December 18th, 2014 by John Scheidt
The only way to make money at the racetrack is to think and act differently than your
competition. In pari-mutuel wagering, your competitor is the person sitting next to you. With the
track take-out being anywhere from 16 to 25%, depending on the type of wager, you must stay
away from the post-time “favorite” as much as possible. Yet favorites do win races, generally
33% of the time. So the question is when do you know when that favorite is going to win? It has
been proven, year after year that favorites lose 67% of the time. That’s an amazing statistic with
the influx of information available to the average player today. It just goes to show that there are
considerable variables involved when trying to decide the outcome of a horse race.
If we want to overcome the track takeout and be successful in our wagering, we need to attack
the races where the favorite is going to get beat. However, how do we know when that situation
is going to take place? At Turfdom, we have come up with a number of proven rules to
determine if a favorite is vulnerable. Should a horse fail on any of these rules (even one of them)
he or she becomes a vulnerable favorite. Once we find such a favorite, this is the type of race we
can undertake with the better-priced horses, knowing that the favorite is going to lose (in these
types of races) 80% of the time. This is extremely good handicapping information to have at
your disposal. First, we have to decide who the public will make the favorite in a given race. The
main clue is the program and the morning line. The line maker, employed by the track, is a savvy
individual. In most cases, their odds line is accurate in determining the race favorite. Throw in a
Top 10 rider or a Top 10 trainer and you have a probable favorite in the race, especially if it is
coming off a good race (win or in the money finish).
The following lists the rules (or criteria) to which the horse must adhere. Remember, should it
fail in any one area, toss them out.
1. No Speed
Horses rarely win from the back of the pack. The favorite must have at least “tactical
speed” where it can lay close to the pace (within three lengths at the first call). If the
horse comes from the clouds, toss out. The exception to this rule is “turf routes.” This
type of race generally puts an emphasis on late speed in a race.
2. 2nd race off a Layoff
A layoff is defined as 90 days or more. Often, a horse will run well when fresh and
coming off a layoff. Usually, whatever malady sent it to the sidelines has been corrected
and is ready to compete. However, if its first race back has been stressful (dueled with
another horse for a good part of the race), it will not fire in its next start. This is called the
“bounce” factor, which really does exist. The first race back has already taken too much
out of that horse and can’t recover in 30 days or less. The exception to this rule is the
second-time starter, still a maiden. Maidens typically improve in its second life time start.
3. Trying a New Distance or Surface Today
Any horse trying a new distance today – sprint-to-route or vice versa – is a risky
proposition. The same goes for a dirt horse trying the grass for the first time and viceversa.
The times to play these horses are when the odds are acceptable to offset the risk
4. Saddled by a Losing Trainer
One who wins 8% of their starts or less within the last year defines a losing trainer.
Simply put, good trainers win races, bad ones don’t. Never take a short price on an
5. No Recent Victories
This applies to a horse that hasn’t won in its last 10 races. Legitimate favorites win races
while false favorites do not. Any maiden who has at least six starts and is not dropping in
class today should be tossed out. They have had sufficient time to prove their ability.
6. Suspicious Drop in Class today
Nobody gives anything away at the racetrack. If a horse is dramatically dropping in class
today and looks too good to be true, it probably is. Any horse that drops suspiciously in
either of its last two races is a vulnerable favorite. Toss it.
7. Chaotic Races
False favorites abound in chaotic races. The term is defined as:
a) Claimers, non-winners of two lifetime.
b) Open claiming races where no entry in the field has ever won for this claiming price
c) Any race in which none of the participating horses can run to “par” for that given
d) First condition allowance races where all the horses have showed they can not win at
e) Low-priced claiming levels ($5000 or less) with restrictions such as non-winners of a
8. Lacking a Good Activity Pattern
a) Raced with 17 days
b) Raced within 24 days and a work within eight days
c) Raced within 30 days and two works within 14 days
d) Has not raced in 30 days but has at least three drills in the last 20 days. Two of which
must be 5/8 or more.
Healthy horses work out and race. Unsound ones with problems do not. Finding that vulnerable
favorite is the challenge in this game.
