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1.25.2020:

Saturday, January 25: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 5-Ci Voleva; 8-LoftyForecast: The main contention is this state-bred sophomore filly turf dash appears on the also-eligible list, so check for late scratches to see if one of the “Sally’s” draws in. Among those in the main body of the race, Lofty looks best of a modest lot. Away since the fall when she was fifth in a turf miler, she returns to a sprint and may be capable of tagging whatever speed there is. Interestingly, she was a voided claim for $50,000 when second in her debut at Del Mar and has been protected ever since. Ci Violeva is bred to win early (Grazen), hails from a clever outfit, and certainly won’t have to be any champion to act with these. She was entered in a similar race two weeks ago but didn’t draw in from the also-eligible list. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play but not with any great degree of enthusiasm.RACE 2: Post 1:01 PT. Grade: XSingle: 1-Remember to SmileForecast: Remember to Smile is the top pick in this five-runner bottom-rung maiden claiming sprint pretty much by default. The Smiling Tiger filly drops from maiden $50,000 to the $20,000 league and has numbers that should be more than good enough to win this modest affair. However, she won’t offer any wagering value, so you can use her as a rolling exotic single or better yet simply pass the race.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: C+Use: 1-Conquest Cobra; 4-Fire When ReadyForecast: Fire When Ready was a voided claim for $20,000 in early November and returns for $12,500, not an encouraging sign, but if he has one good one left he’ll probably beat this field. The Hess, Jr.-trained gelding is a two-time winner over the local main track – both victories under today’s pilot R. Bejarano – and in a field without much speed he projects to be on or near the lead throughout. Conquest Cobra lacks early speed and is stuck on the rail but has back form that makes him a major player if he’s feeling up to it. Today’s extra half-furlong works in his favor and with two prior wins over the Santa Anita dirt he’s proven he likes this track. We’ll prefer Fire When Ready on top but include both in rolling exotic play.RACE 4: Post 2:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Stackin Silver; 5-Include the TaxForecast: Stackin Silver pulverized a maiden $50,000 claiming field at Del Mar in mid-November and returns protected in this starter optional claimer for high percentage connections. He’s fastest on pure numbers and from the rail could easily find himself as the controlling speed. Logically, he’ll be hard to beat. Include the Tax is bred to improve with distance and has steadily rising speed figures. The M. McCarthy-trained son of Include overcame a bit of traffic to graduate in good style last month and should be able to produce a forward move. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics and then have a few extra tickets keying Stackin Silver on top.RACE 5: Post 2:36 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Shandling; 5-Of Good Report; 9-Proud PedroForecast: Proud Pedro was in a tad tough when a closing but non-threatening sixth in the Mathis Bros Mile-G2 opening day but this drop into the first-level allowance ranks should allow the French-bred colt to return to top form. On pure numbers he’s good enough to win and if he can manage to negotiate a good trip from his outside draw and have decent early fractions to compliment his late running style the L. Powell-trained sophomore should be along in time. Shandling is stretching out for the first time, lands the rail, and seems certain to employ gate-to-wire tactics. We’re not totally convinced he really wants to route, but if he’s ever going to stay two-turns it’ll be in his first try. Of Good Report won a $40,000 claimer in good style at Del Mar in November and returns protected over a course he’s won on in the past. The Twirling Candy gelding needs to improve his numbers but the winner of 4 of 12 knows where the wire is so we’ll include him on a ticket or two as well.RACE 6: Post 3:07 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Kleen Karma; 2-K P WhirlwindForecast: Kleen Karma hadn’t trained like much prior to her debut but to her credit she was able to win at first asking with a speed figure that makes her the one to beat right back in this somewhat shallow starter optional claiming main track miler for 3-year-old fillies. She’s certainly bred to handle the extra distance (Clubhouse Ride) and the C. Lewis barn is in good form right now. K P Whirlwind beat a soft maiden claiming field at Los Alamitos in convincing style and with a similar effort today should be competitive despite the class hike. However, preference on top goes to Kleen Karma and she’ll get the bulk of our play in the exotics and in the straight pool.RACE 7: Post 3:37 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Cosmo; 6-War Path; 9-Media BlitzForecast: It’s never easy to win at first asking over nine furlongs on grass but the N. Drysdale barn has done it in the past and may do it again with Cosmo, a promising son of Distorted Humor with a series of strong workouts that should have him fit and ready. He’s been trained to sit back and produce a late run and that’s the type of ride he’ll surely get from good grass jockey D. Van Dyke. There aren’t any world beaters in the field, so let’s go with the fresh face. War Path flashed improvement with a decent third over this course earlier this month and with today’s extra furlong to work with the son of War Front should continue his improving pattern. Media Blitz, freshened since the fall, could be a better type this time around for S. Callaghan and is another that should enjoy the nine furlong trip. His debut over a mile at Del Mar last summer – he was beaten a nose despite a slow start and a wide trip – charts very well with these.RACE 8: Post 4:07 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Captain Scotty; 3-FlagstaffForecast: Flagstaff has won four races from nine starts, never by more than three-quarters of a length, so he’ll probably make hard work of it trying to justify his favorite’s role. The J. Sadler-trained colt should settle in the second flight and then have his chance to wear down the leaders when it matters in the final furlong. Captain Scotty could be the quickest in the field, though he may have to deal with St. Joe Bay, who doesn’t usually wait around for anybody. If these two hook up along the way, Flagstaff’s task should be quite a bit easier.RACE 9: Post 4:37 PT. Grade: B+Single: 4-Eddy ForeverForecast: Eddy Forever needs patient handling – he didn’t get it last time and faded under pressure in the final furlong – and we’ll assume that strategy will be employed today in this nine furlong turf affair for maiden 3-year-olds that appears to be the easier split of the seventh race. The B. Baffert-trained colt continues to impress in the morning and both of his prior grass races were decent, so there should be no excuses today for the son of Medaglia d’Oro. In a race in which nothing else inspires, we’ll make him a straight play and rolling exotic single.

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1.25.2020:

Saturday, January 25: Can-Am Pick 4 Analysis

The Saturday Can-Am Pick 4 is set to roll and the first leg goes at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Race 10. The sequence is competitive in all legs and it will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 10-Leg 1-Mohawk Park1-HP Napoleon (4-1)-This post draw may not help the chances of this sometimes slow starter. But if gets a good early seat, does have the speed and will, to be a serious contender.2-Cinnabar Dragon (6-1)-Henry takes another spin and this time doesn't have to deal with the 2nd tier. Should enjoy the post change and the company, could pop at a square price.3-Heza Thrill N (7/2)-Form has been nothing to write home about but drops to a soft spot. Has been off since 12/14 and makes 1st start for new barn but McClure sticks, best to respect.7-Better Ops N (5/2)-Jamieson takes the lines of beaten favorite and he provided a good steer on a 11/30 against better. Looking for a more aggressive drive.Race 10-Leg 2-Meadowlands1-Youcaniknow (7/2)-Tetrick is doing the steering for the Burke barn tonight. Best to not overlook 2nd ML chalk who should like the company as well as the post draw.3-Forevernalways (3-1)-Faded in the late going as the ML favorite in 1st start for the Harris barn. Had been claimed in 4 straight, looks like a player but will need more to close the deal tonight.8-Ever Again (8-1)-Hasn't won on an-off track in 20 starts. But closed strongly in last on a "good" track at this class. Will take a swing that Cushing will put in play early and provide a nice trip.9-Heavenly Sound (5-1)-Steps-up and moves outside and that isn't the best recipe for success. Monti does stick and comes off a strong effort so will respect.Race 11-Leg 3-Mohawk Park4-Isitfridayyet (8-1)-Fits better at this class and Jamieson returns. Has won 10 of 46 at Wbsb and could be sitting on a big try.6-Kinnder Jackson (10-1)-Raced well on an off-track when bumped up to this level. Recent form suggests Jackson could surprise at a solid price.10-Real Willey (5/2)-Has the gate speed to get a good seat. Roy can work a trip to give the 5-year-old a big shot even from this post.Race 11-Leg 4-Meadowlands2-Justin Credible (10-1)-Tried to rally into a slow pace on an off-track. Came up short and is camera shy but will use at a price in a race without a standout.4-Western Redhot (7/2)-Makes 3rd start for new barn and has been improving. Will look for upswing to continue and would be better off on a fast track, is 0-23 on wet surfaces.6-Sunset Over Miami (8-1)-Miller has left hard in last 2 starts and now draws better. Missed a start but will overlook at this price and hope for a smooth trip.My Ticket Race 10 Mohawk) 1,2,3,7 Race 10 Meadowlands) 1,3,8,9 Race 11 Mohawk) 4,6,10 Race 11 Meadowlands) 2,4,6Total Ticket Cost) $28.80Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.24.2020:

Eddie Olczyk: Diamond Oops Could Surprise in Pegasus World Cup

With the two favorites announced as a scratch on Thursday, the path to the winner’s circle in the 2020 Pegasus World Cup isn’t nearly as daunting as it was just 24 hours ago.  From a handicapping and betting perspective, the departures of Omaha Beach and Spun to Run should cultivate an evenly-matched field that creates the potential for bigger payouts and less formful results. In my eyes, one of the major factors facing bettors in this race and the Pegasus Turf is the lack of raceday Lasix. How will these horses perform without a medication that most have used throughout their career?  As someone who values consistency, this change absolutely plays a role in how I’m approaching the Pegasus World Cup.I think the pace for this year’s Pegasus will be fair. Not terribly fast, but not slow at all. BODEXPRESS almost has to send from his outside draw, especially with a speed jockey (Emisael Jaramillo) in the irons. MR FREEZE and MUCHO GUSTO will also want to be right near the front heading into that first turn, so that should set things up for the horses sitting midpack in that second/third tier.   I really liked DIAMOND OOPS in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile but everything went wrong for him that day. He broke slowly, raced wide and was barely in the race. The good news is he loves Gulfstream (5-for-6 in his career) and should get a perfect trip from just in behind the speed. I’m really hoping that’s the trip he and Julien Leparoux work out on Saturday. The distance is a major question with him but at least we’re going to get a good price to find out how well he routes. TAX should sit a similar trip to DIAMOND OOPS and we know he likes the 1 1/8-mile distance. He’s drawn inside and should save ground before unleashing his closing kick. He’s a bit of a wise guy horse and he could even be third choice behind MUCHO GUSTO and HIGHER POWER.  So DIAMOND OOPS gets the nod from me but also I’ll use him up and down in exotics with TAX and some of the other favorites.Looking forward to this year’s Pegasus and hoping we see some fireworks on the track!

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1.24.2020:

Friday, January 24: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

Cal Expo starts the weekend with a 12-race card. The 0.20 Pick 4 begins in Race 8 and will be my focus. The sequence has a $30,000 guaranteed pool and a 16% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 82-Lookslikewemadeit (9/2)-Much improved in last start when Roland got the lines and he returns tonight. Moves in from the 9-hole and could be sitting on a big try.7-Wizzel Stix (8-1)-Broke poorly last week and couldn't make up enough ground into a dull pace. Roberts is back for his 2nd spin and looking for a more aggressive drive.8-Princess Decline (5/2)-Comes off a disappointing effort after being bet down to 9/5 but was off since 11/9. Now makes the 2nd start for Hernandez-Plano and should be a better price.Race 92-A Bay Bay (8-1)-Not my favorite horse but 13-year-old gets Wiseman back and he knows well. Needs a trip but this isn't a very deep field and should be a price.3-Gunny Wilson (4-1)-Doesn't win often but gets some needed post relief and looks to be a threat versus this bunch.4-Rocknroll Jewel (6-1)-Shouldn't have to work too hard to get on the engine and may not look back. Should like the company and can offer a square price.8-Uringoodhands (8/5)-Looking a for a 3-peat and would have a better feeling from an inside post position. Regardless, barn has been rolling and will likely be bet hard, using but looking to beat.Race 101-Reys N A Ruckus (3-1)-Was no match for these last week and a similar effort will likely earn another picture taking opportunity.4-Fear Factor (4-1)-Camera shy 5-year-old could get a seat behind #1 and trip out. Positive driver change with Plano returning and he just missed on 1/3 against some of the same.6-Fred And Roz (5-1)-Risky play because of having breaks in last two. But can beat this field with the same effort as on 1/4 when smoked the 2nd half in 55.4. Worth the risk because pace could be lively.Race 114-Misspanderosajones (5-1)-Gutsy win in last, Magee sticks and fits well with this group, best to respect.5-Gordy Again (4-1)-May have found a beatable field and Longo is back between the pipes. Does need a trip but from this post that can happen and will likely be put in play early on.6-Hi Fidelity (7/2)-Drops to a spot to shine and Plano will take a spin and he knows well. Should be out and winging, looking for a big bounce back effort.My Ticket Race 8) 2,7,8 Race 9) 2,3,4,8 Race 10) 1,4,6 Race 11) 4,5,6Total Ticket Cost) $21.60 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.24.2020:

Johnny D's 2020 Pegasus World Cup Picks & Analysis

The 2020 Pegasus World Cup Invitational is a bit leaner than in past years--$3 million purse instead of $7 million—and hefty participant fees have been waived. Runners also will compete without medication, including Lasix. Another change is that this year’s version has a sponsor-- you guessed it—Runhappy! Alterations to the conditions of what briefly was the world’s richest race, originally raised eyebrows. However, with the big day just one sleep away, anticipation fills the Hallandale Beach air. Ten runners now are schedule for the main event on a blockbuster card that also features 9 stakes--6 graded, including an overflowing field of 13 in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf. Total purses are worth a stout $5.2 million. Unfortunately, in the last 24 hours, Pegasus 2020 got even leaner when both morning-line favorite Omaha Beach and probable second choice Spun to Run scratched because of owies. The race already lacked a runners headed to Saudi Arabia for shots at a $20 million payday in the Saudi Cup. Topping the list of Saudi-bound absentees is 2019 Florida Derby winner Maximum Security and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up McKinzie trained by Bob Baffert. Without Omaha Beach, now retired, and Spun to Run, favoritism in the race will fall to Mucho Gusto, a multiple Grade 3 winner from the Bob Baffert barn. Four-year-old Mucho Gusto, a multiple Grade 3 winner from the powerful Bob Baffert barn, moves to probable favoritism. Grade 1 Pacific Classic winner Higher Power jumps up a few notches on the totem pole, too. Veterans Seeking the Soul and the well-travelled War Story will attempt to win one for the ‘old-guys’ at huge prices. Unlike with previous Pegasus World Cups, won by Arrogate, Gun Runner and City of Light, this year’s edition will not feature a seemingly unbeatable favorite. Mucho Gustso looks strong, but not nearly as powerful as those previous winners. That’s really good news for horseplayers looking to make a few bucks on the outcome of the race. Below is the third iteration of one horseplayer’s analysis of the 2020 Pegasus starting lineup with morning line odds adjusted only for the scratch of Spun to Run. With Omaha Beach also out, expect odds on each entrant to be lower than posted—some significantly. Xpressbet’s Free Pegasus World Cup Wager Guide provides selections and much more for all of Saturday’s races, so make sure to access a free copy at Xpressbet.com. Johnny D's 2020 Pegasus World Cup Analysis Post Horse Odds Jockey Trainer 1. True Timber - 15-1 - Bravo - McLaughlin Trifecta players take note. Although this six-year-old runner hasn’t won a race since back-to-back allowance scores in 2018, he has finished third in his last three graded stakes—Gr. 2 Kelso, Gr. 3 Bold Ruler and Gr. 1 Cigar Mile behind Maximum Security. His best races have come while near the early pace. He figures to have company up front in here but while saving ground from the rail he may be able to add another in-the-money finish to his resume at a big price. Use him only for bottom Tri and Super slots, if you like. 2. Tax - 8-1 - J. Ortiz - Gargan Claimed for $50k out of a first-start maiden win at Keeneland, Tax had a very nice early 3-year-old campaign that included a Gr. 3 Withers win and a Gr. 2 Wood Memorial runner-up effort. Those led to starts in the Gr. 1 Kentucky Derby (15th) and Gr. 1 Belmont Stakes (4th). He took the Gr. 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga before finishing seventh in the Travers. Some time off led to a runner-up effort in the Gr. 3 Discovery at Aqueduct in November. He’s earned $828,300, a tidy return on investment for his owners, but he’d have to step it up a bit to win this one. He’s had his moments—five-for-five in the money at the distance--but this looks like a lower-end exotic candidate. 3. Diamond Oops - 15-1 - Leparoux - Biancone He enters this race off a solid victory at seven furlongs in the Gr. 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream. He’s also won the Gr. 3 Smile Sprint at six furlongs over this track and the $75k Buffalo Man stakes here in 2017. Overall, he’s won 5 of 6 starts at Gulfstream. The 5-year-old is a versatile performer that can run near the lead or from a bit off the pace. He has a Gr. 1 runner-up turf finish to his credit. He usually starts at double-digit odds at this level. He’s fit and likes the track, but the competition may be a bit too steep for him. 4. Seeking the Soul - 30-1 - J. Velasquez - Stewart This 7-year-old horse is at the end of a $3.4 million career. He still got some spunk left in his bones, as a Jan. 17, bullet five-furlong work in a minute flat will attest. He won just one out of 8 starts last year—Gr. 2 Stephan Foster--and was second in this race to City of Light to begin the season. One of the few in here that will be coming from well off the pace. He should have many targets to run at, and that’s good, but the Gulfstream strip usually doesn’t favor closers. He and jockey John Velasquez will hope for a melt-down to occur up front. Think his best days are behind him and lower slots on Tris and Supers would be the best expectations. 5. Omaha Beach - 1-1 - Smith - Mandella Scratched 6. Higher Power - 6-1 - Pratt - Sadler This 5-year-old horse absolutely freaked in winning the Gr. 1 Pacific Classic in August at Del Mar. Before that he had optional allowance/claiming victories at Fair Grounds and Santa Anita, respectively. On the heels of his Del Mar triumph, he was a well-beaten third in the Gr. 1 Awesome Again and Gr. 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, both at Santa Anita. He had an awful start in the former and broke slowly in the latter. His best performances have come when he’s on or near the lead, so the break is important. There’s plenty of speed in here, so even if he breaks well, he may be outrun early. A repeat of his Del Mar effort makes him tough, and the scratches of Omaha Beach and Spun to Run figure to help his chances. He’s a strong candidate for the exotics, especially Tris and Supers and has a puncher’s chance to win it. 7. War Story - 30-1 - Rosario - Dobles You just ‘gotta love this 8-year-old gelding. He’s made nearly $3 million the hard way—he’s earned it in 38 lifetime starts. Eight wins, seven seconds and five thirds—add up to 20 career in-the-money finishes. And it doesn’t look like he’s quite finished, yet. Last out at Gulfstream Park, he won the Gr. 3 Harlan’s Holiday at nearly 13-1. In July, at Monmouth, he gamely won the Gr. 3 Monmouth Cup in a desperate battle through the lane. Those were his only two scores of the 2019 season. The Pegasus water is quite a bit deeper, but he’s sharp, has a win over the track, pace to chase and can handle the distance. He’s be a huge price in here, as he should be, but if the old warrior has a big one left in him, he could make them sweat late. Use him in bottom rungs of Superfectas. 8. Mr Freeze - 20-1 - Saez - Romans This 5-year-old dual Gr. 3 winner is a front-running type that often hangs around for a share of the pot. His initial claim to fame came in the 2018 Gr. 3 West Virginia Derby, which he won by eight lengths. Recently, he won the Gr. 3 Ack Ack going a mile at Churchill Downs in September and followed that up with a second and third in the Gr. 2 Fayette and Gr. 1 Clark, at Keeneland and Churchill, respectively. Figure him part of an honest early pace and a possible inclusion in minor exotic positions. 9. Spun to Run - Castellano - Guerrero SCRATCHED 10. Mucho Gusto - 9-2 - I. Ortiz Jr. - Baffert He’s a 4-year-old, multiple Gr. 3 winner that finished second, less than two lengths behind Maximum Security and eight lengths in front of Spun to Run, in the Gr. 1 Haskell Stakes. ‘Gusto returned to finish third in the Gr. 1 Travers, behind Code of Honor. A lone disappointing September start in the Oklahoma Derby sent him to the sidelines until now. Originally aimed toward a Gr. 3 stakes race, Mucho Gusto has trained so vigorously, posting four bullet works at Santa Anita since Dec. 29, including a 1:11.3 move from the gate Jan. 16, that trainer Bob Baffert elected to shift sights toward a Pegasus bull’s-eye and a second victory in the race. Next start plans call for this one to head to Saudi Arabia for a shot at even bigger money. The colt figures close in the early going and, with the scratches of Omaha Beach and Spun to Run, must be regarded as the most likely winner. He’s no cinch in his first start against elders, but he’s the one to beat. 11. Tenfold - 30-1 - Gaffalione - Asmussen This 5-year-old horse won once in 2019—Gr. 3 Pimlico Special--and was soundly defeated in his other graded-race starts. He would be a big surprise on the win end in here. A late-running style fits the race profile, but he’s had plenty of chances at this level and hasn’t succeeded. 12. Bodexpress - 30-1 - Jaramillo - Delgado This 4-year-old colt had his 15 seconds of fame in the 2019 Preakness when he unseated jockey John Velasquez at the start and raced unencumbered around the oval. His adventure was captured on national television and he immediately became a minor celebrity. He must have enjoyed the limelight because he returned to win his next two starts at Gulfstream Park West against inferior competition. Most recently, he was third to Pegasus foe War Story in the Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream. He’s a speed horse, for sure, so look for him to be in the early mix. Breaking from the far outside means he’ll be sent from the gate to save ground into the first turn. He’s not proven at this level but did run well in the 2019 Florida Derby over this track as a fading second to Horse of the Year finalist Maximum Security. He will be on or close to the lead and could hang around for a placing at a big number. Betting the Pegasus World Cup - Bottom Line: Mucho Gusto is fresh and the absence of Spun to Run will help his cause in the early pace. He wasn’t quite a top level 3-year-old star, but he may have improvement in him. As noted, Higher Power has had challenges at the start in his last two races. He needs to leave with the field. While he shouldn’t be way back, he’ll need to close ground on the leaders and that can sometimes be challenging on the Gulfstream surface. If he breaks well, he’s got a real chance. Besides everyone, those that benefit most from defections are front-running or close-to-the-pace types Mucho Gusto, Bodexpress, Higher Power, Tax and Diamond Oops. The Play: $3 Superfecta ($75 Total) First: 10. Mucho Gusto Second: 6. Higher Power Third: 1. True Timber, 2. Tax, 4. Seeking the Soul, 7. War Story, 12. Bodexpress Fourth: 1. True Timber, 2. Tax, 3. Diamond Oops, 4. Seeking the Soul, 7. War Story, 12. Bodexpress $1 Superfecta ($25) First: 6. Higher Power Second: 10. Mucho Gusto Third: 1. True Timber, 2. Tax, 4. Seeking the Soul, 7. War Story, 12. Bodexpress Fourth: 1. True Timber, 2. Tax, 3. Diamond Oops, 4. Seeking the Soul, 7. War Story, 12. Bodexpress Race On!

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1.24.2020:

Friday, January 24: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: B-Use: 4-Unicorn; 6-Saving Sophie; 7-Vegas PalmForecast: We’ll spread the opener, a maiden special weight turf miler for older fillies and mares. Unicorn, in the money in all five starts (except for the race that she stumbled badly at the start and lost her rider), has been knocking on the door and gets what appears to be her easiest chance yet. Freshened since October but with a solid series of drills at San Luis Rey Downs that should have her plenty fit, the R. Baltas-trained filly seems fairly solid; however, she’s already failed as the favorite four times and may not be one to trust. Saving Sophie, runner-up in her last three with numbers that make her a solid contender, was unplaced in her only prior start on grass, but that was in an abbreviated sprint (she broke slowly) and doesn’t necessarily mean she won’t handle turf. D. Van Dyke knows her well and stays aboard. Vegas Palm represents the most dangerous of the closing types, retains F. Prat, and should get the patient ride she prefers.RACE 2: Post 1:31 PT. Grade: B-Use: 5-On Mars; 6-Rickie Nine Toe’sForecast: On Mars tipped her hand with a good third place effort in her debut over this track and distance and should produce a forward move for a barn that has very good stats with second times starters. The daughter of Vronsky didn’t earn much of a number in that race, but not much better should be needed to handle this group. Rickie Nine Toes exits a maiden $50,000 race – theoretically a softer spot – but earned a speed figure when finishing a close second that is tops in this field. Drawn comfortably outside, she can pop and go or stalk and pounce depending upon the race flow. The race pretty much boils down to these two, so we’ll include both in our rolling exotic while slightly preferring On Mars on top.RACE 3: Post 2:02 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Eternal Endeavor; 5-Mongolian HumorForecast: Mongolian Humor was out of her element when fifth of six in the Bayakoa S.-G3 at Los Alamitos last month but this is a far more realistic spot (starter’s allowance) so the V. Cerin-trained mare should be capable of regaining her winning form. She’s reunited with “win rider” A. Cedillo, has a prior win over this Santa Anita main track, and sports a pair of sharp recent workouts to have her on edge. Eternal Endeavor isn’t as fast on numbers as ‘Humor but she’s in good form and stretching out again to her preferred trip. Never worse that second in three career starts over the local dirt strip, the L. Powell-trained English-bred mare should be doing her best work from off the pace. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with preference on top to Mongolian Humor.RACE 4: Post 2:34 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Sugary; 6-Seaside DancerForecast: Sugary is genuine and consistent and ready for another top effort in this $32,000 claiming turf miler for fillies and mares. Freshened since a winning effort vs. slightly softer at Del Mar in August, she returns on the raise in a sign of confidence, is reunited with “win rider” D. Van Dyke and has a prior win over the Santa Anita lawn. Seaside Dancer, second off the claim for P. Miller, does her best on the front end and could be capable of establishing the running, although sprinter-stretching-out Swirling may have something to say about that. ‘Dancer has won from a stalking position in the past, so the option is there. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; we’ll have a few extra tickets keying Sugary on top.RACE 5: Post 3:04 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Peedie; 11-Time N MoneyForecast: This bottom-rung maiden claiming sprint for older horses looks inscrutable, so we’re not going to get too involved. Best advice is to include as many as you can afford to. Time N Money, away for more than a year, returns as a first-time gelding in a very soft spot for H. Palma (quite capable with layoff runners) and may be as good as any. His form in two races last year vs. tougher isn’t too bad and this low-profile jockey has ridden some live ones in the past for this stable. Peedie drops from straight maiden to maiden $20,000 and has numbers that fit, so despite his somewhat lethargic recent form the son of Square Eddie certainly must be considered something of a contender. He’s been running long on the lawn but this return to sprinting on dirt might wake him up.RACE 6: Post 3:34 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Whatsittoya; 4-Toothless Wonder; 6-Rinse and RepeatForecast: Here’s another difficult affair, a restricted (nw-3) $16,000 claiming sprint with several question marks. Rinse and Repeat is two-for-27 in his career and winless in six starts over the Santa Anita main track but is exiting a series of much tougher first-level allowance state-bred sprints and should greatly appreciate this softer assignment. He’s strong in the speed figure department (compared to the others) and should be bearing down on the leaders in the final furlong. Toothless Wonder, first off the claim for S. McCarthy and a two-time winner over the Santa Anita main track, removes blinkers (love that angle) and switches to F. Prat, so the Street Boss gelding seems likely to improve. He’s another that should be heard from in the final furlong. Whatsittoya may be the quickest in the field and if he can shake loose early without pressure he could easily repeat his highly-rated gate-to-wire score two runs back at Del Mar last August His poor comeback run at Turf Paradise might best be ignored; given today’s projected race flow the R. Hess, Jr.-trained gelding probably will go favored after being reunited with regular pilot A. Cedillo.RACE 7: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: B+Use: 4-Murad Khan; 5-Winning ElementForecast: Murad Khan remains above his claim level for P. Miller after a solid third place effort in a $62,500 optional claimer at Del Mar in mid-November. A healthy work tab at San Luis Rey Downs should have him ready for a top try, and a repeat of either one of his last two races beats this field. Winning Element is slower on speed figures than the favorite but is in good form for new trainer A. Lerner and has been first or second in four of six career starts over the local lawn. He has a good pace-stalking style and may be worth using as a saver on a ticket or two just in case ‘Khan, for whatever reason, fails to fire.RACE 8: Post 4:34 PT. Grade: CUse: 1-Taco Waco; 10-Blazing Home; 11-Arc NationForecast: Blazing Home is a first-timer without any fancy workouts, but in this maiden $20,000 claiming sprint a fresh face with even meager credentials is preferred over the known element. The R. Baltas-trained son of Stay Thirsty should be plenty fit and probably is better than his modest workout times would make him appear. Taco Waco, a distant second in a faster-than-par race for the level here on New Years’ Day, can be a strong factor throughout if he leaves cleanly from the rail. His speed figures make him a fit in this league. Arc Nation chased tougher straight maidens at Golden Gate Fields in his debut and certainly has a right to improve with that bit of experience behind him. At this level, he’s very likely to improve enough to be a threat.

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1.24.2020:

Gulfstream Late Pick 4 Alluring Despite Scratches

Other than pout for a little bit, there’s not much than can be done when you are ready to single a horse like Omaha Beach in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup Invitational. It’s back to the drawing board. Who gets it done now that Omaha Beach (and Spun to Run, as well) are out of the $3 million invite? That’s not an easy question, and the answer here would come from five horses on the ticket. Omaha Beach’s lone spot on the suggested ticket ($75) has been replaced by Tax, Diamond Oops, Higher Power, Mucho Gusto and Tenfold. The World Cup Invitiational and the World Cup Turf Invitational will be the most competitive on the card. The Turf event is down to five spots on the suggested Pick 4 ticket with Zulu Alpha, Without Parole, Sadler’s Joy, Instilled Regard and Magic Wand. After the defection of Omaha Beach and Spun to Run, the featured event is free-for-all, and Diamond Oops could be the one to beat if he can stretch his game to 1 1-8th miles. That’s asking plenty, but it cannot be denied that Diamond Oops comes off a terrific win in the G3 Mr Prospector. Lasting Legacy was second and Imperial Hint was third. This was no easy task, and he finished the seven furlongs in a blistering 1:21 1-5. He’s never been today’s distance and his best going two turns was a second on the turf in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, and he was eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (when Spun to Run and Omaha Beach were 1-2). If Diamond Oops doesn’t take to the distance, Tax, Higher Power and Mucho Gusto will be close, and if the pace is ultra-rapid Tenfold could make a run. In the race prior, the accomplished mare Magic Wand takes on males in the turf. She comes in from Hong Kong, where she lost the G1 Hong Kong Cup by a nose to Win Bright. She won the G1 MacKinnon at Flemington in Australia and has been effect on several continents. This is her first North American appearance and she’s excelled against the boys. Only one of her last 10 races was against fillies and mares, and she was second to Iridessa in the G1 Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh. Here’s the suggested late Pick 4 play:Race 9) #5 Blamed, #7 Spiced Perfection, #11 Pink Sands. Race 10) #1 Red Knight, #8 Pumpkin Rumble.Race 11) #1 Zulu Alpha, #3 Without Parole, #4 Sadler’s Joy, #6 Instilled Regard, #12 Magic WandRace 12) #2 Tax, #3 Diamond Oops, #6 Higher Power, #10 Mucho Gusto, #11 Tenfold.50-cent Pick 4 ticket: 5-7-11 with 1-8 with 1-3-4-6-12 with 2-3-6-10-11 ($75).

