Monday, February 28, 2011

Wilcox Inn...Strictly Turf ?

This Saturday marks the return to the races for the 3 year old colt, Wilcox Inn, by Harlan's Holiday. Last seen in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Turf, he finished up a sneaky-good, rail-skimming third to Pluck and Soldat. His total lifetime earnings after that race, placed him 18th on the Derby earnings list.

After breaking his maiden first time out at Arlington, the colt was third to JP's Gusto and Santiva in the Breeder's Futurity at Keeneland. He has kept good company in his short campaign.

The race at Fair Grounds is the Grindstone, going 7 &1/2 on the turf.

Harlan's Holiday  (who stands at WinStar) was a multiple Grade 1 winner of 6+ million, all on dirt. But Wilcox Inn's bottom line ( DeAar, by Gone West ) is loaded with grass horses. De Arr is out of Alletta Marie ( Diesis), who the dam of SW's Cetawayo and Bowman Mill.

Is dirt in the cards for this colt?  Should he enter the starting gate on Saturday, as planned, then he would be 9 weeks out to Derby Day. Is that enough time to get a race on dirt, around two turns, for him?
Inquiring minds want to know.

His trainer Mike Stidham can certainly get a horse ready off a layoff. And Rosie Napravnick is named to ride on Saturday.
It would be a great year for her to have a Derby mount.
Just sayin'...

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Kudos to my team members Dave and Annie for keeping us alive in the Pace Advantage Interboard Handicapping League. Starting in January and running through Derby Day, there are 50 teams of three handicappers, playing 8 “events” each Saturday. Races are usually Stakes, and they are from all around the country. Though scoring for yesterday is still “unofficial”, we may have slipped a tad from last week, but it looks like we are in pretty good shape.We are doing extremely well for first time starters. The big one that we missed was the 40 to one shot in the Turf Paradise Derby…Beer Meister, who trailed early and finished up like he was shot out of cannon.

Heads up to anyone who is playing in the NHC this year. Next Saturday is the Free Online Handicapping Challenge for 4 spots to the finals.

I think I am sold on Soldat. He had to prove to me that he wasn’t just a turf/mud horse, and yesterday’s performance did just that. He is just one of those horses that will run on anything. I liked that he relaxed on the lead despite early pressure and won rather easily. That 18 to 1 week- one- future wager is looking better and better.

Did I mention that in the last 40 years, 12 Derby winners had names beginning with the letter “S”?

R. Heat Lightning is back, as I suspected she would be, with a very professional performance yesterday. Dancinginherdreams was getting out a bit at the top of the stretch and never finished up the way I expected her to. Two turns will be the answer for her, I think.

I had the pleasure of analyzing the Grade 3 Canadian Turf today at ThoroFan’s Handicapping Corner, as the guest handicapper from Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance. It’s a class drop for Society’s Chairman after chasing Gio Ponti and Goldikova last year, a perfect race set-up for Twilight Meteor, and a first-race-back for Yankee Fourtune after a 5 win streak last year.

Have fun with your "fandicapping" today. Hope you bet little and win big!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oaks-Bound Fillies in the Davona Dale

Who will be victorious today in the prestigious Davona Dale, at a mile, on Fountain of Youth day? There are several very nice fillies in here that I’m sure are on their way to the Oaks.
Dancinginherdreams is already a graded stakes winner at a mile. Her first race back this year at 7/8’s was a nice tightener and she was clearly gaining on the winner at the wire. She is by Tapit, leading juvenile sire of SW’s, Stakes horses and winners in 2010. Tapit is also the sire of Zazu; another Oaks bound filly and the talented colt Rattlesnake Bridge.

Trained by John Ward, Dancinginherdreams looks definitely ready to take that next step forward. But this is not her prime target, so they will want to leave a little something in the tank.

