Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

BC TURF ~ Will America Take the Cup?

Some thoughts on the 12 furlong Breeder’s Cup Turf for ThoroFan’s HandicappingCorner

Can an American-based horse win the Breeder’s Cup Turf this year? Well we do have a very good chance, and it would be great to keep the prize “at home” but it won’t be easy. It’s always an International event and though Euros rarely send their very best, their second string is usually still better than what America has to offer. And last year’s winner is back. Let’s break this down.


 St Nicholas Abbey - He is back again, and is eligible to join only two other double turf winners in Conduit and High Chaparral. The son of Montjeu, he was Europe’s best 2 year old in 2009. The O’Brien trainee has earned over 4 million dollars and is a multiple group/grade1 winner. His last race in the Arc, was not good however, but mostly due to the extremely soft footing. And while he won’t get the Churchill turf, he will get the firm Santa Anita turf. He is used to shipping, and has his familiar jock, the young, Joseph Obrien. Trainer has said “He loves fast ground” That being said, he has a good chance to repeat.

Shareta - This 4 year old filly, owned and bred by the Aga Khan, has won 2 Group 1’s this year, against her own kind. She was second to the Arc winner Danedream, while beating Snow Fairy last year, but all she could manage was a 9th this year in the same race. However she beat the Arc winner, one race back in the Prix Vermeille. According to her handlers, she too, did not care for the soft Arc footing this year. They have shipped her here to get firm turf, and she will get her preferred surface. She has a lot of class, drops some weight and loves the distance. She had a very nice gallop over the dirt on Tuesday. Connections say “you can put her anywhere in the race.” I like her chances.

Cogito – Four out of his 5 total starts have been in Europe. He has had one race in this country, a 4th in the Jamaica at Belmont, and he was first time Lasix and first time blinkers. He is coming in with very little to suggest that he can be a factor. Would have to improve immensely.

Treasure Beach – This son of Galileo is a world traveler. He has not won a race this year, but most recently was second to Point of Entry in the 6 horse Turf Classic. Another trained by Obrien.


Trailblazer – This horse gets better as the distance gets longer and has hit the board in some top Japanese races. He had a very nice prep over the Santa Anita course.

West Coast:

Slim Shady - Three wins over the course, he is capable of setting the fractions, or sitting just off it. He is consistent, but has never won a Grade1. His work on Sunday was less than stellar though; as he went 5/8’s in 1.01 and tired badly, with no gallop out, according to the DRF. But that was on the main track.

East Coast:

 Little Mike - Dale Romans took his time in determining which of his horses would run in the Turf. And then he entered both.  Speedball Little Mike will more than likely be contesting the pace. And going downhill in the first part of the race, will make that pace a little more heated. He is a remarkable little horse, but has never been the distance. He and Dullahan both galloped Wednesday for the first time over the downhill course and seemed to handle it. He will go as far as he can.

Dullahan - Roman’s other horse has never won a race on turf. He is a confirmed synthetic specialist, winning the Pacific Classic; in his only start against older, while beating the fave in 2012 Classic, Game on Dude. He has performed well on firm turf and he will be closing late. If connections think this is the spot for him, then maybe it is?

Kindergarden Kid – This 4 year old by Dynaformer, has turned his career around since being gelded. And the Dynaformers’ tend to improve as they mature. At 30-1, he could get a piece.

Optimizer – Well bred Lucas charge, finally found life after a dull Classics campaign, when switched to turf.  Will probably go to the lead, but would have to improve a ton to compete with these. However,  he is the only horse in the race that is sired by a Breeder’s Cup Turf winner in English Channel.

Turbo Compressor – Pletcher horse seems to do his best when he gets the lead, which won’t be an easy task in here, and with Little Mike and Optimizer drawn outside of him, it’s not likely.  But he is 1 of 3 in here that has had a start over the Santa Anita turf course.

Point of Entry – Dynaformer colt coming in off 5 wins, the last 3 being in Grade 1’s. He has done nothing wrong so far, and is the best chance for the US to take this prestigious race. He has the one post which will work to his favor in saving ground. He loves to hear his feet rattle and will get the surface he excels on.  He disliked the soft going last time in the Turf Classic, yet still showed class and determination to win and beat Treasure Beach and Kindergarden Kid, two that he faces in here. If there’s any knock on this horse, it would be the mediocre competition he has faced.

If the Euros have shipped well, both St. Nicholas Abbey and the filly Shareta, appear to be the class of the field. Point of Entry, however, has just gotten so good, and always seems to work out a great trip.  As far as the outsiders, the well- bred Optimizer has some upside and Kindergarden Kid could hit the board.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Early Thoughts on Super Saturday

It’s Super Saturday at Belmont Park and  here  are my early thoughts. This is before the scratches, changes and precise track and course conditions, but you gotta start somewhere.
Beldame… I look for It’s Tricky to sit behind Cash for Clunkers, who should be the early speed, and then get first run on Royal Delta to prevail at the finish. Let’s hope she breaks well.
 Kelso… Word is Shack WILL run. Will the track be totally dried out for the 3:30 Post time? If it is, then he’s my horse. 
Vosburgh… Maybe Rothko is the horse in here. Runs very well off a freshening, and this son of Arch may just   love Big Sandy.
Flower Bowl…. Love Nahrain. She should enjoy the soft ground, she’s dropping 12 pounds off her last. We know she can ship and run well, and she picks up JV.
Turf Classic… How many times am I going to let Little Mile fool me? He can run over anything. He is looking for his 12th win in 20 starts, and he will go as far as he can. Roman’s other horse, Finnegan’s Wake could be the one to upset his stablemate, with his closing kick. Has had trouble in last two.
Jockey Club Gold Cup….Appears that Fort Larned is training great. Think the Broad Brush on the bottom will get him there.

Good luck to all today..it's a great day of racing!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Clarifying The Point

My analysis of the Sword Dancer Invitational for the Handicapper’s Corner @ThoroFan and why the Black & Cherry colors could have a big afternoon.
One of two Grade 1’s at Saratoga on Saturday, let’s take a look at the 38th running of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at a mile and a half on the grass. It is most certainly a stepping stone to the BC Turf in the fall.

From the rail out:

Al Khali - Six year old rig, trained by Bill Mott, he has earned $750,000 without ever winning a Grade 1. While he’s a useful sort, he has never won at the distance.  

Point of Entry – Co- highweight, in with 123, he is picking up 5 lbs from his last effort. Coming off 3 straight victories, including the Grade 1 Man ‘O War, he has the services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez.  Great family and the Dynaformers only get better with age. He is two-for-two at the distance and is, without a doubt, the horse to beat.

Tahoe Lake (Brz.) – Eligible for NW 3, but this horse gets better as the distances get longer. Tough spot, but he always finds a way to hit the board. He has been beaten by the top choice every time they have met (twice at equal weights) and now gets 7 lbs from that one.   He would have to take a step up.

Newsdad – The OTHER Mott horse, who has won twice at the distance, including the Grade 2 Pan American, (4 horse field) this horse has shown signs of talent from day one, and finally showed some consistency at Gulfstream this winter. This will be a second start off a freshening, with a rider switch to Rosario. 

Game Ball – Don’t want to criticize a winner of 10 of 22 races, but don’t think this Grade 1 is the spot for this former claimer.

