This week in horse racing: Del Mar, Kentucky Downs draw summer to close


The short but elite racing seasons at Del Mar and Kentucky Downs will hit the finish line Sunday, but not before the two tracks put forth some more important stakes races and top betting opportunities. It’s an untraditional week, to be sure, with Del Mar extended beyond Labor Day against calendar norms. Meanwhile, the New York circuit goes dark post-Saratoga and won’t return with live racing until Sept. 15. 

Del Mar’s Friday-Saturday-Sunday final spree includes six stakes races, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante (Saturday) and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity (Sunday). Both will have major implications on the Breeders’ Cup 2-year-old divisions. Kentucky Downs has eight stakes jammed into a two-day week on Saturday and Sunday, thanks in part to several rescheduled events from last weekend’s weather-induced postponements. Saturday’s $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup tops the marquee. 


For those betting Kentucky Downs this weekend, here are the key local stats for stakes races over the past five years. 

Kentucky Downs 

Percentage of winning favorites: 31.6% 

Average win odds: 5.80-1 

Hot trainers: Brad Cox (7-28, 25%), Wesley Ward (7-34, 21%), Mike Stidham (4-11, 36%)  

Hot jockeys: Tyler Gaffalione (12-62, 19%), Florent Geroux (9-59, 15%), Jose Ortiz (8-47, 17%), Joel Rosario (5-28, 18%) 

What To Watch For This Week 

Pimlico opens its racing meet Friday and cards four big stakes Saturday, including the Baltimore-Washington Turf Cup … Remington Park will have a pair of stakes races on its Friday night card … A half-dozen stakes share the Saturday marquee at Minnesota’s Canterbury Park … Saturday will be British Columbia Derby Day at Hastings Park among four stakes offerings … With a lack of racing in New York, look for a regional betting handle increase at New Jersey’s Monmouth Park, which has turf stakes carded Saturday and Sunday.  

Friday Weekend Firestarter 

After back-to-back solid scores in this space, let’s make it a three-peat this week. Trainer Kieron Magee is a horseman on the Maryland circuit who puts a big emphasis on Pimlico. He’s got a pair of opening-day starters at Old Hilltop on Friday, No. 6 Dat Dares Gold (Race 4) and No. 1 Welling (Race 8). The former was second over this track in 2021, while the latter has a win, a second and a third-place finish in four local tries. I’ll lean on both as win bets.  

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: 

— 50% Arizona Downs 

— 39% Delaware Park 

— 38% Gulfstream Park 

— 38% Charles Town 

— 38% Emerald Downs 

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

— 50% Belterra Park 

— 42% Mountaineer Park 

— 42% Charles Town 

— 42% Emerald Downs 

— 41% Gulfstream Park 

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

— 6 Remington Park 

— 6 Saratoga 

— 5 Del Mar 

— 5 Penn National 

— 5 Finger Lakes 

America’s hot jockeys last week 

— Angel Diaz (11-24, 46%), Mountaineer, Belterra, Thistledown 

— Miguel Vasquez (8-18, 44%), Gulfstream Park 

— Joel Dominguez (9-21, 43%), Louisiana Downs 

— Antonio Gallardo (9-22, 41%), Presque Isle, Woodbine 

— Jeremy Laprida (7-19, 37%), Monmouth, Parx 

America’s hot trainers last week 

— Jon Arnett (6-11, 55%), Prairie Meadows 

— Andy Mathis (5-10, 50%), Del Mar, Golden Gate 

— Blaine Wright (5-12, 42%), Golden Gate, Emerald 

— Tim Hamm (6-15, 40%), Saratoga, Thistledown, Belterra, Presque Isle 

— Shug McGaughey (5-18, 38%), Saratoga, Monmouth, Colonial 

$20,000 September Sweepstakes 

Horseplayers who bet on 1/ST BET and Xpressbet in September are entered into drawings every time they make a bet on either platform. Each wager provides a contest entry into the random drawings at month’s end that will give away a total of $20,000 in wagering credits across various prize amounts. 

Statistics courtesy of