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1.23.2020:

Jeremy Plonk's Pegasus Day Full-Card Picks

Here are full-card Gulfstream Park Pegasus World Cup Day picks from Xpressbet's Senior Racing Analyst, Jeremy Plonk.  Race 1#10 Una Luna#7 Restructure#8 Devious Charm#6 PakhetRace 2#4 Extreme Force#3 Candy Tycoon#8 Holy Emperor#7 Elusive RulerRace 3 - World of Trouble Turf Sprint Stakes #1 SHEKKY SHEBAZ#2 Texas Wedge#6 Pay Any Price#5 FielderRace 4#5 O Driscoll#10 Market Analysis#8 Speightstown Again#9 Unconquered LeaRace 5 - Ladies' Turf Sprint Stakes#3 FACTOROFWON#8 Keota#2 Girls Know Best#5 Jean ElizabethRace 6 - South Beach Stakes#1 La Feve#6 Mitchell Road#3 Atomic Blonde#5 DevantRace 7 - Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3)#8 Free Enterprise#2 Zenden#10 Gray Magician#7 Tale of SilenceRace 8 - La Prevoyante Stakes (G3) #6 Lady Paname#9 Raining Lemons#2 Simply Beautiful#5 TourigaRace 9 - Inside Information Stakes (G2) #11 Pink Sands#7 Spiced Perfection#6 Nonna Madeline#5 BlamedRace 10 - W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3)#1 RED KNIGHT#12 American Tattoo#7 Cross Border#8 Pumpkin RumbleRace 11 - Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1)#11 Sacred Life#12 Magic Wand#2 Arklow#3 Without ParoleRace 12 - Pegasus World Cup (G1)#2 Tax#6 Higher Power#10 Mucho Gusto#3 Diamond Oops

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1.22.2020:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: January 24 Stronach 5 Play

We were finally able to put the 4-for-5-itis behind us and hit last week for $1,192.40 on a $36 backup play, which only further enhances the idea of structuring your ticket to give you the best bang for your buck. So, here’s hoping we can double up this week. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:49 ET) – 4up 10k MCL at 5 � furlongs Tough sledding in the opener, as you can make a case for nine of the 10 entered, so we’ll have to take a few stands to keep the tickets affordable. I’m going for a big price, as I think it’s very interesting that Farrier, a 26% trainer, decides to claim #2 SPIRITUS (15-1), who has been 37-1 and 25-1 in two weak runs to start his career, but this is a barn that is a stiff 31% off the claim, and Carasco is here too, so there sure looks like some intent, and it’s not like he’d have to improve much either to have a say, in a race that is certainly there for the taking. You should get a decent price on #5 FATHER’S LUCK (10-1), who sped off and tired to be 5th in his comeback, but should be sharper here and has plenty of upside off just two lifetime starts, while #6 WHITE RUSSIAN (6-1) drops slightly in class, drew well, and has the tactical speed to trip out nicely. I’ll also somewhat begrudgingly use #8 CHUCK’S DREAM (5-2), who would be a huge underlay at this price, as he hasn’t started in 373 days, which was hardly the plan when Guadet claimed him for 25k, but his dirt runs would beat this field backwards, so he has to be used, though with winless apprentice Marquez named, it further clouds the picture. Pk5 A horses: 2,5,6,8 (listed in order of preference) Underneath I’ll use the closers #1 TOM TERRIFIC (8-1) and #9 PERFECT HEIR (8-1), as they do catch a field with plenty of speed, as well as #10 STACKSDENERO (5-1), who usually fires but has had a lot of chances too. tab the tote on #4 Outside the Box (8-1), who wouldn’t have to be a freak to win his debut, while #3 Straightouta Congtin (15-1) did improve in his first start on a fast track for Allen, but will need to do so again. Pk5 B horses: 1,9 Leg 2: Santa Anita R3 (4:00 ET) – 4upfm MSW at 1-mile (turf) Another race where most of these look similar on paper, but getting back to the turf should help #7 VEGAS PALM (7-2), as she’s run well in all three starts, has Prat, and still has upside too. I wouldn’t want to take too short of a price on #4 UNICORN (9-5) in the win pool, but she has to be used here, even though she loves burning money and seems stuck in place of late. Lastly, I’ll also use #3 MISS TOKYO (5-1), who is another with solid turf form and some upside, and her speed should play well here too. I know #6 SAVING SOPHIE (5-2) has some big dirt form, but her lone turf race, albeit in her debut sprinting, wasn’t much, so she barely makes the cut on top line, though obviously she’s a big player here and a huge chance if she does transfer that main track for over to the green stuff. Pk5 A horses: 7,4,3,6 If you’re looking for more, then #1 Cover Version (8-1) wasn’t far behind the pick in her lone turf start, while #5 Happy Tune (20-1) was much-improved in her turf debut last time, and #8 New Drama (10-1) debuts for 22% first-out trainer Yakteen, but this post and trip won’t be easy on a newcomer. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 3: Gulfstream Park R8 (4:06 ET) – 3f AOC (50k/N1X) at 5 furlongs (turf) I don’t love this race, but I think there are only three who can win, so I’m just going to use them all and call it a day and hope to get through. The list starts with #5 NORMA’S LOVE (5-2), who was a good 2nd last time while facing winners and should trip out just off the speed, and #3 MIN IT TO WIN IT (4-1), who got to the turf last time and looked really sharp breaking her maiden, and could be the speed of the speed under new jock Jose Ortiz. Pk5 A horses: 5,3 If #6 MISS LUCY (9-2) improves just a bit off the GPW 2nd last time she’s a major player here, though this is a tougher field and she doesn’t have a lot of tactical speed, so I worry she’ll be a bit outclassed and left with a bit too much to do in the lane, hence her inclusion on the second line. Pk5 B horses: 6 Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:48 ET) – 3f 12.5 claimer at 1-mile Another tough race here, as several come out of the local 1/1 race won by #2 Text Don’t Call (2-1), who is heavily favored on the ML but was able to walk on the lead last time when she predictably forgot to stop over the distance, but will have to work a lot harder today to win this. I think #4 JUST CLASSY (7-2) could be favored and is close to a standout, as she drops in class, has a lot more speed than the favorite, and could get loose with an aggressive ride while reuniting with 30% local jock Hernandez. I’ll also stab a bit with #1 BILLY’SGOTASINGLE (6-1), who really improved on the stretchout last time when beating MCL’ers, drew perfectly, and should get some pace to run into as well. Pk5 A horses: 4,1 I’m going to make #2 TEXT DON’T PROVE IT (2-1), at least on top, as she didn’t really impress beating just five rivals last time and won’t make the lead here, though I’d be really stubborn to toss her completely. You could do worse than using #8 Teaspoon of Pepper (8-1) and #10 Charlie’s Belle (4-1), who were 3-2, respectively, behind ‘Prove It last time, but the waters are a lot deeper here, and if the latter isn’t even on the top line, then these two gals will really have their work cut out for them. Pk5 B horses: 2 Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:10 ET) – 4upfm 40k N2L N3L at 1 1/16 miles (turf) With Joseph hitting at 32% with newcomers to his barn, Saez named, and #2 MUSIC OF LIFE (3-1) showing big NY form against better for Russell and entering off a very troubled trip, the gut says she’s blowing up here and laying down a race the rest of these won’t be able to handle, so I’m going to be bold and single her in a final leg that has no one to be scared of. Pk5 A horses: 2 The drop in class make #1 Alizee (4-1) the main danger, and she sure ran fast off the Navarro claim, so if she can back it up she’s obviously worth using, but I’m going to stick to my guns and single the pick, who I still think will be too tough. I think you have to make #8 Strella’s War (5-2) prove it at this price, since she enters off some Tampa form and will be overbet, from a wide draw as well. Pk5 B horses: NONE The tickets: Main Ticket: 2,5,6,8 with 7,4,3,6 with 5,3 with 4,1 with 2 = $64Leg 1 B Backup: 1,9 with 7,4,3,6 with 5,3 with 4,1 with 2 = $32Leg 3 B Backup: 2,5,6,8 with 7,4,3,6 with 6 with 4,1 with 2 = $32Leg 4 B Backup: 2,5,6,8 with 7,4,3,6 with 5,3 with 2 with 2 = $32  

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1.22.2020:

Jon White's Eclipse Award Predictions

The 2019 Eclipse Award finalists were revealed earlier this month. The winners in each category will be announced at Gulfstream Park on Thursday at the 49th annual Eclipse Awards dinner presented by The Stronach Group, Daily Racing Form and Breeders’ Cup. The first year that I made Eclipse Award predictions in this column was for the racing that was conducted in 2011. Through the years, my Eclipse Award predictions have proven to be correct 92.6% of the time: 2011: 15 correct, 2 wrong2012: 16 correct, 1 wrong2013: 16 correct, 1 wrong2014: 17 correct, 0 wrong2015: 14 correct, 3 wrong2016: 16 correct, 1 wrong2017: 16 correct, 1 wrong2018: 16 correct, 1 wrong Total: 126 correct, 10 wrong Remember, these are my predictions, not who I think should win or who I voted for. And now here are my predictions for the 2019 Eclipse Awards: 2-YEAR-OLD MALE Finalists (alphabetically): Maxfield, Storm the Court, StructorPredicted Winner: Storm the Court The undefeated Game Winner, winner of three Grade I races including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, was a slam-dunk in this category in 2018. There is no such slam-dunk in this category this time, but I will be surprised if BC Juvenile winner Storm the Court does not get it. There probably is going to be quite a number of votes for Structor, who was three for three and won the Grade I BC Juvenile Turf. But I think Storm the Court’s Breeders’ Cup victory on dirt will get him more Eclipse Award support than Structor’s Breeders’ Cup win on turf. 2-YEAR-OLD FILLY Finalists: Bast, British Idiom, SharingPredicted Winner: British Idiom I think this category is a slam-dunk. British Idiom was undefeated in three starts, highlighted by her victory in the Grade I BC Juvenile Fillies. Bast was a three-time Grade I winner in 2019, but I don’t see her getting the Eclipse Award because she finished third behind British Idiom in the BC Juvenile Fillies. 3-YEAR-OLD MALE Finalists: Code of Honor, Maximum Security, Omaha BeachPredicted Winner: Maximum Security This was a wide-open category for the whole year…that is until Maximum Security won the Grade I Cigar Mile vs. older foes in December. The Cigar Mile, I believe, put Maximum Security in the driver’s seat to get this Eclipse Award. 3-YEAR-OLD FILLY Finalists: Covfefe, Guarana, Serengeti EmpressPredicted Winner: Covfefe There are those not crazy about a filly who never raced farther than seven furlongs getting the Eclipse Award in this category. But reading the tea leaves, I think her 2019 record of five wins from six starts capped by a victory in the Grade I BC Filly & Mare Sprint will sway enough voters for her to get this Eclipse Award. OLDER DIRT MALE Finalists: McKinzie, Mitole, Vino RossoPredicted Winner: Mitole This one could be close between Grade I BC Sprint winner Mitole and Grade I BC Classic winner Vino Rosso. It seems some opted for Vino Rosso with the thinking Mitole already is going to get an Eclipse Award as champion sprinter. Some also believe that inasmuch as the BC Classic is the richest U.S. race in this division, that carries enough weight for them to vote for Vino Rosso. But others no doubt did not go for Vino Rosso because he lost three of his six starts in 2019, while Mitole lost just once in seven starts. If Mitole had not won the Grade I Met Mile, I doubt he would get this Eclipse Award. But I think he’s going to get it due largely to wins in both the Met Mile and BC Sprint. The fact that Mitole is one of the three finalists for Horse of the Year certainly is an indication that he might get Eclipse Awards as both champion older dirt male and male sprinter. OLDER DIRT FEMALE Finalists: Blue Prize, Elate, Midnight BisouPredicted Winner: Midnight Bisou I think Midnight Bisou will get it, but I also believe that Blue Prize will get a fair amount of support. Blue Prize lost her first three races in 2019, but then reeled off stakes wins in the Summer Colony at Saratoga, Grade I Spinster at Keeneland and Grade I BC Distaff in which Midnight Bisou finished second. But the way I see it, Midnight Bisou’s body of work during the year that included three Grade I wins will carry the day with the voters. The BC Distaff was her lone defeat in eight 2019 starts. MALE SPRINTER Finalists: Imperial Hint, Mitole, World of TroublePredicted Winner: Mitole You can take it to the bank that Mitole is going to get this one. FEMALE SPRINTER Finalists: Belvoir Bay, Come Dancing, CovfefePredicted Winner: Covfefe You also can take it to the bank that Covfefe is going to get this one. MALE TURF Finalists: Bricks and Mortar, Mo Forza, World of TroublePredicted Winner: Bricks and Mortar This, to me, is the one of the easiest of all categories to try and predict the winner. It’s going to be Bricks and Mortar, who in 2019 was a perfect six for six from Jan. 26 to Nov. 2 while racing at six different tracks, with five of his wins coming at the Grade I level. FEMALE TURF Finalists: Got Stormy, Sistercharlie, UniPredicted Winner: Uni Sistercharlie took this Eclipse Award in 2018. With three Grade I victories to her credit in 2019, I have to believe she probably will have many votes for the 2019 Eclipse Award in this category. Nevertheless, I think it’s going to come down to either Got Stormy or Uni. Got Stormy and Uni met twice. When Got Stormy won the Grade I Fourstardave Handicap and broke Saratoga’s grass course record for one mile, Uni finished third. When Uni won the Grade I BC Mile, Got Stormy finished second. After the Breeders’ Cup, Got Stormy added another Grade I victory to her resume by capturing Del Mar’s Matriarch Stakes. This one figures to be pretty close between Got Stormy and Uni. Without total confidence, I am predicting Uni will get it largely because she won the BC Mile. STEEPLECHASE Finalists: Brain Power, Scorpiancer, Winston CPredicted Winner: Winston C TRAINER Finalists: Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Brad CoxPredicted Winner: Chad Brown JOCKEY Finalists: Javier Castellano, Irad Ortiz Jr., Jose OrtizPredicted Winner: Irad Ortiz Jr. APPRENTICE JOCKEY Finalists: Julio Correa, Angel Diaz, Kazushi KimuraPredicted Winner: Julio Correa OWNER Finalists: Gary Barber; Peter Brant; Klaravich Stables and William LawrencePredicted Winner: Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence BREEDER Finalists: Calumet Farm, Godolphin, George Strawbridge Jr.Predicted Winner: George Strawbridge Jr. HORSE OF THE YEAR Finalists: Bricks and Mortar, Maximum Security, MitolePredicted Winner: Bricks and Mortar It generally was agreed that there were three leading Horse of the Year candidates going into the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in early November. The three were Bricks and Mortar, Midnight Bisou and Sistercharlie. Going into the Breeders’ Cup, all three were undefeated in 2019. Midnight Bisou and Sistercharlie were unable to win their Breeders’ Cup races. Midnight Bisou ran second in the Distaff. Sistercharlie finished third in the Filly & Mare Turf. Bricks and Mortar? He not only won his Breeders’ Cup race, the Turf, he did so when asked to go farther than he had ever raced before, 1 1/2 miles. Not only that, Bricks and Mortar got the job done despite not having the best of trips. He was bottled up for most of the race. It’s been said that Bricks and Mortar benefited by the 2019 male turf division in the U.S. not being strong. I think that’s a fair statement. On the other hand, Bricks and Mortar won all of his starts during a 2019 campaign that was long (it began on Jan. 26 and continued to Nov. 2.) and entailed much shipping (he raced in six different states). Mitole’s older dirt male division admittedly was probably stronger than Bricks and Mortar’s male turf division. And similar to Bricks and Morter stretching out to 1 1/2 miles in the BC Turf, Mitole deserves praise for winning the Met Mile when asked to race farther than seven furlongs for the first time. But while Bricks and Mortar put together a perfect 2019 record of six wins from six starts, Mitole did lose once. Mitole finished third behind Imperial Hint and Diamond Opps in the Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga in late July. That one loss on Mitole’s resume did not help his case to be Horse of the Year. Andrew Beyer on Steve Byk’s SiriusXM radio program At the Races said that in his view, Maximum Security should be the Horse of the Year. In Beyer’s view, Maximum Security’s record on dirt, punctuated by his sparkling victory against older rivals in the Grade I Cigar Mile, warrants recognition of being voted Horse of the Year. But my prediction is the majority of Eclipse Award voters will be impressed by what Bricks and Mortar accomplished to such an extent that he will be elected 2019 Horse of the Year.

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1.20.2020:

Most Valuable Pony (January 13 - 19): Starship Jubilee

Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.January 13-19, 2020MVP: Starship JubileeOwner: Blue Heaven FarmTrainer: Kevin AttardJockey: Javier CastellanoPerformance: The 7-year-old mare won the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf on Saturday at Gulfstream Park for the third consecutive year. Consider that she was claimed for just $16,000 in February of 2017. Since then, she’s won 12 of 24 races and bagged most of her $1.2 million in lifetime earnings. Starship Jubilee led every step Saturday as the 2-5 favorite, getting away with slow fractions under her Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano. They left no doubt late, kicking clear by 3-1/4 lengths over Beautiful Lover, a promising 4-year-old come-backer for Chad Brown.On Tap: Woodbine’s Grade 2 Nassau in May has been the spring target for Starship Jubilee the past 2 years after her success in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, followed by the Grade 2 Dance Smartly over the same course in June. With races like Saratoga’s Ballston Spa and Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor during the second half of the year, Attard may not be quick to send the veteran back to action anytime soon. If inclined, there is the Grade 3 Honey Fox at a turf mile on the Fountain of Youth undercard February 29 at Gulfstream, and Tampa Bay Downs’ Grade 2 Hillsborough at 1-1/8 miles on their Derby Day undercard a week later March 7.Honorable Mentions: Fast Enough returned from an 8-month layoff to win Saturday’s $200,000 Cal Cup Derby at Santa Anita in just his second lifetime start. The kicker for the Rafael Becerra-trained Cal-bred is that his only prior effort came at 4-1/2 furlongs. Also, Bobby’s Wicked One beat just 2 rivals in the Duncan Kenner at Fair Grounds on Saturday, but one was Hog Creek Hustle and he did it in 1:08.55 for 6 furlongs. He has ascended among the top sprinters in the country.

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1.20.2020:

Monday, January 20: Mohawk Park Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight's Early 0.20 Pick 4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park will be my focus. The sequence has a $50,000 guaranteed pool and will begin in Race 4.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 41-Military Secret (5/2)-This looks like a 2-horse race and this guy is razor sharp. With this post draw it might be easier to make it 3 in a row than it was to win the last 2.3-Lyons Pegasus (9/2)-This is a nice 4-year old and with the right trip could make it interesting. But loses Jamieson and Hudon needs to provide a smooth journey, maybe in the 2-hole right behind #1.Race 52-Barn One (8-1)-Makes 2nd start for Moreau and will toss the first time effort when off for >2 weeks. This looks like a bounce back opportunity to be in the mix.4-Young Drunk Punk (7/2)-Comes out of a tough race and had a rough trip. This is a better spot to stay in range, roll late and pick off foes to the wire.5-Brookletsjustified (5-1)-Makes 3rd start for Fellows who was aggressive in claiming back. Should be a square price and McNair could put in play early and trip out.8-Hes A Sensation (6-1)-10-year-old takes a big a drop and will use mainly for that reason plus post makes the price better. Looks like a player if dialed on high and healthy, will lean that way and use.Race 67-Kameran Hanover (8-1)-Gets a positive driver change and is coming off a sharp effort from the 9-hole. Will need best to take a picture at this class but this could be the time.8-Kadabra Queen (4-1)-Has been trying hard and will excuse the break in last. Can beat this crew with a clean trip and a decent early seat.10-Major Muscle (5-1)-Even try in last after having excuses in previous 2 starts. Usually leaves me wanting more but many of these have a similar profile. McClure could put in play even from post-10.Race 73-Easy Flyer (5/2)-Makes 1st start for Moreau and usually competes well at this class. Won't offer any value but tough to leave off the ticket.6-No Time At All (6-1)-Was used a couple of times in last when starting from the rail. This post may work better for slow starter. Here's a chance for a price and could surprise if able to come up with a top effort.8-Arukidinme Cabbie (7/2)-1 for last 20 and is the 2nd ML chalk, so that says something about this group. It's a scattered bunch and this post is a concern. But will use and hope the pace is honest and cover flow is good.My Ticket Race 4) 1,3 Race 5) 2,4,5,8 Race 6) 7,8,10 Race 7) 3,6,8Total Ticket Cost) $14.40 for $0.20 Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.20.2020:

Monday, January 20: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: XUse: 1-Merneith; 4-GidgettaForecast: Merneith has trained like something extra special for her debut but at 4/5 on the morning line and needing the deal with the rail the daughter of American Pharoah won’t be offering any wagering value. That said, she’s plenty fit, appears to have a ton of talent, and certainly is expected to win. Gidgetta finished with purpose to wind up a promising third in a very hot race at Del Mar in her debut in late November and also has looked quite good in the a.m. in her recent drills for R. Baltas. She switches to J. Rosario and gets an extra half furlong to work with, so the favorite better not make any mistakes. In a race that probably is best left alone, we’ll include both in our rolling exotics with preference on top to Merneith.RACE 2: Post 1:01 PT. Grade: C+Use: 1-Discreet Diva; 3-Whoa NessieForecast: We’ll double the second race, a restricted (nw-3) $16,000 claiming miler for fillies and mares. Bay Area shipper Whoa Nessie removes blinkers (always like this angle) and drops to a realistic level while being reunited with “win rider” A. Cedillo. She doesn’t need the lead to win and projects to within striking range throughout. Discreet Diva crushed a restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claiming field during the fall meeting but hasn’t been seen since, and this return for $16,000, while realistic, isn’t a real sign of confidence. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with J. Rosario (who picks up the mount), we wonder why regular pilot F. Prat, who doesn’t ride the race, will watch from the room. Tread lightly here.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: B+Single: 3-BeguiledForecast: Beguiled finished far back in her debut sprinting on grass at Del Mar but we strongly suspect she’s a whole lot better than that. After hopping in the air to lose early position and then racing in some traffic to the head of the lane, the daughter of Orb angled to the rail and finished eagerly before galloping out strongly in front in a strong race for the level while giving every indication that she’ll thrive with more distance. Since that race the daughter of Orb has trained nicely for P. D’Amato (solid stats with second-time starters), so a significant forward move is to be expected. At 6-1 on the morning line she’s a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 4: Post 2:04 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Awesome Alessandra; 4-Slewbury Park; 6-On the VergeForecast: This below average maiden $50,000 state-bred 3-year-old filly sprint lacks depth, so a little certainly will go a long way. Slewbury Park exits a much stronger straight maiden affair up north and before that was a solid runner-up in a similar affair at Los Alamitos, so there’s every expectation that the daughter of Slew’s Tiznow will be highly competitive against this group. A couple of nice recent drills at San Luis Rey Downs, including a bullet three-furlong gate work, should have her on edge. Awesome Alessandra has hit the board in three of five career starts, though her speed figures are rather weak. Still, she’s a major player by default. On the Verge was entered in a straight maiden race a couple of weeks ago but didn’t draw in. The fact that her connections were willing to give her a chance in that tougher spot can be taken as a positive, and even through the works aren’t fancy the K. Mulhall barn is quite capable of winning with a first timer, so let’s toss her in as well.RACE 5: Post 2:36 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Originaire; 5-Barristan The Bold; 8-ForayForecast: Foray always has been a need-the-lead type but with the presence of long shot Midnight Swap in the field the veteran gelding may be relegated to a stalker’s role. The J. Sadler-trained son of Eskendreya, freshened since mid-November and with a strong recent series of drills, is reunited with “win rider” J. Velez and always has liked the local lawn, so we’ll give him slight preference on top but also include a couple of dangerous closers on our ticket. Barristan the Bold turned in a decent U.S. debut effort when fourth in the Mathis Bros. Mile-G2 on opening day and with any kind of forward move today the son English-bred gelding should be heard from late, especially with the switch to F. Prat. Originaire also should be a late factor; the Irish-bred colt was a strong second in the same race Barristan the Bold exits and with some help up front (which may or may not happen) his deep closing style could make him dangerous.RACE 6: Post 3:07 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Mr. Nasty; 2-Bog Hoof DynamiteForecast: Big Hoof Dynamite, a solid runner-up in a maiden $50,000 extended sprint here earlier this month, stretches back out to a mile, retains F. Prat, lands a nice inside draw, and simply should have no excuses in a modest affair for the level. Low profile connections notwithstanding, the son of Data Link seems the solid choice and may go lower than his morning line of 8/5. We’ll also include Mr. Nasty in our rolling exotics. With the classic two sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern and adding blinkers from his rail post, the R. Baltas-trained sophomore seems likely to flash improved early speed and could be especially dangerous if he’s able to establish the pace without much pressure. He produced a forward move between his first and second starts according to his speed figures and if he can improve again, the Strong Mandate gelding may give the favorite serious competition.RACE 7: Post 3:37 PT. Grade: B+Single: 1-CarressaForecast: Carressa couldn’t have been more impressive than she was demolishing a first-level allowance field over the Del Mar main track in late November while earning a stakes-quality speed figure, and since then she has put together back-to-back bullet workouts to indicate further improvement is likely. This will be her first try on grass, and the step up in class is a concern, but this daughter of Uncle Mo should be on or near the lead from the get-go and appears capable of springing a mild surprise at 5-1 on the morning line. Let’s make her a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 8: Post 4:07 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Muskoka; 5-Cross TownForecast: Cross Town doesn’t have much to beat in this bottom-rung maiden claiming miler for older horses, so let’s somewhat reluctantly put the V. Belvoir-trained gelding on top based on current form that should be good enough to handle this modest task. In the money in his last four starts in similar company, the Cross Traffic gelding is fairly solid on speed figures and was more than four lengths clear of the rest over this track and distance in his most recent appearance. Muskoka nosedives to the bottom and has earned grass speed figures that make him a threat, though he was beaten double digits in both of his two prior dirt races. The Twirling Candy colt probably is worth including somewhere on a ticket or two as a saver in rolling exotic play.

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1.19.2020:

Sunday, January 19: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

The main event this evening from a betting standpoint at Pompano Park will be the 0.50 Pick 4 with a $30,000 guaranteed pool. It's a competitive sequence with a 12% takeout and it will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 62-Oberlin (6-1)-Drops to a better spot, did win 2 back and put hopples on for next start. Showed good speed in last but was in too tough, will take a swing here at a square price.3-RU Ready To Rock (2-1)-Beaten favorite was Hennessey's choice and looks legit. But has never won at the Pomp in 11 starts, so will respect but shoot against.5-Spanish Art (4-1)-Slow starter got caught racing wide but kept coming. Has been coming close and could be ready to take a picture.Race 75-Always Glorious (9-1)-Looks like a price shot with a good chance. Seems to do best work racing near the top and there isn't a lot of gate speed inside. Plano could work a good trip and be in the hunt.7-Rockin Beach (4-1)-Came off the bench with an even effort in a shorter distance mile. That could have been a tune-up and now could be dialed on high for Team Wrenn. Lightly raced 5-year-old fits with this crew.8-American Hustle (4-1)-Came out of the same 5/8's dash as #7 and took top honors. Should be a player at this class but is looking for 1st win at this level this meet, still best to respect.Race 85-Eastender (4-1)-Drops and gets needed post relief which makes this 9-year-old a player. Team Plano has been clicking and with a good trip could use one big move to sweep by.6-Superior Raven (5-1)-Comes off an even effort and might be able to get the 2-hole ride behind #8 and take best shot down the lane.8-Fritzie Pic up Man (3-1)-Left to get the top from the 7-hole in last and faded late. Beaten favorite will likely try the same script and will be bet hard. Could get the top without as much strain and then Hennessey will tap the brakes.Race 91-Danza (4-1)-Hennessey on a drop from the rail often means an odds-on chalk but thinking that might not be the case here. Should like the company but starts slow and barn is cold. Tough to leave off the ticket, using but with others.2-Drive 'Em Cowboy (8-1)-This looks like the spot for an up-front seat and a suck around trip. That scenario could result in the top check at a solid price.5-Thrownoutofbetter (3-1)-Makes 4th start for new barn and last was a better effort off a rough trip. Looking for upswing to continue.My Ticket Race 6) 2,3,5 Race 7) 5,7,8 Race 8) 5,6,8 Race 9) 1,2,5Total Ticket Cost) $16.20 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.19.2020:

Sunday, January 19: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Rosey Sky; 5-Bella ChicaForecast: Bella Chica ran well when second in her debut a little over a year ago and then disappeared. She returns in a soft spot with a series of moderate main track drills, so her condition is a question, but she almost looks like the logical top pick by default in this straight maiden state-bred turf sprint for older fillies and mares. Rosey Sky, away since flashing excellent early speed and then faltering in a similar abbreviated grass sprint here last May, has been training at Los Alamitos for her comeback and the work tab looks decent enough. We are going to assume she’s much better than her only outing indicates. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics in a race that probably is best left alone.RACE 2: Post 1:01 PT. Grade: XSingle: 1-TromadorForecast: Tromador is listed as the 4/5 morning line favorite after finishing a good third two-turning on turf vs. tougher last month. He’ll add blinkers for the turn back to seven furlongs and the switch to dirt, and that, coupled with the rail, makes him problematic as a short price standout. But if it’s not him, then who? You can use him as a no value rolling exotic single or better yet simply pass the race.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: XUse: 1-Best Two Minutes; 6-Top of the GameForecast: Top of the Game obviously has issues but as long as he stays at this level he’ll probably continue to win. The ex-classer has captured his last three in solid fashion and if he has one good one left he should be able to extend the streak. Best Two Minutes, a distant runner-up to ‘Game at Los Alamitos last month, looks like a logical exacta partner one again and may be worth a saver in rolling exotic play just in case the favorite fails to fire.RACE 4: Post 2:04 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Querelle; 5-Point Hope; 7-Arctic RollForecast: Here’s a grass grab bag for restricted (nw-3) $35,000 claiming fillies and mares at a mile on grass. We’ll go three-deep and hope that’s enough. Point Hope beat a lesser field just 16 days ago and is wheeled back quickly by R. Ellis to take advantage of the soft conditions. She’s a fit on speed figures, so if the Irish-bred mare can turn in two alike she could easily win right back and at 6-1 on the morning line there may be some value to be found. Querelle failed to fire when beaten as the favorite in a tougher starter’s allowance event over this course and distance earlier this month and hasn’t won a race since being imported from England in the fall of 2018. This is her easiest chance to date, so we’re expecting her to make some noise from off the pace in the final furlong. Arctic Roll shows up in a seller for the first time and is another likely to improve with the class drop and the switch to F. Prat. She projects to be on or near the lead throughout and is worth tossing in at 8-1 on the morning line.RACE 5: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: CUse: 1-Concord Jet; 2-Jen Go Unchained; 6-Friendly SteveForecast: This modest dash for restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claimers looks treacherous so best advice is to include as many as you can afford to. Jen Go Unchained, a solid runner-up in a similar affair at Del Mar in late November, can win if he can turn in two alike, something that has never his strong suit. However, both of his races at this abbreviated sprint trip were strong, so let’s give the M. Puype-trained gelding a very slight edge on top. Friendly Steve, away for nearly a year, returns cheap, so he’s a question mark. On the plus side, this low profile barn has good stats with layoff runners and on numbers he’s a fit so we have to use him. Concord Jet draws the rail, is certain to flash good early speed and could stick around a long time at the distance of his only prior win. Feel free to spread deeper if you find the need.RACE 6: Post 3:07 PT. Grade: BUse: 1- Lostintranzlation; 5-Siberian IrisForecast: Siberian Iris can handle this marathon trip, having on a three-turn turf stakes at Del Mar two races back from far off the pace. Additionally, she has two prior wins over the local lawn and could fire a big shot in her first start since last September for R. Mandella, who has excellent stats with layoff off runners. Lostintranzlation is the certain controlling speed and has shown that when left alone she can be very difficult to catch. She can handle the trip if not pressured early and the projected pace scenario of this race looks highly favorite to her profile. We’ll try to survive and advance in rolling exotic play using just these two.RACE 7: Post 3:37 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Nadal; 5-Exaulted; 7-Lane WayForecast: This is a salty maiden special weight sprint for 3-year-olds and it probably will take a pretty good colt to win it. Lane Way, purchased for $550,000 at the OBS March Sale, debuts for R. Mandella with a series of good workouts and should be plenty fit for a big effort first crack out of the box. The son of Into Mischief has done everything in the morning like a quality colt. Nadal had the misfortune of drawing the rail but gets J. Rosario and has strung together a series of impressive drills for Baffert. The son of Blame should be a pace factor throughout, assuming he breaks with his field. Exaulted is another newcomer with a nice workout pattern and is worth including in rolling exotic play. The son of Twirling Candy has been schooled in the a.m. to sit back and produce a late run, and we’re expecting that strategy to be employed by M. Smith. Let’s give Lane Way the edge on top but include all three in our rolling exotics.RACE 8: Post 4:07 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Real Master; 3-Tequila Joe; 6-Tough It OutForecast: The finale is a $25,000 claiming turf miler with several possibilities. Tequila Joe lost a toughie vs. similar at Del Mar in late November, and after a fairly rugged fall campaign probably deserved a bit of a breather. If ready, the M. Glatt-trained gelding may be as good as any, and the switch to A. Cedillo certainly won’t hurt. Tough It Out, a close fourth in the same race Tequila Joe exits, always has liked the local lawn and shows a steady work tab at Los Alamitos for A. Sherman that should have him plenty fit. The son of Grazen is a one-paced grinder but should find himself in a good stalking position and with every chance from the quarter pole home. Real Master drops into a seller for the first time and switches to J. Rosario, so there’s every reason to believe he can be competitive in this league.

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1.18.2020:

Saturday, January 18: Can-Am Pick 4 Analysis

The Can-Am 0.20 Pick 4 starts this evening at Mohawk Park in Race 10 and the third leg will roll in Race 11. The second and fourth legs will go at the Big M in Race 10 and 11.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Leg 1-Mohawk Race 101-Fixed Idea (5/2)-Raced well in last 3 starts and seems to like an off-track. But form has been good, fits well and Hudon has choices from the rail. Looks like a player in a tough race.5-Cheapskate Hanover (5-1)-Back in Auciello barn after racing well on an off-track. Claimed back for $5k more than previous claim price. Will need a top effort but this guy likes to win, at Wbsb (8-18) and was (11-17) overall in 2019.7-Foot Soldier (12-1)-Swinging for a price, won in the slop with a .56 back half. Did take the short way around but likes the track. Makes 3rd start off the bench, Filion could work a good trip and could be even better tonight.8-American Virgin (8-1)-Came home swiftly off a slow pace on a sloppy track. Roy is between the pipes and he knows well. Has some gate speed and should be forwardly placed and could handle this crew at a nice price.Leg 2-Meadowlands Race 104-I Am Cowboy (7/2)-Makes 3rd local start, Dunn sticks and he was aggressive in last start. Was used hard off the wings to a 54.3 opening half and faded late. Looking for a smoother journey with post relief.5-Justin Credible (9/2)-Looked better on a fast track last week, now Callahan takes a seat. Could be in-line for a nice trip to snag an overdue win.8-Mayfield Duke (3-1)-Gets some post relief and now Gingras is between the pipes. Might leave and get a good seat. Flew home in last and if in better striking range with an honest pace it could be picture time.Leg 3-Mohawk Race 111-Classic Pro (3-1)-Will lean to McClure's choice over the redhot Julerica. This guy has some back class, barn has been hot and may relish a fast track.6-Royal Renegade (5-1)-Drops and 3 of last 4 have been on an off-track. Needs a trip and Team Cullen should have him ready to roll down the lane.7-Lisburn (4-1)-Likes to leave and race near the top of the stack. Not sure that strategy will play out. But Roy could work a trip and get sucked around. Winner of 8 out of 17 at Wbsb should be in the hunt.Leg 4-Meadowlands Race 114-Santafe's Coach (7/2)-Drops to a good spot and in last start was used to a brisk 1st half. Can roll late but will need to be forwardly placed and in striking range at the top of the lane.5-Hoo Nien A (5-1)-Smith knows well and he's back. Like others will need the right trip but figures to be in the mix at a square price.9-Incredibel Shark (3-1)-Callahan takes a spin and drops to the level of last win. Could leave and get on the engine or a 2-hole trip behind #5. Looks like a spot to shine.My Ticket Race 10 Mohawk) 1,5,7,8 Race 10 Meadowlands) 4,5,8 Race 11 Mohawk) 1,6,7 Race 11 Meadowlands) 4,5,9Total Ticket Cost) $21.60 for 0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.18.2020:

Saturday, January 18: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 1-Uncontainable; 4-Jamming Eddy; 7-Jet Set RulerForecast: This entry-level state-bred turf miler matches familiar faces that are tough to separate, so let’s try a fresh face from a clever outfit with speed figures that fit. Uncontainable joins the Miller barn (31% with first-off-the-claim plays) and if he can transfer his dirt form to grass (or possibly even improve upon it) the son of Acclamation could generate a quick return on the $12,500 investment. Jet Set Ruler may be distance-challenged at this nine furlong trip and is winless in six starts over the local lawn but he’s usually in the thick of things and should be within range when it counts at the head of the lane. Jamming Eddy has good tactical speed and in a race that projects to be slowly run early the son of Square Eddie projects to enjoy a soft stalking journey. We’ll have tickets including all three in our rolling exotics and then press keying Uncontainable on top.RACE 2: Post 1:01 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Takethediamondlane; 4-Adorably Sweet; 6-Time for SuzzieForecast: Takethediamondlane is lightly-raced with improving speed figures and upside most of the others don’t have. The daughter of Bodemeister returns to the main track for her first outing since early November, sports a bullet workout six days ago, and should find herself on or near the lead throughout. Adorably Sweet broke her maiden in a moderate spot but did so leaving from the rail (not normally the place to be at Del Mar) and the daughter of Richard’s Kid has every right to improve with experience while retaining F. Prat. Six-time winner Time For Suzzie has a big look with a repeat of her nice win two runs back over this track and distance. She’ll be doing her best work from off the pace. Preference on top goes to Takethediamondlane but we’ll include all three in our rolling exotics.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: XSingle: 1-Just Grazed MeForecast: Just Grazed Me is 6/5 on the morning line and may go lower in this state-bred turf sprint stakes for older fillies and mares. Perfect in two starts over this course and distance, the daughter of Grazen has looked very sharp in the morning for her first start since early November so we’re expecting the P. D’Amato-trained mare to run her race. She’ll be too short to play in the straight pool but we can use her as a no-value rolling exotic single.RACE 4: Post 2:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 4-Nonno’s Polaris; 10-Papa TonyForecast: Nonno’s Pride moves up to the maiden $50,000 level after finishing second in both of his previous outings when racing for $32,000. The raise in class shouldn’t be an issue – on pure speed figures he fits nicely at this level – so let’s go with the H. Palma-trained colt while expecting another forward move in his first start since early November. We’ll also include Papa Tony on a ticket or two in our rolling exotics. The Papa Clem gelding is comfortably drawn outside after hitting the board in each of his last three starts and has steadily rising speed figures, though still considerably lower than what ‘Pride has achieved.RACE 5: Post 2:36 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Baja Sur; 2-Fashionably FastForecast: Baja Sur must overcome the rail but the lightly-raced son of Smiling Tiger is a winner of five of six career starts, his only defeat coming when second to Fashionably Fast in a stakes dash at Fresno two runs back. Earner of a triple digit Beyer when winning the Oakland Stakes over the all-weather surface at Golden Gate Fields in mid-November, the B. Wright-trained gelding has been kept on edge in the interim and regular jockey J. J. Hernandez flies down to retain the mount. Fashionably Fast is the one he’ll have to contend with again. The Lucky Pulpit gelding seeks his fifth straight score, and a recent bullet workout over the Santa Anita main track indicates he’s ready for another major effort. Let’s go with Baja Sur to turn the tables today on ‘Fast but have tickets using both in our rolling exotics.RACE 6: Post 3:07 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Ward ‘n Jerry; 5-Wound TightForecast: Ward ‘n Jerry has really gotten good lately and earned a career top number when third beaten a neck in the Hollywood Turf Cup-G3 at Del Mar in early December in his most recent outing. It’s possible that he needs a mini-marathon trip (or farther) to have his best chance but in his presence form we suspect he can shorten to today’s nine furlong distance and still be highly effective. From the rail under good grass rider U. Rispoli the M. Puype-trained veteran should enjoy a ground-saving journey and have every chance. Wound Tight will be the controlling speed and given that type of trip might be capable of staying the distance. He’s relatively lightly-raced, has solid numbers, and must be respected.RACE 7: Post 3:37 PT. Grade: BUse: 5-Club Aspen; 9-Fast EnoughForecast: Fast Enough was visually impressive winning at first asking in an abbreviated sprint for juveniles over the Santa Anita main track in May but then disappeared. The son of Eddington returns for the capable R. Becerra barn and has trained like he’s fit and ready for what appears to be a rather ambitious assignment. However, he’s bred for the distance and may be a cut above this state-bred group, so let’s try him on top at what should be a nice price. Club Aspen is worth including in rolling exotic play as well. The C. Lewis-trained colt looked good winning the King Glorious S. at Los Alamitos last month while earning a career top speed figure, and in a race that should have an ample amount of early speed the late-running son of Clubhouse Ride should have every chance to produce the last run.RACE 8: Post 4:07 PT. Grade: B+Use: 3-Bulletproof One; 5-Warren’s Showtime; 7-Midnight SunriseForecast: It’s questionable whether Bulletproof One can carry her speed a mile but if she’s ever going to be able to, it’ll be in her first try. One thing we do know is that the daughter of Idiot Proof likes grass, as she proved when finishing an excellent second vs. the boys in the Speakeasy Stakes over five furlongs during the fall meeting. She’ll have an easy lead here if she wants it, so at 8-1 on the morning the gamble is reasonable. Warren’s Showtime defeated open company when winning the Surfer Girl S. over this course and distance last fall and if she’s returns as well as she left the C. Lewis-trained filly should be tough to contain in the final furlong. Midnight Sunrise will be a huge price – she’s 20-1 on the morning line – but it won’t be surprising if she outruns her odds. Certainly bred to run long (Einstein) and with improving numbers in each start, the Bay Area invader is fresh from a nice maiden score and could step forward again for a capable outfit. Toss her in somewhere.RACE 9: Post 4:37 PT. Grade: B+Single: 1-Tigre Di SlugoForecast: Tigre Di Slug was visually very impressive winning his debut at Del Mar in November, overcoming a poor start and traffic trouble on the turn to win going away with a powerful speed figure. He gets an extra furlong to work with today, retains F. Prat, and with any kind of decent trip from the rail should be along in plenty of time despite the one-level raise in class. At 7/2 on the morning line he’s a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.

