07/25/2006 12:00AM

Graduation Stakes preview


Race 7 - Del Mar
5 1/2 Furlongs
Graduation Stakes (California breds)
Purse $125,000

Spot the Diplomat earned an impressive 90 Beyer Speed Figure when winning his second start at Hollywood, and his good early foot should have him in the picture from the opening bell. He draws outside some of the other speeds, and Victor Espinoza may have him ready for a press-and-pounce journey while racing in the clear. Trainer Carla Gaines is banging them out at a 28% clip for the 2006 season.

Twin Fin pulled off an 18-1 shocker in his career debut, and the recent 6-furlong gate work looks very encouraging. He may be under the gun from his inside post in the Graduation, but shouldn't be too far off the pace given an alert beginning. The Swiss Yodelers really do well as juveniles, and this colt is no exception.

Zoning In proved no match for the filly Sharoana at Pleasanton, but he has an experience edge over the main contenders, and his speed figures have been very consistent. He doesn't seem like a need the lead type, and should be running late under Solis.

Hot Rod found the likes of E Z Warrior too much for him to handle in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, but should appreciate the class relief presented to him on Wednesday. His only win was at 2 furlongs, however. River Echo earned a good Beyer in his debut but is still a maiden facing winners. Rush With Thunder adds Lasix. He may not be able to make the lead from his outside post, and his closing kick is questionable.

1. Spot the Diplomat
2. Twin Fin
3. Zoning In

The Bet: Exacta box with top three selections