Saturday Stakes Preview: In the G1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar, filly Sharla Rae fascinating at a long price

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>>Go to the PPs for the Hollywood Derby|Post Time 3:29 PST Saturday

The Grade 1, $300,000 Hollywood Derby has a field of 14 horses, plus one horse on the also-eligible list. The race is at a mile and 1 1/8 on the grass. The field is led by Om, who is 5-2 on the morning line.

According to the TimeformUS Pace Projector, Acceptance (if he draws in) will contest the early lead with Om. March is shown in third place.

Here is the field in post position order, with morning line odds in parentheses:

Mister Brightside (12-1): Irish-bred ran a strong second in his US debut a month ago, finishing behind Om in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby after breaking a bit slowly and then receiving a comfortable trip—sitting in the pocket much of the way. Earned a strong speed figure of 119, a gigantic new top for him. He’s a threat in here if he can avoid reacting to that powerful effort.

Sharla Rae (12-1):

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The lone filly in the field is interesting at a price. She is the only Grade 1 winner in the field. That race, the best of her career, came in her only race over this surface: in the Del Mar Oaks. She earned a speed figure of 123, which fits with the best number any of her opponents has ever run. Her last two races have come against competition that is tougher than she is seeing today, according to our Race Ratings. Her last three speed figures-123 115 118—have her pointing back at her top. Her BCFM Turf effort, dull on the surface, came on wet turf in a field that left her going to post at 72-1. She has trained steadily since her last race. This might be her best distance. She draws a good post. She seems worth keeping an eye on today.

Vigilante (20-1): Improving, well-bred colt is in the very best of hands (Phil D’Amato) but remains way, way too slow on our speed figures and is eligible for a NW of 2 allowance.

Chiropractor (8-1): Makes his graded stakes debut today, fresh off a second-place finish in a non-winner of 3 allowance over this course. Earned a speed figure of 117 for that effort, in which he was comfortable early and then blocked briefly before he made a rail dive. Improving gelding goes for a top trainer but tackles much tougher today. He’s a big threat if he can step forward again, and he remains lightly raced.

Om (5-2): 3 for 4 lifetime on grass, 4 for 4 in the exacta, Om is a confirmed frontrunner who figures to have an easier time of it if the speedy Acceptance fails to draw in. He has won two Grade 2s. This will be his first try in a Grade 1. He has the fastest speed figures in the field: coming in off paired 124s. He has reportedly been training very well for this. There is little to knock here. He is a legitimate favorite. But his price figures to be tough to stomach—especially if Acceptance does get in.

Fundamental (8-1): His lifetime record of speed figures now reads: 87 100 109 111 113. In his last race, in a minor stake at Keeneland, his chances were greatly harmed by traffic trouble in the stretch. In his lone try in a graded stake, he finished a strong second in a Grade 2. He is one of four entrants for the always-dangerous Chad Brown, who gets a 100 rating with circuit-switchers. To date, he has been too slow to win this race. But he’s improving and his last race was much better than it looks. Not out of this.

Crittenden (20-1): Raced with the flow and won a minor stake at Del Mar. Needs better today.

Closing Bell (6-1): Mott entrant exits the same race as Fundamental. Unlike Fundamental, he got a clean trip, and he managed to grind his way into second place, earning a speed figure of 116. His lifetime top is a 119. He finished a distant second in the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington in August. Closing Bell fits against these, but the morning line seems a little stingy.

Soul Driver (20-1): No match for Om in either of his last two starts. He struggles with the starting gate and would need a new top and a clean trip, but does have the fastest Late Pace rating in the field.

Money Multiplier (12-1): Another Chad Brown entrant, he put in a dull effort on soft turf in a Grade 3 at Belmont. Ran a 119 while just missing in a Grade 3 at Saratoga in the summer, and is a threat if getting back to his best.

March (10-1): Chad Brown again. Made his turf debut in the English Channel at Belmont. Got into a tough spot in the lane and was not persevered with late. Brown puts him right back on grass, a positive. A Grade 2 winner on dirt, he seems dangerous, but he’ll need his very best, at a minimum, and we’ll need price.

Royal Albert Hall (20-1): 0 for 9 on the grass. No match for Om in the Twilight Derby. Has run some competitive speed figures and can’t be ruled out of exotics (at a massive price), but we don’t see a win coming here.

Offering Plan (5-1): Chad Brown again. Ran a 10-point new top while winning the English Channel with an inside-out trip. Makes his 4th start off the layoff and is a threat if Mike Smith can work out a trip from this post.

Win the Space (20-1): Made a three-wide move on the turn while under wraps on his way to winning an entry-level allowance on dirt at Santa Anita. His turf top is only a 112. Draws a tough post and needs a  big new top today.

Acceptance [Also Eligible] (20-1): Figures to be compromised by Om.

The Play:

We will take our chances with the filly, Sharla Rae, at a big price.

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