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10.22.2018:

Harness Highlights: Atlanta Seeks Crowning Glory In Pennsylvania

Atlanta dazzled harness racing fans with speed when she defeated the boys in the Hambletonian in August. She didn’t win in her next four starts, only to recapture that winning feeling in last weekend’s Breeders Crown eliminations at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. She was hustled to the lead by driver Scott Zeron and never looked back in a 1:51.3 victory, a good sign heading into this Saturday’s $500,000 final against 3-year-old female trotters. “I wanted to command the lead early,” said Zeron. “It took her a bit to get back after the two heats in the Hambletonian and she was coming off two heats at the Red Mile, so tonight was good.” Atlanta isn’t the only elimination winner deemed ‘good’ to go for the $6 million, 12-race card that will begin at 5:30 p.m. EST. The sophomore trotting division is stacked with talent, so while Atlanta takes on fillies, world-record holder Six Pack and Tactical Landing clash in the $500,000 final for colts after elimination scores in 1:53.3 and 1:52.2, respectively. A pair of undefeated runners highlight the 2-year-old trotting division. New York sire stakes champion Gympanzee is perfect in eight starts, while filly Woodside Charm looms as the odds-on favorite after a smashing 1:53 prelim score to go 6-for-6. North America’s leading trainer, Ron Burke, will be well represented in the sophomore pacing division after Dorsoduro Hanover and This Is The Plan won prelims for the colts and defending champ Youaremycandygirl lived up to favoritism against the fillies. Guardian Angel As ($11.80) and Top Flight Angel ($20.60) will try to duplicate their mild upsets in the open trot prelims when they square off in the $500,000 Breeders Crown final. Emoticon Hanover will be looking for her second Breeders Crown victory in the $250,000 Mare Trot after a pocket-sitting prelim win in 1:52.4. NF Happenstance ran a fifth of a second faster in her elimination and won by 3-1/4 lengths at 9-1 odds after favorite Dream Together ranged up and went off stride. Call Me Queen Be, a champion at age 3 two years ago, appears back on her game after a 18-1 upset in the Mare Pace. No Mas Amor (1:50.3) and filly Tall Drink Hanover (1:51.3) recorded the fastest times in the freshman pacing division heading into the $600,000 finals.

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10.22.2018:

Bet the Breeders' Cup Efficiently & Aggressively

Between now and Nov. 2-3, everyone you know with an opinion about racing will be sharing hot takes on particular horses. It’s what we do. Whether you want that input or not, brace yourself; because it’s coming. But what you’re not likely to hear or see from many is just exactly what you should be doing as a bettor to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup. Here are my tips toward betting the Breeders’ Cup with efficiency and aggressiveness. Bet More Than Usual The very premise of pari-mutuel wagering is that the losing tickets pay the winners. It’s that simple. Despite the vastly increased handicapping challenges the Breeders’ Cup presents, its betting benefits far outweigh the difference. This, and Kentucky Derby Day, are the two days on the calendar that you have to get involved and let the math work for you. Because of massive pool sizes (dollars bet), the event’s average payouts are astounding, from a par $2 exacta of more than $200 to trifectas and superfectas that return 2-3 times more than what we’re used to seeing even in 12-horse fields at major racing meets. The numbers don’t lie. Get paid when you’re right is my absolute philosophy in horse racing. This is the time on the calendar when that will happen when you click. And speaking of the calendar, let’s be honest – a strong percentage of regular horseplayers take a little respite after the Breeders’ Cup anyway. Go out swinging. Look For Massive Overlays, Not Ordinary Win Plays Whether it’s Breeders’ Cup Friday or a Tuesday in the dead of winter, 3-to-1 pays $8. The beaucoup pools at the BC don’t really matter when it comes to assessing your potential returns in the win pool. That’s a static percentage. But there’s little doubt that you’ll find horses at odds you’ve never seen them at before, and likely won’t see them at again. Therein comes your value judgment for overlays. If you think West Coast is 2-1 to win the Classic and he’s offering 5-1 because of the depth of the field, that’s the beauty of the Breeders’ Cup, and the very definition of an overlay. But unless you’re betting large sums, an extra $10 to win on a 5-1 shot that should have been 2-1 likely isn’t going to move your memories. You’re not going to remember back to 2018 when you turned $10 into $60 and outsmarted them all. I almost hate to say it, but this is a weekend when I put the win pool aside. I can find $12 returns for a deuce all day Tuesday at Anytrack USA. Subtract One The easiest move you can make when betting the Breeders’ Cup is to reduce your bet type. Not your bet amounts, but your bet types. For every pick four you think you can hit, instead attack a pick three and spend the same amount of money while having each combination more times; try the exacta vs. the trifecta. These are extremely difficult races to decipher, so don’t make the mistake of adding all kinds of 50-cent and dollar combos to bets that are unlikely to cash. Subtract a race, bet more on the simpler wagering combination and see your returns come back just as big or bigger as that tougher bet you probably weren’t going to hit anyway. You will be much more profitable with a $3 pick three than that $.50-cent pick four that ‘just missed.’ You Can’t Beat the Races Haven’t you yet learned the old adage: You can beat a race, but you can’t beat the races? The idea is a simple one in that you can expect to be right some of the time when forecasting the future. But long-range success comes at a steeper price. Literally. So don’t try to devour all 14 of these races with anywhere near the same voracity and equal bankrolls. There will be at least 4-5 no bets, AT LEAST. Maybe 4-5 mild bets. And maybe 3-4 stronger bets, if not LESS. Make sure that if you hit 2 races this weekend that you win the weekend. Who knows, maybe even 1 will be enough? For this reason, resist as much as possible going too gung-ho into pick fours, fives and sixes. Defeating that many races in a row at this level is a continuous dance with danger. You’ll find that you can beat a race with success in the exacta, trifecta or superfecta far more often than you can beat a series of races. It’s true in adage or reality. Search Out Doubles If you must go the multi-race route, and I know many of you do, then let me recommend a search for not one single, but two. If that sounds like Mission Impossible, it just may be. But you’re not going to be comfortable in coverage no matter how much 99.9 percent of you spend. A pick four with full fields of 12 offers 20,736 combinations. That’s what you’re going up against. So let’s say you play a conventional ticket of 2x4x4x5 for 160 combinations ($80). You have covered only 8/10 of one percent of the combos. But what’s more, you’ve actually put just 15 horses on your ticket in the four races. If you’re willing to single the 2 horses you feel best about, you can put together a 1x1x12x12 ticket that doesn’t require any opinion whatsoever in half the sequence. It would cost $72 (cheaper than the 2x4x4x5 play’s $80 pricetag), and actually give you 26 horses on your ticket. If you wanted to have the same grand total of 15 horses on your ticket, you could go 1x1x6x7 on the same pretext, and you’re spending only $21, but obviously are leaving yourself more exposure in the non-single legs. If you can’t find two singles in a sequence, then move on to the next one, or continue to focus your bankroll on intra-race bets. Feel-Out Friday Finally, remember that Friday and Saturday are both Breeders’ Cup Days in name, but they don’t have to be connected to your bottom line the same way. Five races for 2-year-olds (3 on the turf) are scheduled for Friday with 9 races for older horses (5 on dirt) set for Saturday. If the juvenile races are not your thing, and you prefer dirt to turf handicapping, then you have to really be disciplined on Friday and weight your bankroll to Saturday. I’m looking at spending 10 percent on Friday and 90 percent on Saturday. So if you’ve got $250 to play on the Breeders’ Cup weekend, that’s $25 of fun money on Friday and $225 to get serious on Saturday. Perhaps you feel stronger about Friday’s races than Saturday, then by all means reverse the course I’m taking. But know which day and races you prefer beforehand. Don’t overspend Friday, only to be left short-handed on Saturday.  

