Thursday, April 30, 2015


Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

 

The Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic is run at a mile and 1/8 over the Matt Winn Turf course every year on “Derby Day.”

And while no match for America’s premier race and the “greatest two minutes in sports”, race fans and handicappers will still be looking for a winner and to a great extent, a horse to use in their horizontal wagers.

 

This year that horse could be the mare, Stephanie’s Kitten.

 

Runner up in her Breeders Cup Division last year, after winning the juvenile fillies Breeders Cup the year before, Stephanie’s Kitten is coming into this race with a win in her seasonal debut in the Hillsborough at Tampa. She has the services of John Velazquez; she is 3 for 3 on the Churchill turf and getting weight from every other horse in the field. She gets the weight allowance is because she is running against colts. Not sure if JV tacks 115, but even a few pounds over will be an advantage.

Six works since the Hillsborough, this multiple Grade 1 winner says she is ready to face the boys.

 

Highweight Jack Milton is coming off a very nice win in the “other” Grade 1 bourbon race at Keeneland.  He is picking up six pounds off that win, has the services of Javier Castellano. He was an allowance winner over the course last year.

 

Seek Again is an intriguing horse. Can he break clean? Can he stay out of trouble? His one start at Churchill was a second in this race last year after bobbling at the start. He was “out-nodded” by the great Wise Dan. Not many are better at giving horses time to figure things out than Bill Mott. This horse has been freshened and could be dangerous.

 

And to spice it up a little bit, a horse you have to consider in your exotics is Scrumpdilicious. Sharp young trainer, Joe Sharp, seems to have the right feel for knowing where to place his horses. This former claimer is always “right there”. Of course it’s a huge jump into Grade 1 company and that’s why he is 50-1 on the morning line.

 

Thank you ThoroFan, it’s good to be back to the Handicapping Corner especially for the first weekend in May.

 

 Enjoy all the great racing this Derby weekend.

 

And, as always, FAST & SAFE to all our equine friends.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Longines Breeders Cup Turf Analysis for ThoroFan


 

 
The mile and one half, 3 million dollar Breeders Cup Turf goes as the 9th race on Saturday, and post time is 6:22. As of this writing it’s a field of 12 and there is a chance of rain for Saturday in Southern California. Be mindful if the course does indeed take some rain and becomes less than rock-hard firm. Euros that have shipped to CA usually come because they expect a good chance of very firm going and they send horses that PREFER to race over the “top of the ground”  My guess is that there would have to be a considerable amount of rain to change the Santa Anita turf course.

 

Here is a configuration of the 12 furlong test. The starting gate is placed at the bottom of the short downhill run on the track’s unique turf course. Probably won’t be a problem for most however.
 
 



From the rail out:

 

  1. Telescope – Galileo colt has never been off the board. He runs with First Time Lasix. He has never won a Grade 1, and has never run on firm turf. But trainer Sir Michael Stoute and jockey Ryan Moore have been very successful bringing horses over for this race.

 

  1. Twilight Eclipse – One of 3 US horses that have been very competitive this year in Grade 1’s, though he has yet to get by major player, Main Sequence. Was beaten 2 &1/4 lengths in last year’s rendition with a slightly troubled trip. Jock change to Castellano

 

 

  1. Imagining – Grade 1 winner who as never won at this distance. Does have versatile running style and Shug doesn’t usually ship unless confident.

 

  1. Brown Panther – English –bred Grade 1 winner of 10 races. Was entered in a Grade 1 in Canada 10 days ago and was scratched after running off in the post parade .Was jumping out of his skin and looked amazing up to that point. Distance is no problem for this horse.

 

 

  1. Hangover Kid – Grade 2 winner and a trier. Would have to step it up to be competitive here.

 

  1. Finnegan’s Wake – Grade 3 winner who has never won at this distance but has had a race over the track. Would need much more.

