Inside Speed Is Back While Early Speed and Favorites Dominate at Del Mar

Del Mar is a great place to visit, no doubt about it. Cool temps to get away from the summer heat, those cool ocean breezes coming off the Pacific, and lots of pretty people taking in all of the sights, sounds, and even the smells of a race track. And yes, at Del Mar, they actually have people at the track. But trying to find a winner can be pretty difficult at times. (checkout our 10 Del Mar Winning Handicapping Angles Article for help on this front)

The Del Mar Ship and Win program works as well as any place in the country. But with horses coming in from all over the place, it’s often difficult to sort it all out and try and figure out where they fit on the class ladder.  Throw in lots of full fields in many unclassified races, and it can become a real chore.

Pro Tip

Today's Racing Digest makes it easy to handicap class using their exclusive par-time-by-class standard that converts every race condition to a single number.  Each track race condition is normalized based on the strength of fields so you can now quickly see if a horse is moving up or down in class and by how much (5 points = 1 Race Class Level) regardless of which track they are moving to or from.

Don’t forget about the track bias that comes into play on the main track. For the first two weeks of the meet, the outside lanes and rally wide closers were winning a huge share of the races. That all changed abruptly this past week as inside speed took over and ruled the roost on Thursday and Friday. And that applied to both sprints and routes. Early speed still dominated over the weekend but at least the inside vs. the outside was fair on both days. Favorites actually won 7 of the 11 races on Sunday and surprisingly, through 11 days of racing, favorites are winning at a 33% clip, which is the national average. Favorites on the dirt are at 35% and on the turf course they are at 31%.

Pro Tip

Today’s Racing Digest Race Sheets Show You The Win % For Favorites and Each Running Style In Every Race

Some people say that the tide plays a big part of how the track plays, whether the tide is in or out on certain days. That seems a bit too scientific to me but one thing is certain, there is a lot more moisture in the air at Del Mar than at Santa Anita or Los Alamitos, and that even changes from morning workouts to afternoon races.

Whether you are playing from home, some satellite facility, or at the track, be on the lookout where the winners are coming from. If a couple of $20 winners go wire to wire from the inside early on in the program, you can be sure that early speed inside is holding very well on that particular day. And track biases at Del Mar usually stick around for a day or two. That’s an advantage you as a player have.

As a public handicapper, we have to make our selections anywhere from 24 to 48 hours in advance, and once we put them in print, we are stuck with them, regardless of how the track is playing. On the other hand, the turf course seems much more reliable. Off the pace runners are winning most of the turf races, but that doesn’t mean one can come from far back and win. With the shorter stretch on the Del Mar turf course, mid pack horses (about 6 lengths off the pace) are having the most success. Early speed is more dominant in those 5/8 turf sprints. Here again, one can come from off the pace, but not very far from off the pace. Three lengths back of the leaders is the most that you want in most cases, unless the pace is really hot and there are 3 or 4 horses fighting for the lead.

For the most part, the riders play an integral part of turf racing at Del Mar. With the full fields, it’s imperative to stay out of trouble and not get stopped in the stretch. That’s easier said than done, but some are just better than that than others. Umberto Rispoli is the best turf rider on this circuit, short or long. And that’s why he gets 1st call for Phil D’Amato’s horses on the grass, who is the best turf trainer on this circuit. Juan Hernandez and Hector Berrios are the next two at keeping their horses out of trouble and finding the seams to get their mounts home, without checking or taking up in the lane. And most trainers know this and that’s why these three seem to get the better mounts in turf races.

Pro Tip

The Digest Race Sheets Horse Databox tells you how often each trainer and jockey combination have raced together over the past 90 days along with their win – place – show records.

Racing resumes this Thursday with an 8 race program and will race four days this week. We will have selections out for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as usual. The pick six pool is already up to $225,350 for any single ticket winner, but with a 46% takeout rate, why anyone would play that wager is beyond me. You might as well try the Power Ball Lottery Jackpot.