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10.21.2018:

Oct 21: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

Pompano Park kicks-off their winter meet tonight with a 9-race card. The feature will roll in Race 7 an Open 1 Pace with a $10,000 purse. The Pick 4 sequence at the "Winter Capital of Harness Racing" begins in Race 6, it has a low 12% takeout and will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 6 2-Dee's Rocketman-Should like the company and does like the track, best to respect. 4-Andreios Kardia-Fits with these and could win at a square price but off since 9/22 like #2. 7-A Cool Card-Comes back in 7 days, in from HoP, should be a price and will take a swing. Race 7 3-Panocchio-Hennessey's choice over #2 and #5, could win in 1st start off the bench. 4-Hot Art-Has been racing well at HoP and if takes to the smaller oval could pop at a nice price. 6-Kotare Yael N-Comes off a win at RcR and fits with this crew, could blast out and get the top. Race 8 2-Sgt Grit-Drew well and can stay in the hunt, shows wins unlike others in a soft field. 4-Uptown Sleaze-Midwest invader is 7/5 ML chalk, not crazy about short price but can't leave out. 6-Dinky Dune-Similar to #4, 2-1 in the ML and looks like a player if takes to the smaller oval. Race 9 3-Lyons Johnny-Drops into a good spot and has gone some fast miles at the Pomp. 9-Casimir Quasimodo-4-yr-old has speed and can leave, if takes to the surface could compete at long odds. $1 Pick 4 2,4,7/3,4,6/2,4,6/3,9 Total Bet=$54 Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia 

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10.20.2018:

Oct 20: Pocono Downs Pick 4 Analysis

The Saturday 14-race card at Pocono will feature eight Breeders Crown elimination races for 3-year-olds and six eliminations for 4-year-olds and older. Once again there will be a 15% takeout on all wagers on the card and my focus will be the Pick 4 sequence. Last night David Miller, Andrew McCarthy and Bob McClure each had two wins and led the driver colony. Trainer Tony Alagna led the conditioners with two pictures. My posted Pick 4 ticket connected as the 8-3-2-7 combination paid $137.60 on a $1 wager. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 6 7-Seviyorum-Has been holding own vs. very tough foes, most aren't in this divisions so could be the night to shine. 3-Plunge Blue Chip-ML chalk and probable post time favorite broke in last but had won 4 straight. 6-Impinktoo-This will be a challenge, but form suggests best to respect, could get on the engine and control race. Race 7 3-Dorsoduro Hanover-Has been 2nd in 4 straight, set a LT mark of 1.49.4 here and gets a slight edge. 1-Thinkbig Dreambig-Consistently in the hunt and if takes to the smaller oval can win it all. 2-Ideal Feeling-Nice post draw, should handle the turns and Tetrick can keep in contention at a square price. Race 8 6-Crystal Fashion-Has the gate speed to get the lead or 2 hole, may get revenge over #1 tonight. 1-Six Pack-ML chalk looks for 5th in a row and it would be no surprise. 5-Fiftydallarbill-Comes off a nice win at HoP and set LT mark at PcD, could upset at a nice price. Race 9 6-Phaetosive-Well traveled and the model of consistency rates a slight edge in a very tough elimination. 3-Atlanta-Hambo winner should be right there at the wire. 2-Manchego-Hard fighting filly could battle top two to the wire if takes to the smaller oval. $1 Pick 4 3,6,7/1,2,3/1,5,6/3,6 Total Bet=$54  Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia 

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10.20.2018:

Empire Showcase brings out top N.Y. breds; Pick 4 attractive

Empire Showcase Day brings out the best New York-breds and the late Pick 4 is somewhat of an inverted pyramid. The stakes races involved have full and evenly matched lineups, and in addition to great purses for horses bred in the Empire State, they bring some outstanding betting opportunities. I’m approaching this is a 6 x 5 x 3 x 1 strategy. The single comes in the last as the Brad Cox-trained Dream Passage is a standout in the state-bred allowance. She has been running out of real estate going 5.5-and six-furlong turf races and gets seven furlongs today. It’s not as cut and dried in the first three races off the sequence. Leading off in the 8th – the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes – there are six horses that made the cut on this ticket: Poppy’s Destiny, Bankit, Dugout, La Fuerza, Bustin to Be Loved and Bustin Hoffman. Unbeaten Dugout (3 for 3) is the 5-2 morning line favorite but many in there have shown lots of ability. The $250,000 Empire Distaff Handicap brings another large field together, included on this ticket are Take Charge Aubrey, Hay Field, Frostie Anne, Tiznow’s Smile and Bonita Bianca (the lukewarm 4-1 favorite). That one looks like anyone’s race to win. The $300,000 Empire Classic is the last stakes of the day and Pat On the Back is the 5-2 favorite. Can You Diggit also will get his share of backing, and Wine Not (8-1) comes off a good effort and is price play here. Here’s the suggested ticket for the late Pick 4 at Belmont:Race 8) #1 Poppy’s Destiny, #4 Bankit, #6 Dugout, #10 La Fuerza, #13 Bustin to Be Loved, #14 Bustin Hoffman.Race 9) #2 Take Charge Aubrey, #4 Hay Field, #6 Frostie Anne, #8 Tiznow’s Smile, #12 Bonita Bianca.Race 10) #4 Can You Diggit, #7 Wine Not, #10 Pat On the Back.Race 11) #6 Dream Passage.Total Ticket Cost) $45 for 50 cents.

