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Five Things to Watch This Week at Del Mar and Saratoga

by Jeremy Plonk

August 5, 2019

Who’s hot and who’s not? We look at the summer boutique stats each Monday to help put you on winners in the coming week at Del Mar and Saratoga. Among the features this week include juvenile showcases like the Best Pal and Saratoga Special. Let’s get to work: 

Del Mar Betting Tips 

1. Trainer Doug O’Neill took over the beach last week with a 20: 9-4-1 record. That’s 45% wins and 65% in the exacta. It’s not like the public bought in either. He had winners of $15, $15, $24 and $49 on the incredible run. Seven of the 9 paid $8 or more. O’Neill went 3-for-4 in maiden special weights and 4-for-6 in allowance races. Rafael Bejarano was the money rider for the barn at 4-for-8. 

2. Belmont invaders continue to be successful at Del Mar with 2 of 3 winning last week. That brings the Belmont shippers’ meet total to 9: 4-0-2. We mentioned in this space during opening week to watch these runners, who went 24: 7-6-1 for a $1.30 ROI for each $1 bet last summer at Dmr. 

3. Favorites flailed on the Del Mar turf last week, going just 2-for-15, including a pair of odds-on propositions defeated. That massive dip followed a 15-for-36 (42%) run on the green to open the 2019 meet. 

4. It’s been a tale of 2 surfaces for trainer John Sadler this summer at Del Mar. He’s a very solid 15: 4-4-0 on dirt, but a lowly 23: 1-1-4 on turf. Notably, Sadler’s 4 victories on dirt all have come in major graded stakes, where he’s a perfect 4-for-4 on dirt.

5. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke has posted a gaudy $1.87 ROI for each $1 bet on his 61 mounts this meet, including 17 wins and 11 runner-up finishes. That’s 28% wins and 48% in the exacta. He has no more than 2 wins and 6 mounts for any individual trainer, performing at a high level for all. 

Saratoga Betting Tips

1. Horses running back second time at the meet went just 6-for-75 last week at Saratoga. David Donk and Gary Contessa both went 0-5 at the maneuver. Note that 14% of ‘run-backs’ second time at the meet won during August 2018, so expect that number to pick up from last week’s 8%. 

2. Jockeys Jose Lezcano (8-12, 67%) and Irad Ortiz, Jr. (10-21, 48%) have been absolutely remarkable while riding favorites at the meet. Lezcano’s 8 wins on favorites have come from 7 different barns. By comparison, names like Jose Ortiz, Javier Castellano and John Velazquez all are winning under 30% with favorites. 

3. The Spa’s most reliable training deliveries this season have come Mark Casse (3-3 with favorites), Wesley Ward (3-4), Linda Rice (3-5) and Danny Gargan (3-5). Mike Maker and Graham Motion each are 2-2 with favorites. Chad Brown (27%) and Todd Pletcher (25%) have vastly underperformed with favorites at the meet with 45 such runners between them. 

4. There’s no quit in the Churchill express. Those prepped in Louisville won 6 races last week at a 23% overall win rate. These runners now total 30 winners at the meet and an overall 21% win rate ($1.08 ROI for every $1 bet). Consider CD preppers won only 21 races (14% win rate) at the 2018 Saratoga meet. 

5. Rusty Arnold’s horses were 6-for-108 at Saratoga from 2013-’18 with a paltry 27% in the money. He’s gone an inexplicable 9: 3-2-2 at the current meet with 4: 2-0-2 in stakes company. He also won a turf sprint stakes at Ellis Park last week for a cherry on the sundae.