Handicapping a horse race can have the same feel as preparing for a college final, but with less caffeine and more fun involved. If you walk by a serious horse fan at Del Mar, it’s quite common to see them with notes and papers spread across the table as they sift through workout times, past-performance sheets and any other information that could give them an inside track on how a race will unfold.
Unfortunately for even the most skilled handicappers, there’s no such thing as a sure bet in racing. But for fans who might be new to handicapping, the unpredictable scenarios can help them hit it big.
One of the unique appeals of racing is the game within the game; the chance to pick winners and discuss the horses, jockeys and trainers involved. While programs come stocked with information on each horse, fans ultimately have the final say on who they like and what information will really affect the race. And while some veterans insist that there’s a science to handicapping, blind luck can prove just as effective.
Del Mar’s slogan says, “There’s a smile on every face and a winner in each race,” and as any Del Mar attendee knows, there’s truth behind that catchy jingle. If you’ve been to the track or know anyone who has gone, you’ve probably heard stories about a friend who won big on an unexpected trifecta or a first timer who nailed a pick four. Or maybe they picked a longshot because they liked the horse’s name and cashed in when it crossed the finish line first. Having a game plan is all well and good, but even an uninformed bettor has the chance to get lucky and go home a big winner.
Handicappers will no doubt be hard at work this week as they try to lock down their picks for Sunday’s $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1). Del Mar's signature race has long had the feel of major event as camera crews and national media outlets always flock to cover the big day. It’s a showcase for Del Mar and an absolute must for fans who want to see championship horses at their best.
Every year, this 1 ¼-mile race features deafening cheers from the grandstand. The atmosphere builds up at the start of the day, rises to new heights as horses reach the starting gate and stays on that unbeatable level until they hit the finish line. It’s a dramatic, exhilarating, unforgettable experience jam-packed with adrenaline, and that’s just coming from the stands. We can only imagine how the horses and jockeys will feel when they turn for home on Sunday afternoon.
2011 PACIFIC CLASSIC STAKES
Acclamation (inside, Jockey in red silks and cap) held off Twirling Candy to win the 2011 Pacific Classic Stakes (G1).