Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we welcome back Bob Ike as our handicapper for the Del Mar meeting.
It’s sure been a while since we’ve had a Wednesday newsletter, but here we are on opening day at Del Mar.
I missed the last two openers but was there in 2016 when a horse, Presidential Air, broke down and was euthanized in the sixth race. I mentioned it in the 19th paragraph of the story, after writing about the hats, the tequila bar and massive crowds at the paddock.
Things have changed quite a bit.
This year is all about safety.
Last year, Del Mar was the safest big track in the country with a death rate of 0.79 per 1,000 starts. This year, anything greater than that could be viewed as failure.
“We’re doing the right things and have been the last two years,” said Joe Harper, chief executive at Del Mar. “I feel good where we are at, but that’s not say what kind of year we’re going to have.
“So many of these things can be flukes or bad karma. … Sometimes you’re in the hands of lady luck. Hopefully, we’ll have a repeat [of the last two years.]”
Del Mar is an experience, although I find opening day to be one of the least pleasurable days at the track because of the excess of everything. But I didn’t grow up a San Diegan and going on opening day was not something that was built into my DNA. But for many, it is.
Actually, going to the races at Del Mar can be less about the horses than a nice afternoon out. It has a late 2 p.m. post time, 4 p.m. on Fridays, so people have the entire morning to do things around town or even venture near the beach.
Because of a horse shortage, there is the fear that maybe some weeks there will only be four days of racing instead of five. Santa Anita, which normally runs four day a week, ran almost the entire second half of the season at three days. Los Alamitos canceled three of its allotted 12 days during its recently concluded meeting.
If days are lost, it would be a sign that California racing still has a ways to go to recover from the problem plagued Santa Anita meeting in which 30 horses died either racing or in training.
“It would obviously be financially a pretty good hit,” Harper said. “We’re a little different. Half our fan base are non-race trackers. When you lose a day of racing, you not only lose a day of handle, you lose food, beverage and entertainment. So, it means more here than most tracks.”
Chuck Winner, the outgoing chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, thinks the track will be OK if it has to shave some days because of the dwindling horse population.
“I don’t think it would be terrible,” Winner said. “I prefer it not happen but I don’t consider it to be really, really terrible. Maybe we need to be a little more boutique if that’s the end result. If we have to go to four days to be more healthy, that’s OK to me.”
There are really only two tracks that matter in the summer, Del Mar and Saratoga in New York. Saratoga just cut back from six days to five but added a week of racing. Del Mar be used to six days a week but a dwindling national foal crop forced them to go to five. Santa Anita used to be five and now hopes to return to four.
So, for now, the slate is clean because that’s what happens at the beginning of a meeting. Del Mar is carrying a lot baggage, which you can read about in a story I did for online and print. (Just click here.)
Here’s wishing everyone all the luck they can find.
Del Mar preview
It’ll be the biggest Wednesday card of the meeting with 10 races beginning at 2 p.m. There are four turf races, one stakes and three allowance races. What’s the first race? Per tradition, it’s a mile on the dirt.
Amazingly, the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes will be run for 74th time. Man, that’s older than I am, so you know it’s been around for a while. It goes off as the eighth race at 5:44 p.m., you know, meaning I won’t make the Early Bird dinner.
The favorite is Jasikan, at 9-5, for trainer John Sadler and jockey Flavien Prat. Now, what’s of note is Prat got off the second favorite Gregorian Chant, at 7-2, to ride Jasikan. We’ll see if agent Derek Lawson made the right call. (He usually does. In fact, who would ever think he could a pull a Kentucky Derby winner out of Country House.)
Anyway, Jasikan started in Ireland and then came to Santa Anita. He’s won at a mile. Gregorian Chant (I wish I were smart enough to appreciate that kind of music, but I’m not.) is also from Ireland and has won two of three. The race is for 3-year-olds going a mile on the turf. Gregorian Chant seems to like it a little longer having gone 1 1/8 miles last two races. Phil D’Amato is the trainer and Geovanni Franco rides.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 6, 7, 7, 6, 12 (2 also eligible), 9, 10 (3 AE), 12, 11, 12 (2 AE).
Bob Ike’s DM pick of the day
TENTH RACE No. 8 Give Me the Lute (3-1)
Coming off a couple unlucky trips, this Cal-bred maiden is sent around two turns for the initial time but should have no trouble with the added distance. One race back (first as a gelding) he was completely eliminated on the turn by a lugging out horse, then last time he was carried about 4-wide into the lane by the winner, who dug in gamely for the victory as ‘Lute finished well clear of the third horse. Tactical speed, top connections, let’s close out the opening day card with a “single.”
Bob Ike is a Partner/VP of Horsebills.com (here’s a video) and the proprietor of BobIkePicks.com (full-card picks, 3 Best Plays and betting strategy).