Center Divider – Second to Point of Entry when leading the way in the Man ’O War, after a 3 month freshening. He has been beaten by others in here. Has Rosie in the saddle, likes to relax on the engine, but may not be the only one up front.

Hailstone – Always tries, but doesn’t appear to want to go this far with Grade 1 types.

Brilliant Speed – the other Dynaformer and I have always thought highly of this million dollar Grade 1 winner on synthetic. Good third in the 2011 BC Turf, but has yet to run back to that effort. HE IS one-for-one at Saratoga however, and gets a rider switch. Could be a factor and gets in light.

Turbo Compressor - He is the speed, but has never been this far. Breaking from the outside he will have to use a little bit of that speed to secure his position. He is 3 for 4 on turf, including the grade 1 United Nations. Is the co-highweight with 123, and is Pletcher- trained- but can he hang on?

The Pick: Point of Entry

Point of Entry is coming into this race off 3 wins and his numbers are improving with every race. By Dynaformer out of Matlatcha Pass, by Seeking the Gold, he is a half to multiple Grade 1 winner Pine Island, and his dam is a full sister to Stakes winners Pleasant Home and Country Hideaway.  He is bred every which way for turf, for distance and to be a top class racehorse. If the race unfolds like the Man ’O War did, he should be stalking a moderate pace with his tactical speed, and will once again, make his move on the leader(s). This horse looks like the real deal and with a win here, he will be on his way to the Breeder’s Cup Turf this fall. If you are looking to play any exotics I would look to the horses that have been successful at the distance. Most modern day American horses want no part of a mile and a half. Look to those who have shown that they do.

Trainer Shug McGaughey, with primary owner Phipps Stable, could have a big weekend with 3 horses in 3 Grade 1’s on Saturday, all with good chances. The improving filly Sea Island looks to step up and stretch out in the Alabama and Boisterous has a very good look in the Arlington Million, especially with some “give” in the ground.  A win by Point of Entry in the Sword Dancer, could start a pretty nice day for the black and cherry colors of the Phipps family, one of the last breeding/racing dynasties left in this country. Good luck if you are wagering and safe trips to all our equine friends!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Little Karma and the Fourstardave

The Fourstardave Handicap is on tap for Saturday at Saratoga. It is a Grade 2 for 3 year olds and up, over the inner turf course. The race has always been run at a mile and 1/16th, but the distance has been changed this year to a mile. The track record for the original distance is 1:38.91, from 1991, set by – you guessed it- Fourstardave.

Previously known as the Daryl’s Joy, (and while no horse deserves to have his name taken away from a prestigious stake – as racetracks frequently do) , it was renamed the Fourstardave after he won it twice. The NY bred won a race at the Spa, every year from 1987 to 1994. Remarkable indeed, and because Fourstardave “owned” the track for so many years and was such a fan favorite, he was given the nickname the “Sultan of Saratoga.”

NYRA take note: Don’t ever change the name of this race.

Fourstardave started 99 times, with 21 wins, 18 seconds and 16 thirds, with 15 of those wins on turf. He accumulated over a million and a half in earnings. At the age of 12 he participated in the High Hope Steeplechase, at the Kentucky Horse Park, and finished second, for charity. He even has a street named after him, next to Siro’s restaurant.

At the age of 17, he was preparing for New York Showcase Day, in which he was to make an appearance in the post parade. He suffered a heart attack, and the son of Compliance out of Broadway Joan was laid to rest at Clare Court. That in itself was an honor, as he is one of only three horses ever to be buried there.

This year’s renewal of the Fourstardave is contentious.

Let’s take a look from the rail out.

Data Link – Janney owned, Shug trained, this colt by War Front is a Grade 1 winner on turf. He has never run over the Spa turf however, but is coming off a win at Monmouth and has been freshened up for this. Nice maintenance works since then, with a bullet work last Sunday. He is sharp, but will need to get the trip and the pace should set up well for him. He is the high weight with 121 lbs, and goes back to former rider, Solis. More on this, later….

Wise Dan – This million dollar earner is a versatile sort, with Graded Stakes wins on dirt, turf and synthetic. He can just flat out run on anything. Another that has been freshened; he sports a bullet from July 30th of 58:2, best of 52 turf works that morning. He has tactical speed to sit right behind the pacemaker. He secures the services of Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who is a neck shy of 4 wins in a row on him.

Get Stormy - He is the class of the field, with money won and Grade 1 Stakes wins. He won this race back in 2010, and his connections would love to win it again. He loves to run and loves to go to the front. He has 4 wins and a second from 5 tries at the Spa. He is coming off a tough beat to Data Link at Monmouth but he is coming into this sharp and ready. Shortening back up, this horse is the speed of the speed and never easy to get by.

Guy’s Reward – This Dale Romans’ trainee has finally come into his own, with 3 wins in a row, against lesser. He is a tryer, and always has a nice kick in the end. Do not leave out of exotics.

Right One – He is a Clement trainee, and this distance seems to suit. Not sure if he’s the “right one”, but he will be a little price, and he gets in light. Never underestimate C.C. He and jock Julien Leparoux have been clicking at this meet.

Surfrider – Trained by Eddie Kenneally, his best efforts have been going shorter. He is lightly raced, and his last win was a conditioned allowance race, but another trainer that you can not underestimate. This colt was well thought of in France last year, and was 3rd to Goldikova‘s second, in the Prix de la Foret. He will be a price in here, gets in light and could light up the tote board.

Corporate Jungle – He is one-for-one over the Saratoga lawn. Trained by Chad Brown, he is a consistent sort. He did not disgrace when going to the West Coast for the Grade 1 Shoemaker mile. Might appreciate being back on home turf.

Upgrade – Colt by 2005 Horse of the Year, St. Liam, he has been brought along slowly by trainer Michelle Nihei. Draw a line through the Fort Marcy, when he encountered soft turf and he is a sleeper in here. Add to that, the addition of the hot riding Joel Rosario. Worth a look at a price.

Yield Bogie –Sturdy eight year old, winless in two years, but coming in with a bullet work. Could catch a piece with a well-timed ride, but this is a tough bunch.

Crossbow – MTO- nice Darley colt, will only start if race is taken off the turf.

That being said, the weather forecast is calling for some rain. Always check the turf condition, if the race stays on. And always take the MTO seriously, if the race comes off the turf and onto the dirt.

You have some proven class horses (Data Link, Get Stormy, Wise Dan) that on any given day could be 1-2-3 in here, in any order. Corporate Jungle is turning out to be a very nice horse, Upgrade has the potential to improve, Surfrider and Right One are the question marks. Guy’s Reward can pick up the pieces.

