This week in horse racing: Travers, Pacific Classic preps

By Jeremy Plonk  ( 

July 27, 2022 10:37 PM

Top hopefuls for two of summer’s biggest races will be auditioning this weekend at Saratoga and Del Mar. Leading 3-year-olds aiming for next month’s Travers Stakes square off at The Spa in the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes on Saturday. Meanwhile, Del Mar hosts Saturday’s $300,000 San Diego Stakes for those Breeders’ Cup Classic division runners pointing toward Labor Day weekend’s Pacific Classic. 

Preakness 1-2 finishers Early Voting and Epicenter are expected for the Jim Dandy, along with Zandon, the morning-line favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby. The San Diego boasts 2022 Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer’s domestic return as well as defending champion Express Train. 

For those betting Saratoga and Del Mar, here are some early-season stats from the initial offerings at both meets, coming into this week. 


Percentage of winning favorites: 29% 

Average win odds: 5.2-1 

Hot jockeys: Javier Castellano (6-24, 25%), Joel Rosario (10-45, 22%), Irad Ortiz Jr. (15-74, 20%) 

Hot trainers: Phil Serpe (3-5, 60%), Brad Cox (4-14, 29%), Chad Brown (9-29, 23%), Mike Maker (6-27, 22%), Todd Pletcher (8-38, 21%) 

Del Mar 

Percentage of winning favorites: 38% 

Average win odds: 7.7-1 

Hot jockeys: Joe Bravo (4-17, 24%), Juan Hernandez (6-27, 22%), Umberto Rispoli (4-20, 20%) 

Hot trainers: Doug O’Neill (4-16, 25%), Bob Baffert (2-8, 25%), John Sadler (2-10, 20%) 

What to Watch for This Week 

Laurel Park in Maryland has five stakes races worth $400,000 on the menu Saturday, the final of three Summer Sizzlers in July stakes programs … Harness fans circle Saturday’s Adios final at The Meadows as one of the top Standardbred races on the calendar … Monmouth Park bounces back after a nearly $20 million handle Saturday for the Haskell with its Grade 3 Monmouth Park Oaks on Sunday … Racing in New Mexico shifts this week to Albuquerque with opening day Friday … Northern California racing hits closing week at Sacramento with Sunday offering mandatory payouts on multi-race wagers on closing day. 

Friday Weekend Firestarter 

Saratoga not only has the Jim Dandy on Saturday for Travers prospects but also Friday’s $135,000 Curlin Stakes for the 3-year-old set. The race is restricted to horses looking for their first stakes victory of the season at a mile or longer, and it appears to have a rather soft early pace. Look for well-drawn A. P.’s Secret in Post 3 and Make It Big in Post 4 to control things up front. The well-bred Artorius stretches out in distance with a wide draw and could be compromised. I’ll take the 3-4 exacta box and try to get by with just that pair in the multi-race bets. Consider win bets on both if the price is right. 

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: 

— Prairie Meadows: 48% 

— Evangeline Downs: 45% 

— Ellis Park: 42% 

— Indianapolis: 40% 

— Penn National: 39% 

Tracks with most reliable favorites last week (by win pct.) 

— Penn National: 58% 

— Indianapolis: 49% 

— Monmouth: 47% 

— Mountaineer: 45% 

— Parx Racing: 44% 

Tracks that were long-shot havens last week (most winners 10-1 or higher) 

— Belterra: 9 

— Monmouth: 9 

— Del Mar: 8 

— Delaware: 7 

— Lone Star: 6 

— Thistledown: 6 

— Woodbine: 6 

America’s hot jockeys last week 

— Carlos Lozada (8-21, 38%), Louisiana Downs, Evangeline 

— Frankie Pennington (6-17, 35%), Parx, Monmouth 

— Rafael Hernandez (8-25, 32%), Woodbine 

— Vicente Del-Cid (11-34, 32%), Louisiana Downs, Evangeline 

— Tim Thornton (7-23, 30%), Evangeline 

America’s hot trainers last week 

— Carlos David (4-9, 44%), Gulfstream, Monmouth, Colonial 

— John Ortiz (4-9, 44%), Ellis, Indianapolis 

— Shane Wilson (4-10, 40%), Louisiana Downs, Evangeline 

— Cipriano Contreras (5-13, 38%), Indianapolis, Ellis, Belterra 

— Chad Brown (11-34, 32%), Saratoga, Monmouth, Woodbine, Finger Lakes 

Free $100,000 in Play Throughout July 

It’s the final days for Xpressbet and 1/ST BET players to take advantage of additional hit-and-split payoffs as July comes to a close Sunday. Play select Pick 4s and Pick 5s this weekend at Saratoga, Del Mar, Laurel and The Meadows for more than $30,000 in bonus payouts. When you win, collect the parimutuel payoff as well as your share of each wager’s hit-and-split total with others who also cashed with 1/ST BET and Xpressbet.  

Statistics courtesy of 

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