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Splaining the Desi Arnaz Stakes

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Saturday, November 14, 2020

Lucy, I'm home... you've got some splaining to do. Man, those words live with me.

As a little boy, a long, long time ago, I would sit in front of the TV and watch I Love Lucy in black and white after coming home to an empty house after school. There was no cable back then, or YouTube, so you'd have crunched up aluminum around bunny-ear antennas and slide the foil up and down when the signal was bad.

Today, we can watch the Desi Arnaz Stakes on our smartphones. For me, it should be the Ricky Ricardo Stakes because that's how I remember the Cuban born American TV star. I miss those days. I'll reminisce about my TV time with Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy watching race eight at Del Mar in the late Arnaz's honor, well deserved.

Let's see if can splain the script on how the Desi Arnaz Stakes plays out.

PRIVATE MISSION (PP: 2 ML 9/5) could be the star here and one that we hear about during her three-year-old campaign in 2021. Dare we say she could be a Kentucky Oaks contender? It's too early for that, but she's the top contender here. She won her debut as the even-money favorite with some quick, early fractions. The Bob Baffert trainee made a power move out of the turn and glided home. The daughter of INTO MISCHIEF most likely shows more today, making her hard to beat.

With VARDA scratching out the race, ASTUTE (PP: 7 ML 3-1) could steal the scene. She won her debut on turf for trainer Richard Mandella as the 3/5 bettors' choice. She popped out of the gate on grass to the lead and never gave it, barely. She was nearly caught at the wire, winning by a neck. Today, she's adding a furlong, which could work against her. Mandella only wins at 12% when switching to dirt from grass, but he's taken the checkered flag in four of his last eight with jockey Mike Smith.

QUEENQOL (PP: 5 ML 4-1) could play the part of leading lady or best supporting actress. She won her first start with the second-best debut speed figure behind PRIVATE MISSION, but not by much. On the surface, race number two looks like she took a step back.

Not so fast. Well, actually, a little faster. Her fractions were quicker in round two than round one despite adding a ½ furlong. Jockey Juan Hernandez will probably rate right behind PRIVATE MISSION and ASTUTE, passing one or both if they tire in the stretch.

It's a toss up as to which of the remaining three cleans up the superfecta. After moving the foil around to get a better picture, MISS COSTA RICA (PP: 6 ML 10-1) comes into focus by a neck. She broke her maiden in her first try and then probably tried for too much in race two of Grade II. Stepping down in class is probably the right role for her if she outhustles HEELS UP (PP: 8 ML 8-1) as the curtains close on the Desi Arnaz Stakes. 

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