The 2020 Hollywood Derby

The Kentucky Derby was run in September so why not have the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar? We surely couldn’t run it at Hollywood Park unless we wanted it run on a football stadium.

The race came up strong this year and looks like a true Grade 1 affair. We’ve got East Coast, West Coast, and even Kentucky in there. No European invaders came but we do have a Breeders’ Cup winner in the field. I’ll run down the field and try and nail the winner!

Kanderel comes from a barn I have enormous respect for. He has a nice inside draw but looks a cut below a few in here. I do not see him as a win contender. He can get a piece, but not the win in my opinion.

Smooth Like Strait almost was my top selection. He is definitely a win candidate, and he loves this course being two for two over it. He can sit close and pounce, and that is the perfect trip at this distance at Del Mar. Rispoli is two for two on him and I think he will be the one to beat and get by down the lane.

Scarto is in good form and was close to Smooth Like Strait but I do not see him turning the tables or beating a few of the invaders.

Taishan has been racing at Oaklawn, Indiana, Churchill and Keeneland and now comes back home for Richard Baltas to California. He seems to prefer grass, and also likes the distance. I can see him running late and getting a piece at what should be a nice price. I don’t think he can win, but he can get into the exotics.

Storm the Court has not won a race since he upset the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on the dirt in 2019. His one turf race came right here and was an OK second to Smooth Like Strait. I don’t like him in this spot. I think there are better and faster grass horses in here, and I don’t believe the mile and an eighth is his best distance. A pass for me.

California Kook may run on Thursday. If she goes here instead, I’ll have to pass. I don’t want a filly against the boys in this spot. She fits in a lot of ways, and can be coming, but I don’t think she beats all these males.

Strongconstitution likes grass and is improving. I think he wants to go shorter that this, so I’ll pass. He has a shot, but I will take a stand against him. Cedillo and O’ Neill win their fair share and he projects a nice trip, but I see him weakening when it counts most.

Domestic Spending should win this. He is just coming into his own and gets the right pace to run at and distance to get up at. I think he is one of the better three-year old turfers and was always meant to be just that. His one loss had a legit excuse and without another one on Saturday I think he wins.

Get Smokin should be on the lead under Mike Smith and that is always dangerous. I think a few keep him honest and take early shots at him. He may hang tough a while, but they’ll get him late.

Decorated Invader should have won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He was best that day and the trip and ride did him in. He came back strong on paper, but when watching his races, he didn’t look like he had earlier in his career. He’s tough and legit, but Brown has the better horse I believe.

Ever Dangerous got good all of a sudden and looks like somewhat of an over achiever to me. He’ll have to show me he’s this good. I don’t believe it.

Lane Way is improving but also looks a cut or two below the better ones in here. He’s a pricey colt, and seems to prefer turf, and while I do not think he can win, I do think he can sneak up for a surprise piece.

Gufo is going to be making a strong late run in here. He always does and Prat will be patient and let him roll when it counts. He gets pace to set him up, and he will have to be dealt with late.

Barring something unusual I am going to play Domestic Spending in here. I’ll single him in any multi race wagers. I’ll also take him over Smooth Like Strait and Gufo with some prices in the third and forth slots. I hope he is not over-bet because of Chad Brown and Irad Ortiz bit if he is, I’ll have to find a way to reconcile that. It won’t be the first time.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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