Where the crème de la crème of flat racing's thoroughbreds converge to do battle across fourteen races with total prize money in excess of $30,000,000, this year descending upon Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Southern California... “Where the turf meets the surf”. This will be just the second time the two day extravaganza heads to Del Mar (having first been held here in 2017) with Santa Anita Park and Churchill Downs having historically been the preferred venues.

It's definitely worth noting that as the venue changes year on year, this means that some of the stats/trends (especially those around track/stall bias) should be treated with some level of caution as although the courses look similar on paper, none are exactly the same and each track can ride very differently.

Another point worth noting is that the finish line is around half a furlong closer to the entrance to the straight than at the aforementioned venues, meaning those in the lead coming in to the straight have less of a trip to hold off all challengers. As a very general rule prominent runners who have more emphasis on speed tend to have the edge over those who prefer to sit back and come with a late run.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (credit



  • Only 3 prior renewals & each have been won by the shortest priced American runner

Kaufymaker made up a fair bit of late ground to finish second to stablemate Averly Jane when they met at Keeneland in October, however it was the latter that was very much the eyecatcher, breaking smartly and travelling strongly from the front, opening up a three length lead on the bend before extending the lead to around four lengths under a hands and heels ride. A commanding victory to make it four wins from four career runs, she looks to have a great chance of extending her winning streak here.

Wesley Ward also saddles Twilight Gleaming who has form figures of 2121 including a Listed success in France when last seen and an excellent second in the Group 2 Queen Mary at Royal Ascot in June. She has had a couple of tough races but has also been given plenty of time to recover in-between so could actually benefit from those experiences and looks the biggest danger to the favourite.

One Timer is another who arrives here looking to maintain a 100% winning record, following up a 12 length maiden victory with another commanding display at Woodbine in July, before holding off the late challenge of Time To Party when last seen. Given that One Timer had the better of the draw and Time To Party has a prior course and distance victory to his name, I am surprised to see such a big difference between the two in the markets. I'm not convinced that Time To Party has what it takes to win, but I could certainly see him getting closer and possibly reversing the form with One Timer.

Moving away from the American runners, Armor has won a Group 3 race over this trip and was only a neck away from victory in the Group 2 Flying Childers at Doncaster in September, while Go Bears Go is a Group 2 winner over six furlongs but has also won over the minimum trip and was only a head behind Perfect Power when second in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. Both are more than capable on their day and both would need considering for each way purposes.



  • 4x big priced winners in the last 8 years - winners at odds of 66/1, 40/1, 28/1 & 20/1

  • Look for horses that ran in either the Frizette, the Alcibiades or the Chandelier

Echo Zulu has won three from three, stepping up in distance each time and taking both the Grade 1 Spinaway and Grade 1 Frizette exactly as you would hope a short priced favourite should. Last time out she kicked on nicely in the home straight to win by an ever increasing margin, however despite two Grade 1 victories hasn't really come up against any rivals with real substance and for this reason she looks a little short in the betting for me.

Hidden Connection streaked clear to win the Grade 3 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs by around nine lengths, thus cementing her place here. Whilst visually impressive, the time wasn't anything spectacular and to me she didn't look like she would be capable of improving too much on that performance.

Juju's Map was a solid winner of the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in October, stepping up to the highest level and winning with apparent ease. For me this was the most intriguing of runs as rather than going all out to grab the lead she opted to sit in behind the leader before making her move at the bend, showing good speed, intelligence and staying ability to stretch out on the home straight. Of the top three in the market, it was this prior run that impressed me the most and I also think that she had plenty left to be able to kick on again if needed so it is the Brad Cox runner that gets my vote here.

Tarabi was well behind Echo Zulu in the Spinaway while Sequist has finished behind both Echo Zulu and Juju's Map in her last two races and it's difficult to see either stepping forwards enough to reverse the form.



  • 5/12 winners won last time out

  • Only 3 winning faves, although all 3 have come in the last 5 years

  • 3 of Chad Brown’s winners had won the Miss Grillo prior to winning here

  • C Brown 5/2/20 (has won 4 of the last 7 renewals)

  • Irad Ortiz Jr 2/7

  • R Moore 0/11

Pizza Bianca was a shade unlucky when second in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes when last seen, getting squeezed by a couple of rivals and losing some momentum at a crucial time in the race. Given the way Wild Beauty won, I doubt Cristophe Clement's runner would have been able to reverse the result with a clear run but she would without doubt have finished closer and was still staying on strongly passing the winning post so its no surprise to see her close to the head of the early markets.

