Turfdom News and Notes for July 28, 2020

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club got back to racing this past week with a very high horse inventory, as all four days had good field size and many races had also eligible lists. There were 11 races on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and 10 more for Monday. This week’s entries already have 11 races scheduled for both Friday and Saturday. All of the riders are back after their 10 day quarantine, including Mike Smith, who was back east with a win aboard Authentic in the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park. Smith was allowed to ride back in California because he had not ridden in any race at Del Mar prior to last Saturday. For most of the week the outside lanes were the place to be, especially on Friday and Saturday, and especially in sprint races. The turf course favored rally wide winners in the two turn races up until Monday and played fair in the sprints. On Monday two of the five turf races were won in wire to wire fashion with the rails 18 feet out. Overall favorites are winning at a 30% clip through Monday, 28% on the dirt and 32% on the turf, all numbers below the national averages. Racing returns on a Friday with a c/o in the pick six pool of $53,000 plus.

They had two stakes races each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and jockey Flavien Prat won both of them on Friday along with two other races for a four win day. He won the Fleet Treat stakes, a Cal bred affair, with the favorite for Mark Glatt at 6 to 5, and then took down the Daisycutter stakes at 5/8 on the turf with the invader Jo Jo Air, a Best Bet Turfdom winner at $9.20. On Saturday, the big race was the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, which is a prep for the Pacific Classic in mid August, and the return of Maximum Security, who has done it all in his brief career. The two to five favorite got the money, but Midcourt made it very difficult on him and ran too good to lose, but “Security” showed his class in the shadow of the wire. On a race track playing very dull all weekend, the favorite got the head bob on the wire under 127 lbs. along with Abel Cedillo. Midcourt set the pace with the blinkers back on through fractions of 23.74 and 46.87 and was dead game the entire trip. Prat moved Higher Power way too soon on the back side to try and contend early with Midcourt while Cedillo kept the winner a few lengths back. It was sort of a weird run race as Security broke on top and then was taken back. The early speedster Ax Man was never near the lead and ran a very dull race. Security, Midcourt, and Power will all target the Pacific Classic and there will be some shippers as well. Baffert said he only had the winner cranked up to 80% and that may be true, but he seems very vulnerable heading into the Classic, and I don’t think any trainer is going to be afraid to enter in against him. The other Grade 2 on Saturday was the San Clemente for 3 year old fillies and the favorite got the money there as Laura’s Light was never too far away from a quick pace and got the job done for Cedillo and Miller. The winner was another Best Bet winner for Turfdom but only returned $4.40 as the six to five choice at a mile on the lawn. Guitty came from last to run second at a price and made our Horses to Watch list for her effort. The winner moves on to the Del Mar Oaks on August 22 where the pace won’t be nearly as fast and her chances may improve, but there will be plenty of classy shippers in that race as well. With Prat winning both of the stakes on Friday, Cedillo won both of the stakes on Saturday, but Prat came right back and won both of the stakes on Sunday, both on the betting favorites. He took down the Grade 2 Eddie Read at $4.80 with a superb ride on United and then won the Cal bred stakes, the California Dreaming, with Galilean at six to five. In the Eddie Read, at 9 furlongs on the grass, Neptune’s Storm looked like the lone speed and had an excellent chance to wire the field, but Prat kept United up close to him throughout the race and never allowed the pace setter a breather. And yet, he still had enough left in the stretch to hold off Sharp Samurai who was flying on the rail late. The winning margin was a half length and United will stay on the grass and might ship to Saratoga for the Sword Dancer and a $500,000 purse later on in August. Galilean won on the turf for the first time in his initial try and now gives trainer John Sadler many options with this Cal bred.

Impressive Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A.P. heads up the Shared Belief stakes this Saturday, but he will have to contend with three Baffert runners in the race. This is the last points race for the Kentucky Derby on the west coast and Honor A.P. certainly doesn’t need the points, but all of the Baffert runners probably do. Only six will go as Uncle Chuck drew the rail for this mile and a sixteenth race and will have Van Dyke in the irons. He appears the biggest threat to the favorite, but Baffert may save him for the Travers at Saratoga the following week. The $3.6 million runner Cezanne drew the outside with Prat up while Thousand Words, who will come off the pace drew the two hole and Abel Cedillo. Longshots Kiss Today Goodbye and Anneau d’Oro round out the field. Both Uncle Chuck and Cezanne are undefeated in two starts each and both have won around two turns. Also on Saturday is the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at ¾ on the main track, a race that usually attracts just five or six crack sprinters. But this year they will have 10 go to the post and the surprise entry has to be Baffert’s handicap star McKinzie, named for his good friend who worked at Los Alamitos and has since passed away. The winner of $3.4 million is sure to go off as the favorite, but this is not his best distance and he seems to have lost a step this year. Collusion Illusion, though just a three year old, really seems to be the NOW horse and may be a bit of a price in here. There is plenty of speed signed on with Anyportinastorm, (the Nor Cal) star, Fashionably Fast, Dean Pederson’s meal ticket, and Wildman Jack. It should be a very good race both to watch and to wager on. Sunday’s premier race is the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch stakes at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track headed up by Ce Ce, Hard Not to Love, and Ollie’s Candy. Ce Ce and “Ollie” ran one – two in the Apple Blossom stakes at Oaklawn earlier this year.
• Going into Monday’s racing, three riders were tied for the lead with 9 victories here with both Flavien Prat and Abel Cedillo catching early leader Umberto Rispoli. But then Rispoli won four on Monday to open up a two length lead on Prat, while Cedillo blanked on the day and is now four back. Newcomer Juan Hernandez is in 4th with 6 winners and this boy can ride, as he is not getting much to ride other than longshots so far. Stay with him and one can make some money, turf or dirt. Peter Miller, who figured to win the training title, is off to a good start with 8 victories while Richie Baltas and Mike McCarthy have four each.

As you may or may not have noticed, there are two pick six wagers at Del Mar. One is the traditional two dollar wager and the other is the single ticket wager which is just 20 cents. But in order to win the single ticket jackpot of the pick six, you must be the lone winner. Well on Sunday the jackpot was hit for a total of $173,912 and was the single ticket winner as well. However, the computer showed four winning tickets were alive going into the final race, but because the winning owner used a $8 base for his tickets instead of a $2 base, there were four tickets alive, but all to the same person, who just happened to be playing at a Am Tote hub in Maryland. His total investment in the wager was a whopping $29,652, so he still made a nice profit, but in this manner, he was able to win both of the wagers. The California Horse Racing Board treats multiple winners from the same original ticket as a single ticket. In reality, this payoff was like hitting a 6/1 shot, and if one is going to invest that much money in a wager, that’s not the safest way to do it.

I must admit I was a little slow in picking up on this new condition book ruling that they have in place at Del Mar, whereby you can win the first allowance condition, state bred or open, and still be eligible for it again just by switching surfaces, i.e. turf to dirt, dirt to turf, or even synthetic to turf or dirt. Plus they already write the condition with an optional claiming clause, $20,000 for state breds and $40,000 for “open” company. Now once you win the first condition, you can actually stay in and win the condition three times, if one is willing to risk their horse for a claiming price. Class wise, it is a big jump up to the second allowance condition. This new ruling accomplishes two things. First of all, it adds to fuller fields as one can now win this condition three times, and secondly, it helps out the little guy to stay in business a lot longer. The purse for the first allowance condition for state breds is $51,000 and a good $16,000 or $20,000 claimer is very capable of winning this condition. The winning share of the purse is $30,000 and to be able to win that level for three times will bring more people to the table. I think it’s about time to get back in the claiming game and find me a Cal bred for about $20,000.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)