News and Notes Del Mar Fall Week 3
• Three weeks of the four week Del Mar Fall meet are in the books, but they have saved the best for last with four very good days of racing this coming week, highlighted by the Turf Festival, with graded stakes on the grass all four days. Full fields and plenty of wide open races will make for some good wagering opportunities. This past week the main track returned to playing “fair” and the rally wide closers bias is long gone. I still prefer outside posts when sprinting on the main track, but there is no bias. And the same goes for the turf course now that it is worn down. They have been carding 4 turf races every day and the course is playing very fair. Early speed can win going long as it did twice on Sunday, however keep in mind, the inner rails have been out ever since the Breeders Cup, and for the final week they will be in. They will be six feet out on Thursday/Friday and all the way in for Saturday/Sunday. That does “open” up the course and horses with that quick turn of foot will have the advantage from off the pace, especially in stakes races where you have quality fields. Of course the dynamics of this course will not change. You still have a “tight” course with a short stretch. In other words, you have to get the “right” trip to get through the full fields. The weather has been perfect for Fall racing with temps in the high sixties, no wind, and clear skies for the most part.
• Favorites won both stakes over the weekend, so we won’t dwell on any of that, other than the two year old Midnight Bisou is a horse to keep an eye on in the future. He is still a maiden but he is a late running sprinter with a ton of upside. You can read about him on our HTW list for the week. 8 races are carded for Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, with an early first post of 11AM. The Red Carpet Handicap kicks off the graded stakes for the week with a 14 horse field going 11 furlongs on the grass, fillies/mares 3 and up. This is a wide open race but 3 horses look very good here, i.e. Responsibleforlove for Drysdale, a trainer who excels with long distance runners, Galileo’s Song, a shipper for the best grass trainer in the country, Chad Brown, and Lottie, another shipper for Graham Motion who gets Flavian Prat to ride. She’s in post 14 and this race starts on a turn, so that could be an issue. Because of that draw, Motion entered Lottie in the Turf Cup for Friday, but that’s against males and is another furlong further at a mile and a half. However, that field has just 9 runners and she drew post #2 for that race so he may very well scratch on Thursday. The Turf Cup field is headed up by Flamboyant, Inordinate, and Prime Attraction, who is fast becoming a dominant runner in longer grass races. The best race on Saturday will be the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at 9 furlongs on the lawn, and although there will be shippers in that race, it’s hard to look past the local sophomore Sharp Samurai, who is shooting for five in a row with each race better than the last. Other runners in the Derby with a shot are Big Score, Bowies Hero, Channel Maker, Just Howard, and Mr. Havercamp. A full field is expected when entries are drawn this Wednesday. The Jimmy Durantes stakes, a Grade 3 for two year old fillies at a mile on the grass, will also have a full field on Saturday. Raucous, a shipper for Christopher Clement heads that field. The other stakes on Saturday and the only one on the main track, is the Grade 3 Native Diver. Baffert will have at least two runners in here and maybe 3 with the likes of Cat Burglar, Irish Freedom, and Mubtaahij. Then on Sunday, closing day, with mandatory payouts on all the exotic races, 3 more stakes are on tap. The highlight is the Grade 1 Matriarch for older fillies/mares on the lawn and this race is coming up really tough. Cambodia, who was third in the B/C heads the field, but shippers for Chad Brown, Rubilinda and Off Limits will be tough. It will be a full field with a number of possibilities. Then two year old colts go a mile on the grass in the Cecil B. DeMille stakes, a Grade 3, and then older runners contest the Grade 2 Seabiscuit at a mile and a sixteenth on the grass. A long shot to keep in mind for the DeMille stakes is Armour Plate for trainer Eddie Truman. All in all, some outstanding turf racing and excellent wagering opportunities. Enjoy it while you can, because after this Sunday, there will be no turf racing in Southern California until Santa Anita opens their doors for their long Winter/Spring meet on December 26.
• With four days of racing left, jockey Flavian Prat has opened up a five win lead over Evin Roman in the rider standings, but he will be on suspension for careless riding the final two days of the meet. He can ride in stakes races only for those two days and there are plenty of them, so he will probably hang on and win. The veteran Kent Desormeaux is only one back of Roman and he is riding as good as ever and winning at a very high percentage. The trainer’s race is over. Peter Miller won 3 last Sunday and has opened up a 9 win lead over Jerry Hollendorfer. Miller is firing on all cylinders and winning at a 38% clip. He hasn’t slowed down since winning two B/C races right here at his favorite track.
• During the 7 week Summer meet, this track was a “graveyard” for favorites, a term often given to Saratoga in upstate New York. Not so during this four week Fall meet. Turf favorites are winning at a 48% clip, a very high percentage, while dirt favorites are at 37%. Overall, the percentage is 42%. Keep in mind the National average is 33%. I’ve got a feeling those numbers will change quite a bit in the final week, especially with all the full fields lined up for the grass stakes.