2016 San Diego Handicap Preview, Entries & Odds

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Dave Bond | OTB Writer

OffTrackBetting.com - Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar, California will play host to the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on Saturday, July 23. A purse of $200,000 will be on the line for horses three years old and upward willing to race 1 1/16 miles on Del Mar's dirt track.

A field of seven including the fabulous California Chrome will line up in the San Diego Handicap - race 9 on Del Mar's Saturday schedule. Post time is 6:10 PM. Here is a look into the past performances of all seven combatants in this Grade 2 stakes - six of which will likely be chasing Chrome.

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2016 San Diego Handicap Race Preview at Del Mar Race Track

California Chrome - two-time Eclipse Award winning Art Sherman trained 2014 Horse of the Year had a terrific six race win streak early that year and looked absolutely untouchable - the Preakness Stakes, a four length win in the Kentucky Derby, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths and two minor stakes scores. But he stumbled his next two starts - a sixth in the 2014 Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby September 20 followed a fourth in the Belmont Stakes - a race that could have made him the first Triple Crown winner in decades. He had just one start in 2015 - a runner-up finish in last year's Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan. He has been untouchable in 2016 however - a dominant win by 3 3/4 lengths in the $10 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup in March followed a Handicap score also at Meydan February 25 and an impressive win in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita January 9. California Chrome now has 21 career starts with 12 wins, three seconds and a third place finish and has won three straight ahead of this week. He looks as though he's back in stellar form, has evidently looked terrific in works leading up to Saturday (a bullet move July 16 on this track included) and will have regular rider Victor Espinoza aboard looking to make some more noise from gate 6. California Chrome is the 126 pound highweight and obvious favorite here.

Dortmund - was last seen winning the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths on this track November 28 for trainer Bob Baffert. Before that was another win in the minor Big Bear Stakes at Santa Anita in October, an OK fourth in the 2015 Preakness Stakes and a respectable third in the Kentucky Derby. He won his first six career starts before that including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby April 4, 2015, by 1 1/4 lengths in gate-to-wire fashion in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes March 7, the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes February 7, the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity, an Allowance Optional Claiming score by 7 3/4 lengths at Churchill Downs November 29 and a 4 3/4 length maiden score in his debut - at Santa Anita November 2, 2014. He now has eight wins and a third place finish in 10 career starts - incredible. Gary Stevens has been tabbed with knocking off the rust after eight months away and getting California Chrome's biggest challenger his third straight win from gate 2.

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Hard Aces - John Sadler trainee won the 2015 Gold Cup at Santa Anita in upset fashion but hasn't posted victory in nine starts since. He has been OK lately - a third last time out in the 2016 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 25 followed a respectable second behind Melatonin in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes here May 22, a disappointing seventh in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic April 23, a decent second with an impressive 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 12, a fifth in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes February 6, a fourth in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes January 9, a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a sixth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes September 26 and another disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar August 22. Hard Aces now has six wins, five seconds and eight third place finishes in 32 career starts and has placed in just three of his last nine starts overall but three of four ahead of this week. Santiago Gonzales will be in the reins hoping for Hard Aces first win in over a year from the rail.

Win the Space - has three wins, a second and two third place finishes in 11 career starts for trainer George Papaprodromou. He enters off a very nice second at 24-1 odds in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 25, an Allowance Optional Claiming score May 15, a fourteenth place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, another Allowance Optional Claiming win October 25 and a seventh in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby September 6. He has been good in his last two starts and hopes to keep the upward trend going from the outside post 7 Saturday. Mike Smith rides.

Soi Phet - seventh place finisher in this race from 2014 won a couple of minor stakes races in 2014 and has been decent since. Last time out was a win in the minor McCann's Mojave Handicap at Santa Anita June 26 which followed three straight runner-up finishes including the minor Tiznow Stakes in May and the minor Bertrando Stakes at Los Alamitos in April. He has yet to place in three graded stakes tries but has certainly been competitive lately. He now has nine wins, six seconds and four third place finishes in 45 career starts and has been trending upward ahead of this week. Kent Desormeaux has been tabbed to ride from post 3.

Follow Me Crev - Vladimir Cerin trained gelding has five wins, three seconds and three third place finishes in 17 career starts and enters off a non threatening fifth in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Santa Anita May 22. Before that he looked very good and in fact was one of the favorites for the Santa Anita Handicap before an injury forced him out. He won four straight races before his most recent fifth - all Allowance races with the last one coming by 2 1/2 lengths here February 14. His only other graded stakes action results in a fourth place finish in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby last July. Follow Me Crev has placed in six of his last seven starts overall and will be looking to bounce back after an uncharacteristic effort last time out. He tries for his first stakes win Saturday with Alonso Quinonez in the saddle from post 5.

Crittenden - Eoin Harty trained gelding won the minor P D J F Stakes at Indiana Grand last May and went on to a good second in the Grade 3 American Derby at Arlington in July. He struggled a bit after that - a fifth in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes August 8 was followed by a fourth in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby September 6 and a good bounce back win in the minor Let It Ride Stakes at Del Mar October 31. He didn't look good in his next three starts - a sixth in an Allowance at Golden Gate April 9 followed an eighth in the Grade 2 Mathis Brothers Mile in December and a twelfth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby here November 28. Last time out was an OK second in the minor Oak Tree Handicap June 25. Crittenden has 15 career starts with four wins, two seconds and a third place finish and looks for his first graded stakes score in typically inconsistent form - from gate 4 with Martin Garcia in the irons.

2016 San Diego Handicap Entries & Odds

Race 9 on Del Mar's Saturday card with a Post Time of 9:10 PM.

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Hard Aces 8-1 Santiago Gonzalez John Sadler
2 Dortmund 2-1 Gary Stevens Bob Baffert
3 Soi Phet 12-1 Kent Desormeaux Leonard Powell
4 Crittenden 20-1 Martin Garcia Eoin Harty
5 Follow Me Crev 20-1 Alonso Quinonez Vladimir Cerin
6 California Chrome 4-5 Victor Espinoza Art Sherman
7 Win the Space 8-1 Mike Smith George Papaprodromou

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