07/22/2015 4:47PM

Hogan: How I'd play Del Mar on Thursday, July 23


Thursday’s card at Del Mar opens with a maiden claimer for 2-year-old fillies, and the play is a pick three trying to beat the morning-line favorite in #2 WISH I UNDERSTOOD (5-2). That filly ran third in her debut at Los Alamitos, beating only two horses and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of only 39. Now, trainer Bob Baffert drops her in for a tag in her second career start, and it seems a big red flag that he’s willing to give up on her so soon. Baffert has a high win rate with juveniles, but he’s just average dropping in for tags, and combined with a very slow work prior to this race, I’ll let her beat me at a short price.

Instead, I’ll lean heavily on #6 FAST ESCAPE (7-2), who also is dropping in from maiden special weight company. She also finished third in her debut, but that was at Santa Anita against seven other fillies, and she earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 51 for that effort, the best figure of any in this field. Plus, the two that finished ahead of her that day went on to run one-two in the $125,000 Landaluce Stakes next out. Anything close to that effort here, and she’s long gone. In the pick three below, she’s the lone “A,” but I’ll use #8 MISS AMADOR and #9 DON’T TELL JACKIE as backups, plus #7 SOONER TIME only defensively as a “C.”

Race 2 is a bottom-level ($8,000) claimer in which we’ll use a number of horses and just try to survive. At that level, even ones that look like locks can throw a clunker, and we don’t want to beat a favorite just to get knocked out in a chaos race.

:: See Mike Hogan's TicketMaker play for Thursday at Del Mar

Race 3 is first-level allowance turf sprint that appears loaded with early speed. Assuming no scratches from the body of the race, the likely favorite is #2 ROY H (5-2), who is coming off an impressive maiden win down the hill at Santa Anita last start. He can win, but at a short price, I’ll just use him defensively. Instead, I’ll lean most heavily on #8 INCLINE VILLAGE, who should stalk the speed and was second in a listed stakes at this distance last year at Golden Gate, and #10 ROCKET HEAT, who may very well be the speed of the speed. We’ll also use #6 EDDIE’S FIRST, who had a win on this surface at this distance last fall, and #7 RULE HE WILL, who tries turf for the first time, as “B’s.”

Here’s the ticket:

Race 1 – A: 6; B: 8, 9; C: 7
Race 2 – A: 2, 4; B: 6, 8; C: all others
Race 3 – A: 8, 10; B: 6, 8; C: 2

Bet the all-A ticket for $2, and all other tickets for $1. Total cost: $60.