August 24th, 2015 by John Scheidt
LOVENSEEK (August 21): Three year old gelding for Peter Miller tried $40,000 claimers on the turf at
a mile and a sixteenth for 3 year olds Friday. Off at 3/1 in an 8 horse field, Miller put the blinkers back
on and he went right to the front, set quick fractions, got caught at the 1/8th pole, but dug in and fought
back, to lose by a half at the wire. This one likes the turf, but is probably a better sprinter than a route
horse, and six and a half down the hill fits him nicely. Plus he still has that first allowance condition
available and he has the talent to win that condition. He’ll fit nicely in the first condition book at Anita.
ANOTHER HOUSE (August 22): Three year old gelding for Tom Proctor made his first start in
California and his second career start in Saturday’s third, a maiden special weight for 3 and up at a mile
and a sixteenth on the grass. Off at 7/2 in a 9 horse field, he sat in sixth early about six lengths off the
pace, kicked it in turning for home, but couldn’t catch the favorite who got loose on the lead and wired
the field. “House” came up short by 3/4 of a length at the wire but it was a sharp effort. He’ll get his
diploma at the Santa Anita Fall meet as this son of Candy Ride has some talent.
POSHSKY (August 22): Five year old gelding for Peter Miller raced above his conditions in Saturday’s
sixth, a mile and a sixteenth on the turf for the third allowance condition, 3 and up. Off at 9/1 in a 10
horse field, Poshsky raced 4th down the back side only 3 lengths off the lead. Moved at the 1/4 pole to
reach contention, stuck his nose in front at the 1/8th pole, but couldn’t hold off the 3/2 favorite late and
missed by a half. This son of Vronsky is in top form right now and is eligible for the second condition.
As soon as that condition pops up in the book around two turns on the green, I’ve got to think he’s a likely
candidate. Sitting on a victory.
CASINO CALL (August 22): Two year old filly for Jerry Hollendorfer made her debut in Saturday’s
7th, a six furlong maiden special weight at six furlongs. Off at 6/1 in a full field, she broke with the field,
but fell back quickly and was about 7 lengths back of the leaders down the back side. On a day when
speed was good, and the inside was even better, she rallied 4 wide around horses starting at the 1/4 pole,
was still wide at the top of the lane, then wore down the leaders late to win going away. Her victory was
actually accomplished against a double bias to make it all the more impressive. Up the ladder for this
daughter of win early sire Sky Mesa.
PONDER LEA (August 23) Three year old filly for John Sadler made her debut in Sunday’s 7th, a six
furlong sprint for fillies/mares, maiden special weight. Off at 10/1 in a 10 horse field, she got wiped out
at the start as the filly on her right came over on her, she checked, and was away last. The jock rushed her
up into contention, and she was third by the half mile pole, maintained her position down the lane, and
finished 4th beaten 10 lengths, but the winner drew off to win by 7 at 3/5. Considering her poor start, it
was a pretty good race which won’t show in the future past performances. Sadler will find the right spot
and this one is worth following.
August 24th, 2015 by John Scheidt
For the second consecutive week, early speed has dominated on the main track at Del Mar, as the
course has tightened up considerably and the times are much faster than the first 4 weeks of the meet.
In fact, the new “El Segundo Sand” put in to replace the old poly track, finally resembles the Santa
Anita strip, and I’m sure it will stay that way the rest of the meet. The turf course is playing “fair”
but favorites are only winning at a 24% clip through the first six weeks on the lawn, while they are
up to 30% now on the dirt. Sunday was a pretty “chalky” day.
• Saturday was Pacific Classic Day, and although on track attendance was very light (20,424), they
witnessed a very impressive performance by Richard Mandella’s Beholder, who romped to an 8
length win as the 2/1 favorite in the Classic. I’m sure the attendance figure was a major
disappointment to Management as the weather was perfect and the 11 race card was a good one.
