Diplo is coming back a little under two weeks from his solid 3rd place finish in a $40,000 Maiden Claiming race to take on a group of six other maidens in a $50,000 Maiden Claiming race. Interestingly enough he is scaling back to six furlongs from a mile last out. After his fast closing three year old debut it really seemed like he needed more ground but in his last race at a mile, he stalked nicely enough, was beaten pretty handily by a couple of MSW droppers, but handled the rest of the field easily from the top of the turn onward. It makes some sense that he may be able to sprint. As a friend of ours pointed out after that initial start: he seems like a late closing sprinter. Could Lloyd be right? Let's take a look at this afternoon's second race:
1. Let's Go Indian (Hendricks - Solis) - Dropping in from Maiden Special company and coming off the turf. The turf effort was mediocre, but the main track races were a pair of 4th place finishes with mid-60's Beyers. Certainly a threat.
2. Zilarator (Baffert - Garcia) - Two months off out of a Maiden Special. It was a marked improvement over his final two-year old effort. If he can step up once again, the improvement and class relief could put him on the board.
3. Skimming Skipper (Ricardo - Rivera) - While it's hard to discount any MSW dropper, this guy's been off since last June, getting smoked by 24 in that one. His training pattern is pretty solid, but it's tough to think he'll be a factor.
4. Drink At Last Call (Mullins - M Baze) - Coming down south from Golden Gate, this horse has been close in all three career starts with consistent Beyers in the mid-60s. Finished a good second in a rare $100,000 Maiden Claiming race over this strip in early January. Could be the one to beat.
6. Harlan's Tune (Koriner - Talamo) - Lone speed. Lone speed. Lone speed. Hasn't raced since Del Mar and really hasn't blistered the training strip coming back either. It'll take some, for sure. Probably reasonably the fourth choice, but could surprise if gets loose.
7. Cranky Jack (Abrams - Quinonez) - Interesting first timer in here. Solid works, this son of Unusual Heat could threaten if ready. Abrams is only 4% with first timers so he probably needs one, but an interesting horse.
Can Diplo win this race? Yes he can. If he has become stronger with each consecutive race, he is going to be very tough in here, but he will need to make another step up. I think our partner, Jeff, put it best in an e-mail earlier: he could finish 1st or he could finish 6th.
Think positive thoughts and come home safely, buddy!