A look at week one of Pleasanton racing!

Week one of the 2021 Alameda County Fair horse racing meet is in the books and what did we learn from that first week?

First, it was great to see so many race fans – young and old – making the trek to the track for what was the first time for most of them since 2019.

The Alameda County has always been one of the top-attended Fair meets every year, but like every sport took a big hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now with the California mask mandate repealed, fans came back enthusiastically for the meet.

What was the racing like?

Pleasanton has been known for years as the track where front-end speed has always been so crucial for a connections best chance to win.

Through the first three days that is coming through in a big way.

There have been 23 races in the three days with 15 coming in wire to wire fashion. It’s not that the times have been sizzling, but the results remain the same – the first to the top of the lane (stretch) wins.

That has been the case 20 of the 23 races contested. The largest deficit for horse at the top of the lane that came on to win was three lengths.

Now when the temperature gets to 90 degrees or higher – which it was the first three days – the speed/first to the top of the lane play is live.

Once it drops below 90, approaching the lower 80s as it will be on Friday this week, closing running styles come more into play.

Another big factor regarding early speed winning is that the races overall have not been that fast, with many of the horses getting easy leads and have plenty left when they turn for home.

We shall see what happens Friday when the temperature hovers around 80 degrees. Saturday and Sunday both appear headed for 90-plus so expect more the speed angles to once again come into play.

Another thing that was easy to see is that the inside of the track was not where the jockeys wanted their horses running. When you see a horse in the lead coming off the turn bounce 3-5 wide spots out to find the middle of the track, you know the rail is deep and slow.

That has been the case in recent years, but it is also something that can change fairly easily. The key will be to watch the first couple of races each day and take note where the jocks are placing their mounts, especially in the stretch.

They are out there warming up the horses before the race, also checking out the depth to add to their racing strategy.

In the first three days, a pair of jockeys have established themselves with the betting public.

Assael Espinoza has come out on fire, winning fives times in his seven mounts for a 71 percent win total. He also has a second and a third, hitting the board on 100 percent of his mounts.

Armando Ayuso has three wins and four seconds in seven mounts, also hitting the board 100 percent of the time.

Irving Orozco, Kyle Frey, and Frank Alvarado have two wins apiece. Frey – the leading rider at Golden Gate Field’s recently concluded meet, adds two seconds and five thirds in 10 mounts, giving him a 90 percent total in hitting the board.

On the trainer front O.J. Jauregui, Isidro Tamayo, and Jonathan Wong (the leading trainer at GGF) all have three wins. Jauregui has done it in four mounts, with Tamayo and Wong having sent off 10 starters.

The weekend will feature the first stakes race with the inaugural running of the She’s A Tiger stakes, named in honor of the Eclipse winning filly out of the Jeff Bonde barn.

She’s A Tiger first career start came at Pleasanton – a smashing win that led to a second place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies later that year.

Hope to see you at the track this weekend!

By Dennis Miller