Handicapping Del Mar Opening Week

Race Preview, Racing news

Arrogate Arrives at Del Mar Ready for the Spotlight

Arrogate set for two starts at Del Mar prior to Breeders’ Cup

Arrogate, the world’s No. 1-ranked horse, arrived in town this week and is on schedule to make the final three starts of his 4-year-old campaign at Del Mar. It all begins Saturday, July 22 when the son of Unbridled’s Song faces five rivals in the $300,000 Grade II San Diego Handicap, a prep for the Pacific Classic on Aug. 19.

A clean run and a healthy Arrogate will conclude his year’s work in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 4.

“It’s going to be tremendous,” said Tom Robbins, Del Mar’s director of racing, who probably hasn’t stopped smiling since Arrogate’s trainer, Bob Baffert, announced plans for the colt.

The opening week of racing at Del Mar heads into the weekend and the stakes schedule provides some solid racing to handicap and review.

Fri, July 21 Osunitas Stakes $75,000 3&Up Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Sat, July 22 TVG San Diego Handicap 2 $300,000 3&Up Dirt 1 1/16 Miles
Sat, July 22 Eddie Read Stakes 2 $250,000 3&Up Turf 1 1/8 Miles
Sun, July 23 San Clemente Handicap 2 $200,000 F3YO Turf 1 Mile
Sun, July 23 Wickerr Stakes $75,000 3&Up Turf 1 Mile

One of our contributing handicappers is off to a strong start at the sea side oval. Rob Henie of the West Coast Handicapping Report has provided insight at Santa Anita and Belmont Park with his racing notebook and horses of interest contributions, and now he’s in the gate at Del Mar and Saratoga, covering the daily card and biggest stakes races.

Thursday’s racing at Del Mar was filled with winners, as Rob’s handicapping reports include analysis with two selections and additional positive and negative notes on others of interest.

Race 1 Top Pick Frac Candy         1ST   $6.60

Race 2 Top Pick RmonBroom       1ST   $5.20

Race 3 Top Pick Easy Song          1ST   $8.80

Race 4 2nd choice Gummy            1ST   $5.60

Race 5 2nd choice CntyLneman    1ST   $9.80

Race 8 2nd choice MdnghtSmmr   1ST  $16.60

*Race 3 Top Pick Easy Song was 9-1 with 15 minutes left in the wagering, 9-2 with only two minutes remaining, 4-1, entering the gate, and 3-1 at the ¼ pole.

Comments from Rob on Wednesday’s opening day at Del Mar noted:

This was not the same main track surface we’ve seen the past couple years since returning to dirt. Hopefully they’ll get this surface figured out, as that wasn’t a fun nor fair surface to watch, playing more like a synthetic surface (gasp), runners all bundled together, no pace, struggling to the wire. NO RUNNERS MADE UP ANY GROUND, and though all winners were seemingly on the front end the entire day, it’s tough to say there was a “speed” bias, per se, but rather, simply a case of nothing coming from off the pace, plain and simple. The coastal conditions and track maintenance can quickly produce a different sort of track overnight so we shall see.

Then on Thursday… 

As we thought, we saw a different track on Thursday than we did on Opening Day, back to a bit more normal state, horses were not clustered, times were quicker, runners were able to make up some ground down the lane over the main track.

TOP EFFORT OF THE DAY WED: That was EASILY the first timer for Baffert Just A Smidge (2-1, $6.00 win). Super smart debut, and as we mentioned in our write up, “strong drills but thought she might want a bit longer,” so the fact she won so well was impressive while galloping out SUPER, likely solidifying our thought she’ll be even better going 6 or 61/2 furlongs.

Here’s some additional insight on how to bet Del Mar at this summer’s meet.

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