Newsletter: Racing! The most important Del Mar meeting … ever

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 (here’s a video) and the proprietor of (full-card picks, 3 Best Plays and betting strategy).

Final thought

Yes, we’re always trying to grow the newsletter. You can’t beat the price. If you like it, tell someone. If you don’t like it, then you’re probably not reading this. Either way, send to a friend and just have them click here and sign up. Remember, it’s free, and all we need is your email, nothing more.

Any thoughts, you can reach me at You can also feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa

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.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1I Can Do ThisNorberto Arroyo, Jr.122Mark Glatt3-1
2Secret CourierAaron Gryder118Brian J. Koriner7-2
3JuliusRafael Bejarano124Doug F. O'Neill5-2
4Surprise FashionJoseph Talamo118Victor L. Garcia10-1
5Fast as CassTiago Pereira122Steve Knapp4-1
6Mr. MagicoFlavien Prat122Leonard Powell4-1


1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Ward 'n JerryDrayden Van Dyke120Mike Puype10-162,500
2AckerRafael Bejarano120John W. Sadler5-262,500
3Via EgnatiaEdwin Maldonado122Richard Baltas6-1
4Morse CodeJorge Velez113Richard Baltas6-1
5Starting BlocVictor Espinoza120Alfredo Marquez4-1
6UnitedFlavien Prat120Richard E. Mandella9-5
7Dr. TroutmanBrice Blanc122George Papaprodromou12-1


1 Mile. Purse: $28,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Oh ManAbel Cedillo120Steven Miyadi7-216,000
2Clear the MineAgapito Delgadillo120William Spawr5-216,000
3Ted WEdwin Maldonado120Robert B. Hess, Jr.3-116,000
4Top of the GameJorge Velez113Ryan Hanson8-116,000
5Avanti BelloRuben Fuentes120Vladimir Cerin5-116,000
6Gran FiestaTyler Baze122Michael Puhich12-116,000
7Monsajem AccreteIrving Orozco122Isidro Tamayo5-116,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1PurianoTiago Pereira120Mark Glatt4-120,000
2IncensedAbel Cedillo120Steve M. Sherman7-220,000
3Quality LineRuben Fuentes120Victor L. Garcia6-120,000
4Facts MatterRafael Bejarano122Tim McCanna3-120,000
5GiddymeisterEdwin Maldonado120Genaro Vallejo5-220,000
6Roaring RuleAaron Gryder120Ronald W. Ellis5-1


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $64,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Square PeggyAaron Gryder122Brian J. Koriner12-1
2ConvinceRafael Bejarano122Doug F. O'Neill12-1
3Flower PointTyler Baze120John W. Sadler9-2
4HoneyfromthesouthMartin Garcia120Bob Baffert6-1
5MoreisbetterRuben Fuentes120Hector O. Palma8-1
6Kiana's LoveDrayden Van Dyke120Peter Miller6-1
7Miss Hot LegsNorberto Arroyo, Jr.120Simon Callaghan7-2
8Hergame Tiago Pereira122Leonard Powell20-1
9Wandering PatrolMario Gutierrez124Ben D. A. Cecil8-1
10Storming LadyVictor Espinoza122Alfredo Marquez12-1
11Dreamy GalAbel Cedillo124Molly J. Pearson20-1
12Tiger Silk Flavien Prat124Richard E. Mandella8-1
Also Eligible
13Rocky PolicyJoseph Talamo124Andrew Lerner3-140,000
14G Q CovergirlEdwin Maldonado124Doug F. O'Neill7-240,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Going to ShaboomsJ.C. Diaz, Jr.113Andy Mathis6-150,000
2Freedom RideJorge Velez113Craig Anthony Lewis7-250,000
3Lucky DaughterAgapito Delgadillo120Rafael DeLeon3-150,000
4CircleofcolorModesto Linares120John C. Ivory20-150,000
5I Want OneRafael Bejarano120Andrew Lerner4-150,000
6Golden GoddessAssael Espinoza120Steve Knapp15-150,000
7Goveness SheilaEdgar Payeras120Gary Sherlock6-150,000
8Margo With a TFerrin Peterson113Charles R. Stutts20-150,000
9Arouse N GoAbel Cedillo120Jeff Bonde9-250,000


