It was an excellent run of stakes races around the country on the first Del Mar/Saratoga weekend of 2012. Below are some thoughts on this weekend's stakes results, a huge Daily Double payout at Emerald Downs on Saturday, and a look ahead to next weekend's stakes schedule.
- The Beyer figures are out for the DelCap and the CCA Oaks (via DRF.com): Royal Delta earned a 102 and Questing (GB) earned a 98. Seems about right as neither performance was a blow-you-away style run, at least visually.
- Silver Max, currently the best three-year-old turf horse in the country, went gate-to-wire to win Saturday's Virginia Derby as the odds-on 4/5 favorite. His next race will likely be the G1-Secretariat on Arlington Million Day, where he should be a heavy favorite to continue his brilliant form.
- As impressive as Silver Max has been on the grass, Virginia Derby runner-up Lucky Chappy (IRE) might have run the best race of any horse in that field. Over ground rated as YIELDING, Lucky Chappy broke slowly, ran near the back of the pack through slow early fractions (24.91, 50.21, 1:14.09) and then commenced a three-wide rally to finish 2nd by a length to Silver Max. A very nice effort from Lucky Chappy and one that may suggest that he could use even a little more distance, perhaps 12 furlongs.
- Optimizer ran a respectable 4th in his return to racing over grass. Hopefully, D. Wayne Lukas keeps him on the lawn going forward.
- The stakes races this weekend ended up quite chalky in almost every instance. Other than Pacific Ocean's upset in the G3-James Marvin and Riding the River's win in the G3-Nijinsky, all of the other stakes winners paid less than $10.00 with five winners paying less than $5.00 for a $2 win bet.
- One of those odds-on favorites to win was Acclamation in Saturday's G1-Eddie Read at Del Mar. An excellent horse on either synthetic or turf, Acclamation grabbed an easy lead on his way to a 2 ¾ length win over Interaction (ARG).
Second choice Slim Shadey (GB) tracked Acclamation for about six to seven furlongs before fading to last (5th). For Slim Shadey, that is the second consecutive poor performance after a strong start after shipping to North America from Europe.
- My vote for most impressive winner this past weekend was that of Kauai Katie and her 12 length romp against Maiden Special Weight juvenile fillies on Friday at Saratoga.
One thing to remember with these juveniles this summer/fall: this year's Breeders' Cup races will not allow juveniles to run on Lasix. When evaluating potential Breeders' Cup juvenile runners we are going to have to keep tabs as to which impressive 2yos are running on Lasix and which are not. Kauai Katie ran on Lasix at the Spa on Friday.
Since the issue of Lasix for this year's Breeders' Cup is going to be a relatively large issue, I'm going to start tracking the juvenile winners from this summer and fall with notations as to which have won with and without Lasix.
- Speaking of juveniles, Bern Identity won the G2-Sanford Stakes on Sunday with a late move inside the final furlong to beat Handsome Jack by a length and a quarter. Bern Identity ran on Lasix.
In the other graded stakes for juvenile at the Spa, So Many Ways beat Can't Explain by a length and a half to win the G3-Schuylerville. Both fillies ran on Lasix, as did every filly in the field except Fully Living.
- I spent a very enjoyable day out at Emerald Downs on Saturday afternoon. The marine layer of gray clouds cleared off just in time for a perfect day of racing. I picked my spots fairly carefully at Emerald on Saturday and wound up with a couple of winners that helped to double me up on the day. For the second time this meet, a Tom Wenzel first time starter was my "lock of the day"; Blueberry Smoothie romped home to win by 4 ¾ lengths against Maiden Special Weight juvenile fillies. A filly by Giant's Causeway out of the Washington filly Shampoo (Gulch), Blueberry Smoothies was value even at her final odds of 3/2. Sadly, I didn't get the 3/1 she sat at for almost the entire 20 minutes leading up to post time.
If you are playing Emerald at all, don't let a Tom Wenzel first time starter get by you; he's on fire with that move at the current meet.
- The Early Daily Double at Emerald paid a whopping $1,157.60 for a $2 bet, the highest of the current meet. The combination that kicked out that return was a 9/1 winner in the 1st race (Cee the Lady) and a 7/1 winner in the 2nd (Tenatious Spirit). My girl had the winner in the 2nd but, sadly, we didn't have the winner in the first or the DD.
I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating: you can find some very nice value in the rolling Daily Doubles at Emerald. Maybe not every race, but if you watch the will pays closely you can find big time value in those pools on a daily basis, and (generally) you don't have to hit a huge longshot to collect.
- There is another big weekend of racing on tap this coming Saturday and Sunday. The Grade 1 Diana (SAR), G1-Bing Crosby (DMR) and G1-Haskell (MTH) are all slated to run, along with the G2-Jim Dandy. Bob Baffert's Paynter is expected to take Bodemeister's place in the Haskell.
- Friday Night Lights returns this week with Del Mar's twilight card beginning at 4:00pm Pacific.
Upcoming Stakes Races:
|27-Jul||DMR||G3-Cougar II Hcp.|
|28-Jul||DMR||G2-San Diego Hcp.|
|29-Jul||MTH||G3-Taylor Made Matchmaker|