December 1st, 2014 by John Scheidt
XOXO (November 27): Two year old filly for Peter Miller tried the first allowance condition in the
second race on Thanksgiving and was very impressive in wiring the field at 5.5 furlongs on the main
track. Going off as the second choice in the wagering, she popped the gate from the one hole and never
looked back. The 3/5 favorite reached her back side at the top of the lane, but she found another gear and
won going away by 4 at the wire. They took the blinkers off here in her third career start and it certainly
didn’t hurt her speed wise. She was hooking quite a bit of speed here, but still easily cleared the field. She
likes the real dirt as much the poly track and is bred to go long as well. Miller will probably find some
type of stakes race for her at Anita and with her speed she will be dangerous.
WAR DESTINY (November 28): Four year old gelding for John Sadler has had his share of physical
issues as he made his first start of his career in Saturday’s second race off a string of bullet works over at
San Luis Rey Downs. Off at the 8/5 choice in a field of seven, he broke extremely slow from the gate and
quickly fell 11 lengths off the pace by the half mile pole. He put in a big rally for a furlong from the 1/4
pole to the 1/8th pole and then flattened out badly in the drive. He was beaten 3.5 lengths at the wire and
finished third. Being a son of War Front, he is bred to go long and is bred very well for the turf. Six and a
half down the hill over at Anita seems ideal for this one and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where he
shows up in start number two. Wherever he lands, he’s in good hands with Sadler, and his debut move
was eye catching. One for the stable watch.
METABOSS (November 29): Two year old colt for Jeff Bonde stretched out to a mile and a sixteenth
on the grass in his third career start Saturday in this maiden special weight affair on the lawn. Off at 5/1
in a full field, he sat comfortably in 4th about 5 lengths back of the leaders down the back side. Started
picking up horses at the 1/4 pole and stayed down on the inside through the lane and finished reasonably
well to get second, but was no match for the winner beaten 3 lengths. However in this field of 12, it was
another 2.5 back to the third horse. Being out of Street Boss, he has good credentials for the sod and he
showed he can get two turns as well. He should be able to get his diploma for Bonde on the turf at Anita
and they may even try him back at six and a half down the hill. He is sitting on his best effort coming up.
SECRET CHORDS (November 29): Two year old filly for A.C. Avila made her debut in Saturday’s
ninth for maiden special weights going six and a half on the main track. Off at 27/1 in a full field of
mostly first time starters, she bobbled a bit at the start, then easily zipped to the lead in a pretty fast 1/4 of
22.30 and opened up 3 on the field. The field came to her at the top of the lane but she dug in gamely and
was beaten just two heads at the wire down on the inside. A bargain buy for just $17,000 at the
Keeneland yearling sale, she is bred to be any kind and can go long as well. With her kind of speed, she
won’t be a maiden for very long. Might return at Los Al in December or may wait for the Anita winter
meet. Either way, she’ll be posing for pictures in the near future.
December 1st, 2014 by John Scheidt
California found a jewel for Fall racing when they switched the old Hollywood Park dates to Del
Mar for the month of November. The fans in Southern California really grasped the idea and the on
track attendance averaged over 9000 patrons per day for the 4 week meet. And it gets better next
year as they will have 5 weeks of racing here in the Fall. Attendance was up 187% vs. last year and
it was the second highest meet in the State to Del Mar’s summer season. The weather was ideal for
the 4 weeks, they had good sized fields averaging 8.35 horses per race, and the racing was safe
without any major injuries for the meet. They called it the “Bing Crosby” meet in honor of the
founder of the track and successfully marketed the way it was in the 30′s and the 40′s, and the public
responded. And of course their big day was this past Saturday when they got the Kentucky Derby
winner, California Chrome, to race at the track. It was their best attendance day with 21,889 and the
“Chrome” did not disappoint as he won quite easily at 3/5 with his first try on the grass. The field
wasn’t really Grade 1 quality but who cares. The “peoples horse” did what they wanted him to do
and Chrome’s owner behaved himself this time. Peter Miller, who lives just up the road in Carlsbad,
won the trainer’s title with 15 wins, and Chrome’s regular rider, Victor Espinoza, won the jockey’s
title, edging Elvis Trujillo by one 12 to 11. The poly track era here is now over and they will replace
it with “El Segundo Sand” in January, the same dirt that they have at Santa Anita, and that will give
racing some consistency on this circuit for the first time in a very long time. All in all it was a very
good meet. Now it’s onto Los Alamitos in Orange County for 12 days of racing before they start the
“big” meet at Santa Anita on December 26.
• Besides California Chrome winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on Saturday, they had some
very good racing the last 4 days of the meet. Also on Saturday, Big Cazanova went wire to wire in
the Grade 3 Native Diver stakes at 9 furlongs on the main track and beat a pretty good field. He was
3 lengths in front of Blue Tone as the 2/1 favorite and will be pointed for the San Antonio stakes at
Anita on February 7. “Cazanova” is a nice horse, but he’s not nearly as good on the dirt as he is on
this poly track. Eastern invader La Tia went wire to wire Sunday with Joel Rosario up to win the
Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at a flat mile on the grass. Queen of The Sand ran second and was beaten
a length but she was probably best. She took up sharply into the first turn, lost some momentum, and
then couldn’t get to the outside down the stretch and yet still finished strongly. On Friday they had
an excellent field for the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass and
Eastern invader Kaigun ($9.00) got the money with a huge stretch run. This play was a Best Bet of
the day for Turfdom and his morning line was 6/1. California’s top grass miler, Tom’s Tribute, was
third. On Thanksgiving, we got another Best Bet of the day home when Finnegan’s Wake ($9.80)
took the mile and a half Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup. Finnegan was 9/2 on the morning line and
also won with a large stretch wallop.
• Recently retired jockey, Rosie Napravnik, tops a field of 5 finalists for the prestigious George Woolf
award which will be announced in January at Santa Anita. The award is named for the famous rider
who lost his life in a racing accident at Santa Anita on January 3, 1946. The 4 other finalists are all
men. Corey Nakatani, who rides here in the Southland, Leslie Mawing, who rides at Golden Gate
Fields and Emerald Downs in Seattle, and Eastern riders Mike Luzzi and James Graham.
• We will not be doing a selection sheet for the next 3 weeks for the Los Alamitos meet. Also we will
not have a Horses to Watch list or the News and Notes until Santa Anita kicks off their 6.5 month
Winter/Spring meet on December 26. We wish all of you who read this column a very safe and
healthy Holiday season and look forward to talking with you shortly.
November 25th, 2014 by John Scheidt
TEMEEKU (November 21): Three year old filly for Peter Eurton stretched out to a mile and a
sixteenth in Friday’s 4th event for Cal Bred maiden special weights on the lawn. Off at even money in a
field of 9 and getting a lot of “late” money, she relaxed well in second just off the leader into the
clubhouse turn. She actually had to move sooner than the rider wanted at the half mile pole, as two horses
came up on her outside and Bejarano didn’t want them to go by her. She inherited the lead at the top of
the lane and then found another gear at the 1/8th pole to win going away by 3 lengths. The race was
visually impressive and she won as easy as a horse can win a race on the grass. This was just her fifth
career start and going long on the grass is her cup of tea. Eurton probably won’t start her again until the
winter meet in Arcadia but she can win the first allowance condition vs. Cal Breds at that time. One to
put on your stable watch.
EASTER FEVER (November 22): Two year old filly for Peter Miller tried the first allowance
condition for Cal breds in Saturday’s opener at 6.5 furlongs on the main track. Off at 3/1 in a field
reduced to just 4 runners, she unfortunately drew the rail post, never an ideal spot in a sprint. However,
she got a smart ride from the bug boy, Van Dyke, and he kept her off the quick pace early and rated her 3
to 4 lengths back of the leaders, while still racing down on the inside. She had a lot of horse turning for
home but was sequestered on the rail, checked twice, but finally found a seam at the 1/8th pole. She
zipped through but the leader was gone, and she never could catch her, beaten a length at the wire. This
was just her fifth career start and the first time she has rated behind horses. She handles the dirt just fine
as well and she can win this Cal bred condition in the very near future. Van Dyke fits her nicely.