I may play this race looking for a little jockey “karma”. This weekend, John Velazquez will finally be inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame. He has ridden both Data Link and Upgrade to victories, but yet is aboard Wise Dan, once again. He has won SEVEN Fourstardaves’, and his father-in-law, Leo O’Brien, was the trainer of the “Sultan”. The weekend might just belong to Johnny V and I think he has a good chance to win this race for the eighth time aboard Wise Dan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spa Daze

Saratoga, one of the premier meets in the American TB flat racing year, is about to begin. Though always called “the August place to be” it’s actually turned into the July-August-through Labor Day only place to witness the best racing offered in the country, maybe the world. There is no other track quite like Saratoga, with its’ rich history, huge purses, and a constant parade of fashionably-bred two year old colts and fillies, starting out their promising careers.
The magic that is Saratoga fills the air and is the most intoxicating at trackside, in the early morning hours.Whether you are at the main track, or across the street at Oklahoma, the energy is invigorating. Horses go out in sets, often accompanied by trainers. There are workouts on the turf at Oklahoma, several days a week. Horses are excited to be there, as are most of the exercise riders. You can see it, you can hear it, and you can feel it. There’s happy chatter; horses are feeling healthy and strong and looking to do more. Spring water may have been what brought people here a hundred years ago, but there is something about the cool Adirondack air that just brings out the best in horses and in people. If workouts lasted all day long, I don’t think I would ever leave. To me, it’s the best part of the day. It’s electric and soothing at the same time, and it’s what makes the Saratoga experience so special.
My a.m. routine at Saratoga seldom varies. I usually leave the track around 9:30, but it’s never easy. If I stick to plan, I try to get in a quick walk through downtown, maybe - a stop into Impressions or Saratoga Saddlery for a look see, and most definitely a little shopping at Putnam Market for some goodies to bring to the track. Amazing how hunger grabs you right after the first race! I like to get back to the track before noon, so I can position my chair in the back yard near the paddock, weather permitting. It’s the time for me to connect with friends, many that I haven’t seen in a year. It’s fun to people watch, as well as watching horses schooling in the paddock before the races begin. That hour or so before the first race is the best time to settle in, and reflect on how lucky I am that I made another year at the Spa. Oh yes, there is the wagering, and it takes a sharp eye and a knowledge of pedigree to come out ahead at the Spa.…But with all the betting we do year round now, it truly takes a back seat to how it feels to be at Saratoga for a day of racing. Nothing beats live racing, especially here. So cancel your NYT for the next 6 weeks, forget who was leading trainer for the Belmont spring meet (yes, there should be an * by his name) and let’s not hear the name “Cuomo” till after Labor Day. You are not allowed to utter the word “Lasix” unless it’s “FTL”. Leave horseracing’s woes behind for the next 6 weeks and enjoy the magic that you can only find at the Spa.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why Not Endorsement?

There’s a very good group of older horses signed on for today’s Grade 2 Suburban at 1&1/8 on Belmont’s Big Sandy and it could turn out be THE race of the weekend.

Could it be that we are just seeing the best of the 5 yr old Endorsement?

On the Derby trail two years ago, this colt was injured and given 21 months off by the ultra conservative Bill Casner, formerly co-owner of WinStar farm. Perhaps reminiscent of another star of his, Well Armed, Endorsement seems to have come back to the races in excellent order. He managed to withstand some trouble in his last two, which tells me that he still has the will to win. Although defeated in his last, it was a game effort, and it could be that they ran him back a bit too quick. The horse is one of very few graded stakes horses that runs without Lasix and I admire Mr. Casners’ conviction. He is fortunate that he has such a high quality horse that does not seem to need the diuretic. He has now been freshened over at Keeneland, working seriously, every 7 days. Martin Garcia took him for a test drive in the Pimlico Special, and his numbers are improving.

12 to 1- Really???

OK, so it’s a tough race. The Pletcher entry is formidable. Both multiple stakes winners, Stay Thirsty is all class, And Caixa Electronica, all heart.

Buffum- lots of people on his bandwagon.

Hymn Book – the Donn was spectacular, but somewhat of an “in-and-outer”

Trickmeister – as speedy as they come

Mucho Macho Man – very capable

To Honor and Serve- very, very tough and also 9/5

There could very well be a little more upside to Endorsement, but he will have to run his very best to win. Will his class show up in today's Suburban?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's A "Shore" Thing

In handicapping a horserace, there’s never a “sure” thing. Horseplayers are an optimistic group though, and each and every race is a puzzle we need to solve.

Monmouth Park, on the Jersey Shore, will host the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes this Saturday. This is one of two Grade 1’s at Monmouth, the other being the Haskell. The United Nations goes as the featured 11th race, at a mile and 3/8’s, on the turf. It is a “Win & You’re In” which means the winner gets an automatic berth into this year’s BC Turf.

Here’s my take at the short, but salty field for ThoroFan’s Handicapping Corner.

From inside out:
1. Turbo Compressor /Pletcher/Bravo, breaks from the inside, and one thing is “sure”, he is the speed of the race. The Florida-bred by Halo’s Image is 2 for 3 since trying turf. He has gotten better since the surface switch, and appears he will run all day. Has never been this far, but with Jersey Joe signed on, I see no other way for him to go , but to the front with his “come and catch me “ style.

2. Brilliant Speed, the Live Oak homebred is the class of this field. The son of Dynaformer and trained by Tom Albertrani, is a GR 1 winner on Keeneland’s polytrack, but has shown his ability to excel on the lawn. Though his speed isn’t “brilliant” he certainly has enough tactical speed to get a good position for his run down the lane. He has the newly West Coast-transplant Joel Rosario in the tack, and he has every chance to secure his first Grade 1 win on turf, with a win here.

3. Slim Shady, the West Coast invader has blossomed under the care of the young Simon Callaghan. He brings his rider, David Flores, in to ride. He will enjoy the distance, and has enough speed for his stalking style. But he did have to SHIP, and with the extremely hot weather, one wonders if he will bring his “A” game.

4. Al Khali is a horse I have followed since Norberto Arroyo rode him. ( And I think he’s been MIA for at least 3 years) He looked talented from the get go, and for the most part, always gives a decent account of himself. He has yet to win a “Big One”, but continues to pick up checks in those Grade1’s. His best efforts have been going a mile and a half. He definitely fits here to get a piece and maybe round out the exotics.

5. Freud’s Honor is a nice, consistent New Jersey bred, but looks seriously overmatched in here.

6. Eldaafer was the winner of the 2010 BC Marathon. We know the horse loves to run a distance of ground. He has run just 3 times this year, and did improve some in the Brooklyn last out finishing 2nd by 10 lengths to Redeemed, on dirt. His “glory days” may be behind him, however.

7. Air Support rounds out the field. Solis is aboard and it’s always hard to ignore a Shug McGaughey runner. He is coming off two troubled trips, including some crowding at the start in his last. He will appreciate the extra distance. Shug always spots them where they belong.

It will not be a surprise that the up-and-coming Turbo Compressor leads the field from “flag-fall” to “that’s all” like he did in the Colonial Cup. Should Slim Shady engage him early and try to put some pressure on him, the pace could get “hot”, and then they will both have to beware of Brilliant Speed, Air Supply and Al Khali, who will all be closing in the stretch.

Be conscious of any course changes if there’s any rain- there’s always a chance of a passing thunderstorm this time of year. Take note of paddock behavior – is anyone either “dull” or “washed-out?” Watch the warm-ups – do the horses look comfortable, are they striding out, do they look enthusiastic?

Never a sure thing, but handicapping is a great game. Good luck with all your wagers. Here’s hoping you have some fun, enjoy the races and cash some winning tickets!!!

