News and Notes August 11 – by Rod Young Turfdom

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
considered contenders.
• 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
September 6.
• 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%.

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