Great coast to coast racing starts this Wednesday with the opening of Del Mar on Wednesday and legendary Saratoga on the weekend. Spa to spa as it is called has changed a lot since this bettor made his first trips to Saratoga and Del Mar.
When I first arrived at Del Mar back in 1979 and at Saratoga a few years after, life was very simple. Getting on a plane at the airport was very easy and getting a good hotel room was within our bankroll with some money left over for betting and a good dinner after the races at Bully’s, the Fishmarket right across from the track, or Red Tracton, a hot old spot in downtown Del Mar.
Georges overlooking the ocean in La Jolla was a great spot. It still is if you can get a reservation and find a parking spot. We would stay at the Del Mar Hilton right across the track for around $59 a night. They had a great pool and we could walk right across the street to the track or take the shuttle.
We actually parked for free and they had a great bar that would show all the replays of the races. The morning before went to the track at Del Mar we would load up a cooler full of beer and food. You could actually take it into the track and sit at one of the umbrella tables in the paddock area in front of the big tote board, just hang out and bet all day.
Everyone knew most of the guys from Vegas and we would always spot a few wise guys who would give us a winner on a first time 2yo. Life was simple, no computers, no cell phones, it was paradise.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the short five hour drive to Del Mar and going to the track, but no more coolers. If you want a beer you may need to skip betting the first race. If staying at the Del Mar Hilton you may need to just bet the last race of the day. Now don’t get me wrong, there are still some reasonable places to shower and if you have never been to Del Mar it’s a must drive. The cool ocean air alone is worth the trip.
The best vacation I ever had was when I took two weeks off from the Stardust in late July before football season. In those days it was very slow as we only had baseball to deal with and there was not much action on the majors back in the 80’s. There was no summer NBA league and no in-game wagering or soccer, so two weeks off was in store.
The first part of the trip was a week at Saratoga. We hopped a plane and were off and running. We met some friends from upstate New York who went to “toga” every year. They knew the waitress and had a great table. She would have a tub of beer iced down under the table every day we were at the track. The amazing thing is we were in the zone and won every day.
After a week eating and drinking we hopped another plane and jetted off to San Diego for a week at Del Mar. Another winning week and my best vacation ever ended.
Now back to reality, even though I don’t like it, but I am writing this on my computer and I do have a cell phone. I will be going to Del Mar and have a beer but won’t pass the first race. I will be wagering on all races and also making a few Saratoga wagers when at Del Mar in August.
Del Mar offers a huge ten race card this Wednesday featuring, as always, the Oceanside at a mile on the grass. There are 16 entered but the race wasn’t split as it sometimes is. Fourteen will head to the post in Race 8 of the card with two runners on the also eligible list.
Trainer Phil D’Amato thought enough of No. 4 Bowies Hero to run him in the BC Juvenile Turf last year after he won the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. Tom Proctor and Drayden Van Dyke hook up with a ship and win runner, No.11 Caribou Club, in what looks to be a great betting race.
In Race 5, which is the last leg of what will be a huge pick five pool, we get maiden 2yo fillies going five furlongs. Trainer Bob Baffert, who at one time owned this meet with his 2yo runners, sends out first time starter No. 8 Just a Smidge – a $425k purchase. What I love about this filly is Baffert has put back-to-back five furlong works into her and that is his usual go sign. Those last two works were big time and Bejarano will get the call. She is my Horse of the Week.
I will be handicapping the Del Mar card each day of the week and you can get all my selections at www.gamingtoday.com. Just call up and get a very reasonable online package that will give you access to our entire VIP webpage, daily selections and articles.
You could be walking around lucky and not even know it.
Note: We are always looking for an angle in the upcoming Del Mar meet and will be looking at making some wagers on the new young bug girl Laura Werner, who is only 4’9” tall and weighs 105 pounds. She is improving with every mount and will offer some betting opportunities. She is from England, won some races in Australia, arrived in SoCal last December and is just getting to know the lay of the land. She has been working horses every morning for Art Sherman and Marty Jones. We think she has the moxie to do well and bring in some longshots at Del Mar.