The Thanksgiving holiday means lots of things to different people. A chance to spend quality time with family and friends. Good food. Football. And for horseplayers, top notch Stakes racing with full fields and plenty of wagering opportunities during the Turf Festival at Del Mar.
Closing week begins with an early 11 a.m. first post time on Thursday, giving players plenty of time to get involved and still make it home in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Here is a preview of the Turf Festival Stakes races with some key horses who may offer some wagering value during closing week at Del Mar.
Grade III Red Carpet Handicap for older fillies and mares going 1-3/8 miles on the turf: Responsibleforlove is a true marathon specialist who has upped her game since learning how to rate. Evo Campo has speed and has shown she can carry it a long way, while trainer Chad Brown ships Galileo’s Song in from New York where she has been knocking on the door vs. Graded Stakes company.
Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup for older horses going 1-1/2 miles on turf: Del Mar course specialist Chicago Style is scheduled to represent the Tom Proctor stable, and the 4-year-old gelding by Kitten’s Joy should relish the 12 furlong trip. Trainer Graham Motion has supplemented the filly Lottie so she can face the boys and has shown back east she can run all day. Prime Attraction will try to take the Hollywood Turf Cup field wire-to-wire.
Grade III Native Diver Stakes for older horses going 1-1/8 miles on dirt: Top of the Game will be tough to beat in the Native Diver if he can bring his Santa Anita dirt form to Del Mar. But that could be a big “if.” Mubtaahij is a possibility to return after being unplaced in the Breeders Cup Classic for trainer Bob Baffert, while his stablemate Irish Freedom is a true Del Mar course specialist and looks very live in this spot.
Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies going one mile on turf: Two-year-old fillies are featured in the Jimmy Durante, and Aqueduct invader Raucous looms a major contender for trainer Christophe Clement. Keeneland Allowance winner Thewayiam will represent the Graham Motion stable. The best of the locals may be Mulitplayer for trainer Tim Yakteen and Sappho for trainer Phil D’Amato.
Grade I Hollywood Derby for 3-year-olds going 1-1/8 miles on turf: Sharp Samurai has developed into the top 3-year-old grass horse out west. He has been well managed by the Mark Glatt stable and has been pointing to the Hollywood Derby for some time. Regular rivals Bowies Hero and Big Score figure to show up again, while the “x” factor is shipper Channel Maker from the Bill Mott stable.
Grade III Cecil B. DeMille Stakes for 2-year-olds going one mile on turf: Impressive recent Maiden winner Inscom should handle the raise to Stakes company in the DeMille, while Count Alexander had a miserable trip in the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Del Mar Nov. 4 and is very dangerous on the stretchout. Armour Plate makes the local contingent a deep group. Golden Dragon gets back on turf after flopping in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and could do some rebounding, too.
Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap for older horses going 1-1/16 miles on turf: Om gets some class relief dropping into the Grade III Seabiscuit Handicap, but it has been a long time between wins. Pee Wee Reese was ready to take on the best turf milers in Southern California before being sidelined in July and must be caught, while Hunt will appreciate the shorter trip after proving no threat in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Grade I Matriarch Stakes for older fillies and mares going one mile on turf: The Grade I Matriarch caps off the turf festival and course specialist Cambodia comes off a very good third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Shortening back to one mile should not be a problem for her. The Chad Brown stable will be represented by Off Limits, while Arnaud Delacour ships in the talented Hawksmoor and George Weaver brings in Thundering Sky in what should be a terrific race.
Pack up those turkey sandwiches and head out to watch and wager on some great racing over the holiday weekend at Del Mar.
And since it is closing week, remember they have to pay out the Pick Five, Pick Six, and Super High Five on Sunday.
Del Mar Notes: Jockey Mario Gutierrez will miss Thursday and Friday due to suspension, while apprentice Reuben Fuentes will sit out Thursday through Saturday due to suspension.
Leading rider Flavien Prat will serve two days of suspension Saturday, Nov. 25, and Sunday, Nov. 26, but will be allowed to ride in one designated Stakes race each day. If he rides in more than one Stakes either day, he will be forced to serve an additional suspension day.
The disqualification of Bold Papa from Sunday’s finale produced a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot winner of over $254K.
The winning ticket cost $288 and was purchased through the TVG advance deposit wagering platform.
Play of the Week: Del Mar, Thursday, Race 5 – He’s Stylish (post 8). Two-year-old was well regarded and well bet in Oct. 28 debut but ran into a buzzsaw named McKinzie, who will return in the Grade I Los Al Futurity in December. This D’Amato trainee should prove very tough to catch on the stretchout.