They did set a record for the late pick 4 as the handle was $1,310, 045 surpassing the old record by
over $300,000. All sources handle was down 4% vs. last year overall, but they did have computer
glitches late in the program with both Xpressbet and TVG unable to handle wagers, both for
different reasons. But back to the Classic, as Beholder overwhelmed her opponents and became the
first female to win this race in its history. At no point in the race did Stevens really ask her, and
although the Handicap division is fairly weak this year, she won very easily. She will have one more
race before the Breeders Cup, the Zenyatta Stakes September 26 at Anita, and then probably go in
the Breeders Cup Classic and a possible showdown vs. American Pharoah and Honor Code. Other
graded stakes over the weekend took place as Big John B took the Del Mar Handicap for the second
consecutive year ($6.20), and will probably go into the Breeders Cup on works alone. Appealing
Tale took the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien at 7 furlongs in just a 4 horse field, as the 6/5 favorite in good
time, and is also Breeders Cup bound for the Mile. He won by just a half length over a stubborn
Wild Dude while having a distinct pace advantage and he will be up against it in the Mile. Then on
Sunday, Avanzare posted a mild upset in the Del Mar Mile ($15.40), while getting the first jump on
Talco at the head of the stretch and prevailing by a neck. They are also thinking B/C with this one
but he would be totally outclassed at Keeneland in the Turf Mile.
• Only two stakes on tap for this coming weekend at Del Mar, and both are at a flat mile on the main
track. On Saturday three year olds will line up for the El Cajon and then on Sunday three year old
fillies take the stage in the Grade 3 Torrey Pines, where Stellar Wind will probably be a huge
favorite. However, most eyes will be turning East as Saratoga unveils the Travers Stakes for 3 year
olds on Saturday, and Triple Crown champion American Pharoah is set to go. He worked 7 furlongs
Sunday at Del Mar in a fast 1:23.20 and never turned a hair. As he matures, he may be getting better,
if that’s possible, and he should cakewalk Saturday no matter who lines up against him. Baffert
hasn’t had much luck at Saratoga over the years, and even though it’s called the “graveyard” of
favorites, he has never had a horse like “Pharoah”.
• The racing schedule will change for Southern California in 2016 and I think it’s a good change.
Instead of Santa Anita running straight for six and a half months, they will get a break in between
with Los Alamitos getting a 3 week meet in April from the 14th to May 1. Then Santa Anita will run
from May 5 to July 10 and Del Mar will open on July 15 for their Summer meet. This allows for a 3
week renovation of both the main track and the turf course at the Great Race Place. The rest of the
calendar year remains the same. Santa Anita will host the Breeders Cup once again in 2016 on
• It’s still too inconvenient to go to the track in California. On track handle is down 10% through July
vs. 2014, yet overall is up 3%, as account wagering and simulcast wagering more than make up the
August 17th, 2015 by John Scheidt
SWEETRAYOFSUNSHINE (August 12): Six year old mare for Bill Spawr may not be the soundest
horse on the back side, but she is all race horse. After being off for 12 months, she returned in a $32,000
claimer on the main track at six furlongs. Off at 5/1 in a 7 horse field, she broke well and lagged 7
lengths off the pace down the back side. She put in her run starting at the 1/4 pole, caught the leaders at
the 1/16th pole, and won going away by two and a half. This was her 8th win from just 15 starts and she
does her best work at a mile. Spawr was able to protect her in her return to the races, and she still has the
first allowance condition available. Up the ladder.
RECALIBRATING (August 12): Two year old colt for Eric Guillot made his debut in Wednesday’s
finale at a mile on the turf for maiden special weights. Off at 11/1 off some good drills at Los Al, he was
last early into the clubhouse turn and fell a good 10 lengths back of the leaders down the back side. He
picked up the tempo turning for home under Van Dyke and put in a good run the length of the stretch to
just miss by a half at the wire. This son of the good sire Malibu Moon, has that quick turn of foot you like
to see on the grass, and he shouldn’t remain a maiden much longer. They paid $300K for him at the
Keneland yearling sale and he is cut out to be a very good turf horse. Tab and follow.
GIO MIO (August 14): Two year old colt for Art Sherman made his debut in Friday’s 4th, a six furlong
sprint for maiden special weights bred in California. Off at 6/1 in a 9 horse field, he broke slowly, was
away last, and quickly fell 11 lengths off the pace, after being very difficult to load. But he found his best
stride at the 1/4 pole and quickly surged past horses while five wide, kept right on coming through the
lane and missed by a neck at the wire. He is bred to win early by the good freshman sire Gio Ponti, cost
$140K at the Keeneland two year old sale, and probably just needs more schooling at the gate. Sherman
has been training as long as most of us have been living, so I’m sure he will get it done. Sitting on a
MIDNIGHT MAN (August 15): Three year old gelding for Phil D’Amato made his second career start
in Saturday’s opener, a 7 furlong sprint on the main track for maiden claimers, in for a tag of $40,000, 3
and up. Off at 8/1 in an 8 horse field, he got bumped and jostled at the start to be away last. Then was
rushed up by Pereira and was fighting for the lead by the 3/8th pole. He then got shuffled back when
down on the inside and was out of it by the 1/4 pole. He was beaten 8 lengths at the wire and finished
fifth, but the race was better than looked. He was gelded prior to this race and had worked well coming
in. He may need a tad softer, but with a decent start he would have hit the board at least. D’Amato will
find the right spot for this one soon.