For some interesting history on the United Nation Stakes, check out Historian Alan Carter's piece at ThoroFan.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

From Royal Ascot to Frog Juice - The Good with the Bad

What a week for our sport! International racing took center stage at Royal Ascot and did not disappoint. THIS was the year to be there. Frankel decimated his opposition in the Queen Anne Stakes drawing off by 11, to prove that he may be, indeed, the best in the World. And the Queen of the Turf, Australia’s Black Caviar, came, saw and conquered in the Golden Jubilee, still undefeated with her 22-win record. While we really won’t know what her jock was thinking approaching the wire, she won, and that’s all there is to it. Rumors abound that she was not 100% herself going in, and what equine would be? with the travelling she had to endure to get there. But take nothing away from “Nelly”, she is a true champion.

And kudos to the Maryland Racing Commission as they have finally awarded Triple Crown winner Secretariat the Preakness Stakes record after 39 years. We all knew it was his, but it has finally become official. Better late-than never.

But as great a week that it was, racing's image did take a hit.

And how offenders will be handled is the next question. “Frog Juice”, or dermorphin, has reared its ugly head in Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and quite possibly, Texas. New York has been testing this for several months, and no positives have been found.Frog juice is an ILLEGAL, powerful opiate. It is 40 times more powerful than morphine. It is dangerous to horses, and jockeys, not to mention, unfair to the wagering public.

Whoever is using this-needs to be ruled off FOR LIFE, no questions, and no second chances. Stiff penalties will rid the game of cheats and low-life. If Racing Commissions have the ability to do this, it must be done.

This is an opportunity to set an example. Those that use a drug like this drug don’t deserve to be anywhere near the game of horseracing.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rag's Time

While this year’s Belmont was disappointing for some with the scratch of I’ll Have Another due to injury, it was thrilling for followers and fans of the Dixie Union colt, Union Rags. This blogger’s favorite since last year’s Champagne, he ran the gamest of races under a masterful ride by John Velazquez. Union Rags showed immense courage going inside the pace setter Paynter and was up in time, to win by a neck.

He joins a stellar group of Belmont winners that have won on June 9th, including the one and only Secretariat, and the filly Rags to Riches.

Fans of Union Rags knew his day would come. Even with the premature retirement of Derby –Preakness winner I’ll Have Another, there is still some exciting three year old racing ahead.

If you missed it...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Racing Gods Will Decide

If you are a horse fan / handicapper, it’s safe to say that you believe in the Racing Gods.

How they do their job is a mystery.

But you can be sure they are working overtime this year.

With I’ll Have Another looking to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history and the first since 1978, only Belmont’s mile and a half Big Sandy, stands in the way.

I’ll Have Another is a very good colt. He has tactical speed, the right racing style and a pedigree that says he can run all day. He has a famous stable pony, who has coached him, no doubt, and his young jockey is riding a huge wave of good fortune. His owner and trainer, though not without some controversy, have kept him seemingly healthy and happy.

The Belmont has always been known as the Test of Champions. And it is just that, in a year of a possible Triple Crown winner. It’s a grueling race. Most horses never want to go a mile and a half, but especially in the first half of their three year old year.

I’ll Have Another has never raced over the track. And, in what appears to be somewhat unconventional, has not had a work in three weeks. He has had 2 tough races, back to back, and the Belmont will be the most demanding. His jock has never ridden at Belmont, and although he will ride on Friday, will that be enough to get a feel for the mile and a half oval and those wide sweeping turns? Lastly, there are several talented opponents who are coming in fresh, could improve, and are legitimately good enough to upset.

Does any of that matter?

It will take an exceptional horse-an extraordinary horse-to get the job done,and win the Belmont.And if I’ll Have Another pulls it off, he will certainly deserve the Crown.

But it’s not up to us.

It’s all up to the Gods of Racing. And I wish I knew what they were thinking.

Enjoy the Belmont,the Test of Champions-and may the best horse win.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Second Jewel

It’s the Third Saturday in May and that can only mean one thing. It’s Preakness Day and time to get your Preak-on!

Whatever that means.

You have a number of public handicappers saying it’s a two horse race. The Derby winner – I’ll Have Another – vs. the runner-up Bodemeister. Everyone else is running for third money.

Then you have the other half of the touts saying both horses have every right to bounce off their Derby efforts and it’s a good time to look for a new shooter who is moving in the right direction.

I think there’s another way to go. And his name is Creative Cause.

Consistent as they come, his 5th place finish in the Derby was still a good effort, despite some traffic problems and being 8 wide at the quarter pole. Yes he has been accumulating frequent flyer miles, but if he was not a good shipper, I doubt they would have put him through that. He was beaten a nasty nose by I’ll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby and beat Bodemeister in the San Felipe, so he certainly fits with the “top two”. There should be plenty of pace for him to stalk and pounce.

The second jewel could be his today.

Across the pond, in moments, will be the 2012 debut of the “best horse in the world”. That would be Frankel. In the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, we may see him stalk the speed of his half brother, Bullet Train, who it is said, will be used as a rabbit. A year older and stronger, Frankel’s race should be exciting to watch.

Frankel could indeed be today's Saturday Afternoon Horse.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Derby Day

I love the Kentucky Derby for all of its elegant traditions, historic importance, and unbridled excitement. I also love it for the wagering opportunities.

The best horse does not always win the Derby. But in the end, the roses go the best horse, on the day. So sometimes you have to use a little more imagination when wagering.
With a 20 horse field, all kinds of things can happen.
It’s a tough race to win, and a horse and rider need a tremendous amount of racing luck.
This is one of the most formidable fields in quite some time. You can study pedigree, analyze workouts and gallop outs, way of going ,confirmation, mental attitude and have all the inside info from the backside, but with three year olds in the spring that have never run the classic distance…well, no one knows what any of them will do when faced with that last extra furlong.
Still have more studying to do. But I will tell you who I am alive to in the Oaks -Derby Doubles wager.

Union Rags – loved him since last year. Not sure if daddy Dixie Union will get him there, but he has the class, the mind and the willingness to get the job done. Has been educated in previous starts, and for a big colt, he is pretty handy. Has tactical speed to stay within range. Had the best work of Derby week and is sitting on “ready”. Has the right connections, and J Lep will make no mistakes.

Dullahan - Respect Dale Romans. Talented colt can run on anything. Will need to work out a trip from off the pace. And that’s never easy to do.

Daddy Nose Best – Longshot play. May be a much better horse on dirt, has shown gameness. He likes to fight.

Alpha – this horse has always impressed me and I don’t think we’ve seen his best. Has had a small setback, and I hope his gate behavior has improved. But he has the class and I think he will get overlooked.

Gemologist – Undefeated, son of the great Tiznow, out of a Mr. Prospector mare. Stamina over speed. A lot to like. Connections will have him primed to do his best.

Creative Cause – Played my ticket early, before all the “buzz.” If he’s 100%, he will run his race. Never off the board, he’s a good feeling horse who loves his job.

Other pre-Derby races not to be missed:
Race 4- Souper Spectacular, Zenyatta’s baby brother
Race 7- Shackleford going 7 furlongs in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs
Race 9- Sassy Image going for back-to back wins in the Grade 1 Humana distaff
Race 10- Get Stormy going for back-to-back wins in the Grade 1 Turf Classic

Enjoy Derby Day, good luck if you are wagering, and safe trips to all our equine friends.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fillies First

Oaks Day is here, and it’s lilies for the fillies.
Here’s my quick look at the $1,000,000 Kentucky Oaks.
It’s a full field and wide open.

