2023 Del Mar Oaks Preview
The $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, run on Saturday, August 19, features a field of 10 sophomore fillies going 1 ⅛ miles on the lawn. As usual, the race features an intriguing mix of proven turf horses and newer runners trying to step up to the graded level for the first time.
Some of the marquee grass horse names include San Clemente (G2) winner Anisette and East Coast shipper Be Your Best. Others in the field are proven on dirt but trying to show they are just as good on turf, including Del Mar Debutante (G1) winner And Tell Me Nolies and Summertime Oaks (G2) winner Window Shopping. All around, the race will be an exciting betting opportunity!
2023 Del Mar Oaks Information
- Race Date: Saturday, August 19
- Track: Del Mar Racetrack
- Post Time: 5:45 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time
- Distance: 1 ⅛ miles on the turf
- Age/Sex: three-year-old fillies
- Where to Watch: TVG.com, FanDuel TV
- Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Del Mar Oaks Draw and Odds
This is the ten-horse field for the race, including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds.
|And Tell Me Nolies
Del Mar Oaks Prep Race Results
The ten runners come out of seven different races, with two different races sending out more than one runner.
Unsurprisingly, three runners come out of the San Clemente, a race that is basically the local prep for the Del Mar Oaks. Anisette, who ran to her favoritism in that race, is the morning-line favorite in this race as well. And Tell Me Nolies, who chased for third in that race, as well as Paris Secret, who finished a flat ninth, both press on as well.
The Fleet Treat, a seven-furlong sprint for California-breds, sends two runners to this race. Big Pond, who pressed the pace and kept on to win by a length, tries grass for the first time here. Absolutely Zero, who had a rough beginning and finished a well-beaten sixth and last, hopes a switch to grass will revitalize her.
Two others come out of stakes races. Window Shopping won the Summertime Oaks last out and tries grass for the first time since her debut. Be Your Best flattened to ninth in the Belmont Oaks (G1) last out, but gets a cutback in trip as well as an effective drop in class.
The other three runners come out of allowance company on the lawn at Del Mar. Ruby Nell cleared the first-level condition against sophomores on July 22, while Impact Warrior was second in a first-level allowance against older on July 29. Infinite Diamond was a close fourth on July 23 in a tougher test, a second-level allowance versus older company.
Del Mar Oaks Contenders
These are the ten runners in the race, organized by post position.
- And Tell Me Nolies: A Grade 1 winner on dirt last year, she hit the board a few times in Kentucky Oaks preps earlier this year but has not won since the Chandelier (G2) at Santa Anita last October. She tried grass for the first time last month in the San Clemente and showed some aptitude for it, chasing on for third despite some trip trouble. Antonio Fresu keeps the call, and a step forward second off the freshening could get her another placing.
- Window Shopping: This lightly-raced Richard Mandella trainee started her career on the lawn, though has run exclusively on dirt since she crushed off-turf foes in a maiden race on March 17 at Santa Anita. She’s good enough to beat horses originally intended for dirt: she proved that when rallying to win the Summertime Oaks in June. However, now Mandella puts this daughter of American Pharoah back on turf. The step up to 1 ⅛ miles should help, as should her tactical speed, but do not take too short a price.
- Infinite Diamond: Her turf debut last out was solid; despite a less-than-terrific trip, she was able to rally for fourth, beaten only a length and a half, against older second-level allowance foes. However, at ages two and three, she has yet to prove herself to be a graded-stakes quality horse. Perhaps she is better now, as that turf try was her first start off a layoff of almost four months. But, especially from a barn that tends to disappoint in graded company, demand a price before taking any kind of swing.
- Ruby Nell: She took a while to figure things out but stretching out to two turns has done the trick. She broke her maiden at a mile at Santa Anita in May, her first try at a two-turn trip, before winning an N1X right afterward. Her tactical speed is a plus: she set a moderate pace in her N1X win, though stalked a faster pace and took over to break her maiden. This is a class rise, but this Richard Mandella trainee is second off the lay and going the right way.