PATRIOTIC DIAMOND (August 15) Two year old filly for Patrick Biancone made her debut in
Saturday’s 7th, a Cal bred maiden special weight at 5.5 furlongs on the main. Off at 5/1 in a 10 horse
field, she was much the best but had to settle for second. She got squeezed at the start from the 4 hole as
both horses from each side came over on her and she was away last. She put in a big run down the lane
on a track heavily favoring early speed and just missed by 3/4 of a length. She ran the last 1/4 in 24.30.
She’s a “single” on her next trip to the post.
August 17th, 2015 by John Scheidt
The weather turned “hot” at Del Mar on Friday, and stayed “hot” the rest of the weekend. A strong
inside speed bias developed on the main track and stayed there for 3 consecutive days. Not sure if it
was from the heat alone or over watering from the maintenance crew, but the rail was golden and the
jockeys soon discovered the bias, hustled their mounts to the lead and kept right on going. Temps
return to normal this Wednesday and I would assume the track will play “fair” once again. The turf
course played fair all last week. There was a c/o in the Pick Six once again going into Sunday’s card
and two tickets got it right, to the tune of $257,589, with both tickets being purchased off track.
• Sharla Rae won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Saturday for her first graded stakes win, and paid
$14.40 to win on a nice ride by newcomer James Graham. The stewards promptly hit Graham with a
$500 fine for excessive use of the whip down the lane. This is one of the more ridiculous rules that
California racing has, just to appeal to groups like PETA. Along with the “voided” claiming rule, the
California Horse Racing Board has no clue on how to run racing in this State. They really need to do
away with the current CHRB board and replace them with the Board from the TOC, a group that
knows and cares about the sport. On Sunday, heavily favored Taris easily won the Grade 3 Rancho
Bernardo sprint, a Grade 3 for fillies/mares on the main track. Simon Callaghan only had her about
85% cranked up for this race, as she had been off since December, but she won under a hand ride by
Stevens by three, and it could have been much more if he had asked her. She’s the one to beat in the
B.C. filly/mare sprint on October 31 in Keeneland. Then later on in the card, Chati’s on Top ($13.80)
easily won the Solana Beach stakes, a Cal bred event for fillies/mares on the turf. She ran the mile in
a quick 1:34.49 off a brief freshening with a powerful turn of foot down the lane.
• This week they run 3 graded stakes on Saturday with the meet’s signature race, the Pacific Classic at
a mile and a quarter for older handicap stars. With Shared Belief and California Chrome both on the
bench recovering from injuries, the local handicap group is weak. Thus Mandella will send his
talented mare Beholder into the fray, and she may even go favored. She’s probably the best horse in
the lineup with the only drawback, coming back in 3 weeks. But she has won her races so easily that
I doubt that will be an issue. He also has his improving Argentinian, Catch a Flight, ready to go as
well. Baffert will counter with Bayern and Hoppertunity, neither in top form right now, Sadler has
Gold Cup winner Hard Aces primed, and there will be a decent Eastern influx in Red Vine (with
Rosario coming out to ride), Coach Inge and Effinex. The other locals will be Imperative, Class
Leader, and Bailoutbobby. All in all, it should be a good race. Also on Saturday will be the Del Mar
Handicap at 11 furlongs on the turf for older grass runners. Defending champ Big John B heads the
field along with Ashleyluvssugar, Finnegans Wake, and Power Ped. Then sprinters will hook up in
the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien at 7 furlongs on the main track. That will probably be a small field of
Appealing Tale, very sharp right now, Kobe’s Back, Wild Dude, Indexical, and Turnover. Sunday
will have an outstanding field for the Del Mar Mile on the turf, i.e. Obviously, Bal a Bali, Talco,
Rock Me Baby, Pure Tactics, Avanzare, Winning Prize, and maybe the undefeated Jimmy Bouncer.
