Spot plays for opening day at Del Mar

Summer has officially arrived at Del Mar, “Where the Turf Meets the Surf.” Del Mar’s anticipated summer race meet gets underway Wednesday with a 10-race card. It’s a can’t-miss event on the racing calendar, so even if you can’t make it out to California to attend in person, we can still take ~$50 and celebrate opening day with a couple of spot plays: Race 7: maiden special weight Call it a hunch, but I’m siding with the 12-1 first-time starter [...]

Jockeys to watch (and wager on) at Del Mar

Jockey Drayden Van Dyke - Keeneland Photo You’ve heard of horses for courses, but what about jockeys for courses? For a variety of reasons, some jockeys excel when riding at particular racetracks, specific distances or on dirt versus turf and vice versa. When the 2019 summer meet at Del Mar kicks off Wednesday, which jockeys should we expect to see in the spotlight during the 36-day racing season? Based on data from Statsmaster, here are a few jockeys [...]

2019 Kentucky Derby Jockey Assignments, Facts and Trends

Jockey Mike Smith aboard Kentucky Derby winner Justify - Coady Photography It is often said that jockeys are unable to make horses run beyond their abilities, but the difference between victory and defeat can come down to the skills of a rider in saving ground, timing moves correctly and riding hard to the finish line. That’s why the 20 jockeys who will compete in the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) include the most talented riders in North America. Leading [...]

Long Range Toddy Catches Improbable in Rebel Stakes Division 1

Long Range Toddy winning the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) - Coady Photography He was favored at 2-5 and ran a good race, but when the real running began in the first division of the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, the previously undefeated Improbable came up short of expectations and fell to defeat at the hands of Long Range Toddy. Granted, Improbable faced some adversity in the 8.5-furlong Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race. The [...]

Improbable and Game Winner Look to Dominate in Separate Rebel Stakes Divisions

Improbable(Horsephotos.com) Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is after his sixth Kentucky Derby win, and two of his horses are shaping up to give him an outstanding shot at the garland of roses. Both Improbable and Game Winner are slated to race in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Rebel Stakes, though they won’t have a chance to face one another. On Wednesday, it was announced the Kentucky Derby prep race would be the first to split off into two separate [...]

2019 Racing Preview: Who Will Get Hot, Who Will Get Cold?

Jockey Drayden Van Dyke - Keeneland Photo A new year of racing is on the horizon, and in preparation, it can be a useful exercise for handicappers to project which jockeys, trainers, and horses are poised for banner years or quiet years compared to 2018. Having an idea of what to expect during 2019 can help us formulate more effective wagering strategies and maybe even zero in on where the most promising Kentucky Derby contenders will come from. [...]

Watch Out, Game Winner: Improbable Impresses in Los Alamitos Futurity

Improbable winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo Question—which horse is the most talented two-year-old currently residing in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert? Prior to the running of the December 8th Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (gr. I) at Los Alamitos, most racing fans would have quickly answered Game Winner, the three-time Grade 1 winner and probable champion two-year-old male of 2018. But then Baffert sent out Improbable to crush the [...]

Why I’m Betting Serengeti Empress in the Pocahontas Stakes

Serengeti Empress winning the Ellis Park Debutante Stakes - Coady Photography It’s a simple question—will anyone defeat #1 Serengeti Empress in Saturday’s $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs? In my opinion, the answer is pretty simple as well—no. No one will defeat Serengeti Empress. Okay, maybe that statement is a little bit bold, but consider it a concise way of stating that I really like the chances of Serengeti Empress in the Pocahontas Stakes, which serves [...]

Game Winner Rallies to Victory in Del Mar Futurity

Game Winner winning the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) - © Benoit Photo Throughout the 2018 summer meet at Del Mar, the Hall of Fame trainers Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer have pretty much dominated the juvenile racing scene, so it was only natural to see Monday’s $300,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) turn into a showdown between talented youngsters from those two barns. Indeed, bettors perceived the race as a three-horse matchup between the Baffert-trained duo of [...]

Catalina Cruiser Wins Again in Pat O’Brien Stakes

Catalina Cruiser winning the Pat O'Brien Stakes (gr. II) at Del Mar - © Benoit Photo Four starts, four victories by a combined margin of 18 ½ lengths. Fast times. Eye-catching speed figures. Just how good is Catalina Cruiser? There’s no telling at the moment. All we know is that he looked like a beast winning the 8.5-furlong San Diego Handicap (gr. II) last month, and he was just as impressive while cutting back to seven furlongs for [...]