September 19, 2020

Princess Noor, My Girl Red square off in Del Mar Debutante; Pixelate ships west for Del Mar Derby

My Girl Red draws off in the Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar © BENOIT PHOTO

While it’s too soon to say Princess Noor is worth every bit of the $1.35 million price paid for her this past April, it’s doubtful connections would want to trade spots with anyone else in Sunday’s $250,000 Del Mar Debutante (G1).

An odds-on winner of her Aug. 22 debut by 2 1/2 lengths for trainer Bob Baffert, Princess Noor figures to go off favored over My Girl Red, who so far is the most accomplished juvenile filly in Southern California. The Keith Desormeaux charge won at first asking at Santa Anita in June by 4 1/4 lengths, then came back to dominate the Sorrento (G2) by a slightly bigger margin over Get On the Bus.

The short field of six also features last-out debut winners Forest Caraway and Roll Up Mo Money, as well as the Baffert-trained Illumination, who finished second on her debut to Forest Caraway as an odds-on choice.

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Pixelate has been finding one or two better for much of his 10-race career, winning twice and placing in the eight other appearances. That might change in a relatively soft renewal of the $200,000 Del Mar Derby (G2) over 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Although he hasn’t yet raced out west, Pixelate’s form lines are good enough to win. The Godolphin homebred finished second in the War Chant S. at Churchill Downs in May to Smooth Like Strait, who won the La Jolla (G3) here earlier in the Del Mar meet, and last time it took a course-record performance by Gofu in the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park to beat Pixelate a half-length.

The absence of Smooth Like Strait might also benefit K P All Systems Go, third in the La Jolla. Kiss Today Goodbye was a surprisingly close third in the Shared Belief S. on the main track behind Kentucky Derby (G1) entries Thousand Words and Honor A. P., and perhaps is better able to handle the grass now than he was at the start of his career.

The lack of dominant males in the local division has enticed three fillies to wheel back on short rest from the Del Mar Oaks (G1). California Kook, Warren’s Showtime, and Guitty finished second, third, and seventh, respectively, in the 9-furlong test two weeks ago.

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The $75,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf at one mile might serve as a stepping stone to its corresponding Breeders’ Cup race at Keeneland in November. Logical contenders include Madone, Canoodling, and Ivy League, along with European imports Inner Beauty and Nimbostratus.