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1.17.2020:

Al Cimaglia: January 17-Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight, the 0.20 Pick 4 at Cal Expo starts in Race 8 and will be my focus. The sequence has a $30,000 guaranteed pool and a 16% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 83-Cowboys Dirty Boots (8-1)-Tossing the 1.5 mile race last week and will look for a price. This race could set-up nicely if Roland finds the top or 2-hole without emptying the gas tank. Winner of 10 of 56 starts at CalX could surprise.5-Vicious Aloicious (3-1)-Drops to the same level as last win and Kennedy takes a seat again tonight. Will need a trip and from this post versus this crew, that could happen.6-Mister Hat (7/2)-Camera shy plus 4 of last 5 have been on an off-track. Fits and can close so if Plano gets into striking range at the top of the lane chances for success improve.Race 91-Heza A Real Diamond (5/2)-Comes off a winning effort and a big mile, but does lose Plano. Roland should put in play early and best to respect chances despite moving up in class.3-Marced Magic (5-1)-Has been in the hunt in last 3 all versus Open company. If Magee can avoid a very slow start and find a nice seat, he should be rolling late passing foes down the lane.8-Allmyx'sliventexas (3-1)-Rolled by most of these last week from the 7-hole and will probably be looking to get on the engine. Loves to win here, should be bet down and needs to be respected but will look to beat.Race 101-Uringoodhands (7/2)-Defeated 6 from this field last week from the 2-hole. Kennedy returns and don't see a reason to discount chances tonight.2-Usgeneral W A Mann (8-1)-Had post-10 last week and came up with a big 56.2 back half and almost caught #1. Looks like a main player and could pop at a square price.8-Best Dream Seeker (5-1)-Is only 2 for the last 42 but did take a picture on 1/3. Plano was aboard then and is back now, so will use and hope there is an honest pace and cover flow is good.Race 112-Two Beat (7/2)-7-year-old is looking for first picture at CalX but had 13-wins in 2019. Gets a positive driver change and drops to a soft spot.7-Herecomesthethundr (8-1)-Drops after racing 4 out of 5 on an off-track. Off-track record is only 1 for 18 and now Kennedy is between the pipes. Could be sitting on a big try at. Winnless in '19 but entire field had only 28 wins.9-He Grins Again (3-1)-Has been getting checks versus tougher. Positive driver change with Wiseman in the bike. Post could be a challenge but should like the company. Careful if rains come into play as is winless in 24 tries on an off-track.My Ticket Race 8) 3,5,6 Race 9) 1,3,8 Race 10) 1,2,8 Race 11) 2,7,9Total Ticket Cost) $16.20 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.17.2020:

Friday, January 17: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: C+Use: 4-Shanghai Barbie; 5-Flying BlueForecast: Shanghai Barbie seems as good as any in this modest restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claiming miler for fillies and mares. In the money in three of her last four starts and with two solid races over the Santa Anita main track on her resume, the N. Drysdale-trained filly has a good stalking style and should have every chance to wear down the suspect leaders. She shows a healthy series of recent workouts and appears primed for a top effort. Flying Blue graduated gate to wire in her most recent outing but the win was accomplished over the Los Alamitos main track and form from there doesn’t always translate to Santa Anita. Also, she got away with a very slow pace on the front end and today’s race shape most likely will relegate her to a stalker’s position. We’ll use her on a ticket or two in rolling exotic play but that’s about it.RACE 2: Post 1:30 PT. Grade: CUse: 3-Info’s Treasure; 4-ManresaForecast: Manresa may have upside the others don’t – she has only two career starts – and stretches out to a mile distance that probably is her preferred trip. She likes to settle and produce a late run and in a small field shouldn’t have any traffic worries. Info’s Treasure has been sprinting of late with okay numbers but she’s yet to hit the board at this distance with five prior chances, so the evidence suggests she’s most comfortable as a late-running sprinter. We’ll include her as a back-up in our rolling exotic play due to the switch to bug boy Velez and the weight break it creates, plus recent numbers that make her competitive. Tread lightly here.RACE 3: Post 2:00 PT. Grade: B+Single: 7-Sky JumperForecast: Sky Jumper finally makes it to the post at age four and has trained well enough to win at first asking for a barn that hits with a superlative 30% with debut runners. A $200,000 OBS April sale purchase in 2018 when he previewed in 10 1/5 seconds, the B. Baffert-trained son of Jump Start has done everything asked in the a.m., and in a race that didn’t come up especially deep he appears capable of scoring at first asking. At 5/2 on the morning line we’ll make him a a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 4: Post 2:30 PT. Grade: XSingle: 1-It’s a RiddleForecast: It’s a Riddle finds an easy spot to her earn diploma in this maiden $30,000 claiming sprint for sophomore fillies. In the frame and in four of five starts with speed figures that while not great still make her a standout compared to her four rivals, the daughter of Merit Man looks quick enough to make the running from the rail and never look back. At 4/5 on the morning line she’ll be too short to play in the straight pool but we can use her as a no-value rolling exotic single.RACE 5: Post 3:00 PT. Grade: C+Use: 5-Brickyard Ride; 7-Fly the SkyForecast: The form is this starter optional claiming turf miler looks a little dicey, so if you find the need to spread, go right ahead. We’ll try to survive and advance using just two. Brickyard Ride graduated on the front end sprinting in a maiden $50,000 sprint during the fall meeting and returns protected while stretching out to a mile and trying grass. Two consecutive recent bullet workouts should have the C. Lewis-trained colt ready for a top effort, so with a pedigree to get the trip and with bug boy J. Velez riding him back the son of Clubhouse Ride surely will employ gate-to-wire tactics. Fly the Sky has two sharp races over this course and distance on his resume, switches to good grass rider I. Rispoli, and projects to inherit a good stalking trip. He does, however, picks up weight and has speed figures that are average at best, but on pure form seems like the one to beat.RACE 6: Post 3:30 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-Desert Smoke; 6-RazzleForecast: Golden Gate Fields invader Desert Smoke has the route-to-sprint angle that we like and returns to her winning level for the first time since last summer for high percentage connections. The veteran mare has numbers that fit and is versatile style that can adapt to any pace scenario. These are her friends. Razzle lands the cozy outside post in this extended sprint for $12,500 claiming fillies and mares and has the option of quickly establishing the pace or settling into a soft stalking position. A prior winner over the local main track and dropping a notch below her claim level, the daughter of City Zip may be able to get back on the winning track have having her three race streak snapped at Los Alamitos in a tougher starter’s allowance race last month. Both should be used in rolling exotic play with preference on top to Desert Smoke.RACE 7: Post 4:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Reedley; 5-ExultationForecast: The finale is a competitive grass sprint for restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claimers that attracted a full field. We’ll double the race with two sons of Paynter and hope that’s enough. Exultation has been away for two days short of a year after being a voided claim for this price when missing by a head at even money on the main track. His grass numbers indicate he’s just as effective on the lawn, and hails from a barn that has superior stats with layoff runners. Waiver protected and landing F. Prat, the P. Eurton-trained son of Paynter looks ready to roll. We’ll also toss in Reedley, a $16,000 claim by R. Saldana in late November at Del Mar. The lightly-raced colt returns on the raise in a sign of confidence and is back on grass, the surface over which his career top speed figure was earned.

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1.16.2020:

Ready for Sunshine

Sunshine Millions is Saturday at Gulfstream Park and, while the main course isn’t served until later, first post is a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 11:40 am ET. The 12-race extravaganza begins with a 5-furlong turf maiden special weight and ends with a $16k, mile and one-sixteenth turf claiming race. Sandwiched in between, races 8-11, are rich Sunshine Millions stakes events restricted to Florida-bred runners only. The original Sunshine Millions concept matched California-bred runners against Florida-breds in eight races—half at Gulfstream and half at Santa Anita. For a variety of reasons, mostly financial, Sunshine Millions has morphed into a four-race feature at Gulfstream Park for sons and daughters of the Sunshine State, only. Here’s a pre-scratch handicapping look at this year’s Sunshine Millions races, including a bonus peak at the critical maiden-claiming finale that draws the curtain not only on the afternoon’s proceedings, but also on the rich Rainbow Six (potentially, an over $2.5 million pot), Pick 5 and Pick 4. In a program chock-full of entertaining stakes races, the finale easily is the most important to horseplayers looking to make a sizeable multi-race score. 8th Race –Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf –One Mile and One-Sixteenth on Turf#7 Starship Jubilee figures to get the meat of the Sunshine Millions program off to a formful start. This 7-year-old mare has been facing Grade 1, 2 and 3 competition for a while. None of her foes can boast a similar resume. ‘Starship is 8 for 15 over the Gulfstream Park turf course and 3 for 7 at the distance on turf. She’s got enough pace to be within striking distance early. Javier Castellano returns to the saddle and the pair were victorious in this event last January. It appears the only drawback to this mare is that she failed at short odds over a yielding course in the Grade 3 Cardinal at Churchill last out. Is that a signal that she’s lost a few steps? Perhaps, but I’m willing to take that chance. I need a single. #1 Beautiful Lover is a 4-year-old filly trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz. She’s won 3 of 5 races, including the Boiling Springs at Monmouth. She broke her maiden over Gulfstream turf last winter. If a player were interested in taking a stand against #7 Starship Jubilee, this could be the filly. 9th Race –Sunshine Millions Sprint—Six Furlongs#6 Lady’s Island is a 6-year-old mare with outstanding records on fast dirt 6 for 16; at Gulfstream Park 6 for 8; and at six furlongs 6 for 9. She’s a Pro--a distinction I award to any horse that consistently shows up and gives all. Must have her on my team as a first round draft choice. Yes, she’s facing males, but she’s one fast mamma with some class to boot. She absolutely romped in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl last out—her fifth consecutive win; eighth out of the last nine; and ninth out of her last ten! Regular rider Jaramillo is back for red-hot trainer Georgina Baxter. Plus, Lady’s Island is drawn outside the other speed horse #1 Extravagant Kid. #1 Extravagant Kid draws the rail in here and that’s not my favorite post in a sprint. Still, he’s also a Pro! 12 wins in 39 starts with 11 seconds and 6 thirds earns ‘Kid that rare distinction. Furthermore, ‘Kid is 5 for 12 on fast dirt, and 7 for 27 on other surfaces. At this writing, this race is on fast dirt. As previously explained, a Pro is a horse I want with me in a foxhole. And, make no mistake, multi-race wagers are foxholes. Trainer Brendan Walsh is on fire and jockey Tyler Gaffalione is winning at 20%. Lots of positives other than the fact that he’s got to beat Lady’s Island. 10th Race –Sunshine Millions Turf—One Mile and One-Sixteenth on Turf#9 March to the Arch takes a class plummet from Grade 1, 2 & 3 Kentucky and New York races into this restricted state-bred stakes race. He hasn’t been disgraced against the heavy heads, but he hasn’t won since claiming the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Churchill in June. Regular jock Gaffalione rides for the elder Casse. Arch’s deep closing style could present a challenge, but he’s supposed to handle these foes. If you’re inclined to wager against #9 March to the Arch, you’re going to need to ‘spread like Skippy.’ #1 Max K. O. figures to set the pace from the rail, closely followed by #6 Class and Cash. If they hook up early, #9 March to the Arch will be toward the rear and licking his chops. #4 Souper Scat Daddy is a lightly-raced 5-year-old with speed and 2 wins and 2 places in as many races. He’s also trained by Casse the elder and has been away since March. He’ll help to nudge the early pace along to favor his stablemate. #7 Muggsamatic was a hot claiming property at Monmouth this summer and now is in the more than capable hands of Jason Servis. A sharp Claiming Crown win that made it 3-in-a-row for this one adds to the allure. 11th Race –Sunshine Millions Classic—One Mile and One-Eighth#6 Red Crescent ran well against Grade 3 foes in the Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream—fourth, beaten three lengths. That should set him up well for this. Before that he won a state-bred stakes in November and in October romped home in a $62k optional claiming race. Gaffalione surrenders the mount to red hot Irad Ortiz, currently batting at a remarkable 25% for the meeting. This 6-year-old can’t be ignored. #4 Jay’s Way has speed and enjoyed success in this race in the past—he was second last year at 7-1 odds and won this race the year before at 4-1. He’s 7 now and has been gone since June. That’s not my kind of play but he should take the field a long way before fighting to the finish. #5 Salute With Honor wins races—5 for 15 lifetime—and he’s had some success at Gulfstream. Expect this one to keep #4 Jay’s Way honest in the early going. Gaffalione rides for Mark Casse and they’ve done well together. Perhaps this one’s most favored surface is synthetic, as he’s 3 for 5 at Woodbine. #1 Noble Drama is razor sharp following a dominating mile allowance victory. This will be just his second try at this distance—his first came in this race last year when he was a well-beaten 6th. He’s probably a reach. #2 Tap the Mojo also is sharp off a state-bred $16k optional claiming romp at one mile. This is a step up for the 5-year-old. Outstanding Luis Saez replaces Gafflione in the irons in this one’s first stakes try. He’s probably also a reach. 12th Race –Claiming $16,000--One Mile and One-Sixteenth on TurfNo easy out here. A few questions may be answered by tote action, but that’s way too late for those playing the multis. So, we’ve got make a few educated guesses, spread a bit and hope we’re right. #9 Bold Daddy takes an aggressive drop down the class ladder for Jason Servis--one of the highest percentage trainers around. That fact alone merits respect. Irad Ortiz returns in the irons and he is a barn favorite (43% with Servis this year at GP), so that’s a positive. This one’s been gone since June, so there’s some question of fitness, but not much because Servis is a sparkling 32% with runners gone over 180 days. Gotta use him. #7 Bondurant takes a significant drop in class off a poor start over a synthetic Turfway surface for a sharp claiming trainer. The 7-year-old just won for $25k one race back at Aqueduct. So, why the sudden urge to unload him? Talented Gaffalione rides, but he’s not one of the barn’s usual ‘go-to’ jocks. Questions abound, here. However, you probably don’t want this one to beat you in multi-leg wagers. #6 American Ninja is sharp--off a win for this price in a non-winners of 3. Trainer is unusually hot right now and jock is one of the best at GP. Together they’ve done well. This one would need to continue a current rise up the class ladder. Has a shot. #12 Mission Driven was claimed last out by low-profile trainer Susan Ditter from high-percentage conditioner Jorge Navarro. No one makes a living claiming off Navarro, but this guy’s got some back class. He’s a reach in here, from the 12-hole at age 8. Hope the sun shines on you! Race On!  

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1.16.2020:

Sunshine Millions Saturday + My Late Pick 4 Ticket

With the Pegasus World Cup looming next Saturday, January 25, now is the time to start honing in our bankroll building approach for Gulfstream’s richest stakes day.  Winnings earned this weekend go a long way to ensuring we can fire with both fists next week without having to blow our budget early in the day.  This Saturday is loaded with great racing as Gulfstream Park has the Sunshine Millions, Santa Anita has its Cal Cup and the New Orleans Road to the Kentucky Derby kicks off at the Fair Grounds with the G3 LeComte Stakes.  I’m not able to go in-depth about all of those races in this blog, but if you’re looking for LeComte picks, my fellow Xpressbet handicapper, Santa Anita’s Jon White, has you covered.  In this space, my focus is on Gulfstream’s Sunshine Millions card and specifically the Late Pick 4.  The Sunshine Million is the richest day of racing for Florida-bred horses, with $600K in purses available across four stakes races.  And on these big ‘state-bred’ days, you can trust the competition is going to be solid.  This year’s field include venerable veterans like Starship Jubilee, Extravagant Kid, March to the Arch and Jay’s Way.  For those betting Gulfstream this Saturday, I recommend checking out our XB Rewards Promotion.  Hit the Late Pick 4 (the same one handicapped below) and you’ll win a Split of 1 Million XB Rewards Points.  Also, please note that Saturday’s races have a special early first post of 11:40AM ET, so don’t be late!Here’s how I’m betting the Late Pick 4 with a note on the Late Pick 5:Race 8 (3:03PM ET) – Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf*Start of the Late Pick 5*Note that this race, while not involved in the Late Pick 4, kicks off the Late Pick 5. And on paper, this one should be a cinch. #7 STARSHIP JUBILEE (Attard/Castellano) is a millionaire, Grade 1 winner and the defending champion of this race. She towers over these fillies and her presence makes the Late Pick 5 really a Pick 4. One note – if she wins this race the Late Pick 5 payout won’t be much different from the Late Pick 4, so play accordingly.  Race 9 (3:34PM ET) – Sunshine Millions Sprint*Start of the Late Pick 4*The opening leg of the Late Pick 4 is the six furlong Sunshine Millions Sprint and I think we can get away with using just two horses here. #1 EXTRAVAGANT KID (Walsh/Gaffalione) is a multi-surface star and he’s either a stakes winner or stakes placed on dirt, turf and synthetic. He won the off-the-turf Janus Stakes at Gulfstream on December 28. #6 LADY’S ISLAND (Baxter/Jaramillo) is a mare facing the boys and she couldn’t be sharper. She has won five starts in a row (and eight of her last nine). Jaramillo will play ‘catch me if you can with her’ and using her and EXTRAVAGANT KID gives you coverage from both the lead and a stalking position. For another opinion on the Sunshine Million Sprint, check out our Race of the Week analysis and betting strategy, prepared by our very own Jeremy Plonk.  Race 10 (4:06PM ET) – Sunshine Millions TurfThis race figures to be a showdown between the incredibly in-form #7 MUGGSAMATIC (Servis/Lopez), the stakes veteran #9 MARCH TO THE ARCH (Casse/Gaffalione) and the latter’s stablemate, #2 CURLIN’S HONOR (Casse/Castellano). MUGGSAMATIC has won three straight and should get first run on the Casse horses, both of whom are deeper closers. MARCH TO THE ARCH has the most class in the field – he’s a G2 winner that faced the likes of Got Stormy, Bricks and Mortar and Diamond Oops in 2019 – while CURLIN’S HONOR unleashed a stunning kick to run down the incredibly sharp Caribou Club on November 9 at Aqueduct. None of those three would be a shock.Race 11 (4:38PM ET) – Sunshine Millions ClassicWe’ve done a good job of keeping the early part of the ticket small, so we can spread out a little here if we need to. #6 RED CRESCENT (Vinson/Ortiz Jr.) is going to go favored and his last three races would win this. He won a pair of races at Gulfstream West and his fourth-place finish in the G3 Harlan’s Holiday against Pegasus hopefuls War Story and Bodexpress may be the most impressive race of them all. #2 TAP THE MOJO (Casse/Saez) ran a visual stunner when he drew off by four to win a state bred allowance on December 29 in his first dirt start. #4 JAY’S WAY (De La Cerda/Lopez) won this race in 2018 at 4/1 odds and was second in 2019 at 7/1 so he’s a tough horse to ignore, even if he’s coming off a layoff and his recent form is not strong. Race 12 (5:12PM ET) – ClaimingSo far my Pick 4 ticket is 2x3x2 which gives me an opportunity to spread out in this puzzling nightcap. Frankly, you could make a good argument to just press the ALL button and go about your business. Instead, I’ll use these horses - #2 UNION RICHES (Dobles/Torres), #3 GOSILENTLY (Falcone/Jaramillo), #6 AMERICAN NINJA (Gallegos/Lopez), #7 BONDURANT (Maker/Gaffalione), #8 POSTINO’S VOW (Navarro/Saez), #9 BOLD DADDY (Servis/Ortiz Jr.) and #10 YEAR OF THE KITTEN (Maker/Ortiz). I won’t have coverage to anyone but I think the winner is in that group (not much of a limb to go out on).My Pick 4 TicketRace 9: #1 Extravagant Kid (2/1), #6 Lady’s Island (3/1) Race 10: #2 Curlin’s Honor (9/2), #7 Muggasmatic (4/1), #9 March to the Arch (7/2) Race 11: #2 Tap the Mojo (4/1), #6 Red Crescent (5/2)Race 12: #2 Union Riches (8/1), #3 Gosilently (9/2), #6 American Ninja (6/1), #7 Bonudrant (7/2), #8 Postino’s Vow (8/1), #9 Bold Daddy (4/1)0, #10 Year of the Kitten (10/1) Ticket Cost: $42 for 50-cents 

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1.16.2020:

Saturday, January 18: Sha Tin (Hong Kong) Picks

Get 10X XB Rewards Points when you bet these races with Xpressbet! SHA TIN SELECTIONS(Saturday, January 18, 2020) Race 1: #4 London Hall, #5 Villa Fionn, #6 Above, #1 Magnetism Race 2: #11 Eptiwins, #13 Little Thunder, #4 Sparkling Star, #3 Power King Race 3: #3 Cheerful Leader, #1 Leap Of Faith, #11 Gala Night, #5 Invaluable Race 4: #11 Vital Spring, #12 Fantastic Show, #1 Circuit Three, #2 Mighty Giant Race 5: #3 Waikuku, #1 Beauty Generation, #2 Rattan, #5 FuroreRace 6: #6 Good Beauty, #4 Lockheed, #3 Cool Team, #8 Super FastRace 7: #2 Hot King Prawn, #1 Beat The Clock, #3 Mr Stunning, #4 Full Of BeautyRace 8: #8 Total Power, #11 Beauty Loyal, #2 Mongolian King, #1 Follow MeRace 9: #10 Computer Patch, #6 Loving A Boom, #11 Duke Wai, #4 Water DivinerRace 10: #7 Everyone’s Joy, #2 Smart Patch, #11 Enzemble, #13 Such A HappinessRace 1: Helene Paragon Handicap (2000m) #4 London Hall has been racing well this season and if his form can hold up here, he’s going to be in the finish. He’ll need a race run to suit if he is to come from the tail of the field but the retention of Joao Moreira for this is a good push. #5 Villa Fionn steps out in search of his second win this season for leading trainer Ricky Yiu. He’s another who will get back and rattle home. #6 Above appears to only have limited ability but his two wins this season on the flipside have been no fluke. He’s drawn well and should get every opportunity for Silvestre de Sousa. #1 Magnetism was far from disgraced in Class 3 last time. Though, he’ll relish the return to Class 4 here with Zac Purton engaged. Race 2: Armada Handicap (1200m)#11 Eptiwins has had a number of chances across his career, tallying two narrow placings in the process without winning. He’s shown he has the ability and if he can find himself in a forward position under Tony Piccone, he’s going to go very close. #13 Little Thunder is another who has had plenty of chances but has also shown plenty of ability. Matthew Poon takes the reins for this fresh off a Wednesday double and a win here, wouldn’t surprise. #4 Sparkling Star has done well across two starts in Hong Kong, placing on debut for snatching sixth at his latest. #3 Power King is next best. He’s shown potential. Race 3: Giant Treasure Handicap (1600m)#3 Cheerful Leader steps out for leading trainer Ricky Yiu. He finished runner-up last start over this course and distance, displaying significant improvement from his first three starts. He would only need to repeat that effort here and in his favour is the booking of Joao Moreira. #1 Leap Of Faith has hit the ground running in Hong Kong, snatching two second place efforts from three appearances. He’s drawn well for Zac Purton and this race is suitable. #11 Gala Night has the ability but his consistency lets him down. He has the cheek pieces on for the second time here and if he can find his best, he’ll be thereabouts from the good gate. #5 Invaluable has shown steady improvement. He warrants respect once again. Race 4: Fellowship Handicap (1400m)#11 Vital Spring is already a winner this season and another win here, from the soft gate under Vincent Ho would not shock. He’s proven his capabilities in Class 4 previously and his recent consistency warrants respect. #12 Fantastic Show is looking to end a run of two second place efforts. He’ll get back to the tail of the field so the wide draw is no concern, he only needs a race run to suit. #1 Circuit Three returned a narrow second first-up as a 26/1 chance, rattling home from the tail of the field over 1400m. His eye-catching performance last start commands respect, especially if he can repeat it here. #2 Mighty Giant got off the mark impressively last time out for leading trainer Ricky Yiu. He’s not without a chance of repeating that performance, though, he’ll need to lug five more pounds on Sunday.  Race 5: The G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m)#3 Waikuku narrowly missed last start behind Admire Mars in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile. Prior though, he beat Beauty Generation twice, including in his G2 Jockey Club Mile score two starts ago. He’s a genuine star on the rise and he can cement his position as Hong Kong’s next big thing with a win in Sunday’s HK$10 million G1. #1 Beauty Generation has had his colours lowered on three occasions this season after winning 10 consecutive races, including five at G1 level. Still, although he’s lost his invincible aura, he’s still a champion who is going to fighting out the finish as he bids to win back-to-back Stewards’ Cups. #2 Rattan steps back up to a mile after his mid-career switch to sprinting which relinquished a G2 score last season and G1 placing at his final run following that. He’s been effective over the mile and the quick step up to that distance poses no threat, as this field falls away outside of the top two. #5 Furore is the reigning BMW Hong Kong Derby champion. He steps out over 1600m following a minor setback over Christmas. He can figure with the right run as he has the class, though, he’ll be more effective over 2000m in the future. Race 6: Beauty Flash Handicap (1200m)#6 Good Beauty closed rapidly last star to grab second over this course and distance. John Moore has racked up 29 seconds this season, the most of any trainer, but Good Beauty can change that here with a suitable run through under Grant van Niekerk. #4 Lockheed has been consistent without winning across his 20-start career. Although he’s costly, he’s worth considering due to his consistency and he should get the right run from gate 1 under Joao Moreira. #3 Cool Team got off the mark first-up this term. He’s been doing well in Class 3 since then and he’s proven his capability. #8 Super Fast steps out on debut Manfred Man. Zac Purton takes the reins here and his latest trial was encouraging. Must respect. Race 7: The G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m)#2 Hot King Prawn has returned from his bout with colic in excellent order, a first-up second behind Aethero at G2 level, before notching up another second behind stablemate Beat The Clock in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint. He comes into this with those two runs under his belt which suits and if he’s improved his condition from last start, then he’s the one to beat for Karis Teetan. #1 Beat The Clock was that winner of the Hong Kong Sprint and he’s looking for back-to-back wins in this race as well as a fourth career G1. Joao Moreira sticks aboard here and he’s going to get every chance to show his class. #3 Mr Stunning returned from a lengthy lay off to grab eighth first-up before his narrow fourth in the Hong Kong Sprint behind Beat The Clock. He was a winner third-up last season and he appears to have put all of his injury concerns behind him. He deserves respect. #4 Full Of Beauty comes out of the Hong Kong Sprint also. He’s drastically improved across his short 12-start career in Hong Kong, rising from Class 4 this time last year, to G1 level. He’s up to this and he can’t be discounted here. Race 8: Good Ba Ba Handicap (1400m)#8 Total Power displayed significant improvement last time out to grab fourth. He can progress further here with the added furlong on offer and the middle gate should afford him every opportunity. #11 Beauty Loyal has placed in his last two starts. He’s consistent and although the wide draw makes things tricky, he does get Joao Moreira in the hope of offsetting this. #2 Mongolian King grabbed second last time out. Zac Purton slots in the plate this time on the consistent gelding and with blinkers added for the second time, he should be able to go close again. #1 Follow Me won well three starts ago. He’s next best. Race 9: Ambitious Dragon Handicap (1200m)#10 Computer Patch got off the mark impressively last start. He backs up here again off that performance and although he steps up into Class 2, he’s shown that he has plenty of potential to offer and with only 114lb on his back, he’s going to prove tough to beat under Silvestre de Sousa. #6 Loving A Boom turned in a brilliant fourth last start, rattling home from the tail of the field at Happy Valley. He should be better suited at Sha Tin off that run, the wide spacious straight should suit him and he remains a winning chance with Zac Purton engaged. #11 Duke Wai is looking for his fourth consecutive win. He faces Class 2 for the first time which is always difficult and he’ll need to handle going around a bend, but, he’s gone to a new level this term and the low draw will afford him every opportunity. #4 Water Diviner is consistent. He warrants respect.   Race 10: Glorious Days Handicap (1600m)#7 Everyone’s Joy flashed home to run a slashing third last start over 1400m. He steps up to a mile now which suits and although he’s drawn a touch awkward, he’s more than likely not going to settle in the worse part of the field before peeling out to give chase. #2 Smart Patch got off the mark first-up and has mixed his form since then before narrowly missing last start with Zac Purton engaged. He remains in the plate here and he only needs to replicate that run here to be in the finish. Lyle Hewitson has outperformed his odds on a number of horses of late and #11 Enzemble was one of these, rattling home last start to finish third at 149/1. Any further improvement will see him be ultra-competitive. #13 Such A Happiness is next best from the inside draw.

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1.16.2020:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: January 17 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle in the Stronach 5, which will run the gamut with four tracks this week. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:49 ET) – 4up OC/SAL (25k/16k) N2L at 6 furlongs The opening leg is a tough one, but it’s also loaded with speed, so let’s take an off the pace type of approach. I’ll try for a bit of an upset with #6 DIVINE INTERVENTIO (10-1), who has some hidden form, with a pair of modest longer runs sandwiched around a big 6F run two-back, and has the right running style to take advantage of the race flow. Both #5 WINPLACEORSHOWONO (9-2) and #1 SIR ORINOCO (7-2) hit hard, and have a hint of a rating gear on their best day, so they must be included, while #9 STORMING MY WAY (5-1) was a decent 4th at the level two-back behind ‘Sir and is another who can settle and make a run at the speed. Pk5 A horses: 6,5,1,9 (listed in order of preference) If nothing else, #8 FIX ME A SANDWICH (3-1) did well to draw outside the other speed, and he chased and won two-back, but this is a rise in class off his Parx races, and I’m just not sure he can he’s going to be able to survive a pace battle early and hold off the stalker/closers late. I think you need to include #4 STROLL SMOKIN (8-1), since Robb is 4-for-11 at the meet and 32% off the claim, but this is a solid rise in class, and he’s another who could get fried chasing, so I’ll limit him to a supporting role. Pk5 B horses: 8,4 Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R8 (4:06 ET) – 4upfm 16k N2L at 1-mile (turf) I don’t want to say this looks like a free square but with #6 CHICKLET’S DREAM (7-5) entered, it sure seems it, as she’s simply a better and classier horse than the rest and goes for Brown and Castellano, so I’ll take the bait and single her, under the premise it will allow for more coverage in the deeper surrounding legs. Pk5 A horses: 6 The two most logical backups, #1 Elite Appeal (6-1) and #8 Regal Romance (9-2) would be major contenders in a normal race for the level, but with ‘Dream entered they seem like a real reach off their stagnated form, so I’ll go it alone. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 3: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:47 ET) – 3f AOC (40k/N1X) at 1-mile Much of this seven-horse field look the same, but #3 MILA’S DREAM (6-1) has the upside off a better than it looks debut, as she sat off a pedestrian pace and still got home, while breaking from an impossible outside draw in a field of nine going this trip, which is not easy at all. The two more logical runners—#4 PAIGE ANNE (1-1) and #7 REIWA (3-1)—both hit hard, but the former will be way overbet off a LRC MSW win, and has never run on a synthetic surface, while the latter, who just missed at the level over the track/distance last time, will have to work out a trip from a potentially tricky draw. Pk5 A horses: 3,4,7 It’s tough not to use a 2-for-2 filly in a race where the rest are all one-time winners, so I’ll toss in #6 MOLLIE O’ MCEVOY (8-1), who beat 50k starter gals at the trip here last time, and wouldn’t have to improve all that much for the hat trick. If you’re really spreading then you could do worse that #5 Red Dahlia (8-1), but she has basically run the same race in her last four starts and now faces winners, so I’ll make her prove it on the class rise, while stretching out to two turns too. Pk5 B horses: 6 Leg 4: Santa Anita R3 (5:00 ET) – 4up MSW at 5 � furlongs (turf) It’s tough to have a lot of confidence in this one, as the proven runners don’t have great form and the firster—#7 SKY JUMPER (5-2)—debuts for Baffert on the turf as a 4yo gelding, which is hardly a great sign. I think you have to use him, but I’ll put #4 BIG HEADED BABY (8-1) on top, as his debut in June was a decent 5th for O’Neill and new trainer Knapp is 27% with his newcomers. The former would be no surprise and drew perfectly, but, needless to say, things haven’t gone according to plan if this is where it all begins. I’ll begrudgingly use ML favorite #3 SILENCED (2-1), who is fast and lost his jockey in his only turf start, but Eurton is 1-for-25 off a 61-to-180 day break, 1-for-16 going turf-to-dirt, and 0-for-6 in turf sprints, so there are some hurdles here too. Pk5 A horses: 4,7,3 I don’t think #5 ODYSSEUS (6-1) has to be a freak to win this, and Mandella can have them ready, but it’s odd to see him use Velez, and a son of Candy Ride (ARG) might want a bit longer before showing his best, hence this one will be on the second line only. I don’t think #1 Tyrannical Rex (10-1) is impossible, as he has some decent form, but Carava is an impossible 0-for-53 on the turf, so he can win without me. Pk5 B horses: 5 Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:10 ET) – 4upfm 16k N3L at 1 1/16 miles (turf) If you’re on a tight budget or want to spread deeper in the earlier four legs, then I presume you’re singling #9 ALGODONAL (4-1), who is an incorrect 4-1 on the ML off an easy course and distance N2L win last time, with a figure that wins this by a few lengths too, so expect 5-2 or so, and a horse who has every right to win her third straight. With that being said, it’s never easy rising in class, and both #4 YAKO (9-2), who stretched back out and was a good 2nd at the level here last time, and #10 LIBERALE (7-2), who has some decent form at Laurel and lures Jose Ortiz, both figure, so I’m going to use them all equally, while admitting Algodonal will be tough to beat. Pk5 A horses: 9,4,10 Those three should get you through, but if #5 TRIXIE’S TIME (6-1) gets loose on the stretchout and return to turf, after facing better in NY, she could get brave and forget to stop, so I’m going to use her, for an F. Abreu barn long overdue for a win. Pk5 B horses: 5 The tickets: Main Ticket: 6,5,1,9 with 6 with 3,4,7 with 4,7,3 with 9,4,10 = $108Leg 1 B Backup: 8,4 with 6 with 3,4,7 with 4,7,3 with 9,4,10 = $54Leg 3 B Backup: 6,5,1,9 with 6 with 6 with 4,7,3 with 9,4,10 = $36Leg 4 B Backup: 6,5,1,9 with 6 with 3,4,7 with 5 with 9,4,10 = $36Leg 5 B Backup: 6,5,1,9 with 6 with 3,4,7 with 4,7,3 with 5 = $36

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1.15.2020:

