The Grade III, $100,000 Native Diver Stakes, honoring one of the great handicap horses ever campaigned in California, will be renewed this Saturday at Del Mar. The 1 1/8-mile heat attracted six runners, including Santa Anita Derby winner ROADSTER. Estimated post time for the Native Diver, Race 8 of nine on the program, is 7 p.m. ET.
#4 ROADSTER (5-2, morning-line favorite) has settled for second on back-to-back occasions in the latter half of his three-year-old season. He placed behind Bob Baffert stablemate Mucho Gusto in the Affirmed before being defeated by Flagstaff in the seven-furlong Damascus. ROADSTER earned strong speed figures in both those heats that establish him as the horse to beat in the Native Diver. He’s hit the board in both career starts at Del Mar as well. Drayden Van Dyke, the circuit’s leading rider, lands the assignment. He should have ROADSTER lying back off an expected pace battle between #1 LEADING SCORE and #3 ZESTFUL.
#2 MIDCOURT (7-2) has won three straight starts, including the Comma To The Top Stakes last time out over #6 TWO THIRTY FIVE and LEADING SCORE. One of those strikes came at Del Mar going 1 1/16th-miles, so he only needs to get an extra half-furlong in the Native Diver. Victor Espinoza and John Sherriffs will team up with MIDCOURT once more.
#6 TWO THIRTY FIVE (3-1) was second by just a neck to MIDCOURT in the Comma To The Top and won his most recent start over this course, August’s Harry F. Brubaker Stakes. The speed figures stamp him as a contender, but the distance could pose a problem for TWO THIRTY FIVE based on his 2018 form. Abel Cedillo gets a leg-up from Richard Baltas in the Native Diver.
The play: $4 exacta 4/2,6, $2 exacta 2/4 ($10)
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