LADY PIMPERNEL (November 22): Four year old filly for Carla Gaines made her U.S. debut in
Saturday’s Grade 3 Red Carpet stakes at 11 furlongs on the grass. Off at 7/2 in an 11 horse field, she was
well off the pace in the early going, a good 10-12 lengths back of the leaders. She didn’t really find her
stride until they hit the stretch and then she encountered plenty of traffic trouble trying to find a lane. She
dove to the inside late and finished third beaten a length in a BTL effort. This Euro is a true mile and a
quarter stayer and is also very consistent, as she has hit the board now in 11 of 15 trips to the post. She is
pretty much out of allowance conditions, but she will fit very nicely in Grade 2 and Grade 3 events up in
Arcadia. Plus that course is quite a bit wider which will help her with those stretch runs. She probably
won’t race till January now but this chestnut filly is worth following.
SAYES SO (November 22): Trainer Richard Mandella unveiled a pretty fast filly in Saturday’s finale at
6 furlongs on the main for maiden special weights 3 and up. Off at 5/2 in an 8 horse field, she zipped out
for the lead from the outside slot and quickly opened up 5 lengths on the field at the 3/8 pole. She kept
right on rumbling and when the 6/5 favorite came to her at the 1/8th pole, she still had plenty left in the
tank and cruised home to win by two and a half. She worked a bullet 58 flat up at Santa Anita which was
the best of 66 and that’s not Mandella’s style, so you knew she did it on her own. She had some pretty
nice fillies behind her today and she should have no trouble with the first allowance condition. Up the
November 25th, 2014 by John Scheidt
The main track played pretty “fair” this past week at Del Mar where we enter into the final week of
the “synthetic” track era in Southern California. After this week concludes, all race tracks will be
back to “real dirt” for thoroughbred racing on this circuit. The only track left in the state with “fake
dirt” will be Golden Gate Fields, just outside of San Francisco, where the “tapeda” surface has
worked out just fine for them. They get a considerable more rainfall in Northern California and the
“all weather” track there keeps scratches to a minimum when the skies do empty. They have kept the
turf rails out the entire meet here at Del Mar, but they will bring them in to the normal position for
the final 4 days of the meet, beginning this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, with an early post time of
11:00 AM. We will have a selection sheet for Thursday and the entire week.
• This past Sunday, Big Macher for trainer Richard Baltas, turned in a “gutty” performance in the 7
furlong Cary Grant stakes for Cal Breds. He missed the start in the Breeders Cup and didn’t fire, but
with a new rider up in Bejarano, he broke running and turned back a very game Rousing Sermon in
the final yards. Big Macher ($4.80) won the Bing Crosby here last Summer, but actually prefers the
real dirt up North compared to this poly track. Rousing Sermon is a horse for your stable watch in
the very near future as he ran huge after being off since July. On Saturday, East Coast invader Three
Hearts took the Grade 3 Red Carpet stakes for trainer Neil Drysdale in 29/1 shocker. His win kicked
off a pick six c/o into Sunday which was paid out on that day.
• They certainly saved the best for last at this short meet with the racing office carding a graded stakes
each day this week beginning on Thursday. They have 11 to run on Thanksgiving in the Grade 2
Hollywood Turf Cup at a mile and a half on the lawn. Finnegans Wake and the Pizza Man look like
the ones to beat there. On Friday they have an excellent field for the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap at
a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. I like the eastern invader Kaigun over California’s top miler
Toms Tribute, but they have 10 signed on and the contention runs deep. This is a smaller, tighter turf
course than Santa Anita and the “trip” means everything in winning or losing. Then it gets really
good on Saturday with California Chrome meeting the great filly, Lexie Lou, in the 9 furlong
Hollywood Derby on the grass, a Grade 1. “Lou” beat males in the Queens Plate this past Summer in
Woodbine, Canada’s number one race. Then she won the Grade 3 Autumn Miss at Santa Anita on
October 25 in her last start. “Chrome” had his first work over the turf this past week going a half
mile in 52, and although the time is slow, the “dogs” were way out and it wasn’t a work for time.
There are also two other Grade 3 stakes on Saturday and then fillies/mares take center stage on
Sunday with the Grade 1 Matriarch stakes at a mile on the turf. The last 4 days of this meet have 4
very good race cards.
