07/29/2011 5:01PM

Four o'clock Friday


First post Friday at Del Mar is late afternoon. How will the track play, and is there anything worth betting?

The main track on Thursday was not the same Polytrack from the first six days of the meet.

Speed was better Thursday than any time this meet.

The $18-20,000 claiming mare Malusita set a blazing pace in race 2, and won by more than five lengths. The $20,000 maiden-claiming filly Sheskey set a relatively strong pace in race 3, and won by two and a quarter lengths.

Front-runner Sunburn was headed at the furlong pole in race 6, but the maiden filly found renewed energy to post a $20 upset that was the highlight of the card.

How will the main track play Friday? Who knows?

How will the turf course play Friday, with the turf rails up for the first time? They aren’t up far, only seven feet. But it does not take much to influence the Del Mar course profile. Closers won most turf races the first six days. Perhaps on Friday, speed will be good.

It’s kind of important, because the first two races I am interested in betting are on turf.

In race 1, European import Carousel makes her U.S. debut against a modest group of first-level allowance fillies. Trainer Ben Cecil has had much success with Euro-imports. Carousel is worth backing at 7-2. Anything less is probably a pass.

In race 6, front-runner Mark the Bench has a chance if rails-up favors speed. He is 8-1. The top choice is Teafatiller, whose last-out runner-up finish was better than it looks. He is 6-1; that would be a fair price on either.

In race 7, the Cougar II at a mile and a half on the main track, Setsuko stands out. Yes, he is easy to knock (one win, six seconds). But he has been facing the top horses out West, and on class he should not lose. One potential bomber is Erbeia, first start for trainer John Sadler and pointed specifically to the Cougar II Handicap.

That’s it.