Selections for a Wide-Open Lecomte

Fourteen 3-year-olds are entered in this Saturday’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. It’s the first 2019 stop in Louisiana on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a series of races that award points to the first four finishers. It has determined preference for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field since 2013. The Lecomte, which will be contested at 1 1/16 miles, is worth 10-4-2-1 points toward the Grade I Kentucky Derby. War of Will won the 2019 Lecomte by four emphatic lengths for trainer Mark Casse. The Kentucky-bred War Front colt did not go on to win the Kentucky Derby. However, War of Will did subsequently capture the Grade I Preakness Stakes last year. This year’s Lecomte looks wide open. Scabbard, trained by Eddie Kenneally, is the 7-2 favorite on Mike Diliberto’s morning line. The Kentucky-bred More Than Ready colt is dropping in class from a Grade I race to the Grade III level. He also sports the best lifetime Beyer Speed Figure of the Lecomte entrants, an 87 for his runner-up performance behind Dennis’ Moment in Churchill Downs’ Grade III Iroquois Stakes at 1 1/16 miles last Sept. 14. In Scabbard’s only start since the Iroquois, he finished fourth behind Storm the Court, Anneau d’Or and Wrecking Crew in the Grade I BC Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles last Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. The aforementioned Dennis’ Moment wound up last in the field of eight, but as you probably recall that’s the race in which he stumbled badly at the start as the 9-10 favorite. Of the 14 Lecomte entrants, Sycamore Fun has the best last-race Beyer, an 85, for his 3 1/2-length victory at first asking on a sloppy track Dec. 21 in New Orleans. The Ontario-bred Street Sense colt won that six-furlong maiden special weight race at odds of 4-1 for trainer Joe Sharp. Street Sense won the 2007 Kentucky Derby. He is the sire of multiple Grade I winner McKinzie, runner-up in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita last Nov. 2. Three in Saturday’s Lecomte are coming off an 82 Beyer Speed Figure. They are Mr. Monomoy, Silver State and Lynn’s Map. Mr. Monomoy, trained by Brad Cox, won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race by 5 1/2 lengths at Churchill Downs last Nov. 16. He recorded a 75 Beyer that day. He then posted an 82 Beyer when he finished second, just a head behind Lynn’s Map, in an allowance/optional claiming race at one mile and 70 yards on a sloppy track Dec. 21 in New Orleans. Mr. Monomoy’s sire, Palace Malice, won the Grade I Belmont Stakes in 2013. Mr. Monomoy is a half-brother to Eclipse Award winner Monomoy Girl, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2018. Silver State, conditioned by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, finished in a dead heat for first with Relentless Dancer in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race at Churchill in his career debut last Sept. 27. Bango finished third, 9 3/4 lengths behind the dead-heat winners. In Relentless Dancer’s only start since that Sept. 27 maiden race, he won the seven-furlong Louisiana Legacy Stakes by 10 1/2 lengths against Louisiana-breds at Delta Downs on Oct. 19. He’s currently in training at Gulfstream Park. In Silver State’s lone start since that same Sept. 27 maiden contest, the Kentucky-bred Hard Spun colt recorded an 82 Beyer Speed Figure. That was when he finished second to Necker Island in a one-mile allowance/optional claiming affair on a sloppy track last Nov. 30 at Churchill. Silver State lost that race by a scant nose. The Casse-trained Lynn’s Map had the misfortune to draw the outside post among the 14 Lecomte entrants. The Kentucky-bred Liam’s Map colt is seeking his third straight win, if he starts. Casse told Daily Racing Form’s Marcus Hersh that Lynn’s Map might instead run in Oaklawn Park’s one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes on Jan. 24. The Smarty Jones, like the Lecomte, is worth 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby points. Lynn’s Map, with three career races under his belt, has an improving Beyer pattern of 69, 80, then 82. After finishing third in a seven-furlong maiden special weight race at Churchill last Sept. 29, he won a one-mile maiden special weight race at Churchill on Nov. 8. He then was victorious in an allowance/optional claimer by a small margin over Mr. Monomoy on a sloppy track Dec. 21 in New Orleans. One-eyed Finnick the Fierce breaks from the rail in the Lecomte. He very nearly pulled off a shocker at odds of 87-1 in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club on a sloppy strip at Churchill last Nov. 30. The Kentucky-bred Dialed In colt, trained by Rey Hernandez, finished second, three-quarters of a length behind 7-1 Silver Prospector. Tiz the Law, the 3-5 favorite, had a troubled trip and ended up third, a head behind Finnick the Fierce. If Tiz the Law had won, he quite possibly would have been voted an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male of 2019. In this wide-open renewal of the Lecomte, I will take a shot and go with Sycamore Run. My Lecomte selections are below: 1. Sycamore Run (6-1 morning line)2. Scabbard (7-2)3. Mr. Monomoy (9-2)4. Silver State (5-1) Typically, a number of Lecomte participants subsequently run in Fair Grounds’ Risen Star Stakes. War of Will won both races last year. This year’s Risen Star will be contested at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 15. It has 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby points up for grabs. It’s not good news for any possible Risen Star runners that Independence Hall now is a possibility for that race. His connections are considering either Tampa Bay Downs’ Sam F. Davis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 8 or the Risen Star as the next start for the Kentucky-bred Constitution colt, according to horseracingnation.com. The Risen Star would give Independence Hall more time between races. Also, the Risen Star is worth much more in terms of Kentucky Derby points than the Davis. The Davis is a 10-4-2-1 race. Another consideration working in favor of the Risen Star is it’s a Grade II, while the Davis is a Grade III. Independence Hall, trained by Michael Trombetta, registered a four-length win in Aqueduct’s one-mile Jerome Stakes on Jan. 1. Also at the Big A last Nov. 3, he was a smashing 12 1/4-length winner of the Grade III Nashua Stakes at the same one-mile trip. CURRENT KENTUCKY DERBY TOP 10 There are no Lecomte entrants on my current Kentucky Derby Top 10. Will the winner make it onto the list next week? We shall see. Storm the Court holds the top spot at this time. He pulled off a 45-1 upset in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita last Nov. 1. The Kentucky-bred Court Vision colt is scheduled to make his 2020 debut in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 9, according to Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen. At Santa Anita last Sunday, Storm the Court was supposed to have a solo workout. However, it did not turn out that way, Steve Andersen reported. “Shortly after Storm the Court began the workout under jockey Flavian Prat, two horses from a rival stable loomed alongside,” Andersen wrote. “Storm the Court, running on the inside, finished in company with the other runners in 1:00.60. Eurton timed Storm the Court in a slightly quicker 1:00.20.” Eurton clocked Storm the Court galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.60. The trainer said he was not pleased to see an intended solo spin turn into a team drill. “Not what I was looking for,” the trainer remarked. “If he had been outside, I would have been fine with that.” At Gulfstream Park last Saturday, Dennis’ Moment, who is No. 2 on my Top 10, had his first recorded workout of 2020. He was timed in :50.80 for four furlongs. Dale Romans trains the Kentucky-bred colt by the only two-time BC Classic winner, Tiznow, who was voted 2000 Horse of the Year. Dennis’ Moment won a seven-furlong maiden special weight race by a whopping 19 1/4 lengths at Ellis Park last July 27. He then took the Grade III Iroquois at Churchill prior to his BC Juvenile debacle. Thousand Words, a $1 million yearling and ranked No. 3 on my Top 10, is two for two and headed for Santa Anita’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 1. The Florida-bred colt had a snazzy workout Monday at Santa Anita, four furlongs in :47.40. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who celebrated his 67th birthday Monday, Thousand Words won the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity on a wet track Dec. 7. Pioneerof the Nile is the sire of Thousand Words. Baffert trained Pioneerof the Nile, who finished second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Baffert also conditioned a son of Pioneerof the Nile in American Pharoah, who in 2015 swept the Triple Crown and was voted Horse of the Year. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby five times and the Triple Crown twice. He also trained Justify, who in 2018 was a Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year. By the way, Baffert is nearing a milestone of 3,000 Thoroughbred wins. When the white-haired horseman sent out Mother Mother to take Santa Anita’s Kalookan Queen Stakes last Sunday, it was Baffert’s 2,996th career Thoroughbred victory, according to Equibase. But that is not Baffert’s total number of wins. He also piled up a whole bunch of Quarter Horse wins back in the day. No. 7 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 is Authentic, who also resides at the powerful Baffert barn. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt is two for two. He won Santa Anita’s Grade III Sham Stakes at one mile on Jan. 4 by 7 3/4 lengths. While Authentic was far in front all the way down the stretch in the Sham, he did race greenly in the final furlong when he ducked in, then ducked out, then ducked back in again. Despite his erratic behavior in the lane, Authentic clearly is very talented. Authentic had a four-furlong workout Wednesday in :49.60 at Santa Anita. Honor A.P., trained by John Shirreffs, is No. 4 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10. I had been planning to put him at No. 1 until he missed the Sham. But there was good news last Saturday regarding Honor A.P. Ed Golden wrote in the Santa Anita stable notes that “trainer John Shirreffs reports X-rays were negative on Honor A.P. after he was ‘off in his right front’ causing him to miss the Jan. 4 Sham Stakes, but the son of Honor Code is back jogging. ‘Maybe he wrenched it,’ the trainer speculated.” Honor A.P. closed furiously from far back to finish second when unveiled in a six-furlong maiden special weight race at Del Mar last Aug. 17. He then won a one-mile maiden special in front-running fashion by 5 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita last Oct. 13. Honor A.P. posted a 91 Beyer Speed Figure in his maiden triumph. Shirreffs won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with 50-1 Giacomo, who edged my pick, 71-1 Closing Argument, by a half-length. I have a hunch Honor A.P. is much better than Giacomo. Meanwhile, watch out for Untitled. I have him ranked No. 9. He made a splashy career debut when he won a six-furlong maiden race for Florida-breds by 11 lengths at Gulfstream on Dec. 14 for trainer Ralph Nicks. The Khozan colt was credited with a 98 Beyer Speed Figure, the second-highest in 2019 by a 2-year-old. The only bigger Beyer was Independence Hall’s 101 when he won the Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct. Independence Hall is No. 8 on my Top 10. Cross Court was the distant runner-up to Untitled on Dec. 14. In Cross Court’s next start, he won a six-furlong maiden special weight for Florida-breds by 3 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream on Jan. 9. Thoroughbred Daily News’ Steve Sherack reported on Jan. 9 that Untitled “has been purchased privately by Gary Barber.” Mark Casse now is training Untitled, who is being aimed for Gulfstream’s Grade III Swale Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 1. “Gary Barber bought a majority interest in him and Mike Sebastian kept a small portion,” Casse was quoted as saying by Sherack. “I really like him. I’ve been impressed by him so far.” Untitled worked four furlongs in a sharp :48.00 at the Casse Training Center in Florida on Jan. 4. He then worked five furlongs in 1:00.95 at Florida’s Palm Meadows last Saturday. In Untitled’s debut romp, he did not break with alacrity. “He got away a little slow, was able to scoot up the rail and run fast and win easy,” Casse said. Casse noted that Untitled completed six furlongs in 1:10.17, which was faster than Lady’s Island’s final time of 1:10.75 when she won the Grade III Sugar Swirl Stakes for older fillies and mares later on the card. “He’s about 16.2 [hands],” Casse continued. “He’s a big, leggy horse. If you base your opinion on the way he moves and his physique, you would say he definitely would get two turns.” Considering Untitled has raced just once, there are those who understandably might be skeptical that he could possibly win the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. But at this point early in 2018, Justify had not even raced yet. He did not make his first career start until Feb. 18. Justify would go on to become the first Kentucky Derby winner to have not raced at 2 since Apollo in 1882. At this point early last year, Maximum Security, like Untitled, had raced just once. Maximum Security won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden $16,000 claiming race at Gulfstream late in 2018 on Dec. 20 in his career debut. He did not make his second start until he won a six-furlong allowance/optional claiming race in the mud at Gulfstream on Jan. 24. Maximum Security would go on to finish first in the Kentucky Derby, but then was disqualified and placed 17th by the stewards for causing interference on the far turn. Here is my current Kentucky Derby Top 10: 1. Storm the Court2. Dennis’ Moment3. Thousand Words 4. Honor A.P. 5. Maxfield6. Tiz the Law7. Authentic8. Independence Hall9. Untitled10. Anneau d’Or WILLIAM HILL KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE ODDS Here are the Kentucky Derby future book odds quoted by William Hill as of Jan. 14 for the horses on my Top 10: Storm the Court (12-1), Dennis’ Moment (12-1), Thousand Words (12-1), Honor A.P. (14-1), Maxfield (12-1), Tiz the Law (8-1), Authentic (16-1), Independence Hall (10-1), Untitled (125-1), Anneau d’Or (24-1). BRAZILIAN JOLIE OLIMPICA STELLAR IN U.S. DEBUT Jolie Olimpica made quite a favorable impression in her United States debut when she won Santa Anita’s Grade III Las Cienegas Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf last Saturday. In her native Brazil, Jolie Olimpica was three for three, winning by 4 1/4, 3 3/4 and six lengths, all on the grass in 2019. A Group III winner against fillies last year in April, she trounced her 13 opponents when she won a Group I event by six lengths at about one mile on June 9. Purchased privately by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms with the help of bloodstock agent John Fulton (who as a trainer won the first Japan Cup in 1981 with Mairzy Doates), Jolie Olimpica was sent to Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella in Southern California. Mandella has had success with a number of Brazilian imports, training the likes of U.S. Grade I winners Sandpit, Siphon, Redattore and Bal a Bali, as noted by the Thoroughbred Daily News’ Alan Carasso. The DRF’s Brad Free unearthed this remarkable stat: Jolie Olimpica is the 26th import from South America that Mandella has trained to win a graded race in this country. With Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the saddle, Jolie Olimpica stalked the early pace in the Las Cienegas without being the slightest bit rank. The filly overtook pacemaker Kentan Road in the final furlong to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths. The 1 1/4-length margin does not do justice to Jolie Olimpica’s superiority in this race. Free wrote that she “did it with effortless ease.” Smith noted afterward that Jolie Olimpica was running her best at the finish. “She galloped out well within herself,” Smith said. “She wasn’t winded at all.” Smith added that Jolie Olimpica “should get a mile for sure.” A possibility as a logical next start for Jolie Olimpica is Santa Anita’s Grade II Buena Vista Stakes on turf Feb. 22. The distance of that race? Yep. One mile. Smith said he was happy to win on a daughter of Drosselmeyer. That’s because Smith was aboard Drosselmeyer for victories in the 2010 Belmont Stakes and 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic. “This is his first offspring I’ve had a chance to ride,” Smith said. Drosselmeyer is a son of Distorted Humor and Golden Ballet. In Southern California in 2001, Golden Ballet won the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes, Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes and Grade II Railbird Stakes. Vasilika dominated the older female grass division in Southern California the last couple of years. Unquestionably one of the greatest claims in the history of the sport, she was taken for $40,000 in a race at Santa Anita on Feb. 11, 2018, and joined the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. After that, Vasilika won 13 of 18 starts and earned $1,722,320. In Vasilika’s final career race, she finished second to Iridessa in the Grade I BC Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita last Nov. 2 for owners All Schlaich Stables, Gatto Racing, Janet Hollendorfer and George Todaro. Prior to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, Jerry Hollendorfer rather than Janet had been part owner. Following the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, Vasilika was sold for $1.5 million to Japan’s B. Katsumi Yoshida at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2019 November Sale. With Vasilika now in Japan to begin her new career as a broodmare, she leaves an opening in the SoCal older female grass division. It appears that Brazilian import Jolie Olimpica just might fill that void in light of her victory in her United States debut last Saturday.

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1.15.2020:

Harness Highlights: The Greenshoe Fits For Dan Patch Voters

Marcus Melander trained a pair of 3-year-old millionaire trotters in 2019, a fete rivaled only by Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter in harness racing history. But the U.S. Harness Racing Writers had little difficulty separating Greenshoe and Gimpanzee in the Dan Patch Award voting for divisional honors. Greenshoe won easily, receiving 123 votes to Gimpanzee’s 22, the largest margin among the six trotters named best in their class. Defending Trotter of the Year Atlanta, two-time Dan Patch Award winner Six Pack, sophomore filly When Dovescry and 2-year-olds Real Cool Sam and Ramona Hill also will be hailed as champions at the awards banquet next month in Orlando, FL. Gimpanzee deserves special recognition for winning the $500,000 Yonkers Trot and $500,000 Breeders Crown. But Greenshoe was scintillating, winning 10 of 13 starts and $1.2 million for co-owners Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist, Morten Langli and Owner of the Year Anders Ström’s Courant Inc. Brian Sears did a masterful job handling Greenshoe, who the $450,000 Kentucky Futurity, $330,000 Dr. Harry Zweig Memorial and sire stakes finals in New Jersey and Kentucky but often raced erratically as he did when second in the Breeders Crown final. Atlanta survived the closest vote to repeat as a champion, edging Manchego, 74-72. She carried her speed to win the $250,000 Graduate Series championship, the $220,000 Charlie Hill Memorial and $192,000 Armbro Flight en route to a division-best $767,950 bankroll. Yannick Gingras drove Atlanta for trainer Ron Burke and owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant and Howard Taylor. Multiple world-record holder Six Pack received more than half the votes as best older male trotter. He won the Allerage Open Trot at The Red Mile in 1:49.2 and capped a $581,314 season with a come-from-behind victory in the TVG Series final at the Meadowlands, his final race before retiring to a career at stud. Ake Svanstedt trained and drove the two-time Dan Patch winner for co-owners Little E-Knutssontrotting, Stall Kalmar Inc. and L Berg Inc. When Dovescry emerged as the best 3-year-old trotting filly in the second half of 2019. She won the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks at the Meadowlands and proved it was no fluke with a season-ending win in the Matron that pushed her seasonal earnings to $644,380. She finished in the money in all 12 starts for owners Go Fast Stable, Yves Sarrazin, Kapildeo Singh and Lawrence Dumain. Simon Allard drove When Dovescry for his brother, trainer Rene Allard. Fashion Farms’ Real Cool Sam followed the footsteps of his dam, world record-setter Cooler Schooner, on his way to being named champion freshman trotter. He set five world records in winning his first nine starts, including the $324,550 Peter Haughton Memorial. He became the fastest 2-year-old gelding ever when he dead-heated with Big Oil in 1:52.1 in the International Stallion Stakes. Hall of Famer David Miller drove Real Cool Sam for trainer Jim Campbell. Ramona Hill went to the head of the 2-year-old trotting fillies class with a 4-length victory from post 10 in the $600,000 Breeders Crown. She won 6 of 7 starts during a $405,400 year for co-owners Crawford Farms Racing, Brad Grant, Robert Leblanc and In The Gym Partners. Her Breeders Crown triumph was one of four for driver Andrew McCarthy and three for trainer Tony Alagna.

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1.13.2020:

Most Valuable Pony (January 6 - 12): No Parole

Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.January 6-12, 2020MVP: No ParoleOwner: Maggi MossTrainer: Tom Amoss (pictured above)Jockey: James GrahamPerformance: On a week that proved dim in the stakes ranks, we found a shining performer in the Crescent City. No Parole, a son of Violence, crushed Louisiana-bred allowance sprinters in his second career start by 13-1/4 lengths Jan. 11 at Fair Grounds. It was his second such blowout, winning his Dec. 15 New Orleans unveiling by 14 lengths. The 3-year-old scorched 6 furlongs in 1:10.24. Consider that of the 6 Fair Grounds races at the same distance on January 11, only 1 other went under 1:12 flat (1:11.76). The start of his career harkens to Lost in the Fog, who won his first pair in 2004 by 7-1/2 lengths and 14-3/4 lengths against regional competition.On Tap: No Parole will have to step into stakes company next, and deservedly so. The Louisiana Derby path begins this Saturday in the Lecomte, which leaves the Feb. 15 Risen Star Stakes at 1-1/16 miles as a possibility if they choose to dive into the deep end (or Oaklawn’s Feb. 17 Southwest Stakes at the same trip). There is a state-bred respite at Delta Downs in the Feb. 8 Premier Night Prince at 1 mile that could give No Parole some distance test before facing the open-company heavyweights. The early season top sprints for the sophomores include the Feb. 1 Swale and Feb. 22 Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park, as well as Gazebo a month later at Oaklawn on March 21.Honorable Mentions: The Brazlian filly Jolie Olympica improved to 4-for-4 with her US debut score in Santa Anita’s Jan. 11 Grade 3 Las Cienegas. Fox Hill Farms and Richard Mandella appear to have a dynamic turf sprinter who stopped the clock in a course record 1:01 flat for 5-1/2 furlongs. Also, the 9-year-old fellow Brazilian-bred Ohio scored his second straight edition of the Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile at Turf Paradise on Jan. 11. In an era where they get whisked away, it’s fun to see one long in the tooth like this still doing it at a high level (after a 9-start campaign at age 8, no less).

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1.13.2020:

Monday, January 13: Woodbine Mohawk Park Pick 4 Analysis

My focus tonight will be on the Early 0.20 Pick 4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park which starts in Race 4. The competitive sequence has a $50,000 guaranteed pool.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 43-Fly Beyond (5-1)-There are reasons to not include, primarily the 0-21 in 2019 but has been trying hard. So will use after strong efforts from post 8. Could be ready for a picture if can land a nice seat and the trip works out.4-Derf Hanover (2-1)-Form has been flat against better but should like the company tonight. Best to respect but is only 2-33 at Wbsb and will probably be bet hard. Using but will be looking for better value.8-Wild And Crazy Guy (8-1)-Drops to the level of last win and post helps the price. Likes the track and Filion could be aggressive in this spot.Race 54-Legal Bettor (5-1)-Has had trouble finishing off miles but comes right back in 7-days. Could be sitting on a big try and chances go up if the track is fast.5-Stolen Art (10-1)-Slow starts are often a problem but is another who comes right back. Might be overlooked at the windows and thinking an improved effort is in the cards.9 Julerica (5/2)-Has been in fine form for some time. McClure sticks and if the trip doesn't take a toll it could be picture time again. 11-time winner in '19 looks like a major player.Race 63-Casimir Overdrive (2-1)-Scooted home in first start for Moreau and it's probably best to not overlook for an encore.5-Darcee N (9/2)-Henry takes a seat and now draws well at this level. Looking for a big try at a square price.7-Mossies Art (8-1)-Dropped to this level and was saddled with the 10-hole. This is another price shot who can win with a trip, and on an off-track chances may go up.9-Grits N Gravy (5-1)-Has been trying hard from bad posts and will need to do the same here. This is an interesting group and will respect Team Cullen's chances.Race 73-Kadabra Queen (12-1)-Can roll late and now makes 3rd start since returning to Wbsb. Big chance to snag top honors at a nice price if gets off the gate and lands a good seat.5-Perfetto (7/2)-Going to overlook last after being far back early on. Henriksen could work the right trip from this post and fire off cover.8-Hemi Seelster (5-1)-Has been facing better. Blasted out from the 9-hole and got the top in last but faded. Should be tighter now because was off 3-weeks before last start. Best to respect connections and should offer a fair price.My Ticket Race 4) 3,4,8 Race 5) 4,5,9 Race 6) 3,5,7,9 Race 7) 3,5,8Total Ticket Cost) $21.60 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.12.2020:

Sunday, January 12: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Sedamar; 5-Sold ItForecast: Sold It had a poor draw in the Lady Shamrock Stakes and didn’t get any kind of trip while wide throughout after rating tactics were employed. Most effective on the front end and dropping into a realistic second-level allowance event, the D. O’Neill-trained filly seems quite capable of handling this assignment if permitted to show her speed. Sedamar is guaranteed a good ground-saving trip from her rail post position and in her present form is strictly the one to beat. The main concern is that she’s winless in four career starts over the Santa Anita lawn but her recent numbers are rising and she just earned a career top figure winning an entry-level allowance middle distance grass event at Del Mar in mid-November. We’ll include both in our rolling exotics and then press with a few extra tickets keying Sold It on top.RACE 2: Post 1:01 PT. Grade: XUse: 1-Sabinos Pride; 4-Vannavanna Bo BanaForecast: Sabinos Pride was more than five lengths clear of the rest when a good runner-up with a career top speed figure in a recent maiden claiming sprint for sophomore fillies. From her rail draw she should be within range throughout while saving ground and then have every chance from the quarter pole home, but at 6/5 on the morning line probably won’t offer much in the way of wagering value. Vannavanna Bo Bana, a distant second in her last pair and slower on numbers than Sabinos Pride, looks the best of the rest and probably should be included on a ticket or two as a saver.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Violette Szabo; 5-Sunrise Royale; 8-GrinningeartoearForecast: In a wide open grass grab bag for turf sprinting fillies and mares, let’s try Violette Szabo on top. A solid runner-up over this course and distance during the fall season, she’s been knocking on the door of late and could break through in a big way following an impressive training track workout in company with her stakes winning stable mate Just Grazed Me. She also makes a major jockey switch to F. Prat, so her morning line of 5-1 is enticing. Grinningeartoear is lightly-raced, improving, and a perfect one-for-one sprinting on grass at Santa Anita. The daughter of Smiling Tiger probably has another forward move or two in her, and from her outside draw should be able to settle into a good pace-stalking position. Sunrise Royale usually gets a piece of it and with some help up front could be dangerous from off the pace. Both of her prior outings over the local lawn were good. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics and then press with Violette Szabo on top.RACE 4: Post 2:04 PT. Grade: B+Single: 2-Big BarrelForecast: Big Barrel, first off the claim for a low profile but competent outfit, is a fairly consistent type with good tactical speed and speed figures good enough to win at this restricted (nw3) $16,000 claiming level. He gets a bit of a weight break switching to bug boy Velez, lands a comfortable inside draw, and projects to enjoy a soft pace-stalking trip similar to one he enjoyed when winning two races back at Los Alamitos. First or second in four of seven career starts over the Santa Anita main track, the son of Surf Cat seems ready to fire his best shot in this five-runner field, so at 5/2 on the morning line he’s a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 5: Post 2:36 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Tigerbeach; 6-BlackoutForecast: Blackout is most effective as a late-running grass sprinter and over a course that has promoted the off-the-pace types all season long this P. Miller-trained gelding seems capable of producing the last run. He’ll add blinkers today, so there’s a possibility the 7-year-old gelding will be closer to the early pace than usual. Tigerbeach, back around one turn where he’s most comfortable, has hit the board in all three of his prior outings over the Santa Anita turf course and is another that figures to be doing his best work late. The Bay Area shipper should settle early in mid pack and then have dead aim from the head of the lane to the wire. These are the two we’ll be using on rolling exotic play with preference on top to Blackout.RACE 6: Post 3:07 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Catoca; 2-Noble ContessaForecast: This $40,000 claimer over a middle distance on the main track attracted just five entrants, with the main contention drawn inside. Catoca remains above her claim level for J. Mullins after finishing a solid second in a starter’s allowance sprint at Del Mar in late November. She stretches out again, retains F. Prat, is re-equipped with blinkers, and is solid in the speed figure department. Golden Gate shipper Noble Contessa is a need-the-lead type and if she can establish the running without undue pressure she’ll take this field a long way. Last February – in her most recent Southern California outing – she won a starter optional claimer two-turning by eight lengths while employing gate-to-wire tactics. We’ll give Catoca a slight edge on top but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 7: Post 3:37 PT. Grade: C+Use: 2-Dipping In; 5-Going to Vegas; 7-Big Blue NationForecast: Maiden claiming ($75,000) 3-year-old fillies meet over a mile on grass with possibilities top to bottom. We’ll try to get by going three deep but if you find the need to use more, go right ahead. Going to Vegas ran well when third vs. similar in her only prior try on grass and drops in class and returns to the sod while switching to F. Prat. If she gets the patient ride we suspect she needs, the daughter of Goldencents can be along in time. Dipping In didn’t get the best of runs when a troubled fifth in a high priced maiden claiming two-turf affair at Del Mar in November and with clear sailing today could make her presence felt from off the pace. Big Blue Nation shows up in a seller for the first time and picks up J. Rosario. She’s another that wants to be held up early and allowed to run late and with some help up front should have every chance to tag the leaders close home.RACE 8: Post 4:07 PT. Grade: XSingle: 4-Mother MotherForecast: Mother Mother had a right to be a tad short when third in the La Brea S.-G1 in her first outing since May but she won’t have that excuse today while dropping from Grade-1 company into a listed stakes for fillies and mares. She’s also removing blinkers – love that angle – while retaining J. Rosario, and after earning a career top speed figure in her most recent start the daughter of Pioneerof the Nile looks very much like a short price standout at 8/5 on the morning line. She’s a logical no-value rolling exotic single.RACE 9: Post 4:37 PT. Grade: B+Use: 5-Perfect Affection; 6-Tropical TerrorForecast: Perfect Affection drew the dreaded rail sprinting on dirt at Del Mar in his debut last month and failed to land a blow but we’re expecting the son of Vronsky to improve a ton today stretching out on grass while remaining protected in straight maiden state-bred company. A recent sharp training track drill in company with the good older allowance runner Gregorian Chant really caught the eye, and with the switch to good rider U. Rispoli this P. D’Amato-trained gelding could easily establish the running and never look back at 12-1 on the morning line. Tropical Terror probably is worth including in rolling exotic play as well. A closing second from a poor outside draw in a similar event at Del Mar in November, the J. Cassidy-trained gelding has a right to continue his improving pattern following a steady series of recent drills.

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1.12.2020:

Sunday, January 12: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

Pompano Park begins the week with a 9-race card and the Pick 4 starts in Race 6. That sequence has a $20,000 guaranteed pool with a very low 12% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 62-Superior Raven (3-1)-Tossing the 1/5 race as was used hard into a 55.3 half and faded, previous start was a winning effort off a forwardly placed trip. Looking for a repeat of the 12/30 race, will need a top effort but best to respect.4-Itsnoproblemman (5-1)-3 of 4 in the money at the Pomp but hasn't won a race yet. Looking for an overdue win but does have some back class. Last was better, has been close with an inside post and could be overlooked at the windows.7-Fritzie Pic Up Man (3-1)-9-year-old has won 20 of 99 starts at PPk and Hennessey will be doing the steering tonight. Drops and fits better versus this crew and probably will leave. Will be tough to catch if gets the top without much difficulty.Race 72-Mister Marvalous (3-1)-Likes to get on the engine and faded after being used hard from the 7-hole. Beat some of these in previous start. Should be able to get the lead and then Hennessey can step on the brakes.3-Hesallaboutdabass (6-1)-Trip dependent and could get sucked around and stay in the hunt. Will need a trip but seems to finish miles better than others and should be a square price.Race 82-Mc Mach (2-1)-Steps-up after a sizzling 1:51.4 and it should be noted 4 of the 6 horses are moving up in class. Plano barn has been good and will hope the last start wasn't a fluke. Does look like a major player.3-Bass Player (5-1)-Wasn't Hennessey's choice but has been racing well and if pace is quick chances for a picture go up. Also, could leave and get a good seat.4-Panocchio (3-1)-Hennessey steers PPk vet and when dialed on high can win at this class. The question is the trip and if 10-year-old is able to get an easy lead. Best to respect but will be bet hard and will look to beat.Race 94-King Royalty (3-1)-Gets a ++ driver change with Hennessey taking a seat and could be bet down although recent form hasn't been great. Tough to leave out but not a lock by any means.6-Firewater Jake (10-1)-Jake has some gate speed and although camera shy fits at this level and usually gives an honest effort. Likely to leave and get a good early seat, might get the top or could come off cover.9-Terlinga (4-1)-13-year-old has raced well versus $6k claimers but this post makes it a more difficult challenge. Has the gate speed to get the jump on most of these, so will use and this post makes the price.10-Mach My Point (5-1)-Simons choice over other Petrelli entry #3. Did beat $8k claimers on 11/25, so seems to have some issues. This race is without a standout and will use and hope Simons has in striking range at the top of the lane.My Ticket Race 6) 2,4,7 Race 7) 2,3 Race 8) 2,3,4 Race 9) 4,6,9,10Total Ticket Cost) $36 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.11.2020:

Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Wagering Strategies for 1/11/20

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.*It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.*Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.*Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.*The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.*Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF File*RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Vastly Deep; 5-You’reright AgainForecast: Vastly Deep ran well when a close third in a tougher starter’s allowance sprint at Golden Gate Fields last time out while earning a career top speed figure. This drop into the $25,000 league is a tad suspicious and may indicate he’s “for sale.” At 8/5 on the morning line he won’t be offering much in the way of wagering value, anyway. You’reright Again looked decent breaking his maiden for $32,000 at Del Mar in late November in what has proven to be a productive race, and from his outside draw the L. Wicker-trained gelding has the option to pop and go or stalk and pounce. He’s not as fast as ‘Deep on pure numbers but with a series of good workouts at San Luis Rey Downs in recent weeks he appears to have a healthier pattern. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.**RACE 2: Post 1:01 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Mandy; 7-Win OftenForecast: Win Often ran well in a similar spot in November at Del Mar when a sharp runner-up with an improved speed figure and remains protected in this starter optional claiming sprint over the track he broke his maiden in his debut during the fall season. A steady if unspectacular work pattern has kept her on edge, so the daughter of Vronsky seems the solid choice for the low profile but high percentage D. Pederson barn. Mandy drops into a claimer for the first time, switches to J. Rosario, and should have a strong pace presence throughout. She’s not as fast on numbers as ‘Often but is worth including in rolling exotic play as a backup or a saver.**RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: XUse: 1-Storm the Hill; 3-Jolie OlimpicaForecast: The five-runner Las Cienegas S.-G3 should boil down to the two favorites. Unbeaten Brazilian invader Jolie Olimpica makes her U.S. debut for the always-potent R. Mandella/M. Smith team and has trained well enough to be fit and ready in this abbreviated turf sprint. It’s difficult to gauge her South American form but considering her U.S. connections she must be pretty good. Storm the Hill has been off form of late but we’ve always considered her most effective as a late-running sprinter and this turn back in trip should bring out her best. She switches to F. Prat, lands the rail, and in a small field should have her chance to produce a strong late kick from the quarter pole home.**RACE 4: Post 2:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Mahi Mahi; 3-Champagne On Ice; 7-ItsthattimeForecast: Here’s a spread race, a maiden-claiming $30,000 main track miler for 3-year-olds. Itsthattimea closing second in a similar event at Del Mar in late November, won’t need to improve much at all to earn his diploma; the J. Bonde-trained gelding earned a career top figure in that race and appears to have the most effective closing kick in the field. R. Bejarano, who has gotten off to a very slow start this meeting, stays aboard and knows him well. Champagne On Ice, nosed out when even money in a maiden $20,000 affair at Golden Gate Fields last month, should be prominent throughout and have every chance. He was a distant runner-up in his only prior outing on dirt at Santa Anita in a sprint during the fall meeting, so the surface switch shouldn’t be an issue. His J. Wong-trained stablemate, first-time gelding Mahi Mahi, lands the rail and could try gate-to-wire tactics, though there may be other speed in the field. The son of Ministers Wild Cat is competitive on raw numbers and should at least get a piece of it.**RACE 5: Post 2:36 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Mosienko; 2-Secret Square; 7-Destiny’s JourneyForecast: Mosienko rates top billing in this starter optional claiming turf miler for 3-year-old fillies after finishing a good fourth in a similar affair at Del Mar in mid-November. She has rising speed figures with each start and from the rail the daughter of Hat Trick is assured a ground-saving, pace-pressing trip. Secret Square broke her maiden sprinting on the main track at Del Mar while earning a pretty solid speed figure and if she transfers that form to two-turns and grass the daughter of Square Eddie will be a major player. The jockey-trainer team of J. Rosario and J. Sadler always is tough to beat. Destiny’s Journey is worth including as well; the daughter of Paynter made her turf debut at 61-1 in the same race Mosienko exits and improved a ton to finish a closing second, beaten less than a length. If she runs back to that race today, she’ll be right there again.**RACE 6: Post 3:07 PT. Grade: BUse: 5-Baby Gronk; 7-Gate SpeedForecast: Gate Speed wins this with a repeat of his race before last, a highly-rated romp in a maiden $40,000 claimer over this track and distance during the fall meeting. In a field without too much speed, the M. Glatt-trained gelding should be able to make the running without undue pressure and then have every chance to dominate to the wire. He’s reunited with “win rider” J. Rosario and remains protected in this starter’s allowance dash in a sign of confidence. Baby Gronk gets an extra half-furlong to work with today and should settle into a comfortable second-flight, stalking position. Never worse than second in five career starts over the Santa Anita main track, the B. Spawr-trained gelding seems like a logical exacta partner with our top pick. Both should be used in rolling exotic play; we’ll press with extra tickets keying Gate Speed on top.**RACE 7: Post 3:37 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Nu Pi Lambda; 10-Rakassah; 11-She’s So SpecialForecast: She’s So Special turns back to a sprint and it was under similar conditions at Del Mar that the daughter of Hard Spun ran her best race, a closing second with a career top speed figure in mid-November. She flattened out in a two-turn main track miler at Los Alamitos on dirt last month but with the switch to J. Rosario the daughter of Hard Spun appears capable of settling in mid-pack and then producing a winning late kick. Rakassah is an intriguing English import from the P. D’Amato barn. Her form overseas was okay – not great – but against this group the first-time Lasix user should be competitive. F. Prat will have her doing her best work from the top of the lane to the wire. Nu Pi Lambda has plenty of speed but has proven to be a bit suspect under pressure in the late stages. She’ll take them as far as she can on the front end. We’ll include all three in our rolling exotics and then have a few extra tickets keying She’s So Special on top.**RACE 8: Post 4:07 PT. Grade: BUse: -Queen Bee to You; 7-Spiced PerfectionForecast: Spiced Perfection clearly is the best mare in the field but is unproven around two turns. The daughter of Smiling Tiger did win a one-turn mile stakes race in New York last time out but these conditions aren’t the same. You have to respect her, and you certainly have to use her in rolling exotic play, but we’ll prefer the better-priced Queen Bee to You on top. Certainly not as accomplished on resume as Spiced Perfection but a known entity around two turns and seeking her third straight score, the A. Lerner-trained mare is a versatile sort who can be tough on the front end or from off the pace. She’ll run her race, whether or not it’s good enough to upset ‘Perfection remains to be seen.**RACE 9: Post 4:37 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Sassyserb; 11-Miss RyleighForecast: Miss Ryleigh closed a gap in a promising sprint debut at Golden Gate Fields last month and today goes for new connections following a private sale. The California-bred daughter of Boat Trip is bred to handle turf; the main question is whether she’s fit enough to handle a mile with a pedigree that suggests she’d probably prefer one corner. The J. Rosario-P. Miller team always is a powerful combo. Sassyserb, runner-up in her last three with a career top speed figure in her most recent outing, has proven form two-turn on grass and logically is the one to fear most. She’s guaranteed a good ground-saving trip from her inside draw and with this return to state-bred company the A. Meah-trained filly may be the most reliable in the field. Preference on top goes to Miss Ryleigh – she has a higher ceiling – but both should be included in rolling exotic play.

