Del Mar, one of America’s two summer “boutique” race tracks (along with Saratoga), opens its 83rd season summer meeting, “where the turd meets the surf.”
The ocean, depending on the tide, can move to within 100 yards of the dirt course,which circles around the famed Jimmy Durante Turf course.
Trainers all talk about how the great weather, the cooler temperatures and the racing community and the fans, as Del Mar traditionally hosts one of the country’s highest handles and will race with for record purses in 2022.
For example, veteran Del Mar trainer John Shirreffs said earlier n the week, ““Historically the sea air is great for everybody and the horses. The relaxed atmosphere near the coast, it’s such a nice change from Arcadia.
The horses love the change, they love to come someplace new, it gets their adrenaline going…as we are, to go someplace new, it’s sometimes like a vacation.”
However, there ate actually two reasons to ignore his comments to gain a betting advantage.
Many horses, including ones controlled by trainer Bob Hess, Jr., give instructions to the jocks to NOT go full bore in a new horses first go-round the track at Del Mar.
The reason is many are from smaller tracks like nearby Los Alamitos in Orange County (Cypress, Cali.), so they get nervous and don’t run well.
However, Hess now has a “failure” horse who will go off at higher odds of 8-1 in that horses second start… and the horse wins because the jock is now told to go for it.
Crowns for most wins by a trainer, but his purse money winnings are always among the best, including the RIO (Return On Investment) by followers of his horses.
However, an exception may be Phil D’Amato, the leading trainer at Santa Anita at its meet which concluded four weeks ago. D’Amato brought in more than 50- horses to the Del Mar stables.
There is also the return of Bob Baffert, who recently came off his 1-uear suspension during the short meet at his track whwre he saddled his first career winner at Los Alamitos.
It seems Baffert wants to right some wrongs and starting winning big-time, although he refuses to publicly acknowledge is displeasure with the stewards’ decision– taking the high road when speaking to the media.
Those who know the silver-haired fox will tel you otherwise. LOL
The second reason to be wary of local, in-state trainers is a new program which started immediately following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Del Mar offers incentives to owners and trainers which bring in horses from out of state. These can include a reimbursement on shipping costs, a purse bonus for wins, and more.
These out-of-town owners, especially for stakes race, not only ship-in big-name horses, they also bring their jockeys with them. Thus, we will see names from Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park and Church Downs at the Del Mar meet. And — hint-hint — they did not come across the country to lose.
Thus, looking to bet on the invaders from the East can be advantageous.
Friday’s races will feature the annual Opening Day running of the Oceanside Stakes,a one-mile on the turf for for 3-years old and up with limited winnings.
Thus, Hess may not win muck in the first two weeks, but, frankly, when you see a good horse of his do poorly, you can scratch a line through the effort on the Daily Racing Form and and for a hit on the nose.
There will be more than $8.2 million in purse money up for grabs in the 39-race stakes schedule, including five such races for the opening weekend.
Following last season’s wild, blanket finish of four horses that finally saw the ribbon go to Flashiest, trainer Doug O’Neill brings back MacKinnon for this season $100K-added event with a full, maximum field of 14 horses — the turf course was expanded fpr last season’s Breeders’ Cu[ at Del Mar.
Mackinnon, the son of American Pharoah from ERJ Racing, has been in the money in six of eight starts, including three in-a-row as a 2-year old in 2021, including a score in the $125,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf.
The horse will be an easy morning-line favorite. So who can post the upset and warrant strong wagering return.
O’Neill gave him a shot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar where he finished a respectable third behind Modern Games and Tiz the Bomb..
Inb 2022, Mackinnon was asked to run on the dirt, but fared to fare well, so it’s back to the favored turf, meaning you place a line on his earlier ‘233 starts.
For a money horse, we will look towards one of overseas imports: Hronis Racing’s Sydney Street, a first-time starter in the U.S. who is coming off back-to-back wins in Great Britain. He’s saddled by John Sadler and will be ridden by Florent Geroux.
Also, Little Red Feather Racing, et al’s Balnikhov brings some impressive credentials to the Oceanside for D’Amato,