How to Bet Del Mar 2017 Summer Meeting

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TwinSpires Staff

July 17th, 2017


On Wednesday afternoon the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club opens the gates for another exciting summer in San Diego County. For Del Mar handicapping reports, CLICK HERE.

The highly anticipated meeting runs through Labor Day when things conclude with a trio of stakes races led by the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. Racing until the closing day card is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Handicapping races at Del Mar is not all that different than analyzing cards at the other Southern California circuit venues, but here a few items worth noting that could help lead to greater success “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” in 2017.

The turf sprints down the hill at Santa Anita Park are much different than the five furlong dashes contested over Del Mar’s grass course.

  • *The Del Mar 5-furlong sprints on turf are much more traditional in nature than the races run down the hill in Arcadia.
  • *While the races at Santa Anita Park tend to play more like mile races where it is not an all out sprint from the time the gates open, the same cannot be said at Del Mar where speed kills and it is full throttle from start to finish.
  • *Be sure to take note if a horse has an affinity for one of the two courses and not the other. Finding a runner that does not perform well down the hill, but has had success at Del Mar could reward you handsomely in July.

*When in doubt use horses who will be on or near the lead.

Do not look for big prices in the rock-bottom maiden claiming events.

*There are a lot of $20,000 maiden claiming races sprinkled throughout the summer racing at Del Mar and while some of the logical winners may be easy to make cases against, history tells us to keep things simple when handicapping these races.

*A look back at last summer’s rock bottom maiden claimers at Del Mar is quite telling.

  1. Despite solid field sizes in general, there was only one $20K MCL event that produced a winner that paid over $14.40 and that did not come until the final week of the meeting when 15-1 shot Cause I’m Bad nosed out 4-5-favorite Picture Tube and returned $32.80.
  2. Furthermore, the average win payoff in the twenty-three $20K maiden races run during the Del Mar summer meeting was just $8.75, which included 9 winners that paid under $6. If you exclude Cause I’m Bad’s victory in the final race of its kind of the meet than it goes down to just $7.65.
  3. So while the favorites are often not the easiest horses to get behind on paper due to having several chances at the level already or unusual patterns heading into the race, these are not the events to try to find long shots in or spread deep in horizontal wagers hoping to bust out.

Make sure to pay attention to the rail settings on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

*Some turf courses are more affected by the rails being out than others. At Del Mar, the temporary rails being out to protect the inside of the course has a tremendous impact on the outcome of the event. Make sure to take note of the settings on the turf daily and give a bump to speed when the rails are out a significant amount.

Beware of form reversals from horses that have had previous success at Del Mar.

*Whether it be due to the change in climate or an affinity for the surface itself, horses that appear to have lost their form elsewhere, but have performed well at Del Mar often rediscover their past success down South. Be sure to be mindful of the “horse for course angle” at this meet. It can provide the handicapper with vulnerable favorites as well as useable price options.


Pick 5 (races 1-5)

This is my favorite wager in Southern California, in large part due to the low takeout percentage. The bet involves the first five races on the card and can be played in fifty-cent denominations. Whether you have a massive budget or a smaller one you can get involved and have a legitimate chance for a nice score.

Daily Double

The Double often gets overlooked in the twenty-first century due to a number of gimmick wagers, but it is still one of my favorites. The 20% takeout rate is less than most other wagers on the circuit and is a great way to attack a duo of races that come in succession.


With all of the exotic wagers available a good ole fashioned Win bet can often be forgotten, but not for good reason. The 15.43% takeout is second lowest to the Players’ Pick 5 and hitting one or two winners on a card can lead to a winning day instead of saying “What If.”

Place Pick All

This wager no longer exists at Santa Anita Park, but remains on the wagering menu at Del Mar. It requires the horseplayer to pick a horse in each race that finishes first or second. If there is a card where you think a favorite or two is vulnerable, this may be an entertaining, yet potentially lucrative way to score out.

I cannot wait until Wednesday afternoon!

Scott Shapiro is a California-based handicapper who writes about handicapping topics for His Daily Selections full-card analysis with best bets is available every day of the Del Mar meeting. Follow him on Twitter @ScottShap34