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Bernier: How I'll play Del Mar on Saturday, Nov. 11

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

The Breeders’ Cup may have concluded last Saturday at Del Mar, but that doesn’t mean the exciting racing action comes to an end. Saturday’s early pick five looks like an interesting sequence, and I’ll offer up some runners to consider.


WENDY’S BACK (1) was hung brutally wide throughout in her turf debut but was far from embarrassed, staying on nicely to finish fifth. A forward move should be expected from this filly, making her second start off the bench. WEATHER MARKET (4) ran credibly in her career debut at Santa Anita on Oct. 22, and the transition to turf could produce an improved effort. Carla Gaines has had success with this move in the past (past five years, dirt to turf, 2TS: 3/10, $3.47 ROI), and this filly doesn’t need to improve much to get the job done here.


DANGEROUSLY CLOSE (5) and NORWEGIAN SPY (2) are likely the two most talented runners in the field, but they share a similar forward running style. Both fillies get significant class relief in this spot, but there’s a real possibility that they’ll compromise one another’s chances; they both must be used, but it would seem dangerous to lean on them alone. If things heat up early, perhaps BLISSFUL LADY (4) can work out a trip like the one she did when winning her maiden two starts back at Del Mar.


VIOLENT RIDGE (2) ran credibly in his career debut for Hector Palma, earning a 57 Beyer Speed Figure. The winner returned to earn a 67 Beyer in his next start, so normal progression for Violent Ridge would suggest he’s a prime contender Saturday. ISHI (6) performed admirably in his second lifetime start at Pleasanton for Jerry Hollendorfer, and now he’ll make his first start for trainer Peter Miller. It’s also worth noting that Ishi finished seven lengths ahead of a runner who returned to earn a 64 Beyer in his next start. If a first-time starter is going to get the job done, perhaps it’s Doug O’Neill’s runner, READY EDDIE (3); Ready Eddie is by Square Eddie, whose 2-year-old firsters win at roughly 22 percent.


Saturday’s fourth feels like it could be a bit of a scramble; several horses have competitive figures, yet none of them feels particularly trustworthy. RED KING (3) was hung wide while chasing a moderate pace most recently, and of the runners exiting that event on Oct. 15, he’s the one I want. TRUSTWORTHY (7) returns to turf, a surface he may prefer based on his pedigree. I’m going deep in this sequence, using BACOLI (1), CURLY’S WATERFRONT (4), SUPREME VENTURE (5), WALDORF (6), and AWESOME HEIGHTS (10) as backups.


MOURINHO (2) ran a giant race most recently while going shorter at Santa Anita, winning the pace battle but paying for it late. Today’s race appears to have an entirely different pace scenario, and if Mourinho can shake clear on the lead, he could easily make the competition pay. Look for Drayden Van Dyke to send this Bob Baffert trainee from the gate and attempt to wire this field.

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