5 Furlongs. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Bella RenellaRafael Bejarano120Rafael DeLeon7-2
2Warren's ShowtimeJorge Velez113Craig Anthony Lewis12-1
3Smiling ShirleeNorberto Arroyo, Jr.120Jeff Bonde3-1
4Warrior's MoonFlavien Prat120Peter Eurton4-1
5SassyserbEdwin Maldonado120Anna Meah10-1
6Secret SquareTyler Baze120John W. Sadler5-1
7Very BoisterousAbel Cedillo120Steven Miyadi12-1
8Sheza Girly GirlAssael Espinoza120Steve Knapp20-1
9LiberalismRuben Fuentes120Brian J. Koriner15-1
10Takes a VillageAgapito Delgadillo120Luis Mendez8-1
Also Eligible
11VeganMario Gutierrez120Doug F. O'Neill4-1
12Almost a FactorGeovanni Franco120Carla Gaines10-1
13Navy QueenJ.C. Diaz, Jr.113Scott Rollins10-1
14SherilindaTiago Pereira120George Papaprodromou20-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $100,000. 'Runhappy Oceanside Stakes'. 3 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Manhattan UpTiago Pereira120Philip A. Oviedo12-1
2Roger That Martin Garcia118Matthew Chew30-1
3Jasikan Flavien Prat122John W. Sadler9-5
4Legends of WarRafael Bejarano118Doug F. O'Neill6-1
5King of SpeedKent Desormeaux124Jeff Bonde6-1
6City RageDrayden Van Dyke118Mark Glatt15-1
7More IceNorberto Arroyo, Jr.122Dan Ward15-1
8Gregorian Chant Geovanni Franco122Philip D'Amato7-2
9Rijeka Ruben Fuentes122Richard Baltas20-1
10NoldeVictor Espinoza122John A. Shirreffs8-1
11Golden BirthdayJoseph Talamo118James M. Cassidy20-1
12SynthesisMario Gutierrez118George Papaprodromou30-1


7 Furlongs. Purse: $64,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Spokane EagleAgapito Delgadillo124Eddie Truman9-240,000
2Cool BobbyMartin Garcia122Peter Eurton5-1
3Coil Me HomeFlavien Prat124Richard Baltas4-1
4King JackMike Smith120Dan Ward7-2
5Cats BlameRafael Bejarano122Steve Knapp12-1
6Jack Van BergTyler Baze120Michael Puhich20-1
7Candy CornellJ.C. Diaz, Jr.115John A. Shirreffs20-1
8Fire When ReadyKent Desormeaux124Robert B. Hess, Jr.20-1
9MetropolJoseph Talamo120Bob Baffert5-1
10Buckys PickAbel Cedillo124Doug F. O'Neill12-140,000
11BellerinDrayden Van Dyke122Jeff Mullins15-1
12HeartfullofstarsGeovanni Franco122Gary Sherlock20-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Bud KnightJ.C. Diaz, Jr.113Leonard Powell9-2
2Sidepocket ActionAssael Espinoza124Steve Knapp20-1
3FlicflacTiago Pereira120Howard L. Zucker6-1
4My JourneyAaron Gryder124Richard Baltas10-1
5Satchel PaigeGeovanni Franco120Philip D'Amato4-1
6BraggartAgapito Delgadillo124Antonio Garcia30-1
7Unusually HandsomeDrayden Van Dyke120Peter Miller8-1
8Give Me the LuteFlavien Prat120Peter Miller3-1
9Mighty ElijahJonathan Roman124Daniel Dunham30-1
10Play MoneyJoseph Talamo120David E. Hofmans12-1
11Claim of PassionNorberto Arroyo, Jr.120Philip D'Amato15-1
12PeedieMario Gutierrez120Ben D. A. Cecil12-1
Also Eligible
13Jamming EddyMartin Pedroza120Peter Miller7-2
14No Parking HereNorberto Arroyo, Jr.120Steven Miyadi4-1