by Jeremy Plonk
July 22, 2019
We’ve got two weeks in the book at Saratoga, albeit a day shortened by a heat wave. And the first waves have now crashed the shore at Del Mar as we head to Week 2 on the west coast. Here’s our weekly statistical look at what you’ve seen and what you can expect:
1. Churchill Downs continues to deliver at the Spa this summer. An 11-for-44 week (25%) included a $1.63 ROI for each $1 bet on every CD-prepped runner. Four of the wins came in the maiden special weight ranks. The Churchill 2-year-olds went 6: 3-0-1 last week at the Spa and are 12: 6-0-1 for the meet!
2. Luis Saez owned the week in more ways than one. Not only did he go 19: 7-2-3 for a $2.28 ROI for every $1 bet, but Mother Nature was on his side, too. Saez was booked to ride (and win) the Haskell at Monmouth on Saturday aboard Maximum Security on the day that sweltering heat forced the cancellation of racing at the Spa. Saez’s 7 wins at the Spa were with 7 different trainers, none under 2-1 and 4 of them paying double-digits.
3. The Robertino Diodoro barn posted 2 wins and 2 seconds from just 5 starters last week all with horses exiting starts at Churchill Downs. As is his national reputation, the success all came with dirt sprinters. Winners paid $11 and $16, but you might start to see the prices drop now on the high-percentage Midwestern outfit. Diodoro went 2-for-2 with David Cohen, utilizing their Oaklawn winter/spring ties.
4. It’s incredible to look at the sires of Saratoga winners and see so many former Todd Pletcher trainees. Some names you wouldn’t suspect had great weeks with their offspring on the Spa dirt and bear watching: Competitive Edge, Gemologist, Mission Impazible and Munnings all have offspring running well at the meet, as well as the always-dependable local TAP staples like Uncle Mo on dirt and Scat Daddy on turf.
5. Last week we gave you Jeremiah Englehart, Bill Mott & Rudy Rodriguez on the ‘heat-up’ list and they went 6-for-18 while showing a cumulative positive ROI. Look for Rob Atras and Graham Motion next in line. They combined for 2-for-16 last week, but had 7 underneath finishes that hint they’re on the brink.
1. Flavien Prat has staked his claim in the riders’ standings. No doubt a 10-for-25 start catches the eye (40% wins, 52% in exacta). But Prat scored 5 stakes victories opening week from 7 mounts. Of his 25 mounts, 7 went off higher than 5-1 odds and he won with 3 of those. Most impressively, he rode for 14 different trainers and won races for 8 of them.
2. Keep smiling! Sire Smiling Tiger’s offspring went 2-for-2 on dirt opening week, upping their mark to 11-for-44 on the Del Mar main all-time and a $1.32 ROI for every $1 bet.
3. Churchill preppers went 8: 3-2-0 opening week at Del Mar, all under the training of SoCal based outfits and 7 of those coming in the allowance ranks. Average odds of those 8 runners was just under 6-1 with winners coming at 4-5 and 7-1. Add in that Keeneland and Belmont preppers went 2-for-3 in limited strikes and the Ship & Win types had an excellent week.
4. Peter Miller is back. After a slow start to his Kentucky foray in early summer, he picked up the percentages just prior to the end of the Churchill meet. He carried that over to opening week at Del Mar by going 8: 3-2-1. It wasn’t the volume you expect from the barn, but the results were trademark Miller in years past. Of his 3 wins, 2 came in a turf sprint and a maiden claimer dirt dash, the barn’s Del Mar strong-suits historically. And keep in mind Miller went 7-for-16 during Week 2 of last summer’s meet, so he may just be heating up.
5. The freshman class of 2-year-olds has some interesting home addresses. Luis Mendes, Jeff Bonde and Brian Koriner all had their babies ready to roll opening week. They went a combined 12: 5-3-1 in the 2-year-old maiden special weight and maiden claiming ranks.