 

 

  1. Flintshire – Morning line favorite and looks like the one to beat. Always prudent to consider any horse that has run in the Arc. Flintshire has not won this year but was a very good second to 2 time Arc winner Treve in a 20 horse field. Lots to like.

 

  1. Magician- Back to defend his title from BC13, another son of Galileo who likes this course. Has been off since August and runs well fresh. Could repeat. SCRATCHED

 

 

  1. Hardest Core – Hard Spun 4 year old in the best form of his life, coming off a win in the Arlington Million, where he beat Magician. Farm trained in the European style. Would not surprise.

 

  1. Starspangled Heat – Local horse who has never been this far and looks overmatched.

 

 

  1. Chicquita – Only filly in the race. Irish Oaks winner who disappointed in the Arc. First Time Lasix and smart connections. Sending her here after Arc “no-show” and in this spot, shows confidence - so must consider.

 

  1. Main Sequence – This former Euro has been rejuvenated by H.G Motion. Coming in with 3 Grade 1 wins. Does he have another stellar performance in him this season? America’s best hope.

 

 

  1. Big Jon B – Another local horse and former claimer who has gotten good. Would need to run the race of his life.

 

 

If Flintshire is not gutted from his Arc try, he will be getting the type of course he loves and should be respected. Main Sequence is totally on top of his game and it would be great to see America buck the Euro winning trend in this race. The filly Chicquita is also intriguing and might be overlooked.

 

Try to get some final impressions from those on track over the next few days, either on social media or in print. It is always important to know how a horse is coming into the race, mentally and physically. The past performances can only tell you so much. The winner in a contentious race like this will need a good trip, some racing luck and will be the one who is the best horse, ON THE DAY.

Wishing fast and safe to all our equine friends in Breeders Cup 2014!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Queen For a Day



 

Saturday’s feature race at Keeneland is the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup for three year old fillies, on the turf at 1 & 1/8 miles. This is the 30th rendition of the QE2 and the race is named in honor of the Queen of England who visited Keeneland on October 11th, 1984.

 

The race is sponsored by Lane’s End Farm. Owner William Farish was formerly the US Ambassador to Great Britain.

 

The purse this year has been increased to $500,000.

 

As of this writing, a field of 9 will contest the race.

 

From the rail out –

 

  1. Sistas Stroll – lightly raced filly by Stroll and trained by Tom Proctor a $20,000 purchase at KeeSept. She is undefeated on turf and at the distance, with her last win being a Grade 3. She has won on both firm and soft turf which shows a unique versatility for the surface. Is stepping up into deeper water here, but she could still have some upside.

 

  1. Minorette – A grade 1 winner out of a stakes winning mare and a half sister to 3 more stakes winners. Chad Brown trainee ran flat in her last star in mid August, but has had 5 nice works since then. Could certainly rebound with Rosario in the tack.

 

  1. Speed Seeker - A $10K purchase at OBS Aug, this filly is trained by Joan Scott. James Graham picks up the mount. Winner of a Grade3 at Woodbine and has been freshened since August 23rd.

 

  1. Aurelia’s Belle – Well-travelled filly trained by Wayne Catalano. Very well bred and out of a Danzig mare from the family of broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee, though most of the family’s success has come on dirt, she has the right genes. This filly can run on anything, but most of her wins have come on synthetic. Blinkers on in her last two, earned her a win. If you draw a line through her last on soft ground, she has a chance.

 

  1. Personal Diary – A Victoria Oliver charge that had preformed well enough in Allowance Company, but sprang an upset in the Grade 1 in the DelMar Oaks at today’s distance. She likes to come from out of it and needs to work out a trip. If you think the DelMar turf will play like the Keeneland turf, then maybe this filly is worth taking a look at for a piece.

 

  1. Ball Dancing – Another in here trained by Chad Brown, this filly made a splash in her first start in this country when winning the Grade 2 Sand’s Point at Belmont with Lasix added. Lots of talent here.

