Some interesting numbers at Del Mar

Consider this:

* There was $390,684 in the pick five pool Sunday at Del Mar. This is a bet that carries a low 14 percent takeout. It’s also a bet that, according to one representative of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, would never catch on with the bettors. Well, it’s now one of the most popular bets on the Southland circuit.

* After an encouraging first couple of weeks, Del Mar’s all-sources handle has been heading south the past two weeks. According to figures released by Equibase, total handle was down $2,203,711 Saturday and dipped $928,677 Friday night after a slow Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday, after you figure in that last year Del Mar had a $1.2 million pick six pool on Day 16 of the meet, Del Mar was down about $1.1 million in handle. Down about $800,000 Thursday.

Meanwhile, the TOC sits and tells us we need to wait a few years before the bigger purses lead to increased handle.

Well, first of all, this sport might not have a few years left. Secondly, it seems the only people happy these days are the owners who are running their horses for these huge purses.

Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita have all asked the TOC to lower takeout on doubles and exactas. Track executives see the writing on the wall. Del Mar might be down in all-sources handle between now and Pacific Classic weekend Aug. 27-28.

Meanwhile, the TOC does nothing.


Meanwhile, around the rest of the racing world:

* Trainer Bob Baffert, who was looking at the Travers Stakes on Aug. 27 for his talented 3-year-old colt Coil, may be having second thoughts.

On his Twitter account, Baffert tweeted the following on Saturday: “Saratoga main track was so deep today horse fell and injured my gallop boy. Might have to rethink travers.”

I still think it’s better than 50-50 that Coil, impressive winner of the Haskell Invitational on July 31, goes in the Travers. But you can be sure Baffert will not run him if he believes there’s any trouble with the Saratoga track at all.

* Uncle Mo, who missed the Triple Crown series because of illness, worked five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.34 at Saratoga on Sunday morning and seems to be ready for the King’s Bishop Stakes on Aug. 27. Baffert’s The Factor also is still under consideration for the King’s Bishop, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds.

* Two of the leading contenders for the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 28, Twirling Candy and Caracortado, worked over Polytrack on Sunday morning.

Twirling Candy went seven furlongs in 1:25.20 under Joel Rosario and Caracortado drilled six furlongs in 1:11.80 under Joe Talamo.

* Baffert attributed Midnight Interlude’s fourth-place finish in Saturday’s La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar to an unlucky journey.

“That’s turf racing,” Baffert said. “You’ve just got to look forward to the next race. He’ll be fine.”

Baffert indicated the Del Mar Derby on Sept. 4 will be next for the Santa Anita Derby winner.

* It’s a four-way battle royale for the Del Mar riding title. After Sunday’s action, Rafael Bejarano leads defending champion Joel Rosario and Garrett Gomez by one victory, 23-22. Joe Talamo is only one victory further back with 21.

In the trainer standings, John Sadler holds a 12-11 lead over Mike Mitchell, who saddled three winners Sunday.

* Through the first four weeks of the seven-week meet, there have been 159 claims for a total of $3,749,500, or an average of $23,581 per claim. Doug O’Neill leads with 13 claims and Mitchell has taken 11.

13 thoughts on “Some interesting numbers at Del Mar

  1. Nice to see Mr Baffert take the high road when asked about the ride aboard Midnight Interlude last weekend. What a horror show that was ! Mr Bejarano is laying just behind two tiring leaders turing for home and instead of just going around them, he tries to go between and gets stopped cold. Something a ten lb. bug rider would do. Maybe some of the jocks should watch some replays and study how G Gomez is riding the turf. The way he handled Cozi Rosie in the JC Mabee was spectacular

  2. “this sport might not have a few years left” Wow thats a bold statement. Del Mar has put a decent product on the track this meet, field size compared to the rest of CA racing has been good. I can not imagine what would happen if the purses became halved due to a mistake on lowering takeout which might not work. Lets just see how it shakes out. Congrats to Del Mar on the surface this meet, it has been very fair and safe. Think those numbers should have been mentioned here, but not surprised they were not.

  3. Pete: I have given credit for a safe track to Del Mar in my columns. And yes, Del Mar mostly puts on a good show, but funny how you ignore the bad handle numbers (down 6.8 percent), which are due in some part to the horseplayers’ boycott. Field sizes are not that good, no matter what track you look at. They’re the same this year as last year before the bigger purses were supposed to equate to bigger fields. Are you a member of the TOC?

  4. With the head to head pools week after week only being below 20,000 do you think they will continue that bet at santa anita or do away with it after this meet is over…

  5. Scott: That’s a good question. My guess would be no, but I applaud Del Mar for at least trying something new. I don’t think it pays enough for it to actually catch on. The reason why the pick five has been so successful is that people like the fact they can bet a little and win a lot. I’d like to see a bet where you can wager on what trainer or jockey will have the most wins on the card. That might be interesting, although it might not attract any more interest than the head-to-head matchup has so far. Still, wouldn’t hurt to try it.

  6. Didn’t take long for the TOC membership to show up on the blog!


    Small field sizes, big purse money for the owners. Meanwhile, the bettors continue to get the shaft with the high takeout.

  7. @ Nancy, agreed. ‘Interlude had a horrible trip w/ bad racing luck. I won’t go as far as saying he would have won but he certainly would have been right there!

    @ Art I would like to think they would give the head to head wager sometime. Del Mar had a good idea with this and the 10% takeout is great. But they haven’t done a great job in promoting it. I have yet to see the actual odds posted and any of the probable payouts anywhere. I have heard Trevor announce a few times what the horses are and explaining how it works but no prices or odds on the actual wager. What gives with that?

  8. The head to head takeout is not 10% in most cases when you consider the rounding down of the payout. If for instance on Burns who paid 2.80, was actually supposed to pay 2.98 and moved down to 2.80 the takeout borders on enormous. The bet is a bad deal. If they paid out to the penny it would be ok, but they don’t.

    As for the betting handle trend at Del Mar, Yes last week was a drop off, the financial markets plummeting may have had something to do with that. We will see over the next few weeks if this becomes a trend. As for who are happy with the huge purses you can add Breeders to the camp. So far the Fasig Tipton sales were off the charts up, especially considering the stock markets. Purses are up at most major circuits and that helps the yearling market also. The VLT’s coming to NY are going to raise purses and that helps owners of yearlings and the end users of horses. How about rounding wagers in CA down to 10 cent increments as a olive branch to the players. New York and Canada have had them for years, we are in the computer age, its time to quit stealing from the player. A horse who is supposed to pay 2.39 to show become 2.20. That is almost a 50% robbery.


    Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga: 18.50%

    Churchill, Keeneland: 19.00%

    Gulfstream: 20.0%

    Del Mar, Hollywood, Santa Anita: 22.68%

    At 22.68%, California’s exacta takeout is more than 4 points higher than what NYRA is charging (making it completely out of line.)

    This, as much as anything, is what’s behind the acceleration of California’s downward handle trend.

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