• Bejarano won 4 races on Sunday to give him 6 wins at this short meet, (he was on suspension for a
racing infraction the first week). Victor Espinoza leads all riders with 8 victories, but Tyler Baze,
Kent Desormeaux, and Elvis Trujillo all have 7, and Drayden Van Dyke, Fernando Perez, and Joe
Talamo all have 6. So the title may be up for grabs, or then again, Bejarano will probably slide past
all of them this week. Peter Miller and Mike Puype each won once on Sunday and lead the trainer
standings with 9 wins apiece.
• Santa Anita announced their winter stakes program this past week and they will have two $1
million dollar races. The “Big Cap” on March 7 goes back to a million and then the Santa Anita
Derby on April 4 will be a million. Two other stakes on March 7 have been upgraded with purse
money with the Kilroe Mile going from $350,000 to $400,000 and then the San Felipe Stakes going
from $100,000 to $400,000. As per usual, racing kicks off the Winter meet the day after Christmas
with two Grade 1 stakes, the Malibu for 3 year olds and the La Brea stakes for fillies.
November 17th, 2014 by John Scheidt
VICTORIA FALLS (November 14): Two year old filly for Leandro Mora made her debut in Friday’s
third race, a sprint on the main track carrying a claiming tag of $30,000. She eventually went off at 6/1
but got a lot of early money and was the 9/5 favorite 5 minutes into the wagering. She was unfortunate to
draw the rail in a full field and she subsequently broke very slow and was a good 12 lengths off the pace
at the half mile pole. Still 8 lengths back at the top of the lane, she managed to get off the rail and
finished with interest out in the middle of the track and was a distant second at the wire beaten 3 lengths.
All in all, it was a pretty solid race for her debut and showed that she can run some. They paid $70k for
her at the Barrett’s Sale this year and she had a solid string of drills coming into the race. She’s no world
beater, but she’s good enough to break her maiden with this type in the very near future. Tab and follow.
SEEKING SHAMROCKS (November 15): Three year old filly for Mike Puype tried the first Cal
Bred allowance condition on Saturday at 6 furlongs on the main track. Off at 9/1 in a 7 horse field loaded
with early speed, she proved to be the quickest and carved out fractions of 21.85 and 44.97. However she
couldn’t shake loose of the even money favorite and My Monet wore her down inside the 1/8th pole and
“Shamrocks” was beaten a length and a half at the wire. Shamrocks has won on the dirt surface in
breaking her maiden and she has the kind of speed that should prevail at a track like Los Alamitos. She
can win this condition at the Orange County oval and I think that’s where Puype will race her next and
she won’t have to deal with the winner that beat her today. Be ready.
MISS CENTERFOLD (November 15): Two year old filly for Jerry Hollendorfer made the second start
of her young career in Saturday’s sixth event at 3/4 mile on the main track for maiden special weights.
Off at 3/1 in a field of 8, She hopped at the start to be away second to last and quickly fell 8 lengths off
the leaders. Rushed up a bit by Trujillo to get into contention, she was still 3 back turning for home, and
over a strong speed favoring surface, she couldn’t make up the lengths from the bad start and checked in
second, 2.5 lengths back. They paid $400k for her at the Keeneland yearling sale and she still has plenty
of time to be a very nice filly. The Dorf may send her long next time and being out of Tiznow, she will
love the two turns. Either way, she is sitting on a victory and should get her diploma next time to the
SERBIAN SYCLONE (November 16): Like many juvenile runners, this 2 year old colt for Peter Miller
ran much better in his second career start than his debut. Off at 4/1 from a morning line of 8/1, he caught
a “flyer” from the gate and quickly opened up two on the field. He was collared at the half mile pole, and
even while he was down on the inside, he put that speed away turning for home, then found another gear
at the 1/8th pole and won in hand by 6 geared down late. It was a strong visual performance for this son
of Wildcat Heir that they paid $160k for at the Keeneland two year old sale. Up the ladder for the strong
team of Miller/
November 17th, 2014 by John Scheidt
With two weeks in the books at the Del Mar Fall meet, also called the “Bing Crosby Season”, they
are off and running with attendance and handle numbers well above where Southern California
racing has been in the past at this time of the year. Fueled by perfect weather and a 3 day pick six
c/o, Del Mar has averaged 9019 for daily attendance and that’s 172% better than they had for the
first 7 days at Hollywood last year. They had 19,704 on Saturday without any graded stakes event.