- Anisette: In her second American start and her first with jockey Umberto Rispoli, she made the grade in the San Clemente. She steps up an extra furlong for this, something that should be no problem given her stout European turf route breeding. The biggest question for her, though, and one worth asking at a short price, is pace. She is a closer, and even though this is a ten-horse field, it is not replete with speed horses, and the pace should be more on the modest side than the fast ones she enjoyed in her last two.
- Impact Warrior: She acquitted herself well for trainer Phil D’Amato in a first-level allowance on July 29, rallying from midfield and finishing a close second. She was well beaten in her only group-level try in Ireland, but that was back in April, and it was seven furlongs on a heavy track. This longer trip over California-firm grass should suit her much better than that footing, however, and she should be able to stay in range enough to work out a good trip.
- Big Pond: She tries both turf and a route for the first time, and also faces horses bred outside California for the first time. She pressed the pace and drew off late in her debut maiden win in June; on July 27, she broke alertly, got a similar pressing trip, and held sway in the Fleet Treat. Both sides of her pedigree have some positives for stretching out and switching to grass. And, though trainer Tim Yakteen’s win percentages on first-time grass (8%) or first-time route (17%) don’t light the world on fire, both of those categories are profitable betting propositions over the last three years, meaning she could possibly outrun her odds, especially in this race without a surfeit of speed.
- Absolutely Zero: She looked promising early last season with a debut win in May and a stakes win at Santa Anita in June. However, she has yet to win in four starts since then, including a pair against California-breds. It is not impossible to think she will handle grass given her pedigree, though the stretch out to 1 ⅛ miles is a question: she has some stamina on top, but less so underneath. This seems, more than anything, like an attempt to make the kitchen sink full of changes and see if it sticks.
- Be Your Best: Even though she comes out of a Grade 1 race last out, this is a significantly softer Grade 1 than the Belmont Oaks at Belmont Park. She has already proven herself nicely at the 1 ⅛-mile trip as well; in the Wonder Again two starts back, she rallied into an honest-but-not-torrid pace to miss by only a neck. That was her first race off the layoff; she should be even fitter third-off for a barn that frequently has runners sharp in that part of a form cycle. She also gets sharp local jockey Juan Hernandez in the irons, another plus.
- Paris Secret: She began her career with a maiden win in Ireland, and won the Providencia (G3) in her second American start. However, she has not been nearly so sharp in her last two, the Honeymoon (G3) or the San Clemente. At least the step up to 1 ⅛ miles should suit her better than the flat mile of the San Clemente, though it is still a concern that she seems to prefer a hot pace to close into and is unlikely to get that here.
Del Mar Oaks FAQ
Q: When and where is the Del Mar Oaks?
A: The race happens Saturday, August 19, 2023, at 5:45 p.m. Pacific Standard Time at Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, California. It is carded as the eighth of 10 races on the card.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Del Mar Oaks?
A: Charlie Whittingham won the race seven times between 1970 and 1991. Doug O’Neill (Absolutely Zero), Leonard Powell (Anisette), Phil D’Amato (Impact Warrior, Paris Secret), and Richard Mandella (Ruby Nell, Window Shopping) have all won before, but only once each.
Q: Who is the favorite for the Del Mar Oaks?
A: Anisette is the 5-2 morning-line favorite off of a 2 ½-length victory in the San Clemente, the local prep. Off that effort, she should, in fact, go favored in this race, though watch for action on Be Your Best, who won a Grade 2 race on the typically tougher New York circuit earlier this year.
Q: Who is the best Del Mar Oaks jockey?
A: Bill Shoemaker, Chris McCarron, and Corey Nakatani have all won the race four times. Among the jockey riding in 2023, Kent Desormeaux (Impact Warrior) and Mike Smith (Infinite Diamond) have both won twice.
Q: Who won the Del Mar Oaks in 2022?
A: Spendarella, off an impressive second-place finish in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, won the 2022 Del Mar Oaks for trainer Graham Motion and jockey Tyler Gaffalione.