• This past Sunday between races, top rider Victor Espinoza was awarded the Laffit Pincay Jr. award,
given out annually since 2004 to any rider that has served the sport with integrity, dedication, and
distinction. Espinoza, who rode American Pharoah to the Triple Crown this year is a worthy winner.
He has won 12 riding titles in Southern California, has ridden more than 3200 winners, has won 17
races worth over a $1 million, and holds the Del Mar record with 7 winners in one day back in 2006.
He also donates 10% of his winnings annually for the last 10 years to the City of Hope in Duarte for
cancer research, without seeking any recognition. Pincay, now 68, rode for 39 years, won 9530 races,
and is one of the all time greats.
• John Nerud, 102 years young, passed away last Thursday. Back in 1968 he trained the fastest miler
I ever saw race. Dr. Fager could run 3/4 in 1:07 and keep right on motoring. He still owns the North
American record for a one turn mile in 1:32.20 and in 1968 he won 4 championships as he was
voted top sprinter, top turf horse, top handicap horse, and Horse of the Year. He regularly carried
weight from 130 to 139 lbs. Dr. Fager was admitted to the Hall of Fame in 1971 and his trainer, Mr.
Nerud went in one year later.
August 10th, 2015 by John Scheidt
YANA (August 5): Four year old filly for Richard Baltas ran another one of her strong races
Wednesday, in a first level allowance condition at a flat mile on the main track. Off at 15/1 in a nine
horse field, she went right to the lead from the get go, set moderate fractions though being pressed most
of the way, found another gear at the top of the lane, then gave it up late to the 2/5 favorite. This Cal bred
has already won that allowance condition and she is knocking on the door with this one. She can go short
or long and has won on the turf and the dirt. That type of versatility gives Baltas lots of options to knock
out this condition.
MRAZEK (August 5): Two year old colt for Doug O’Neill drew the rail for the third consecutive sprint
on Wednesday in the $100k Graduation stakes for Cal breds. Off at 3/5 in a six horse field, he once again
took all the worst of it from the inside, yet he responded down the lane as he usually does, and pulled
away to a two length victory. This son of Square Eddie is as game as they come, and he now has 2 wins
and two seconds from 4 career starts, all being stuck down on the inside. O’Neill can run him back in the
I’m Smokin stakes on Sept. 4 against Cal Breds, where he will be odds on, or save him for closing day
against “open” company in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. Either race he is the one to beat.
SHRINKING VIOLET (August 7): Five year old mare for Wesley Ward shipped West and got the
money once again in the 5 furlong Daisycutter stakes on the grass Friday. Off at 9/5 and the second
choice in the wagering, she broke well and settled in fifth about 4 lengths back of the leaders, made a
huge move turning for home on the outside, and cruised to a 5 length win that was very easily done. This
was her 8th victory in just 19 trips to the post and her third straight when shipping to the West Coast.
This is one for the “stable watch” as she will probably ship back to Keeneland and get ready for the
Breeders Cup but wherever she runs next, she will be tough.
YOUNG BRIAN (August 8): Two year old colt for Phil D’Amato lived up to the hype with a
scintillating debut in Saturday’s third, a six and half furlong sprint on the main. Opening at 1/5 off strong
drills, and staying there through much of the wagering, he went off at 6/5 and dismantled this group,
winning off by eight and a half lengths. He stumbled at the start from the one hole, rushed up to the
leaders by the half mile pole, then still had plenty left to draw off with a final quarter in 24.39. It was the
most impressive performance by any two year old this year, and he will probably be favored in the Del
Mar Futurity on closing day, and rightfully so.
CHIROPRACTOR (August 8) Three year old gelding for Tom Proctor, shipped West and made his
California debut on Saturday in a first allowance condition for 3 year olds at a mile on the turf. Off at 8/1
in a full field, he was void of any speed early and near the back of the pack into the clubhouse turn, a
good dozen lengths off the pace. They were going fast early and the speed came back to the stretch
runners by the top of the lane, and he exploded late to just miss by a half at the wire. He had been gelded
since his last start and he has the right style to do well on the grass in California. Proctor is as good as
they come with grass runners and he will find the winner’s circle shortly. Tab and follow.
