Del Mar opening weekend stakes preview

July 16th, 2021

Del Mar‘s iconic summer meet begins Friday, and opening weekend features two graded stakes — Saturday’s San Diego H. (G2) and Sunday’s Cougar II S. (G3).

Here are horses to watch in these contests as Del Mar begins its 82nd season.

San Diego H. (G2)

Royal Ship will take on Express Train and Mo Mosa in this 1 1/16 mile test.

In his last start, Royal Ship almost took command in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita, but finished second, by a head, to Country Grammer, and Express Train finished third, 4 1/4 lengths behind. Before the Gold Cup, Royal Ship won the Californian S. (G2). Trained by Richard Mandella and ridden by Mike Smith, he is the 9-5 morning line favorite.

The Hollywood Gold Cup was Express Train’s fifth consecutive top-three finish in a graded contest, including a win in the San Pasqual S. (G2) and a second-place finish in the Santa Anita H. (G1).

Mo Mosa, a son of Uncle Mo, also has momentum off two wins, the most recent in the Steve Sexton Mile (G3) at Lone Star.

Cougar II S. (G3)

Tizamagician, who won the Tokyo City Cup (G3) and finished second in a pair of Grade 2 races, has had a strong 2021 campaign. The Mandella trainee will have jockey Flavien Prat in the irons.

Contagion, who has finished in the top two in his last five races, could provide some competition if he can handle the jump in class.