Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook 2022 Vol. 19

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

September 28 – October 1

Wednesday, September 28 and Friday, September 30 were the first two days of the meet in which the dirt track favored closers. During those two days, in 12 dirt races, seven horses who were at or near the back of the pack at the first call came on to cross the line first. As we all know biases can be fleeting. On Saturday, October 1 in 12 races on the dirt, no horse who was worse than fourth came on to win. Even if you cannot take advantage of a bias on the day it is present, you can still factor it into your analysis of a horse’s past performance the next time it races.

  • 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.

September 28

  • Race 8: Even though she was a deserved heavy favorite, extra points should be given to Another Flirt. Not only did she win, but she also overcame the track bias that worked against early speed this day. For example, in this race the four horses that were right behind her at the first call ultimately finished in the last four positions. Meanwhile, Another Flirt extended her lead to win by over 15 lengths.

Jockey and Trainer of the Week

Jockey Jaime Rodriguez won 6 of the 8 races on Friday’s card. One of his losses was by a nose in the New Castle stakes to the classy Whereshetoldmetogo. For the week he was 10 for 26 with an in-the-money percentage rate of 73%. One of his wins came in Friday’s Tax Free Shopping stakes with Philadelphia Belle, trained by Jamie Ness. It should be noted that although Rodriguez is first call for leading trainer Ness, most of his wins in the last four weeks have come on mounts trained by a collection of others.

Also, jockey Mychel Sanchez got his 1,000th career win when he captured the George Rosenberger Memorial stakes on Saturday aboard Malibu Beauty for Gary Capuano

Trainer Greg Compton saddled three winners from four starters. His other entrant finished 2nd. Compton who trains at the ultra-tough Oaklawn circuit in the winter has 11 winners on the year from 54 starters.

Handicappers’ Toolbox

Short fields are a constant concern in racing and the bane of both racetrack management and bettors. One way to combat that is via turf racing, which, because of the relatively fewer races available, generally attracts fuller fields. Delaware is currently scheduled to be on the turf until at least October 22, and here’s hoping the track can card turf races all the way to the finish line.

Another challenge at Delaware is that many horses stabled here do not remain in the area during the offseason, so their travel plans may necessitate leaving the grounds prior to the end of the meet. In this column I often emphasize the need to look for value in any race you play. You will rarely find value in six-horse fields. If short fields loom, adjust your bets accordingly either by skipping these races with small fields or making only small action bets when they occur.

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