August 10th, 2015 by John Scheidt
The new main track at Del Mar has finally “settled in” and formful handicapping over the weekend
returned. The track still plays “slow” in regards to time, but the surface is playing “fair”, the track is
safe, and the kick back for the horses is minimal. Up until this past weekend, chalk has taken a
beating. Favorites have won at a 26.42% clip overall, but the turf is only at 19.57%. Odds on
favorites have won at 40%, still well below the national average, but up from the 27% of a week ago.
I for one still remain more confident in betting turf races than main track races, but that changed this
past weekend. Long shots are still coming in, but at least they figure, and in most cases can be
• They ran two Grade 2 stakes on Saturday and a Grade 3 on Sunday. Doug O’Neill’s Nyquist won the
Grade 2 Best Pal stakes for two year olds Saturday as the odds on favorite by five lengths. He will
probably be the favorite in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on closing day, September 7. However,
Phil D’Amato unveiled a maiden named Young Brian, see our Horses to Watch list, who might have
something to say about that. The other Grade 2 on the card was the John Mabee stakes for older
fillies/mares on the grass and Elektrum got the money at $8.60, a Turfdom Best Bet. However it
wasn’t easy, as you could throw a blanket over all 8 runners at the finish as only 3 lengths covered
first to last. She will come back in the Yellow Ribbon on September 6, as will many of the others.
The most impressive of the graded races was the performance of Prospect Park in the Grade 3 La
Jolla on Sunday for three year olds. It was his first time on the grass and he went off an hid from a
good group by 5 widening lengths and should be the heavy favorite for the Del Mar Derby, also on
• This week they run five stakes spread out over 4 days with the Grade 2 Sorrento on Wednesday for
two year old fillies. Right There and Pretty N Cool head the lineup of 8 fillies sprinting six and a
half furlongs on the main. Then on Friday, six go in the Sandy Blue for 3 year old fillies at a flat
mile on the lawn. The undefeated Zipessa hooks up against Curlin’s Fox and Spirit of Xian. Then on
Saturday the top 3 year old fillies in the Country will hook up in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks at 9
furlongs on the turf. On Sunday, more fillies/mares as there is the Grade 3 sprint, the Rancho
Bernardo at six and a half furlongs, and the Solana Beach, which is always a good race for Cal bred
fillies/mares at a mile on the turf.
• There is less than two weeks to go for the signature race of the meet, the Pacific Classic, and it is
sizing up to be quite a race. Trainer Richard Mandella holds the aces right now with the brilliant
mare Beholder, set to tackle the boys along with his improving Argentinian, Catch a Flight. There
will be two invaders from back East in Red Vine, from the Chris Clement barn, and then Coach Inge
from the Todd Pletcher barn, who rarely ships to California. And then to insure a fast pace, Phil
D’Amato says he will run the fast grass horse, Midnight Storm, and Baffert has Bayern and
Hoppertunity also signed up. If Peter Miller runs Big Cazanova, the pace will be lightning and will
set it up for the late runners. Bayern is also very fast and he worked 3/4 in 1:11.60 on Thursday, and
on this track, that is fast. Throw in Bailoutbobby, Sadler’s Gold Cup winner, Hard Aces, and
Imperative, and you have quite a horse race.
• As the saying goes, the cream always comes to the top, and so it goes for the riding title at Del Mar,
as Rafael Bejarano has opened up 3 lengths on his nearest competitor Tyler Baze at the halfway
point of the meet. In the trainer standings, Doug O’Neill also has a 3 length lead on his nearest
competitor, Jerry Hollendorfer, 12 to 9. Mario Gutierrez still has the best win percentage of the
jockeys at 24%, while Adam Kitchingman has the best of the top 10 trainers at 33%.
August 3rd, 2015 by John Scheidt
TIZCANO (July 29): Three year old gelding for Peter Miller returned to the races after a five month
freshening and was gelded while on vacation. Miller entered him in a second condition allowance race at
5 furlongs on the grass in Wednesday’s third race, the start of a massive pick six c/o. Off at 6/1 in a 7
horse field, he broke well from the outside and then laid 5 lengths off the pace. His jockey, Espinoza,
found a seam at the top of the lane and Tizcano finished with good energy to miss by just a length at the
wire. This distance has been favoring speed and it is very difficult to win from off the pace. However this
race sets him up nicely for two turns and he has the talent to knock out this condition before the end of
the meet. Miller goes all out to win at this meet and he’ll find the right spot for this one. Tab.