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Del Mar Entries for Wednesday, July 17.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar, California. $2 Win, Place and Show; $1 Exacta, $2 Quinella, 50-cent Trifecta, $2 Rolling Double, 50-cent rolling Pick 3; 10-cent Superfecta; 50-cent Pick 4 last 4 races; 50-cent Players Pick 5 first 5 races; $2 Pick 6 last 6 races; $1 Place Pick All; $1 Super High Five last race. Trifecta needs 4 betting interests; Superfecta needs 6. 1st day of a 36-day meet.
1 Mile. Purse: $36,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.
|1||I Can Do This||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||122||Mark Glatt||3-1|
|2||Secret Courier||Aaron Gryder||118||Brian J. Koriner||7-2|
|3||Julius||Rafael Bejarano||124||Doug F. O'Neill||5-2|
|4||Surprise Fashion||Joseph Talamo||118||Victor L. Garcia||10-1|
|5||Fast as Cass||Tiago Pereira||122||Steve Knapp||4-1|
|6||Mr. Magico||Flavien Prat||122||Leonard Powell||4-1|
1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.
|1||Ward 'n Jerry||Drayden Van Dyke||120||Mike Puype||10-1||62,500|
|2||Acker||Rafael Bejarano||120||John W. Sadler||5-2||62,500|
|3||Via Egnatia||Edwin Maldonado||122||Richard Baltas||6-1|
|4||Morse Code||Jorge Velez||113||Richard Baltas||6-1|
|5||Starting Bloc||Victor Espinoza||120||Alfredo Marquez||4-1|
|6||United||Flavien Prat||120||Richard E. Mandella||9-5|
|7||Dr. Troutman||Brice Blanc||122||George Papaprodromou||12-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $28,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.
|1||Oh Man||Abel Cedillo||120||Steven Miyadi||7-2||16,000|
|2||Clear the Mine||Agapito Delgadillo||120||William Spawr||5-2||16,000|
|3||Ted W||Edwin Maldonado||120||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||3-1||16,000|
|4||Top of the Game||Jorge Velez||113||Ryan Hanson||8-1||16,000|
|5||Avanti Bello||Ruben Fuentes||120||Vladimir Cerin||5-1||16,000|
|6||Gran Fiesta||Tyler Baze||122||Michael Puhich||12-1||16,000|
|7||Monsajem Accrete||Irving Orozco||122||Isidro Tamayo||5-1||16,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.
|1||Puriano||Tiago Pereira||120||Mark Glatt||4-1||20,000|
|2||Incensed||Abel Cedillo||120||Steve M. Sherman||7-2||20,000|
|3||Quality Line||Ruben Fuentes||120||Victor L. Garcia||6-1||20,000|
|4||Facts Matter||Rafael Bejarano||122||Tim McCanna||3-1||20,000|
|5||Giddymeister||Edwin Maldonado||120||Genaro Vallejo||5-2||20,000|
|6||Roaring Rule||Aaron Gryder||120||Ronald W. Ellis||5-1|
5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $64,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||Square Peggy||Aaron Gryder||122||Brian J. Koriner||12-1|
|2||Convince||Rafael Bejarano||122||Doug F. O'Neill||12-1|
|3||Flower Point||Tyler Baze||120||John W. Sadler||9-2|
|4||Honeyfromthesouth||Martin Garcia||120||Bob Baffert||6-1|
|5||Moreisbetter||Ruben Fuentes||120||Hector O. Palma||8-1|
|6||Kiana's Love||Drayden Van Dyke||120||Peter Miller||6-1|
|7||Miss Hot Legs||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||120||Simon Callaghan||7-2|
|8||Hergame||Tiago Pereira||122||Leonard Powell||20-1|
|9||Wandering Patrol||Mario Gutierrez||124||Ben D. A. Cecil||8-1|
|10||Storming Lady||Victor Espinoza||122||Alfredo Marquez||12-1|
|11||Dreamy Gal||Abel Cedillo||124||Molly J. Pearson||20-1|
|12||Tiger Silk||Flavien Prat||124||Richard E. Mandella||8-1|
|13||Rocky Policy||Joseph Talamo||124||Andrew Lerner||3-1||40,000|
|14||G Q Covergirl||Edwin Maldonado||124||Doug F. O'Neill||7-2||40,000|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.
