Here’s a tip for bettors at Del Mar which begins its 43-day season next Wednesday, July 23: wager on fresh horses.
So says Jack Carava, leading trainer at Oak Tree in 2002 and at Hollywood Park in the 2001 spring/summer meeting.
"I think going from Hollywood and Santa Anita (where Carava is stabled) will be a significant adjustment for some horses," the 37-year-old Arcadia native said. "Historically, for me, the horses that run hard and well at Hollywood don’t run as well at Del Mar. It’s usually the fresh horses that run the best there.
"To me, there’s usually a big form reversal. When horses like it at Del Mar, they usually win two or three races at the meet and can come from a mile out of it to win there. I’ve tried to claim horses for Del Mar that run from a little bit off the pace. Speed horses are fine there on certain days, but if you have a deep-closing route horse, you’ll do well at Del Mar. At Santa Anita, you almost have to stay away from (claiming) deep closers.
"In general, look for the fresh horses, ones that have been lightly raced at Hollywood and showed a bit of form towards the end of the meet. They’re the horses that really do well at Del Mar. That’s been the case year after year. Fresh horses will not only win, they’ll pair up wins there like no place I’ve ever seen. It’s unbelievable."
Injuries have derailed Carava’s barn recently, but he remains optimistic for Del Mar.
"I had two or three nice 2-year-olds I thought would OK down there, but they all got hurt recently at Santa Anita," Carava said. "We’ve been just barraged by injuries the last two weeks. I’ve probably had a dozen horses get hurt."
Riding the popularity of "Seabiscuit," Del Mar will present "Del Mar Goes to the Movies" Sunday evenings after the races during its 64th season. A series of six films will be shown on the large outdoor screen in the track’s paddock. Admission and a bag of popcorn will be free to all moviegoers.
The film schedule consists of two classics, "Phar Lap" and "The Black Stallion," as well as three comedies: "A Day at the Races," "Let It Ride" and "It Ain’t Hay." The track will also premier a sneak preview of a racing documentary based on a year’s filming at the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella by award-winning film makers Bill Yahraus and Robin Rosenthal.
The series begins on July 27 with "Phar Lap," a film some critics have said is heretofore the best racing movie ever made. The story of the famed Australian champion features outstanding racing footage and a stirring tale based on a true story, as is "Seabiscuit."