08/29/2008 11:00PM

Late kick appears the winning factor in Torrey Pines


There are two stakes races on Sunday's card at Del Mar, and both are interesting to handicap.

The Torrey Pines is a $100,000 stakes for 3-year-old fillies going a mile. Class- and pace-oriented handicappers should find the race attractive.

Golden Doc A has more stakes racing experience and success than any other filly in this field. She has battled graded stakes company in 8 of her last 11 starts, and performed well when she won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes, finished a close second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, and was second in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez, and the Grade 2 Beaumont.

But before you rush to the betting windows, you have to wonder about her recent form. She finished last of four, beaten by 35 1/2 lengths last time out in the Grade 1 Acorn on June 7. Her trip note mentions that she stumbled at the start, but the incident was trivial, and does not explain away much of her large beaten-length margin.

The other filly in this field who shows a Grade 1 victory is Cry and Catch Me, who won the Oak Leaf by a nose last October. But she finished only fifth of nine in a $62,000 optional claiming race in her comeback, so she also has questions to answer about her current form.

The other angle on this race is the pace scenario. Five of the nine fillies in this field have early speed. Del Mar's Polytrack is fair to closers in two-turn races, so a closer will have a good chance to swoop past the tiring speed.

With that idea in mind, I'll be looking for a contender who owns a good late kick. If Golden Doc A rebounds from her dull performance, she is capable of capitalizing with a strong rally. But with a low price likely, she won't offer betting value.

Distant Victory is an interesting possibility. She is 3 for 3 on the turf, and has a running style that is flexible enough to enable her to rally from third or fourth, or from far off the pace. Her consistency is a plus, but she hasn't yet proven that she fits with stakes company, particularly in a race that includes opponents dropping from graded stakes races.

My selection is Miss Singhsix. Although she is bred to like the grass, she flattened out late and finished an ordinary fourth in her first start on the turf in her U.S. debut. But she ran a much better race when moved to Del Mar's Polytrack. Miss Singhsix was last of six early, then finished strongly to beat $40,000 optional claimers.

That race was run 2 1/2 months after her turf defeat, which was her return from a five month layoff. The Beyer Speed Figure of 88 she earned in that race suggests she should be competitive here, and any improvement in the second start of her current form cycle would give her a chance to beat this group at a square price.

Del Mar Derby

Gio Ponti is my selection in the Grade 2, $350,000 Del Mar Derby, a 1 1/8-mile turf race. He has won 4 of 5 career starts, all on the grass. His lone defeat came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. He finished eighth in that race, but it was still a good effort, as he lost by only four lengths. And he might not have liked the yielding condition of the turf that day; his four wins were all earned on firm turf.

But there are other contenders to consider. Sky Cape has won three straight races, all on the turf, including the Grade 2 La Jolla last time out. The good news is that he shows a 58.60-second work since that race. And he has more tactical speed than Gio Ponti. The catch is that this will be Sky Cape's second race following an 80-day layoff, and trainer Kristin Mulhall is 0 for 41 with runners second time back from layoffs ranging from 45 through 180 days. That drought could end in this race.

Tangled Tango was part of the winning exacta combination in 6 of 7 career starts. The exception was a third-place finish in the restricted Oceanside Stakes. But he proved he fits at this class level when he finished second behind Sky Cape in the La Jolla. His tactical speed makes a good trip likely.

Tiz West ran a dull race when he finished last as the favorite in the La Jolla. But he won the Grade 3 Cinema Handicap in his previous start, and would be a prime contender with a rebound. He also figures to get a good trip while rating just off the pace.