Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook 2022 Vol. 22

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

October 19 – October 22

The dirt track continued to play fair all week with no bias for or against early speed and no dead paths around the oval.

  • 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.

October 19

Race 2: Ima Pharoah had not run since May, but that was on the tougher Parx circuit and the performance yielded a career-low Equibase speed figure, so obviously something was amiss. Not only did trainer Cal Lynch have this one ready to run, but after taking the lead at the top of the stretch the horse hung on bravely to defeat a hard charging closer. The Equibase speed figure for this race was a solid 93. As recently as April this horse ran a good number in a stake. If the problem evident in May has been resolved, this horse should continue to make some noise.

October 20

Race 2: As the horses loaded into the gate, Charlotte Webley was 6-1 on the board in a five-horse field. On the final flash she dropped to 2.6-1. Jockey Melissa Iorio was winless on the first three mounts of her career. Despite a very awkward start and losing her irons that caused her to spot the field over 10 lengths before the first quarter of the race, she went on to win by nearly four lengths. That ground was gained despite running very wide. The trainer, Michael Simmonds now has 5 winners in 89 starters this year. The bettor in me might say, “The barn knew.” To be fair this was a low-level claiming field and as we all know, horses are not machines. The gambler in me will not back this horse next time out when she will most likely be an underlay.

October 22

Race 7: Young trainer Jesus Cruz is always trying with his entrants. Magical Mousse figured in this race despite a long layoff and went off as the favorite. The victory by a neck should give this horse the required fitness to be competitive when he runs back.

Jockey and Trainer of the Week

Jockey Jeremy Rose had three wins and three additional placings with just 9 mounts last week. In what has been both the feel good and comeback story of the year, the veteran has 38 wins and a 19% winning percentage for the year at Delaware.

Veteran trainer John Rigattieri had 3 wins from 4 entrants last week. The other horse finished second. For the meet he now has a winning percentage of 31% and in-the-money finishes with 56% of his 54 starters.

Handicappers’ Toolbox

Can angles that worked at racetracks in the glory days of racing still work today? Typically the answer to that question is “no.” That being said, here is an old angle from legendary author Tom Ainslie that I still use. In very cheap claiming races, pay extra attention to any horse that has earned at least $1,000 a start and gained lengths in the stretch in their previous race as long as that race was not at a cheaper level. Extra attention should be paid if the horse finished reasonably close up to the winner but not in-the-money. This “hidden form” usually results in an underlay next time out. This angle is so old that the author who used the pen name of Ainslie (real name Richard Carter) was using it in the ’50s and ’60s.