On track handle is up nearly 41% and overall handle for the first two weeks is up 20%. Plus the turf
course is safe and of the first 61 races at the meet, 21 of them have been on the turf. No Problem
won the Bob Hope stakes for two year olds on Saturday at $36.20 in the 8th race and that fueled a
pick six c/o of $599,483. The fans added $2,552,000 to that on Sunday and that left $3.1 million up
for grabs. A pretty strong inside speed bias was in play both Thursday and Friday on the main track,
but the track did play fair on the weekend. After 3 days of double digit prices, Sunday’s card was
finally formful and the pick six paid but $3051 to hundreds of ticket holders. And even that’s good
for the track as that money is bound to be recycled through the betting machines in the next two
weeks. Average field size for the first 7 days of the meet has been 8.39 per race and that is the
highest in the Country at this time of the year. So all in all, it’s been very good for the track “where
the turf meets the surf”.
• Then the news came Friday that California Chrome is going to race at this meet, probably on Nov.
29 in the Hollywood Derby at 9 furlongs on the grass for 3 year olds. It is a Grade 1 and the pot is
$300,000. Chrome has never been on the grass and he will work over the surface on Nov. 23 and if
all goes well, he will be facing the filly, Lexie Lou, who beat the boys in the Queen’s Plate this
Summer in Canada, that Country’s top race. Other probables for the Derby are Home Run Kitten,
Long on Value, Shiva Ryan, the undefeated Red Outlaw (6/6), and Lucky J. Lane. California
Chrome is bred to love the turf, especially on the bottom side of his pedigree. If he were to win, this
would greatly enhance the Kentucky Derby winner to be “Horse of the Year.” Also on the 29th will
be the Native Diver stakes for older horses on the main track at 9 furlongs and that field will be
headed up by Big Cazanova, who is currently the track record holder for this distance at this track.
Native Diver was one of the most popular Cal Breds of all time as he won numerous stakes all over
the West Coast in the mid sixties. I got hooked on racing in 1966 when he wired the field in the
Hollywood Gold Cup at 9/2 beating Charlie Whittingham’s 3/5 favorite Pretense. He was winning
the Cup for the third year in a row. Jerry Lambert was his regular rider. I cashed a ticket!!
• Racing resumes this Thursday with an 8 race card and they will have 8 races on Friday as well. First
post will be 12:30 for the remainder of the meet with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, 11:00AM.
No stakes races until Saturday, and then fillies/mares go a mile and three eighths on the turf in the
Grade 3 Red Carpet Handicap. Then older horses, which are Cal Breds, get a shot at $100,000 on the
main track Sunday in the Cary Grant Stakes at 7 furlongs.
• After two weeks of racing, Elvis Trujillo and Tyler Baze are atop the jockey standings with six wins
apiece. Victor Espinoza, Martin Pedroza, and Edwin Maldonado all have five. Nowhere in the top
10 are the two best riders on the circuit, Bejarano and Talamo. They both started the meet with 3 day
suspensions for riding infractions, and are only riding sparingly. Talamo did win his 1500th victory
on Thursday’s card and though he has been riding on this circuit for some time, he is still just 24
years of age. Trainer Peter Miller, who always does well here, got the hat trick on Sunday and leads
all conditioners with 6 victories. Mike Puype is second with 4 wins.
November 10th, 2014 by John Scheidt
OSCILLATOR (November 7): Five year old mare for Jorge Periban was in for the $12,500 claiming
tag in Friday’s 4th race in a field of 7 sprinting on the main track. Off at 2/1 with a lot of late money on
her, she broke from the rail slot with the field and settled in 4th down the back side about 4 lengths off
the pace. Made her move at the 1/4 pole and was able to get off the rail, loomed up on the outside at the
top of the lane, and the outcome was never in question down the stretch. She won going away quite
easily by 2.5 lengths and she is now 2 wins and 2 seconds in 5 trips to the post at this track. She is a past
classer and is in excellent form right now. She has drawn the rail sprinting in her last two starts and
overcome that post by winning both of them. She can handle a double or triple jump in class right now
and figures to get one more race in here before the end of the meet. Be ready!
