I’m hoping that relative back class and fondness for Del Mar will play a role in the ultimate success of my two main plays on Wednesday’s opening day program at the San Diego-area course.
Race 6: Among the candidates in this second-level allowance for fillies and mares is Frenzified (#6, 9-2), who peaked here last summer when taking the CTT & TOC Handicap over 1 3/8 miles in just her third U.S. appearance. She went on to finish a solid third in the Rodeo Drive (G1) at Santa Anita, but disappointed in three subsequent outings. I don’t think being on the lead in the Red Carpet (G3) was her thing, the off-the-turf Robert J. Frankel loss in the slop is a toss, and she hasn’t been out since a fading fifth in the $79,000 Astra II in early February. While this race smells as a potential prep for a title defense in the CTT & TOC, she was competitive off an even longer spell last year and perhaps the fondness for the local lawn will be a major benefit in getting her over the top.
Race 7: Jockey Mike Smith has gotten the best out of the lightly-raced Miner’s Light (#1, 8-1). A deep closer, he sprinted in his first four outings before breaking his maiden on turf. One thing he hasn’t done yet, surprisingly, is route on the dirt, but gets his chance Wednesday in this one-mile, entry-level allowance. Admittedly, the lack of any tactical foot is highly worrisome, but I do take solace in the way he hung tough over this track two seasons ago at the start of his career against several horses that went on to do good things. He just failed to hold off future multiple Grade 1 winner and Preakness (G1) hero Exaggerator by a nose in his debut, and next out missed to Uncle Lino and Wild About Deb, both of whom went on to place in several graded stakes. I expect a step forward off a dull effort with Smith reclaiming the mount.