Thursday, October 8, 2015

Saturday's QE 2 Invitational at Keeneland

The 31st running of the Grade 1 QE 2 Invitational at Keeneland is run this Saturday for 3 year old fillies and is contested at  a mile and 1/8  on the turf. It carries a purse of $500,000, and it is an important prep for the Filly & Mare Breeders Cup Turf.

The weather forecast is calling for a chance of rain on Friday and clearing skies on Saturday. A firm course is expected.

Here is the field of nine fillies, from the rail out.

  1. Mizz Money – A 30-1 longshot Grade 3 winner has been a very useful filly with 4 wins and 2 seconds out of 8 tries on turf. But she is in tough here.
  2. Prize Exhibit – Multiple Stakes winner on the west coast, she finished 4th to Lady Eli in last year’s Juvenile Fillies Turf. She has improved this season with the addition of blinkers. She has been working well at Santa Anita.
  3. Miss Temple City – A very consistent filly, with the right connections, she is 7 of 8 starts ITM on turf. A second place finish to the highly regarded Lady Eli last year on this course, she will run with Lasix for the first time. Could make the difference…
  4. Her Emmynency – Very game second in the Del Mar Oaks 56 days ago. The freshening may eliminate any “bounce”
  5. Return To Grace –Well bred miss out of filly Champion, Golden Attraction she is 15-1on the morning line, but the Casse barn has been very live at this meet. Not out of it.
  6. Olorda –Connections do exceptionally well with these Euros, but this one needs a forward step. Blinkers OFF, Lasix ON, a work over the track and first time for Chad. Can’t ignore.
  7. Blond Me – Another Euro who ran well in her initial US start in the Sands Point. Hard to gauge what type of fillies she beat in Europe, however.
  8. Feathered - Out of the Phipps mare Receipt and the family of millionaire Dancing Spree, this speedy filly changed her running style last out with a very nice effort after being covered. Yes, it was just an allowance race, but it is Pletcher/Castellano….
  9. Sentiero Italia – “Path Italy” is the 6/5 favorite and deservingly so as she is coming off bake-to-back Graded Stakes wins. Another barn that is on a hot streak.

Of course you always need to consider if the Euros will like the Keeneland course. It’s anybody’s guess.
Here’s my dime super box ~
Sentiero Italia is in a groove and another effort like her last two will make her tough to beat.
That they took Miss Temple City to Ascot this summer shows what kind of talent her connections thinks she has.  Maybe Lasix is just what she needs to bring her game to another level.
Return To Grace has really done nothing wrong, and she has a right to be given a chance in this Grade 1.
And I like Feathered‘s last race, maybe she is finally putting it all together.

As always, #FastAndSafe to all our equine friends!

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Look at The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

It’s Turf Classic Day at Belmont Park this Saturday with the highlight being the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. It is a mile and a half on turf and a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Named after the legendary Joe Hirsch, a racing columnist and the founding President of the National Turf Writer’s Association - read more about Joe here.

Let’s take a look at the compact field of 7, from the rail out.

  1. Red Rifle- Is it curious that Javier Castellano jumps back aboard this horse after being the regular rider for Twilight Eclipse? No matter, Red Rifle is a very handy horse who has enjoyed the right kind of trips in his last several starts He switches off nicely, can be in between horses and has a nice turn of foot. Second behind the highly regarded Euro, Flintshire in the Sword Dancer. Two nice maintenance works since his last start, I think Red Rifle is ready for his first Grade One win.

  1. Perfect Title – A “Huddie” contest pick for me this year, who helped with my 10th place finish overall…yes. It’s a very ambitious spot for him. Cut out to be a nice horse early on, he may have found a new life on the turf. If he’s good enough, the added ground won’t hurt him.

  1. Big Blue Kitten – The best of the 3 Chad Brown trainees, where have we seen a Ramsey-Kitten favorite before? This millionaire, Grade One winner is the class of the field and always shows up. He is ITM in 25 of 28 starts, and the deserving favorite.

