There is a cure for the summer time blues: Del Mar returns tomorrow followed by Saratoga a week from now. The Turk's been in a lull and choose to take a handicappers holiday, a fortnight of races that he never took the red flair pen to. I handicapped and blogged over 100 races since the new year began and it was time to shutdown for a brief respite. I'm told that too much of anything is a bad thing. I think I'd agree unless the anything included bourbon, cigars and possibly a few other vices that I find myself preoccupied with. I digress.
The Del Mar meet opens and the biggest purse of the day today belongs to The Oceanside Stakes, a $100,000 affair contested on turf by 3 YO's who have yet to win a stakes race worth more than $50,000.
It was hard to take a stand with this collection of runners. One upside is that the track handicapper's chalk is installed at 5-2 (Meteore)and that a few live and longs will leave the gate at >6-1. This won't be a walk in the park bet, but we are on the hunt to turn a little pot of money into a bigger pot of money and the uncertainty presents an opportunity for reward.
All that said and I'm going to look for Azul Leon to take the wire. The O'Neill trainee with G.Gomez up has been training really well and is on his second start off a long layoff, something O'Neill hits 20% of the time. It's also his first Turf, something O'Neill isn't so hot with, converting 12% of the time. I like his position, I like his first 4f speed to take him into a good position. If I'm going for win bets, I'll back him if he's greater then 6-1. I generally don't hunt for win bets and I'm better at slotting out the horses in packs and building exotic bets. I think Azul Leon has the potential to be in the top 4.
Meteore, trained by Dick Mandela, is coming off back to back wins on the Turf. The son of Pulpit has slow works and a BSF best 84. I don't really know what to do with him, but most likely I'm dropping him in a few tickets into 4th or also ran.
An intriguing horse is Afleet Eagle, a gelding trained by V. Cerin with T. Baze up. Two back to back 90 plus BSF and then steady and serious work and 4,5 and 6 furlongs raises my interest. if you want to shy away, Cerin's first turf stat is an ugly 5%.
Rendezvous fills out my initial four horse ticket. The Hollendorfer trainee has been training sharply since 14 June, including a sharp 6f work at Del Mar.
For all the Gary Stevens fans out there, Gary is saddling Lessons in Deceit. The horse has trained alone for weeks now and appears to have a closers style. I don't think much of the horse tomorrow, but I'm a fan of Gary and we wish him well.
For an 11 horse race, I spent significant time and didn't feel that compelled to back any of the field. I'm going to handicap Race 7 as well, an N1X at 1 mile on the fake dirt, and unless I wake up and take a stronger view on this field, I may have to follow my own bettors rules and pass. I'm going to sleep on if Backbackbackgone, the real speed in this race, can wire it at this distance.