Coast-to-coast Grade 1 stakes races are in the offing this weekend as Aqueduct and Del Mar start the month of December with a bang.
Saturday’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile in New York and Hollywood Derby in California will set the weekend table for Sunday’s Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes on the west coast. It’s a month on the racing calendar that will build to a fantastic crescendo Dec. 26 with opening days of the Classic Meet at Santa Anita and the Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park.
The Cigar Mile features Blue Grass winner Zandon and Florida Derby winner White Abarrio taking on older horses like Mind Control and Baby Yoda. Saturday’s Big A undercard includes the often-important Remsen Stakes for 2-year-olds with Triple Crown trail aspirations in 2023. Philadelphia-based Tuskegee Airman gets a class test in that one. The average stakes winner this meet at Aqueduct has been nearly 7-1, so don’t be afraid to shop for a price.
Del Mar’s Hollywood Derby and Matriarch are expected to lure top contenders from both coasts. Names like Wit, Pizza Bianca and Regal Glory are under consideration.
Favorites are 6-10 at the current Del Mar meet with no winner above 4-1 odds. They’ve played close to the vest.
What To Watch For This Week
With the conclusion last Sunday of Churchill Downs’ fall meet, the Kentucky racing scene has shifted to Turfway Park and its synthetic surface through early April … Del Mar will have a mandatory payout in its Pick 6 wager on Sunday’s closing-day card ... Two-year-olds are featured Saturday at Laurel Park with the Maryland Juvenile Fillies Championship and the Maryland Futurity … The road to the Tampa Bay Derby begins locally Saturday with the Inaugural Stakes.
Friday Weekend Firestarter
The jockey-trainer team of Flavien Prat and Phil D’Amato went 4-for-7 last week at Del Mar and will try to ride that wave into Friday’s opener. They team just once on the card, in the Race 1 opener. #1 Sweet Trouble is a well-bred daughter of top sire Into Mischief and note that the only other foal produced by her mother was a debut winner as she also attempts.
1/ST BET App Top Handicapping Tracks of the Week
The free 1/ST BET app allows you to apply millions of data points across dozens of handicapping factors in mere seconds and immediately place your wagers. Here’s where the artificial intelligence was most dialed-in last week by win percentage:
41% Gulfstream Park
37% Del Mar
36% Remington Park
36% Mahoning Valley
Tracks With Most Reliable Favorites Last Week (By Win %)
57% Golden Gate Fields
45% Gulfstream Park
44% Finger Lakes
Tracks That Were Longshot Havens Last Week (Most Winners 10-1 or More)
8 Churchill Downs
5 Del Mar
5 Golden Gate
America’s Hot Jockeys Last Week
Vicente Del-Cid (12-27, 44%) // Delta Downs
Joseph Ramos (9-22, 41%) // Indianapolis, Churchill
Flavien Prat (8-22, 36%) // Del Mar
Carlos Lopez (11-35, 31%) // Laurel, Charles Town
C.J. McMahon (8-26, 31%) // Delta Downs, Fair Grounds
America’s Hot Trainers Last Week
Steve Sherman (5-11, 45%) // Golden Gate Fields
Randy Klopp (5-12, 42%) // Indianapolis
Phil D’Amato (6-16, 38%) // Del Mar
Karl Broberg (11-31, 37%) // Remington, Delta, Fair Grounds, Hawthorne
Jonathan Wong (7-23, 30%) // Golden Gate, Del Mar, Churchill, Mahoning Valley
December Sweepstakes Set to Launch
Throughout December, every bet at 1/ST BET and Xpressbet enters players into random drawings at month’s end worth $20,000. Top prize is a $1,000 wagering credit.
– Statistics courtesy Betmix