Nothing says summer to a handicapper like reading that Saratoga and Del Mar are opening. This year, Del Mar started yesterday, Wednesday July 19th. Saratoga starts this Friday. I like handicapping both of them, because they have the best horses, jockeys, and trainers in the US and from all over the world. Saratoga, especially, has the best turf racing of the turf season, I think. The large fields make for some large payoffs. There’s a reason that Saratoga is called “The Graveyard of Favorites” and I’m a longshot player. (Be aware, however that, overall, favorites win quite often at Saratoga. Maiden and stakes races have a high percentage of winning favorites.)
Del Mar is more laid back than Saratoga, starting with the video of the beach across the highway that shows up on the simulcast feed. Dogs fetch frisbees and people with boogie boards catch a wave or lounge on beach towels. It’s a completely different vibe from any other track and it has some world class racing too.
Both of these tracks have relatively short seasons and horses ship in from all over the place, which makes it hard to handicap the races. For this reason, I’m glad that both tracks have handicappers who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise, sometimes for free. I read the free pick pages at these tracks, not just to find likely horses to play that day. I also read them to get nuggets of information that I store away for future reference.
If you’d like to gain some knowledge about these summer venues, here are links to free picks at Del Mar . Some of the handicappers give out a full card of picks and some have a free pick to interest you in their paid picks.
For Saratoga, there are individual handicappers on different sites who provide free and paid picks. You might want to start with the NYRA site, which is the official Saratoga portal. When you’ve watched Talking Horses and read the Timeform USA picks, you might want to head on over to Kevin Cox’s website for some free information and picks. He lives “within a stone’s throw” of the Spa, as he puts it, and he knows a lot about the behind the scenes happenings that the average bettor just isn’t privy to.
One of my favorite Saratoga handicappers is Saratoga Phil. He’s come up with quite a few longshot picks that hit the board over the time that I’ve followed him, and specializes in NY tracks. His picks are free and he obviously posts them because he loves the tracks and the sport of handicapping.
One of these days I’d like to visit both of these tracks. Until that happens, I’ll enjoy watching the surf at Del Mar and the turf at Saratoga, especially if a few of my longshot plays come in.