We're back for a look at the opening day card at Del Mar, which opens a fall meet today that runs through December 1. There will be lots of grass racing where the turf meets the surf, which we like, and while it will never make up for the absence of Hollywood Park, whose Thanksgiving weekend Turf Festival was one of our favorite racing events of the year, we will try to focus on what we have, rather than what we do not, and what we have is an 8-race Friday card in beautiful San Diego County. It will be fast and firm at old Del Mar; let's go.
Del Mar, Race 5, 5:30 pm ET
Starter Allowance, 1 1/16 miles, turf, 3 & Up
This starter allowance drew a field of 10, which makes it a good betting race. Late-running 5-Tartini, a Jack Carava trainee, is a strong play: he just missed last out, finishing second at this level on October 13. We think two things favor him in this spot: the first is that the field has quite a bit of speed, which should ensure a fast pace that will favor his stretch run. the second is the change from Santa Anita to Del Mar. The Santa Anita turf course, at least at the recently concluded Santa Anita meeting, was pretty speed-favoring, and less kind to horses coming from, behind than we expect Del Mar's course to be, and this will help him. On a fairer racing surface, Tartini is going to be awfully tough to beat. We will bet him to win at 9/2, and we will do so enthusiastically and aggressively. The bet: Del Mar, Race 5, $50 to win on 5-Tartini.
Del Mar, Race 6, 6:00 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, dirt, California-Bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Eight females will go in this maiden sprint for Cal-breds. Most of the runners have race records that suggest they will have a hard time winning at this level, so we are looking at a first-time starter, 7-Stormin Ranger. This gray 3-year-old filly has something we like to see: she's by a budget stallion, U S Ranger, who stands for only $3,000, but sold for many multiples of that, $60,000, as a yearling. That she fetched such a high price, relative to her sire's stud fee, suggests that she has some physical ability. In a field that is frankly weak, she looks to have the most upside. She has a steady workout pattern, with a couple of quick drills interspersed with more moderate, stamina-building efforts, and trainer Brian Koriner has a good 21% win rate with firsters. And she gets an outside post, which is an unmitigated plus, especially for a first-time starter. We will bet her to win at 5-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 6, $30 to win on 7-Stormin Ranger.
Del Mar, Race 7, 6:30 pm ET
$75,000 Kathryn Crosby Stakes, 1 mile, turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A good field of nine lines up for the day's lone stakes, a turf route for females. We like 3-Poster Girl, who makes her first start for trainer Bill Spawr since being claimed for $62,500 out of a race that she won very impressively. She has a very good combination of high stalking speed and a good closing kick; this should be just the ticket in a race whose pace we project to be legitimate, but not overly fast. She should get a good trip from her inside post position, and we expect her to stalk the leading group, take control of the race at the top of the stretch, and hold off the late runners. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Del Mar, Race 7, $25 to win on 3-Poster Girl.
That's all for today. We'll be back tomorrow for a look at the national stakes action. Until then, as always, good luck at the windows.