Del Mar Horse Betting: Breeders’ Cup Berth on the Line in Clement Hirsch Stakes

In the world of horse race betting, a sizzling meet start at Del Mar Racetrack has included large fields, upsets, and multi-million wagering totals. And this weekend promises to be a thrill, too.

The $400,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes on Saturday is one of the signature races on the Del Mar card. It’s a “Win and You’re In” race, guaranteeing the victor a berth in the Breeders Cup, Nov. 4-5 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

The $150,000 California Dreamin Stakes appears on the undercard.

Saturday also marks the first mandatory payout of the Pick 6, an item bettors watch intensely. On Saturday, a pool that’s already at $495,729 will presumably swell into the neighborhood of $ 1 million-plus before being paid out at the end of the card. Betting from Saturday’s handle will be included in the overall total.

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How the Del Mar Pick 6 Bet Works

The bet is called the Pick 6 and only costs $0.20 per entry.

Bettors must pick the winners of six consecutive races. Although that’s difficult, bettors can expand their tickets to include several horses in a race they are not sure about, or even an “all” ticket, which means every horse in that race. At some point, a bettor must usually win a “single,” in which he or she has only one selection, because the ticket will otherwise become too expensive.

Del Mar pays out 70% of the pool each day to those with the highest number of winners.  The remaining 30% of the pot is carried over into the next racing day.

On a rare occasion, someone will hit all six races and be the only person to do so, taking the whole pot before the mandatory payout day. But that’s extremely rare and if nobody takes it all on Friday, the entire pot will be disbursed Saturday.

Del Mar has also designated Sept. 3 and Sept.  11 as mandatory payout days.

Pick 6 bets are enormously popular around the country.At Gulfstream Park in Florida, which has a schedule far longer than Del Mar, the Pick 6 pot during the winter meet often approaches $3-5 million.

But the chance to be part of  a mandatory payout at Del Mar will encourage bettors to wager.

Now, let’s taker a closer look at this weekend’s horse betting opportunities at Del Mar.

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Clement Hirsch Stakes

SoothsayWon the Grade III Indiana Oaks. Is 3-of-4 lifetime. Trying the California circuit. Moving up.
LisetteWon at Allowance Optional Claiming last time out at Santa Anita. Struggling to break through at top level.
Desert DawnRan a game and determined third at 50-to-1 odds in the Kentucky Oaks, won by Secret Oath. Was close up to second-place Nest, who would later run second in the Belmont Stakes. You won’t see 50-to-1 odds on this horse again.
Private MissionWon the Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita,  outdueling Blue Stripe. Love of the California circuit will likely direct betting love her way.
Blue StripeTakes another crack at beating Private Mission. If the two of them came out of the best race, they will be forwardly placed here.
ShedaresthedevilRan hard in elite races in the past year. That included a victory in the Fleur de Lis Stakes at Churchill Downs. Won the Clement Hirsch last year.
Samurai CharmHas work cut out. Private Mission went by her as if she was standing still in the Zenyatta Stakes last year. Samurai Charm set the pace for half a mile but folded up. Doesn’t seem to fit this distance — better as a sprinter.

On Sunday, Del Mar has the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap and $125,00 CTB Stakes.

Recapping Last Weekend at Del Mar

California bettors have been sharp, not allowing many winners to go off as longshots, even in big fields.

San Diego Handicap

There was money to be made for trifecta key bettors, however, in the San Diego Handicap last Saturday.

Country Grammer had come in off a layoff, despite a victory in the $12 million Dubai World Cup in  March. Last weekend, he did enough to be second best. Royal Ship ran a big one, winning and paying $21. Stilletto Boy was third and Mandaloun finished fourth.

All of these horses figured to run well. What could not be determined was how well Royal Ship would do, so the key wager with 2-to-1 favorite Country Grammer paid well. Bettors who put Country Grammer first and second in the trifecta key with the right horses around him got back $233 for a $12 wager.

How the bet looks: Take a $1 trifecta key wager, placing Country Grammer first and second with three other horses. What you hope for is that he finishes second, a longshot beats him, and you have the third horse.

The payout occurred because the right longshot, Royal Ship, ran on top. Country Grammer was second and Stilletto Boy nipped Mandaloun for third. Bettors who expanded the ticket to a superfecta spent at least $24 and pocketed $802 for the $1 superfecta.

Now, those who liked Royal Ship at 10-to-1 just banged him on the win line. But that would not have been easy to come up with. Two other horses in the race had beaten him the last time out.

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Bing Crosby Stakes

The Bing Crosby Stakes provided a nice payout too, and was more uncertain.

American Theorem drifted up from 4-to-1 to 8-to-1 to win it. Get Her Number was second at 10-to-1. Let’s Get Lucky was third at 6-to-1. Shaaz, the tepid 7-to-2 favorite, was fourth.

The race looked wide open and the win line was profitable. Nonetheless, anyone who came up with the $1 trifecta got $307.

Other Del Mar Horse Races to Watch This Weekend

It will be interesting to see how the meet continues to unfold. Good luck this weekend. The card opens at 2  p.m. with a Maiden Special Weights race for $40,000 and a strong field of 10. It follows with a 10-horse field in the second for claiming $32,000.

Both races have enough entries that there’s a good chance the favorite will go off  at 5-to-2 or better.

Race 3 combined an eight-horse field with a purse of $82,000. Race 4 could become a strong betting event with 11 horses going postward for a claiming $25,000 tag. Races 5 and 6 feature an uptick in the race quality. Both are Maiden Special Weights races for  $80,000. Both have 10-horse fields and the sixth is on turf.

There could be excellent value here. Nobody in these races has won yet. The favorites will usually be those who have either been knocking on the door, and are perceived due, or lightly raced horses with a perceived chance to improve.

Race 7 is Claiming Level $16,000 with a big field of 10. Race 8 is Starter Allowance for $43,000 with 11 entries.

About the Author

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a writer for California Casinos, and has covered the horse racing and boxing industry extensively since the 1980s. He was an award-winning writer at the Press of Atlantic City. As a broadcaster, he has won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting, issued by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has called major fights for HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and other networks since the 1980s. He is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Dave shifted gears to cover the emerging legalized sports-betting industry in 2018. He now serves as the go-to authority on horse race betting across multiple websites, including California Casinos.