On Fire Baby – 2 for 2 at Churchill, 2nd time Lasix, but does she want the extra distance?

Grace Hall – Already an Oaks winner at the distance and has a Grade 1 at Saratoga to boot. Was 2nd at Churchill last year. The deserving morning line fave.

Summer Applause - Harlan’s Holiday filly, coming in with a bullet and will love the added distance. (Is she really 15 to 1?)

Eden’s Moon – Baffert speedball from the West Coast.

Hard Not to Like – first time dirt

Broadway’s Alibi – A length from being undefeated in 5 starts. She is the speed of the speed and would love it wet.

Sacristy – One for one at Churchill, but will she stretch out?

Jemima’s Pearl – Has been Bodemeister’s workmate while at Churchill.

Believe You Can – Larry knows his fillies and has the Rosie factor.

And Why Not – yes, and why not? Talented filly put a line through last.

Karlory Vale – may have turned the corner, but is dirt her game?

Colonial Empress – great pedigree, but form shows nothing.

Amie’s Dini – a win over the track, very consistent, has some class

Yara – beat the chalk, but distance may be a problem

Summer Applause could be the one that benefits from the speed dual up front. Lots of speed in here which could set the race up for a filly who can relax and wait.

Broadway’s Alibi is legit speed and could take them all the way.

And Why Not may have grown into herself this year, and if she puts it all together could be a big threat.

Have a great Oaks Day!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Derby Tree

One of my earliest Derby memories as a child was my Dad telling me the story about the Derby Tree. In 1961, he played Decidedly in the Winter Book for the following years’ Derby. (So I guess the Future Wager has been around for a long time.) Not sure how it was done back then, but I know my Dad didn’t jump on a plane and go to Vegas.

My best guess is-it involved a bookie.

The reason why he played the grey colt by the Derby winning sire, Determine, was supposedly something he heard, when having breakfast next to trainer Horatio Luro, the summer before on the Saratoga apron. What he heard and whether Mr. Luro was touting his two year olds, is anybody’s guess.

My father did like to tell a track story or two.

But whatever he heard, it prompted him to place a good wager on the colt.
He won a bundle on that Derby 50 years ago. One of the things he did with his winnings was to buy and plant a flowering tree that would be in bloom on Derby Day. It’s the first tree that bloomed in his yard each and every year, even before the Dogwoods. It has withstood a lot, and has seen better days, but it still blooms 10 days out, and heralds the coming of the most exciting two minutes in sports.

You can read about Decidedly’s record breaking Derby and also about how his jock picked up the mount, at the Kentucky Virtual Library. Partnered with Keeneland and the DRF, there are 3000 volumes of the Daily Racing Forms archived there.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A "First-Saturday-in-May" Horse

Yes, I have been absent from blogging. Life, stuff, Twitter has gotten in the way of my posting. And still in birthday mode too. Me and Ruffian. It’s cool to celebrate your birthday with a famous filly.

I’m trying to focus in on the Lexington tomorrow.

But wait…did you know that this Blog’s Derby favorite, Union Rags worked a half over the poly at Keeneland this morning and galloped out in a minute? Just what you want to see 14 days out from the Big Day. Watch him work.

And while we’re at it, the movie star-handsome son of Dixie Union is indeed a movie star. An American Love Story, is very well-done and not to be missed. Take a Look

Sorry, coming down with a little Derby Fever.

Back to the Lexington. A mile and 1/16th on the poly, and really there are only two horses in here, that, should either win, could make it into the Derby field. One is Castaway, and the other is Morgan’s Guerilla .And while both maybe dreamin’ Derby, this is a tough race and a wide open affair.

Blog Favorite News Pending has chased some good ones. The son of Harlan’s Holiday is trying synthetic for the first time. If you can dismiss his Florida Derby, then he could run a big one.

Another colt by HH, is Holiday Promise. His lone start on poly was a good second in the Spiral. The Pletcher trained colt could move forward again.

Gold Megillah, by Purim (loved him) ran a bang-up second to the ultra game Flashy Dresser. Could be right there.

Summer Front is an undefeated colt (on turf) and going to poly for the first time. Connections think highly of him.

Longshot Joannesbourbon might be worth a look in the postparade. It’s a tall task after just breaking his maiden but he may be worth adding to a super. He is working lights out over the track and should love the stretch out.

Two Saturdays to the Run for the Roses. Is there a better time of year for racing fans?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

State of The Union

For those of us that did not win Mega Millions, it’s on to the second most exciting event of the day, the Florida Derby. It’s a day when the early Derby favorite Union Rags could make a huge statement on his march to Louisville.

It is a small, but talented field for three year olds with Derby dreams. And it’s all about Union Rags. Not ashamed to say that I fell for this horse early on and have not wavered an inch since then. Even in his lone defeat he ran a “winning” race. But three year olds this time of year need to continue to step forward. It is the only way to be ready for the grueling Triple Crown experience.

I see no reason why this horse will not be brilliant, yet again today. He has enough tactical speed and handiness, to be put anywhere he needs to be in the race. And I believe he has the scope and stamina to wear down horse late, if he needs to. On paper, his biggest competition looks to be El Padrino. He is a classy sort and has already shown that he that he loves a fight. You have to wonder though, how much the Risen Star took out of him.
Another horse and blog favorite in here is News Pending. One of two Romans’ trained horses; he has never won on dirt, but has won at the distance. His numbers keep improving and this could be a replay of the Fountain of Youth finish.

Here is a photo of Union Rags taken by his exercise rider Peter Brette via Twitter.

HRTV‘s Zoe Cadman did a great video report 10 days ago on a day in the life of Union Rags at the tranquil Palm Meadows training facility. It’s always interesting to see how a horse handles himself in his daily routine, and it's a little insight on his "state" of mind.

Enjoy the Florida Derby and have a "winning" day!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Spiral"-ing Into Louisville

You have a little bit of everything in today’s Derby prep, the Grade 3 Spiral at 9 furlongs on the Turfway polytrack. It’s a $500,000 pot and the winner will take away enough graded earnings to dance the big dance in May. A nearly full field of 11 has shown up to try and get their golden ticket.
You have three- first- time- blinkered horses. The 1 horse is the North Cal shipper Russian Greek. The 8 horse, Coach Royal, is a maiden and also going turf to poly with a trainer switch. And the 11 horse is Stealcase, who has shown a sharp bullet since his last race, when breaking awkwardly.
There are two more Cal shippers, Handsome Mike and All Squared Away. The latter, not only has to ship, but is coming back in 9 days. Handsome Mike however, has had more than a month to re-coup from his OK finish in a Grade 3 and appears to have the most upside of these two, as he has a class edge.
Only two horses have ever had a race over the track. The PA –bred, Ill Conceived got beat a neck in the Battaglia, after going to the front in his first time on the stretch-out. It was a 5 horse field that day, and he will have to do more, this time. Mr. Prankster, however has shown a liking for the oval, with 2 wins from 3 starts, but he too, will have to move forward after his poor effort in the Battaglia.
Why is Red Jack in here? Well it’s the “coach” and you know how DWayne likes to be involved in the pre-Derby dances. The colt’s maiden breaker was his only start on turf (at 9 panels) and it is a longshot that he can reproduce a race like that again on poly.
The Graham Motion horse, Went The Day Well, looks interesting. Like the Proud Citizens and this horse may have a little talent. He showed he could perform well in England on various wet surfaces, and handled dirt just fine at Gulfstream. So he can run, he is versatile and, has the right connections. He IS coming in off just breaking his maiden 3 weeks ago and he will go to a synthetic track for the first time. The added distance should only help and he looks to have a good shot in here.
Tizanexpense is another interesting horse in here, if only because he has never had a clean, easy trip. Every race has had an excuse, including his maiden breaker, when the jock lost the whip. His breeding suggests he will love a little more ground, and if things finally go his way, he could be right there.
The two Pletcher horses round out the field and both look very live. Heavy Breathing has won at the distance and is coming in undefeated after winning two-for-two at Gulfstream. Not sure what was behind him though, but TP, with his arsenal of Derby types, knows exactly where to spot them.
The OTHER Pletcher horse, Holiday Promise, could be a sleeper in here. While he has run with lesser, a little more ground may suit him perfectly.
So like any Derby Prep, you have your pretenders and your contenders, everyone looking to get lucky on the right day, to catapult them into the Derby picture. Whoever wins this, will, with certainty, get a chance to go to Louisville.