  1. Twilight Eclipse – Another Grade One winning millionaire and several times the bridesmaid to last year’s Turf Champ, Main Sequence, he picks up Rosario. It would be a surprise if he doesn’t get a piece.

  1. Slumber – Second of the Chad Brown charges, and another millionaire. He’s tried the distance 5 times with no success, but excuses in last two with very troubled trips.  But –Beware- it looks like blinkers have helped this colt.

  1. Quiet Force- Former claimer on the west coast last year, looks to have improved under Maker’s care. Throw out his last on yielding turf which he may have disliked. He is a son of Dynaformer and out of a Royal Academy mare, which indicates he should relish the added ground. Looks like a lot to ask of him however.

  1. Shining Copper- WILL BE SENT. Chad Browns 3rd entry and look for him on the front end. However he needs to carry his speed another quarter of a mile and must hold off the closing kicks of a few very talented campaigners. Hung tough to the fast closing The Pizza Man at Arlington. Strange things happen in turf marathons when a speed horse is left alone on the lead. He’s your horse if you like that dynamic.

My picks:

I like Red Rifle in here and I think it’s his time to shine. He looks to still have some upside. It will take a good trip, as always, in these events.

Very curious about just how much talent Perfect Title has and would not be shocked for him to run very well in here, at a price.

Big Blue Kitten is just so consistent, and he has his partner Jersey Joe in the tack. If there’s a sure thing, you can bet that he will be “right there”

The same can be said for Twilight Eclipse, rarely runs a bad one.

Enjoy Turf Classic Day at Belmont! And, as always, #fastandsafe to all our equine friends.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The $1,000,000 Knob Creek Manhattan

The Grade 1 Knob Creek Manhattan goes as the 10th race on Saturday. It is the race before the Belmont Stakes, on a day that might well be an historic day in racing history.


The Manhattan has a purse of one million dollars and is contested at a mile and a quarter over Belmont’s inner turf course. It drew a field of 11 colts and geldings.

From the rail out -


  1. Hyper – Second race back after a 17 month layoff was an even effort in the Grade 1 six horse field, over this course. May need another to be back at his best.
  2. Twilight Eclipse – Highweight and deserving ML favorite, winner of the Man’o War, a high class horse that always makes his run, but has never run at this distance.
  3. Finnegans Wake – West coast turf star, dead closer, needs to work out a trip.
  4. War Dancer – Has shown more speed since the trainer change to Mott. Third race back off a layoff, in light, could have some upside.
  5. Big Blue Kitten – Twelve time winner, another that has never won at the distance and must work out a trip.
  6. Legendary – Very nice horse but appears a cut below.
  7. Slumber – Hasn’t won in more than 2 years. Not a fan of first time “blinkers on”  for a 7 year old.
  8. Biz The Nurse – One of 2 Euro horses, classy, yes, not sure if he measures up
  9. Magic Artist – Would be shocked.
  10. General A Rod – First time turf, out of a Dynaformer mare, breeding says “should turf” good works, Johnny V aboard, when perhaps he could have ridden Jack Milton? Have to consider.
  11. Jack Milton – Classy horse, but the big question is…does he want to go this far?


Twilight Eclipse is the deserving favorite here. Regular rider Castellano stays aboard, giving up the mount on multiple stakes winner Jack Milton. Will he be as effective at this distance? And do you want to play the fave?

General A Rod is going to the grass for the first time. TAP was pleased with the way he moved over the lawn when he worked with stablemate Jack Milton on 5/30. Interesting to me that JV is aboard. Has a longshot look.

But my pick for the win is War Dancer. He has shown a recent a change in his running style. It could a maturity play or the effects of a trainer change - or a little of both. But I like it. He is also getting 6 pounds from the top two choices. His last race was a winning effort. With 2 nice works since then, he is worth a long look, and is my top choice.


 Many thanks to  ThoroFan's Handicapping Corner!

It’s a great card on a great day of racing,
and as always,
Fast & Safe to all our equine friends!

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!