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1.11.2020:

Saturday, January 11: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

The Meadowlands has 14-races slated to roll with the 0.50 Pick 4 beginning in Race 8. The sequence will have a $50,000 guaranteed pool with a 15% takeout and it will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 82-Harambe Deo (3-1)-Just missed by a whisker after winning and moving up in class. Form has been good. Dunn takes a seat and that shouldn't hurt.3-Eddard Hanover (5-1)-Finished 2nd to a strong winner in last on a sloppy track. Steps-up but has never won on an off-track (0-7), that makes the last effort even better. Has high speed, a 1:48.1 mark at HoP and won >25% of starts in 2019.Race 92-Hurrikane Ali (7/2)-Looks to have a big shot if races back to the 12/26 win. Should be put in play early with a good chance of getting the top and may not look back.5-Steve Said (3-1)-Faded on a sloppy track in last and will toss that start as recent races have been good. Gingras takes a seat and could be aggressive. Best to respect winner of 5 out of 12 at the Big M.6-Whatstroublnurocky (9/2)-Had a nice effort on a sloppy track after rallying from a tough spot. Drops and is a better fit tonight, looks like a major player.9-Bringer Of Rain (8-1)-Makes 3rd Big M start and last was better. Andy Miller can has some gate speed to work with and if pace is hot, chances probably go up at a nice price.Race 104-Forevernalways (3-1)-Has won 3 of 7 at the Big M and makes first start for the Harris barn. From this post Dunn has options and should be in the mix from start to finish.7-Beachip Hanover (6-1)-Drops after an even effort against better. Makes 4th start of the meet and will look for improvement. Can compete here at a square price if Callahan works a good trip.9-All It Takes (7/2)-Dull effort in the slop but doesn't relish the goo. Post will make the price but does face a softer group. Has the gate speed to get a good early seat and Marcus Miller may find a live cover flow.Race 111-Machiavelli (10-1)-Will toss last in the slop with an off-track record of 0-12. Previous start here was fine against better. The main knock is the 0-12 at the Big M but has hit the board 8 times. Should race near the top and will use at a price.2-Jack's Shadow N (5-1)-Jack likes to win and fits with this crew. The post draw should help chances. Monti could get sucked around and make one nice move down the lane to win.5-Statement Made A (9/2)-Drops out of Preferreds and can do well at this level if Buter can work a favorable journey.7-Rock Lights (3-1)-Overlooking last 3 starts, now back to the Big M and another who fits better at this level. Versatile 5-year-old can leave or come off cover, Dunn should be able to get into striking range.My Ticket Race 8) 2,3 Race 9) 2,5,6,9 Race 10) 4,7,9 Race 11) 1,2,5,7Total Ticket Cost) $48 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.10.2020:

Friday, January 10: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

The feature at Cal Expo goes in Race 3, a Fillies and Mares Open Pace with a $6,700 purse. The highlight from a betting standpoint is the 0.20 Pick 4 which has a $30,000 guaranteed pool. That sequence starts in Race 8, it has a 16% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 84-Hi Fidelity (9/2)-Has been having trouble finishing off miles but now faces easier company. Plano's choice and he can get on the engine and maybe steal a quarter.5-Velocity Layla (8-1)-Makes 2nd start for new barn in a race without much form. Using this longshot and hoping Lackey saves some ground and can pace through to the wire.6-Dontcloseyoureyes (6-1)-Fits well here and has been racing on wet tracks with a 1-23 record. Looking for some improvement on a fast track and could take a picture at a square price.7-Getter Queen Flush (4-1)-Steps-up after a nice win despite a tough trip. This mare likes the track, Svendsen could catch a live cover flow and rally for an encore.Race 95-Ethan Hanover (15-1)-Needs a good steer and could leave or find some cover from this post. Should be in the mix with a good trip at a nice price.6-Rocknroll Jewel (4-1)-Big try from the 10-hole following a rare win. Will probably leave again and could get a good early seat. Best to respect Magee's choice.8-Gunny Wilson (5/2)-Usually comes up short but is in good form and has the speed to beat this crew. This post is a challenge but helps the price.Race 102-Imma Tank (5-1)-Last was better on a dry track. Could be sitting on a big try if the track rates fast tonight. Previous 3 starts were on an off-track and is 0-14 on that type of surface.3-Dontdoubtthelakers (3-1)-Drops to the lowest level of the meet after last 5 starts have been on good or sloppy tracks. Plano's choice over #1 and #2 looks like a player.6-Murder Mystery (15-1)-Will take a swing for a price. Comes off a good effort from the 8-hole and will look for more of the same. Closed well last week and tonight the pace could be quicker which will help chances with a good steer.Race 113-Adios Amigos (2-1)-Makes 3rd start for Lackey, offers no value at a 2-1 ML but could be a drop and pop situation. This feels like a spot for an overdue picture so will respect versus this bunch.5-Winonefordoug (7/2)-Old-timer doesn't win often period. But on an off-track he is 0-39 and that has been the case in the last 3. Svendsen drives again and he has been more aggressive in last 2 starts and should be in the hunt.6-Burntisland Billy (4-1)-Makes 3rd start for new trainer and has been forwardly placed on off-tracks in last 2. Looking for a better finish on a dry surface versus a suspect crew.My Ticket Race 8) 4,5,6,7 Race 9) 5,6,8 Race 10) 2,3,6 Race 11) 3,5,6Total Ticket Cost) $21.60 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.10.2020:

Friday, January 10: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: C+Use: 2-Dance Costume; 5-Lavender; 7-RaneemForecast: A little will go a long way in this older maiden special weight turf sprint for fillies and mares. Raneem exits a better race on the main track when third late last month and if she performs similarly today on grass the B. Baffert-trained filly appears capable of earning her diploma. She has enough early speed to be on or near the lead throughout from her cozy outside draw. Lavender finished second in both of her starts in Ireland as a 2-year-old, missed 2019 entirely, and today makes her U. S. debut as a first-time Lasix user for M. Chew. Her local works (on dirt) have been only so-so but based strictly on her European form she has to be considered a major player. Dance Costume hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary leading up to her debut but she attracts J. Rosario, so on that basis alone we’ll include her in our rolling exotic play.RACE 2: Post 1:30 PT. Grade: BSingle: 2-Busy PaynterForecast: Busy Paynter appears quick enough to establish the pace and then keep on going in this restricted $16,000 claimer for fillies and mares. The B. Koriner-trained filly was a clever winner over this track two runs back and then was a reasonable fourth (beaten less than two lengths) in a $32,000 seller at Del Mar in mid-November. She drops for the money run, switches to A. Cedillo (regular rider T. Pereira is serving a suspension) and seems the solid choice. Let’s make her a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 3: Post 2:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Persepolis; 2-Velvet QueenForecast: We’ll double the third race, a five-runner first-level allowance affair over a mile on the main track for fillies and mares. Persepolis was below form when a distant runner-up (but well clear of the others) as the odds-on favorite in a similar affair at Del Mar in late November but we’ll give the daughter of War Front a chance to make amends with F. Prat staying aboard for R. Mandella. She projects to enjoy an ideal pace-stalking trip and then have her chance to complete the task from the top of the lane to the wire. Velvet Queen is the likely pacesetter and when not pressured always is dangerous to keep on going. She’s a fit on speed figures and proved she could handle dirt in her first ever attempt when winning an extended sprint at Del Mar vs. starter’s allowance foes last time out. An excellent work tab at San Luis Rey Downs in the interim indicates the daughter of Animal Kingdom remains right on edge.RACE 4: Post 2:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Promise Nothing; 5-Benny ChangForecast: Benny Chang and Promise Nothing were separated by a half-length when they finished second and third, respectively, in a similar maiden $50,000 claiming sprint for fillies at Los Alamitos last month. Been Chang is the quicker of the two and switches to J. Rosario, so the the P. Miller-trained daughter of Cross Traffic seems certain to garner most of the play. We’ll put her on top but also include on a ticket or two Promise Nothing, a late-running sprinter who will appreciate today’s extra furlong.RACE 5: Post 3:00 PT. Grade: C+Use: 5-Rickie Nine Toe’s; 6-NikkileaksForecast: The first-timers in this maiden claiming state-bred sprint don’t inspire, so try to get by using just two main contenders in our rolling exotics. Rickie Nine Toe’s showed promise in her debut but went backward in her next start, finishing third as the 4/5 favorite here two weeks ago. She’s boosted from $32,000 to $50,000 off a claim by J. Periban, who adds blinkers and opts for R. Bejarano, and if the daughter of Informed reverts to her debut form she shouldn’t have much trouble with this modest group. Nikkileaks, freshened since the fall season and adding blinkers for M. Glatt (strong stats with this particular equipment change), has a right to be a better sort following her 10-month vacation and should find herself on or near the lead from the get-go. She’s much slower on figures than her main rival but should be included on your ticket at least as a saver or a backup.RACE 6: Post 3:30 PT. Grade: B+Single: 6-Classy AtlanticForecast: Classy Atlantic returns from the East and is back in the M. Glatt barn after picking up a few minor awards in a series of allowance turf sprints in Kentucky and Maryland. In a field without much early zip the daughter of Stormy Atlantic should be able to pop and go from her outside draw over a turf course that has proven to be her favorite (in fact, both of her career victories were earned over the local lawn). Freshened since September but training well enough to be fit and ready, she’s our top pick, straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 7: Post 4:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Oiseau de Guerre; 5-Royal TrumpForecast: Royal Trump has really gotten good of late and seems well-spotted to win his fourth race from his last five outings in this second-level allowance extended sprint for older horses. The M. Glatt-trained gelding likes to settle and blast home, and after earning a career top speed figure in in a lesser affair at Del Mar last time out the son of Ministers Wild Cat retains E. Maldonado and gets an extra-half furlong to compliment his late-running style. Oiseau de Guerre also can be considered a prototype late-running sprinter but unlike our top pick has yet to prove he can be as effective on dirt as he is on grass and synthetic. The son of War Front continues to look sharp in the a.m. for M. McCarthy and lands J. Rosario, so we’re expecting the veteran gelding to be heard from in the final furlong. Both should be used in rolling exotic play with Royal Trump the preferred top pick.RACE 8: Post 4:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Bella Vita; 5-She’s Devoted; 6-Sara CreweForecast: The finale is a competitive maiden state-bred 3-year-old grass sprint with three main contenders. Bella Vita brought $400,000 at the OBS April Sale after breezing a furlong in 9 4/5 seconds, the fastest for the distance in the entire sale. She’s done most of her preparatory work at Los Alamitos, and while her workout times aren’t fancy she does have a solid foundation that should have her plenty fit for a barn that has superior statistics with first-time starters. The daughter of Bayern seems the likely choice and one to beat. She’s Devoted has put together a good string of drills at San Luis Rey Downs leading up to her debut for R. Baltas and lands J. Rosario. She’s bred to win early (Grazen) and arrives after a recording a bullet three furlong blowout at the training center six days ago. Sara Crewe is another daughter of Grazen and could move up on grass, as many do. A bullet half mile workout in 47 2/5 seconds over the training track six days ago should have her on edge, she gets a break in the weights with the switch to bug boy Diaz, and her Bay Area speed figures have risen with each outing.

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1.9.2020:

We're All Kissing Our Sisters

Close the book. Turn the page. Wipe clean the slate. Hello, New Year! On Jan. 1, everyone, everywhere is tied—a temporary dead heat for top owner, trainer and jockey. All horses, too, are unbeaten. Suddenly, a year older, they’re deadlocked—no wins and as many losses between them. Horseplayers also enjoy balanced accounts. All square. No peaks, no valleys, and an ROI (Return on Investment) that’s landed on green zero…neither red, nor black. Hope abounds in the New Year, buoyed by plans, strategies and resolutions to make this one the best ever. How? Easy. Just follow the blueprint, the treasure map. The truth. The light. The way. All roads lead to a calendar chock-full of health, happiness and a dumpster’s-worth of tax-free cash. At the beginning of the New Year, we’re all kissing our sisters. Of course, the condition is temporary. We know it. Been around the block a time or two. Not Pollyannas. The scoreboard may say ‘scoreless tie,’ but we know that magic moment of equality is as fleeting as a bullet train by a hobo. Bottom line, some are just more fortunate than others—equines and humans. Bigger, stronger, smarter, more talented, wealthier, faster…whatever the case. On Jan. 1, we occupy stalls in the same starting gate. However, once the doors open some of us can’t help breaking bad. We spot the field lengths at the start. Right then and there, plans, strategies and resolutions go up in smoke. We’re forced to play catch-up. Then, at the quarter pole, when the real running starts, we’re done. Have no answer to the question. Amid myriad current negative vibes, Thoroughbred racing and the practice of wagering on its outcomes, maintains a single, fantastic, enduring aspect: Nobody knows nothing. For all its nicks and crosses and stats and sheets and theories and computer-assisted handicapping and wagering the endeavor possesses a ‘crapshoot’ element. There’s a chance for anyone playing the game to hit it big. Hold the dice for a while. Bask in raucous cheers and hearty pats on the back for a job well done. Any owner, trainer or jockey can find the ‘Big Horse,’ or be found by the ‘Big Horse.’ It’s happened before, and it can happen again. Lightening strikes. And in racing it seems to arrive more often than it does in other pastimes and occupations. If you’re in the racing game, you’ve got a chance. Breeding, owning, training, riding, gambling. Doesn’t matter. All it takes is one horse. The right horse. Or maybe four of them in the perfect order to complete the superfecta. The beauty of the thing is that like lightening in the summer night sky, you don’t see it until it appears. Briefly. Powerfully. Beautifully. In that moment, you’re so absorbed that you don’t notice anything else. That new foal, seemingly not much different from the others, may be ‘the one.’ Bred and born in the backyard or hammered home in the sales ring, it doesn’t matter. It can happen. It does happen. Heck, even a claiming horse—one others are willing to sell—can do an ‘about-face’ and deliver unforgettable moments to a new owner, trainer, jockey or horseplayer. Maximum Security, this year’s probable 3-year-old champ and finalist for Horse of the Year honors, could have been claimed for $16k out of a maiden race at Gulfstream Park in December 2018. Fairing no better and no worse than his current connections, anyone game and/or lucky enough to buy the colt that afternoon by now could have earned roughly $1.8 million and counting! And don’t even mention his value at stud. Let’s make the math easy and say 60 mares at $100k each. That’s $6 million. This year, next year and the year after that. Maybe. Could be more, could be less. Let’s see what happens. Nobody knows nothing. Now, a 2-year-old that races first-time out in a $16k maiden claiming race is not supposed to have a million-dollar career. That’s an extremely rare occurrence, not likely to be repeated. And just to make things even more improbable, Math Wizard, winner of the Grade 1, $1 million, Pennsylvania Derby, finished third in the same $16k maiden-claiming heat won by Maximum Security. He’s banked roughly $1.2 million and counting! Not supposed to happen, right? But it did. Sure, Bob Baffert’s chances of training another Kentucky Derby winner are way better than anyone else’s, but his horses can’t win every sophomore dirt stakes race. Can they? And Chad Brown can’t possibly train the first three home in every added-money turf event, even though it seems like he already does. No, there’s room at the top for the rest of us. The game’s history is littered with surprising results. In fact, some maintain that the term ‘upset’ earned its definition as ‘an unexpected result or situation, especially in a sports competition’ in 1919, when a horse named Upset defeated Man o’War in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga. Neat tale, but inaccurate. More likely, on that Spa afternoon Man o’War backers felt the other definition of the word—'a state of being unhappy, disappointed or worried.’ To truncate a popular sentiment, ‘..it happens.’ Sometimes. And ‘..it’ can happen to you, me or the other guy, just like it did with Jay Trotter when the red-hot horseplayer famously asked, ‘Am I having a good day or what?’ When the dust settles on 2020 and we close the book, turn the page and wipe clean the slate, here’s hoping we’ve all experienced some memorable racing moments. We’re sure gonna try. Happy New Year and beyond! Race On!

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1.9.2020:

A Thread of Blue the Choice in Tropical Turf; My Late P4 Ticket

The Grade 3 Tropical Turf Stakes is the headliner Saturday at Gulfstream Park and the main reason to play the late Pick 4. It’s single time as trainer Kiaran McLaughlin brings A Thread of Blue from three from off, gives Luis Saez a leg up and sends the pair out for the 1 1-16th-mile grass race that is a forerunner to the track’s top races for older grass performers. A Thread of Blue won all three of his Hallandale Beach starts last year, and each came around two turns on the grass. The 4-year-old Hard Spun colt’s strength comes in his early speed, but he has also won from just off the pace. A Thread of Blue’s most lucrative win to date came last August in the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational when he backed up the pace going 1 3-16th-miles and scored a 13-to-1 upset. A Thread of Blue has been off since Oct. 5, when he was second in the Grade 2 Hill Prince at Belmont. His local wins came in an optional claiming race, the Dania Beach Stakes and the Grade 3 Palm Beach – all during the previous Championship Meet. The single allows for some spreading out in the other races, and that looks like it’s necessary. The approach on the ticket this week is 4x4x1x7 for $56. The sequence (races 8-11) includes the Grade 3 Marshuas River, a $62,500 optional claiming race, the Tropical Turf and a $16,000 ‘non-winners of three’ event. Here’s the suggested Late Pick 4 play: Race 8: #3 Magic Star, #4 Sweet Bye and Bye, #5 Andina Del Sur, #7 Munchkin Money Race 9: #1 Fortune Cookie, #2 Endorsed, #9 Brasstown, #10 Cutting Humor Race 10: #8 A Thread of Blue Race 11: #1 Saratoga Colonel, #2 Krachenwagen, #6 Keep It Up, #8 Iconic, #9 Pawnbroker, #10 Honey Dont, #11 Fives Wild 50-cent Pick 4 Ticket: 3-4-5-7 with 1-2-9-10 with 8 with 1-2-6-8-9-10-11 ($56)  

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1.9.2020:

Big Stakes Saturday at Gulfstream, Santa Anita

Stakes races at the sport’s marquee tracks, Santa Anita and Gulfstream, are the name of the game this time of the year.  And why wouldn’t they be? During the winter months, many of North America’s top horses are stabled in Los Angeles and Miami, making those two historic venues the logical landing spot for top horses to make their next starts.Santa Anita’s Saturday slate features a pair of graded races, the G3 La Canada for older fillies and mares on the dirt and the G3 Las Cienegas for the ladies sprinting on the lawn.  The card is also bolstered by a 14% Takeout Early Pick 5 and a 20-cent Rainbow Pick 6 with a $300K+ carryover.   You can find my picks for the Santa Anita Late Pick 4 later in this article.Across the country at Gulfstream, turf stars will strut their stuff in the G3 Tropical Turf Stakes and G3 Marshua’s River Stakes. The field for the Tropical Turf is particularly enticing as it showcases three-time stakes winner A Thread of Blue and stakes winners Maraud, Empire of War, Gunnison, Gemonteer, Exulting, Sand Dancer and Gidu.  Plus going into Thursday’s races, the Rainbow 6 carryover at Gulfstream was $1.8M.I didn’t handicap those races in this week’s blog, but my colleagues Jeremy Plonk and Jerry Shottenkirk are all over them.  Here are their picks: Jeremy Plonk's Tropical Turf Stakes Picks & Analysis Jerry Shottenkirk's Late Pick 4 Ticket & Thoughts  And on the commercial front, we’ve got a lot of cool stuff going on this weekend at Xpressbet.  Check it out: Santa Anita 1 Million Point Exacta Split: Hit Exactas ($2 base minimum) on four different races this Saturday at Santa Anita to Split 1 Million Points. $50,000 Beat the Host Tournament: Register for FREE and play for $2,000 cash every Saturday and for more than $25K in season-long prizes. This week’s Host is Millie Ball of Santa Anita Park and XBTV. But enough about that – here are my thoughts on the weekend’s Santa Anita RacesRace 3 (4:30PM ET) – G3 Las Cienegas Stakes Not in the Late Pick 4 (likely due to field size), the G3 Las Cienegas only attracted five runners but it’s hard to deny this is a quality group.  JOLIE OLIMPICA was a private purchase by Fox Hill Farm from Brazil and is a perfect 3-for-3 in her career.  She won a G1 in her most recent start and while this race may be nothing more than a prep for bigger and better, she seems to fit nicely here. STORM THE HILL is a heralded runner for Phil D’Amato but this will be her shortest race in years. She won on the downhill course going 6 1/2 furlongs in November 2018, but will she find the same success going 5 1/2 furlongs?1. #3 Jolie Olimpica (6/5) 2. #4 An Eddie Surprise (8/1) 3. #1 Storm the Hill (9/5) And now for the Late Pick 4:Race 6 (6:00PM ET) – Starter AllowanceThis is a strong field of nine and it’d be hard to build a strong case for (or against) any single horse in here.  All nine entrants have a record that boasts just one win and all have started between five and 13 times. So these aren’t horses that have made a career of winning races. Despite my initial instinct to just push the ALL button and move on, I’m going to note that if #7 GATE SPEED runs back to his maiden breaking score, he should handle this field. Let’s also use #5 BABY GRONK and #4 POLICY. Race 7 (6:30PM ET) – Maiden Special WeightFirst note has to be that #10 RAKASSAH, making her first start for Phil D’Amato, picks up Flavien Prat who scores at nearly 30% for this barn. She ran OK in Great Britain but should jump ahead more here.  Prat gives up a likely chance to ride #11 SHE’S SO SPECIAL for Peter Miller but since they got Joel Rosario, I’ll put her on the ticket. Let’s also use #4 NU PI LAMBDA and her superior early speed and #5 MUNN SHE’S PRETTY, going out for a barn I don’t usually bet with firsters (Jonathan Wong), but note that he and Velez have teamed to win at nearly 30% over the last year.Race 8 (7:00PM ET) – G3 La Canada StakesThe last time #7 SPICED PERFECTION went around two turns she was beaten in a state-bred stakes races around this oval in June 2018. Granted, her form wasn’t as great back then and she really came into her own later that season. But hey, it’s a reminder that, despite her 9-for-20 record, $1.2M bankroll and multiple G1 wins, two-turn racing is not what she’s known for. Can she do it? Let’s find out. But is she worth a single on your ticket? Hard to say yes to that with #3 QUEEN BEE TO YOU in the field. That one has won two straight including the G3 Bayakoa last out at Los Al. She’s just 1-for-9 at Santa Anita but she’s too sharp to ignore.Race 9 (7:30PM ET) – Maiden Special WeightThe nightcap is a maiden race on turf and the one consistent theme among entrants is minimal turf experience. #11 MISS RYLEIGH was so impressive in her debut at Golden Gate that Gary Barber bought her privately and transferred her to Peter Miller. Problem though…this is her turf debut and she has an outside post. Even if she’s the top pick, she’s not infallible.  My ticket will also include #2 SASSYSERB. She’s finished second three times (not something I love) but her inside draw is a big positive. My TicketRace 6: #4 Policy (6/1), #5 Baby Gronk (7/2), #7 Gate Speed (3/1) Race 7: #4 Nu Pi Lambda (4/1), #5 Munn She’s Pretty (10/1), #10 Rakassah (7/2), #11 She’s So Special (3/1) Race 8: #3 Queen Bee to You (3/1), #7 Spiced Perfection (5/2) Race 9: #2 Sassyserb (7/2), #11 Miss Ryleigh (3/1) Ticket Cost: $24 for 50-cents

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1.9.2020:

Xpressbet Race of the Week: Tropical Turf at Gulfstream Park

GRADE 3 TROPICAL TURF AT GULFSTREAM PARKSaturday, January 11, 2019By Jeremy PlonkThe Lead:Saturday's stakes co-features at Gulfstream Park are middle-distance turf tests, first up the fillies/mares in the Grade 3 Marshuas River in Race 8 and then the colts/geldings in the Grade 3 Tropical Turf in Race 10. Both stakes are part of the late pick four and pick five on a card that begins with 3-year-old races in the first 7 offerings on the program.Field Depth:MARAUD has won at the Grade 2 level, while A THREAD OF BLUE is a Grade 3 winner and Grade 2-placed. GIDU and TUSK are Grade 3-placed. There hasn't been a ton of graded stakes success among this field of 10, so the class separation does not appear great.Pace:This race should cook early. GIDU is a fast turf sprinter stretching back out to the mile. GEMONTEER has essentially tried to wire his last 3 races. A THREAD OF BLUE has made the front in nearly each of his dozen starts. Horses like rail-drawn EMPIRE OF WAR and BIG AGENDA in the 3-hole have some tactical speed and a reason to use it from their posts. TUSK also can push the envelope. Keep in mind the Gulfstream Park turf has been very friendly to early speed; but this pace scenario is certainly fast and theoretically open to a closer.​​Our Eyes:A THREAD OF BLUE has banked $1 million with 5 wins in 12 starts, including a perfect 3-for-3 at Gulfstream Park. The newly turned 4-year-old has yet to race outside age-restricted company, however, and he's absolutely had some soft pace scenarios in his favor. His last 9 races on turf have all seen opening half-miles in :47-3/5 or slower, 6 of those over :48. He won the Dania Beach and Grade 3 Palm Beach at last year's Championship Meet and retains regular rider Luis Saez for Kiaran McLaughlin. But he's been beaten the past 2 times he's been favored, and this rise into all-age racing can dull a resume built up against a small pool of eligibles in the former 3YO-only turf ranks.GIDU is a fast son of the great Frankel. But he's lost 5 in a row overall, and has dropped 11 straight stakes decisions since winning the May 2018 Paradise Creek. You must respect this horse's raw ability, as well as the John Velazquez-Todd Pletcher combination that speaks for itself. But given the pace scenario, GIDU really will have to work for this at what probably will be an under-laid price. I'm a big fan of the horse; but will pass in this spot.MARAUD had carried the Pletcher banner for much of his career, but was claimed for $80,000 at Saratoga in August when offered in an optional claimer. Joe Orseno now has him after a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth behind the veteran Divisidero. But as mentioned with A THREAD OF BLUE, you'll notice how much tougher things got for MARAUD last year when exiting the restricted 3-year-old ranks. He went 0-for-5 in all-ages racing, following his sophomore season that saw him win the Grade 2 Crown Royal American Turf and miss the Grade 2 Hall of Fame by a nose. Paco Lopez picks up the mount and he's aggressive early in races, especially with an inner-draw. That could be a tough fit in this race.Trainer Mike Maker has the uncoupled pair of EMPIRE OF WAR and EXULTING. EMPIRE OF WAR makes his first try against elder horses and second for Maker after performing for Todd Pletcher. EMPIRE OF WAR didn't show much in his first outing for Maker behind a slow pace at Fair Grounds and after a troubled start. EXULTING is the more appealing of the pair to this eye. The 7-year-old Tapit gelding was claimed for $62,500 in April of last year, immediately won the Oaklawn Mile on dirt and was sent against some very strong stakes company throughout the summer. He pivoted to the grass at Kentucky Downs and has performed solidly since with strong BRIS late pace figures. He was beaten just over 2 lengths by the talented Instilled Regard in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale over this course in December. Top pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. now takes the mount and he looks set to deliver with a hot pace in front of him.TUSK exits a third in the Claiming Crown Emerald over this course and distance. Saffie Joseph, Jr. trained a trio of stakes winners last Saturday at Gulfstream Park and just acquired this one via $32,000 claim in late October. TUSK has finished in the superfecta in his last 8 starts against easier competition.Most Certain Exotics Contender: A THREAD OF BLUE is 10-for-10 in the superfecta on turf lifetime. While I will play against him on the win end, he remains a formidable presence for the minor awards. Favorites are a strong 18: 10-3-2 in Gulfstream Park graded stakes on turf since the start of 2019, according to Betmix.​Best Longshot Exotics Contender: EXULTING was 15-1 and 49-1 in his pair of turf stakes bids, but won't be that kind of price this time. Still, he should offer a big chance at reasonable odds.Sending it in ($100 bankroll): ​​$80 win EXULTING. $10 exacta box EXULTING and A THREAD OF BLUE.

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1.9.2020:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: January 10 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle in the Stronach 5, which will run the gamut with four tracks this week. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:49 ET) – 4up AOC (35k/N2X) N2L at 6 1/2 furlongs The opener is a toughie, but there are a few you can pick apart and a few you can lean on, so I’ll try and survive what could be a real problem for the betting public. I’m going four-deep, with my top choice going to #5 WORKIN ON A DREAM (6-1), who was surprisingly on the lead in his return 12/20 and held well to be a close 4th behind a few of these and should move forward off that. Obviously #8 MARCO ISLAND (3-1) is a must-use off the fast figure win against lesser last time, while #4 CHARGIN STORM (6-1) was 2nd and ahead of ‘Dream, and #3 SHOWALTER (4-1) had big form before catching slop last time and would be a huge threat on the lead if he can bounce back. Pk5 A horses: 5,8,4,3 (listed in order of preference) The backups are a bit trickier, as #9 CERULEAN SPRINGS (8-1) also beat ‘Dream last time but the half-furlong cutback and a decided lack of speed won’t help his chances, while #1 FACTOR IT IN (6-1) was 5th in the 12/20 race and might be going the wrong way, especially since he’s now two races removed from being claimed away from John Servis. Pk5 B horses: 9,1 Leg 2: Santa Anita R1 (4:00 ET) – 4upfm MSW at 5 1/2 furlongs (turf) There’s not much in here in terms of proven runners, so if the money shows on #2 DANCE COSTUME (7-2) you might want to be aggressive and single her, as Yakteen is 24% on debut and reaches for Rosario, so there appears to be a lot of intent here. If she’s not ready then #7 RANEEM (5-2) might be ready to break through for Baffert, as her two turs sprints were solid, and she drew a perfect outside attack post as well. Pk5 A horses: 2,7 The wildcard is clearly #5 LAVENDER (3-1), a first time Euro who is now with Chew but hasn’t been out since running 2nd on the synthetic at Dundalk last October, so the long layoff is a big worry, but she was also 2nd on turf on debut and adds Lasix too, so there’s reason to take her seriously. The works whisper ready on #1 MALIBU CAT (3-1), who was a decent 9th on debut on the turf and hasn’t been seen since a no-show on dirt in February, but it’s comforting to see Prat land here, so she’s worth a look. You have to play against #6 Mela Jones (7-2), even though the turf run two-back works, as she’s off her own February break, plus Carava is an unfathomable 0-for-51 on the turf. Pk5 B horses: 5,1 (please note that the backup ticket will only use 5,8 in Leg 1) Leg 3: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:38 ET) – 4up AOC (35k/N1X) at 1-mile The fragile but talented #4 BLEWITT (5-2) should be tough here off the April layoff for Pletcher, who is a big 29% off this extended break, and those works sure do whisper ready, and the fact he’s here, and not in NY facing state breds, says he’s doing good and may want to win one in front of his namesake. Taking on winners is never easy, but it appears sharp Aqu MSW winner #3 KID BOURBON (9-2) has a lot of talent and plenty of upside, and aside from the chalk, this isn’t the toughest AOC you’ll see this winter, so he may be able to bridge the gap. Pk5 A horses: 4,3 This is a tough sequence and I’ve got to limit my coverage in the races I think are pretty well defined, so there will be no backups here, as the top pair simply look better than the rest. If you’re looking for more coverage, then #9 Mac Jagger (10-1) a first-time Pletcher off a 13-month break, has a bit of appeal at a price, while #8 Fullness of Time (15-1) didn’t run poorly while facing winners at CD in his first start for DeVaux. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:45 ET) – 4up 5k N2L at 5 1/2 furlongs There’s some definite price appeal with #8 HOT ‘N FAMOUS (8-1), who dueled on the rail against much better in his return off an April layoff last month but now draws perfectly in a race without a ton of sprint speed, so maybe he gets brave in a spot that a sharp Thomas barn might have had in mind all along. There’s little doubt #6 HOT ‘N NOTTY (4-1) is the one to beat off a slew of fast figures, and if the pace does get contested, he’s going to be sitting just off of it waiting to pounce, which means he’s a must-use on the top line. Pk5 A horses: 8,6 The rail is a bit of a worry for #1 ROMAN ROCKET (9-2) but he was a close 3rd to ‘Notty last time, so if he can work out a trip he’ll be in the mix for sure. I’m going to play against easy last-out winner #4 Power Times Two (9-2), as he will likely have ‘Famous pressing him the entire way, and #7 Candy Crew (3-1), who fits on paper but is 0-for-11 over the local oval. Pk5 B horses: 1 Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:10 ET) – 4upfm Florida-bred AOC (16k/N1X) at 5 furlongs (turf) With a field full of speed, the cutback might work perfectly for #2 FOUR K’S (10-1), who has been going two turns on the turf, tired after running on the lead in her return last time, and starts for Ward, who is a stiff 38% second-off a 180+ day layoff. An outside attack post will help #6 RICHIE’S SISTER (3-1), who has a hint of rating gear starts for Jason Servis, and is 3-for-7 over the local lawn, while #8 SWEET YARE N DIRA (7-2) is another with speed who did well to draw outside some of the other pace, and goes off the claim for Joseph, a ridiculous 40% move, though improving off Navarro isn’t easy. Pk5 A horses: 2,6,8 I’ll use one backup, #4 LADY GRACE (9-2), who has never run fast enough to win this, but has worked well for her return off a June layoff, and with added maturity, and a rating gear, she could surprise. If you’re looking deeper, then #3 True Heiress (12-1) will run on late, though she too is slow on figures, while #5 Vilaro (8-1) has two sharp recent turf runs and goes off the Dibona claim (19%), but may find herself in a pace sandwich. Pk5 B horses: 4 The tickets: Main Ticket: 5,8,4,3 with 2,7 with 4,3 with 8,6 with 2,6,8 = $96 Leg 1 B Backup: 9,1 with 2,7 with 4,3 with 8,6 with 2,6,8 = $48 Leg 2 B Backup: 5,8 with 5,1 with 4,3 with 8,6 with 2,6,8 = $48 Leg 4 B Backup: 5,8,4,3 with 2,7 with 4,3 with 1 with 2,6,8 = $48 Leg 5 B Backup: 5,8,4,3 with 2,7 with 4,3 with 8,6 with 4 = $32

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1.8.2020:

