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San Diego Handicap: Tripoli Returns for Another Summer at Del Mar

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated October 14, 2022
13 min read

San Diego Handicap Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar!

PP Horse TwinSpires Odds Jockey Trainer
D Herrera M McCarthy
A Cedillo B Baffert
F Geroux B Cox
J J Hernandez E Moger
E Maldonado T Fincher
V Espinoza J Shirreffs
T J Pereira J Sadler
J Velazquez B Baffert
M Smith R Mandella

San Diego Handicap Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$5 Exacta Box – Tripoli, Stilleto Boy and Mandaloun  = $30

$5 Exacta Box – Tripoli, Defunded and Mandaloun  = $30

Top Pick: Tripoli (6/1)

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San Diego Handicap Predictions

Country Grammer will make his first start since winning the $12 million Dubai World Cup back in March when he tops a wide-open field of nine set for Saturday’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.

A 5-year-old son of Tonalist trained by Bob Baffert, he is a graded stakes winner in each of the last three seasons, including a win in last year’s Grade 1 Gold Cup. Before winning in Dubai, he was a very good second in the $20 million Saudi Cup in February.

Chief among his rivals will be the Brad Cox-trained Mandaloun, who was named the winner by the disqualification of both the Kentucky Derby and Haskell last year.

After winning his first start of the year, the son of Into Mischief enters off two poor races. He finished well back in the Saudi Cup and then, after a freshening, he finished fourth in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs four weeks ago.

The hero of last year’s Pacific Classic, and a close second in the San Diego, Tripoli returns for another summer at Del Mar after prepping on the turf in his first race in more than seven months last month at Santa Anita.

Others to consider in the 1 1/16-mile prep for next month’s Grade 1 Pacific Classic are There Goes Harvard, Defunded, Royal Ship, and Stilleto Boy, who were the top four finishers from the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes two months ago at Santa Anita.

San Diego Handicap Predictions and Race Analysis

Country Grammer

A Grade 1 winner last year, this son of Tonalist looked like one of the best dirt horses in the world with big efforts in rich races in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Off since he will make his first start stateside this year in this tough 8 ½ furlong affair.

The distance might be a little short for him, not to mention all the travel before the layoff. Trained by Bob Baffert, this is only prep for bigger things. At his best, he is the most likely winner, but it’s reasonable to believe he will need this one.

He deserves to be favored off his great form overseas early this year, but in his first race back I am going to take a shot to beat him as the favorite.


It’s already been a whacky kind of career for the Juddmonte Farms homebred. He’s run plenty of excellent races in his 11-race career, but his two biggest victories have come via disqualification. After looking very good in his return race back in January, he showed little in the Saudi Cup.

Upon his return race in the United States, he came up pretty short running in Grade 2 Stephen Foster four weeks ago. That was against solid competition, though, and the race should have done him a lot of good.

If he can come back to his best form, he is one of the ones to beat here. Mixed signals overall, but trainer Brad Cox should have him ready to run a much-improved race on Saturday.

There Goes Harvard

A cut below top competition last summer in Kentucky, this son of Will Take Charge has developed into a very nice horse out in California for trainer Michael McCarthy. After dead-heating for the win with Parnelli in a Santa Anita allowance, he won nicely on the turf before his breakthrough win.

That came two months ago in the Grade 1 Gold Cup, where he defeated a number of his opponents on Saturday. Can he do it again? It’s certainly possible, but he loses Irad Ortiz, Jr in the saddle for this one and faces an even tougher field.

He also has never before raced at Del Mar. He’s a threat, but I do like a few others better.

Royal Ship

This 6-year-old Brazilian-bred has won a couple of stakes in America, but overall, I do not believe he has quite lived up to his reputation. A beaten favorite last time in the Gold Cup, he will need to step up his game if he is to defeat this bunch.

I’m also not crazy for his record at Del Mar, where he is 0-for-4 overall. Last summer he came there in good form and was third in San Diego as the favorite and then seventh in the Pacific Classic.

He has the ability to run a big one on Saturday, but given all the interesting horses in this race, he is not high on my list.


This son of Dialed In is the second for Baffert and has been on a steady climb of improvement for some time. After just missing in the Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby, he closed out last year with an impressive allowance victory at Del Mar.

This year, he has been better. A strong return win in allowance company in early May was followed by a very solid effort when second in the Gold Cup to There Goes Harvard. He set that pace that day going 10 furlongs.

There is probably more pace in this one, but he should appreciate the cut back in distance. One of many here in with a shot, he is a horse I will use in the exotics.


Speaking of horses who like Del Mar, you have to appreciate what this son of Kitten’s Joy did last summer in his first two stakes tries. He was a fast closing second in the San Diego, before rolling home to a victory in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.

There is every reason to believe he can be as good, if not better, this year as a 5-year-old for trainer John Sadler. He’s only had one race so far this year, but his performance on the turf in the Grade 3 American was sneaky good.

With that race under his belt, I look for him to be ready to run well as he returns to Del Mar. There is also a good early pace in here to set up his rally. In a wide-open race, he is my top pick.

Stilleto Boy

Yet another horse in the field with a real shot to win, this well-traveled son of Shackleford disappointed last time when fourth in the Gold Cup. He never got to the lead that day as his rider seemed content to stalk Defunded and it did not work.

The race before, he went right to the lead in the Grade 2 Californian and took them all the way around. His two-stakes wins both came wire-to-wire and I think that should be the tactic on Saturday.

He doesn’t win a whole lot, but he is consistently running pretty well against good horses. He should offer good value here, coming in off the loss, and is one I will use in the exotics.


After running a nice one to dead-heat There Goes Harvard in April, this son of Quality Road backed it up with a sharp allowance score eight weeks later.

Trained by John Shirreffs of Zenyatta fame, he looks to be in the best form of his career, and like There Goes Harvard and Defunded, he may be ready at the age of 4 to step up into top company.

Having said that, he remains less proven than those two and did have a failed number of stakes attempts earlier in his career. He’s not out of it, but I do like others better in this loaded Grade 2.

Senor Buscador

Coming from an allowance sprint at Lone Star Park in Texas, it’s hard to believe this son of Mineshaft is ready for a field like this. And the truth is that he is probably not. Still, there is plenty to like about the stakes winner.

He’s only had four career races total after a setback kept him from the races for nearly 17 months. He was on the 2021 Kentucky Derby trail before being laid up. In his return race, he showed that nice kick that we had previously seen. He’s one to watch out for, but probably down the road.



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How to Watch the San Diego Handicap

What San Diego Handicap (Grade 2)
Location Del Mar
Time Saturday, July 30 — 9:37 pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $300,000
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Brian Zipse

289 Articles

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.

Email: [email protected]

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