08/20/2010 10:01PM

Del Mar notes, and beating G1 favorites


The handicapping notebook is filling up again, with notes like this …

* Trainer Barry Abrams finally popped again with an outsider sired by Unusual Heat. Lisa Lulu paid $43 Friday, latest in a long line of Abrams-trained Unusual Heat longshot wins over the years on the Del Mar main track. Lisa Lulu won a maiden-claimer in the 23rd start of her career; Abrams is now 2-for-44 for the meet.

* California Flag, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last year, won his comeback by only a nose Wednesday, surprisingly rallying from behind. The spin afterward was that strategy was by design. But when a speed horse loses its speed, it is never a good thing.

* Through Friday, the win rate of main-track favorites at Del Mar was 28 percent (40-for-144), while the win rate of turf-race favorites was 41 percent (22-for-54).

* My pick in the Alabama Stakes is Blind Luck to beat Devil May Care, partly biased on geographical prejudice. But it makes sense that, in a truly run race with pace to run at, California-based Blind Luck should love dirt and love a mile and a quarter.

* The improving Tajaaweed will be my longshot wager Saturday in the Arlington Million, at 9-1 or higher.

* The declining Gio Ponti is the wise-guy bet-against Saturday in the Million, and I agree. Gio Ponti does not seem to be the horse he was last year when the Million was his fourth consecutive win, all Grade 1.

* The Beverly D will be won by a good turf filly on Saturday. But it won’t be Tuscan Evening, so the race is bittersweet. Tuscan Evening was the country’s top female turf runner aiming for the Beverly D until she died two weeks ago following a workout.

* The Pacific Classic is a week away at Del Mar, and the favorite might be The Usual Q.T., a turf horse who would have looked mighty good Saturday in the Million.

* Is there any way to lock in the 10-1 program odds on Del Mar Oaks front-runner Antares World? Still think Evening Jewel is the likely winner, but Antares World could have things her own way out front.

* Santa Anita goes dirt when the winter meet begins Dec. 26, and it will be a long slog to get there. But so far, few serious handicappers have complained about the Santa Anita decision.