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!    

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Looking For Daylight" in the Breeders Cup Turf

It’s here! Breeders Cup 2013 and two days of championship racing has arrived. This year the races are once again at Santa Anita, and winners in each division will have a huge effect on year end awards.

Thank you to the Handicapping Corner at ThoroFan for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the 30th renewal of the BC Turf.

Nineteen of the 29 runnings of the Breeder’s Cup Turf have been won by horses from Europe. That’s a huge statistic that’s impossible to ignore. They simply breed more distance turf horses, and many times, though not always, even their second stringers can compete with our top horses. But make no mistake, this is a salty bunch

Two fillies have been successful in this race, Pebbles (Aqueduct 1985) and Miss Alleged (Churchill, 1991) but that was before the female division had their own race. I had the pleasure of seeing them both .Though the Breeders Cup was held for the first time in 1984, it wasn’t until 1999 that the fillies and mares had their own championship race.

There is one filly in this race whose connections chose this race over the Filly & Mare Turf. And that is The Fugue, my pick to win.

So why would someone enter a filly in against colts when they could run against their own kind?

Well there are several reasons. The BC Turf is a mile and a half- the F&M Turf is a mile and a ¼. The purse is larger as well. They run for 3 Million. But the biggest reason that The Fugue is competing here according to her connections is redemption. That and the fact that the added distance will work to her benefit and give her a little more ground should she ensue traffic troubles. Like last year in the Filly & Mare Turf. Listen here, in a Blood Horse video, to trainer John Gosden talk about his filly and how she will “be lookingfor daylight” 

The Fugue is an aptly named 4 year old filly by Dansili out of stakes winner Twyla Tharp by Sadler’s Wells. With the influence of Sadler’s Wells on the dam’s side, one would think The Fugue would like wet ground. But in fact, she did not run in the Arc this year because of the ground conditions. Make no mistake, the Breeder’s Cup Turf has been on her dance card for a while and it is said, she much prefers running over the top of the ground. Her last two group one wins-one against the boys-were stellar. Draw a line through the Coral Eclipse Stakes as she was not 100%.

According to her Twitter account – yes she has one- she has shipped well and had some light exercise and a trip to the paddock on Tuesday. Social media pictures and video show a bright, healthy, alert filly, a year older a year stronger and ready to run a big one.

A prime effort is expected.

Let’s take a quick look at the rest of the field, from the rail out.

  1. Vagabond Shoes – A Gr.2 winner that has never been the distance. Three tries on the course has produced one second place finish.
  2. Teaks North – Millionaire 6 year old has a prep on the course and is working well, but appears in deep.
  3. Twilight Eclipse – Another Gr.2 winner but with 2 wins at the distance. Longshot possibility to get a share.
  4. Little Mike – Defending champ and looking like he’s returning to form, with a game win in the Turf Classic. He’s been there and done that and lookout if he gets loose on the lead.
  5. Skyring - While his daddy English Channel was successful in this race, this colt has a long way to go and will be every bit of his 30-1 line.     
  6. Tale of a Champion – Ran in the BC Turf Sprint last year and does have a win over the course. Don’t see him making any impact here.
  8. Point of Entry – Multiple Gr. 1 winning son of Dynaformer  loves this distance. A top class horse, he suffered a condylar fracture in his right hind leg in June Expert old school connections, he is coming into this off a layoff, with no prep and has to ship. Undoubtedly capable for the top prize but lots to overcome.
  9. Indy Point – Multiple stakes winner in Argentina, with a win over the course in his last- a Gr 2. Connections know how to win a Breeders Cup.
  10. Big Blue Kitten – One of two Kittens Joys’ / King Ramsey horses. Multiple Grade 1 winner of 10 races, he is as consistent as they come.
  11. Magician – Euro son of Galileo with First Time Lasix. He has some class, but this is his biggest test yet.
  12. Real Solution – The other “kitten” he has loads of talent and some upside potential.

My play for the win is The Fugue. My superfecta box is The Fugue/Point of Entry/Little Mike / Big Blue Kitten.