Koala Princess is unbeaten in two, yet both races have been in lesser company than she will encounter here so despite looking to have a decent amount of potential I am a little surprised to see her at such a short price. She may surprise me but at the price I would have to look elsewhere as this looks a competitive race with a few rivals who are more up to the task given experience to date.

Mise En Scene wasn't disgraced when fourth in the Group 1 B365 Fillies Mile at Newmarket when last seen, finishing a short head behind the re-opposing Catchet while running on strongly on what was her first attempt over a mile, having previously won twice over seven furlongs. She is reunited with Oisin Murphy for this race and looks more than capable of playing a part at the finish.

Haughty is one of two represented by Chad Brown and was last seen winning as a 4/11 shot should at Keeneland last month, easing clear on the bend and extending away under a confident hands and heels ride under Tyler Gaffalione who is retained in the saddle today.

The other Chad Brown runner is Consumer Spending who actually looked to be in a spot of bother at Laurel Park last month, coming off the bend in second last and having to switch to the outside having found nowhere to go up the rail. That said, as soon as she saw daylight she lengthened out and found herself in the lead in a matter of strides, winning with what looked to be plenty in hand. Although the race lacked depth and she was chased home by two 100/1 shots, it was hard not to be impressed with how quickly she turned a tough situation in to a winning one and given her trainers record in the race she is given the nod in what looks to be a competitive affair.



  • 8/10 winners have been drawn in stalls 4-7

  • Only 4 winning faves in the last 20 years

  • B Baffert has trained 4 winners of this race

Jack Christopher looked in complete command when holding off the late challenge of Commandperformance in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park when last seen, however the runner-up had to come from way off the pace and had to go wide on the bend so I would be happy to mark that performance up. Neither have fantastic draws, with the favourite in danger of getting boxed in right on the rail and Todd Pletchers runner drawn in ten (update: Jack Christopher now NR).

Bob Baffert runs Barossa, Corniche and Pinehurst, and although the first two are proven over this trip it is big step up for Barossa, while Corniche has drawn stall 12 so it is the latter who looks the most likely of the trio to play a part. A winner on debut over the minimum trip here at Del Mar, Pinehurst returned to Del Mar and stepped up to seven furlongs, putting in a taking performance to win the Grade 1 Futurity Stakes when last seen. The way he stretched out and ran right through the line suggests the extra distance he encounters here won't be an issue and he looks a live contender for a trainer who excels in this race.

Pappacap and Oviatt Class both finished behind Corniche last time out and would both need to improve to figure here.



  • 11/14 winners went off at single figure odds

  • 9/14 winners were trained in Europe, 5 of which raced on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket last time out

  • 9/14 winners came from stalls 1-5

  • only 2/14 winning favourites

  • A O’Brien 4 wins since 2011

  • M Casse 0 wins from 10 runners, J Velasquez 0/11, J Rosario 0/10

  • R Moore 4/11, F Dettori 3/9, Jose Ortiz 2/3/5

This looks to be a cracking finale to day 1, with European trained runners having excelled in this race in recent years and as such having a strong foothold the head of the market. Charlie Appleby has had another excellent season and has two runners in the mix, Modern Games and Albahr. The former has impressed in his last two runs, forging clear at Doncaster over seven furlongs in September before another commanding performance to win the Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket two weeks later. He is yet to race over a mile but given the way he finishes his races I would not expect the step up in trip to cause issue. Albahr is unbeaten over seven and eight furlongs and was last seen clearing away nicely to beat subsequent winner Grafton Street in the Grade 1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine when last seen. He is two from two under Frankie Dettori and although can look like he needs a little encouragement mid-race he shows plenty for pressure and always finishes his race off really strongly. Both have a little bit of class about them and for me are tough to split.

Dubawi Legend got to within two lengths of 122 rated Native Trail in the Group 1 Dewhurst at Newmarket when last seen, and although headed inside the final furlong he was still staying on at the finish so should be more than capable of seeing out the mile here, although has been a little unfortunate being drawn in stall 14.

Of the home contingent, it is Tiz The Bomb who makes most appeal on the back of a gutsy performance when last seen, where just about everything went wrong yet he still managed to prevail with victory in the Grade 1 Castle & Key Bourbon Stakes. He managed to break through the stalls before the start, had to be reloaded and then sit in behind the leaders having been drawn in stall 12, before making his move late on and battling through to win going away. His sire won this race with a similarly tenacious performance in 2015 so it would be somewhat of a fairytale, and also entirely plausible to see Tiz The Bomb follow up with victory here.