March 2, 2021

Itsinthepost looks to rebound in Del Mar Handicap, a WAYI for Breeders’ Cup Turf

Itsinthepost racked up his seventh Grade 2 in the Whittingham BENOIT PHOTO

Well below par when beating just one rival to the wire in last month’s Eddie Read (G2), Itsinthepost will seek to make amends for that loss and for one as the favorite in last year’s edition of the $200,000 Del Mar H. (G2) on Saturday. The 1 3/8-mile grass fixture is also a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, rewarding the winner a slot on in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs in November.

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An admirably consistent performer the last two years winning or placing in 11 graded stakes, Itsinthepost has not gone without the occasional clunker from time to time. The July 22 Eddie Read, at nine furlongs happened to be one of those times as the six-year-old faded through the stretch to finish ninth.

The Jeff Mullins trainee has otherwise enjoyed excellent form this term, winning the San Gabriel (G2), San Marcos (G2), San Luis Rey (G2), and Charles Whittingham (G2), with a narrow loss in the Elkhorn (G2) thrown in the mix.

Itsinthepost was beaten less than a length by Hunt in last year’s Del Mar ‘Cap, with Flamboyant a head behind in third. Another veteran of this race, 2016 winner Ashleyluvssugar, has not found his best form in three tries this season, two of which were in California-bred stakes. However, all three attempts were at distances shorter than he seemingly prefers.

Trainer Phil D’Amato saddles three here. Kenjisstorm stretches out around three turns after placing in the American (G3) and Charles Whittingham. Fashion Business could be interesting at a price after missing by only a length in a tough renewal of the Manhattan (G1) two back. The son of Frankel followed up with a dull performance in the Eddie Read.

Graded veterans Multiplier and Colonist could factor with their best form. Making his U.S. debut for Team Valor and trainer Neil Drysdale is Cashman, a Group 3-placed stakes winner in Germany.

Despite gaining automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Turf, recent Del Mar Handicap winners have found the subsequent class hike difficult. Big John B finished ninth and 10th in 2014-15, Ashleyluvssugar ran fifth in 2016, and Hunt was last of 13 in 2017.