Jeranimo was one of the stakes winners during Del Mar's opening weekend (Photos courtesy Eclipse Sportswire).
The first week of racing at Del Mar is behind us. Let’s take an opportunity to review some of the key data for the fun-filled five days that got the summer stand going.
Some horseplayers pay close attention to minor changes in local conditions at Del Mar, which many believe impact the way the Polytrack surface plays – whether it be bright sunshine, cool temperatures, a strong breeze, or steady cloud cover. While we aren’t tracking those conditions, some of the data from particular races could be enlightening going forward, given the way in which positions changed in running from Sunday’s cloudy card.
Through the first five days of the meet, 13 races at six furlongs were conducted at the seaside track. A stakes-caliber group assembled for an allowance test last Thursday (July 18 – Race 7) where Reneesgotzip powered away from a field that included Executiveprivilege and Gypsy Robin, stopping the official timer in 1:09.59 on a day that was rated as “clear.” There is no denying this was the classiest bunch of runners over six furlongs through the opening week of the meet.
In Sunday’s seventh race, however, Wiredfortwotwenty, an 8-year-old gelding with a recent listed stakes win in Iowa - which earned him a 100 Beyer Speed Figure - wired the field at 5-1 odds. The old fella was offered for $40,000 in the race, the first time the borderline pensioner has ever been entered for a claiming tag. Regardless, he went to the front and kept going, stopping the clock in 1:09.04 – the fastest of the 13 races at six furlongs for the meet’s opening week. Second-place finisher Hadfunlastnight was second throughout the entirety of the race, and third-placer Gutshot Straight practically held his position constant in the running of the race. There was little change of positions amongst the majority of the runners, bar two exceptions.
Korban, a 36-1 outsider, showed some speed to race third after the first quarter and faded badly to finish last – an insignificant performance. However, trainer Mike Puype’s High Test really caught the eye running on to finish fifth. Considering that no one in the field changed their position with any real positive significance, High Test’s charge from 11th - 9 ½ lengths behind Wiredfortwotwenty - after the first quarter, to finish fifth beaten just more than six lengths is notable.
Are we splitting hairs? Not quite.
With a quarter-mile to run, High Test was still last, and roused by Joe Talamo to kick on from the back of the pack. When the running was done, Wiredfortwotwenty proved the claiming tag was a farce, and that High Test ran one of the fastest losing races of the week. His final quarter mile was recorded by Trakus in :24.03 and a final furlong in :12.20 – splits which were good enough for third-fastest final quarter and fourth-fastest final eighth from 114 runners on opening week. Gervinho
GERVINHO WON A DIVISION OF THE OCEANSIDE STAKES ON OPENING DAY
Some might suggest the cloudy conditions impacted the Polytrack on Sunday, seeing two of the three fastest of the 13 races at six furlongs. Again, we have no quantitative data that could be used to prove anything relative to those anecdotes. What we do know is that a fifth-place finisher ran faster than his final placing would indicate in a race where the rest of his competition basically “went up and down” in place throughout the race. Perhaps an improved result isn’t far off for High Test.
Nakatani saves ground for 16-1 win in Osunitas
Our pre-meet blog referenced the Jockey Efficiency Ratings for Polytrack at Del Mar over the last three seasons. Corey Nakatani was shown to be most attentive to saving ground in races at one mile on the all-weather surface, but his attention to trip played out well over the 8 ½ furlongs (1 1/16 miles) of the Osunitas Stakes last Saturday. Riding Kentucky-based shipper Closing Range, Nakatani guided the 16-1 filly through the shortest trip of the race’s first five finishers to post an upset in the $90,000 race.