Friday, March 16, 2012

From High to Low and Back Again

A little over a week ago, the long awaited event finally took place when the Horse of the Year and the Queen of Racing foaled a healthy, handsome colt by Eclipse Champion Bernadini. By all accounts, Zenyatta’s delivery was “textbook” and the 130 pound bay baby and mom bonded quickly and easily. First foals are normally not the biggest, but this colt appears leggy, and does resemble mom right down to the ermine spots on his one white leg.
Congratulations to Zenyatta. Her new job now, is to teach her son how to run.
The highs and lows of racing run like the thread through a fine tapestry. We are right in the middle of foaling season, and every hour babies are born that give their connections “derby dreams’ But , the dangers of the sport are always a constant, and unfortunately the accidents, the injuries and all the heartbreak seem to make the loudest noise. We as horsemen absorb it all, but the “public perception” of our game, already badly tarnished, again, took a few hits this week.
Much has been said lately, of the many breakdowns at the Aqueduct winter meet this year. I have always thought of the three New York tracks as very safe, reliable and consistent. Yes, not always happy with a “sealed” track, or when the track appears “souped “up for major race days. But with the mild winter that the Northeast has had- and weather not being an issue- it is very concerning that there have been so many fatalities at the Big A. One has to wonder whether the huge increase in purse money, especially for lower levels, have pushed horses into races where they don’t belong. Or maybe pushed them into racing, when they weren’t ready.
At the same time, this week, another horse had to be euthanized on the HBO set of “Luck”, forcing the end of the series. Though not “racing related”, I have not read, yet, why this horse reared and managed to destroy himself. I have made many left hand turns around a shed row and horses need a reason to go up and over. Some don’t need MUCH of a reason, but something preceded this event. Was it due to the “filming process” is anyone’s guess.
I was not ever a big fan of the show, but stuck with it. The acting was very good, just not a portrayal of the racetrack that I know and love. It showed I guess to some, only one small part of the game. Maybe to the Hollywood crowd, the degeneracy was the most interesting?? But thanks to the show, once again, the”public perception” of our sport takes another hit.
Also in the past week, our Derby Winner Animal Kingdom, has been forced to take another break with a second hind end issue. Three year olds, once Derby hopefuls, – Out of Bounds, Fed Biz, Spring Hill Farm, Algorithms, Junebugred, Empire Way and Motor City are all officially off the Derby trail.
But we move on.
The weekend’s Derby prep is The Rebel at Oaklawn tomorrow and it has a full field, with 13 entered.
And the best news is …the Run for the Roses is only 49 days away.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Can Little Mike Repeat ?

In about the same time it would take to sing “Oh Canada”, the Dale Romans – trained Little Mike could go wire to wire in the Gr.3 Canadian Turf Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday. Going a mile on the turf, Little Mike is back to defend his title. The race drew 32 nominees, but only 8 will start.
Drawn outside, expect the Spanish Steps Florida-bred gelding to get to the front , clear the field and play his favorite game of “catch me if you can.”

Others in the field are:

1. Doubles Partner is a Gr.2, winning 5 year old well-bred son of Rock Hard Ten. He has been on the shelf for 10 months, but should come back running. He will lay mid pack and will be looking to get up in the final strides.

2. Mutual Trust is a Group 3 winner in France. His comment line for his maiden breaking win in a 15 horse field says “brilliant win.” The Juddmonte homebred came right back to win 3 more in a row and was then thrown to the wolves in a Group 1 at Deauville. In that race, where the spectacular Goldikova finished 2nd, he was “hampered” and “eased.”He was freshened and sent here, to run with Lasix and he ran in the Gr 3 Ft Lauderdale, attending a slow pace, and with trouble, still only was beaten by 1& ¾ lengths. He has worked several times since then and is a threat to spoil Little Mike’s party.

3. Beau Choix is another coming back after a 6 month break .He is working well but might be in a little tough.

4. Data Link is definitely a “horse for course”, with 3 wins from 3 starts. He is taking a step up into Stakes Company for the first time, and his trainer is good at spotting his horses. He has a good chance with his closing kick.

5. Trend is another very consistent horse entering Stakes competition for the first time. Looks like a tough spot for him.

6. Seruni ‘s connections could well be praying for rain so the race can come off the turf. This would be his best shot.

7. Perfect Footprint is a nice enough horse, but seems overmatched in here.

Little Mike (#8) is the lone speed in here, and that is always dangerous. If he clears and is not challenged early, he can certainly take them all the way. Mutual Trust, Doubles Partner and Data Link will all be coming late. But I will be hoping that Little Mike holds on. He owns the turf course at Gulfstream and another good effort should give him his second Canadian Turf Stakes win.

I am always happy to be part of ThoroFan's Handicapping Corner. As always, check the weather, the course conditions any scratches or changes and always be sure to watch the post parade before making your final wagering selections.

For a whimsical look at Little Mike, visit artist Marcy Leonard’s dailyracefunnies.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fountain of Youth Day at Gulfstream Park

At the time of this posting, it is cloudy, and a little windy in Hallandale, Florida, and they have just sealed the racetrack during the renovation break. So rain is in the forecast.

I am looking forward to the return of Union Rags, who I declared my “Derby Horse” after his excellent second in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile last November. While it is way too early for such proclamations, he was, and still is, the horse that has impressed me the most thus far.
But I need to see a huge effort from him today, to keep him atop my list. He doesn’t have to win, but he needs to run “big”.

I will probably play a pick 4 today starting with the 9th race. My pick in here is Point of Entry. This well-bred son of Dynaformer, out of a top notch female family, has been a little slow in putting it all together. But that is sometimes the case with the Dynaformers. He is one –for-one over the Gulfstream turf, and seems to be more focused with blinkers. Has had a bit of a freshening and I look for him to run a big one. Not an easy group however, and if you like to go deep in your first leg, I would certainly add the both Utley and Slow Pace, both drop-down Euros , and the improving Freshman Dorm for Mc Laughlin.

