One of the most exciting races at Del Mar in the second half of the season is quickly approaching, as the Del Mar Oaks takes place on August 20th.
The race is expected to attract a deep field of talented fillies that are aged three, and the equine stars will compete over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. You can find out more about the race and the leading contenders here in the TwinSpires betting guide.
The Del Mar Oaks was first introduced in 1957, but it didn’t become a Grade 1 event until 1994. Throughout its history, it has changed slightly, with the additions between 1957 and 1964 competing on the dirt over a distance of a mile. The race has also been run in two divisions on two separate occasions; 1966 and 1970. The field of fillies aged three will compete across 1 1/8 miles on the turf this year, with a purse of $300,000 available to connections that finish in the money positions.
Del Mar Oaks Records & Winners
The Del Mar Oaks speed record was set by Amorama in 2004, as she won the race in a time of 1:46.26. Charlie Whittingham remains the most successful trainer in the history of the race; as he landed the winner on seven occasions between 1970 and 1991. However, three jockeys are tied for the most wins in the race, with Bill Shoemaker, Corey Nakatani and Chris McCarron all recorded four victories during their career.
The most successful owner in the race is Howard Keck; who had the winner of the race on four occasions between 1970 and 1986. The most recent winner of the race was Going Global for trainer Philip D’Amato. Since her win, she has managed to continue her strong graded form with victories in the G2 Goldikova and Royal Heroine Stakes.
Lower drawn horses have performed very well in the Del Mar Oaks in recent years; with six of the winners drawn between stalls one and four. The most prolific stalls over the previous ten editions have been two and three, with each producing two victories for the runners that started in those positions. Last year’s winner, Going Global, continued this trend, as she won from stall three. It is a race where favorites have performed very strongly; with two of the previous three editions of the race being won by the pre-race favorite.
However, over the previous ten editions, only three favorites have won the Del Mar Oaks. Other key trends that bettors will need to look out for include runners that have had between three and five placings during their career; and runners that have achieved an RPR rating of 93+. The trends also highlight that runners that have run in handicaps previously have a poor record; while the market could also be a big indicator, with no previous winner priced higher than 19/1.
Del Mar Oaks 2022 Contenders
The standout name in the betting for the Del Mar Oaks is likely to be Spendarella for trainer Graham Motion. The three-year-old is yet to finish outside the first two in four career starts, and she put up an excellent fight against one of the best filly milers in the world last time out at Royal Ascot. She finished over four lengths behind Inspiral in the G1 Coronation Stakes; but that was always likely to be the very best place that she could finish.
Her record on home soil is extremely dominant, as she has won on all three starts; including the G2 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland in April by nearly two lengths from Dolce Zel. The lack of Del Mar experience would be a slight concern, but if she is given a handy draw; it would appear very hard to take her on.
Cairo Memories is likely to be one of the big outsiders in the field; despite not doing an awful lot wrong on track to this point. Her only defeat on the turf since a failed experiment on the dirt came on her previous start; as she was just outlasted over the 1 ¼ mile distance in the G1 Belmont Oaks. There was no shame in losing to McKulick, while With The Moonlight, who finished second; has since come back out and won the G3 Saratoga Oaks.
Her form before that race was extremely strong, as she recorded victories over 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita in each of the G3 Honeymoon Stakes and G3 Providencia Stakes. However, she will need to put her disappointing effort at Del Mar last year behind her; as she finished ninth in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
The dark horse in the field could come in the form of Bellabel for trainer Philip D’Amato. The trainer won this race 12 months ago with Going Global, and he looks to have another very competitive three-year-old filly on his hands with this Irish-bred runner. An interesting angle with this horse is her excellent course form at Del Mar; and that was clear for all to see as she blitzed the field in the G2 San Clemente Stakes in July.
That race was over a mile; which means that there may be some questions surrounding whether she can stay the extra distance; but her pedigree certainly indicates that it shouldn’t be an issue.
She is yet to really be tested at the highest level; with that Grade 2 win coming in a relatively straightforward field. But, we will certainly know more about this three-year-old after the Del Mar Oaks; and victory could firmly put her in the mix for a showdown against stablemate Going Global further down the line.
Who Will Win The Del Mar Oaks?
Spendarella’s form is rock solid, with her only defeat coming against the hugely talented Inspiral on British soil. That form could look even stronger if the winner comes back out; and wins in a very prestigious Grade 1 in France against a high-quality field. She looks to be the best horse in the field at this stage; but the course form of Bellabel means that she should be taken very seriously for leading connections.