FANTASY OF LUCK (July 31): Two year old filly for Bob Baffert made her debut in Friday’s 4th, a
six furlong dash for Cal bred maiden special weights. Off as the even money choice, she completely
missed the start to be six lengths behind the field. She then put in an eye opening move to reach
contention by the 1/4 pole, but flattened out badly in the lane to finish off the board beaten 9 lengths. She
was probably well meant today but the start surely did her in. Willing to give her another shot before the
end of the meet. Just needs a decent break and she can nab that diploma.
OH GREAT IDEA (August 1): Two year old filly for Peter Miller made her debut in Saturday’s 7th, a
sprint on the main track for maiden special weights. Off at 4/1 in a 10 horse field, she broke a step slowly
from the two hole and was away last. However, she quickly made up that ground on the inside and was
contending for the lead by the 3/8 pole. She had every right to throw in the towel at that point, but she
kept right on trying and finished second although well beaten by a Baffert runner. This one has a lot of
talent and worked well over the track prior to her debut. She can get her diploma before the end of the
GUNSLINGER (August 2): Three year old colt for Simon Callaghan made the second start of his career
at the basement level of $20,000 maiden claiming in Sunday’s 4th event, at a flat mile on the main track.
Sent off at the 2/1 second choice in the wagering, he demolished this field to win by 21 lengths, and was
geared down the final sixteenth. He cost $625,000 at the Keeneland two year old sale and they were
willing to give him up for just $20K. Even if he has a bowed tendon, he’s worth five times that much in
the breeding shed. He’s eligible for a starter allowance non winners twice now, but off this performance,
they might go right into the first allowance condition. Callaghan’s bluff was called and he moves over to
the Doug O’Neill barn in a three way shake.
SEMPER FORTIS (August 2) Two year old colt for Doug O’Neill made his debut in Sunday’s 7th, a
maiden special weight at 5.5 furlongs on the main. Off at 4/1 in an 8 horse field, he broke well and made
the running, but took all the worst of it racing inside with another runner laying on him most of the way.
He put away the other speed at the top of the lane but couldn’t hold off another runner, who was very
impressive in his debut, Blameitonthelaw. Fortis was beaten 4 lengths at the wire, but it was 12 lengths
back to the third horse. He will only get better as the distance increases and this $525k yearling purchase
has a bright future. Tab and follow.
August 3rd, 2015 by John Scheidt
With three weeks completed of the eight week Summer Del Mar meet, the main track remains a
challenge from a handicapping perspective. Overall, it is a deep, tiring track and many horses just
don’t handle it. For a dirt track the kickback is minimal and the times are anywhere from a full
second to two seconds slower than Santa Anita. Since the inside has dried out from the rains of
opening weekend, there is no bias inside to outside. The main problem is that some days speed holds
on well and some days the rally wide closers have the best of it. And some days this changes
midway through the card. The unpredictability of the surface has led to numerous pick six c/o in just
14 days of racing, and management loves it. Nothing raises the handle on this circuit like a pick six
c/o. This stat is amazing. Out of 11 odds on favorites at the meet (4/5 or less), only 3 have won, a
27% record. That stat is normally in the 65 to 70% range. Yet the fans are wagering. The 50 cent
late pick 4 on Saturday went over $1 million, the first time ever at this track. The old record was
$960,755 on August 1, 2004. The pick six pool on Wednesday, after a two day c/o, went over $3
million. The winning payoff was $57,658 and was hit by 34 different players. On the other hand, the
turf course is much more predictable and is getting a lot of play. Inside speed is the most important
aspect with the five furlong races and overall the course is playing “fair” for the two turn routes.
Horses from mid pack have the best chance of winning in the route races as the shorter stretch hurts
the deep closers, especially when the turf rails are out 18 feet or more.
• One of the odds on favorites that didn’t disappoint over the weekend was the talented mare Beholder.
She won about as easy as American Pharoah taking the Haskell on Sunday. She won by seven
lengths in a Grade 1, was never asked for her best, and this was the best company they could find
on the West Coast to go up against her. With Mandella’s reluctance to ship her East, other than for
the Breeders Cup at Keeneland, there is a good chance she will come back in three weeks and tackle
the boys in the Pacific Classic. With California Chrome and Shared Belief out of action due to
injuries, the timing is ripe, as the local handicap contingent is pretty weak these days. If she starts, I
think she would win.
