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Early Returns

Posted by on 11/12/2014 8:25:52 PM

Grass racing will play an important part of the abbreviated Del Mar meet this fall and bettors can get a leg up on the action by seeing what happened the first few days of the meeting.

Traditionally during the summer meet at Del Mar, the grass course tends to play a little heavy early in the meeting until there are a few races run over the surface but it started out as pretty much a fair course on opening day.

In the first turf race of the meet, there were several runners that had similar speed and it set up a late run by Unusual Taste, who about 8 lengths off the lead early before running day the pacesetter Turn on the Pumps by a half-length.

Maiden Special Weight runners were next and Rock Sandy was stretching out to a mile after a troubled debut and the son of Lemon Drop Kid made the lead, was passed by a head and then came on to win in a game effort.

The feature race of the day was the Kathryn Crosby, named for the founder Bing’s second wife, and a full field met the starter. The 5, 7, 8, and 9 horses all had speed so the race was made for a closer and that is just what Queen of the Sand did as she was third to last early before reeling in all of her rivals.

The speed totally collapsed in the first turf race on Saturday as Love Blind, trained by California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman, dropped in class, settled early, and blew by all of the leaders to win by nearly 4 lengths.

Little Jerry stole the next turf race carded with a clever ride from Martin Pedroza. He put the gelding on the lead off honest fractions and just ran away from his rivals.

Suva Harbor showed :45 and change speed losing her first 2 race but she stretched out to a mile and tasted grass for the first time and took her rivals flagfall to that’s all getting the mile in 1:37.19.

Richard Dryfuss played one of the most lovable racing characters in the movie Let It Ride and the stakes named for that picture was the feature of the day Saturday. And again, it showed that the course is playing good for front-runners and closers. Awesome Return took advantage when Final Step got away from his rider and set a blistering pace.

Awesome Return relaxed, raced 4 wide and inhaled his foes.

There were 4 turf races on Sunday and My Slew sat second early in the opener, took the lead passed the 8th pole and prevailed in the 5-furlong sprint.

Corey Nakatani is one of the best turf riders ever and he proved it in a $32,000 claimer next when he took Belmont invader Tigah back to tenth early before going from 8th to 3rd at one point and eventually won by a length and a half.

Entry-level allowance runners were next on turf and the favorite Chilada made the lead, took them to the top of the lane but succumbed to the closers. Colonel John commanded respect as she moved into contention at the top of the lane and then extended to win at 9-1.

Speed died in the nightcap. The first 3 leaders finished 5th, 12th and 10th respectively. The honors went to Synnin, who made a huge middle move to open up 3 lengths at the top of the lane and just had enough left.

Granted, this is just a small sample, but the point to be made is when the pace figures to be contested, closers can prevail and when there is limited pace, a leader has a shot to go all the way.

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