Selection: #8 Athina Lee
Although he doesn’t get the quality of stock of trainers such as Bob Baffert, Peter Miller is as fine a layoff trainer as we have seen in California since the legendary Charlie Whittingham, for whom Miller once worked as a groom.
Athina Lee enters this race off a layoff of 13 months, and this race appears to present a situation in which the most-talented horse is in the hands of a trainer who is doing the thing at which he is most talented. That is a pleasing combination.
When last on the racetrack, Athina Lee earned a speed figure of 83 for her performance in a turf sprint against tougher competition than she faces today. That 83 would hit hard in this field. Indeed, it looks very much like a winning number from here. Her breeding for the switch to synthetic is essentially neutral. Her strong workout over this very surface is wholly positive. The clear early lead that the TFUS Pace Projector gives her is another positive. Her relevant TFUS trainer ratings are further positives. And this is Peter Miller at Del Mar, possibly the biggest positive of all. At morning line odds of 5-2, Athina Lee is the selection.
Frankly, the rest of this field leaves us a bit nonplussed. But if the odds on Warren’s Chaser end up a few ticks north of her morning line odds, we will probably be able to muster a bit of enthusiasm for her in exotics.