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10.19.2018:

Al Cimaglia: Oct 19-Pocono Downs Pick 4 Analysis

October 19, 2018 | By Al Cimaglia Tonight, ten Breeders Crown elimination races for 2-year-olds are on tap at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. All wagers for the entire 14-race card will have the reduced takeout rate of 15%. The Pick 4 starts in Race 6, it will be my focus and the entire sequence is comprised of elimination races. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 6 4-Demon Onthe Hill-Will take a swing for an upset, Tetrick takes a seat and colt is familiar with a 5/8's oval. 8-Gimpanzee-Winner of almost $300k is 7-7 and most on a small oval, big shot tonight. 1-Chin Chin Hall-Lightly raced and that may be an advantage, Indy invader could be a good one. , Race 7 5-Teacherous Reign-Should be a square price and shows 51.3 speed on a 5/8's, will use on top. 3-St Somewhere-Big speed but has had an issue with breaks on a half mile oval. 2-Cruise-D. Miller should keep this Sweet Lou filly in the hunt, could add some pop to gimmicks. Race 8 8-Warrawee Ubeaut-In the end could be the best 2-year-old pacing filly and rates an edge even from this post. 2-Tall Drink Hanover-Winner of 8 of 9 is big threat if takes to the track. Race 9 7-When Dovescry-Team Allard trainee is in fine form and could blast out and not look back. 4-The Ice Dutchess-Program chalk will make presence felt in a tough elim. 6-Cloud Nine Fashion-6 race win streak was snapped in last, best to respect and should like the smaller oval. $1 Pick 4 1,4,8/2,3,5/2,8/4,6,7 Total Bet=$54 Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia  

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10.18.2018:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: October 19 Stronach 5 Picks

