Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook 2022 Vol. 5

Correspondent Mike Valiante shares his weekly Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook, featuring horses to watch, bet-backs, and more.

Each week he’ll give you the skinny on how the races are unfolding, which horses overcame the bias (or profited from it), and who had troubled trips. Plus, he’ll provide trainer and jockey of the week picks, and much more.

Notable races and trips

June 22 – June 25

Overall the dirt course continued to play fair even though the rail was a little deep according to a few jockeys I spoke with. Most riders adapted, and I did not see any potential winners compromised to any significant amount. There were a number of wire-to-wire winners as well as horses who closed on the outside.

For the 2nd week in a row we had only four races run on the turf, and it seems the speed bias that was exhibited early in the meet has now been neutralized.

  • Thankful for the blue-collar horse
    Bemoan racing’s lack of high-end, sticking-around stars? No, thanks. Be thankful, instead, for the blue-collar horses that are the spine of the industry.

June 22

  • Race 2: This $40,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies was delayed a significant amount of time by horses acting up at the gate. This was not unusual given that the field consisted entirely of first-time starters. Musicmansandy was the most unruly. It did not matter as she drew off to win easily as the second choice of the bettors, winning by over four lengths. She was a $175,000 purchase at the OBS auction in April of this year. It was obvious that her NY trainer/jockey combination (Rudy Rodriguez/Jose Gomez) were running here for a purpose, as opposed to a MSW in Belmont where the competition would most likely be tougher. There is no disgrace in spotting horses properly first time out, and she should show improvement as she gains experience.

June 23

  • Race 6: Just draw a line through this race for Shacks Way. He was the 2nd choice but lost all chance when bumped at the start, causing jockey Carol Cedeno to lose her irons. Cedeno displayed great athleticism in regaining her irons in traffic before the horse backed out of contention.

Jockey and Trainer of the Week

Jaime Rodriguez had an incredible week, winning with 11 of his 25 mounts. His 29 wins for the meet give him a 10 win lead in the jockey race. Look, I get that riding for trainer Ness is a valuable advantage, but you have to admire this jock’s talent. He is particularly adept at finishing and wins the great majority of his stretch duels.

Jaime Ness won with six of his 14 mounts this week. With an average win payoff of $5.20 during the week, his starters rewarded backers with a flat-bet profit. For the meet, his overall win percentage with favorites is identical to his win percentage with all his starters (30%). He has 13 wins and a five win advantage at the meet over his nearest pursuer.

Handicappers’ Toolbox

If you are not a speed figure handicapper, consider the following. Even with the turf course showing a bias the first few weeks and then playing fairly thereafter, almost every winner to date in this meet on the turf has had a lifetime Beyer figure that has been tops or close to the tops in the field. Even if that number was achieved in a previous year, if the horse with the top lifetime fig appears to be in reasonable form, you should review it carefully before dismissing it. If there are a number of horses that fit this criterion, play a horizontal bet throwing out one or two of the lower odds horse(s) in the turf race and structure a ticket that keys on a single in a race with a shorter field.