Del Mar Meet Closes With a Loaded Weekend of Horse Betting Action

It’s time for the final horse betting weekend at Del Mar Racetrack, which has graced California horse racing fans with some incredible action the past couple months.

Friday’s card includes the $125,000 I’m Smokin Stakes. A string of stakes races mark Saturday and closing day Sunday. The finale includes a mandatory payout of the 20-cent Pick 6 wager, in which bettors must pick the winners of the final six races each day. It’s not a barn-burning pot, just over $55,000 entering the weekend, but gamblers will add to it.

Here’s the breakdown.

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I’m Smokin Stakes

The first post is 3 p.m. Friday.

Kangaroo Court was listed as the early 8-to-5 favorite in the feature race. There is a field of eight going six furlongs in that one.

TVG Del Mar Debutante

Del Mar starts at 1 p.m. Saturday and has double-digit fields in Races 3-5. These are money-making opportunities, with multiple betting entries. The later portion of the card features three significant stakes races.

  • Race 7 is the $100,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf at 1 mile, with a field of 11.
  • Race 8 is the $300,000 TVG Del Mar Debutante. It has a field of eight and a distance of seven furlongs.
  • Race 9 is the $250,000 John C. Mabee Stakes. It has a field of seven at 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Here is a closer look at the Debutante, along with the trainer and one notable past race, from the rail out.

HorseTrainerNotable Results
Vegas MagicDoug O'NeillWon the Grade II Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 13.
Kissed By FirePeter EurtonRan second in 5 1/2-furlong debut at Del Mar on July 31.
And Tell Me NoliesPeter MillerBroke her maiden at five furlongs at Del Mar on July 23. Fourth to Satin Doll. Won at 6 1/2 furlongs on Aug. 14.
Satin DollDoug O'NeillBroke her maiden first out at Del Mar on July 23, returned to run fourth in the Grade II Sorrento Stakes.
Fast and ShinyBob BaffertBroke her maiden first time out at Del Mar on Aug. 7.
Home CookingBob BaffertBroke her maiden by 9 1/4 lengths at Del Mar on Aug. 21.
Arella StarRodrick RodriguezBroke her maiden at Gulfstream Park on July 29.
Ice DancingRichard MandellaThird to And Tell Me Nolies in debut.

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Runhappy Del Mar Futurity

Post time is 1 p.m. on Sunday. Seven colts and one gelding are on the list of possibles for the Grade I Runhappy Futurity, run at six furlongs on the main track.

Check the entries closer to post time. Many of these horses will be entered, but this is not the entire field. Here is the list released by the Del Mar racing office.

HorseTrainerNotable Results
The Big WamLuis MendezBroke his maiden at Del Mar on July 23 and followed that with a win in the $125,000 Graduation Stakes on Aug. 12. Started his career in Kentucky where he finished second in the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs on May 5.
NewgateBob BaffertBroke his maiden by 3 1/2 lengths at Del Mar on July 30.
HavnameltdownBob BaffertBroke his maiden first out at Del Mar on July 24, then won the Grade III Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 14.
Cave RockBob BaffertBroke his maiden first out by six lengths on Aug. 22.
Mister IcemanPeter MillerBroke his maiden at second asking on Aug. 6.
AgencyMark GlattBroke his maiden first out at Santa Anita on June 12 then followed it with a runner-up finish in the Grade III Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 14.
ArrowthegreatDan BlackerRan second to Newgate in a maiden special weight at Del Mar in his first and only career start on July 30.
Classical CatPhilip D'AmatoBroke his maiden at first asking on Aug. 20.

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Del Mar Winners Off to the Breeders’ Cup

Look for these Del Mar proven winners at the Breeders’ Cup this November.

Del Mar featured six “Win and You’re In” races for the Breeders’ Cup, horse racing’s multi-million-dollar summit weekend at Keeneland in Kentucky Nov 4-5. Winners of the big six Del Mar races received an all-expense paid entry onto the industry’s highest stage.