The 10th is the Grade3 Mac Diarmida and another tough turf event. The race is named after the son of Minnesota Mac, out of Flying Tammie, who became the 1978 Eclipse Award winning Male Turf Horse. Trained by Scotty Schulhofer, one of his wins was the prestigious Washington DC International.
I have always liked Newsdad and he is my top choice in here. Will be happy if the Clancy crew’s Eagles Poise runs back to his back to back Canadian victories from last year, but that was on poly. Simard and Center Divider could be in the mix too. Pay attention to track condition by this time in the day.

Good thing I just checked Twitter. Algorithms is scratched from the Fountain of Youth due to popping a splint. How quickly things can change. This could take him off the Derby Trail. Pletcher’s other horse, Discreet Dancer is very fast and will be stretching out for the first time. Unions Rags will not be bothered by a wet track, if there is one, but the only question will be, does he need to be fully cranked, to win this? My longshot play in here is News Pending. I think he is good enough to get a piece.

In the last leg I will look at three horses. Pikestar is dropping from MSW after showing speed in his second start, and picks up JV. Le Grande Artiste, woke up when dropped and has had several good works since that effort. And Malibu Wave showed some interest his initial turf outing, and was steadied in that one. Another who has worked well since then.

Good Luck if you are wagering today!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Luck - Revisited

I was not, and perhaps still not, a huge fan of HBO’s LUCK. But maybe it’s my hope springs eternal nature, or just plain curiosity that has kept me coming back.

As a horse person, I have been annoyed at the total portrayal of desperation of every speaking character in the show. The complexities are so totally dark and deranged. Every last person is tortured in some way. But last night’s episode showed a little light at the end of the tunnel.

Several things caught my attention. First, the deftness with which the vet retracted the scope, post-race (Now I KNOW she didn’t insert it) but she looked very professional. Adding to that, the look into the scope gave the viewers something that only people on the back side get to see. So it was actually educational.

Next, and perhaps the best scene of the night was when the 3 of the 4 pick six winners were in the shedrow, excited to feed carrots to their newly acquired horse. It was the first time there was true innocence and humility on anyone’s face since I’ve been watching the show. The reactions revealed that maybe the bustouts actually have a heart and a soul. Naturally, the horse brought it out.

As I said from the first episode, the casting is perfect. Gary Steven’s acting ability is superb. True, he’s playing a jock, so he has a lot to pull from. But he is genuine. And John Ortiz (Escalante), though diabolical, and the last trainer in the Universe that you would give a horse to, has channeled his character perfectly. Nick Nolte plays the tortured trainer (Walter) with angst and pure emotion. The gamblers are a group of misfits. They are so different from each other, my guess is, and Milch figured every gambler on the planet could relate in part, to some aspect of their degeneracy.

People should know that this is a snapshot of racetrack life according to Milch. He has captured the tortured and desperate human failings of “everyman” with the backdrop of our great game that is horseracing. He is obviously very good at what he does. But I have my doubts that it will create any new wagering dollars, new horse owners or any new fans. But I also know that that was surely not anyone’s objective when this concept was created.

The characters in” Luck” started out about as low as they could go, maybe there’s no place to go but up?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Luck", Lasix and 42 & Change...

OK, don’t be looking for the fastest half mile of the day, the 42 and change is what Wewoka Switch paid in breaking his maiden yesterday in the 8th at Gulfstream. A blog favorite, the son of Harlan’s Holiday, dropped and popped with the addition of blinkers in a much improved effort. The race was originally scheduled for the turf, and I hope the connections continue down that path. Congrats to Nick Zito and Dream Walkin’ Farms. It was a Red Solo Cup performance.

I was late to the “Luck Party” but watched 2 hours back- to- back Thursday night. Great casting, pretty good acting, with a script chock full of backstretch and grandstand vernacular. However, it does highlight the dark side of racing, with its various broken-down bust-out characters. Who would want to visit a racetrack if they thought they would run into any of these losers? Here’s a suggestion. If the writers of “Luck” are only going to focus on the down and out, could they please inject a little humor, at least?

Maybe it’s too early to tell, but “Luck” won’t do much for racing except tarnish our rich and beautiful sport.

TVG ‘s Round Table last night was a chat about Medications in Racing, which quickly turned into taking sides on Lasix. Most of the participants were knowledgeable and respective members of the Racing Community. (I said most)
There are definitely two distinct views on the issue. I know where I stand. You have to do what’s in the best interest of the horse’s health and welfare. Period. If the public perception is skewed, then it is the industry’s job to educate the public. Like for instance, it is a huge misconception that medication (like Bute and Lasix) is not used in Europe and other countries. But in fact, it is used frequently in training, up to a race.

Nice racing around the country today, including Tampa Bay. I like Game Drive in the third, on the lawn in the Opt claiming $75,000, NW x1. And Keertana is returning in the Grade 3 Endeavor S.

Setsuko, in the 10th at Santa Anita, has been a horse that I have always liked, but who has been a big disappointment. He has now been gelded. I look for a turnaround here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday at Gulfstream

It’s an interesting day in Hallandale, with the return of Hansen the 2011 two year old champ in the Grade 3, 1 mile Holy Bull Stakes.

The white flash has had his own way in his short, yet illustrious career. He is a dual surface winner on both poly and dirt and is making his first start as a three year old in this Derby prep.

And it won’t be easy. I am in the Consortium consortium. This Bernadini colt looks to be progressing nicely, will be getting first time Lasix. He is getting 6 lbs from Hansen too. I think he still has some move forward and I think he and Algorithms (with both having a wins over the track) will give the champ all he can handle.

In the Forward Gal, I like Say A Novena. She is adding blinkers, has a recent bullet (with blinks on?) has a good outside draw, and I love the breeding. Kind of close to home, I follow all the quick Songandaprayers as my dad found his dam, Alizia. ( Premiership) Speed over the stamina Dynaformer line, is always dangerous. She should turn the tables on Sacristy. And it is SUNDAY. Maybe another holy exacta.

Back it up to the 8th race, a maiden event for fillies on turf. While the Graham Motion filly (Coup) will take all the dough, and she should, I look for an improvement with Spinning Wildcat. The half to War Chant out of the Champion mare, Hollywood Wildcat looks to have some talent. Though J Lep opted for Coup, Spinning Wildcat gets leading rider Castellano.

Maybe Moonstock in the 4th? Off the layoff, maybe Mott has this horse figured out. None of the others seem to want to win.
Hope it’s a Lucky day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sunshine Millions Turf

This year, the Sunshine Millions is an all-Florida Affair. In years past, the day was split between Santa Anita and Gulfstream, where races were restricted to Cal-breds and Florida- breds. This year the West Coast will participate only in the Sunshine Millions “Luck” Pick 6 wager, celebrating the Monday night premier of the HBO series. But the $ 1.3 million dollars in purses will be distributed in six races at Gulfstream only.

The race I will focus on for ThoroFan's Handicapper's Corner is the $150,000 Turf at a 1 & 1/8 for 3 years old and up. It is Leg C of the “Luck” Pick Six. There are 11 entered, and there is a 40% chance of rain.

Slew’s Answer is a very well-bred (½ to Dynaslew) lightly raced 5 year old with top notch connections. He is coming off a 10 week freshening. He is working well for his return. Likes the distance, has a win and a second over the course and could fit very well with these.