• They carded 8 races at Del Mar last Wednesday, and trainer Doug O’Neill won five of them, the first
time that has ever happened at Del Mar in a single day, and this facility has been open since 1937.
And they weren’t all favorites either, as he took the opener at $28.80, won the seventh at $10.80 and
completed the exacta in that race as well with a 12/1 shot. He tops the trainer standings with 9 wins
through 14 days, with defending champ Jerry Hollendorfer second with 7 victories. Richard Baltas
and Peter Miller are tied for third with six wins apiece. The jockey standings are very tight. Both
Rafael Bejarano and Tyler Baze won two Sunday and are tied for the lead with 14 wins. Joe Talamo
has 13, Flavian Prat has 12, and Santiago Gonzalez has 11. However the top win percentage goes to
Mario Gutierrez who has 10 wins and has been winning at a 24% clip, most of them double digit
prices. Kent Desormeaux flew to Saratoga over the weekend and got the money with local horse
Texas Red in the $600,000 Jim Dandy stakes, beating a top 3 year old in Frosted, who was second to
American Pharoah in the Belmont.
• Speaking of Pharoah, his dismantling of the competition in the Haskell was most impressive. He
only won by two lengths, but it could have been 10 if Espinoza wanted, as this horse was geared
down at the 1/8th pole. A good rider knows to never squeeze the lemon completely dry, and always
save something for another day. They had over 60,000 in attendance at Monmouth and rightfully so,
as this horse just seems to be getting better and better. Although they won’t commit to his next race,
the Travers at Saratoga seems the most likely in late August.
July 27th, 2015 by John Scheidt
SAVINGS ACCOUNT (July 22): Four year old turf filly for Tom Proctor tried the second allowance
condition on Wednesday at a flat mile on the main track, which had been favoring speed all day. Off at
even money in this 7 horse field, she was kept well off the pace under Mike Smith, a good 6 to 7 lengths
behind the pace setter down the back side. She started her move just past the 1/4 pole, engaged the leader
at the 1/8th pole, and gradually pulled away at the wire to win it by a half. This was an extra good race
for this filly as she favors the grass, and it was tough to overcome speed on the main track Wednesday.
She won this race strictly on class. Proctor should have her back on the grass next time and she is ready
for stakes competition. Up the ladder.
BRIMSTONED (July 25): Four year old gelding for Tom Bell got gelded and dropped in class in
Saturday’s opener and was the easiest of winners at 4/1. Coming off a brief freshening, Brimstoned broke
with the field in this maiden $50 claimer at six and a half on the main track, challenged for the lead at the
1/4 pole, then promptly opened up six at the head of the lane and cruised home under a hand ride. He has
lots of options now for his connections and will probably return in a starters race, non winners of two. Up
KISS AT MIDNIGHT (July 25): Three year old filly for Richard Baltas tried the Fleet Treat stakes on
Saturday for $200k at 7 furlongs on the main track for Cal bred 3 year old fillies. Off at 7/1 in a six horse
field, she broke with the field early, then settled in just off the pace. She made her move to contend at the
1/4 pole, stuck her nose in front turning for home, then just got outrun late to finish second by two
lengths at the wire. This filly now has hit the board in all 7 of her starts and still has the Cal bred first
allowance condition available. She is sitting on a victory and though the Baltas barn has been cold lately,
they should find a winning spot for this daughter of Decarchy in the very near future. Follow.
DRESSED IN HERMES (July 25): Two year old gelding for Janet Armstrong made his debut in
Saturday’s sixth event, a maiden special weight for two year olds on the main track at six furlongs. Off at
10/1 in an 11 horse field, “Hermes” broke a step slow and then was bumped sideways at the start to be
away last. His rider, Valdez, got him to the outside to avoid the kickback by the half mile pole, and then
he put in an eye opening move 5 wide around horses, to stick his nose in front at the top of the stretch. It
was a huge move, but he was done after that and coasted in 4th beaten 5 lengths. With a better start he
could have been right there and the effort should help him immensely. Armstrong doesn’t win too many
with her small barn but she has a runner on her hands with this one.