R Heat Lightning is another very good filly with back class. A Grade 1 winner at Saratoga, she finished last year with 2 seconds and one of those was in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. She had become quite headstrong in her two route races last year, and coming back this year in the Forward Gal she ran an uncharacteristically flat race. Did they try different tactics to try to get her to relax? Is she just not the horse she was last year? Or do we just put a line through that effort and hope to see theTrippi filly rebound to her former self? Lots of questions here.

Everybody’s talking about Pomeroy’s Pistol. She is a very nice filly coming into this race off a win in the Forward Gal, when she just lasted over Dancinginherdreams. While I am not sure she wants to go much farther than 7/8’s, could the Point Given on her dam’s side kick in when she needs it today? She does have Ramon (replacing the injured Paco Lopez)

Another horse that you need to take a look at is Mending Hearts. Her maiden win going a mile from the 10 hole, in a 12 horse field was a nice effort. She is by Street Cry out of a Storm Cat mare and we know what those Street Cry fillies can turn into.

Nothing wrong with Roxy Gap if you can forgive that last race on the Gulfstream dirt, when bumped and wide. She’s a winner in two surfaces, going short and long and has the rejuvenated Alex Solis in the saddle.

And don’t leave out the Eddie Kenneally trained ,Oh Carole. You can moan and groan about the Unbridled Songs’ and how fragile you think they are. But most all of them can run. She has a win over the track, and the filly she beat, ( Funny Sunny) came back yesterday to romp by 10.

I think the Tapit filly is coming into this race the right way. I like her post, I like her bullet at Palm Meadows and of course I like to root for her connections. She should also get better as the distances get longer.

Good Luck in all your wagers today! And let’s see which of these fillies continues dancing their way to the Oaks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rosie Outlook

Cozi Rosie was up in time in yesterday’s Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap at a mile on the lawn at Santa Anita. After a nine month layoff, John Sadler had this filly tuned to perfection and she turned in a powerful run from the top of the stretch to the wire. Mike Smith saved ground into the first turn, but gave the filly running room and fanned her wide around the field of 9, where she was able to stretch her legs. Owned and bred by Jerry and Anne Moss, this filly is showing all the promise she hinted at last year, and more. She has an enormous stride, (watch it here) and should go on to bigger and better on the turf.

Cozi Rosie is by Pleasantly Perfect out of Felidia (IRE), by Golden Fleece. She is part of the first crop to race by Pleasantly Perfect, Breeder’s Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup winner. He is also the sire of Shared Account, winner of this year’s Breeder’s Cup F & M Turf. For a young sire, it appears that he is throwing some very nice turf females. He looks like a bargain at $7500 and stands at Lane’s End.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Celebrating President's Day

Interestingly, many of our US Presidents had horses. But Andrew Jackson had race horses. From all indications he was a wild young man who liked to dual, fight and gamble. My guess is, there might have been some "whiskey" mixed into all that too, just sayin'...  anyway, not someone you want to be with at the races if his horse lost. He did become a lawyer, a General and our 7th president but he became a hero with his success in the battle of New Orleans.

For a short time he even worked at making saddles. Back in the day, the Tennessee race horse was the finest in the country. His best horse was Truxton (or Thruxton) and he also had Indian Queen, Pacolet, Lady Nashville, Buck, Bolivia and Little Sorrel . He was also part owner of Tennessee’s most important racetrack, Clover Bottom.

Found a little book called “Horses of the Presidents”, written by Leah Taylor. Could be an interesting read.

Ok, the history lesson is over, who do you like in the Southwest today?

JP’s Gusto gets in with 117 pounds, even though he is a multiple Graded Stakes winner, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and has made a half a million dollars. All because he has not yet raced in 2011. Interesting. But he comes in with a trainer switch, and is he better on synthetics?

While he is the most seasoned and the class of the field, I am going to look elsewhere.

I like the Larry Jones-trained Yankee Passion, a homebred owned by the former Governor of Kentucky, and a son of Yankee Gentleman out of a Pleasant Colony mare. I think he will enjoy the two turns and he could get even better as the distances get longer with that stamina influence on the dam’s side.

