Garrity's Saturday Stakes heads to Del Mar for the Bing Crosby and San Diego, plus an allowance and MSW
The good news for horse racing fans, especially those who fancy a venerable racetrack in Upstate New York, is that this afternoon Saratoga runs two major stakes, the Grade 1 Vanderbilt for older dirt sprinters, and the Jim Dandy for 3-year-olds. The bad news is that these are terrible betting races, with just six and five entrants, respectively, the Vanderbilt an especially bad wagering affair, as on paper it looks like a walkover for Jackie’s Warrior, last year’s champion sprinter. If wagering on 1/10 shots gets you excited, then Saratoga Springs is probably the place for you today.
Since betting on overwhelming chalk is not our cup of tea – we’d rather play keno – we are turning our attention West, to Del Mar in Southern California, where the Grade 1 Bing Crosby and Grade 2 San Diego Handicap headline a terrific card. Considering how much small fields have plagued California racing in recent years, it is jarring, in a good way, to see the entry sheet at Del Mar today: eleven races, all of them with deep, competitive fields, and nary a race with the kind of overwhelming favorite that makes it hard to bet. This is very, very good stuff, and we are both glad to see it and eager to take it on.
We’re looking at the last four races at Del Mar, all of which are excellent. We’re expecting fast dirt and firm turf where the turf meets the surf, so let’s go.
Del Mar, Race 8, 8:37 pm ET
Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes, 6 furlongs, Dirt, 3 & Up
Ten older horses line up for the Bing Crosby, a Grade 1 that is a highlight of the Del Mar summer meet. We like 2-Shaaz, a lightly-raced 4-year-old who comes off a third-place finish in the Steve Sexton Mile at Los Alamitos on May 30. We think that race sets him up quite nicely for this spot, as it was both his first start in a stakes race, and the mile distance should have him dead fit to run 6 furlongs today. His recent morning workouts have been blistering, which suggests he is sitting on a big race, and that this makes his 7/2 morning line number quite appealing. Look for him to stalk early and roll late; we will bet him to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 8, $40 to win on 2-Shaaz.
Del Mar, Race 9, 9:07 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up
This first-level allowance turf mile drew a dozen runners. The pick is 10-Midnight Jostar, who just missed in an identical spot last out, rallying into a slow pace to finish second, just a neck behind the winner, on June 4 at Santa Anita. Quicker earlier fractions, which he should see in front of him today, should make Midnight Jostar’s late run more effective, and it doesn’t hurt that trainer Phil D’Amato is on a roll at the young Del Mar meet. We will bet him to win at 7/2. The bet: Del Mar, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Midnight Jostar.
Del Mar, Race 10, 9:37 pm ET
Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, 3 & Up
The depth of the field in the San Diego, which drew a field of nine, is illustrated by the odds on 8-Country Grammer, who in his last two starts was runner-up in the Saudi Cup and won the Dubai World Cup: even coming off a second and a first in the two richest horse races in the world, the son of Tonalist is a tepid 5/2 on the morning line. This is a deep field, and a real handicapper’s race.
But we are eschewing the logical, big-name contenders, and going with a huge longshot: 5-Senor Buscador would at first glance seem to be a rank outsider, with just four career starts and no major stakes wins, but a closer look at his form shows some quality: He was an early Kentucky Derby contender last year, going off at 5/2 in the Risen Star Stakes (a race he lost to 3-Mandaloun, who is also in this field), before an injury in a workout knocked him off the Triple Crown trail, and to the sidelines, for over a year. Senor Buscador returned from his long vacation with a win in an allowance race at Lone Star Park three weeks ago, and while at first glance that might not seem like the best prep for a race of this magnitude, we like that his trainer, Todd Fincher, an old-school horseman and exceptionally skilled trainer, liked his effort enough to ship him to Del Mar for this spot. This is a good horse who just might be sitting on a monster race, and at 20-1, we think he merits a play. We will bet Senor Buscador to win. The bet: Del Mar, Race 10, $40 to win on 3-Senor Buscador.
Del Mar, Race 11, 10:06 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, Turf, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
Twelve fillies go in the Del Mar nightcap. The pick is 5-Kura, who makes the second start of her career here. Her career debut, which was in a Santa Anita maiden race on June 12, was on dirt, but both her running style and her breeding (she has turf influences on both sides of her pedigree) suggest that the sod is where she will shine. She is also trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, who doesn’t win with debut horses all that often, but who hits at a very solid 20% clip with horses making their second start. Look for her to be well back early, and rolling late; we will bet her to win at 12-1 odds. The bet: Del Mar, Race 11, $40 to win on 5-Kura.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.