Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook 2022 Vol. 14

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

August 24 – August 27

On both Wednesday, August 24 and Saturday, August 27 the dirt course played against closers, as only one horse won each day without contesting the early lead. On Thursday and Friday, the track played much more fairly, which once again demonstrates how fleeting biases can be. That said, two of the three notable trips detailed below reflect situations where lesser horses utilized bias to win.

August 24

  • Race 4: In a very salty Allowance contest the favorite Magic Michael lost all chance with a slow start on a speed-favoring track. He did still manage to finish second, so keep that in mind his next time out. Meanwhile a deserved longshot, Zabracadabra who went off at 22.50 to 1, took advantage of the bias and contested the pace to capture the win. Also of note in that race: trainer Norman Cash claimed 2020 Maryland Million Classic winner Monday Morning Qb, who finished third, for $62,500.
  • Race 7: The chart caller noted that Downtown Katie was “blocked at the sixteenth pole,” but it was really worse than that. In both coming to the top of the stretch and twice in the stretch, traffic either slowed down or prevented her progress. Meanwhile the winner (Mosalah) got clear sailing by going wide once she began her move. Downtown Katie lost by less than two lengths and is worth a look next time out.

August 27

  • Race 4: The only double-digit odds horse in a six-horse field, My Danny Boy took advantage of the speed bias to win wire-to-wire.

Jockey and Trainer of the Week

Jockey Raul Mena had five victories in just 14 rides last week, including a gaudy 5-for-10 on the main track. For the meet he now has 23 wins, which puts him in sixth place in the jockey colony by wins.

Trainer Cal Lynch had four wins with just seven entries. Three of those wins came on Thursday’s card. He has all but secured the place spot in the trainer standings with 22 wins, trailing only Jamie Ness, who has won 39.

Handicappers’ Toolbox

There are two universal tenets regarding post position that in my mind hold true for every track from the most expensive to the cheapest and every track in between. First, I am always reluctant to bet a very low-priced first-time starter who draws the rail, especially in a sprint. Even with top-notch connections or great works, I will pass these types almost 100% of the time.

The second tenet relates to horses that have at least eight starters inside them in races that start on or near a turn. For Delaware that would be the very rare mile race on the dirt or the more common turf races from the chute. Any horse on the outside must clearly be best, be lone early speed, or have a top jock who can negotiate a closing trip through traffic.

Throwing out favorites that face the post challenges noted above is a good way to spice up your horizontal bets.