The Top Performances of 2019

Now that it is 2020, many horseplayers understandably reflect on what occurred on the American racing stage in 2019. With that in mind, I have compiled my list of the Top 10 performances by a Thoroughbred in the United States last year. A Thoroughbred’s performance can make this list for a variety of reasons, such as: --A win by a big margin while showing brilliance. --Recording a fast final time and/or speed figure. --Being especially game in victory or defeat. --Overcoming adversity. --Defeating a particularly strong group of opponents. --Carrying more weight than usual and/or spotting considerable weight. --Achieving something historic or unusual. The importance of the race itself also plays a role in determining whether or not I believe a performance deserves to make the list. And now, drumroll please, here is my list of the Top 10 performances of 2019: 10. COVFEFE in Pimlico’s Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes at six furlongs on dirt May 17. (A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Into Mischief filly; owned by LNJ Foxwoods; trained by Brad Cox; ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan.) In an impressive exhibition of sheer zip, Covfefe sped six furlongs in 1:07.70 to win by 8 1/2 lengths. Her final time shattered the track record of 1:09.00 set by Northern Wolf back in 1990. Covfefe recorded a 107 Beyer Speed Figure for her Miss Preakness triumph. She proved the 107 Beyer was not a fluke by duplicating that figure when she won the seven-furlong Dogwood Stakes by eight lengths at Churchill Downs on Sept. 21. In her final 2019 start, Covfefe recorded a 106 Beyer when she won the Grade I BC Filly & Mare Sprint by a half-length at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Covfefe is a 2019 Eclipse Award finalist in both the 3-year-old filly category and female sprinter category. I will not be surprised if she gets the Eclipse Award in both categories. 9. MAXIMUM SECURITY in Aqueduct’s Grade I Cigar Mile at one mile on dirt Dec. 7. (A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred New Year’s Day colt; owned by Gary and Mary West; trained by Jason Servis; ridden by Luis Saez.) The significance of this victory by Maximum Security is it likely sewed up a 2019 Eclipse Award for him as champion 3-year-old male. Maximum Security finished first in seven of eight starts during 2019. He won every race at 3 except for when he was disqualified by the stewards for committing a race foul in the Kentucky Derby and when he stumbled at the start in Monmouth Park’s Pegasus Stakes. In the Grade I Kentucky Derby on May 4, Maximum Security was disqualified from first and demoted to 17th for causing interference on the far turn. It was the first time in the 145-year history of the Run for the Roses that a winner was disqualified for an incident during the running of the race. In a huge upset, Country House was declared the official 2019 Kentucky Derby winner, returning $132.40 for each $2 win wager. After Maximum Security had his number taken down in the Kentucky Derby, he made his next start in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth on June 16. Pounded down to 1-20- favoritism in that 1 1/16-mile affair, he finished second after stumbling at the start. That race was won by 5-1 King for a Day. Maximum Security gained sweet revenge at Monmouth on July 20 in the Grade I Haskell Invitational, which was run on a brutally hot day. He won the 1 1/8-mile Haskell by 1 1/2 lengths. King for a Day finished fifth, 12 1/4 lengths behind Maximum Security. King for a Day did not race again in 2019. In the Cigar Mile against older foes, Maximum Security vied for the early advantage with fellow sophomore Spun to Run. In Spun to Run’s most recent start prior to the Cigar Mile, he had registered a clear-cut 2 3/4-length win over Omaha Beach in the Grade I BC Dirt Mile. In the Cigar Mile, Maximum Security shook well clear in upper stretch to pass the eighth pole with a three-length lead. He went on to prevail by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:36.46. The Cigar Mile was the best race of Maximum Security’s career from a Beyer Speed Figure standpoint. He recorded a 111 Beyer. His previous top Beyer had been a 106 when he won Belmont’s Grade III Bold Ruler Handicap by 1 3/4 lengths at seven furlongs on Oct. 26, his first start vs. older horses. 8. OMAHA BEACH in Oaklawn Park’s Grade I Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles on dirt when the track was sloppy April 13. (A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred War Front colt; owned Fox Hill Farms; trained by Richard Mandella; ridden by Mike Smith.) Making an electrifying move on the clubhouse turn, Omaha Beach advanced swiftly from fifth to reach the front soon after entering the backstretch. Once he took over, he settled into a nice, comfortable rhythm rather than get headstrong or rank. In the final three furlongs, Omaha Beach had to hold off Improbable the whole time. Omaha Beach led by a length at the three-eighths pole, the same margin at the eighth pole and the same margin at the finish. Improbable was second at each of those points. Talk about successfully fending off an opponent, Omaha Beach completed 1 1/8 miles on a sloppy track in 1:49.91. He was assigned a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. While the final time and Beyer do not get the pulse racing, what made this performance special was the way Omaha Beach came home so strongly despite expending so much energy early. In Countdown to the Crown, Jeremy Plonk observed what an extraordinary effort it was on the part of Omaha Beach. Omaha Beach “motored around the clubhouse turn like Secretariat’s 1973 Preakness when [jockey] Ron Turcotte took a gamble blowing past Ecole Etage,” Plonk wrote. Plonk noted that it would have been perfectly reasonable to think that Omaha Beach had moved too soon. But Plonk pointed out how strongly Omaha Beach still ran his final three furlongs, comparing it to three other prominent Arkansas Derby winners: Final 3F Winner (Year) :37.20 Curlin (2007):37.35 Bodemeister (2012):37.45 Omaha Beach (2019):37.78 American Pharoah (2015) After winning the Arkansas Derby, Curlin ran third in the Kentucky Derby, Bodemeister finished second in the Run for the Roses and American Pharoah swept the Triple Crown. Unfortunately for Omaha Beach, he missed all three Triple Crown events. He was installed as the 4-1 morning-line favorite in the Kentucky Derby, but was withdrawn due to an entrapped epiglottis, an issue that necessitated surgery. 7. VINO ROSSO in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles on dirt Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. (A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred Curlin colt; owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable; trained by Todd Pletcher; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.) Fourth early, Vino Rosso charged to the front with a little more than a sixteenth to go, then drew away to win with authority by 4 1/4 lengths in 2:02.80. It actually was an excellent final time on a main track that was deep and quite tiring during both days of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup. Like a fine wine, Vino Rosso seemed to get better as he aged. He was a pretty good 3-year-old in 2018, highlighted by a victory in the Grade II Wood Memorial during the spring. But he clearly was better last year at 4. Vino Rosso was credited with a career-best 111 Beyer for his BC Classic victory in the final start of his career. It was his fourth straight triple-digit figure. He did not record a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure in any of his races prior to 2019. By capturing the BC Classic, Vino Rosso followed in the footsteps of his sire, Curlin. Voted Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008, Curlin won the 2007 BC Classic on a sloppy track at Monmouth Park by 4 1/2 lengths, almost the same 4 1/4-length margin as Vino Rosso in the 2019 BC Classic. 6. OMAHA BEACH in the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship at six furlongs on Oct. 5. (A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred War Front colt; owned Fox Hill Farms; trained by Richard Mandella; ridden by Mike Smith.) This performance when Omaha Beach returned from a layoff was nothing less than superb. Prior to this Oct. 5 race, Omaha Beach had not started since winning Oaklawn Park’s Grade I Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 13. Omaha Beach’s 2019 campaign hit snag after snag after snag following the Arkansas Derby. Snag No. 1: Omaha Beach was withdrawn from the Grade I Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4 because of an entrapped epiglottis. Mike Battaglia had pegged the Kentucky-bred son of War Front as the 4-1 morning-line favorite. The throat problem required surgery. Would Omaha Beach have won the Kentucky Derby? We will never know. Maximum Security finished first in the Run for the Roses, but then was disqualified and placed 17th for causing interference. Maximum Security was credited with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the Kentucky Derby. Omaha Beach likewise recorded a 101 Beyer when he won the Arkansas Derby. Those Beyers suggest that Omaha Beach might have won the roses if he’d had the chance. Snag No. 2: When the post-surgery swelling in Omaha Beach’s throat lingered longer than hoped for, his return to training was delayed. This setback effectively took Saratoga’s Grade I Travers Stakes on Aug. 24 off the table. After Omaha Beach finally resumed training, he had his first recorded workout at Del Mar on July 23. He worked three furlongs that morning in a bullet :36.60. Mandella announced that the plan was for Omaha Beach to run in Del Mar’s Shared Belief Stakes at one mile on Aug. 25. Snag No. 3: Omaha Beach was one of a number of horses at Mandella’s Del Mar barn in August that had their training and plans disrupted by a virus. Because of that, Omaha Beach missed the Shared Belief. Mandella then decided to target Churchill’s Grade III Ack Ack Stakes at one mile on Sept. 28 for Omaha Beach’s return. When Omaha Beach worked seven furlongs in a splendid 1:25.00 at Santa Anita on Sept. 13, it was all systems go for the Ack Ack. Arrangements were made for him to be flown to Kentucky from California on Sept. 24, four days before that race. Snag No. 4: On Sept. 20, Omaha Beach was scheduled to work seven furlongs again at Santa Anita. However, when this workout “got messed up,” as Mandella put it, the colt’s trip to Kentucky was called off. On Sept. 22, when Mandella was a guest on Mike Willman’s radio program Thoroughbred Los Angeles, the Hall of Fame trainer explained what happened in Omaha Beach’s Sept. 20 workout. “Well, it just got messed up about as bad you could do,” Mandella said. “He had warmed up his normal warmup and broke off with his workmate at the six-furlong pole. And about an eighth of a mile into it, a rider fell off ahead of him on the racetrack.” Omaha Beach and his workmate had to be pulled up. They had to wait for the loose horse to get caught and for the rider to get up and walk away. According to Mandella, Omaha Beach and the workmate then had to gallop all the way back around the track to again commence the workout. But by then Omaha Beach “was pretty upset and just too strained,” Mandella said. “It was just something he had never done before. He worked a good six furlongs, but a no-good seven.” Omaha Beach’s time for seven furlongs was 1:27.20, considerably slower than his 1:25.00 drill a week earlier. “With that, I just didn’t think it was good enough for me to be taking him out of town to run a mile with a long layoff,” Mandella went on to say during his Sept. 22 radio appearance. “So, I decided to just scrap that idea. The Sprint Championship is shorter than I would like to run him. But when I went back to a sprint last February and got his maiden broke, he went seven-eighths pretty well. I think he will run really well [in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship]. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win. But it’s at least a place where I can get him started back.” In the Sprint Championship, Omaha Beach had to run against fellow 3-year-old Shancelot, a quality sprinter from the East Coast trained by Jorge Navarro. Earlier in the year on July 28, Shancelot had won Saratoga’s Grade II Amsterdam Stakes by 12 1/2 lengths when he completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.01. He set sizzling fractions of :21.79, :43.94 and 1:07.63. That 1:07.63 clocking was faster than 6-year-old Imperial Hint’s final time of 1:07.92 a day earlier when he won Saratoga’s Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. Imperial Hint’s time of 1:07.92 broke the track record. Shancelot received a gigantic 121 Beyer Speed Figure for his Amsterdam victory. Following the Amsterdam, Shancelot finished third when narrowly beaten as a 3-10 favorite in Saratoga’s H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at seven furlongs on Aug. 24. Mind Control won by a nose. Hog Creek Hustle came in second while finishing another nose in front of Shancelot. After the Jerkens, Navarro sent Shancelot to California for the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Navarro wanted the sophomore speedster to have a race over the Santa Anita main track prior to the Breeders’ Cup. The Grade I BC Sprint would be run at six furlongs at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. As expected, Shancelot set the pace in the Sprint Championship. The fractions of :21.87, :44.38 and :56.18 were especially fast on a Santa Anita surface considerably slower than it had been in recent years. After Omaha Beach bobbled slightly at the start, he lurked in third early. It was to Omaha Beach’s credit that he was quick enough to race so close to such a rapid early pace. Shancelot led by 1 1/2 lengths at the quarter pole. Turning into the stretch, it was clear that he still had much gas left in the tank. But it also was clear that Omaha Beach, at odds of 5-2, was poised to give 3-10 favorite Shancelot a serious run for his money. “Down at the rail, Omaha Beach is very close. Omaha Beach is firing a big shot in his comeback!” track announcer Frank Mirahmadi said during his call of the race as Omaha Beach set his sights on Shancelot at the top of the lane. At the head of the stretch, Smith had a decision to make. He could angle out a bit to go on the attack in the lane while racing to the outside of Shancelot, or the Hall of Fame rider could choose the inside path during the stretch run. The inside path had been left open by Shancelot’s rider, Emisael Jaramillo. Smith opted for the inside path. With a furlong to go, Shancelot still sported a 1 1/2-length advantage and was running strongly. But after passing the eighth pole, Omaha Beach was determinedly bearing down on the favorite. “Shancelot fully extended, trying to fend off the classy Omaha Beach,” said Mirahmadi. “Shancelot digging in! Omaha Beat at the rail is coming to him!” For Omaha Beach, it was a darn good thing that the distance of the Championship was not anything shorter than six furlongs. He put his head in front right at the finish. “What a training job by Richard Mandella!” Mirahmadi exclaimed. Indeed. And what a performance it was by Omaha Beach. 5. BRICKS AND MORTAR in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita at 1 1/2 miles on turf Nov. 2. (A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway; owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence; trained by Chad Brown; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.) With this win, Bricks and Mortar concluded a perfect 2019 campaign. He was six for six last year while racing from January to November. Five of his 2019 victories came in Grade I events. There were 14 Breeders’ Cup races in 2019, yet none was considered to be in Bricks and Mortar’s comfort zone. He seemed well suited to compete in races from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/4 miles. Because of the lack of a race with a distance that appeared a perfect fit for Bricks and Mortar, trainer Chad Brown even indicated for a time during the summer that Bricks and Mortar might not be sent to the Breeders’ Cup. But after Bricks and Mortar won the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 10 to solidify his position as a leading Horse of the Year candidate, it was felt that a trip to the Breeders’ Cup was in order. It also was decided to give the BC Turf a whirl rather than the BC Mile. Running in the BC Turf actually made sense. With Bricks and Mortar being asked to stretch out to 1 1/2 miles for the first time in his career, Santa Anita was an ideal place to do so inasmuch as the first part of the race would be run downhill. It turned out that Bricks and Mortar did not have the best of trips in the BC Turf. He was bottled up during most of the race. Turning for home, with a little less than a quarter of a mile remaining, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. finally was able to move to the outside to get a clear run. “Bricks and Mortar now gets a seam and he’s going to be cut loose with a furlong to go,” said track announcer Frank Mirahmadi during his call of the race. “Here comes Bricks and Mortar on the outside. And he is finishing with a flourish! Bricks and Mortar STORMS to the front! United running a giant race. But it’s Bricks and Mortar bringing his brilliance to the biggest stage to win the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf!” After Bricks and Mortar’s BC Turf victory, accomplished in 2:24.73, he was retired to stud having won 10 of 12 lifetime starts. Bricks and Mortar is odds-on to be voted a 2019 Eclipse Award as champion male turf horse. He’s also likely to be voted 2019 Horse of the Year. 4. MITOLE in Belmont Park’s Grade I Metropolitan Handicap at one mile on dirt June 8. (A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred Eskendereya colt; owned by William and Corinne Heiligbrodt; trained by Steve Asmussen; ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.) The 2019 Met Mile attracted a stellar field of nine. Most considered it to be one of the strongest fields for any race run in this country last year. Mitole attended the early pace and got the job done by three-quarters of a length. McKinzie had a troubled trip and finished second. Thunder Snow came in third, followed in order by Promises Fulfilled, Firenze Fire, Pavel, Coal Front, Tale of Silence and Prince Lucky. Mitole ran one mile in a splendid 1:32.75, not far off the track record of 1:32.24 set by Najran in 2003. “This win with this horse is so special,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “Today is what we had targeted. We know what this race meant; what a tremendous field it had. For him to come out on top against the field today under the pressure that he had, he proved what we believed in him the whole time. . .He’s obviously a very special horse.” 3. GOT STORMY in Saratoga’s Grade II Fourstardave Handicap at one mile on turf Aug. 10. (A 4-year-old Kentucky-bred Got Stormy filly; owned by Gary Barber; trained by Mark Casse; ridden by Tyler Gaffalione.) It used to be that running a horse back in seven days was not so unusual. But that’s certainly not the case these days, especially when it comes to stakes horses. And so it was unusual to see Got Stormy run in -- and win -- a pair of stakes races over the span of just seven days last summer at Saratoga. On Aug. 3, Got Stormy won the De La Rose Stakes by four lengths against fillies and mares when she completed one mile on the grass in 1:33.15. She barely missed the course record of 1:33.13 set the day before by the 8-year-old gelding Macagone. When Got Stormy was entered right back in the Aug. 10 Fourstardave, many were surprised. Not only would she be coming back in seven days, she would be competing against males. Despite the relatively short period of time between starts, Got Stormy won the Fourstardave by 2 1/2 lengths in a bravura performance. Her final time of 1:32.00 broke the course record. Raging Bull finished second, while the mare Uni came in third. (Got Stormy and Uni had a rematch in the Grade I BC Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Uni turned the tables, winning by 1 1/2 lengths. Got Stormy finished second.) There are three primary reasons Got Stormy’s Fourstardave ranks No. 3 among the top performances of 2019. First, she had only seven days between starts. Second, she broke the course record. And third, she became the first filly or mare to win the Fourstardave in its 35-year history. 2. SHANCELOT in Saratoga’s Grade II Amsterdam Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt July 28. (A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Shanghai Bobby colt; owned by Crawford Farms Racing; trained by Jorge Navarro; ridden by Emisael Jaramillo.) From a visual standpoint, this performance was nothing less than dazzling. Additionally, when quantifying it from a Beyer Speed Figure standpoint, it was sensational. Breaking from the outside post, Shancelot blasted to the front at once and improved his position from there, as they say. It was a tour de force by the 6-5 favorite. On the far turn, Shancelot drew out to a six-length lead at the five-sixteenths pole. After that, he continued to run up the score. His advantage grew to 10 lengths at the eighth pole. At the finish, he was 12 1/2 lengths in front. Shancelot was responsible for sizzling fractions of :21.79, :43.94 and 1:07.63. The astonishing 1:07.63 clocking for the six-furlong split was faster than Imperial Hint’s final time of 1:07.92 that broke the track record a day earlier when the 6-year-old son of Imperialism won the Grade I Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap by four lengths. Shancelot won the Amsterdam in 1:14.01. I remember that while I was watching Shancelot crush 11 other 3-year-olds in that race, I thought “wow.” I also recall that when I first saw Shancelot’s Beyer Speed Figure for his Amsterdam victory, I again thought “wow.” Shancelot’s 121 turned out to be the highest Beyer Speed Figure of 2019 by a pretty substantial margin. These were the highest Beyers of 2019: Beyer Horse (Date, Race, Track) 121 Shancelot (July 28, Amsterdam, Saratoga)114 Come Dancing (April 5, Distaff Handicap, Aqueduct)114 Imperial Hint (July 27, Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, Saratoga)112 City of Light (Jan. 26, Pegasus World Cup, Gulfstream Park)112 Mitole (Nov. 2, BC Sprint, Santa Anita)111 McKinzie (Aug. 3, Whitney, Saratoga)111 King Jack (Sept. 21, Gallant Bob, Parx Racing)111 Vino Rosso (Nov. 2, BC Classic, Santa Anita)111 Maximum Security (Dec. 7, Cigar Mile, Aqueduct) When Shancelot won a seven-furlong maiden special weight race at first asking last Feb. 16 at Gulfstream, he recorded a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. When he won a six-furlong allowance/optional claiming race June 23 at Monmouth Park, he improved to a 100 Beyer. For Shancelot to then get a 121 Beyer in just his third career start when he won the Amsterdam was quite a feat. Daily Racing Form’s David Grening noted that Shancelot’s 121 was the highest Beyer Speed Figure in a race shorter than one mile since Midnight Lute recorded a 124 when he won the Grade I Forego at Saratoga in 2007. 1. CITY OF LIGHT in Gulfstream Park’s Grade I Pegasus World Cup at 1 1/8 miles on a sloppy main track Jan. 26. (A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Quality Road; owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Warren Jr.; trained by Michael McCarthy; ridden by Javier Castellano.) City of Light put an exclamation point on his racing career that concluded with this brilliant performance. A pace factor from the outset, City of Light splashed away from his opponents in the stretch and won this $9 million event by 5 3/4 lengths at 9-5 in the wagering. Seeking the Soul, who was sent away at 34-1, ran second. Accelerate, the 3-2 favorite in the field of 12, finished third. City of Light and Accelerate were both coming off a Breeders’ Cup victory at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3. City of Light won the Grade I BC Dirt Mile. Accelerate captured the Grade I BC Classic. After the Pegasus, City of Light and Accelerate both headed off to stud at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky. McCarthy was pardonably proud that City of Light had performed so admirably in the Pegasus. But, not surprisingly, the trainer also was disappointed that City of Light’s racing career had come to an end. It would have been fun to see what City of Light could have accomplished during the rest of 2019. “He’s the horse of a lifetime,” McCarthy told Gulfstream publicity the day after City of Light’s final race. “I don’t know what else I can say.” A compelling case can be made that City of Light’s Pegasus was the best race he ever ran during a career in which he posted six wins, four seconds and a third from 11 starts. He was credited with a career-best 112 Beyer Speed Figure for his Pegasus performance. His previous top Beyer had been 110 when he won the 2018 BC Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs. City of Light’s 112 Beyer turned out to be the highest of the entire year in a dirt race longer than one mile. It is true that Shancelot was credited with a much bigger Beyer Speed Figure, a 121, when he trounced his foes in the Amsterdam. But Shancelot’s 121 came in a race restricted to 3-year-olds. City of Light’s 112 Beyer came in a race for 3-year-olds and up. Also, the vanquished in the Pegasus included 2018 Eclipse Award-winning older male Accelerate. City of Light’s scintillating Pegasus triumph occupies the top spot on my list of the best performances by a Thoroughbred in this country during 2019. Below are my top performances of the year going back to 2004: 2004 Ghostzapper in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic2005 Afleet Alex in the Grade I Preakness Stakes2006 Barbaro in the Grade I Kentucky Derby2007 Rags to Riches in the Grade I Belmont Stakes2008 Big Brown in the Grade I Kentucky Derby2009 Zenyatta in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic2010 Blame in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic2011 Animal Kingdom in the Grade I Kentucky Derby2012 I’ll Have Another in the Grade I Preakness2013 Dreaming of Julia in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks2014 Wise Dan in the Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap2015 American Pharoah in the Grade I Belmont Stakes2016 Arrogate in the Grade I Travers Stakes2017 Gun Runner in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic2018 Justify in the Grade I Kentucky Derby2019 City of Light in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup  

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1.7.2020:

Harness Highlights: Pacing Trio Repeats As Champions

McWicked, Shartin N and Warrawee Ubeaut repeated as Dan Patch Award divisional champions when the U.S. Harness Writers Association announced the 2019 winners earlier this month. Bettor’s Wish, Tall Dark Stranger and Lyons Sentinel also will be honored as champion pacers at the awards banquet February 23 in Orlando, FL. The 2019 champion trotters will be featured in next week’s column. McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year, survived the closest vote to win his third divisional crown in his final season of racing at age 8. He won the Jim Ewart Memorial at Scioto Downs, Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial at Saratoga Raceway and Dan Rooney Invitational at Yonkers en route to a record third $1 million season for owner S S G Stables, trainer Casie Coleman and Hall of Fame driver Brian Sears. McWicked received three more votes than Lather Up, 73-70, who won the $760,000 North America Cup and paced a world-record time of 1:46 in the Graduate Series at the Meadowlands. McWicked heads into retirement with 40 wins and as the all-time leading pacing stallion with $4.9 million in earnings. Shartin N, who in 2018 became the first pacing filly ever to earn $1 million in a year, almost duplicated that fete in 2019. She won 15 of 19 races, bankrolled $982,177 and received 145 of 147 votes despite finishing second to long-time rival Caviart Ally in the Breeders Crown final. With Tim Tetrick driving for co-owners Jo Ann Looney-King and Richard Poillucci, Shartin N won stakes races throughout North America and set a world record for pacing fillies with a 1:46 victory in the Lady Liberty at the Meadowlands. She was ranked No. 1 in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll for most of the year and is a major player for pending Horse of the Year honors. Shartin N now has championship company in the barn of trainer Jim King Jr. Her name is Lyons Sentinel, who won 9 of 14 races last year and led all 2-year-olds with $801,809 in earnings for Threelyonsracing. Lyons Sentinel won the $405,000 She’s A Great Lady, $252,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes title and $176,400 Matron Stakes to lock up freshman pacing filly honors. Warrawee Ubeaut equaled Shartin N with 145 votes to run away with 3-year-old pacing filly honors. She won the $500,000 Breeders Crown final in 1:50.2 amidst an eight-race winning streak and finished a 12-for-19 season just short of millionaire status with $950,610. Yannick Gingras drove Warrawee Ubeaut for North America’s leading trainer, Ron Burke, and co-owners Burke Racing Stable, Phillip Collura, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. If consistency was the best sign of the pacing champions, Bettor’s Wish surely earned his piece of hardware as the top 3-year-old colt. He finished first or second in all 19 starts and led all Standardbreds with $1.64 million in earnings. Bettor’s Wish won the Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park, Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers, the Matron at Dover Downs and the Kentucky Sire Stakes final at the Red Mile. Dexter Dunn, the 2019 Driver of the Year, handled Bettor’s Wish for trainer Chris Ryder and owners Bettors Wish Partners, Fair Island Farm Inc. and Bella Racing Ltd. Tall Dark Stranger brought an undefeated record in the U.S. north of the border in the second half of 2019. He returned home with victories in the $562,500 Metro Pace and $600,000 Breeders Crown at Woodbine-Mohawk Park to earn the Dan Patch Award for freshman colts. Nancy Takter trained Tall Dark Stranger for Crawford Farms Racing, Marvin Katz, Caviart Farms, and Howard Taylor and Yannick Gingras was his driver.

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1.6.2020:

Pegasus World Cup Field Taking Flight

We’re less than 3 weeks away from Pegasus World Cup Day at Gulfstream Park, where 9 stakes – 6 of the graded variety – will be featured January 25. For the first time, an invitation process will be utilized to comprise the field for the Pegasus World Cup and Pegasus World Cup Turf. Those invites went out this past weekend to a star-studded group of runners. A follow-up list of invitees will be published Sunday, January 12 and Sunday, January 19.The fields for the Pegasus World Cup Day program will be set Wednesday, January 22, at the regular time of entry. This year the PWC main event will be contested without raceday medications for the first time.Invitees to the Pegasus World Cup, a dozen runners with five alternates, include:Gift Box -- Back-to-back winner of the San Antonio, as well as last year’s Santa Anita Handicap and Gold Cup at Santa Anita;Higher Power – 2019 Pacific Classic victor and Breeders’ Cup Classic third-place finisher;Magic Wand – Star mare runner-up in last year’s Pegasus World Cup Turf and Arlington Million;Math Wizard – Gulfstream-based upset winner of the 2019 Pennsylvania Derby;Maximum Security – Xpressbet Florida Derby winner a year ago and favorite for 2019 Champion 3-Year-Old honors;McKinzie – Winner of the 2019 Whitney and runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic;Mr Freeze – Third-place finisher last out in the Clark Handicap;Omaha Beach – Three-time Grade 1 winner in 2019 and Eclipse Award finalist for Champion 3-Year-Old;Roadster – 2019 Santa Anita Derby winner;Seeking the Soul – Second and fifth in the past 2 editions of the Pegasus World Cup;Spun to Run – Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner;Tax – Victor in the 2019 Jim Dandy and Belmont Stakes fourth-place finisher;(Alt-1) Mucho Gusto – Stakes-placed in the 2019 Travers and Haskell;(Alt-2) War Story – 8-year-old veteran earner of nearly $3 million, including the recent Harlan’s Holiday;(Alt-3) Bravazo – 2019 Pegasus World Cup fourth-place finisher and 2018 Preakness runner-up;(Alt-4) Diamond Oops – Four-time local Gulfstream Park stakes winner;(Alt-5) True Timber – Seventh-place finisher in 2019 Pegasus World Cup and twice-placed in Cigar Mile.The invitees to the Pegasus World Cup Turf also have been announced. Among those are the aforementioned mare Magic Wand, Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up United, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic winner Arklow, recent Fort Lauderdale Stakes winner and 2018 Kentucky Derby fourth-place finisher Instilled Regard, Breeders’ Cup Mile third-place finisher Without Parole, and the red-hot Mo Forza , a winner in 3 straight.

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1.6.2020:

Monday, January 6: Woodbine Mohawk Park Pick 4 Analysis

Woodbine Mohawk Park has a big 12-race card scheduled for tonight with the 0.20 Pick 4 set to begin in Race 4. The sequence has a $50,000 guaranteed pool and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 41-Young Drunk Punk (8-1)-Key here will be how Roy can gets Punk into the game. Slow starter may be compromised by the rail. That said, most everyone will be using #6 and #7 and if the pace is hot enough Roy could fly by late.6-Julerica (3-1)-Has followed cover and pulled away to win last two and will likely look to follow the same script.7-Cheapskate Hanover (4-1)-Raced big in last start and was put in play only to be caught by #6. Those two should be battling again and it seems like Drury will be leaving.Race 51-Osborne Seelster (10-1)-Moves up after a sharp win on the engine and will likely try the same route. Most of these are bumping up in class, will respect chances from the rail at this price.6-Exit Smiling (5-1)-Filion's choice over #8 and #10 had a nice start off the bench. Makes 2nd start for new barn and if speed doesn't hold could be in a spot to pop at a square price.10-Cinnabar Dragon (3-1)-Drops from NW8k and knows how to win. The 2nd tier start could work out nicely if #1 blasts out and carries the pace to the lane.Race 64-Big Rich (5/2)-Has been camera shy but this is a spot to shine. Roy should work a trip from this post and has been facing much tougher.5-Major Muscle (5-1)-Has been stuck at this class without a win since October but has looked better in last two with McClure between the pipes. He sticks again tonight, the post draw is better so will use and hope the pace is lively.Race 75-Our Art And Heaven (5-1)-3rd start for Shepherd, 2nd start at Wbsb and seems to be liking the change of scenery. Will look for McNair to provide a good steer and add some juice to the Pick 4 payout.8-Candid Cameron (7/2)-Beat these on 12/19 for new barn and that was from post 7. Don't really see a reason to abandon here.9-St Lad's Cash (6-1)-Jamieson's choice over #3 and #7 looks to be in the hunt but will need the right trip. Lasix appears to be helping and so will a brisk pace.My Ticket Race 4) 1,6,7 Race 5) 1,6,10 Race 6) 4,5 Race 7) 5,8,9Total Ticket Cost) $10.80 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.5.2020:

Sunday, January 5: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight, the feature from a betting standpoint at Pompano Park is the 0.50 Pick 4 with a $20,000 guaranteed pool. The sequence begins in Race 6, it has a very low 12% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 64-Harry Terror (3-1)-Drops a notch and starts inside so Hennessey should be on the engine or in the pocket. Has won 9 of 32 at The Pomp and could start another winning streak tonight.5-Pointsman (6-1)-Also drops a notch and classy veteran is a threat at a square price if dialed on high. Paquet should find some cover and if the pace is hot chances go up.7-Alluneedisfaith N (7/2)-Classy Yonkers invader had a decent start over the track last week and was off 6 weeks. The issue is the trip, otherwise probably is the top horse in the race. Simons could leave or may try to move on the backside.Race 71-Man Of Mine (5-1)-Faded in last and wasn't Hennessey's choice. But it's tough to leave out from this post. Likes the top and has the speed to stay in the hunt all the way around. Could play hard ball with #7 for the lead.5-Garrett's Guide (9/2)-Another who likes to race at the top of stack but could duck and rally late. If there is a speed duel Simons could benefit and win again at a nice price.7-Mister Marvalous (2-1)-Not crazy about how this 4-year-old finishes off miles but will respect connections. Did win last time on the engine but that script may not work tonight, and others offer more value.Race 81-Phoenician (2-1)-It's a mile and a quarter race and not much form to go by. But often the best driver finds a way to win. So, will use Hennessey in this spot with a horse that can grind out a victory.3-Santini (5-1)-Last was better in a 5/8 dash and now uses Lasix for the 2nd time. Starts in a better spot for Braden to have some options and could be in the mix at a nice price.5-Fluff Me Up (9/5)-Not going to get any value but is the ML choice off past lines at Stga when facing stiffer company. Will respect chances but not sure if Wallis blasts out or looks to rally off cover.Race 96-Mach My Point (7/2)-Makes 3rd start for Petrelli and faded in a race with some quick fractions. Looking for better, fits and there aren't any standouts. Has a post edge over main players.7-Firewater Jake (15-1)-Aggressive steer in last and faded badly. But barn has been doing well and banking on the trip being better. Holiday could leave, find a nice seat and light up the board.8-Terlingua (7/2)-Comes off a dull effort after winning 2 in a row against some of these. Interesting race and there's no telling how many will blast out. 13-year-old could leave but Wallis may look to roll off cover.My Ticket Race 6) 4,5,7 Race 7) 1,5,7 Race 8) 1,3,5 Race 9) 6,7,8Total Ticket Cost) $40.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.5.2020:

Sunday, January 5: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.*Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Cardiff Cay; 3-Commanding Chief; 4-Go Daddy GoForecast: Commanding Chief has hit the board in six of seven career starts, most recently beaten a nose while earning a career top speed figure in a maiden turf affair at Del Mar in mid-November. Today he picks up J. Rosario and with another forward move should be able to earn his diploma. Go Daddy Go removes blinkers after an improved effort when dead-heating for third in a similar maiden turf event over this course and distance during the fall meeting. The son of Scat Daddy sports a steady, healthy recent work tab and may have more upside that most of the others, having started only three times. Cardiff Cay had a bit of a rough trip when a close third in the same race Commanding Chief exits and is another with plenty of room for improvement. M. Smith stays aboard and should have him in the second flight, saving ground from his inside draw, ready to pounce when called upon. We are expecting the winner to be one of these three, so we’ll triple the race in our rolling exotic while giving Commanding Chief a very slight edge on top.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: CUse: 1-Afternoon Heat; 6-Grandpa LouieForecast: Here’s a somewhat lackluster six-runner straight maiden state-bred sprint for older horses. There’s not much to work with. Grandpa Louie and Afternoon Heat exit the same race at Los Alamitos and are logical contenders once again, with ‘Louie, removing blinkers, landing the cozy outside post and switching to J. Rosario, having a very slight edge on top, though not offering much wagering value at 8/5 on the morning line. ‘Heat must avoid trouble from the rail but if leaves cleanly he should be on or near the lead throughout. Both should be included in rolling exotic play and in a race that we’ll otherwise leave alone.RACE 3: Post 1:31 PT. Grade: B+Single: 2-Foster BoiForecast: Foster Boi launches a comeback as a first-time gelding, and because he won his debut sprinting on grass here last March we know he can fire fresh. The works indicate fitness, F. Prat stays aboard, and we’re expecting the son of Boisterous to enjoy a second-flight, ground-saving trip and then produce a winning late kick. At 3-1 on the morning line he’s a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: XSingle: 5-Classy RulerForecast: Classy Ruler tipped her hand in her debut in late November at Del Mar when a very promising second behind Golden Principal in one of the strongest maiden sprints for juvenile fillies of the entire year. The daughter of Empire Maker should get nothing but better with experience and distance and this barn hits at a terrific 36% with second-timers, so a significant forward move can be expected. However, with good works since raced and with M. Smith riding her back, she’s 4/5 on the morning line and therefore won’t offer any wagering value other than as a short price rolling exotic single.RACE 5: Post 2:36 PT. Grade: BSingle: 6-Moana LunaForecast: Moana Luna has little to beat in this bottom-rung maiden claiming mile affair and if he can establish the pace without undue pressure the B. Headley-trained gelding should be capable of taking this field gate to wire. His numbers have improved with each outing and a repeat of his most recent start, a good second over this track and distance at this level during the fall season, should be sufficient. At 7/2 on the morning line he’s a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 6: Post 3:07 PT. Grade: B-Use: 4-Storming Lady; 7-Holly Hunter; 10-Flower PointForecast: Here’s a grass grab bag for second-level allowance sprinting fillies and mares. We’ll go three-deep and hope that’s enough. Flower Point is a two-time winner over the local lawn and always is dangerous from off the pace. An excellent third under these conditions at Del Mar in late November, she retains J. Valdiva and should be rolling in the final furlong from her cozy outside draw. Storming Lady has the route-to-sprint angle that we like and is another that could be heard from in the late stages with a favorable race flow and a ground-saving trip. Holly Hunter, freshened since October and picking up J. Rosario, has been training well in recent weeks and should fire her best shot for V. Cerin. She’s won twice sprinting on grass at Santa Anita and projects to settle into a good stalking position and then have every chance from the quarter pole home.RACE 7: Post 3:38 PT. Grade: B+Use: 1-Auberge; 2-Golden PrincipalForecast: Baffert has three major players in this year’s edition of the Santa Ynez S.-G2 at seven furlongs on the main track and a win by anyone of the three would not be surprising. We’ll try to beat the logical top choice Bast (listed at even money) with one of her less accomplished stable mates, both of whom broke their maiden at first asking with stakes-quality speed figures. Golden Principal, from the first crop of the marvelous young stallion Constitution, took heat and then came away like a top prospect and has since registered a bullet gate drill late last month to indicate she’s spot on for another big try. Auberge graduated by almost eight lengths over this main track during the fall meeting while looking sensational, and she, too, has done everything right in the morning since. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; we’ll have a few extra tickets keying Golden Principal on top.RACE 8: Post 2:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 4-Hootie; 7-Canadian Game; 9-FactorialForecast: Factorial returns as a first-time gelding for his first start since August while showing up in a restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claimer for the first time, a realistic spot for the relatively lightly-raced 6-year-old gelding. His only career win came over this course and distance last year, though it was accomplished in gate-to-wire style and there may be other speed in here that he’ll have to contend with. We’ll put him on top but he’s certainly no single. Hootie has run well over this course in the past and fits on numbers. He’s a grinder without much of a move, but projects to be forwardly placed throughout and have his chance when the pressure is turned on. Canadian Game often gets a piece of it and switches to F. Prat, so improvement is possible. Based strictly on numbers he’s right there off his best try.

