Del Mar: Betting East Coast shippers in the Hollywood Derby

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 25th, 2020

Horses shipping in from the East Coast boast a strong record in the $300,000 Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar, where they have won three of the last four renewals of the 1 1/8-mile turf test.

It appears the trend will continue Saturday. Although just five of the 13 horses entered in the 2020 Hollywood Derby are based outside California, it wouldn’t come as a shock to see them sweep the trifecta.

#10 Domestic Spending and #13 Gufo, who finished first and second in the 1 3/16-mile Saratoga Derby during the summer, are among the obvious favorites. Domestic Spending brings a 3-for-4 record for trainer Chad Brown, who has won the Hollywood Derby twice in the last four years.

But although Gufo was defeated in the Saratoga Derby, you can argue he was the best horse on the day, as he charged late, despite a troubled trip, to finish second by a head. The slow early/fast late race shape put Gufo at a disadvantage, to the extent even a massive 115 Brisnet Late Pace rating couldn’t carry him to victory.

Gufo rebounded with a cleaner journey in the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby (G1), where he dashed the final quarter-mile in :22 3/5 to win by a length. Trained by Christophe Clement, Gufo enters the Hollywood Derby in improving form and passed on a start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) to target this race.

The far outside post is a small concern, but at least Gufo will pick up hot jockey Flavien Prat, who strikes at a 25% rate on turf.

Another logical contender is #10 Decorated Invader, who was beaten less than a length when he finished fifth in the Saratoga Derby. Previously victorious four times against stakes company, the second Clement trainee recently dropped a close decision in the 1-mile Hill Prince (G2) over yielding turf at Belmont Park, where he failed (by a head) to catch the frontrunning #9 Get Smokin.

The 1 1/8-mile distance of the Hollywood Derby should be right up Decorated Invader’s alley, and he is versatile enough to work out an ideal trip from anywhere in the pack.

Completing the East Coast contingent is #11 Ever Dangerous, who posted a 74-1 upset when he scored a narrow victory in the 1 1/16-mile Bryan Station S. at Keeneland. Previously fifth — behind Decorated Invader, Get Smokin, and Domestic Spending — in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2), the son of Kitten’s Joy needs a step forward to vie for victory against this caliber of competition, but isn’t out of the hunt for a spot on the board.

The speedy #2 Smooth Like Strait, winner of the La Jolla H. (G3) and Twilight Derby (G2) this season, looms as the best of the local runners for trainer Michael McCarthy. We’ll toss him onto the bottom of trifecta tickets and key Gufo in the top two slots.

$1 trifecta: 13 with 8,9,10 with 2,8,9,10,11 ($12)
$1 trifecta: 8,9,10 with 13 with 2,8,9,10,11 ($12)
$1 trifecta: 13 with 8,9,10 with 8,9,10 ($6)
Total: $30

Good luck!