All around the country, this seems to be the weekend to get the three-year-olds on the lawn for big turf stakes. At Del Mar, where the turf meets the surf, six colts are set to duke it out on the Jimmy Durante turf course in the Grade III La Jolla Stakes.
The La Jolla Stakes is carded early in the program (Race 5 of 11) and is scheduled to go to post at 4:07 pm (PT). This race is an 8.5 furlong (1 and 1/16 miles) turf race, so the horses will start midway up the turf chute. Although it is early in the meet, the turf course does not appear to have a strong bias.
In what is a surprise to no one, the weather forecast for the day is perfect, 75 degrees, and pleasant. In a short field, I will be highlighting three contenders.
Betting Preview: (3) Perfect Flight
Since Del Mar has been very unkind to favorites this meets, my top pick for this race is (3) Perfect Flight. This son of Uncle Mo has not yet raced on the grass, but in his last start at Churchill Downs, this colt took a giant step forward.
Uncle Mo is known for siring strong turf horses, and his dam, Date to Remember, has produced two turf winners. I think that jockey Ramon Vazquez is going to sit just behind the pacesetters and run them down in the stretch. His 8-to-1 morning line seems like a great price to me.
Betting Preview: (2) Stayincotai
My next selection is also one of the bigger prices (2) Stayincotai. I am always very impressed by a horse that can ship over from Europe and win the first time out in Southern California. This son of Cotai Glory (GB) closed from very deep to win an allowance optional claiming event two weeks ago at Del Mar.
After a brutal Spring and early Summer for jockey Umberto Rispoli, it seems like being back at Del Mar has gotten his mojo back. If this colt gets some pace to chase, which I think he will, Umberto has a good shot at running them down. I think that the post-time odds for Stayincotai should be around his 6-to-1 morning line.
Betting Preview: (1) Armagnac
If there is any chance that a horse could wire the field, that horse would have to be (1) Armagnac. I am not a big fan of this son of Quality Road, but there is no doubting that he has by far the earliest speed in this race.
Since breaking his maiden, the only times that he didn’t have the lead going into the first turf was when he was facing the ultra-quick Forbidden Kingdom. If no horse goes with him, there is a chance that this colt could stroll to an easy victory under jockey Florent Geroux.
The big question mark is that this colt has never run on the grass, and trainer Bob Baffert is not known for turf runners. It won’t shock me if they bet him down from his 5-to-2 morning line.