The coronavirus pandemic has left horse racing, like all major sports, scrambling to make up for postponements and to shift to the “new normal.”
Here are some of this week’s positive developments for horse racing from coast-to-coast:
• The Grade I Santa Anita Derby, postponed from April 4, will finally be run this Saturday. The Bob Baffert-trained Authentic beat Honor A.P. (trained by John Shirreffs) in the San Felipe Stakes in March, a race designed as a prep for the Santa Anita Derby. The two will face off again Saturday, and since Honor A.P. was returning from a minor foot injury in the San Felipe, expect an even better effort this weekend. Important Kentucky Derby qualifying points will be distributed on a 100-40-20-10 basis to the first four finishers.
• There will be six other Stakes races on Santa Anita’s Saturday blockbuster card, including the Hollywood Gold Cup. My favorite Hollywood Gold Cup? It was 1973 when Bill Shoemaker was replaced aboard popular Chilean import Cougar II by owner Mary Bradley after finishing third in the Hollywood Turf Invitational. Charlie Whittingham, who trained favored Cougar II along with Quack, named Shoemaker on Canadian-bred Kennedy Road, the least fancied of the three Whittingham trainees. Shoemaker pressed the pace of Briartic, was passed by Quack in the stretch, but Kennedy Road re-rallied to win by a nose. The crowd went wild.
• Belmont Park, originally scheduled to open in April, finally gets underway Wednesday, 80 days after the last live racing card was held in New York. The Belmont meet will be spectator-free racing, and will not be televised on the TVG horse racing network for the first time in 20 years. The New York Racing Association, like Churchill Downs, will broadcast its races on the Fox Sports networks FS1 and FS2. First post time on Wednesday will be 10:15 a.m. Pacific.
• Laurel Park started its delayed meet last weekend. With Laurel now racing, The Stronach Group, owners of Laurel Park, Gulfstream Park, Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita, will resume their popular $1 minimum Stronach Five. The discounted 12 percent takeout wager is featured each Friday. The Stronach Five races for this Friday: Laurel Race 7 (post time 12:51 PT), Gulfstream Park Race 9, Laurel Race 8, Golden Gate Fields Race 3, and Santa Anita Race 4.
• Del Mar announced they will open Friday July 10 instead of the previously scheduled Saturday July 18. The cancellation of the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgounds made the earlier opening possible. Del Mar will race just three days a week (Friday through Sunday) except for closing weekend when there will be racing on Labor Day Monday Sept. 7. There will be 10 races planned on Fridays and Sundays with 11-race cards the new normal each Saturday. For now, racing is scheduled to be spectator-free, though Del Mar hopes to be able to allow licensed owners and hopefully fans to attend as restrictions due to the coronavirus are eased.
Lindo Report available at South Point
My handicapping sheet for Southern California – The Lindo Report – has been available in Las Vegas free for over 13 years. Starting Thursday, it will be available in a new location – the race book at the South Point Hotel and Casino.
The Lindo Report will be published on a Thursday through Sunday basis, and on days when there is no racing in Southern California, we will publish a Lindo Report for another popular circuit. Since Santa Anita does not resume racing this week until Friday, we will produce a Lindo Report for Belmont Park for Thursday’s South Point reopening.
Additional Lindo Reports will be published on major race days around the country and when a key wager, such as a mandatory payout in a Rainbow Pick Six with a large carryover pool, is up for grabs. Thanks to South Point Race Book Manager Mary Jungers for providing The Lindo Report to her loyal horseplayers.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday, Race 5 – Indy Jones (No. 8). Gelding has been treading water routing, but his best races in 2019 came in sprints. He finally cuts back around one turn and the outside post is perfect.