Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Price at Del Mar

I caught a big price last Saturday at Del Mar when Om wired the field of 2 year-olds at 6 and 1/2 furlongs. Om, a Dan Hendricks charge, was 15-1 in the morning line and went off at 22-1. The fact that Bob Baffert had a first timer from Zayat named American Pharoah had a lot to do with Om's odds (American Pharoah, coming off some typically fast works for the trainer was the morning line favorite at 5-2 and was bet down to 7-5).

Om had run one race and finished fifth, beaten by 11 and 1/4 lengths; to the casual handicapper, this looked like a horse to take a pass on. However, the race he ran was a 5 furlong sprint run in June at Santa Anita in a very fast time of 57.2. Om showed some speed out of the 6 hole, but couldn't keep up with the winner, as he was 3 wide into the stretch, as noted in the form. Also, while Om did finish 11 and 1/4 lengths behind the winner (BadReadSanchez), that horse won by 10 lengths, so Om really turned in a fine performance the first time out. The fact that he was sent off at 5-2 was another positive sign.

Om, out of the three hole, did grab the lead right away in last Saturday's race with American Pharoah stalking him to his outside. It was those two horses on the lead all the way down the backstretch, but by the time the horses entered the lane, Om had put away American Pharoah and all of his challengers, winning by 7 and 1/4 lengths. Thankfully, I made a $2 exacta with a few horses, so I collected $227.60, as the second favorite Iron Fist, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, got the place spot.

Today could be a similar story for the 6th race at Del Mar, a 5 and 1/2 furlong sprint for 2-year olds. Once again, there's a talented Baffert firster, this one named Abusive Power, co-owned by Mike Pegram. He's had some fast works and is ridden by Baffert's go-to jock Martin Garcia. All systems are go, as they say (he's 4-1 morning line).

The favorite is #8, Kantune, trained by Mark Casse. Kantune ran an excellent first race at Del Mar on July 19, a 5-furlong dash in 58 seconds flat. He just missed, finishing second by a half-length when bet down to 7-2. No doubt a deserving favorite today at 3-1.

However, inside speed has been very good at Del Mar lately, so look out for the #1, American Sailor, a Cody Autrey trainee. He also had a fine first race at Del Mar on July 19, that was run in a very quick 57.4. American Sailor showed early speed, but according to the notes in the form, was three wide in the lane and weakened; he finished ninth, beaten by eleven lengths. The fact that he was sent off at 5-2 is a positive sign for today, as is the fact that he has the one hole, so his early speed should mean a great deal in this race.

To complicate things even more, there's the #7, Discreet Prince, conditioned by Robertino Diodoro. This horse ran in the same race as American Sailor, but was not favored by the public, going off a tick shy of 40-1. However, this horse beat American Sailor that day, also showing speed, finishing 5th, beaten by 5 and 3/4 lengths;  his morning line is a much more reasonable 5-1.

Add to the mix some beautifully bred firsters such as #2 Pappou (Tapit, out of a Saint Ballado mare, trained by John Sadler and #5 Film Freak (Fusaichi Pegasus, out of a Dynaformer mare), trained by Tommy Proctor and you've got a pretty contentious race. How I love these two-year old races at Del Mar!

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