Del Mar Preview
With one the summer’s marque race meetings — Del Mar — now getting underway, I did some digging and have unearthed a slew of statistical nuggets that I hope handicappers will find insightful. Next week, we’ll look at Saratoga.
July 16-Sept. 7
Not surprisingly given the quality of horses running, Del Mar produces a healthy percentage of winning favorites, especially in non-claiming races for winners.
LAST RACE LOCALE
Horses that last raced at Santa Anita and (surprisingly) some of the smaller Western racetracks — Turf Paradise, Emerald Downs and Les Bois Park — did very well at Del Mar last year. Also, Pleasanton shippers performed admirably where the surf meets the turf, which bodes well for this year, given that the Oak Tree meeting was conducted at the Pleasanton, CA oval.
NOT WORTH A SHIP
Horses that last competed at Sacramento, Keeneland, Arlington Park, Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park, Presque Isle Downs or Woodbine were a combined 4-for-101 at Del Mar in 2015.
After being a closer’s haven for many years, Del Mar witnessed a speed revival of sorts in 2014, as 38 percent of sprint races (races less than a mile) carded on the main track were won in wire-to-wire fashion. What’s more the average speed rations in those events (-6 ESR, -10 LSR) were identical to those witnessed during the fall meet at Santa Anita, leading me to believe that the transition to dirt will have minimal effect in main-track sprints.
Turf, however, is a decidedly different beast, as closers have reigned supreme for years at the seaside oval. Whereas, the average SA turf route produced a 0 ESR and 0 LSR in 2014, the typical Del Mar turf route generated speed rations of +2 and -1 respectively, with the average winner approximately 4 ½ lengths in arrears after the opening half-mile.