We’re back to battle with the Stronach 5, with a tough sequence stretching four tracks. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and three surfaces (dirt, Tapeta and turf), inside of 45 minutes, with a $1 minimum and ridiculously low 12% takeout. I’ll be putting together some prospective tickets in this space each week for a wager that is undoubtedly as good as it gets for the bettors. The pools have been very healthy and interest seems to be building, so swing away! *** Please take note that this analysis is done upwards of 48 hours in advance, so obviously weather, track conditions and especially late scratches can and will have an effect. Please check back around 12pm Friday for an update. *** Leg 1: Gulfstream Park West R7 (4:36 ET) – 2yof Florida breds 50k MCL at 5 ½ furlongs Another tough puzzle at GPW to start things off, so I want to spread, with top honors going to #4 WHATEVERUSAYDEAR (9-2), who likely comes out of the best race, an MSW at Del Park in her career debut, where she was a decent 4th after a slow break. There’s price appeal on #1 BEGIN (6-1), who ran by far her best race the lone time she sprinted on dirt, and the fact it was in her career debut three-back says she should be better this time. I’ll also use the horse to beat, #10 CRUMB BUN (2-1), though she’s tough to trust after six straight losses, has no upside, and her best career figure came in the slop. I’m a sucker for MSW droppers in these races, so I’ll also toss in #7 SUM MO CASH (8-1), who made up a lot of ground late on debut and should be tighter today. Pk5 A horses (listed in order of preference): 4,1,10,7 Obviously I don’t have a lot of confidence in this spot, so I’ll also use #3 FLYING MY WAY (6-1), who goes for a sharp Plesa barn, but one that is 0-for-25 with firsters, #9 IMMACULATE HEART (15-1), a wakeup 6th in her dirt debut, and #8 LA RUBIROSA (12-1), who has a bullet gate drill for her a debut, for Machado and Berrios, who are 4-for-19 when getting together. Pk5 B horses: 3,9,8 Leg 2: Santa Anita R3 (5:03 ET) – 2yo 30k MCL at 1-mile Post is huge here, and the two best horses are drawn inside, so that’s why I only want #1 AGRONOMO (3-1), and #2 R B EYE (4-1), as the former has two big figures (for these) and the latter was a solid 3rd going two turns last time in his dirt debut and runs as a first-time gelding. Pk5 A horses (listed in order of preference): 1,2 I’m going to use the ML favorite, #6 STAY IN YO LANE, as he wins this with ease if he runs back to his debut, but that last run was so bad, with no apparent excuse, that I find him tough to trust. Pk5 B horses: 6 Leg 3: Gulfstream Park West R8 (5:09 ET) – 3upfm AOC at 1 1/16miles on the turf We need to take a stand somewhere and there are a lot of reasons it should be on #4 NIKKI’S CAUSE (9-5), who looks primed off two big wins against weaker and the fact she now goes off the claim for Joseph, a potent 33% move. I also think it’s a great sign she got a little freshening off those two wins and now returns in a spot where she isn’t in for a tag. Pk5 A horses: 4 There will be no backups here, but if you are looking for a bit more coverage then #1 Baroness Vontrappe (6-1), #5 Seafire (5-1), and #2 Whiteheelgirl (20-1), and #7 Snirvana (8-1) are all in the mix, though they don’t have the firepower of the pick. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 4: Laurel Park R10 (5:24 ET) – 3up N1X at 1-mile on the turf There are a lot of horses here who could win on their best day but only two that are consistent enough to win every time out, and that’s how I’ll approach this, as #3 CAN DO ANYTHING (9-2) and #12 BANJO BILL (3-1) bring it every time on the grass and the former gets bonus points for beating a real comer for Augustin Stable two-back and the latter because of her course and distance 2nd to a repeat winner last time, along with her tactical speed, which can negate this bad draw. Pk5 A horses: 3,12 I’m not enamored with anyone else but you will get some value with #15 DON’T POKE THE CAT (5-1), and the last time he was on turf he was a good 3rd in a fast race over the course/distance and has shown he likes turf with some give to it. Pk5 B horses: 15 Leg 5: Golden Gate Fields R5 (5:53 ET) – 3upfm MSW at 6 furlongs Last week I advocated for simply taking the two best horses in a deep race and calling it a day, as you could use countless more yet not even have the winner, or run the risk of spending excess money looking for something that isn’t there. That’s the theory here, as #4 DESERT SMOKE (2-1) and #3 SNEAKERS (5-2) simply look better than an average bunch. The former has a ton of speed and is the one to beat, but does meet other pace presence, which is why the latter, who doesn’t have a lot of early speed, is appealing as well since you know she’ll be rolling late. Pk5 A horses: 4,3 Deeper tickets can look to #2 Saburai (5-1), #10 Hal’s Buddy (8-1), and #7 Dutton’s Legend (20-1), though none of them have the consistency or the figures of the top pair, and there don’t deserve to be on the B-line. Pk5 B horses: NONE The tickets: Main Ticket: 4,1,10,7 with 1,2 with 4 with 3,12 with 4,3 = $32R1 B Backup: 3,9,8 with 1,2 with 4 with 3,12 with 4,3 = $24R2 B Backup: 4,1,10,7 with 6 with 4 with 3,12 with 4,3 = $16R4 B Backup: 3,9,8 with 1,2 with 4 with 15 with 4,3 = $12

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10.18.2018:

