January 30, 2023

United strong favorite in Del Mar ‘Cap; French imports invade for Del Mar Oaks

United and jockey Flavien Prat return to the winner's circle following victory in the Eddie Read Stakes (G2) (Benoit Photo)

United turned in one of the most surprising efforts at the Breeders’ Cup last year, finishing only a head behind eventual Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar in the 1 1/2-mile Turf (G1) at odds of 51-1. On Saturday, the 5-year-old rides a three-race win streak into the $200,000 Del Mar H. (G2), which offers the winner an expenses-paid berth into the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland in November.

After his second to Bricks and Mortar, United lost another close one in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), but has been unbeatable since. Although his winning margins have been a half-length or less, United has come out on top this season in the San Marcos (G2), Charles Whittingham (G2), and Eddie Read (G2). On paper, United appears a short-priced standout in the 1 3/8-mile Del Mar ‘Cap

Among those looking to spring an upset are Oscar Dominguez, who surprised United in the 12-furlong Hollywood Turf Cup last December and is making his second start back from a layoff on Saturday. Originaire was narrowly beaten in the Whittingham two back but only fifth in the Eddie Read, while the veteran Ward ‘n Jerry fired fresh when taking the San Luis Rey (G3) earlier this year and enters off a similar two-month spell.

Del Mar Oaks

The $250,000 Del Mar Oaks (G1) over 1 1/8 miles on turf features a rematch between Laura’s Light, Guitty, and Warren’s Showtime, who were separated by 1 1/4 lengths at the end of last month’s San Clemente (G2). However, two French imports might prove the horses to fear.

Richard Mandella will saddle Miss Extra, who captured the Prix de Sandringham (G2) at Chantilly in June before finishing ninth in the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) (G1) the following month. Invading the French provinces is Neigh Blanche, who on June 6 captured the Prix Cleopatre (G3) at Lyon, a race re-located this year from it’s normal home of Saint-Cloud due to rescheduling caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The stakes action on Pacific Classic Day kicks off with the $100,000 Green Flash H. (G1), a 5-furlong turf sprint. Making his first start for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler is the Grade 2-placed stakes winner Chaos Theory, a former mainstay on the Kentucky and Louisiana circuits claimed by his present connections for $62,500 from a victory at Churchill Downs on June 14.

Other contenders include Sparky Ville and Baja Sur, as well as the Golden Gate-based Mikes Tiznow.