07/25/2012 11:25AM

Top five stories from opening week at Saratoga and Del Mar


The two most anticipated meets of the summer are now under way, and the first week lived up to the hype. In case you missed ‘em, here are the top five stories from the opening week of Saratoga and Del Mar.

Dominguez wins record-tying six races at Saratoga

Ramon Dominguez had seven mounts on Sunday’s card at Saratoga. The veteran jockey posed in the winner’s circle after six of them, tying a record for most wins in one day at a NYRA track for a jockey. DRF’s Mike Welsch has the story on Dominguez’s busy day:

Ramon Dominguez rode at three tracks in three different states and did not return home until after midnight on Saturday night - not the kind of itinerary one might expect would lead to a record-setting performance less than 24 hours later.

But despite his busy travelling schedule on Saturday, Dominguez bounced back to ride six winners on Sunday's 10-race program at Saratoga, equaling the track record for most victories by a jockey on one card. John Velazquez rode six winners on Sept. 3, 2001. . . .

“It was one of those days I looked at the program and was very excited about my chances,” said Dominguez. “But we all know that luck is a big factor. So often you come into a day thinking you’ll win a lot and you don’t and the other way around. I’m just happy it materialized like I was hoping. I was riding good horses and everything just clicked into place.” Read more »

Sisters make noise on both coasts

Malibu Moon must have been a proud sire last weekend.

At Del Mar, 3-year-old filly Winding Way posted a 97 Beyer Speed Figure with a 7 1/4-length win for her second consecutive victory. The daughter of Malibu Moon will now point toward a stakes race, according to DRF’s Steve Andersen:

The 3-year-old filly Winding Way is bound for a stakes later this summer after extending her unbeaten streak to two races with an easy win in an optional claimer on Saturday.

Owned by breeder B. Wayne Hughes, Winding Way ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.87, winning by 7 1/4 lengths. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

“All I have to do is feed her,” Gaines said. “She’s so amazing.” Read more »

On the other side of the country, the Todd Pletcher-trained Kauai Katie posted a 100 Beyer in a juvenile race at Saratoga. A full sister to Winding Way, Kauai Katie won by 12 lengths. DRF’s Dan Illman has more on that day of racing and the top 25 Beyers of the week on his blog.

Both tracks enjoy increase in handle; attendance mixed

At Saratoga, the beautiful weather of the first week resulted in booming business in upstate New York, yielding increased handle and attendance at NYRA’s summer track. DRF’s David Grening has the story:

Ontrack handle for the first four days was $12,731,605, up 14.2 percent from the $11,146,737 wagered last year.

All-sources handle, which includes wagers on Saratoga both ontrack and from simulcast outlets, was $63,688,669, up 12.3 percent from $56,688,557 last year.

Though Saratoga appeared empty on Monday, the crowd of 9,320 was 18 percent higher than last year’s crowd of 7,838. Thus, Saratoga’s attendance through the first four days was 75,369, a 2 percent increase from last year’s figure of 73,875. Read more »

At Del Mar, handle was up but attendance was not so fortunate. DRF’s Steve Andersen explains:

Average ontrack handle increased 8 percent from the first five days of last year’s meeting, to $2,649,568, while all-sources handle, including simulcast locations and account wagering, was $12,227,863, an increase of 2.4 percent over the corresponding week in 2011.

“I was very surprised,” track president Joe Harper said. “Our ontrack handle has been strong.”

The ontrack average attendance fell 8.4 percent, to 21,467, despite an opening day record crowd of 47,339 last Wednesday. Harper said attendance figures were affected by the lack of an ontrack giveaway that drew a sizeable crowd opening week of the 2011 meeting as well as weaker attendance than last year the day of an opening-week post-race concert. Read more »

Baffert loaded for stakes in the East and West

Trainer Bob Baffert has Liason scheduled to run in Saturday’s Jim Dandy at Saratoga and Paynter in Sunday’s Haskell at Monmouth Park.

But with some of his other top horses pointed toward the San Diego Handicap and the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar this weekend, Baffert is staying out West. DRF’s Jay Privman goes in detail:

Baffert is scheduled to send out Prayer for Relief and Take Control in the Grade 2, $200,000 San Diego Handicap for older horses on Saturday and will tag team the Grade 1, $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes for older sprinters on Sunday with Capital Account and The Factor. And as an appetizer, he has Richard’s Kid set for the Grade 3, $100,000 Cougar II Handicap on Friday.

The San Diego, at 1 1/16 miles, is a prep for next month’s Pacific Classic. In addition to Baffert’s duo, others scheduled for the San Diego include John Scott, Kettle Corn, Mobilized, Rail Trip, and Tres Borrachos. Read more »

Longshots enter the winner’s circle on Saratoga’s fourth day

On Sunday at Saratoga, Steven Crist played the pick six, but nobody came out a winner due to a number of longshots that came in. There is a $54,234 carryover on today’s card.

Nine of the 10 winners gave bettors double-digit payoffs, with Grandpa Len ($46) proving the most unlikely of the winners in the eighth race, a maiden special weight.

The carryover will be for races 5-10 on Wednesday’s Saratoga card, and DRF’s Dave Liftin has the breakdown.