Good Luck and enjoy Breeders Cup ’13. And to our equine friends “Be Fast, and be Safe”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Taking a Look at The QE 2

The 30th renewal of the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup goes as the 9th race on Saturday. It is a nine furlong turf event on the Haggin Course, for 3 year old fillies

It is an important event in its own right, with a purse of $400,000 but it is perfect timing for a last prep for the Breeder’s Cup F&M turf and an opportunity for points.

Stakes races at Keeneland never come up easy and this is no exception. This is a good group, and every one of them is in good form, and more than half the field is coming off a win. But though several of these gals have come close there is only one Grade 1 winner in the race- and a nose and a neck prevented her from winning 2 more.

The class of the field and the one to beat is the French filly, Alterite. She is the leading money winner in the race, and is coming off a nice win in her first start in this country in the Gr1 Garden City. She was First-Time-Lasix and drew off nicely with just a vigorous hand ride. She is owned by Martin Schwartz and trained by Chad Brown and together that duo has campaigned the last two F&M Breeder’s Cup Turf winners – Zagora in 2012 and Stacilita in 2011.  Both of those fillies were also rewarded with Eclipse awards in their respective years.

Hall of Famer John Velazquez stays aboard the filly, and her running style should bode well for her. According to her trainer, the filly was a bit high strung when arriving stateside, but hopefully that is behind her. Her form shows an affinity for turf that’s less than firm, but I think her class will prevail. Her 6th place finish in the French Oaks to the Arc runaway winner TREVE, jumps off the page to me. Yes, she got beat 11 lengths, but she still beat half the field and the race was 1/ 5/16ths perhaps not an ideal distance for her.

But it IS Keeneland, It Is Turf and it’s the Ramsey’s world and we are all just living in it.
You have to take a look at the two fillies by Kitten’s Joy in here. Both will run in the red and white Ramsey silks but with two different trainers.

Emotional Kitten is trained by Wesley Ward (33% for the meet) and will be ridden by Channing Hill and is the only one in the field to have a win over the track. She always tries and her numbers continue to improve. She has held her own when competing in 2 GR 1’s on the West coast and has been freshened. She has a big closing kick and would need to work out a trip.

Kitten’s Dumplings is trained by Maker and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux. Also very consistent, she is a multiple graded stakes winner.  A winner of 5, including the Lake George and the Regret, she has also been freshened.

There’s a good chance a “kitten” will be in the mix.

 It is interesting that there are 2 fillies in here whose moms have won this race.  Say out of (Riskaverse) and Caroline Thomas (Bit Of Whimsy) But as nice as that would be, no daughters of previous winners have been able to do it.

Speaking of the filly, Say, the royally bred miss by Galileo is  adding blinkers and running back on seven days rest after  making a middle move and then ”faltering” on a very  boggy turf course in the First Lady last Saturday. Maybe she disliked the course and the jock just wrapped up on her? I don’t think an exceptional international trainer like Aiden Obrien would wheel her back so quickly, unless he had a good reason. She is the big question mark in here and could be worth the gamble.

Let’s talk about Concise. She finished up well in the Garden City behind Alterite, only getting beat a length and a half. That, after saving ground all the way. She looks to have improved with blinkers, too. If Edgar can find a way to leave the pocket a little sooner she could get all the money.

Caroline Thomas with Rosie aboard could be effective if there is a fast pace. Then, her closing kick could be more effective.

And there does seem to be a good amount of speed in this race.

There is speed on the inside with the California shipper Sarach. And both Leigh Court and I’m Already Sexy like to be up on the front end. too. No doubt, coming from the outside posts, they will want to get their positions early. And if you are a believer in speed figs, I’m Already Sexy is the only filly in the race that has a triple digit.

My top pick in the QE2 is the class filly, Alterite. I would give Concise, Say, and Emotional Kitten a look to complete the exotics.

Hopefully you have gotten some insight for the runners in the QE2. My thanks to ThoroFan and the Handicapping Corner and good luck if you are wagering!