It's vacation time. Day 1 at Del Mar went relatively well, even if it was a minor loss on the bets for the day. First race quinella and fourth race winner+exacta kept it from being a total wash.
Now it's time for one of the busiest days in the country to kick off. Saratoga and Del Mar are running, plus it's Arlington Million Day.
Here are some picks for the day, starting at the Spa:
Race 1--Matt's non-favorite, the turf sprint. And beaten claimers to boot going 5.5 on the lawn. I'm not crazy about any of them in particular, but it's hard to look past #6 Ideal Place in the opener. You get Javier Castellano and Chad Brown together on a horse that's only 1/2 with its lone loss in stakes company against a bunch of 1/forever types. Long as he's not under 2-1/5-2, I'd go for it.
Race 2--The babies are going 6.5 furlongs on the main in here. They were able to pass a little bit yesterday, so I'm leaning towards a price horse in #7 Permanent Campaign in here. It made a bold bid at Belmont after a bad break and gets to sit an outside trip that fares well in longer sprints there. I'd use #1 and #4 with in in exotics, but like #7 the best.
Race 3--Horribad maiden claiming state-bred horses. Nothing I'd touch unless TVG or HRTV assigned me a pick for the race, and even then, it'd be because I had to do so. That being said, I'm going with #5 My Italian Ices for a mild upset since Jason Servis fares well on first claim (30% with 69 starters). He may have a friendlier pace set-up in here than he did in the debut.
Race 4--1 1/8 optional claimers on the main track here. While #9 Midnight Taboo may have been over his head in the Belmont Stakes two starts back, he seems to fit better in a race such as this. He broke badly in his last start, and JV/Pletcher team up together on a non-favorite. Has the "ignored" angle, since the #3 will take more play in this race.
Race 5--Beaten claimers going long on the turf. None of these look like world-beaters, so I'm going for #10 Annawon for a steal. Jack Fisher has 4 winners from 11 starters at the meet and steeplechasers tend to steal these cheaper flat races.
Race 6--NY-bred turf sprints, the other Saratoga special. I'm going for #10 Greeley Pack to take it in an upset. I usually prefer recency in races like this, and the trainer won with him earlier in the meet. Horse-for-course at double-digit odds is never a bad thing.
Race 7--More 2-turn condition turf races. Is Saratoga trying to be Colonial Downs north? While #3 Liquidity Trap was a beaten favorite in his last start, he figures to see better odds in this race. David Jacobson tends to win races like this in droves. And he and Junior Alvarado are 30% together. His worst start did come at the Spa, though there's no shame in losing to Dullahan, among others.
Race 8--Saratoga trying to emulate Keeneland with the allowance races at 1 3/16 on grass. I'm going with #6 Royal Blessing to win this race. He moved too soon in his last race at the Spa, but did win two starts back. Prior to that loss, he won 3 starts of 4 (all 3 he finished the race in, he won). I'd prefer multiple winners to 1-for types.
Race 9 (Sword Dancer)--While he's done his best running in South Florida, I think #5 Twilight Eclipse is due to break through in grade-1 company in this race. He is 2/2 at the 1 1/2 mile distance and picks up Castellano-Albertrani. The turf division at 12 panels is wide open with Point of Entry's recent injury, so I'm going for parity here.
Race 10 (Alabama)--This appears to be a 2-horse race. #4 Princess of Sylmar is probably the best filly in here, though if anyone upsets, it could very well be #5 Carnival Court. The #5 is 2/2 at Belmont, and Street Sense did win the 2007 Travers at the Spa. 4-5 would be my exacta play here.
Race 11--Two-turn maiden claimers on turf, or pass! Not crazy about this field. #2 Moravitz rates a look since it's Jacobson in maiden claiming. A similar middle move from his last start, but with more pace could win a race like this.
Race 12--At least these are straight maidens, even if state-breds. Plus 7 furlong races are good handicapping testers. #6 Bottleofredorwhite is JV/Pletcher in the debut. It's rare to see 7 furlong debuts in state breds with these guys, but the rest don't look much that started.
Race 1--Arlington opens with a Poly stakes, the Straight Line, at a flat mile. I don't think speed will last with the pace set-up in here. Kent Desormeaux can ride wide closers home. I'm picking him to do such things with #5 O T B Bob to win the opener. #3 and #6 could soften each other up to help the #5 get home.
Race 2--One of several turf races. It reads like a consolation for the Million at a shorter distance on class. I think #4 Trend with Jimmy Graham can sit the best trip, as other speed in the race makes gate-to-wire a doubt.
Race 3--Probably their worst winners race of the day at 6.5 furlongs. I'd go with #4 Commando Kat for it's win and place finishes at 6.5 furlongs in his past.
Race 4--Maiden claiming turf sprints, lovely. Hard not to see #10 Ravishingly getting home in front of the other fillies and mares in here. Catalano eats up the cheap races, especially at Arlington.
Race 5--This completes the most terribad pick 3 I've seen in awhile on a big day. Maiden 12500 on the main track. Going with #9 Nine Sixteen for a mild upset. Eddie Perez and Dale Bennett team up like a JV/Pletcher-lite up in Arlington. 29% overall since 2012 and 40% at Arlington in that time frame does it for me.