 

  1. Sea Queen – Speedy filly with a win over the track. Clement trained, she can stay out of trouble and get the perfect trip Has never won a graded stake but it’s only a matter of time. Lots to like.

 

  1. Crown Queen – Trained by Bill Mott, she is a half sister to Champion Royal Delta who never ran on turf. Her races as a 2 year old last year were uninspiring, but she has put it all together this year with her last win in the Grade 2 Lake Placid. Bullet works since her last and regular pilot John Velazquez, I like the way she’s coming into this spot.

 

  1. Daring Dancer - You can never underestimate Graham Motion. This filly has a win over this course, but her last race at Belmont was flat. Only one work since then and she loses her John Velazquez to Alan Garcia. But she has talent.

 

 

 

Weather may play a role in the race as rain is forecast for the next several days. That being said, most of these fillies have proven to run well on less than firm courses. But should the course get very soft, I give a bigger chance to Minorette because she is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare.

 

I do like the two “Queens” in here. Crown Queen‘s works for this are sparkling and she may just be getting better and better. Sea Queen could sprint to the front and be long gone. And if Ball Dancing doesn’t bounce off her sharp win she will be tough.

 

There’s your super box…Minorette / Ball Dancing / Sea Queen / Crown Queen

 

Sounds like a party in the palace to me!

 

Good luck if you are wagering, and fast and safe to all our equine friends.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Bed O' Roses ~ A SaluteTo A Hall of Fame Filly


The Grade 3 Bed O' Roses Handicap on Saturday at Belmont is a race for fillies and mares, four year olds and up. Inaugurated in 1957, it  is contested on the dirt at seven furlongs.

It is named for the great Sagamore Farm homebred filly by Rosemont o/o Good Thing, by Discovery. Bed O' Roses was Champion Two Year Old Filly of 1949, and then the Older Mare Champ 0f 1951. She was inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 1976.

 

For the Handicapper’s Corner at ThoroFan I will take a look at some of the contenders.

 

Seven furlongs is a tough distance for many horses. It’s technically a sprint, but many sprinters have a hard time with this distance. You need some class and stamina to win at seven panels. And to me, the biggest edge in a race like this is a horse that has already shown an affinity for the distance.

 

The class of the field is Merry Meadow. She loves Belmont and has hit the board every time she has run there. She can handle the distance, and is coming off a win in the Grade 3 Vagrancy, although it was a short field. Two maintenance works since her last, she looks ready for another winning effort.

 

Classic Point for The Chief looks to have a shot. She is another that loves Belmont, has won at the distance. You can throw out the Grade 1 Phipps where she was sent to the lead and then faltered, and the turn back to 7/8’s will be more to her liking. She looks to get a piece.

 

Trainer Eddie Kenneally has two in here, Street Girl-who is dropping in class and the longer priced Ultimate Shopper is moving into stakes company for the first time. Both have worked very well for this. And the longer priced horse Ultimate Shopper has shown she is quite capable at the distance as she is two-for-two.

 

Maybe we need to take a long look at Calistoga. Mott usually spots his horses well. She is moving up in class but there really are no world beaters in here. And I think the distance will suit her. What jumps off the page to me is that this filly has tactical speed, but can also can close – as was evident in the Eight Belles at Churchill -though perhaps those tactics may not have been by design. 

 

And then there is an out of towner that deserves respect. Flattering Bea is as consistent as they come and relishes the distance. She has never run with this kind however.

 

Good luck to the fillies and mares in the Bed ‘O Roses. I must say it’s nice that NYRA still remembers this mare after 60 some odd years. It’s a fitting tribute to a Hall of Fame filly and the glory days of racing!

 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Looking For a Longshot in the Grade 1 Manhattan


The Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap is the 10th race on Saturday and part of the stellar undercard on what might be an historic day of racing.  The race is sponsored this year by Knob Creek and according to the DRF this is the 113th running.