|1||Going to Shabooms||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||113||Andy Mathis||6-1||50,000|
|2||Freedom Ride||Jorge Velez||113||Craig Anthony Lewis||7-2||50,000|
|3||Lucky Daughter||Agapito Delgadillo||120||Rafael DeLeon||3-1||50,000|
|4||Circleofcolor||Modesto Linares||120||John C. Ivory||20-1||50,000|
|5||I Want One||Rafael Bejarano||120||Andrew Lerner||4-1||50,000|
|6||Golden Goddess||Assael Espinoza||120||Steve Knapp||15-1||50,000|
|7||Goveness Sheila||Edgar Payeras||120||Gary Sherlock||6-1||50,000|
|8||Margo With a T||Ferrin Peterson||113||Charles R. Stutts||20-1||50,000|
|9||Arouse N Go||Abel Cedillo||120||Jeff Bonde||9-2||50,000|
5 Furlongs. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.
|1||Bella Renella||Rafael Bejarano||120||Rafael DeLeon||7-2|
|2||Warren's Showtime||Jorge Velez||113||Craig Anthony Lewis||12-1|
|3||Smiling Shirlee||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||120||Jeff Bonde||3-1|
|4||Warrior's Moon||Flavien Prat||120||Peter Eurton||4-1|
|5||Sassyserb||Edwin Maldonado||120||Anna Meah||10-1|
|6||Secret Square||Tyler Baze||120||John W. Sadler||5-1|
|7||Very Boisterous||Abel Cedillo||120||Steven Miyadi||12-1|
|8||Sheza Girly Girl||Assael Espinoza||120||Steve Knapp||20-1|
|9||Liberalism||Ruben Fuentes||120||Brian J. Koriner||15-1|
|10||Takes a Village||Agapito Delgadillo||120||Luis Mendez||8-1|
|11||Vegan||Mario Gutierrez||120||Doug F. O'Neill||4-1|
|12||Almost a Factor||Geovanni Franco||120||Carla Gaines||10-1|
|13||Navy Queen||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||113||Scott Rollins||10-1|
|14||Sherilinda||Tiago Pereira||120||George Papaprodromou||20-1|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $100,000. 'Runhappy Oceanside Stakes'. 3 year olds.
|1||Manhattan Up||Tiago Pereira||120||Philip A. Oviedo||12-1|
|2||Roger That||Martin Garcia||118||Matthew Chew||30-1|
|3||Jasikan||Flavien Prat||122||John W. Sadler||9-5|
|4||Legends of War||Rafael Bejarano||118||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
|5||King of Speed||Kent Desormeaux||124||Jeff Bonde||6-1|
|6||City Rage||Drayden Van Dyke||118||Mark Glatt||15-1|
|7||More Ice||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||122||Dan Ward||15-1|
|8||Gregorian Chant||Geovanni Franco||122||Philip D'Amato||7-2|
|9||Rijeka||Ruben Fuentes||122||Richard Baltas||20-1|
|10||Nolde||Victor Espinoza||122||John A. Shirreffs||8-1|
|11||Golden Birthday||Joseph Talamo||118||James M. Cassidy||20-1|
|12||Synthesis||Mario Gutierrez||118||George Papaprodromou||30-1|
7 Furlongs. Purse: $64,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||Spokane Eagle||Agapito Delgadillo||124||Eddie Truman||9-2||40,000|
|2||Cool Bobby||Martin Garcia||122||Peter Eurton||5-1|
|3||Coil Me Home||Flavien Prat||124||Richard Baltas||4-1|
|4||King Jack||Mike Smith||120||Dan Ward||7-2|
|5||Cats Blame||Rafael Bejarano||122||Steve Knapp||12-1|
|6||Jack Van Berg||Tyler Baze||120||Michael Puhich||20-1|
|7||Candy Cornell||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||115||John A. Shirreffs||20-1|
|8||Fire When Ready||Kent Desormeaux||124||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||20-1|
|9||Metropol||Joseph Talamo||120||Bob Baffert||5-1|
|10||Buckys Pick||Abel Cedillo||124||Doug F. O'Neill||12-1||40,000|
|11||Bellerin||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Jeff Mullins||15-1|
|12||Heartfullofstars||Geovanni Franco||122||Gary Sherlock||20-1|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Bud Knight||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||113||Leonard Powell||9-2|
|2||Sidepocket Action||Assael Espinoza||124||Steve Knapp||20-1|
|3||Flicflac||Tiago Pereira||120||Howard L. Zucker||6-1|
|4||My Journey||Aaron Gryder||124||Richard Baltas||10-1|
|5||Satchel Paige||Geovanni Franco||120||Philip D'Amato||4-1|
|6||Braggart||Agapito Delgadillo||124||Antonio Garcia||30-1|
|7||Unusually Handsome||Drayden Van Dyke||120||Peter Miller||8-1|
|8||Give Me the Lute||Flavien Prat||120||Peter Miller||3-1|
|9||Mighty Elijah||Jonathan Roman||124||Daniel Dunham||30-1|
|10||Play Money||Joseph Talamo||120||David E. Hofmans||12-1|
|11||Claim of Passion||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||120||Philip D'Amato||15-1|
|12||Peedie||Mario Gutierrez||120||Ben D. A. Cecil||12-1|
|13||Jamming Eddy||Martin Pedroza||120||Peter Miller||7-2|
|14||No Parking Here||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||120||Steven Miyadi||4-1|