Native Diver Stakes (Del Mar) Predictions, Odds & Picks

Native Diver Stakes 2020

If you're playing only to win, go with my top value pick Royal Ship (6/1)

Post Position and Odds – Native Diver Stakes

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
U Rispoli J Sadler
T Baze M McCarthy
M Smith R Mandella
V Espinoza J Shirreffs
J J Hernandez R Mandella

Best Bets for the Native Diver Stakes

Here are my plays ($40 in total)

$20 Exacta Box – Royal Ship and Midcourt = $40

Top Value Pick:

Royal Ship (6/1)

Fresh off a solid third-place finish behind Improbable and Maximum Security in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes, Midcourt will rule a solid choice over four others in Saturday’s $100,000 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar.

A romping winner of this 9-furlong race last year, Midcourt has kept the top company in 2020. Although he has only won once this year, the 5-year-old gelding has turned in several strong performances, including a near miss to Maximum Security this summer at Del Mar. Victor Espinoza will once again be in the saddle of the favorite.

While each of the four others lacks the American credentials of Midcourt, they all have enough in their past performances to consider them a threat in this main track feature.

Combatant won the Big Cap at Santa Anita earlier this year; Royal Ship is a Grade 1 winner in Brazil; Early Hope is coming off a win and was second in this race last year; and Stellar Sound, the lone female in the field, was a dazzling allowance winner in her recent return to the races.

How to Watch the Native Diver Stakes

Native Diver Stakes Race Information
What Native Diver Stakes (Grade 3)
Where Del Mar
When Saturday, November 21 — 7:00 PM EST
How to Watch TVG
Purse $100,000

Race Analysis


The class of the race, this John Shirreffs runner will be heavily favored to win the Native Diver for the second straight year. Since last year’s romping win, the son of Midnight Lute has continued on with another good season which includes an easy win in the Grade 2 San Pasqual and a bang-up second-place finish behind Maximum Security in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. He has lost five in a row, so if you did want to take a shot to beat the heavy favorite, there is hope, but three of those losses came in Grade 1 racing and at 10 furlongs. He looks better at 8 ½ or the 9 furlongs he will find on Saturday. With plenty of class and good tactical speed, he is strictly the one to beat.

Extra Hope

Second in this race last year, this son of Shanghai Bobby has only run twice since. His return in August was pretty uninspiring, but he did come back to earn a hard-fought victory in his most recent race, a one-mile allowance race at Santa Anita. Off that win, and his runner-up finish here last year, he could well be the second choice in the Native Diver, and considering the overall weakness of the field, he has a shot. Having said that, he does look like a horse who can win against cheaper but will not get it done against legitimate stakes horses. Even in last year’s edition, he was nowhere near threatening Midcourt, while the second. I like others better.

Stellar Sound

It’s not often you see a 3-year-old filly tackling the older boys, but late in the season and coming up with a small field, this edition of the Native Diver would seem to be a good place to take a shot. After showing promise at 2 as well as early in her sophomore season, the regally bred daughter of Tapit was on the shelf for some eight months before returning in early October at Santa Anita. The result was a visually impressive romp against a group of allowance females. Saturday will represent a sharp upturn in class, but the return win was promising enough to believe she has a shot against a less than stellar group of males.

Royal Ship

The wildcard of the field was a bit of a sensation in his native Brazil, before joining the Richard Mandella barn in the United States. All his wins down there came on the turf, as did his first two tries in America. While he was clearly beaten in both, finishing less than five lengths behind the top turf horse Mo Forza was not bad results. I actually think this is an easier spot, and making his third start of the layoff, he should be fully ready for his Hall of Fame trainer. The question then becomes dirt. His debut performance back in Brazil, as well as his recent workouts, have me believing that the transition to the main track will be smooth. If you are looking to take a shot against Midcourt, this is the one I like best.


The surprise winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap over Midcourt in March, he has failed to back that performance up in four subsequent tries. Included in those was a well-beaten run behind Maximum Security and Midcourt in Del Mar’s San Diego. Most recently he was a well-beaten third going 12 furlongs in Tokyo City. There is enough back class to consider him at a price, but it just doesn’t look like he is headed in the right direction.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

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