Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook 2019 Vol. 3
In the paddock on Delaware Handicap day. Photo by Allison Janezic.
Correspondent Doug McCoy returns with his weekly Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook, featuring horses to watch, bet-backs, and more.
Horses and races to watch
- SO CUNNING – This 3-year-old Blame filly broke slowly in her career debut, then raced greenly through the opening half mile before swinging outside and blowing to the lead into the stretch. While the race wasn’t a fast one, this Clement trainee still showed a lot of potential and her pedigree screams grass.
- UTTERLY ENCHANTING – Aimee Hall is a master with young runners and she sent out another promising youngster in Utterly Enchanting. This homebred 4-year-old daughter Despite the Odds obviously took a while to come to hand but turned in a very solid effort in her debut, challenging for the lead into the stretch before late back of So Cunning on May 25. Bears watching.
- PRETTY GOOD YEAR – This one went extremely wide while making a middle move out of the second turn, then tired from that overland trip in his first start on turf and first effort around two turns in a May 25 allowance. Should be tough to handle with that race under his belt.
- THIRD RACE, MAY 25 – This race was loaded with proven veterans with the nine horses combining for 66 career wins. The winner, Double Whammy, captured the mile and 70 yard route for his 14th career victory. Would be wise to watch anyone exiting this starter allowance tilt.
- SIXTH RACE, MAY 22 – A rugged field lined for this third-level allowance, with multiple stakes winner Always Sunshine posting a dominant win over stakes winners Mr. Brix and Colonel Sharp. Will be interesting to follow going forward, as any of the top three could make noise down the road.
Jock/trainer Watch: Jockey of the week
Ricardo Chiappe has established himself as a solid mainstay at tracks around the Mid-Atlantic while never seeming to garner a lot of attention. The rider is off to a strong start at this year’s Delaware Park meeting. He won with two of his four starters on Monday, May 27, one of those, Silent Tale, returning $70.60 to win.
Through Monday, Chiappe has five winners and four seconds from 27 mounts with an average win payoff of $23.40 and a very positive ROI.
Handicapper’s tool box
BEYOND THE PPS
We all count on past performances when handicapping races and making selections, but smart bettors have learned that the things PPs can’t tell you can often be critical when looking for false favorites and value plays.
Take the fifth race on May 22. Livin a Dream shipped down from Monmouth for Jorge Navarro, a trainer who wins at a high percentage. Livin a Dream was the 8-5 morning line favorite but was one of several in the field with early speed and figured to be challenged early if he went for the lead from the rail post.
Even more importantly, when Livin a Dream came out in the post parade he looked listless and dull; his body language did not signal vitality, and when he broke off into a gallop into the turn his action was choppy. In short there weren’t any positives from Livin a Dream’s appearance, and here was a horse who would go postward at 1-2 odds.
We had picked other runners for an exacta box earlier in the day but waited for a visual review of the field before betting. After seeing Livin a Dream’s overall appearance, we threw out the favorite, boxed our original selections and felt going in that, regardless of the outcome, it was a good spot to take a stand against a favorite much more vulnerable than the odds suggested.
As it turned out Livin a Dream didn’t break sharply,made a mild middle move in the second turn, and flattened out to finish a well-beaten third. The late-running Vindictive Ways rallied to win the race, returning $48.80 to win and topping an exacta that, with 6-1 Scatrattleandroll in second, returned $119.80 for a buck.
The lesson: Watch post parades and horses warming up whenever possible. You’ll find a horse’s body language can often tell you much more than the facts and figures of past performances.