RARE CANDY (July 26) Two year old colt for Dave Hofmans made his second career start in
Sunday’s 5th, a mile on the turf for maiden special weights. Off as the 2/1 choice in a field of 10, he
made the running right from the start and set a comfortable lead through early fractions of 23.51 and
48.68 for the half. Two opponents came to him at the 1/4 pole, but he had plenty left, pulled away late
under a hand ride to win by two and a half at the wire. It’s not easy to go wire to wire on this turf course
at a mile, but this son of the good sire Twirling Candy, made it look easy. Hofmans knows what to do
when he has a good one. Allowance races won’t fill at this time of year for two year olds, so look for
“Candy” September 5 in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. He’ll be tough in there.
July 27th, 2015 by John Scheidt
There are two weeks in the books at Del Mar with six to go, and finding winners at this Oceanside
track are becoming increasingly difficult. They installed a new dirt surface this year, and though it
has the same ingredients as the Santa Anita track, they are totally different. It might be that Del Mar
sits on the ocean and that Santa Anita is so far inland, but whatever it is, they are different. The first
two days of the meet the track played “fair.” The times were slow and the track was deep and tiring,
but there was no bias. Then the rains came over the weekend and the track never did dry out on the
inside. Coming into Sunday, the inside was dead, and jockeys were steering their mounts off the rail,
even when they were on the lead. The rail post at six furlongs was 0/34 and it was not the place to be.
When handicapping, you just threw out the one horse in sprints. That all changed on Sunday as 3
winners went wire to wire from the rail. Now the two year old Songbird made some sense, as this
filly is a star in the making and just outclassed her field, but the other two were upsets at $22.20 and
$10.80. So much for the “dead” rail. At least you could count on the turf course, where closers were
having their way in two turn races. Then came Sunday. They had 3 one mile races on the grass and
the winner went wire to wire in every one of them. So much for the closers bias on the turf. All the
players/handicappers were having a tough time, and the pick six was carried over TWICE in the
same week. Going into Wednesday, the two day c/o is $562,765 and should hit $2.5 million. The
Super High Five is also c/o to the tune of $25,486. And the “suits” who manage this place just love it.
Nothing improves the handle more in Southern California than a pick six c/o, and if it’s a double c/o,
all the better. Odds on favorites have won just once in six tries at the meet.
• They ran the San Diego Handicap on Saturday, a Grade 2 prep for the Pacific Classic in late August,
and they had some “stars” show up. But the race was sort of “ugly.” Bayern, who won the Breeders
Cup Classic last year was the favorite. But he never got a breather from Appealing Tale and never
really handled the track. He finished third and the improving Catch a Flight got the money at $8.40,
but he was life and death to catch “Tale” in the final jump. The time was slow and it looked like they
were all staggering to the wire. Appealing Tale was the most impressive, but he is not a mile and a
quarter horse and will target the 7 furlong Pat O’Brien on August 22 for his next start, and he will be
tough in there. The Pacific Classic looks like it’s prime picking for an Eastern shipper this year.
They ran the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at six furlongs on the main track Sunday and Masochistic, who is
the best sprinter on the West Coast was bet to 2 to 5. He had a perfect trip sitting behind a fast pace,
took the lead at the head of the stretch, and looked like an easy winner. But Hollendorfer’s Wild
Dude got to him late at $24.60 and Masochistic had to settle for second. I don’t know if it was the
“tiring” track that got to the favorite or if trainer Ron Ellis ran him back too soon, but Masochistic is
the better sprinter. If they meet in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship in September, Masochistic
• This week they run the Clement L. Hirsch, a Grade 1 for fillies/mares on the main track Saturday
and Beholder will be the heavy favorite. Six will challenge her with the main contenders being
Warren’s Veneda, Sam’s Sister, and the 3 year old, Stellar Wind. Bob Baffert’s Gimme Da Lute
heads up Sunday’s feature at 7 furlongs on the main track for Cal breds with a $200,000 pot.
American Pharoah will run in the Haskell this Sunday in New Jersey and will have only 5
• Some rules make no sense in racing and the over whipping of a horse down the stretch by a jockey is
one of them. The racing office is handing out fines daily to the riders for whip violations in the range
of $200/$300. But it won’t change, as it is more important for a rider to win a race than to pay a
$200 fine. Once again, the California Horse Racing Board doesn’t have a clue about how to operate
racing in this State. And as Sonny and Cher used to say, “The Beat Goes On.”