Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 2 San Diego Handicap is on tap for Del Mar in sunny Southern California this Saturday, July 25. A purse of $200,000 will be on the line for horses three years old and upward willing to go 1 1/16 miles on Del Mar's dirt track.
A competitive field of eight will line up in the San Diego Handicap - race 8 on Del Mar's Saturday card. Post time is 5:40 PM. Let's take a peek into the past performances of all eight combatants for this Grade 2 stakes - a local prep for the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.
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2015 San Diego Handicap Race Favorite Entries
Hoppertunity - Bob Baffert trained colt was one of the favorites for last year's Kentucky Derby but missed that race. He is coming off a decent second to Hard Aces in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 27 after consecutive OK third place finishes - in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap June 13 and the Grade 2 San Antonio Invitational in February. Before that were two terrific wins - in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes January 10 and in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs November 28 with an impressive 104 Beyer Speed Figure. He also had a good second behind California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby in April, 2014 to go along with a great win over Tapiture in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park last March 15. Hoppertunity has three wins, three seconds and two third place finishes in his last eight starts overall - as competitive as they come. Mike Smith has the mount pick from post 3.
Bayern - Bob Baffert trained colt has 12 career starts and has placed in eight - five graded stakes scores with two Grade 1 wins included. He enters off a disappointing tenth in the Grade 1 Met Mile June 6 which followed a last of six in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes May 2 and a superb wins in the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in September. He also had a tenth in last year's Grade 1 Travers and a two race win streak - the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park last July and the Grade 2 Woody Stephens by 7 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park June 7. Bayern has six wins in his 12 starts but has looked totally out of sync in his last two starts. Martin Garcia has been tabbed with changing the 123 pound highweight's fortunes around from gate 4 Saturday.
San Diego Handicap 2015 | Remaining Contenders
Catch a Flight - Argentinean bred Gary Mandella trainee had six wins and a third place finish at home before debuting in North America with a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming January 19. He has five starts since that race - a win in an Allowance Optional Claiming February 13, a respectable third behind Shared Belief and Moreno in the competitive Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 7, a nice two race win streak - in the Grade 2 California Stakes here May 30 and the Grade 3 Precisionist Stakes May 2 and an OK third as favorite behind Hoppertunity last time out in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 27. He has three wins and three thirds in his last six starts - competitive every time out lately. He hopes to keep that trend going Saturday with Gary Stevens aboard from gate 6.
Appealing Tale - finished second in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes to start his year - a race that followed a respectable third in the Grade 3 Midnight Lute Stakes in December. He has been very good the last 2 1/2 months - a second last time out in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap June 27 followed an Allowance Optional Claiming score by 3 1/2 lengths May 31 and a second in a similar race May 10. Appealing Tale now has four wins, five seconds and six third place finishes in 22 career starts and enters in pretty good form. Joe Talamo rides from gate 2 hoping to keep the upward trend going for Appealing Tale.
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Sahara Sky - four time graded stakes winning Jerry Hollendorfer trained Sahara Sky raced in graded stakes company for the first time in January, 2013 and recorded an impressive win - the 2013 Palos Verdes by one length January 19 at 21-1 odds. He also had a win in the 2013 San Carlos February 23 and a win in the 2013 Grade 1 Met Handicap with a 110 Beyer Speed Figure at Belmont Park. Sahara Sky returned to the winner's circle in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita last March 8 - the last time he tasted victory. He hasn't quite been the same since however. He enters off a fifth in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita June 27 after an OK third in the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes April 11, a sixth as favorite in the 2014 Triple Bend Handicap, an ugly seventh as 5-2 favorite in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes last May 3 and OK second in the 2014 Grade 1 Carter Handicap. Sahara Sky will saddle up for just the fifth time in a year having placed in just one of those starts. James Graham has the mount on Sahara Sky from the outside gate 8.
Majestic City - Richard Baltas multiple graded stakes winner has five wins, four seconds and four third place finishes in 26 career starts. He enters off a disappointing seventh in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 27 which followed a good win in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap May 25, an eighth in the minor Santana Mile, a fifth in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes in March and 10 months away from the track. He also had a third in the Grade 3 Precisionist Stakes May 3, 2014 and a second in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap in March of 2014. Majestic City hadn't looked good before that impressive win two starts back but his result last time out doesn't breed a whole lot of optimism for this weekend. Hopes are that he can return to his form in May as he leaves from post 5 with Tyler Baze in the reins.
Nowalking - Phil D'Amato trained colt has placed in eight of 10 career starts - two wins, two seconds and four third place finishes. He enters off a third place finish in his stakes debut - the minor Mountainview Handicap at Penn National May 30 after consecutive wins at Santa Anita in the spring. Nowalking takes a huge step up in competition Saturday from the rail with Tiago Josue Pereira aboard.
Sammy Manderville - Doug O'Neill trained colt has 14 career starts with two wins, three seconds and a third place finish and posted a fifth last time out in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes May 30. It followed a career best effort - a second behind Catch a Flight in the Grade 3 Precisionist Stakes May 2. He finished ninth in two other graded stakes tries - one coming three starts back - April 11 in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. Before that result was a win and a second respectively in a pair of Allowance Optional Claiming races - the win by 6 1/2 lengths in a 1 1/16 mile race. Rafael Bejarano has the mount Saturday hoping to get Sammy Mandeville his first stakes win - from post 7.