The first week of the 2012 Del Mar meet is in the books and the Trakus data has yielded some interesting stories.
Martin Garcia managed a brilliant trip on Three Blondes in the fourth race last Friday over a mile on the tight Jimmy Durante Turf Course. Last year at Del Mar, horses breaking from post 10 at that distance on grass covered, on average, 5,365 feet, with the shortest trip coming in at 5,349 feet. Three Blondes, installed at 20-1 on the morning line and sent post-ward at a shorter 11-1, carried blinkers for the first time for trainer Jorge Gutierrez. Utilizing his mount’s new-found, equipment-assisted hustle, Garcia cleared the field by the first turn and worked out the best possible trip for the daughter of Tribal Rule.
A hot early gallop initiated by Garcia’s ride might have been the cause of her inability to get home first, as Three Blondes faded to third, losing by only 1.5 lengths, but yet covering only 5,324 feet, 41 feet less than the average from horses breaking at that post and distance. Garcia was clearly caught in a tough spot – endure a likely wide trip from the outside gate (which Trakus statistics from the 2011 meet proved gate 10 does come with the expected widest trip), or gun to the lead and attempt to make up the difference with a ground-saving trip while setting the fast early fractions required to get there. Looking back on the data, Garcia seems to have accomplished the best possible result given the circumstances.
With the summer attention at Saratoga and Del Mar, attention regularly falls to the juveniles as they debut to high expectations. Yankee Rebel turned heads from the second race on July 19. A debuter for trainer Bob Hess Jr., who sported a sparse record with first-time starters, Yankee Rebel was fifth turning for home in a field of six and exploded under Garrett Gomez. Utilizing the full-field sectional timing Trakus offers, we know that Yankee Rebel’s final furlong was 11.63 seconds. Reviewing all of the 5-furlong races from the 2011 season, that final fraction would be tied for the second-fastest final furlong in races at that distance, with only multiple stakes winner Weemissfrankie having come-home faster.
Later on that same card in the sixth race, another Hess starter, the frequent winner My Gal Candy, suffered a troubled-trip fourth. Trakus sectional timing told a different story than My Gal Candy’s final placing intimates. The Candy Ride mare recorded a final quarter-mile in 23.11 seconds, which equates to the fastest such split from 432 starters recorded by Trakus over the distance last season. Last at the top of the stretch, My Gal Candy was guided off the rail and catapulted home, even galloping out past the top three finishers just past the wire. As the meet progresses, she is one to watch.
Del Mar was abuzz Saturday after the sparkling sixth race produced a thrilling and tight three-horse finish comprised of precocious juveniles, all of whom soared home on Polytrack. The fastest 10% of all starters at 5.5 furlongs in the 2011 season averaged a final furlong in 11.91 seconds. Winner Gabriel Charles got his last furlong in 11.71 seconds, while close second and third, Den’s Legacy and Outside Nashville, got the trip in a similar 11.74 and 11.77 seconds, respectively. Fifth place finisher The Whole Deal, beaten more than four lengths, also tallied a strong final time in 11.89 seconds.
Stars To Shine Saves All to Win Ontario Matron
A highly-accomplished field of nine faced the starter in Sunday’s Ontario Matron Stakes (G3) at Woodbine, with 50 wins from 163 lifetime tries. Mark Frostad trainee Stars To Shine showed the importance of a ground-saving trip, and her affinity for the Woodbine polytrack, slaloming through horses and even appearing to hit the rail at the top of the stretch en route to the score. Stars To Shine took full advantage of her rail draw, covering the shortest amount of ground in the race, and specifically, 21, 57, and 72 feet less than the second, third, and fourth finishers.
Last season at the suburban Toronto oval, the average starter breaking from post position one in 1 1/16th-mile races covered 5,675 feet, the lowest total ground coverage of any starting gate at the distance. Alex Solis kept as close to the rail as possible, swinging out off the turn before commencing a rally, and covered the trip in a paltry 5,641 feet. As our frequent hashtag on Twitter beckons, ground loss matters.