The other horse I like in here is Elite Alex. After watching the replay of his last start, going a mile,well to say he broke in a tangle was putting it mildly. That he stayed on his feet was amazing, and the way he circled the field to just come up a head short was pretty impressive. He returned with a bullet and then a nice stamina building 7/8s a week ago.

So like most horseracing fans on a Monday holiday, I will wager some “presidents” in the hopes of getting lucky to avoid a dual later on in the day.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Questions at Fair Grounds

The Grade 2 Risen Star today at the Fair Grounds looks to be where several 3 year old colts will need to step forward and show that they are making headway in learning the racing game.Questions will be asked. Will they have the answers?

In the case of Machen, by Distorted Humor, out of the very fast Ready’s Gal, he will need to show a little less enthusiasm early on, and a little more rateability. The last thing I want to see is him going into that first turn with his mouth wide open; perhaps we may see a change of equipment (figure eight) on him today? The good thing is, Jamie Theriot knows this horse, and I am sure Neil Howard knows best how to address this problem. His turn of foot in his last effort, despite the issues early on, was impressive and if he grows up even a little, he will be tough.

Justin Philip is another nice colt who has shown talent at times, but has been hampered by his awkwardness at the gate in several of his starts. After breaking his maiden in the slop in January , he wore blinkers in his next start. Blinkers, after a win without them, is a curious move and has to be OK’d by the stewards. That experiment did not pan out. Today we are back to “blinkers off”. Has he learned his lessons? We will see. His fancy win in the slop, could have been the result of being out of a Cryptoclearance mare, which would showcase his affinity for the goo. Though it lends some much needed stamina to his pedigree, is he just a mud horse?

Has Eddie Kenneally found the key to Santiva? The colt has made steady progress through the hands of McPeek, Pletcher and now Kenneally, with his last win ( his maiden score) in the Grade2 Ky. JC at Churchill in November. A best out number, out of 4 starts which included grass, and synthetic, he has kept good company in all his races. He had a 6 week break and was put right back to work at Palm Meadows and shows 2 back- to-back minute workouts. He could be all grown up and ready to roll.

Does Rogue Romance like the dirt as much as he likes the turf? His Breeder’s Cup effort was still good, 13 lengths behind Uncle Mo, but he was coming off 2 grass wins. Horses that excel on both turf and dirt are few and far between. Though Ken Mc Peek seems to be very good at switching surfaces with his horses.

Is Mucho Macho Man coming back too quick? And who will be riding him?( Take a moment and say a prayer for Eibar Coa)

For several of these boys, this race could be a turning point.  Now is time to grow up and continue along the Derby trail.

In the Rachel Alexander, though Kathmanblu appears to tower over this field and I’m not saying she’s vulnerable ( again the McPeek turf to dirt move), but there’s a filly in here who will be overlooked and that filly is Tapit Dancer. First she is by TAPIT, need I say more? And though she is coming off her maiden win she has kept good company. In addition, she has improved in each and every race. An ambitious move by Steve Asmussen , why not a NW 1? James Graham had a riding triple last night and is on top of his game. A huge question here for this Tapit filly,and I look forward to seeing how she stacks up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Suffolk Saga

It’s saddens me to write about what is currently happening at Suffolk Downs. I have had many good memories of races won there, good friends and fun times.

But it could all be coming to an end. The dispute between the track and horsemen seems to be at a standstill, as the track, unreasonably, expects horsemen to take a decrease in race dates, a decrease in already radically-cut purses and an unfair distribution of simulcast revenue. As a result of this, the NEHBPA has withdrawn it’s consent to allow the NYRA simulcast signal coming into the track. Other states have followed suit in solidarity.

I have to say I am truly amazed that the horsemen have stuck it out this long.

Kudos to the NEHBPA for digging in and standing their ground. And to the other HBPAs around the country that stand with them. Because horsemen and horsewomen deserve better than what they have been getting.

