Thursday Racing Picks: Best Bets For Del Mar

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Thursday Racing Picks: Best Bets For Del Mar

Matt Bernier's Racing Picks

Matt Bernier's Racing Picks

November 26, 2020

Free Horse Racing Picks at Del Mar - Thursday November 26

Top handicapper Andrew Champagne runs through the meet at Del Mar on Thursday


Thursday is Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., but racing doesn't grind to a halt. Del Mar boasts an eight-race holiday program, one anchored by a Grade 3 stakes race, and I'm intrigued by the late Pick Four. It starts in the fifth, and here's how I'll attack it!

RACE #5: We kick things off with a maiden claiming event for older runners, and there simply doesn't seem to be much proven form signed on. The morning line man sees this as a three-horse race, but while I'm against #3 WESTERN SMOKE, the other two choices look imposing.

#8 STREET BEHAVIOR has run reasonably well in three tries at this level since going to the Kristin Mulhall barn. Most recently, he was second beaten less than two lengths at Santa Anita, and he was nearly four lengths clear of that race's second-place finisher. The most recent drill looks pretty sharp, and I think he could sit an ideal stalking trip.

I'll also somewhat reluctantly use #2 MOST SANDISFACTORY. Based on figures, he's probably the horse to beat, but he's also 0-for-11 with six seconds and three thirds. Some horses are simply pack animals that don't want to win, and it's not like he hasn't had chances. This is probably a “now or never” spot for this gelding, though, so I can't dismiss him.

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RACE #6: This is the Grade 3 Red Carpet for older turf distaffers going a mile and three-eighths. I very nearly singled an East Coast invader with powerhouse connections, but I think there's another runner in here you need to use as well.

#4 ORGLANDES broke through last time out at Belmont, when she dusted optional claiming foes in her second stateside start. She stretches out here, but she ran very well going long in France, where she posted two solid wins at marathon distances before going to the sidelines. Her form certainly seems like it's on an upswing, and my guess is she'll get bet down from her 5/2 morning line odds.

I can't discount the chances of #10 QUICK, though. Her best effort came at this route of ground, when she was second in an $82,000 stakes race this past summer. She set the pace that day, but she doesn't need the lead in order to run well, and she was a good second last month going a mile at Santa Anita. This route hits me as the one she wants, and at her likely price, she hits me as a must-use.

RACE #7: I have one strong feeling in this restricted claiming race, and that is that #10 OCTOPUS is a vulnerable favorite. He's got a lot of early speed, to be sure, but he had chances at this level two and three back and couldn't get the job done. Perhaps he breaks through here, but I simply can't have much confidence in him at his likely price, and I think there's money to be made going against him.

I'm five-deep, and my tepid top pick is #3 UNCAPTURED HERO, who drops down in class for Richard Baltas. It's safe to assume this one has had his issues. His connections tried him in the Grade 3 Sham back in January, where he chased likely Horse of the Year Authentic, but he went to the sidelines until August after that effort. When he showed up again, he was in claiming races. I'm not sure I'd be first in line to claim him, but his last-out effort was solid and perhaps he'll take another step forward third off the bench.

I'll also use #1 SATCHEL DE RITCHES, #6 SMILEFORME, #8 CALL YOU TOMORROW, and #9 GANGLY. Smileforme is an interesting case. He's making his first start for Jonathan Wong, and he does so in his first start for a claiming tag. Wong has a really strong record with new acquisitions, and while he hasn't won in a while, he'll be a contender if he can channel his early-2020 form.

RACE #8: We'll finish off the Thanksgiving program with a grass grab bag. A full field will go a mile on the turf course, and while I'm including the likely favorite, I don't think he's a cinch.

#2 BENCH JUDGE makes his first start off the claim for Peter Miller, who will give a leg up to jockey Joel Rosario. He takes an aggressive jump up in class, but few are better than Miller when it comes to improving horses upon a barn switch. His last-out effort at Santa Anita was sharp, and I think he'll show a lot of speed. The question is, does he have the stamina and the class to make every pole a winning one?

Perhaps he does, but I'll also use #9 INVICTATUS and #10 HOOP DREAM, who ran 2-3 in a similar race earlier in the Del Mar meet. I'm also throwing in #4 GREGDAR, who won off a long layoff two back and hooked a solid field in his first start against winners. He was fourth that day despite a troubled trip, and that day's runner-up has since come back to win. Two turns is an unknown, but Umberto Rispoli sees fit to ride back for trainer Phil D'Amato, and I see that as a sign of confidence. His 10-1 morning line hits me as an overlay, and I think he's got a big shot.


R5: 2,8

R6: 4,10

R7: 1,3,6,8,9

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