American Theorem was the first Breeders’ Cup recipient, capturing the Bing Crosby Stakes on July 30.

Blue Stripe made a strong stalking trip and captured the Clement Hirsch Stakes on Aug. 6.

Laurel River left the Pat O’Brien Stakes field in the dust on Aug. 27.

Lieutenant Dan annexed the Green Flash Handicap triumph last Sunday.

Gold Phoenix won the Del Mar Handicap last Saturday, the biggest day of the year.

And the entire horse racing world is raving about who won the big one. Flightline made a statement in demolishing the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic field last weekend.

The effort was so strong that this unbeaten 4-year-old colt has been installed as an early 4-to-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Odds under even money are practically unheard of at that level.

But Del Mar fans saw something special, as did any of the nationwide bettors who bet on Del Mar’s big card via the TVG app.

Flightline Dazzled the Country in TVG Pacific Classic

The TVG Pacific Classic was the best race of Flightline’s career. At 1-to-5, he looked like a once-in-a-generation horse, prevailing by a whopping 19 lengths.

Remember, this is a $1 million race. The runner-up, Country Grammer, had won the $12 million Dubai World Cup in the spring. But he was so far back that his trainer Bob Baffert joked that Country Grammer probably thought he won the race.

How special is Flightline? He was second at the half-mile mark and up by 15 lengths by the time he reached 1 mile.

Del Mar track announcer Trevor Denman told the audience, “Take a good luck at this because you’re not going to see this too  often, maybe never again.”

Jockey Flavien Prat eased up on Flightline, or he could have won by at least 25 lengths. As it was, Flightline shattered the previous margin of victory record of 12 1/2 lengths, held by Accelerate in 2019. John Sadler trains both horses.

The industry is buzzing about Flightline’s Beyer Speed figure of 126. It incorporates the horse’s time and the track surface into a performance indicator that measures one horse versus another.

How big is 126? Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby this year, in 101.

Flightline is the best horse in the country right now. Should he win the Breeders’ Cup, that will be the topper on a marvelous campaign. And the race that brought him to national attention happened right here at Del Mar.

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Prat Closes Out Del Mar Meet

One reason for Flightline’s popularity, besides the national television audience, is his jockey, Flavien Prat. He was back in Saratoga one day later, talking up his horse.

Prat returns to Del Mar this weekend because of a break in the schedule. The Saratoga meet ended Monday and the Aqueduct meet opens Sept. 15. He has mounts in six of the eight races on Friday at Del Mar.

The five-time Del Mar leading rider made a big move east this summer, racing in Saratoga. That lured several top jockeys to Del Mar, trying to supplant him as the leading rider. Juan Hernandez will earn that distinction this year.

Last Saturday, Prat won the Grade I TVG Pacific Classic with Flightline, the Grade II Del Mar Handicap with Gold Phoenix, and the Grade II Del Mar Mile with Hong Kong Harry. His total earnings on the day came out to $1,012,340.

The Del Mar audience will get a final look at the rider who will try to take Flightline all the way home in the Breeders’ Cup.

Los Alamitos Race Course Up Next

The Los Alamitos Race Course, sandwiched between Anaheim and Long Beach, launches a seven-day season from Sept. 16-25. It’s the next California racetrack to host a horse racing meet.

Racing will be conducted Friday-Sunday the first week (Sept. 16-18) and Thursday-Sunday (Sept. 22-25) the final four days. Post time will be 1 p.m. on weekdays (Sept. 16, Sept. 22-23) and 12:30 p.m. on weekends (Sept. 18-19 and 24-25).

The Santa Anita Park autumn meet begins Sept. 30 and will run on weekends all the way up through the Breeders’ Cup weekend, closing on Nov. 6. We will have details as races get closer.

Hope you enjoyed the Del Mar meet.

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.