When Triple Crown Winners Clashed

Triple Crown winners have met only twice in the history of Thoroughbred racing in America. It happened on two occasions 40 years ago. Affirmed swept the Triple Crown in 1978, a year after Seattle Slew had accomplished the feat. They faced each other for the first time in the 1 1/8-mile Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park in 1978. Affirmed was bet down to 1-2 favoritism in the field of six. Seattle Slew was 2-1, the only time in his 17-race career that he was not the favorite. Steve Cauthen rode 3-year-old Affirmed for trainer Laz Barrera. Angel Cordero Jr. piloted 4-year-old Seattle Slew for trainer Doug Peterson. It was the first time Cordero had ridden Seattle Slew, replacing Jean Cruguet, who had been aboard the Bold Reasoning colt in his first 13 races. Seattle Slew opened a clear advantage on Affirmed soon after the start. “The Marlboro was as good as over after a quarter of a mile,” Joe Hirsch wrote in the American Racing Manual. “Seattle Slew, carrying 128 pounds to Affirmed’s 124 (the 3-year-old was giving a pound on the scale of weights to the 4-year-old) took command at the outset and opened a margin of two lengths on Affirmed, with Angel Cordero Jr. (who had replaced Jean Cruguet) rating Seattle Slew on the front end. “The first quarter was accomplished in :24, the half-mile in :47, with Affirmed still a couple of lengths behind Seattle Slew. Some thought Affirmed’s cause was lost as a result of the slow early pace, among them Laz Barrera, trainer of Affirmed. He said in post-race comments that he had instructed Cauthen to remain no more than a length off the leader. Others questioned whether Affirmed could match Seattle Slew for speed out of the gate, no matter what the rider did. “In any event, Seattle Slew led all the way to win by three lengths over Affirmed, with Nasty and Bold another five lengths back. Upper Nile, Cox’s Ridge and Darby Creek Road, the others in the Marlboro and all stakes winners, were outclassed in this company.” Affirmed skipped the 1 1/4-mile Woodward Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 30. Seattle Slew won that race by four emphatic lengths. And then, 40 years ago this week, Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Affirmed had a rematch in the 1 1/2-mile Jockey Club Gold at Belmont on Oct. 14. Barrera did not want to see Seattle Slew get an easy early lead again. Thus, the trainer also ran the speedy Life’s Hope in Gold Cup as a “rabbit” to push Seattle Slew in the early going. This time Seattle Slew was the odds-on favorite at 3-5. Affirmed and Life’s Hope, coupled in the wagering, went off at 2-1. Exceller, trained by Charlie Whittingham, was sent off at 7-2 after having finished second to Seattle Slew in the Woodward. Cordero again rode Seattle Slew. Cauthen was back aboard Affirmed. Bill Shoemaker had the riding assignment on Exceller. The track was sloppy. All certainly did not go well early for either Seattle Slew or Affirmed in the Gold Cup. To begin with, Seattle Slew broke through the gate before the start. The percentage of horses who win after doing that is very low. When the field of six was dispatched by the starter, Seattle Slew did get away to an alert beginning. But then he found himself embroiled in a three-way battle for the early lead with Affirmed and Life’s Hope. “They move into the turn a three-horse team,” race announcer Chic Anderson said during his call. It was Seattle Slew on the inside, Life’s Hope on the outside, with Affirmed in between. According to Cordero, Seattle Slew and Affirmed “made a little contact going into the first turn.” According to Cordero, when that happened, his foot came out of the left stirrup and he bounced down into the saddle. “When I touched the saddle with my behind,” Cordero recalled years later, “my horse just took off.” Seattle Slew, Affirmed and Life’s Hope sped the opening quarter in :22 3/5. And the quick pace did not stop there. The trio stepped the opening half in a sizzling :45 1/5, prompting Anderson to say, “Those three are really blazing.” Life’s Hope could only stay with Seattle Slew and Affirmed through the first half-mile. Life’s Hope eventually stopped to a walk and wound up far behind his five opponents. Affirmed continued vying for the lead for about six furlongs before retreating. His saddle had slipped earlier in the race on the clubhouse turn when Cauthen thought it would be prudent to try and rate him off the hot pace. According to Hirsch, when Affirmed’s saddle slipped, Cauthen “lost full control of his horse.” Affirmed finished fifth and lost by almost 19 lengths. During his illustrious racing career, the Exclusive Native colt finished first or second in 27 of 29 starts and third once. The lone time Affirmed ever finished worse than third was when the saddle slipped in his 1978 rematch against Seattle Slew. Seattle Slew ran the first six furlongs in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 1:09 2/5, a pace