07/21/2016 12:26PM

San Clemente's distance right for Stays in Vegas

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Benoit & Associates
Stays in Vegas (left) edges out Be Mine in the Senorita Stakes.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Stays in Vegas and Be Mine have been separated by a nose and a head in their two meetings, so trips will be of paramount importance when they square off Saturday in the Grade 2, $200,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Del Mar.

Stays in Vegas landed post 10 in the 11-horse field, and though there’s a pretty long run to the first turn when going a mile on turf with a stretch start here, she still must work out a trip. Her rider, Alex Solis, said she’s got the temperament and skill to do it.

“She can do about anything,” Solis said Thursday morning while visiting the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Stays in Vegas. “She’s not hard to ride. Good horses are not hard to ride.”

Stays in Vegas is a good horse. She has won five times in eight starts and, most significantly for this race, is perfect in three starts going one mile on turf.

“Hopefully, we’ll get an honest pace in front of us,” Solis said. “It looks like there’s plenty of speed.”

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Be Mine also would benefit from a sharp pace. Drawn favorably in post 3, she is two photo finishes away from being unbeaten in four starts. She was second last time out in the Grade 2 Honeymoon – nosing out Stays in Vegas – one start after dropping a narrow decision to Stays in Vegas in the Grade 3 Senorita.

Other prominent runners in the field include Mokat, who returns to turf for her first start since the Kentucky Oaks, and Belvoir Bay, who attracted jockey Florent Geroux all the way from his summer base at Saratoga.

The San Clemente goes as race 7 on the 10-race card, making it the opening leg of the pick four.

KEY CONTENDERS

Stays in Vegas, by City Zip

Last 3 Beyers: 89-89-72

◗ This will be her third start following a layoff of nearly five months.

◗ She carries the top weight of 122 pounds, conceding two to eight pounds to her 10 rivals.

Be Mine, by Twirling Candy

Last 3 Beyers: 89-88-86

◗ A private purchase following her debut at Tampa Bay Downs in February, she now owns two wins and two seconds in four starts.

◗ As with Stays in Vegas, this will be her first race on Del Mar’s turf.

Mokat, by Uncle Mo

Last 3 Beyers: 63-86-82

◗ After finishing third and second behind Songbird in a pair of dirt stakes at Santa Anita this year, she was given a chance to compete in the Kentucky Oaks but finished 13th of 14. This is her first start since.

“She’s a better horse on grass. There’s no doubt in my mind,” trainer Richard Baltas said Thursday. “She had a 30-day freshening after the Oaks. It’s just a matter of whether she’s cranked up.”

◗ Her lone win came on this course last fall against maidens.

Belvoir Bay, by Equiano

Career Beyers: 90-67-NA

◗ This will be her first start in nearly seven months, but when last seen – crushing her rivals by 7 1/4 lengths in the Blue Norther at Santa Anita – she indicated she would be one to watch.