STREET SERENADE (November 8): Five year old gelding for Steve Miyadi, who was just coming
off a claim for $16,000, was re-entered for that amount on Saturday in the fifth race on the card, which
was for older horses on the main track at a flat mile. Miyadi added the blinkers and they made a big
difference as he zipped right out of the gate from the 9 hole, set fast fractions as he came over and
cleared (22.91, 46.05), opened up 5 down the back side, and then kept right on going and hit the wire 6 in
front at a mutuel of 6/1. This one had some past class on the mid west circuit last year, and now with the
addition of blinkers, he looks like he can do some damage on this circuit. He has won on the turf, on the
dirt, and now twice on synthetic surfaces, and is best going two turns. Up the ladder.
CABRAL (November 8): Three year old colt for Leonard Powell tried the $75k Let It Ride Stakes on
Saturday at a mile on the turf for 3 year olds. Off at 8/1 in a 9 horse field, he was void of early speed and
settled in well off the pace, some 15 lengths back of a runaway leader on the front end. He moved up at
the top of the lane, encountered traffic trouble as the early leaders were stopping, and was forced to finish
at the rail where the footing is not nearly as good. But he was motoring fairly well, finished third, and
was only beaten a length as the favorite had clear sailing on the outside. Cabral has never won on the turf
now in 5 tries, but he has been close up and still has the second allowance condition available. This was
only his second start in the States and the first time he has used Lasix. Powell may not run him until the
Winter meet at Santa Anita, but he has a good future ahead of him and he is definitely worth following.
SIENA GRACE (November 9): Four year old filly for Vladimir Cerin returned to the races after being
on the sidelines for 10 months in Sunday’s 5th event, a maiden claimer on the main track at 7 furlongs for
3 and up. Off at 5/2 in a 9 horse field, and dropping down out of maiden special weights, she broke well
from the #6 slot and was third down the back side just 2 lengths off the pace. She moved toward the lead
at the 1/4 pole, took the lead at the 1/8th pole, and was a fairly easy winner though drifting out a bit the
final furlong. She is now eligible for those starter allowance races non winners twice and she should be a
major player there as she handles both dirt and synthetic. This was a very good race considering the time
off and the tough 7 furlong distance. Look for Cerin to place her properly in the next 3 to 4 weeks.
November 10th, 2014 by John Scheidt
They hadn’t raced at Del Mar in the Fall for almost 50 years, but their 4 week meet got off to a
rousing start Friday with 11,513 going through the turnstiles. And though that doesn’t compare with
Opening Day in the Summer, it was about 4 times what they had at Hollywood Park last Fall for
their Opening Day. Overall handle was up 47% vs. Hollywood and the on track handle was up 129%.
The Turf Club was sold out and the trackside dining area was 95% full. The temp was in the mid
seventies and conditions were ideal for racing. On track attendance for the first 3 days was 29,076 vs.
10,344 at the Los Angeles track last year. The handle was up 49% for the first 3 days vs. that same
time frame last year at Hollywood. So all in all, it was a good beginning where “the turf meets the
surf”. Speaking of the turf, the course is fully grown out and in ideal condition. They had the inner
rails 12 feet out for the first 3 days and the course played very fair. On Saturday they had 4 route
races on the grass and two of the winners went wire to wire and two of them came from far back to
get to the Winners Circle. Of course the poly track was another matter. The track was “fair” both
Friday and Sunday, but a fairly strong “speed bias” developed on Saturday, and if you could get
your horse to the lead, the bias would make sure you stayed there. Martin Pedroza managed to do
just that 3 times, and had 3 long shot winners in wire to wire fashion. That created a pick six
carryover before they even ran the last two races. The c/o amount for Sunday was just over $81,000
and they added $513,000 to that pool. There were plenty of good priced winners as well on Sunday
and the pick six went down to 8 winners at $56,855 apiece.
• The first two stakes of the meet were both two turns on the grass, and jockey Mike Smith showed
why he is the best “money” rider on the circuit, by winning both of them from well off the pace.
