Merry Christmas, it’s opening day at Del Mar.
Remember there is a new dirt main track. The Polytrack is gone forever. Look for speed to do well on the new dirt track because that’s the way it was in years past. According to reports, the track has been a little deep in the first week, but look for it to tighten up as the meet goes on.
Some trainers have raved about the look and deepness of the turf course, which is in its second season following replacement. Yes, the turf course was shut down last summer twice due to a rash of fatalities. I think Del Mar management did what it had to do to quell the situation, but two facts remain clear: the jockeys and trainers both said there was nothing wrong with the grass. In my book, if the jockeys are willing to ride on it and the trainers are willing to send their horses out, run them.
Ok, rant is over. Time to pick some winners, hopefully. Tread lightly here at the beginning of the meet, especially on the dirt. Look for form reversals and horses that like the seaside environment.
Race 1: #5 Secretsatmidnight (7-2) SCRATCHED
Trainer Bob Baffert must be trying to clear out a stall as he drops this 5-year-old into a claimer for the first time, a move he wins 37% of the time. This son of Midnight Lute has been facing better and will likely be forwardly placed by jockey Martin Garcia.
FIRST RACE: 1. All Squared Away, 2. Dress Code, 3. The Mad Hungarian. LONG SHOT: Olympic Blue.
As you can tell I lost my top choice when the scratches were announced Wednesday morning so we’ll go another direction and hope for the best.
SECOND RACE: 1. No Tricks for Jack, 2. Prettyhotprincess, 3. Peppy Bolly. LONG SHOT: Adriatic Skye.
THIRD RACE: 1. Restrike, 2. Pippappy, 3. Ink Well. LONG SHOT: Celtic Ray.
FOURTH RACE: 1. Toowindytohaulrox, 2. Wanstead Gardens, 3. Cyrus Alxander. LONG SHOT: Infinite Magic.
FIFTH RACE 1. MILES SISTER (best bet), 2. Late ‘n Left, 3. Plane Lucky. LONG SHOT: Alicanto.
This filly showed no speed in her debut but came running down the stretch to finish third. Trainer Cliff Sise is 22% with second-time starters and 29% with 2-year-olds. She should improvement second time out.
SIXTH RACE: 1. Nextdoorneighbor, 2. Basmati, 3. Planet Sunshine. LONG SHOT: Gnarly Dude.
SEVENTH RACE: 1. Gangnam Guy, 2. Fight Thru, 3. Derby Glass. LONG SHOT: The Gold Monkey.
Race 8: #8 Ground Rules (12-1) SCRATCHED
This 3-year-old colt tries winners and turf for the first time for trainer Cliff Sise. The sire Smart Strike is 12% first time with turfers and jockey Kent Desormeaux should have him in the right spot for the upset. Exacta box 8-10-11.
EIGHTH RACE: 1. Papacoolpapacool, 2. Soul Driver, 3. Forest Blue. LONG SHOT: Thanksgiving Day.
As you can see I lost my top horse when the scratches came out. Also for those that don’t know I am friends with Jeffrey Bloom, who owns Soul Driver. I have no inside information other than Soul Driver won his last race. I picked Papacoolpapacool because he beat Soul Driver two races back and jockey Gary Stevens elects to ride Papa instead of Soul Driver.
NINTH RACE: 1. Sweet Promises, 2. Never Ends, 3. Gloryzapper. LONG SHOT: Dreamologist.
10TH RACE: 1. Suances Dream, 2. Benba, 3. Synnin. LONG SHOT: Volkonsky.
Trainer John Martin ships down from Northern California and he’s 34% with shippers like Suances Dream. Martin is 29% with grass horses and jockey Martin Garcia takes the mount. Benba is coming out of a key race and Synnin has won over this turf course twice.
@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter