Del Mar opener

If you’re going to bet this summer’s Del Mar meet, proceed with caution. Wait and see how the new Polytrack plays before bringing out the large bills. One prominent trainer seems to believe that speed will be at a distinct disadvantage during this first week. We’ll see. I don’t know if anyone knows for sure how this track is going to play. But it’s a good idea to check the charts each morning and see how speed is holding up or whether the come-from-behinders have an advantage. And if there is a bias, it could change from week to week, so stay alert.

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Swaps Stakes classic

There have been some famous horses win the Swaps Stakes at Hollywod Park, including Surf Cat, Rock Hard Ten, Free House, Best Pal and Precisionist. But perhaps the most famous running of the stake came in 1977, when J.O. Tobin shocked the thoroughbred racing world by blowing undefeated Triple Crown champion Seattle Slew off the track. Seattle Slew was unplaced that July afternoon, the worst race of his career. Listen to whom I still consider the best race caller of all time, Harry Henson, call the 1977 Swaps and tell us that J.O. Tobin is widening his lead and that Seattle Slew is dropping back and is “well-beaten.”

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Watch Lava Man win third Gold Cup

Knock him if you must because he can’t win outside of California, but Lava Man proved Saturday, when he matched Native Diver’s record of three consecutive Hollywood Gold Cup victories, that he is one of the top Cal-breds of all time and one of the guttiest horses ever. If you were there or watched the race live on ESPN2, how many times did you think Lava Man was beaten, that he was not going to go past A.P. Xcellent? Like all champions do, he found a way to put his nose in front at the wire.

Taking a stab at possible record Pick Six

Who’s going to turn down the chance to shoot for a record $5 or $6 million in a pick six? I mean, especially when you think you know it all when it comes to handicapping. Needless to say I’ve never hit a pick six, but hey, optimism abounds. It’s a new day and I’m going to take a stab. I’m going with a $144 ticket, and if I’m alive going into the nightcap, all the marbles are going to be riding on trainer Bruce Headley and jockey Alex Solis (pictured).

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