that Cordero termed “brutal.” Slew sported a 2 1/2-length lead at that point. After Seattle Slew had gone a little farther than midway around the far turn, he had opened a healthy lead as Affirmed was dropping back. Cordero took a peek back. “I turned around and looked and saw that I was four or five lengths in front,” Cordero said. “And I saw Exceller was flying on the inside with Shoemaker.” After being 22 lengths behind early, Exceller closed with a rush along the inside rail to engage Seattle Slew for the lead turning for home. Coming into the stretch, Exceller and Seattle Slew were locked in a furious head-and-head brawl. Exceller found himself in rather close quarters between Affirmed and the inner rail. Cordero has admitted that at that stage of the race, he “started race-riding” Exceller. “I tried to keep him close to the fence,” said Cordero, who explained that he did so mainly because the inside part of the track was believed to be a little deeper. When Exceller increased his lead to a half-length lead with a furlong to go, it appeared that perhaps he was on his way to victory. But Seattle Slew refused to surrender. As the equine slugfest between Seattle Slew and Exceller continued approaching the sixteenth pole, Anderson said the following into his microphone: “This is a real battle on to the wire.” In the book “Whiittingham,” Jay Hovdey wrote: “Exceller edged away and Seattle Slew fought back until he was almost on even terms as they approached the wire. But in the end it was Exceller, his head low and covered with mud, who held on to win by a nose.” It had been billed as a rematch between Triple Crown winners. But as it turned out, neither Seattle Slew nor Affirmed was victorious in the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup. However, Slew was saluted by many for coming so close to winning a 1 1/2-mile race after going as fast as he did early. In the book “Seattle Slew,” Dan Mearns wrote: “Slew’s courage and determination earned the praise of fans and racing industry professionals alike. Some even would say that Slew ran his greatest race in defeat.” Indeed, the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup seems to be remembered more for Seattle Slew being so gallant in defeat than for Exceller’s victory. Not surprisingly, that did not sit well with one Charles Edward Whittingham. One morning at Santa Anita in the 1980s, I was standing with Whittingham and a couple of other people when the subject of the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup came up. “All I ever hear people say is how great Seattle Slew ran,” Whittingham said. “But Exceller won that race. They seem to forget that.” It was a point well taken. MEMORIES OF LANDALUCE Chasing Yesterday, a half-sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharaoah, won the seven-furlong Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita last Sunday. Hall of Famer Bob Baffert trains the 2-year-old Kentucky-bred Tapit filly. When American Pharoah swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 2015, he became the first horse to achieve the feat in 37 years. Baffert trained American Pharoah. Earlier this year, Baffert won the Triple Crown again, this time with Justify. There were those, including yours truly, who believed a filly who won the 1982 Anoakia Stakes possessed the talent to go on and possibly win the1983 Kentucky Derby and maybe even the Triple Crown. That filly was Landaluce. When Justify burst on the racing scene at Santa Anita last Feb. 18, he reminded me of Landaluce’s Anoakia victory. The two performances are eerily similar. You can watch both races on YouTube and judge for yourself. Landaluce drew off in the stretch, won the seven-furlong Anoakia by 10 lengths and posted a final time of 1:21 4/5. Justify drew off in the stretch, won a seven-furlong maiden special weight race by 9 1/2 lengths and posted a final time of 1:21 4/5. For those who might question whether Landaluce had what it took to win the Kentucky Derby or possibly the Triple Crown, keep in mind that to this day, her Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, says she is the best Thoroughbred he has ever trained. (Lukas has said he considers Quarter Horse superstar Dash For Cash to have been the best racehorse he has ever trained.) This means that Lukas believes Landaluce was better than all three horses to be voted Horse of the Year when he trained them: Lady’s Secret (1986), Criminal Type (1990) and Charismatic (1999). Lukas also is of the opinion that Landaluce was better than such champions as Winning Colors (one of only three fillies to have ever won the Kentucky Derby) and Serena’s Song. Landaluce won the Anoakia as a 1-10 favorite on Oct. 11. When she made her next start in the 1 1/16-mile Oak Leaf Stakes (now the Chandelier Stakes) on Oct. 23, Jeff Tufts installed her as a 1-9 morning-line favorite. Landaluce became the first horse in the history of Santa Anita to be listed at 1-9 in the program. Bet down