La Jolla scouting report

Updated: August 14, 2009, 7:54 PM ET
By Jeremy Plonk | HorseplayerPro.com

Saturday, Aug. 15, Del Mar

The Low-Down: The road to the Del Mar Derby began on opening day of the meeting in the Oceanside Stakes and continues Saturday in this Grade 2 feature. The cast should look familiar as no less than four of the Oceanside alumni are back in the fray. A field of 10, nine of which finished in the superfecta in their most-recent starts, makes for a very balanced wagering opportunity.

Our Eyes: The Oceanside proved to be a front-end tour de force for Afleet Eagle, who will skip this stop in the series. What was so impressive about the Oceanside is that the field came home like rockets, and that included runner-up Mark S the Cooler, who was out of his game in chase mode. I think he's a sensational closing miler, so this La Jolla will really be a challenge for him to reproduce that effort going a sixteenth farther. I think he'll run a strong race, but looks like one who might get nabbed for the big money.

Rendezvous has the most appeal among the Oceanside alumni. He finished strongest of all, according to Trakus, and never really got into a rhythm early. He has a lot of upside on turf and his race in New York against older horses was fantastic. Of the other Oceanside returnees, Meteore really flattened out despite losing a few lengths of ground to his rivals. He'll need to be much, much better and probably will be a bit of an underlay since the public does not completely avoid 9-5 stakes favorites after one bad run. Herr Mozart is a steady-eddie type and jockey Victor Espinoza continues to ride rings around the other pilots on this Del Mar turf course over the past several summers.

While the Oceanside cast looks solid and consistent, the new shooter that really has my attention is the impeccably bred Smarty Jones-Top Rung gelding I'll Show Them. He galloped out like a total monster after his debut win, and then took to the two-turn stretch-out and turf unveiling like a good thing. He cornered a bit roughly on the first turn July 2 going a mile at Hollywood, but on the far turn, was 10-fold improved and showed that his ceiling and improvement could be unlimited. With a good draw in post 3 and paceless horses like Rendezvous and Gretsky to his inside and outside, he should get a fantastic trip.

The Bottom Line: I'll Show Them must might live up to that name, and far be it from me to look past a Smarty Jones potential star. If that makes me a homer, so be it. But I really like what I see on video from this guy, and his mama was a star on the western scene as well. I'll be using I'll Show Them with Rendezvous and a smattering of Mark S the Cooler, who still is one of my favorite horses going right now.

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In addition to being a longtime contributing writer to ESPN.com's Horse Racing section, Jeremy Plonk is the editor of The HorsePlayer Magazine.