint with a big number (114 Beyer).

He proved he runs long (Haskell win, Belmont runner-up), and looks ready to take his rightful spot near the top of the West Coast handicap ranks. PAYNTER is fast and versatile, and will race over a Polytrack surface that is surprisingly quick this season.

The stretch-out PAYNTER should win simply because he is the fastest and best horse in the race. The problem is he offers negligible wagering value.

CLUBHOUSE RIDE, (#6, 4-1) will try to rebound from a dull effort in the Hollywood Gold Cup. His previous form was solid, and if he can be forgiven for one bad race he has a chance to upset, if the top choice misfires.

CLUBHOUSE RIDE likes this track, based on his 2010 form. As a lightly raced 2-year-old, CLUBHOUSE RIDE won a good maiden race, followed with a brilliant stakes win at Fairplex Park, and later was Grade 1-placed. A return to form at Del Mar would not only seem possible, it seems likely. Question still is, is he good enough? In this stakes race he is good enough, only if the top choice misfires.

LIAISON, (#4, 3-1) gives trainer Bob Baffert a second shot with an opposite style. The late-runner skipped the Gold Cup, enters fresh, and will roll late while Baffert trainee PAYNTER rolls early.

Betting strategy I will not wager or, or against, PAYNTER. He is the best horse in the field, but his odds will be short. No bet unless something crazy transpires in the pools (show plunge, overlay on secondary contender).

The G2 San Diego is a pass race. - Brad Free

Michael Hammersly selection for Grade 2 San Diego at DMR Sat., July 27

PAYNTER (#3, 9-5)

His smashing comeback win at BHP June 14 wasn’t just the best feel-good story of the year after nearly dying last summer, it was a monstrous effort that showed despite the illness and long layoff he’s as good as ever. He didn’t just win easily over some nice foes, he did so under wraps. He’ll need all of that talent here but he’s continued to work well to indicate he’s feeling spry. The only thing you won’t like – the short odds. But that doesn’t mean you can’t key him on to a couple outsiders like Batti Man and Chief Havoc, hope they hang around for the exacta, turning a heavy favorite into possibly a 10-1 exacta payoff.- Michael Hammersly

Dmr Graded Stakes Play; for Sat. July 27; from Marty McGee

San Diego at Dmr (Race 8)


Isn’t there more than enough speed in this 72nd running of the Grade 2 San Diego to make life easier for a closer such as Clubhouse Ride? That’s assuming that both Paynter, who’s on a not-so-easy stretchout after just one alw. sprint, and the ultra quick 3yo, Chief Havoc, both make it to the post. Of course such a “cancel-out” scenario doesn’t always occur on the racetrack, but the paper race sure suggests a closer can benefit – and who better than this hardy veteran with an intact 5-race string of triple-digit Beyers? Look for Talamo to push the right buttons as we play this guy straight at a square 4-1 and box him with the other logical closer, Liaison (#4). The play: Win, #6; exacta box 4-6. – Marty McGee