to 1-20 favoritism, Landaluce did win the Oak Leaf, but by “only” two lengths. It would be the smallest margin of victory in her five-race career, though her final time 1:41 4/5 was only three-fifths of a second off the stakes record. After the Oak Leaf, Landaluce was scheduled to make her next start in the $518,850 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at Hollywood Park. At that time, the Starlet was the richest race for female Thoroughbreds in history. But Landaluce did not run in the Starlet. She was not even entered in the race because she had become seriously ill. Sadly and shockingly, at approximately 5:30 a.m. the day of the Starlet, Landaluce died from a severe bacterial infection. Dr. Bennie Osburn, associate dean of research at the University of California at Davis, later reported that Landaluce had died from Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli. At the time of Landaluce’s death, she already had become a national superstar. From the first crop of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, Landaluce made jaws drop in her second career start when she won the Hollywood Lassie Stakes in sensational fashion. The Lassie was a six-furlong race. After leading by just 1 1/2 lengths at the quarter pole, Landaluce ran up the score in the stretch to win by an astounding 21 lengths with Laffit Pincay Jr. in the saddle. It remains one of the greatest performances ever seen at a California track. “Laffit chirped to her at the quarter pole,” Lukas once recalled, “and that’s when 21 lengths happened. She opened up 21 lengths, as a 2-year-old filly, from the quarter pole to the wire in record time. When Laffit’s pulling up on the backside, I’m awestruck. I had never seen that kind of acceleration, a horse run like that.” Her final time of 1:08 flat shattered the stakes record set by Terlingua in 1978 by four-fifths of a second. Lukas had also trained Terlingua, who would become the dam of super sire Storm Cat. One can only wonder what the supremely talented Landaluce might have been able to accomplish if she had not died at such a tender age. SHARP DRILLS AT SANTA ANITA FOR BC CLASSIC Three contenders for the Grade I, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3 recorded workouts Sunday morning at Santa Anita. XBTV.com has video of these drills by Accelerate, West Coast and McKinzie. Accelerate, trained by John Sadler, worked four furlongs in :47.80. Private clocker Toby Turrell gave the workout a big thumbs up. “I think he was much stronger out of his last race than even going in,” Turrell said later in the morning to Mike Willman on his radio program Thoroughbred Los Angeles. “That is promising. There was just a little bit more ease to his stride. He was even more fluid down the lane. Maybe he liked that little remnant of the moisture left in the track [from a rainstorm]. Whatever it was, he sure looked strong today.” Accelerate’s most recent race was Santa Anita’s Awesome Again Stakes, which he won by 2 1/2 lengths on Sept. 29, his fourth Grade I victory this year. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Lookin At Lucky also won the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap in March, Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May and Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar in August. West Coast, runner-up in the Awesome Again, worked four furlongs Sunday for Baffert in :59.40. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred Flatter colt figures to move forward off the Awesome Again in that it was his first start since finishing second to Gun Runner in the Group I, $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 31. McKinzie worked six furlongs Sunday in a bullet 1:12.00 for Baffert. It was his first workout since he won the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 22 in his first start since March 10. “McKinzie lost weight exiting his comeback win the Pennsylvania Derby, but he’s put it back on and then some,” Privman wrote this week for Daily Racing Form. “His trainer, Bob Baffert, reports that McKinzie weighed 1,170 pounds prior to going to Parx Racing, was at 1,138 coming out of the race, but was back to 1,178 after his workout Sunday at Santa Anita.” Meanwhile, in New York, another BC Classic contender, Catholic Boy, worked five furlongs on the Belmont Park main track Sunday morning in 1:01.26 for trainer Jonathan Thomas. XBTV also has video of that workout. Catholic Boy had missed a scheduled workout the previous weekend. This was the first workout for the Kentucky-bred More Than Ready colt since he won Saratoga’s Grade I Travers Stakes on Aug. 25. THIS WEEK’S NTRA TOP THOROUGHBRED POLL Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 346 Accelerate (9)2. 222 Justify (27)3. 211 Mind Your Biscuits4. 207 Monomoy Girl5. 157 Imperial Hint (1)6. 146 Catholic Boy7. 142 Yoshida8. 119 West Coast (1)9. 94 Catalina Cruiser10. 74 Sistercharlie

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