Reflections On Del Mar

November 5th, 2017 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

I don’t ever pretend to claim that I know a great deal about US racing, but I was still intrigued by the events that took place at Del Mar on Saturday evening.

I had listened to the pundits throughout the days leading up to the meeting, taking on board much of what they said about likely tactics, course bias and sectional fractions.

However, from my cursory glance at the form, it seems that there were a handful of truly inexplicable results. Stormy Liberal, in the Sprint, and Bar Of Gold in the Filly & Mare Sprint, started 40/1 and 66/1 respectively for their races with little claims to victory on their previous achievements.

Initially I thought the bias was towards closers, despite the short straight, but towards the end of the card horses that were racing handily began to dominate.

I imagine those who follow the US scene closely must have had a disastrous day from the betting perspective. Lady Aurelia, Unique Bella, Drefong, Bolt D’Oro and Highland Reel were all beaten at short odds, while the defeat of Arrogate in the Classic will also have gone down badly with some.

Of course, we won’t hear as much from the bookmakers as when they get hit with a string of short-priced favourites winning at a major meeting, but I doubt if at almost one o’clock in the morning GMT backers would have been willing to try and get out of trouble on Gun Runner, a horse that had been beaten on three previous attempts at the mile and a quarter trip.

The results must have totally undermined the self-belief of the pundits, let alone the damage done to their wallets. The last time I was left totally bemused by a result – and it still unsettles me to this day – was when I saw Homecoming Queen hack up by nine lengths in the 2012 1,000 Guineas. The filly had run 11 times as a two-year-old, winning a nursery off 72 and a Listed. She never won again.

Going back to Del Mar, I thought Queen’s Trust was unlucky not to finish closer than fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Turf, having to be checked a furlong and a half out but finishing full of running. It was hugely frustrating to watch but then we knew beforehand that she had to be ridden for luck and that the trip was a furlong short of her ideal.

The gallant Rhododendron also had a troubled passage, but Wuheida was a cosy winner in the end.

My sole selection for the meeting was Lancaster Bomber, who ran his usual game race to finish second to World Approval. He loved the fast ground and had no excuses, even though he became yet another second to join the many others I have endured this season!

I am no expert on fractions but I gather Mike Smith was asking the impossible of Unique Bella in the Filly & Mare Sprint while Corey Nakatani went very wide on Bolt D’Oro in the Juvenile, doing exceptionally well to finish third.

Talismanic won the Breeders’ Cup turf for the old master Andre Fabre. One of the few top-class French horses who wants fast ground, conditions were ideal with the fast pace suiting his proven stamina.

Back home I was delighted to see Weekend Card selection Colin’s Sister win at Wetherby. The daughter of Central Park was wrong at the weights with all the field, but this step up to three miles on soft ground was ideal and she ended up winning cosily.

It’s been a good season for my services, and as a client told me the other day it could have been a great one if a couple of very narrow defeats had gone the other way.

Bye for now