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Best Pal Stakes
||Drayden Van Dyke
Four of the five horses in this race are coming off maiden-breaking wins. The only horse that has not won is Synthesis for trainer Keith Desormeaux. That horse has two third place finishes and one fourth in his three starts.
Instagrand was purchased for $1.2 million by Larry Best’s OXO Equine. The horse was superb in his first start, just missing the track record. The horse is starting to get some attention in Kentucky Derby odds. He is listed at 30-1 in Kentucky Derby futures.
Owning looked good in winning his first race, winning by 2.5 lengths over maidens at Los Alamitos last month. He will be the second choice in the betting under jockey Mario Gutierrez.
Sparky Ville won as the favorite in a special weight maiden race under Gary Stevens in early June. He will start from the outside, although there are just five horses in this field. He is expected to go off at double-digit odds.
Mason Dixon won last month at Del Mar for trainer Doug O’Neill. The horse is the only one of the five who has raced previously at Del Mar. The horse will be ridden by Flavien Prat who currently leads all jockeys in wins at the Del Mar meet. “Even though the time of the race wasn’t that fast, the way he did it coming off the pace was solid and showed a lot of quality about him,” O’Neill said about Mason Dixon’s last race. “Being able to retain Prat is also a bonus. Big purse in our own back yard, let’s take a chance.”
O’Neill has won 40 races nationwide since early May and he finished first in the trainer standings in the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting. O’Neill has had one two-year old stakes winner this year, as Lippy won the Juan Gonzalez Stakes in late June at Pleasanton.
Synthesis has placed in two of her three starts and has the Desormeaux combination. The horse is considered the longshot in this race at odds of 15-1. The horse will have to do better on Saturday to have any chance to keep pace with Instagrand.
Best Pal Stakes Picks
Is there any other choice but Instagrand on Saturday? The horse looked fantastic in winning his first race and there is every reason to believe he is going to be on the Kentucky Derby trail very soon. The field for this race is very small so traffic won’t be a problem and there are no real serious challengers among the other four horses. It is never that exciting to pick an odds-on favorite in horse racing, but when the horse is a standout in a small field there is no other option. Owning is the second choice in the betting, but there really isn’t much separating the other four horses in this race. That makes an exotic wager tough to pick, because the only value would come if Instagrand fails to win the race and that scenario does not seem likely. I will just go with Instagrand to win on Saturday.
The Best Pal Stakes has a post time of 6 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, August 11 at Del Mar.
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