News and Notes Sept 1 – by Rod Young Turfdom
The main track played “fair” on Sunday, but in the last two weeks, early speed has dominated more
times than not as the track has become tighter and the times have become quicker. Winning favorites
are creeping closer to the national norm of 33% as they stand at 29.41% with one week left in the
meet. However, turf favorites are only at 24.44% and odds on favorites are still well below the norm
at 48.57%. In two turn races on the turf, closers still have the advantage, regardless of where the
inner rails are placed. Those five furlong dashes on the grass are playing fair. Saturday’s attendance
was over 24,000, 4000 more than on Pacific Classic Day the week before, and the card was fairly
boring, go figure. Maybe they all came to see American Pharoah and the Travers card at Saratoga,
which was outstanding.
• The Stewards have a tough job at the race track, but they get paid a good salary to make the right
decisions. At Del Mar on Saturday, I think they had an “off” day. In the third race, Baffert’s horse,
Gimme Da Lute, came out 3 times down the lane and bothered the horse to his right, Desert Dynamo.
Each time he did, the rider was forced to check momentarily and alter his course. The official ruling
stated that this incident did not cost “Dynamo” a better placing. Are you kidding me? He lost the
race by 3/4 of a length and he lost second by just a head. Without the interference, he clearly is
second and probably wins the race. The Stews didn’t even post the “inquiry” sign, they had to wait
till the riders came back and the jockey lodged the objection. Do you think the decision was
influenced by the fact that Baffert trained the horse and that the owner was Mike Pegram, who
practically runs the TOC? Then in the 7th race, Gold Journey doesn’t break with the field, is clearly
held by the starter attendant, and is not given a fair chance to win the race. He leaves the gate
without the rider. He should have been declared a non starter and all wagers made on that horse
should have been refunded. The Stewards at least looked at this, admitted it was close, but made no
call. Who looks out for the players and the fans in these instances? Nobody, you’re on your own!!
• This is the final week of the Del Mar Summer meet and with the track closing on Monday, Labor
Day, it is a six day race week. There are many good stakes races for the final weekend with the
Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Saturday, at 7 furlongs on the main track. The field will be headed
up by Baffert’s undefeated Pretty N Cool, who I’m sure will be the favorite, but Hollendorfer has an
awfully strong hand with Songbird and Surfside Tiara. If Songbird draws any kind of decent post,
she is the one to beat. Others will be Gomo, One True Kiss, Stays in Vegas, and Mitzi Winks My
Dynamo. Then on Sunday they run the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, which should have a strong field
headed up by Prospect Park and Soul Driver, and the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon for fillies/mares on the
turf at a mile and a sixteenth. The Yellow Ribbon will have many of the same runners who came out
of the John Mabee stakes on August 8th, i.e. Fanticola, Electrum, Stormy Lucy, Blingismything, etc.
That race appears to be wide open as most of these take turns beating one another. Then on Monday
they run the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity for two year olds at 7 furlongs on the main track. That field
will be headed up by Nyquist, who is unbeaten, and Young Brian, who was so outstanding breaking
his maiden by 10 lengths, and he missed the start. Others will be Blameitonthelaw, Mt Veeder,
Rockin Bayou, and Swipe, who was second to Nyquist in the Best Pal stakes on August 8th. Other
supporting stakes races throughout the weekend will be the Del Mar Juvenile Turf on Saturday, the
C.E.RF stakes for fillies/mares at six furlongs Sunday, and the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Monday.
• With just six days of racing left at the meet, Rafael Bejarano is on top by 7 over Joe Talamo for the
riding title, but he got suspended on Sunday and will have to sit out the last 3 days of the meet, Sept.
5-6-7. He will get to ride designated stakes races but if Talamo can get “hot”, he may just overtake
him. Very quickly, Jerry Hollendorfer has opened up a 5 win advantage in the trainer standings over
Peter Miller. They won’t catch him.