Race 6 (Hatoof/1st Div @1 1/16 miles-T)--They split the Hatoof this year Oceanside-style. Here's division 1 of it. I'm going for Joel Rosario to wire the first division of this. #10 Liz Pendens has a win over the surface and is the outside of the speed horses in what appears to be a tepid early going. I think she can steal it if she finds her spring form once more.
Race 7 (American St. Leger @ 1 11/16 miles-T)--That's not a typo. This race is 13.5 furlongs long. While I hate picking favorites, the #4 Dandino was bet to 10-1 to win at Royal Ascot. Now he's running state-side. He almost upset last year's Canadian International. That's my pick to click.
Race 8 (Secretariat @ 1 1/4 miles-T)--In the past, this race followed the Million. Now it's a prelude to it. This is kind of a hunch play because the Premier League kicks off this weekend, but #13 Tattenham can either cloud close or pounce at first run in here. You can do worse than Desormeaux and Mott in a big turf race.
Race 9 (Beverly D @ 1 3/16 miles-T)--This is tougher than what it's seen so far, but local edges could help in here. I lean to #9 Ausus to pull an upset. She won the prep race here, and Jimmy Graham is aboard. Putting the Euros and Marketing Mix above in exotics would make sense, too.
Race 10 (Arlington Million @ 1 1/4 miles-T)--The feature race. My heart wants #11 Little Mike, but my head leans towards one of the invaders, #10 The Apache. While his best running is in Dubai and South Africa, their turf courses are in the good-to-firm range, Arlington's normal range. Soumillon has won big races in the States before, plus Michael de Kock pretty much dominates Dubai World Cup meets, so the big stage isn't scary for them. Going for #10 here.
Race 11 (Hatoof @ 1 1/16 miles-T/2nd div)--I lean towards #8 Alette in here at a price. Chris Block wins at Arlington often, and the running style fits. Winning by a nose in her last after losing by a nose 2 starts ago shows she has grit.
Race 12--This is a 5.5 furlong turf sprint. I like #1 Rojo Verde to pass a little up the hedge in the close out race. They've won twice at the meet already; once on each surface.
Race 1--The favorite has burned through chances to win. So I lean towards #7 Ginger Tap in a mild upset since she's only ran twice while most of the others are semi-pro maidens.
Race 2--Eric Kruljac trained horses tend to improve when blinkers are added. I think they could certainly help #4 Singleinthelast be a single in the second race. The other starters are sound, too, but #4 has the best value on the tote.
Race 3--Wow, this race is all kinds of ugh. Guess you have to like #1 Hard Buns since she won earlier in the meet and has the leading rider by default.
Race 4--Yay, open maidens going 5.5 furlongs! If the track is like yesterday where speed looked good, hard to beat #2 Can the Man with Garcia/Baffert in the last. If they can pass, however, I lean to the #7 Maximinus to pull an upset. How often do you get Jeff Bonde and Russell Baze at 8-1? They're 32% together, after all.
Race 5--1 mile on the lawn. Since Julien Leparoux has moved out west, I tend to pick him on turf races unless he's overbet. In here, he won't be. Plus, #4 Big Bane Theory has ran against far better and has a trainer who's 20% with a smaller barn picking up Monsieur Day (Pat Day, but French since he usually beats us when ignored in our bets), as my father and I call him.
Race 6--Another 5.5 furlong maiden on the main. Wow, they paid a lot for #4 New Year's Day. If he's 5/2 or better, bet and bet some more on him to win. The presence of Bejarano to his direct outside could keep him from being pounded at the window, which'd be nice.
Race 7--6 furlong option claimers, some of which have seen stakes horses before this one. I've been on him since his 2-year-old days, and returning to the scene of his best running could help #4 Know More do better. Either of his stakes efforts from last year would win this. Plus, Mario and O'Neill are starting to win things again.
Race 8 (Del Mar Oaks @ 1 1/8 on grass)--It's tough not to like #1 Wishing Gate with Go-Go on the rail after the way she won the San Clemente. I'd have rated Sarach had she ran in here and not won the feature on Friday instead, though. With her out of the picture, I think the #1 is boss. I often like horse-for-course angles; I do here, too.
Race 9--Del Mar likes running 5.5 furlong maidens, don't they? I'm not sure you'll get 5-1 on her, but I like #9 My Lucky Rose to get a better trip than she did on opening day. Outside speed should help her a bit. An 8-9 quinella would likely be my best bet in here, as Julien and Hollendorfer do well together as well.
Race 10--The last race I'll see on vacation, a 1 mile option claimer on the main track. Sometimes these races lack speed or have a ton of it. This one errs towards having a ton of speed, compared to some. This is why I like #8 Branding to pick up the pieces late. She didn't have enough to run at in her last start, but still finished second at Del Mar. Someone has to close to win mile claimers in most cases, and she seems the most logical.
Hope you do well at the track and maybe get to come to Del Mar, my favorite track outside of Kentucky to visit!