How to bet the 2021 Del Mar Handicap

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

August 19th, 2021

An electric day of racing concludes with the $300,000 Del Mar H. (G2). The 1 3/8-mile turf test has brought out a deep field of 11 in what is a very tough finale. And I will be taking a swing for a big return with a longshot in the first and second spots of my wagers.

David Hofmans’ #9 Award Winner has been in solid form since joining this barn at the start of 2021. By Ghostzapper, the five-year-old gelding has been first or second in four-of-five this campaign, and he had a sneaky good prep when fifth after setting the pace in the recent Eddie Read S. (G1) at 1 1/8 miles.

Award Winner is a grinder who possesses good positional speed, and he is not at his best running middle distances. A winner of the Charles Whittingham S. (G2) at 10 furlongs in May, the well-bred bay has found his niche as a stayer on the lawn, and he will use his last as a springboard to the Del Mar H. Juan Hernandez will be in the silks, and the rising pilot will have my top pick close while pressing the pace from second or third in the early going.

Another longshot to consider is #3 Red King, who got up to win this race last season. The chestnut is winless with questionable form since that coup, but any horse that is proven on this course is worth watching in my opinion. Joel Rosario riding adds to his appeal.

Richard Mandella’s #4 United is the one to beat coming off a stout Eddie Read S. (G1) triumph. The consistently excellent contender sports a classy 5-3-2-0 line at Del Mar, and he missed by just a head bob in the event in 2020. The six-year-old gelding will have top gun Flavien Prat in the stirrups.

Grade 1 winner #8 Arklow is another prime player in the cast. The Brad Cox pupil bagged the Hollywood Turf Cup S. (G2) here in November, and he might peak in his third assignment of 2021. He will be partnered by Florent Geroux.

I have a lot of respect for both #10 Astronaut and #11 Say the Word, but have major worries about both drawing wide. Each of the talented duo will be in my exotics tickets, just not on top.

Del Mar Handicap Wagers

  • $10 win and place #9 Award Winner ($20)
  • $5 exacta box 4-9 ($10)
  • 50-cent trifecta key 9 with 3,4,8,10,11 ($10)
  • 50-cent trifecta 3,4,8,10,11 with 9 with 3,4,8,10,11 ($10)