How to bet Del Mar 2017 Opening Day Summer

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

Ed DeRosa

July 19th, 2017

Navigating the initial card of the 36-day summer meeting at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is like a 10-race choose your own adventure about an international espionage plot. I.e., Who do you trust?

Unfortunately for me as a multi-race player, my strongest opinion is in race 6, which is a part of neither the Pick 5 (races 1-5) nor the Pick 4 (races 7-10). That said, I can't resist touting #7 Moonless Sky, who is 4-to-1 on the morning line and has won three of four starts since joining trainer Eddie Truman's barn earlier this year. The switch also united him with Racing Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who sticks aboard here. Moonless Sky also sports a top ranking in Prime Power, last-out Speed, and drops 6 pounds from his previous win. In non-maiden turf routes at Del Mar since 2012, this combo has conspired for two wins in four tries.

As for the Pick 5 and Pick 4, one favorite I don't trust despite my love for the movie Major League is #1 Pedro Cerrano in race 2. It's a tricky spot because it's not like he can't win this, but he's a certain underlay given connections. Still, he's stepping up in class and has never run par for the class based on the Speed Ratings. In fact, no one has, and I've found that's a good time to try to beat the favorite.

So who will we lean on in the Pick 5? Who do we trust?

We'll test loyalty right out of the gate with #6 Papa Royale, who appeared win shy before finally winning in career start #11 at 7-to-10. I think the win coincides with the class level, and $16k non winners of 2 comparable to horses capable of winning a $20k maiden claimer. He was well clear of the third-place horse when second two back and well clear of the others when finally winning. He has run par for the class and just seems better than these.

The third race is inscrutable to me with the defection of #4 Over Par. I have a top pick becuase that's something that you need to have, but it's an ALL race for me on all tickets.

The fourth and fifth races are a pair of maiden races with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert surely to have a say in both--even if not on the win end then on the toteboard. Peachtree's Pretty Owl in the fourth finally debuts as a summer three-year-old despite being purchased more than a year ago as a two-year-old in training. That's typically a red flag for a win early trainer like Baffert, but maybe Arrogate taught him something about the value of time (the eventual champion three-year-old male and Breeders' Cup Classic winner did not debut until spring of his three-year-old year).

The fifth is tougher with several seemingly well meant debut runners plus a Doug O'Neill-trained filly who took tons of cash out of the box but lost to a next-out stakes winner. I'm not a Pick 6 player, but if I were then I'd want the top 3-4 betting choice in the field of ten and let those who aren't taking money beat me. There's enough talent here that someone's going to know if they have the goods or not. Without that luxury, I'd most like to get live to 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and will lean on Baffert's maiden double (Pretty Owl-Just a Smidge) on tickets that go deeper elsewhere.

My full ABC grid for the 10-race card is below.