Avenge looms large in Yellow Ribbon Handicap

Del Mar has another exciting card set for Saturday which features the Grade II, $200,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap. AVENGE, one of the leaders in the female turf division, leads a cast of seven going 1 1/16-miles. Post time for the Yellow Ribbon, the eighth of 10 races at Del Mar, is 8:33 p.m. EST. As always, be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#8 AVENGE (8-5, morning-line favorite) should have no problem making the lead under Flavien Prat despite the far outside draw. She is clearly faster from the gate than her competition on paper. AVENGE nearly wired the field in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf two starts back despite setting fast fractions. Her first start of 2017, the Grade I Gamely, left a bit to be desired as she faded to third beaten almost four lengths. However, AVENGE may have needed that one off a six-month vacation. Assuming she runs back to her solid form at Del Mar from last year that saw her win consecutive races, including the Grade II John C. Mabee, she’ll be hard to catch in this one.

#7 CAMBODIA (5-2) ships in from the east coast while stepping up in class. She came into her own in late 2016 and had a productive Fair Grounds meet earlier this year. After shipping north to Maryland she ran third in the Dahlia Stakes and first in the Grade III Gallorette. CAMBODIA led late in her most recent effort, the Grade III James Penny at Parx, but ultimately settled for third. This is her toughest assignment to date, but the speed figures say she belongs. Drayden Van Dyke has the call.

#4 JUNO (8-1) exits what looks like a strong renewal of the Grade III Wilshire at Santa Anita last month. Enola Gray won that heat, with next-out winner Madame Stripes topping JUNO for place honors. She was third in her previous route start, the Royal Heroine Mile, despite setting fast early fractions. She’s probably not faster than AVENGE, but JUNO can stick with her early and hold for a share. Gary Stevens will be in the irons.

The play: $6 exacta 8/7, $4 exacta 8/4 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Flavien Prat (eight mounts) should have a highly productive Saturday, especially early on. He rides consecutive favorites in Races 3 and 4 and could make it a triple in Race 5 with G Q Covergirl. In Race 6, the Grade II Sorrento, Prat rides second-choice Surrender Now (9-5). All that comes before his best mount of the day, AVENGE, in the Yellow Ribbon.

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