Queen of the Sand won the feature on Friday at $8.40 and Awesome Return got the money on
Saturday as the post time favorite at $5.40. On Sunday, the Betty Grable Stakes for fillies/mares at 7
furlongs on the main track for Cal Breds went to More Complexity at $9.20, and she also came from
off the pace. The big graded stakes will be run over the 4 day Thanksgiving weekend with the Grade
2 Hollywood Turf Cup at a mile and a half on the grass Thursday, the Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap
on the turf Friday, then 3 Graded stakes on Saturday highlighted by the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby,
then 2 Graded stakes on Sunday, closing day, highlighted by the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes and a flat
mile on the turf for fillies/mares.
• Now racing returns to a 4 day week at Del Mar, Thursday through Sunday, and the post time will
change to 12:30 on the weekends instead of 12 noon. With 12 days left in the meet first post will be
12:30 for all days except Thanksgiving which will be 11:00 AM. They will card 9 races on the
weekends and 8 races for Thursday and Friday for the rest of the meet. No stakes races on Thursday
or Friday this week but on Saturday they will run the Bob Hope stakes at 7 furlongs on the main
track for two year old colts/geldings. Then on Sunday, they will have the same race for the two year
old fillies called the Desi Arnaz stakes. Both races have a purse of $100,000. All in all, Del Mar is
providing some pretty good racing at this time of year, and for the most part the field sizes are pretty
good. Now if they could just get rid of that damn poly track.
November 3rd, 2014 by John Scheidt
GRAND SKY (October 29): Two year old colt for Mark Casse made his debut on Wednesday at six
and a half down the hill for maiden special weights. Off at 7/2 in a 9 horse field, he broke well from the
outside slot, but then settled well off the pace down the hill, some 10 lengths back of the leader. Started
to pick it up at the 1/4 pole, then got floated 8 wide at the top of the lane. He got going again at the 1/8th
pole, and then finished very strong at the end, beaten just a length at the wire. This was a $300k purchase
at the Keeneland two year old sale, and being a son of Sky Mesa, he is bred to win early and excel on turf
or synthetic. He should get his diploma down at Del Mar in start #2 and he is bred to go long as well.
MARGOT MACHANCE (October 31): Three year old filly for Leonard Powell kicked off the two
day Breeders Cup program with a first level allowance race coming down the hill for fillies/mares 3 and
up. Getting in off the also eligible list and breaking from post 13, she went off at 5/1 in a full field. She
broke well and settled in off the pace about 6 lengths down the hill. She got fanned out very wide turning
for home, then absolutely came flying out in the middle of the course down the lane and missed by a half
at the wire. She was at least 8 wide turning for home. She was much the best and galloped out 5 lengths
in front of the field in a few seconds. Her best distance is a flat mile and she should get that opportunity
in her next start, probably at Del Mar. This was her first race with blinkers as well and she just needs
more ground. Tab and follow.
CHITU (October 31): Three year old colt for Bob Baffert returned from a six month layoff on Friday in
the 100k Damascus Stakes at 7 furlongs on the main for 3 and up. Off at 7/2, Chitu broke running from
the 3 slot in a full field and quickly made the running, although his stable mate put pressure on him most
of the way from the outside. He shook loose at the top of the lane and was very game the rest of the way
and finished 3 in front at the wire, straight as a string. This horse is as game as they come. Throw out the
Kentucky Derby and he’s never run a bad race and he now has 4 wins from 6 starts from 6 furlongs all
the way up to a mile and an eighth. Mark him down for the Malibu Stakes at 7 furlongs on Opening Day
of the winter Santa Anita meet, December 26. It will take a very special horse to beat him on that day.
FANTICOLA (November 1): Four year old filly for Phil D’Amato tried the Grade 3 Ken Maddy stakes
on Breeders Cup day at six and a half on the main, taken off the turf due to overnight rains. Sent off at
5/1 in a field reduced to 7 runners, she broke with the field then fell back about 7 lengths on the back
side. Gathered herself and made a run at the leaders at the 1/4 pole, maintained that run through the
stretch, and finished third beaten a length and half to the wire to wire winner. This was her first try on
real dirt and this was a big effort on a track playing toward speed, at least at this point in the card. She
prefers turf, as all 3 of her wins have come on the grass, but she can run short or long, and has now
proven she can handle the dirt. She is very steady having missed the board just once in 12 starts to the
post. This was her third start off a 5 month break and she is sitting on a top performance. D’Amato will
find the right spot for her in the very near future.