For many years it’s always been a question not only IF there would be a meet each year, but just what concessions horsemen would have to make to insure it. There was a short time when the “new” owner seemed to be “horseman-friendly”, but I can see now where the intent may not have been sincere. Pouring money into the track seemed to be more about preserving and protecting the investment, with an eye on future slot revenues, and not about improving the track. If it had been about what was good for racing, for example, they would have addressed both the turf and dirt track surfaces, which have been in dire need of revamping for years.

I am STUNNED at the attitude of management this week, especially with the comments coming from the C.O.O. Now I don’t know him and my guess is, he would rather keep his job, than not have one. I get that. And maybe he’s just a mouthpiece too. But he talks about the lack of respect that horsemen have for the racing fan. Huh? Sorry, but I didn’t think that owners, trainers, vets, exercise riders, jocks, grooms and hotwalkers had that responsibility. Isn’t it the responsibility of the business owner to keep his customers happy? And with that in mind, didn’t management know that the simulcast signal would be pulled if they weren’t serious and sensitive to the horsemen’s interests and concerns? Of course the fans are unhappy, but that’s managements’ problem to resolve. Where’s the accountability here? The C.O.O. also talks about the economic hardship and emotional distress put on the employees at the track. Now I’m not happy about anybody losing their jobs, especially some of the nice people and great talent at the track. But come on sir, what about the economic hardship your horsemen have been enduring over the years? Maybe you should have taken a walk around the backside last summer to see some economic hardship and emotional harm. Or maybe not. Because walking around the backside last summer after reducing purses approximately 34% AFTER the meet started may not have been the thing to do either, now that I think of it.

Trouble is, Suffolk Downs doesn’t want to be accountable for anything. They say they want a race meet but they are not ACTING like they want one. Because if they did, they would be trying to negotiate instead of criticizing the horsemen, both here and around the country, whining about losing money, and placing blame for all of this on everyone but themselves.

Racing could come to a halt at Suffolk Downs this year. And that would mean no live thoroughbred racing in all of New England. I hope it doesn’t happen. But if it does, it won’t be because of the horsemen. They can’t possibly continue under these circumstances. They are doing what they need to do.

If you are interested in reading the correspondence in detail from the NEHBPA, check their website, here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Off The Board and Off The List?

It was Off The Board for 2 “Derby Contenders” today. Tapizar, rank for a good half mile, spit out the bit when it counted most and gave it up in late stretch in the Bob Lewis. He finished 5th and beat two horses. Not what you want to see from this talented colt. The winner however, Anthony’s Cross was very game to hold off Riveting Reason to win by a nose. This PA bred, with first time blinkers, is by Indian Charlie out of an Unbridled mare and earned $150,000 for the win.

A little later on, Comma to the Top finished 4th in a field of 6 in the El Camino at Golden Gate. While racing close to the pace, early on , he bore out both in the first quarter mile and late in the stretch. Will we find that he has some issues brewing?

The winner, Silver Medallion, was ridden by Russell Baze and was the first starter ever at Golden Gate for Steve Asmussen. He earn $120,000 for the win here.

Boys at Toscanova is officially off the Derby trail and has been sent to the farm. No surprise here as he did not make the Holy Bull, so you had to think something was “up”.

Horses jump on the Derby lists; horses fall off the Derby lists. It’s just the way it is this time of year.

Saturday Stakes Action and then some....

Let me know how St. Trinians runs today, as I can’t watch that mare run. It’s way to scary. Talk about a rough way of going! Though she has a heart as big as the grandstand as was shown in her gallant effort against Zenyatta in the Vanity last year, I for one thought we would never see her back in the entries. According to her trainer, she took weeks to recuperate from that amazing effort. Let’s see that was in June, and now its February. You know what happens when mares lay their bodies down…. Few come back with the same enthusiasm… And what about those legs flying in every different direction? lots of luck to her but I won’t be watching…

Just let me know the results.

The Bob Lewis looks like an easy spot for the very talented Tapizar.

How about a quick 50 cent Pick Four for the 3 Stakes and the last race at Tampa?

