07/25/2011 2:18PM

Del Mar: Ten-horse Wickerr among tough races for bettors chasing pick six carryover

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Benoit & Associates
Blue Chagall, winner of last year's Wickerr, is the horse to beat in the 2011 edition.

DEL MAR, Calif. – A massive pick-six pool Wednesday at Del Mar is expected to soar beyond $1 million as bettors chase a $239,490 carryover.

DEL MAR CARRYOVER: Video analysis, PPs, news and more

The challenging sequence on races 3-8 includes the $85,000 Wickerr Stakes, a mile turf race with 10 runners and three also-eligibles.

“I didn’t think it was going to be so busy,” Victory Pete’s trainer, Alexis Barba, said.

Barba was referring specifically to the feature; her opinion will be shared by pick six bettors. It is not an easy sequence, and even the races with small fields are difficult. Six of the seven female turf claimers in race 4 have a shot; all six female allowance sprinters in race 6 are genuine.

The conditions of the race-7 Wickerr favor three main contenders – Blue Chagall, a horse-for-course and winner of the race in 2010; Gallant Son, stretching out from a sharp sprint win; and graded stakes-placed Victory Pete. The Wickerr is restricted to horses that have not won an open stakes worth $50,000 or more, at a mile or more, since May 1.

Blue Chagall is the horse to beat.

“He likes Del Mar,” trainer Julio Canani said. “It’s a different course. It’s softer than Hollywood Park.”

Blue Chagall won on the Del Mar turf the past two seasons – an allowance in 2009, and the Wickerr in 2010. Garrett Gomez rides, and his mount should benefit from the inside post. Blue Chagall runs best when he saves ground, stays covered, and explodes late.

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Unlike the speed-friendly turf course at Hollywood Park, the Del Mar turf opening week played like “true grass” with an emphasis on late speed. Most turf winners opening week were horses that provided a strong finish. The profile suits 6-for-32 Blue Chagall, who drops from the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile.

Gallant Son, beaten favorite in the 2010 Wickerr after a slow break, enters at the top of his game. He won the six-furlong Robert Kerlan last out, and stretches to a distance well within reach. Gallant Son, 7 for 25 overall, has 2 wins and 2 seconds in 7 grass races at a mile or more. Mike Smith rides.

Victory Pete drops from graded stakes. His third in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows last month was solid.

“I thought he ran terrific,” Barba said. “Prairie Meadows is such a speed-favoring track, but not [when] I was there.”

Victory Pete set the pace to deep stretch, and got run over late by two deep closers. Proven on grass and dropping in company, Victory Pete will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who won 9 races from just 31 mounts opening week.

Other entrants include Ace of Aces, John Johny Jak, Calimonco, Unbridled’s Heart, Buenos Dias, American Lion, and Quindici Man. Tres Borrachos, Ferneley, and Monterey Jazz are on the also-eligible list.

Race 6 on Wednesday is a competitive second-level allowance sprint for fillies and mares. Pedaltothemedal, who misfired twice after a brilliant comeback April 24, will try to regain top form against a good field while possibly changing strategy.

“We tried to change her pattern of running,” trainer Art Sherman said. “We sent her out of there and I don’t think she wanted to do that,” he said. Jockey Joe Talamo is expected to allow Pedaltothemedal to drop back, and rally late.

Her rivals include speedball Alaska Miss, comebacker Tales in Excess, Saanneen, All the Love, and Rumor. All six runners are fast enough. A quick look at the other four legs of the pick six:

Race 3 is a six-furlong, $20,000 maiden-claimer for fillies and mares. Judy’s My Angel is the fastest; main rivals are Thee Cuties, Dynahere, and first-time starter Sweet Pleasure.

Race 4 is a $32,000 filly-and-mare claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf. R Vicarious Girl is the horse to beat shipping from the Midwest for trainer Mike Mitchell; every entrant has a shot with the possible exception of Good Friday Gal.

Race 5 is a $20,000 maiden-claimer at 1 1/16 miles; Coal Region Kid, runner-up twice recently, is sitting on a win. Te Rapa faced better and drops to where he fits.

Race 8 is a $32,000 maiden-claimer for 2-year-old fillies at 5 1/2 furlongs. First-time starter Tony’s Pinguini’s appears well-meant, while Emerald Downs shipper Courtney’s Prize and local droppers Jessakar and Bold Remark figure in the hunt.

Based on previous Del Mar wagering patterns following two dark days, the pick six pool on Wednesday should attract about $1.5 million in fresh money.