08/05/2009 11:00PM

Longshot angle scores twice on day

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Four-Footed Fotos
Reb (left) gets past what had been serious traffic trouble to win the American Derby.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Time to clean out the Del Mar handicapping notebook. With stuff like this . . . .

* A tried-and-true handicapping method reappeared Wednesday when Bling Star Dreams paid $40.40 in race 1. The surprise victory extended a traditional Del Mar longshot angle - a Barry Abrams-trained Unusual Heat on Polytrack.

Abrams and Unusual Heat scored twice Wednesday, as readers of the Inside Post blog at drf.com were made fully aware could happen before first post. In addition to Bling Star Dreams, the blog tipped $51 winner Unusual Suspect in race 8, the Cougar II.

By the way, Aug. 3 was the eighth anniversary of the first Del Mar starter sired by Unusual Heat. She was 2-year-old Frankie Eyelashes, $51.60 debut winner Aug. 3, 2001.

* It's weird that after 11 days, top trainer Mike Mitchell was 1 for 26 and jockey Garrett Gomez 4 for 59. Del Mar is brutal when you get stuck in a slump. Full disclosure: The coldest Daily Racing Form handicapper during opening week went 4 for 47. His name is at the top of this story.

Speaking of Mitchell, he declined to answer an inquiry Thursday regarding the status of Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile winner Thorn Song, who bolted and was pulled up July 22 in the Eddie Read. Read what you want into Mitchell's non-answer, but it cannot be good.

* Rapidly improving colt Nashoba Express would have been favored Saturday in race 2 for California-breds. A half to superstar Nashoba's Key, Nashoba Express scratched July 22 from the Oceanside Stakes after drawing an outside post. Four days later, he blew a suspensory in a five-furlong work, according to trainer Carla Gaines.

* Good for Magic Yodeler, the 2-year-old Swiss Yodeler filly who won a maiden race Aug. 1, but she won't catch her old full brother. Two days before Magic Yodeler won her third start, 9-year-old gelding Oberwald made his 95th start in a $4,000 claimer at Penn National. Winner of the 2002 Haggin Stakes at Hollywood, Oberwald has won 15 races. He was sired by Swiss Yodeler. And you thought Unusual Heats were durable?

* It is okay to skip watching last-race video of every entrant in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes on Saturday at Arlington. But do yourself a favor and at least watch video of Reb winning the Grade 2 American Derby on July 11. Reb was buried at the eighth pole, then did something only good horses do - overcome severe adversity to win. At 6-1 or more on Saturday, Reb would be mighty enticing.

* Del Mar horseplayers should get acquainted with Secretariat starter Black Bear Island. He ships to California after his U.S. debut Saturday, presumably to aim for the Del Mar Derby with new trainer Julio Canani. Black Bear Island is a Group 2 winner, and a better horse on form than early Del Mar Derby favorite Afleet Eagle.

* California handicappers who watched Black Mamba closely the past three years will not criticize this Grade 1 winner of more than $800,000. But if the good mare so much as hits the board Saturday in the Beverly D., call it an upset. Black Mamba makes bank in the weak California turf division - her class is far short of world-caliber.

Whoever wins the Beverly D. on Saturday faces a tall order next time against Forever Together. It was great to see the 2008 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner return to top form in the Diana, and even better when she is the star of your fantasy stable team.

* It is unlikely Presious Passion will stretch his speed all the way in the Arlington Million. But how can you not cheer for the 39-start gelding? In his most recent start, the Grade 1 United Nations, he opened 20 lengths on the field and won by two.

* John Steen is a longtime racing fan from Apple Valley. He drove 150 miles (one way) last week for an afternoon at Del Mar, with a silly handicapping method - betting Tyler Baze in early races on the card. Actually, Baze wins all over the card, but one day after Steen's visit, there was Baze on July 31 winning races 2 and 3 at $18.60 and $25.60.

* How could this be? The top two riders at Del Mar are Baze and Joel Rosario, yet their combined record on turf is 2 for 45. One grass win apiece. Yikes.

* Two easy winners last week at Del Mar were "bet-againsts" by wiseguy handicappers. Colonel John returned from layoff and switched to grass. Dave's Revenge dropped to $16,000 claiming just five days after she was pulled up against better. Both went favored, both won easily. It's fun to be a genius until you realize sometimes you are an idiot.

* Trainer Peter Miller made another good claim Wednesday on Dave's Revenge, and he is loaded Saturday. Miller starts Joyful Success in race 1, Unveil the Mask in race 3, and "best bet" Lang Field in race 9. Miller won with 5 of his first 19 starters, and is on a hot streak as he and fiancee Lani Smith finalize plans for their Aug. 23 wedding.

* Hard to believe an old class horse like 7-year-old Willow O Wisp would pay $37.40 winning a $12,500 claiming race Wednesday. Back in 2005, Willow O Wisp won three straight turf stakes, including the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby. A known bleeder, Willow O Wisp led throughout Wednesday in 1:23.09.

* Two years ago Sunday, Rush With Thunder paid $52.80 scoring his second of four Del Mar wins during the short 2007 summer meet. Rush With Thunder was trained by A.C. Avila, who has a similar starter Saturday in Blame the Wine. She jumps two levels off a Del Mar win, and runs Saturday in $16,000 claimer. Horse for course, of course.

* Three teenagers, avid Harry Potter fans, would have locked me out of the house if I forgot to wager at least $2 on Hermione's Magic ($17.60) in race 7 Wednesday. Trainer Kathy Walsh said Hermione's Magic "might be the real thing." Find out when she meets Well Monied on Aug. 22 in the Del Mar Oaks.

* Statistical gibberish: As every chalk-eating weasel is fully aware, favorites are 10 for 17 in maiden races for 2-year-olds this summer at Del Mar.

* He is no relation to the filly for whom he is obviously named, but the 2-year-old Raphael Alexandro is training for Bob Baffert and Ahmad Zayat. A $500,000 son of Medaglia d'Oro, he is up to a half-mile and working mostly at Santa Anita. Ability unknown.

* The top West Coast speed filly Carlsbad would have been a contender Saturday at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Test. But the next time Carlsbad's trainer, Jeff Mullins, starts a horse in New York, Lucifer will be wearing ice skates.