Livingston Street, though a nice horse, seems a cut below these. Biggest knock is 14 starts on the Gulfstream lawn, with no wins. Can’t recommend.

Bad Debt – anytime you have a horse that has 10 wins from 26 starts you have to take a second look. Yes, he is stepping up and maybe he can’t win, this horse never, ever throws in a clunker.

Bell by the Ridge – yes I know, Castellano & Maker and he does have a nice late kick, but I don’t think he’s good enough.

Little Mike- the only thing I am sure of is that Joe Bravo will send Little Mike to the lead. He is fast and that’s the way he runs. But what will he fold the last part of it? Only one start at the distance and he faltered. Should we overlook it because it was a Grade 1?

Beckham Bend is another 7 year old with not many starts. If you throw out the mile and a half Pan American, he has a pretty nice form. And he had a tightener a month ago.

Allie’s Event is another check getter, and interestingly enough has never run with statebreds. But he has never won at the distance.

Stay Red is eligible for non winners of 3, and can’t see anything to like.

Blazen is a question mark. He has shown some talent on occasion and has had a number of troubled trips. With the right trip, might get a piece.And he has an extra 1/8 of a mile to get out of any trouble he finds himself in.

Teaks North is the only Grade 1 stakes winner in the field. And he has John Velazquez in the irons. A million plus earner, he has faced much better. He had a tightener just 14 days ago, his first race back after the Breeder’s Cup Turf. If he runs back to his winning style of last year, he should run down the speed. But are his glory days behind him?

Roman Tiger also eligible for NW3x, looks overmatched to me.

There is no doubt that Little Mike could take this field wire to wire .He will be playing come and catch me. If he falters late, Slew’s Answer, Teaks North and Bad Debt will be coming late.

Blazen is a wild card, and could light up the tote board.

Watch the weather for any change in the turf course, check out the post parade for how the horses are acting and moving, and as always, I hope some “Luck” comes your way.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bring on the Beignets!

Having the first major snow event of the season here in the northeast and the Big A has cancelled, but the racing at the ’Stream and Fair Grounds will be more than enough to keep all handicappers in pursuit of moneymaking opportunities.

The card in New Orleans is the most interesting to me, with the LeComte for newly turned three year olds and thus a prep for the Louisiana Derby.
So grab a beignet or a doughboy or a doughdaddy donut, and let’s take a look at the Grade 3 Lacomte.

First, the Dorochenko entry is not at all interesting to me. I would be shocked if either one hits the board.

Let’s move on.

The 2 & 2a is the Zayat entry, with Pletcher training the second time starter Dan and Sheila and Asmussen training, the other half, Z Dager. Both horses are stepping up from their maiden scores. Castellano stays in Florida, Johnny V picks up the mount on Dan and Sheila who has had 3 nice works, including a bullet since his score from the 10 hole in December. Z Dager loses Lanerie (to the undefeated Capetown Devil) and picks up Sellers, who is having a good meet. Both horses are conditioned by trainers who know where to spot their horses.

Ted’s Folly…read his story, written by Eclipse Award winning Jennie Rees in the Louisville Courier...
Looking for his 7th win in a row, this little horse knows how to find the winner’s circle. He has broken from inside, outside, but always has a great turn of foot from the top of the stretch to the wire. The long FG stretch will be good for him, and though he is stepping up….in a sense, so are all the others in here. He’s taking his jock with him, and how can you not bank on the fact that this horse will come running in the end?

Mr. Bowling, the Gov’s homebred, is coming off a layoff. He showed promise last year and is working very well for his return. He has definite grow up potential.

After some “slight stall injury” this week, Exfactor is scheduled to run. Not sure if he kicked the wall, got cast, but I guess he’s good to go. Definitely a talented horse, he has current form as he is coming off a win in December.

Seven Lively Sins is trained by the newly elected Fair Grounds Hall of Famer, Al Stall. His only win came on synthetic. A speedy sort, he has Rosie Napravnik in the saddle.

Can’t say much about Alexander Thegreat. Another one that would shock me if he wins.

Hammers Terror is an interesting sort. He is a nose shy of 3 for 3, and is a dual surface winner. Drew off smartly in his allowance win at Fair grounds, and has worked 4 times since then, including a bullet. Has been “rushed” has been “wide” and has “stalked”. I like a horse that has still managed to run big, no matter what is thrown at him. And at 6-1, I like him a lot.

The Coach has a horse in here, who finally got his diploma 7 days ago at Oaklawn Park after an overly ambitious 2 year old campaign. Nicely bred horse, but can’t back in here, on such a short turn around.

Very similar form to Hammer’s Terror, is Capetown Devil. Undefeated, 3 for 3, dual surface winner and a recent win over the track. I’m not worried that he broke his maiden for 30. He is a homebred and I think they just took a chance at an easy score. Had trouble in his last, which caused him to be farther back than usual, and he still managed to get up for the win. And the jock stays. Another to like a lot.

No doubt that Shared Property should be the favorite, just judging by the company he kept last year. He and Exfactor are the only graded stakes winners in the race. Lots of grow up potential if he’s ready off the layoff.

Lots to like in here and any selections should be made after a look at the paddock and post parade. There is a 30% chance of rain, so watch the weather as well.

Good luck if you are wagering today.

Work of the Week…..Shackleford…yesterday…58:63 /1:11.22 / galloped out 7/8ths in 1:25
Can’t wait for his return!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Ft. Lauderdale

While it would be nice to actually be on a beach somewhere near Ft. Lauderdale, I am wondering just how cold it’s going to get in the next few days here in New England .For some of us, it’s a 3 day weekend. And as a horseplayer, well yes, I too, have a dream. (Well a number of them really). But who doesn’t dream of hitting a big one???

Not totally prepared on going into 3 days of wagering, but I am working on it.

I’ve taken a look at the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale, the 10th race on the Saturday card. It is a 1&1/16 turf event and here are my thoughts.

Mutual Trust is a newly turned 4 year old Juddmonte homebred. He is a group 1 winner in France and he is coming off a 5 month layoff. He is getting first time Lasix, and has been prepping well over the deep Payson Park surface. It’s a new distance for him, but I doubt that will be an issue. Will he like the hard and fast Gulfstream strip?

Flat Out is a Grade 1 winner and an earner of a million plus. He has run with the best of them in 2011, including a 3 length loss in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. He has never raced on grass, though he has worked on it twice. This is not a bad spot for him to try it out and should he take to it he could be tough.

Silver Medallion is in great form, and it doesn’t hurt when the Pletcher barn is hitting on all cylinders (36%). Guys Reward is an old friend and is as consistent as they come. He was given a freshener and had a good race back. With that as a tightener, he is a horse that you cannot leave out of any exotics. He always fires.

And what to do with Hoofit? At first glance, he doesn’t look like he measures up, but the connections did think enough of him to run in the BC Grass Sprint, where he had a rough trip.

My “light up the tote board bomb” in here is Kindergarden Kid. I think this horse has improved a lot since being gelded. Maybe the best bred horse in the race, the Dynaformers can improve as they get older. He is versatile enough in his running style, but also has some tactical speed. I cannot ignore those bullets in the am .Will the 12 hole hurt? Will J. Lep help?

I will be looking to the post parade for any late clues in another puzzle of a turf race at Gulfstream. Hope you have a dream come true kind of gambling day!