It is a mile and a quarter on the inner turf course and the purse is 1 million dollars. Looking ahead at the weekend weather, the course should be firm and dry.

 

Here’s a look at the field for ThoroFan’s HandicappingCorner from the rail out –

 

IMAGINING – A grade 1 winner at Belmont in his last, the Man O War,
he gets a rider switch back to JV who has won on him before. Breaking from the 1 hole he will come out of there running. He likes this distance and likes this track.

 

HEY LEROY – Has never been the distance, is a cut below but if you throw out the “off the turf”, this horse is 1-2 every time.

 

ROOKIE SENSATION – Lightly raced, talented colt for good connections. This horse does have a huge turn of foot however, but not sure it will be as effective on the Belmont turf as it has been on the West Coast. 

 

GRANDEUR  (IRE*) – Very nice race in the Man’O War, and now adds Lasix. Has been very competitive at the distance.

 

BOISTEROUS – Winner of this race last year when there was a little give in the ground. Only millionaire in the field, he always tries and is coming in with a bullet.

 

SEEK AGAIN – Hmmmm… Mott trainee who was a head back of champion Wise Dan in a Grade 1 in his last. Juddmonte homebred won the Hollywood Derby in December. Gets Rosario back. Dropping weight from last effort and getting weight from top three. Has a big look.

 

FIVE IRON - Likes to go to the front and will have company there. May be the speed of the speed, but where will he be in the final furlong?

 

REAL SOLUTION – A Ramsey’s Kitten’s Joy and a very useful sort. Likes the distance but in 4 starts has never won at Belmont. Will leading rider Castellano make the difference?

 

KAIGUN – Another who has finished second to the Champ going shorter. Would have to step it up in here

 

CHAMOIS – Improving colt has moved up with blinkers. Getting major weight from top three. Can comfortably sit behind the speed and sharp connections must think he wants more ground. Very live LONGSHOT.

 

At first glance it would be easy to say the results of this race could look a lot like the results of the Man’O War. But Mott’s horse Seek Again looks very solid in here. However the more I look at Chamois the more I like him. His very good run in the Dixie, his first start in 6 months should set him up nicely for this. He still has upside potential; he has tactical speed and will need to secure a good early position from his outside post. Rider Joe Bravo will do that. The 8 pound weight advantage might be the key to a win for him here.   He’s a longshot for sure, but he looks very live and at his morning line odds of 15-1, I will be using him in my exotic wagers. Not sure if he's good enough but I'm willing to take a chance on him. 

 

Belmont Day 2014 could go down in the history books.  Enjoy the day and fast and safe to all our equine friends!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic


 
I was initially surprised at the number of horses facing Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Classic. But then again, who wouldn’t want to get a piece of the half million dollar pie?

Let’s not forget that Wise Dan is the class of the field.

Yes, the one hole is not ideal.

But when you win 20 of 28 starts – YOU KNOW HOW TO WIN.

He has won several times from the same spot. He has his regular jock. He is 3 for 3 at Churchill, despite trouble and not ideal course conditions.

 

 
Here are my thoughts for ThoroFan's Handicapping Corner.

 

#1 Wise Dan - Top weight, 7 year old, two time Horse of The Year will seek to bring home a second Woodford Reserve win on the Derby undercard. THE HORSE TO BEAT.

 

#2 Bright Thought – Grade 2 winner looks to be rounding back into form but is over matched in here.

 

 
      #3 Guys Reward – Useful sort, seems to prefer give in the ground, not good enough

 

#4 Admiral’s Kitten – A Maker-Ramsey-Kitten who has never won a stake but had a good effort  in the Gr. 1 Maker’s Mark Asking a lot but could catch a piece.

 

#5 Kaigun – Lightly raced 4 year old has become a new horse on turf with improving numbers

 

 
      #6 MoroTap - Allowance winning closer coming in very sharp with 2 bullets

 

 
      #7 Boisterous - 12 time winning millionaire coming off a nice allowance prep at Keeneland   in a 6 horse field. Should get a piece.

