The G3 2022 Bob Hope Stakes, the feature of Sunday’s card at Del Mar, is more often than not a Bob Baffert benefit and the master trainer sends three to the gate in a bid to improve his incredible record in the race, including G1 runners Havnameltdown and Newgate.
Bob Hope Stakes
G3, $100,000, 7f dirt, 2yo, 4.00pm PT
It is no surprise to see Bob Baffert dominating the pre-race chatter about the Bob Hope, a race he has already won a record 11 times including five of the last seven, and with the three leading contenders – half the field – for Sunday’s main event at Del Mar there won’t be many betting against him making it a round dozen.
His most accomplished representative – so far – is G3 Best Pal winner Havnameltdown (6-5), who built on that effort when runner-up to barnmate Cave Rock in the G1 Del Mar Futurity over course and distance in September. Havnameltdown could never lay a glove on the winner, subsequently runner-up in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but he was a clear second-best and probably still has improvement in him. A G1 runner-up in a G3 smacks of class relief and there’s no doubt he’ll find this easier pickings.
His barnmate Newgate (5-2) was fourth in the Futurity, five and a quarter lengths further back, a slightly disappointing effort and one he improved on in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland next time, when he stalked the pace before fading in the closing stages over a mile-sixteenth, finishing fifth behind BC Juvenile winner Forte and only two heads away from being third. The cutback is a positive.
The third member of Team Baffert is Hard To Figure (3-1), who makes his Graded-stakes debut after breaking his maiden in a stakes at Los Alamitos over six and a half furlongs. On form he has plenty to make up on his barnmates, although form isn’t always crucial in two-year-old contests, and an improving youngster can often overturn peers with more established credentials.
This is something new for Lloyds Logic (12-1), who has done all his racing at Emerald Downs and won a mile-sixteenth stakes there in September, blitzing the field from the front to win by seven and a quarter lengths. This is a big class hike and he could struggle, although if he’s fast enough to get to the front he may play a part.
Don’t be deceived by the form figures of Practical Move (5-1), as he got his maiden win on a disqualification, beaten fair and square by a length and a half over a mile at Santa Anita but promoted because the winner had caused interference. Mixto (12-1), a neck back in third, is a three-race maiden and was a well-beaten sixth in the Del Mar Futurity, giving him plenty to find with Havnameltdown and Newgate. This pair had met before on Mixto’s debut and ran third-fourth, so they are evidently closely matched and may well finish together again.
2022 Bob Hope Stakes Odds & Betting Pick
|HORSE||JOCKEY||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Hard to Figure||Flavien Prat||+300|
|Havnameltdown||Juan J. Hernandez||+120|
|Lloyds Logic||Edwin A. Maldonado||+1200|
|Practical Move||Drayden Van Dyke||+500|
|Newgate||John R. Velazquez||+250|
There won’t be much between NEWGATE and Havnameltdown, with preference for the former after his solid effort behind Breeders’ Cup winner Forte.
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