GII – San Diego Handicap
$200.000 Graded Stake 1 1/16th Mile Dirt For Three & Up
2016 Champ: Steel Suited
Mb Stables will be looking for back to back San Diego Handicaps and has two entries, First Rebellion and Final Tune. It will not be a cake walk though as the field presents a few different challenges including Smokey Stover’s Captain Rush. Lets take a look at the field.
1- First Rebellion (Trained by Mb Stables, Ridden by Smith M E)
After a little bit of a struggle through the spring First Rebellion was able to come back with a nice effort in his last start, the GIII LS Handicap. This NY bred was able to beat both Crop Duster and stablemate Ghost Star last time out who both came back with victories in their next starts which help legitimize his last start and victory.
2- Stranger (Trained by Sanny Village, Ridden by Alvarado J)
After a bit of a layoff Stranger is back. A winner of over $1000.000 in his career will be making his first career start at DMR. Hes only run once since early October of last year and it was an impressive win at that, a eleven length dead heat win in the GII Alysheba. His win was the first since his purchase late in 2015. It has been a frustrating string of races for Sanny Village since then and is hoping the win will now be the first of many.
3- King de Bois (Trained by Namor Farms, Ridden by Baze T C)
A four year old maiden. Typically not what you see in a GII but that is exactly what King de Bois is. He was able to finish second in his last race the GIII Precisionist Stakes at SA. Even though he has looked fairly competitive in graded stakes as of late the fields have been pretty weak and race times slower then most of these have been running.
4- Final Tune (Trained by Mb Stables, Ridden by Talamo J)
I would expect this one to try and take the early lead and force the rest of the field to run him down coming for home. He used a similar strategy in his most recent start which he could not sustain late, finishing third. In his last two starts at the mile and a sixteenth distance he has put in his worst efforts in the past year. Unlikely to be much of a factor by the end of this one.
5- Ocean Cookie (Trained by Aml Racing, Ridden by Stevens G L)
In his most recent start Ocean Cookie switched it up from his typical front running race style to be a deep closer in the GI Met. He was able to close from over eight lengths off the lead at one point to only a couple off the winner and a third place finish. The mile to a mile and a sixteenth seems to be exactly what this one likes to run and will be right there looking to collect a check.
6- Pinnacle West (Trained by Tiratzo, Ridden by Espinoza V)
Another coming into DMR off running in the Met. This one also finished right behind Ocean Cookie in fourth. It has been a bit of a struggle the past couple seasons as he has not been able to find the winners circle in the last two years. If he can’t get into the winners circle in a hurry he may be headed to the breeding shed for the 2018 breeding season.
7- Make A Fortune (Trained by Night Rider Stables, Ridden by Franco M)
A nice claim by the connections earlier this year all came together in his last start with a win in the GIII Salvator Mile at MTH. The little extra distance should help even more as he will likely try and close late again, he has two for three in his career at the distance. If he can get a hot early pace this could be a long shot to watch.
8- Thats The Truth (Trained by TwinTowersRacing, Ridden by Guiterrez Mario)
After coming out of the gate flying in 2017 with a GIII win it has been a struggle for this four year old. The last two starts have resulted in twelfth place finishes. The workout tab is suggesting a bit of a slowing in the morning. Works last summer were in the low 136s, and his most recent work was a 137.3. This may be another that is headed to the 2018 breeding shed if he can’t turn it around quickly.
9- Captain Rush (Trained by Smokey Stover, Ridden by Desormeaux K J)
Last but definitely not least in this field is Captain Rush. He is still in search of that elusive graded stake win but the San Diego Handicap looks like just the spot to finally get it. His most recent start was probably the best of his career so far, a second place finish in the Met Handicap. On that day he was a closing second in the one mile race. He is the high weight in the race but with the whole field tightly grouped within a few pounds of each other I don’t see weight becoming a factor in the race. If he can keep his nose clean early in the race and find a lane coming for home he will be the one to beat when they hit the wire.
My Selections: 9/1/2