 

#8 Finnegan’s Wake – Eligible for non winners of 3 has amassed a bankroll of almost half a million. Will be running off a layoff.

 

 
      #9 Skyring – Likes the lead and give in the ground. No match for Wise Dan in 3 previous outings.

 

#10 Seek Again – Euro with a win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Classy sort with   nice works coming in and good turf connections.

 

Here’s your trifecta - Wise Dan on top with Seek Again and Boisterous and maybe a little Kaigun thrown in to complete the superfecta.

 

Dan IS the Man and will prove it once again with another win in the Woodford Reserve.

 

Good luck if you are wagering and, as always, "fast & safe " to all our equine friends. 
 
 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Working From Home

It’s a stormy, snowy day here on the east coast. A great day to “work from home” and that means there’s plenty of time to take a look at the weekend turf racing at Gulfstream Park.

Thank you to the Handicapping Corner at Thoro-Fan for the forum to express my handicapping opinions!

The co-feature on Saturday at Gulfstream Park is the Grade III The Very One. It is the 29th rendition of the race named after a very accomplished mare from the 70’s. The Very One won major stakes from coast to coast  from 2-6 and on occasion beat  the boys , (The Dixie Handicap at Pimlico setting a new track record) She  amassed a bankroll of over a million dollars, with 22 wins, 12 seconds and 8 thirds.
Even in defeat, The Very One finished second to the  legendary John Henry in the Hialeah Turf Cup and second to Bowl Game in the Washington DC International. Those exactas would have been right up my handicapping alley.

The Very One is carded as the 8th race (4:03pm) at a 1 & 3/8ths miles on turf, and while there is a small chance of wet weather for Saturday, it  hopefully will not be enough to impact the course.

More than half of the compact field of mares is coming off a freshening. But with trainers like Clement, Mott, and Motion, fitness to go the distance shouldn’t be an issue.

Let’s take a look from the rail out.

Aigue Marine – Lightly raced, Clement runner by Galileo out of a stakes winning Silver Hawk mare .Has a win over the Gulfstream turf course at the distance and has some back class. She is serious contender for her first Graded Stakes win.

Left A Message – One of 2 Proctor charges in here, this one with a troubled prep at Tampa 3 weeks ago. Did she get enough out of that trip? She has been beaten by a few of these before.

Seanchai – The other Proctor mare ran in this race last year. Has some speed to gallop along on the front end, but does not seem to have enough finishing kick.

Dame Marie – Kenneally trained, never been this far but good work pattern on the Palm Meadows turf course coming in.

Preferential – She came around at the end of last year with trainer Bill Mott. Some speedy works over the main track, she likes to be up close to the lead.

Inimitable Romanee – Graham Motion NYbred mare and the only Graded Stakes winner in the race with her gate to wire win in last year’s Lamplighter. Not really sure how good she is.

Anjaz – Well bred mare for Albertrani, has been off for 6 months. According to press release, nothing major for the layoff, foot bruise and races rained off, but with this trainer – could need one.

Viva Rafaella – Pletcher trainee, Oaks winner in Brazil beating 15. Not really convinced she fits here, but she has the right connections, so second guessing them may be a mistake.



The Pick: I like Aigue Marine here for the win. She has continued to train forwardly since her last race in November. She owns some back class, is well bred with strong connections and versatile enough to run regardless of turf condition. She has won on the course, at the distance and has won both on the front end and in a stalking position. And I really don’t think we have seen the best of her.

Preferential needs a look too. She has trained very well, with quick works on the main track. She needs to step it up, but is in capable hands to do so.

It’s hard to fault the NYBred Inimitable Romanee. She is as consistent as they come and just might continue her upward progression from last season that produced her stakes win in wide open company. I see her getting a piece.


Good luck in all your wagers!