Florida Oaks
4. Fancy Point – class of the field/ beat Kathmanblu last year
5. Her Smile - will she turf AND stretch out?
8. Ipswich Bay – nice maiden win on turf, could improve
11. Niji’s Grande Girl – consistant sort/ never off the board at 5 different tracks

Sam Davis
10. Brethren – half to Derby winner and Derby bound
3. Washington’s Rules- flashy maiden win, back with a bullet, longshot look


1.Denomination – strong win at Tampa last out, improving
4.You Go West Girl- older classy mare, loves Tampa

12th race 16 claiming
7. Gold Pageantry - with the scratch of  Dream With Us , I will go with my second choice. He needed his last and this a better spot than the race at Gulfstream where he was crossed entered for 25 down to 20.

Been waiting for Rockin Heat to appear this year and he is in on Sunday in the third; a salty “other than “ allowance event going a mile on the main track at Gulfstream. This son of Rock Hard Ten showed a lot of talent last year up north on the turf and the Woodbine synthetic. Going to dirt for the first time, and drawn nicely to the outside.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Debut

The MSW 8th race at Gulfstream yesterday at 7 panels, had a “buzz” horse going in, and perhaps a Derby contender when all was said and done, at the finish. It was the debut of Cal Nation, by Distorted Humor out of She’s A Winner. The colt, under John Velasquez, broke very sharply from the 12 hole and went straight to the front. The half brother to Bluegrass Cat rated kindly behind the early front runner, until he was asked to change gears and when he did, it was quite the move. He won with the greatest of ease in the sharp time of 1.22 and change. It was very professional start with lots of things to like from this good looking colt.
You can watch the replay here.

Owned and bred by Winstar Farm, Cal Nation is nowhere near as accomplished as stable mate Brethren, but it will be interesting to see where this colt goes next. As far as Brethren, he worked this morning at Payson and went 5/8ths in 1:01. He is nominated to the Sam Davis at Tampa this Saturday, February 12. We could be looking at another big year for WinStar. If you are interested in the stable roster for WinStar, complete with up-to-date workouts, check out their website.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tea Party

It’s a good card at Gulfstream Park today, with the Donn H. taking most of the buzz. There are six turf races including the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap. The third race is an interesting non winners of 2, and I am most curious about Casper’s Touch in there. Could he jump on the Derby trail? The 6th race turf event could be a Kitten’s Joy exacta.

Today’s 7th race at Gulfstream is the Grade 3 Suwannee River Stakes for fillies and mares going 1&1/8 miles on the turf. This race is named for the river running from Georgia through Florida that empties into the Gulf of Mexico. So a little geography lesson along with a little handicapping. Who says we aren’t well rounded? Past winners of the Suwannee River are Old Hat, Sulemeif , Julie La Rousse, Marshuas River, Seebe, Pico Teneriffe and, Naissance Royal, to name a few.

There is a nice field of 10 this year, with an MTO standing by. But the weather looks good enough at the time of this writing for the race to go on a firm grass course. There’s no real short priced morning line favorite here, so at first glance it looks like a wide open affair.

The filly I like in here is It’s Tea Time. Yes, she is coming off a layoff since the Breeder’s Cup, where she was fourth to Unbridled Belle, Blind Luck and Havre de Grace. ( hey, she beat Life at Ten (!) ). She returned to the worktab six weeks later, and has worked steadily for her return, with several very sharp works on the lawn. She had no trouble coming back last year off a similar freshening and won two in a row at Saratoga, and now she is dropping in class. She has won at the distance, and she has won over the Gulfstream turf. She is a neck away from being a winner on 3 surfaces, not bad for 9 lifetime starts. This shows that this filly tries on whatever you put her on. The Dynaformers get better with age, so as a four year old, she still has some improving to do. She has J. Lep in the irons and he knows her well. The trip will be key, as is always the case on the turf. Rusty Arnold needs a winner and today is the day. It’s Tea Time is my best bet of the day.