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1.4.2020:

Saturday, January 4: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

The Meadowlands has a 14-race card ready to roll this evening and the 0.50 Pick 4 begins in Race 8. That sequence has a $50,0000 guaranteed pool with a 15% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 83-Mindtrip (7/2)-Twice beaten favorite has faltered in last 2 starts but best to include and Callahan sticks.5-Eddard Hanover (8-1)-1st Big M start was good, looking for more tonight and will respect connections.8-Wheels On Fire (3-1)-Burke trainee drops to a spot to shine and likes this track. A 7-time winner in 23 starts at the Big M, looks like a player.Race 91-Legion Of Boom (7/2)-Winning favorite bumps up but still fits and now Dunn takes a spin. Has been camera shy but should be put in play early and could make it 2-straight.2-American Music (9/2)-Will need a good steer but with the right trip could use one brush to sweep by and take top honors.9-Boys Turn (3-1)-Almost took a picture in Big M debut, which was 1st start off a 4-week rest. Makes 2nd start for Burke barn and looks like the one to beat.Race 102-Archangel Three (7/2)-Winner of 2 in a row has bounced around on East Coast tracks and now makes way back to the Big M. In form but has missed a start, should be forwardly placed and be in the hunt.3-Whittaker N (3-1)-Has also missed a start but last was a win in East Rutherford versus similar. Dunn provided a nice steer on an off-track and will look to take another picture tonight.5-Tuapeka Trick N (15-1)-Nice effort in 1st Big M start and off that effort will take a swing for a price. Was off 14-days before last start and now comes right back. Has the gate speed to be put in play early.Race 111-Tom Me Gun N (9/2)-Comes off a sharp effort in 1st Big M start and expecting better tonight. Moves up but should be tighter and makes 2nd start on Lasix.2-Bell I No (7/2)-Makes 3rd start for Harris barn and was hung out to fast fractions last week. Finished well considering the tough trip and now gets post relief. Best to not overlook.5-Solo Story (8-1)-Form has been dull while racing against better. But has raced well here and this is a spot to snag an overdue win with a top effort.8-Effronte A (3-1)-Aussie invader has not raced since 10/27 but qualified nicely here on 12/28. Looks fast enough to win even from this post if fires hot off the bench.My Ticket Race 8) 3,5,8 Race 9) 1,2,9 Race 10) 2,3,5 Race 11) 1,2,5,8Total Ticket Cost) $54 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.4.2020:

Saturday, January 4 2020: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 11:30 PT. Grade: B+Single: 3-ElgofrancoForecast: Elgofranco has two good races under her belt and an impressive recent solo training track drill that should have her primed for a significant forward move in this maiden special weight state-bred 3-year-old filly sprint. The daughter of Square Eddie projects to be on or near the lead throughout in what appears to be a below average race for the level, so at 5/2 on the morning line – we hope we can get it – she’s a straight play and rolling exotic singleRACE 2: Post 11:58 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Keno’d; 4-Phast PharoahForecast: Keno’d was impressive previewing in the Timonium sale last May when breezing a quarter mile on the bullring in a quick :22 1/5 seconds and finally makes it to the post in this abbreviated turf sprint for newly-turned 3-year-olds. The son of Street Sense has done most of his work at San Luis Rey Downs but went a strong five furlongs in 1:00.1hg here last week to appear right on edge. He looks like an extremely live item at 4-1 on the morning for the always-potent O’Neill/Gutierrez trainer-jockey team. Phast Pharoah seems the best of the known element but just blew a three length mid-stretch lead at Los Alamitos last month and remains a maiden after five starts. The son of American Pharoah may improve with the switch to J. Rosario but has failed to hit the board in three previous outings on grass. Preference on top goes to Keno’d with Phast Pharoah serving as a back-up or a saver in rolling exotic play.RACE 3: Post 12:28 PT. Grade: CUse: 2-Royal Ranger; 3-Mike Operator; 5-Silver FuryForecast: This inscrutable bottom-rung maiden claiming extended sprint for older horses probably is best left alone, but for those playing rolling exotics the three listed above must be considered the main contenders. Silver Fury, second in a similar spot last month at Los Alamitos following a 13-month layoff, has a right to produce a forward move for the capable B. Heap barn and has the blinkers off angle that always catches our eye. As a 12-race maiden he’s a hard one to trust but on paper seems as good as any. Mike Operator in the frame in six of nine starts, has been knocking on the door, most recently finishing a close second at Los Alamitos after battling on the lead most of the way. He gets a major jockey switch to J. Rosario and on the basis of that alone is the likely choice and one to beat. Royal Ranger has low profile connections but actually ran okay when a close fourth vs. tougher foes in his debut at Del Mar in late November. If he can produce any kind of forward move, he’ll be right there.RACE 4: Post 1:06 PT. Grade: B+Use: 4-Kakistocracy; 5-Abusive GaryForecast: Kakistocracy finished full of run to be second and then galloped out strongly in a promising debut at Del Mar in late November and today stretches out to what should be a more suitable distance in this maiden turf miler for older horses. The son of Point of Entry sports a bullet workout since that race, so we’re expecting the C. Gaines-gelding to step forward considerably. At 5/2 on the morning line, he’s strictly the one to beat. Abusive Gary is worth including on a few tickets in you rolling exotics as well, especially at 10-1 on the morning line. The P. D’Amato-trained gelding continues to impress in morning drills and if he breaks with his field he could inherit the role as the controlling speed. Given that type of trip, the son of Boisterous could get brave and take this field a very long way.RACE 5: Post 1:40 PT. Grade: XUse: 1-Authentic; 4-Azul Coast; 6-TaishanForecast: Five of the six starters in this year’s edition of the Sham S.-G3 are coming off wins and are in various stages of development. We’re going to use three in our rolling exotics but otherwise pass the race. Authentic won at first asking like he was supposed to – he was bet down to 3/5 – and has since returned to train like a colt who’ll handle two turns. He’s pretty quick and likely will try gate-to-wire tactics from his inside draw. His B. Baffert-trained stable mate, Azul Coast, also was a debut winner but accomplished his task at this one mile distance, and actually ran a whole lot farther than that after being caught outside a bolting runner into the clubhouse and then remaining extremely wide thereafter. Still, the son of Super Saver was able to come away with authority, and while he probably didn’t beat a great group he did it the right way. Taishan was an extra game maiden winner here during the fall meeting and the colt he beat (Tizamagician) came back to graduate convincingly the other day. The son of Twirling Candy is competitive on numbers and has every right to develop with experience and distance.RACE 6: Post 2:14 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Oh Pretty Woman; 6-Sothalis; 8-Scarlet HeatForecast: Here’s a wide open turf miler for older fillies and mares that requires a spread; we’ll go three deep and hope to survive and advance. Let’s put the best price on top. Sothalis (12-1) is a daughter of Vronsky and therefore bred to improve a ton on grass, and recent works indicate this P. D’Amato-trained 4-year-old might be considerably better than her first two races indicate. She’s shown good early speed in her sprints, and if she can establish the pace without undue pressure she might take this field a very long way. Oh Pretty Woman, away for almost a year, also has looked good in a.m. preps and might be a better type this time around for J. Mullins. She attracts J. Rosario, has a good inside draw to ensure a ground-saving trip, and with some help up front could be a serious threat in the final furlong. Scarlet Heat will get plenty of play after finishing a close second in a similar affair at Del Mar in late November. The lightly-raced daughter of Unusual Heat retains F. Prat and with good racing luck figures be moving well in the final furlong.RACE 7: Post 2:48 PT. Grade: XSingle: 1-ProverbForecast: Proverb was knocked down to odds-on in a similar first-level allowance affair in his local debut last fall but missed by head while more than four lengths clear of the rest. Not much more will be needed for the R. Baltas-trained colt to make amends today, though at 4/5 on the morning line he won’t be offering much in the way of wagering value. We’ll use him as a short-priced rolling exotic single but otherwise pass the race.RACE 8: Post 3:24 PT. Grade: B+Single: 3-Cleopatra’s StrikeForecast: The 12-furlong distance of the Hollywood Turf Cup-G2 was a tad of his range, so Cleopatra’s Strike, a willing but tiring fourth in that race, returns to a more suitable middle distance in today’s San Gabriel S.-G2 and seems likely to regain his winning form. The veteran gelding, the winner of the John Henry Turf Classic over the local lawn during the fall season, has looked eager and sharp in recent drills, so we’re expecting the P. D’Amato-trained son of Smart Strike to simply out class his rivals while being reunited with “win rider” A. Cedillo. At 2-1 on the morning line he’s a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 9: Post 3:58 PT. Grade: C+Use: 1-Soldier Boy; 3-Hot Sean; 4-Truck Salesman; 7-ItalianoForecast: This highly-contentious extended sprint for allowance optional claimers has several possibilities. Soldier Boy is better than his last race shows – he was compromised by a slow start and a wide trip – and his recent works indicate he can rebound in a big way for J. Sadler with a clean start from the rail. Though a tad light in the speed figure department, the son of Into Mischief is a perfect one-for-one over the Santa Anita main track and picks up J. Rosario, so at 5-1 on the morning line he offers a bit of value. Hot Sean hits hard at this level and has won four of seven career starts over the Santa Anita main track, clearly qualifying the veteran gelding as a horse-for-course. The B. Baffert-trained veteran gets a break in the weights with the shift to bug boy J. Diaz, Jr., and should draft into a good pace-stalking position and have every chance when the pressure is turned on. Truck Salesman is the quickest of the quick and will take them as far as he can. His only previous outing at Santa Anita resulted in a more than six length starter’s allowance win last fall and recent works indicate he’s somewhere near that form. Italiano may be the most dangerous of the deep closers and with some help up front could make his presence felt in the final stages. F. Prat stays aboard after guiding the son of Twirling Candy to a smart score vs. lesser at Los Alamitos last month.RACE 10: Post 4:28 PT. Grade: BSingle: 12-Mariah GirlForecast: This nightcap is a messy turf sprint for older fillies and mares. Let’s try a flyer on a fresh face. Mariah Girl has trained like a decent type for M. Puype and this South American invader – group stakes-placed in Argentina last year – appears fit and ready for a top effort in her U.S. debut. Still six months away before actually turning four – she foaled in July on Southern Hemisphere time – the daughter of Exchange Range adds Lasix and may offer some wagering value at 6-1 on the morning line. Let’s try her in the win pool and as a rolling exotic single.

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1.3.2020:

Friday, January 3: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

Cal Expo has 13-races scheduled with the 0.20 Pick 4 starting in Race 9. That sequence will be my focus, it has a $30,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 94-Bettor In The Bank (8-1)-Even effort in last on a "good" track but went the back half in 56.2. Draws well and knows how to win here. Should be forwardly placed and could be sitting on a big try.5-Heza Real Diamond (4-1)-Steps way up after rolling home by 6 1/2. 4-year-old has the speed to compete with this bunch and 1/2 the field is moving up in class.7-Marced Magic (6-1)-Didn't have the best trip on an off track and faded late. Best to respect tonight because was off 20-days before last outing,9-Allmyx'sliventexas (7/2)-Hung out in the first 1/4 in last, then was locked in on the rail and broke after hitting wheels. Seemed to have trouble grabbing the track but won't dismiss as this is the only true Open company horse in the field.Race 101-Flash Me Baby (3-1)-In good form, was a winning favorite in last and fits well again. Seems to have trouble stringing wins together but from this post it can happen.5-Tiyaga (10-1)-Last 4 starts have been on an "off" track and is worth a swing at 10-1 in the ML. Looking for 1st win at the meet but best to keep in mind the 0-14 record on an "off" track.Race 111-Cowboys Dirtyboots (4-1)-Drops to a spot to shine and Roland should be able to stay in the hunt versus this bunch.2-Five Card Draw N (7/5)-ML chalk is also at a level to throw best shot. But not sold on the 11-year-old and will use and shoot against.4-Ima Tank (4-1)-Took the long way around in last and now Plano takes a seat. Positive driver change could lead to the biggest check for the beaten favorite.Race 122-A Bay Bay (8-1)-Old timer doesn't take many pictures these days but makes 4th start for new barn and fits. Last 2 races have been on an "off' track which probably hasn't helped chances.4-Somkinda Hanover (8-1)-Purchased for $2,000 in mid-November and now makes 2nd start for new connections. Finished well in last and could build off that effort to pop at a nice price.6-Ethan Hanover (6-1)-Good try last week when dropped to this level. Fox should be able to work a trip from this post and could surprise at a square price.8-Gunny Wislon (7/2)-Another who raced better in last start and will respect chances to stay good. Post could help the price.My Ticket Race 9) 4,5,7,9 Race 10) 1,5, Race 11) 1,2,4 Race 12) 2,4,6,8Total Ticket Cost) $19.20 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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1.3.2020:

Friday, January 3: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contenders.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 12:00 PT. Grade: C+Use: 1-Union Station; 6-Fast as CassForecast: Fast as Cass is the morning line favorite at 8/5 in this modest restricted (nw-2) claiming miler pretty much be default; he’s a first-off-the-claim play for high-percentage Los Alamitos-based connections with good recent form and speed figures that fit. The son of Unusual Heat is hardly one to trust – he’s just 1-for-19 in his career - but at least that win came over the Santa Anita main track. Union Station projects to enjoy a good ground-saving trip, has hit the board in his last two, and should be heard from in the final stages. These are the two we’ll be including in our rolling exotics in a race that probably should be left alone.RACE 2: Post 12:32 PT. Grade: XUse: 3-I Belong to Becky; 5-Roaring ForkForecast: This restricted (nw-3) $16,000 claiming sprint attracted only five starters, so there’s really not much we can do with it. I Belong to Becky returns to his claim level for high percentage trainer P. Miller and seems the logical top pick, though at 9/5 on the morning line he won’t be offering much in the way of wagering value A repeat of his win a state-bred first-level allowance race two runs back makes him the one to beat. Roaring Fork has been away since last March and has been primarily a miler throughout his career, but in a soft spot the Mineshaft gelding figures tough off his best effort if he’s fit and ready. The works look good enough and from his outside draw A. Gryder has the option to pop and go or stalk and pounce. The winner probably will be one or the other, so we’ll double the race in rolling exotic play while otherwise sitting it out.RACE 3: Post 1:04 PT. Grade: B+Single: 4-Lucky Ms JonesForecast: Lucky Ms Jones continues to impress in the morning and finally gets a chance to compete over nine furlongs, a trip that should promote her deep closing style. The lightly-raced five-year-old mare (just six starts) acts like she’s ready for a significant forward move, so with good racing luck and a decent pace to chase she seems quite capable of producing the last run. At 5-1 on the morning line, she’s a straight play, rolling exotic single, and our first Day Maker on the Friday Santa Anita program.RACE 4: Post 1:36 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Diosa; 3-BellazanoForecast: Here’s another restricted claimer, this one for non-winners of two $12,500 claiming fillies and mares over six and one-half furlongs. Bellazano drops to her lowest level ever and should enjoy an ideal pace-stalking trip and have every chance to seal the deal in the final furlong. Her only prior victory came over this track and distance during the fall meeting in a race that earned a speed figure good enough to win at this level. Diosa, in her first start off a layoff, probably is a tad quicker than Bellazano so we’re expecting her to establish the running inside, assuming she returns with her old speed. The workouts indicate she’s doing well, and it may be significant she picks up A. Cedillo, who jumps off Bellazano to ride her. Additionally, the R. Hess, Jr., trained filly has a prior victory over the local main track, so she’s strictly the one to beat, though at 8/5 on the morning line there’s not really much value to found. Both should be used in your rolling exotics.RACE 5: Post 2:08 PT. Grade: B+Single: 8-InvincibellaForecast: Invincibella final drops into a claimer for the first time (a nw-2, $25,000 event) and should greatly appreciate the softer company. Though never a serious threat in a string of first-level allowance events since being imported from England, the H. Palma-trained filly has consistently earned speed figures that are better than par for this level, and in a race that should have enough early pace to compliment her late-running style, she appears primed for a breakthrough performance. At 7/2 on the morning line, she’s a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 6: Post 2:38 PT. Grade: B+Single: 3-Shanghai KeelyForecast: Bay Area shipper Shanghai Keely exits a series of stakes races, most recently a strong third place effort in the Golden Gate Debutante in late November, and vans down for this first-level allowance event while adding blinkers for the first time and stretching out again. From the high-percentage A. Herbertson barn, the daughter of Shanghai Bobby should be quick enough to be on or near the lead throughout, and with improving recent speed figures she seems likely to continue her improving pattern. At 3-1 on the morning line she’s a Day Maker, a strong straight play, and rolling exotic single.RACE 7: Post 3:08 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Coalinga Road; 9-Rookie MistakeForecast: The main contention in this state-bred maiden 3-year-old turf sprint is drawn on the rail and the far outside. Coalinga Road will be tough if he breaks cleanly from his inside draw; the C. Gaines-trained gelding flashed good speed in a competitive dirt sprint at Del Mar in his debut last month and weakened late to wind up fourth, but better can be expected today. There’s no reason the son of Quality Road won’t handle the surface switch. Rookie Mistake, second in the same race Coalinga Road exits, seems likely to settle into a pressing or stalking position and should have every chance from there. With three races under his belt, the son of Square Eddie may have a bit less room to improve than his main rival, but he does show a strong third place effort in his only prior grass outing here during the fall meeting so we know he’ll handle the course. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; we’ll give a very slight edge on top to Coalinga Road.RACE 8: Post 3:38 PT. Grade: BUse: 5-Buyback; 9-KatsarosForecast: Katsaros drops to her lowest level ever and appears to have found a proper spot to earn her diploma. The J. Sadler-trained daughter of Curlin projects to enjoy clear sailing from her outside draw in this bottom-rung extended sprint for older fillies and mares in what will be her first career start on dirt. Based on a pedigree and an exceptional recent training track drill, she should be hard to beat. Buyback is worth including on a ticket or two in your rolling exotics as a saver or a backup. Beaten at 3/5 when third in a tougher maiden claimer at Los Alamitos last month, she’s probably not one to trust, but on pure numbers she’s a fit at this level and with only three prior outings may be capable of improving.RACE 9: Post 4:08 PT. Grade: BSingle: 2-QuerelleForecast: The finale is a messy starter’s allowance turf miler for fillies and mares. We can spread the race or take a stand, and in this case we’ll simply try to be right singling Querelle, who has a lot going for her on raw data. She’s a first-off-the-claim for P. Miller (33% with a strong flat-be profit with this angle), switches to J. Rosario, is a fit on speed figures, and owns a closing style that should be promoted in a field with plenty of committed early speed. On the negative side she’s yet to hit the board in four career starts over the Santa Anita turf course, but those races came in tougher first-level allowance events and in this league she should be capable of producing the last run. At 3-1 on the morning line we’ll use in both in the win pool and in rolling exotic play.

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1.2.2020:

Triple Crown Trail Kicks off Saturday + Mucho Macho Man & Sham Picks

The 2020 Triple Crown Trail is already underway and the Florida and California paths to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont start this Saturday with the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park and the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.  Technically the 2020 Triple Crown path kicked off Wednesday, January 1 in New York with the $150,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.  More on Independence Hall’s big victory here.  Saturday’s Gulfstream Park card includes five stakes races for 3YOs and Santa Anita’s Saturday docket also features the G2 San Gabriel Stakes. So no matter what you’re playing, there is an awful lot of stakes action for you to chase.And for those looking for some great promotions this weekend, check out these three offers: Santa Anita NHC Super Qualifier: Win a 2020 or 2021 NHC Seat by playing online at Xpressbet or on-track at Santa Anita. One NHC Seat will be given away for every 15 paid entrants. Please note, this tournament requires a $1,500 Buy In. Xpressbet Beat the Host Tournament: Go toe-to-toe against our resident handicapper, Jeremy Plonk, to compete for $2,000 in weekly cash prizes. To play, simply register for FREE and make $5 Win beats on ten competition races on Saturday.  Santa Anita 1 Million Point Split: Hit Santa Anita’s Late Pick 4 (Races 7 – 10) this Saturday to Win a Split of 1 Million XB Rewards Points. Register for free to play. Gulfstream 1 Million Point Split: Hit Exactas ($2 base minimum) on four different races at Gulfstream Park this Saturday to win a Split of 1 Million XB Rewards Points. Register for free to play. Enough of the ads…let’s take a look at the fields assembled for the Mucho Macho Man and Sham! Mucho Macho Man Stakes ($100K) Gulfstream Park – Race 10 (4:30PM ET)#1 South Bend (Hough/Leparoux) - 9/2: The best proven dirt closer in the field will likely be a fair price on Saturday. He went into the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs as the popular 5/2 second betting choice behind Tiz the Law and raced more forwardly than normal, ultimately tiring to finish 6th.  This race marks a return to one-turn racing, a return to (hopefully) a fast track and an ability to sit midpack instead of near the front.  With a fast early pace, he’s going to be one to watch down the lane.  #2 Chance It (Saffie Joseph Jr./Tyler Gaffalione) - 9/5: The expected race favorite won 3-of-5 races as a 2YO, including the Dr. Fager and In Reality legs of the Florida Sire Stakes series at Gulfstream Park.  Accolades aside, he will need to overcome the fact that a number of his rivals are soon going to catch up to his precocity.  He logged all five starts between June and September last year and he hasn’t been seen since. Is he back at 100%? His workouts say yes, especially his December 29 work that was the fastest of 114 going that distance.  His inside draw hurts his forward running style and I can’t help but wonder if it’s time for someone else to shine?#3 Smash Factor (Yates/Ortiz) - 10/1: He’s a speed horse with a questionable pedigree for route racing, but that’s a similar sentiment that I have about several of these.  He’s a pace presence and he actually beat Chance It in a maiden race on June 1.  But can he take this field gate-to-wire going a one-turn mile?  It’ll be difficult.#4 As Seen On Tv (Breen/Lopez) - 5/2: He’s bred to route but has never been beyond 6 1/2-furlongs and his early speed and aggressive rider (Paco Lopez) could prove a detriment in a field loaded with frontrunners. To his benefit he drew outside of Chance It and Smash Factor – and he beat Smash Factor last out at Gulfstream Park West – but can he throw it down early and hang around late? Having Lookin At Lucky and Pulpit in his pedigree doesn’t hurt.#5 Ashaar (McLaughlin/Bravo) - 10/1: He followed up a debut 80 Beyer with a disappointing 5th in the G3 Nashua at Aqueduct, beaten 19 3/4-lengths as the favorite by the highly regarded Independence Hall.  What went wrong that day and how can they avoid it going forward? He never looked comfortable in the Nashua and breaking from the outside post forced him into the teeth of a fast pace while racing wide.  I’d rather see him try to sit midpack this go around, but it’s hard to have too favorable an opinion of him without seeing a better start under his belt.#6 Sole Volante (Biancone/Panici) - 8/1: Sometimes you have to take chances in this game and I’m going to go with this one on Saturday despite it being his first dirt start.  His two prior races – both wins – came on the turf and he unleashed a visually impressive closing kick both times to move from far back to the front in the matter of a few strides.  If he can translate his form to the dirt – and I agree, that’s a big if – he’ll be rolling light a freight train down the stretch.  If not he goes back to the turf and wins a few more races during the Championship Meet.#7 Inter Miami (Delgado/Ortiz Jr.) - 6/1: Here’s another one that is bred to sprint and has a forward running style.  He broke his maiden at first asking on December 4 while in for a $50K tag and that means this is a massive step up in class for this son of Big Drama.  All other things being equal, he fits OK against this bunch but he’s light on experience and this race shape doesn’t seem to help his chances.Bottom Line: It’s hard to find a scenario where the pace isn’t fast given that more than half of the field (on paper) wants to be forwardly placed. Couple that with the fact that several of these may be distance challenged and I think you’ll want to use the two top closers – SOLE VOLANTE and SOUTH BEND – aggressively on Saturday.  I’ll play some savers with CHANCE IT as that one figures to be the one to catch turning for home.  There’s no guarantee that SOLE VOLANTE takes to the dirt (in fact, odds are he won’t) but if he does he’s going to be one to keep an eye on this spring.1. SOLE VOLNATE2. SOUTH BEND3. CHANCE ITSham Stakes (G3; $100K) Santa Anita Park – Race 5 (4:30PM ET) #1 AUTHENTIC (Baffert/Van Dyke) - 8/5: He benefitted from a small field and a great post to break his maiden first out at Del Mar on November 9. Essentially, given that he was 3/5 on the tote board and starting for Bob Baffert, he performed as expected that day.  Where does he go from here? All arrows point up. His biggest advantage just might be the draw. Given his quickness he may be able to dictate the pace if he breaks on top. Plus, note that Drayden Van Dyke opts to stick with this one instead of moving to the stablemate. #2 ZIMBA WARRIOR (Desormeaux/Valdivia Jr.) - 6/1: He seems too slow to factor and his pedigree doesn’t scream two-turn racing. Best case scenario seems to be fourth or fifth in this short field.#3 UNCAPTURED HERO (Baltas/Prat) - 6/1: Van Dyke rode this one last out but Flavien Prat makes for a phenomenal fill in.  This one looks like a huge pace player but not sure I see a scenario where he doesn’t fold up at some point and let the more experienced runners take the baton to the finish. He could pester AUTHENTIC enough to open the race up to a closer, though.#4 AZUL COAST (Baffert/Rosario) - 5/2: Unleashed a huge closing kick to break his maiden by 4-lengths at Los Alamitos and I love that Joel Rosario picks up the mount as his previous pilot was Drayden Van Dyke.  His debut Beyer came back a little light (75) but the Beyers for closers are more tied to the pace and this one chased a relatively moderate one in his maiden win. He should be moving late and you’ve got to love that he already won going a mile and has multiple stamina players (Super Saver, Sky Mesa) in his immediate family.#5 SCORING (O’Neill/Cedillo) - 15/1: Hasn’t been seen since breaking his maiden on June 16 at Santa Anita. O’Neill isn’t allergic to winning with this type of horse but coupling the massive layoff with a sprint pedigree makes me question how ready he’s going to be for this in his first start back. Maybe it’s a positive to see them opt for this instead of a first-level allowance race?#6 TAISHAN (Baltas/Gryder) - 5/2: Liked the way he broke his maiden at second asking and there as definitely some buzz about him at Santa Anita that day as he was bet down to 3/1 after being 53/1 on debut. Love the fact that he’s already proven on the track and around two turns and have to think that he’s going to be one of the key players at the windows.  Bottom Line: It’s the Triple Crown Trail and this is Bob Baffert’s world until he’s dethroned. Baffert has won this race five times since 2001 and three since 2014. Simply put, this race goes through him. And given that he sends out two of these, that’s where my picks will start and stop. AUTHENTIC is the horse to beat and I’ll play him in vertical bets over AZUL COAST and TAISHAN.  Unfortunately this doesn’t look like a race where handicappers will be able to get rich.1. AUTHENTIC2. AZUL COAST3. TAISHAN

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1.2.2020:

Wide-Open Late Pick 4 on the Slate Saturday at Gulfstream

If you’re looking for standouts on Gulfstream Park’s late Pick 4 on Saturday’s card, and you might have a difficult chore ahead.If you can find a single, give yourself an A-plus for courage.The suggested ticket is $67.50 with a 3x3x3x5 approach, and the most whittling down would probably occur in the final leg of the sequence.The first three are stakes events and the last race is a challenging allowance race.It starts with the trio in the eighth race – the Glitter Woman Stakes.  The 6.5-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies was the first point of trimming down as three of eight are certainly worthy of inclusion. House Party Stakes winner Spanish Point brings a 2-for-2 record, and prior to her 1 3-4-length stakes win she won a Belmont maiden-claiming race by 5 1-4 lengths. Lavi has a legit chance as he was third in the House Party and went from ninth to 3rd. She’ll likely appreciate the additional ground. Sound Machine was second in the House Party and clearly is in the mix. She improved position but didn’t make up ground in that one and is a pace factor here.Another threesome is on the Pick 4 card in the Ginger Brew Stakes going 7.5 furlongs on the turf. It’s for 3-year-old fillies, and again, one could go many different ways here. Cheermeister broke her maiden in the Wait A While Stakes after running second in a maiden race at Gulfstream West. She put down fast fractions and was well clear at the end in 1:34 1-5 for the mile. The Gulfstream course has been kind to speed, and in breaking from the rail post, Cheermeister will go right to the lead. Moral Reasoning, as a Chad Brown trainee will get plenty of play, comes off a maiden win at Aqueduct. Her running style hints that she will do well around two turns. Abscond also will get her share of support and rightfully so. She won the Natalma at Woodbine and her connections thought enough of her to send her to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, finishing seventh.The Mucho Macho Man is a free-for-all with several horses bringing in stakes experience. The mile race for 3-year-olds and three horses are included here. South Bend, Chance It, and Sole Volente are braced for good efforts. South Bend twice won at Churchill Downs and once at Keeneland, while Chance It is a two-time local stakes winner over restricted company, and Sole Volante is perfect in two starts. He moves over to the main track after his grass wins in the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream and a maiden race at Gulfstream West.While each of the first three is a big challenge, nothing is close to the 11th when it comes to degree of difficulty. The five horses used here are Mustaageem, Ice Tea, Krampus, Epic Bromance, and Proliferate. It’s an optional claiming race at a mile on the turf, and this most of the entrants in the race have stakes experience. This one plays like a stakes and is a spread-out event on the card.Here’s the suggested late Pick 4 play: 8) #4 Lavi, #6 Spanish Point, #8 Sound Machine.9) #1 Cheermeister, #3 Moral Reasoning, #4 Abscond.10) #1 South Bend, #2 Chance It, #6 Sole Volante.11) #1 Mustaaqeem, #2 Ice Tea, #4 Krampus, #9 Epic Bromance, #11 Proliferate. 50-cent Pick 4 ticket: 4-6-8 with 1-3-4 with 1-2-6 with 1-2-4-9-11 ($67.50).

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1.2.2020:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: January 3 Stronach 5 Play

We usher in the New Year and 2020 with another crack at the Stronach 5. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. ***Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:50 ET) – 4upfm 5k N2L at 6 furlongsThe Laurel races have proven a tough nut to crack while yielding some big prices and a few unfathomable winners, but the good news this week is I have the ability to spread here, since a few of the remaining legs seems pretty formful. I’m going to try for a surprise with #1 LADY LOOSE (12-1), who seems aptly named since she looks like the lone and controlling speed in here, and that tiring 5th last time wasn’t bad at all, since it was her first start against winners, and with just six lifetime starts she’s not yet a lifetime 1’fer, like several of these are. The horse to beat seems to be #4 LADY ROZINA (7-2), who has posted a pair of “big” figures, at least for this group, in her last two on dirt, and shouldn’t be too far out of it early. I wouldn’t want to take too short of a price if I was betting #6 OYA (3-1) to win, but she does figure here, since she looked good winning off the Capuano claim last time, though she also did it in slow time, and now has to face winners too.Pk5 A horses: 1,4,6 (listed in order of preference)I can’t imagine you’ll get the 20-1 ML on #2 SILK STOCKING, since she’s been 7-10 and 9-5 in her two starts, but she should be a much better price than the latter today, as she didn’t fire when 7th at CT off an almost 14-month layoff, but Figgins rarely runs them where they can’t compete, and she wouldn’t have to improve all that much to have a puncher’s chance against this group. The more logical backup is #9 CHICKEN DINNER (4-1), who goes off the D’Angelo claim (4-for-11), should like the cutback off a disappointing 6th last time, and would be a big threat here if she runs back to the 2nd at the level over the track and distance two-back. You could also use #3 Shak’s Hidden Gem (6-1), but she’s now 1-for-20 and seems to be going the wrong way, so I’ll pass.Pk5 B horses: 2,9Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:28 ET) – 4upfm N1X at 5 furlongs (turf)We’ve got a tough seven-pack here but without a ton of pure sprint speed entered maybe #5 AWSUM ROAR (9-2) can handle the rise in class after a big win over the course and distance last time, which was her fifth in six starts. There’s little doubt #3 MISS MIAMI (2-1) is the gal to beat off her own course and distance win last time, though note it came at the expense of Florida breds. An outside attack post should work for #7 PAYNTDEMBLUESAWAY (6-1), who beat lesser last time at GPW and will be a very fair price here too.Pk5 A horses: 5,3,7I’m not sure what to make of #4 DREAMS ARE MADE (3-1), who will likely be overbet while making her first start for a very icy Casse barn off a fast win at Ellis Park for Sharp, especially since she doesn’t have a lot of early speed, which is not the ideal running style going this distance on the GP turf.Pk5 B horses: 4Leg 3: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:49 ET) – 3upfm 50k starter-allowance at 5 1/2 furlongsBudget players will probably be singling the speedy Del Mar shipper #5 KIANA’S LOVE (9-5), who makes her first start for Wong, who is 31% with newcomers, and she has been facing better, but she’s also never been over a synthetic surface, so while she’s an obvious A, let’s look for someone who could post the upset. Which brings us to #2 STARZA (6-1), who is proven over the track, has plenty of foundation off a pair of routes in her last two, and, most importantly, has a stalking gear in a race with plenty of speed.Pk5 A horses: 2,5It’s tough not to include #4 MOURNING CYNN (5-2), since she broke her maiden by 7 in her local debut and first start for Badilla, but she also takes a stiff rise in class while trying winners, and could get pressed into the ground by ‘Love to her outside, so she’s not making the cut on the top line.Pk5 B horses: 4Leg 4: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3yof 16k MCL at 1-mile (turf)It looks like today’s the day for #1 GABY’S DREAM (2-1), who really improved last time while running a figure that would win this easily, drew much better than her two biggest rivals, adds blinkers for a bit more early speed, and goes for a potent Joseph barn, while facing a weak cast as well.Pk5 A horses: 1There are more than a few you can use here, but none inspire and don’t match up with the pick’s last race, so I’m going to pass on #8 Marianna Queen (3-1), #2 Debbies Utube Diva (6-1), and #10 Signing Bonus (12-1), though they are the three most logical backups if you’re looking for alternatives to the heavy chalk.Pk5 B horses: NONELeg 5: Santa Anita R5 (5:08 ET) – 4upfm 25k N2L 1-mile (turf)I don’t have much of an opinion in the final leg, other than having a strong conviction that if you use #8 INVINCIBELLA (7-2), #9 POINT HOPE (5-2), and #4 TINNIE (3-1) you’re going to get through, as they simply look better than a modest bunch. As for the pecking order, ‘Bella owns a big figure and class edge on the AOC drop, while ‘Hope drops too and could be the controlling speed on the stretchout, while Tinnie has to face winners, but is lightly raced and owns plenty of upside.Pk5 A horses: 8,9,4Any potential backups just don’t stack up with the top trio, so I’ll go it alone up above, though #6 Daddy’s Melody (8-1) would be the closest to make the cut here, as she has some decent turf form and could have some confidence off an easy MCL win on the dirt at Los Alamitos last time.Pk5 B horses: NONEThe tickets:Main Ticket: 1,4,6 with 5,3,7 with 2,5 with 1 with 8,9,4 = $54Leg 1 B Backup: 2,9 with 5,3,7 with 2,5 with 1 with 8,9,4 = $36Leg 2 B Backup: 1,4,6 with 4 with 2,5 with 1 with 8,9,4 = $18Leg 3 B Backup: 1,4,6 with 5,3,7 with 4 with 1 with 8,9,4 = $27

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1.2.2020:

My Eclipse Award Selections

Established in 1971, the Eclipse Awards are presented annually to recognize outstanding achievements in North America by Thoroughbreds and individuals. Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of the Daily Racing Form, National Thoroughbred Racing Association and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. Eclipse Awards also are bestowed to members of the media for outstanding coverage of the sport. Additionally, an Eclipse Award is presented to the winner of the National Horseplayers Championship. The 2019 recipients will be honored at the 49th annual Eclipse Awards Dinner on Jan. 23 at Gulfstream Park. The ballots for the 2019 Eclipse Awards were disseminated to voters in December. Below is how I filled out my official ballot: TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE: 1. Storm the Court, 2. Structor, 3. Maxfield. TWO-YEAR-OLD FEMALE: 1. British Idiom, 2. Bast, 3. Sharing. THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE: 1. Maximum Security, 2. Omaha Beach, 3. Code of Honor. THREE-YEAR-OLD FEMALE: 1. Covfefe, 2. Serengeti Empress, 3. Guarana. OLDER DIRT MALE: 1. Mitole, 2. Vino Rosso, 3. McKinzie. OLDER DIRT FEMALE: 1. Midnight Bisou, 2. Blue Prize, 3. Elate. MALE SPRINTER: 1. Mitole, 2. Shancelot, 3. Imperial Hint. FEMALE SPRINTER: 1. Covfefe, 2. Come Dancing, 3. Mia Mischief. MALE TURF: 1. Bricks and Mortar, 2. Mo Forza, 3. World of Trouble. FEMALE TURF: 1. Uni, 2. Got Stormy, 3. Sistercharlie. STEEPLECHASE: 1. Winston C, 2. Brain Power, 3. Scorpiancer. TRAINER: 1. Chad Brown, 2. Brad Cox, 3. Bob Baffert. JOCKEY: 1. Irad Ortiz Jr., 2. Javier Castellano, 3. Flavien Prat. APPRENTICE JOCKEY: 1. Kazushi Kimura, 2. Julio Correa, 3. Angel Diaz. OWNER: 1. Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, 2. Gary Barber, 3. Peter Brant. BREEDER: 1. Calumet Farm, 2. George Strawbridge Jr., 3. Godolphin. HORSE OF THE YEAR: 1. Bricks and Mortar, 2. Maximum Security, 3. Mitole. I will not quibble with anyone who feels Maximum Security or Mitole is the 2019 Horse of the Year. But my vote went to Bricks and Mortar. Granted, this year’s older male grass division in this country was far from its strongest ever. Nevertheless, the way I see it, Bricks and Mortar put together a 2019 campaign quite worthy of a Horse of the Year. Bricks and Mortar was six for six during the year. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway won five Grade I races and a Grade II. He also had a sustained 2019 campaign in which he raced from Jan. 26 to Nov. 2 for trainer Chad Brown. It also was impressive, I think, that Bricks and Mortar managed to win at six different tracks. He was victorious at: --Gulfstream Park in Florida on Jan. 26. --Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in Louisiana on March 23. --Churchill Downs in Kentucky on May 4. --Belmont Park in New York on June 8. --Arlington Park in Illinois on Aug. 10. --Santa Anita in California on Nov. 2. Bricks and Mortar won two of this nation’s most significant grass events, the Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf. In the 1 1/2-mile BC Turf, he won when racing out of his comfort zone, so to speak, in that it was the first time he had raced farther than 1 1/4 miles. Going into the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, there were three leading candidates for the Horse of the Year. All three -- Bricks and Mortar, Midnight Bisou and Mitole -- were undefeated in 2019 going into the Breeders’ Cup. In the NTRA’s Top Thoroughbred Poll just prior to the Breeders’ Cup, Bricks and Mortar was ranked No. 1, followed by Midnight Bisou at No. 2 and Sistercharlie at No. 3. Despite not having the best of trips, Bricks and Mortar won his Breeders’ Cup race. Meanwhile, neither Midnight Bisou nor Sistercharlie won at the Breeders’ Cup. Midnight Bisou finished second in the BC Distaff. Sistercharlie ran third in the BC Filly & Mare Turf. And so Bricks and Mortar was the No. 1 ranked horse in the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll following the Breeders’ Cup. It was the 32nd consecutive week that he had held the top spot in the poll. Maximum Security finished first in seven of nine starts during the year. The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred New Year’s Day colt was disqualified from first and placed 17th for causing interference on the far turn in the Grade I Kentucky Derby on May 4. Just about everybody agrees Maximum Security was the best horse in the Kentucky Derby. In his only other 2019 defeat, he had an excuse. He stumbled at the start in Monmouth Park’s Pegasus Stakes on June 16 before finishing second. Maximum Security won a pair of Grade I races vs. 3-year-olds, the Florida Derby at Gulfstream in the spring and the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on an extremely hot day in the summer. He was scratched from the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 21. Maximum Security missed the Pennsylvania Derby due to what was reported to be a large colon nephrosplenic entrapment that developed shortly after the colt returned to Monmouth following a Sept. 16 workout at Parx. Instead of running in a Breeders’ Cup race, Maximum Security won Belmont’s Grade III Bold Ruler Handicap at seven furlongs when facing older foes for the first time on Oct. 26. He then registered a sparkling 3 1/2-length victory against his elders in Aqueduct’s Grade I Cigar Mile on Dec. 7 for trainer Jason Servis. Mitole won six of seven starts during the year. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Eskendereya won possibly the deepest non-Breeders’ Cup race contested in this country in 2019, the Grade I Met Mile. He put the icing on the cake when he took the Grade I BC Sprint at Santa Anita by 1 1/4 lengths on Nov. 2. In the six-furlong BC Sprint, Mitole ran down the sophomore speedster Shancelot in the stretch to win going away for trainer Steve Asmussen. Mitole’s lone 2019 defeat came in Saratoga’s Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at six furlongs on July 27. He lost, fair and square, when he ran third behind the outstanding sprinter Imperial Hint and Diamond Oops. Again, I respect what both Maximum Security and Mitole did this year. But as mentioned earlier, my Horse of the Year vote went to Bricks and Mortar, who compiled an unblemished 2019 record while racing in six different states from January to November. MY ECLIPSE AWARD CHOICES IN 1976 I first had the honor of filling out a ballot for the Eclipse Awards in 1976. These were my selections: TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE: 1. Seattle Slew, 2. Run Dusty Run, 3. Royal Ski. TWO-YEAR-OLD FEMALE: 1. Sensational, 2. Mrs. Warren, 3. Any Time Girl. THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE: 1. Bold Forbes, 2. Elocutionist, 3. Honest Pleasure. THREE-YEAR-OLD FEMALE: 1. Revidere, 2. Optimistic Gal, 3. T.V. Vixen. OLDER MALE: 1. Forego, 2. King Pellinore, 3. Youth. OLDER FEMALE: 1. Proud Delta, 2. Miss Toshiba, 3. Sugar Plum Time. SPRINTER: 1. My Juliet, 2. Bold Forbes, 3. Cherry River. TURF HORSE: 1. Youth, 2. King Pellinore, 3. Intrepid Hero. STEEPLECHASE: 1. Straight and True, 2. Life’s Illusion, 3. Arctic Joe. TRAINER: 1. Lazaro Barrera, 2. Jack Van Berg, 3. Charles Whittingham. JOCKEY: 1. Sandy Hawley, 2. Laffit Pincay Jr., 3. Angel Cordero Jr. APPRENTICE JOCKEY: 1. George Martens, 2. Bobby Gonzalez, 3. R.L. Velez. OWNER: 1. Dan Lasater, 2. Elmendorf, 3. Sigmund Sommer. HORSE OF THE YEAR: 1. Forego, 2. Bold Forbes, 3. Youth. Note: I still have the past performances that accompanied the Eclipse Awards ballot that was mailed to me. It was fun this week to peruse those past performances, especially for Forego and Seattle Slew. By the way, I noticed that Dancing Gun’s past performances were included in the older female section in 1976. Oops. Dancing Gun was a 4-year-old gelding trained by Laz Barrera. Winner of the 1976 Whitney Handicap on a sloppy track at Saratoga, Dancing Gun obviously belonged in the older male category. OMAHA BEACH’S SPEED FIGURE DESERVES A “PLUS” When Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith won Santa Anita’s Grade I Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds last Saturday aboard 2-5 favorite Omaha Beach, he did not ask the colt for any run at all toward the end of the 7-furlong race. In deep stretch, Smith sat motionless. Heck, you will see more movement from a statue. In a Malibu recap posted on the Paulick Report website, this was the accurate headline: Omaha Beach Never Had To Be Asked In Malibu Romp Omaha Beach absolutely toyed with his four Malibu opponents. He won by 2 3/4 lengths, but the margin by no means is a true reflection of his superiority on that occasion. To say he was far from all out would be an understatement. The official Equibase chart correctly notes Omaha Beach won “handily.” The chart states Omaha Beach “chased off the rail, bid four wide into the turn, put a head in front midway on the turn, came three wide into the stretch, inched away in the drive and won clear without encouragement while drifting in a bit late.” To say Omaha Beach “won clear without encouragement” is spot on. It’s important because it suggests that Omaha Beach most likely would have posted a faster final time than 1:22.33 if he had been all out. Earlier on the card, the one-eyed filly Hard Not to Love rallied from last in a field of nine to win the Grade I La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going away by 2 1/4 lengths. Her final time was 1:22.17. Yes, Hard Not to Love won her race in faster time than Omaha Beach later in the day. But as the chart correctly states, Hard Not to Love won “driving,” not “handily.” Hard Not to Love was credited with a 102 Beyer Speed Figure. Omaha Beach received a 101 Beyer. But this is another example of a race in which I think the Beyer Speed Figure does not do justice to a winner’s performance. When a winner is far from all out, like Omaha Beach in the Malibu, the Beyers do not take that into account. That’s why for a long time I’ve felt the Beyers would be much better if a + was added to the figure on the rare occasions in which a horse wins in a manner like Omaha Beach did in the Malibu. To make Omaha Beach’s figure for the Malibu a 101+ and Hard to Love’s fig for the La Brea a 102 would, I believe, put the two performances in better perspective. CAMPAIGN MARRED BY THROAT PROBLEM Why, oh why, did Omaha Beach’s 3-year-old campaign have to be so rudely interrupted by a throat problem that knocked him out of the Triple Crown races? I have been sky high on Omaha Beach ever since he splashed his way to a big maiden victory on a sloppy track early in 2019 at Santa Anita. After he earned his maiden diploma, I immediately added him to my Kentucky Derby Top 10 list. I put him at No. 9. I wrote: “New on my Top 10 this week is Omaha Beach, who found a cure for second-itis in a big way at Santa Anita last Saturday. The War Front colt, trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, registered a resounding nine-length win in a seven-furlong maiden special weight race contested on a sloppy track. Omaha Beach’s final time was an excellent 1:21.02 after he carved out fractions of :21.75, :43.74 and 1:08.24. He posted a 90 Beyer to equal the figure earned by Mucho Gusto later in the card when he won the Lewis.” I received some criticism at the time for putting Omaha Beach on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 in early February off just a maiden victory. One friend even said I was off my rocker for doing that. But I’d say Omaha Beach’s subsequent performances justified my judgment in this case. Omaha Beach went on to win a division of the Grade II Rebel Stakes by a nose over 2018 Eclipse Award winner Game Winner on March 16. After that, I moved Omaha Beach to No. 1 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10. Following the Rebel, Omaha Beach won Oaklawn Park’s Grade I Arkansas Derby on a sloppy strip by one length on April 13. Improbable finished second. Mike Battaglia installed Omaha Beach as the 4-1 morning-line favorite for the Grade I Kentucky Derby on May 4. Omaha Beach was my pick to win. For Xpressbet.com, I wrote: “I’m not going to beat around the bush. I like Omaha Beach to win this Saturday’s 145th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby. In fact, I like him a lot. As I see it, he is the total package. He has the speed, class, tractability, gameness, breeding, Hall of Fame jockey (Mike Smith), Hall of Fame trainer (Richard Mandella) and wet-track prowess (if needed) to get the job done.” However, I wrote that before Omaha Beach was withdrawn from the Run for the Roses. He had to miss the race due to an entrapped epiglottis, an issue that required surgery to correct. Would Omaha Beach have won the Kentucky Derby? We will never know. When the post-surgery swelling in Omaha Beach’s throat lingered longer than hoped for, his return to training was delayed. That effectively took Saratoga’s Grade I Travers Stakes on Aug. 24 off the table. But Omaha Beach once again demonstrated what a special equine athlete he is when he did finally return to the races in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 5. Coming on determinedly in the stretch while racing next to the inside rail, Omaha Beach got up to edge the speedy sophomore Shancelot in a thriller. It was a terrific effort on the part of Omaha Beach to beat one of the nation’s elite sprinters in a seven-furlong race. In light of Omaha Beach’s huge effort in his Oct. 5 comeback victory, it was asking a lot of him to return just four weeks later in the Grade I BC Dirt Mile. When Omaha Beach did not have the best of starts in the Dirt Mile, he found himself farther back early than normal on a deep, tiring track. Horses as far back as he was on the far turn at Santa Anita just did not win on the main track that day. But Omaha Beach still gave it his all and rallied in the lane to finish second behind fellow 3-year-old Spun to Run, who won in front-running fashion. After being 7 1/2 lengths behind at the quarter pole, Omaha Beach lost by 2 3/4 lengths. Next for Omaha Beach is his farewell appearance under silks in Gulfstream Park’s Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup at 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 25. He then will head off to Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky to begin his stud career. The thought of what a 4-year-old Omaha Beach might have accomplished on the track this year makes his retirement from racing a huge disappointment. There is every chance that as good as Omaha Beach was at 3, he would have been even better at 4. There are many examples of an outstanding 3-year-old being even better when they got older, such as Forego, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Ferdinand, Alysheba, Skip Away, California Chrome and Gun Runner. SMITH NOW ALL-TIME LEADER IN GRADE I WINS When “Big Money” Mike Smith won both the Grade I La Brea and Grade I Malibu, he tied and then surpassed retired jockey Jerry Bailey’s North American record for Grade I victories. Smith upped his total to 217. It’s clear that breaking a record held by Bailey was very meaningful to Smith, whose riding prowess at the advanced age of 54 is truly remarkable. “Jerry is someone that comes from my hometown,” Bailey said. “I was born in New Mexico, but raised in Texas in El Paso where he’s from. His father was my dentist. I went to the same high school as he did. When his high school gave him an honor, I was in the grandstand watching him. I wasn’t even riding yet. I was just a kid. He’s always meant a lot to me. So to surpass him means a whole lot.” Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen reported that Bailey sent Smith what he called a “beautiful” congratulatory text. “I must have gotten 200 texts [from] so many people around the country, all over the industry, even overseas,” Smith said. “It was pretty neat. I answered every one of them. I stayed up to do it.” RACING’S RECORD-KEEPING LEAVES MUCH TO BE DESIRED How long, I wondered, had Bailey’s record for Grade I wins stood? In what unfortunately has become typical for horse racing, finding out the answer to that proved problematic when it should have been easy. After I spent a considerable amount of time searching for the answer, I finally gave up. Equibase calls itself the “official source” for Thoroughbred racing information. But the Equibase website was of no help in trying to find out how long Bailey’s record for Grade I victories had stood. In fact, if there is even just a list somewhere on the Equibase website of the all-time leading jockeys in Grade I wins, I can’t find it. And so horse racing once again demonstrates just how woefully inferior it is when it comes to its record keeping compared to other sports that utilize the Elias Sports Bureau for statistics and records. If you follow pro baseball, football or basketball, you no doubt have heard of the Elias Sports Bureau. “The Elias Sports Bureau is a company providing historical and current statistical information for sports, especially for major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada,” according to Wikipedia. The Elias Sports Bureau is the “official statistician” for Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, the WNBA, Major League Soccer and professional golf. Thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s widely known when a baseball player, a basketball player, a football player or a team is approaching a record, ties a record or breaks a record. Too often the same can’t be said in horse racing. Consider how horse racing now handles its world time records for horses. For a great many years, the official list of world records could be found in the American Racing Manual. But after Equibase took charge of horse racing’s statistical information, the world records no longer appeared in the American Racing Manual. (What, you may wonder, is difference between a world record and an American record? A North American record is the fastest time on dirt, grass or synthetic. A world record is the fastest time at a particular distance, period. It’s the fastest time no matter the surface.) Equibase, I was informed, decided to do away with keeping track of world records because it had no way of knowing for sure if a horse’s time was anything more than a North American record. Thus, the list of world records in the American Racing Manual disappeared. The book only listed North American records. (I will say it’s to Equibase’s credit that on its website at least you currently can find a list of North American records for dirt, turf and all-weather surfaces.) But now, unfortunately, the American Racing Manual itself has disappeared. Daily Racing Form did not publish it in 2019. Consequently, horse racing now finds itself in even worse shape concerning the availability of statistics, records and information. Oh, I finally did get the answer as to how long Bailey’s record for Grade I wins had stood. Bloodhorse’s Jay Hovdey found it somehow. This particular record of Bailey’s lasted for 14 years. “Bailey won his first Grade I event on Sept. 1, 1980, aboard Heavenly Ade in the Delaware Handicap and his 216th Grade I on Nov. 19, 2005, on I’m a Tiger in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park,” Hovdey wrote. Hovdey then quotes Bailey as saying: “I don’t remember whose record I broke along the way. In fact, I didn’t even know I held the record until Mike got close to it.” Sadly, that is not surprising due to horse racing’s poor record-keeping.

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12.31.2019:

Harness Highlights: A Job Well 'Dunn' By Emerging Star

Dexter Dunn proved to North America harness racing fans in 2019 what those in New Zealand had know for a long time. Dunn, 29, can drive with the best of them. He won 10 consecutive premiership titles in his native country and was the youngest to reach 2,000 wins. He also won the World Driving Championship in 2015. In his first full season in the North America, Dunn ranked eighth in wins (460) and third in earnings ($12 million). He competed primarily at Harrah’s Philadelphia and the Meadowlands, won seven races on the November 21 card at Dover Downs and handled two Breeders Crown champions at Woodbine-Mohawk Park – Manchego in the $500,000 Mare Trot and Amigo Volo in the $600,000 2-Year-Old Colt Pace. “It’s well above what I expected coming over here,” Dunn told Ken Weingartner of the U.S. Trotting Association. “It’s a dream come true, really. I can’t say how much I appreciate all the help I’ve received that’s gotten me to the stage I’m at now.” Dunn’s breakthrough into the Top 10 is remarkable considering there has been little change among the sport’s elite during a five-year sample run. Aaron Merriman won his fifth consecutive dash title in dramatic fashion. He won seven races Monday – three at the Meadows and four at Northfield Park – to become the first driver ever with 1,000 or more wins three years in a row. Tim Tetrick finished second with 758 wins and tops with $15.6 million in earnings, edging Yannick Gingras ($13.4 million), who had won three straight earnings titles from 2015-17 and is the only driver other than Gingras to lead in that category this decade. Tetrick ranks third all-time in earnings ($217 million) and was elected into the Hall of Fame. George Napolitano Jr. and Ronnie Wrenn Jr. finished in the top four in wins for the fifth year in a row, while Jason Bartlett cracked the Top 5 in wins and earnings during that same span. Hall of Famer David Miller ranks second all-time with $242 million in earnings after another Top 5 showing. Brett Miller, Trace Tetrick, George Brennan and Chris Page rounded out the Top 10 in wins. Brennan won four races on the final night of the Yonkers Raceway season to share year-end honors with Bartlett. Page has ranked in the Top 10 for five years running. Brian Sears, Andrew McCarthy and Matt Kakaley finished 8-9-10 in earnings. Kakaley finished in the top 10 for the fourth year in a row. McCarthy won four Breeders Crown races to put his name on the leaderboard. Wally Hennessey won the 10,000th race of his Hall of Fame career at age 62 and led all North America drivers with a .458 UDRS rating for back-to-back titles in that category.

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12.31.2019:

Tuesday, December 31: Wet, Chalky 147,315 Mandatory Payout Empire 6 at Aqueduct?

Tuesday is Mandatory Payout Day at Aqueduct, where ‘everything must go’ in their 20-cent Jackpot Empire 6 where the carryover is $147,315. The sequence covers Races 3 – 8 and gets underway at approximately 1:28PM ET.At first glance – and then at second and third – betting this Pick 6 is going to come down to which short-priced favorites are single sand which, if any, are worth playing against.  Across the six races, there are six horses on the ML at odds of 8/5 or lower and four of the six races include a ML favorite at even-money or shorter.Simply put, if most of those favorites come in this Pick 6 isn’t going to be a life-changing score.There’s good news, though.  That $147,315 carryover is going to ensure an inflated payout.  And furthermore, you don’t have to play this bet solely at its 20-cent minimum.  If you’ve got a relatively cheap ticket you like, don’t hesitate to punch it five or ten times for a $1 or $2 base.  For example, a ticket with 48 combinations (say 2x4x1x1x2x3) costs $9.60.  Punch it ten times and you can hit the 20-cent Pick 6 ten times for $96.Here’s my recommendation on tackling the sequence. A sloppy track is expected, so handicap accordingly.  Race 3 (1:28PM ET) – Maiden Special WeightWith the scratch of #5 MODERNIST (1/1), Todd Pletcher’s #6 PORTOS (7/5) stands out as a heavy favorite. If he takes to the muddy track, he could be long gone. If he doesn’t, any of the three inside horses could factor. #1 CALL ME LATER (12/1) ran a closing 6th in his debut in the slop at Churchill. #2 COWTOWN (6/1) is the ‘other’ Pletcher horse but he hasn’t done nearly as much as his stablemate. #3 FIAT LUX (8/1) could get an interesting look as a firster for Rudy Rodriguez but it’s really hard to win first out going 1 1/8 miles.  If he takes money, he’s worth considering.  Race 4 (1:58PM ET) – ClaimingThe only race in the sequence without a low-priced favorite, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rush to the ALL button. #6 WIN WITH PRIDE (3/1) goes out for a high-percentage trainer (Jeremiah Englehart) and despite his ten-month layoff, he’s back with his regular jockey and drew nicely in this 6 1/2-furlong dash.  #2 COLTANDMISSISSIPPI (7/2) is back at an appropriate level (and surface) and goes second off the claim for Jason Servis, so I’ll use him.  #5 WEGOTOLDYOUGOTSOLD (5/2) has been off since April and takes a class drop for Rudy Rod, but his pre-layoff form would win this.   #7 DEEP SEA (12/1) is a big price but his best races have come in the slop. Race 5 (2:28PM ET) – ClaimingYou always have to question big class droppers off mediocre efforts, but #10 OTHER THINGS EQUAL (1/1) feels like a horse Klaravich Stables is simply looking to move on from as the gelding’s form isn’t quite up to par of their lofty ownership goals. They paid $335K for him as a yearling but the son of Hard Spun is just 1-for-5 and his best races are simply better than these. I’m skeptical of the class drop, but ultimately I don’t see many good alternatives. Race 6 (2:58PM ET) – Allowance#8 OPERATION ROSES (1/1) won like a heavy favorite should in his debut for Todd Pletcher at Aqueduct on November 24, drawing off by 7-lengths in a gate-to-wire score. And that race just happened to come on a wet track, so we know he's fine with this footing. He’s drawn better this time (he was on the rail for his debut) and should make it 2-for-2 here. Race 7 (3:28PM ET) – Allowance#4 COMMUNICATOR (2/5) blitzed a maiden field here on November 10, going gate-to-wire to score by 6 1/4-lengths while earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure. Being a son of Bernardini, out of an Awesome Again mare, and a $300K auction purchase as a yearling, you know this one looks the part. Plus with that pedigree, added distance won’t be a hurdle. #2 PATAGONIA (3/1) is also worth considering.  Race 8 (3:58PM ET) – Maiden ClaimingThe finale is a maiden claimer and eyes will be on #11 HUDSON OVERPASS (8/5).  He’s 7-0-3-1 in his career and has just one fewer runner-up performance on his resume than the ten horses drawn inside of him combined. #1 EL SANGRU (6/1) makes his first start in the Big Apple after starting his career at Finger Lakes and he’s done OK on a wet track before. #8 RIGHTDOWNGENTLEMEN (12/1) is a firster in a mediocre field. My TicketRace 3: #6 PortosRace 4: #2 Coltandmississippi, #5 Wegotoldyougotsold, #6 Win With Pride, #7 Deep Sea Race 5: #10 Other Things EqualRace 6: #8 Operation RosesRace 7: #2 Patagonia, #4 Communicator Race 8: #1 El Sangru, #8 Rightdowngentlemen, #11 Hudson OverpassTicket: $4.80 for 20-cents; Press it ten times to pay $48 and have it for $2

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12.30.2019:

Derby, Met Mile Top 2019 Races; Beat the Host Returns

On some counts, 2019 can’t get out of here fast enough. But the racing memories of the year also have their rightful place. History will remember two races this year more so than the others. There were other great performances, such as Covfefe and Vino Rosso in their respective Breeders’ Cup divisions, and the season-long dominance of Bricks and Mortar on grass. But this year belonged to a controversial Kentucky Derby like history has never seen, and a Met Mile matchup for the ages.Mitole’s victory by three-quarters of a length in the G1 Metropolitan stole the show on the Belmont Stakes Day card. He beat a star-studded field that included eventual Whitney winner McKinzie, reigning Dubai World Cup hero Thunder Snow, elite sprinters Promises Fulfilled and Firenze Fire, and more. Mitole stretched his talents from 6 furlongs to 8, and in doing so became the first true sprinter to win the prestigious Met since Sahara Sky in 2013, and before that Silver Train in 2006.Mitole underscored his greatness throughout the year, winning 6 of 7, including the Forego and Breeders’ Cup Sprint at season’s end. A sprinter with a 14: 10-2-2 career record in this day and age at such a high level is deserving of plaudits. He has won over 6 different tracks, taking his game with him no matter the venue, literally from coast-to-coast and Middle America in-between.The biggest race of any year is the Kentucky Derby; it just is. But the disqualification of Maximum Security and promotion of Country House will be talked about for as long as there are roses in May. No matter which side of the decision you reside, the post-Derby direction for both runners left way more questions than answers. Country House didn’t race again. Maximum Security won the Haskell, Bold Ruler and Cigar Mile, but bypassed the Preakness, Belmont, Travers and Breeders’ Cup.Fallout from the Derby DQ could be important moving forward. We could be in new territory, where a foul on the first Saturday in May is adjudicated as such. The history of ‘letting them play’ could be over in America’s most traffic-marred race. Or, it just might have been the perfect storm: an egregious swerve on the heels of a hyper-sensitive public besieged by discussion of safety reforms. We won’t know until they let them loose again on May 2.Beat The Host Returns SaturdayI’m in the on-deck circle getting my practice swings in for Xpressbet’s popular Beat the Host handicapping contest. Every Saturday in January and February, you get your chance to out-handicap Xpressbet’s hand-picked host. There’s $50,000 on the line throughout the season in weekly and seasonal prizes. Registration is already underway. The cost to play each week is nothing more than a $5 win wager on the 10 host-selected tournament races (from Santa Anita and Gulfstream), played into your Xpressbet account and the actual pari-mutuel pools.I’m not going to talk any pregame smack since I’ve had a cold streak in this tournament in the past 2 seasons. Let’s just say I’m ‘due.’ Good luck!Here’s the host line-up:• January 4 - Jeremy Plonk• January 11 - Millie Ball• January 18 - Jon White• January 25 - Jeff Siegel• February 1 - Steve Byk• February 8 - Ron Nicoletti• February 15 - Tom Quigley• February 22 - Acacia Courtney• February 29 - Eddie Olczyk

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12.30.2019:

Monday, December 30: Analysis for The Meadows Jackpot Hi-5 Mandatory Payout

This evening there will be a mandatory payout at The Meadows in their 20-cent Jackpot Super Hi-5, which is slated for Race 13 at approximately 5:05PM ET. There is a $105,000.96 carryover and the track estimates the pool should grow to $250,000. Comments are based on a fast track. Race 13-Super Hi-5 1-Justcallme Bets (4-1) - 3-year-old has paid her keep racing on 1/2-mile ovals on the Maine circuit. Palone takes a seat and this is her 1st start since 10/12 but had a good qualifier here on 12/19. Likes to race near the top of the stack and looks like a use. Best to respect connections and is a threat for top honors. 2-Marvalous Song (20-1) - Camera shy mare could be part of the ticket from the inside draw. Doesn't pass foes down the lane but can stay in the hunt and maintain position at a price. Not a threat to take a picture but will use underneath. 3-Cookies Empire (5-1) - Only 5-1 in the program and wouldn't be my morning line 3rd choice. Doesn't like an off-track but if the last 3 starts were tossed, would still look like a candidate for a small check. 4-Heston Ross (7/2) - Comes off a win and loses Merriman but Hall isn't chopped liver. Makes 4th start here and is a bit camera shy. Should be part of the Hi-5 and a case could be made to use at the top of the ticket. 5-TSM Deja Vu (8-1) - Beat $10K claimers in last but doesn't strike me as anything more than a bottom of the ticket possibility. 6-Southwind Thundra (7-1) - Merriman tried to use her aggressively and that didn't work, faded to 10th as the 9/5 choice. Tonight, Jimmy Pants is between the pipes and he could work a trip. Interesting option that looks like a part of the ticket. Has been off since 12/11 but if dialed on high could win at a nice price with a good steer. 7-Lyons Javelin (6-1) - Similar to #6 but last raced on 12/18. Wilder is a fine pilot but wouldn't use in the top spot from this post. Has taken a liking to the Meadows and could stay in the hunt with a favorable journey. 8-Amazing Ponderosa (20-1) - There are many contenders for the bottom slots in the Hi-5 but this one won't make the cut for my ticket. 9-Oka (20-1) - Burke trainee loses Palone and is in a very tough spot to get involved from this post. Looks like a toss. 10-Dark Rhapsody (20-1) - Starts behind #1 which wouldn't be so bad if recent form was better and didn't start sluggishly. This filly joins #8 and #9 and will have better days another time. Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.29.2019:

Sunday, December 29: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

The Sunday night feature at Pompano Park rolls in Race 7, an Open I Handicap with a $10,000 purse. The 0.50 Pick 4 begins in Race 5 and will be my focus. The sequence has a $20,000 guaranteed pool with an industry low 12% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 51-Rocky Regal (8-1)-Thinking this veteran is better than his recent starts have shown. Positive driver change and was Wallis' choice over #6.2-Mach My Point (5/2)-Makes 2nd start for Petrelli barn and she has had trained this gelding in the past. Gets some post relief and could be all systems go.5-Spanish Art (9/5)-Drops to a spot to shine but form has been flat and hasn't won in a while.Race 61-Mc Mach (5/2)-Has had some issues and came up with a .55 second half but couldn't make up ground in last start. Could be put in play sooner on the drop in class and is major player if can mind manners.7-Mcjagersonthemove (3-1)-Winner of 2 straight drops in for the same tag and has the gate speed to get on the engine again. Could make every call a winning one for 3rd picture in as many tries.Race 75-American Hustle (7/2)-Beaten favorite should be out and winging and doesn't have Rebellious to worry about.6-Alluneedisfaith N (5-1)-Classy 5-year-old will be tough if ready, has been on the bench since 11/16 but best to respect connections.7-Prairie Panther (8/5)-Hennessey's choice is looking for 3rd straight and 2nd in a row from the 7-hole.Race 85-Jeremes General (9/5)-Got off to a sluggish start in last but that was coming off a sick scratch and still just missed. Could be sitting on a big try, probably a single on many tickets.6-Prescotts Hope (10-1)-Racing well and has gotten acclimated to south Florida. Looking to take a swing at a nice price in case #5 doesn't bring his "A" game.My Ticket Race 5) 1,2,5 Race 6) 1,7 Race 7) 5,6,7 Race 8) 5,6Total Ticket Cost) $18 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.29.2019:

Sunday, December 29: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contendersGrade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF File*RACE 1: Post 11:30 PT. Grade: BSingle: 10-Conquest CobraForecast: Conquest Cobra drops sharply in class after being overmatched in starter’s allowance company earlier this month at Los Alamitos. He’s more than capable of winning at this level, and with presence of F. Prat in the saddle combined with a comfortable outside draw he should be tough to beat, assuming he has at least one good one left. In a race we’d rather not get too involved in, we’ll make him a straight play and rolling exotic single at or near his morning line of 3-1.RACE 2: Post 11:58 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Restless Rambler; 2-Lil Milo; 7-CastleForecast: This competitive allowance optional claiming turf sprint offers several possibilities; we’ll go three-deep and hope that’s enough. Lil Milo returns to grass and seems well-placed to regain his winning form. The Rocky Bar gelding has an ideal pace-stalking style and strong enough speed figures to beat this field with his best effort. T. Baze stays aboard and knows him well. Castle is especially effective in these abbreviated grass sprints, and after winning the California Flag H. over this course and distance during the fall meeting returns in a logical second-level allowance affair. He earned a career top speed figure in that win but today must pick up 7 lbs. Restless Rambler is the quickest of the quick and has only one way to go from his rail post, on the lead for as far as he can. A first-off-the-claim play for M. Glatt (a powerful 29% with this angle), the 10-year-old gelding is moving up in class but has won 19 races during his long career and therefore a “must use” in you rolling exotics.RACE 3: Post 12:28 PT. Grade: XSingle: 6-Ava’s CharmForecast: Ava’s Charm flopped in her only prior race at Churchill Downs when backed down to 6/5 and then was turned out so obviously something went wrong. She’s trained like she’s fit and ready for her comeback and remains well regarded by the B. Baffert barn, so from her cozy outside draw the daughter of Maclean’s Music should have every chance to display her true form. At 6/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower, she’ll not offer much wagering value other than as a short-price rolling exotic single.RACE 4: Post 1:08 PT. Grade: BUse: 8-Reducta; 9-Broadbeach-Ire; 10-Lady Timmy Ho-IreForecast: Broadbeach was a huge price (33-1) in her debut at Newmarket in August but ran surprisingly well, finishing a strong second while well-clear of the others. She makes her U.S. debut for S. Callaghan off a string of moderate drills, so perhaps she’s one of those that just doesn’t do much in the morning. However, a repeat of her debut effort in this maiden turf miler for juvenile fillies probably will be good enough to win, and with J. Rosario taking the call she has the look of a live item. Reducta, another European import with ability, retains F. Prat after finishing a solid third in a similar affair at Del Mar in her recent U.S. debut. She’ll be running on late. Lady Timmy Ho, third in both her career starts including a good effort in her U.S. debut for R. Baltas last month at Del Mar, retains D. Van Dyke and is another with a right to step forward. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with a slight preference on top to Broadbeach.RACE 5: Post 1:40 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Concord Jet; 7-Temple Knights; 8-Saddle BarForecast: Concord Jet continues to impress in the a.m. and drops to his lowest level ever. While winless in four starts over the Santa Anita main track, a repeat of either one of his second or third races back charts very well here, so we’ll put him on top but certainly not single him. Saddle Bar, comfortably drawn outside, is another class dropper seeking his proper level and should have every chance from a stalking or pressing position. With just six career starts, the son of Tapizar still has plenty of room to improve, so with any kind of forward move he’ll be right there. Temple Nights, a good runner-up behind a next-out winner in a similar restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claiming sprint here in early November, fits on speed figures and goes for the strong Glatt-Espinoza trainer/jockey combo. He likes to settle early and produce a late run so this extended sprint distance should be to his liking.RACE 6: Post 2:14 PT. Grade: B+Use: 5-Royal Act; 8-Kanderel; 9-Smooth Like StraitForecast: Royal Act was very impressive winning at first asking two-turning on grass from a poor outside post position in his racing debut at Del Mar last month and has been quite sharp in the a.m. since, indicating that the son of American Pharoah is ready to take on better company and win right back. The P. Eurton-trained colt should be forwardly place throughout and have every chance to wear down the likely pacesetter (and recent stakes winner) Smooth Like Strait when the pressure is turned on from the quarter pole home. ‘Straight stretched out successfully as the controlling speed in the C. B. DeMille S.-G3 at Del Mar earlier this month and similar front-running tactics surely will be employed once again. The son of Midnight Lute has produced a forward move in each of his four career outings and will be very hard to beat if he goes unpoliced on the front-end like last time. Kanderel seems certain to improve after finishing 11th of 13 in the DeMille. A bullet recent workout and the switch to M. Smith are positive factors for the son of Candy Ride, who can be a threat with a repeat of his strong maiden debut win over this course and distance during the fall meeting.RACE 7: Post 2:48 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Nora’s Joy; 8-Venetian HarborForecast: Nora’s Joy finished second in both of career starts to date while having the misfortune of hooking stakes quality opposition. She’s one of those that probably can’t beat a real good filly, but it takes one to beat here. Freshened since September, adding blinkers, and continuing to impress in the morning, the daughter of Street Sense looks very much like the one to beat in this extended sprint for juvenile fillies. Let’s hope she can avoid trouble from the rail. Venetian Harbor was a strong second when well-backed at even money in her debut at Del Mar but her effort came on grass and today we’ll find out if she can be as effective on dirt (and, as a daughter of Munnings, she should have no surface preference). The R. Baltas-trained juvenile has been kept on edge with series of good drills at San Luis Rey Downs and picks up J. Rosario. We’ll prefer Nora’s Joy slightly on top but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 8: Post 3:24 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-Guitty-FR; 6-Laura’s LightForecast: Guitty had an impossible trip in the recent Jimmy Durante S.-G3 from an extreme outside post position, so the result can best be ignored. A smart winner of a maiden turf affair at Del Mar in early November and then repeating on the raise a in a first-level allowance score three weeks later, she’s much better drawn today, gets a projected race flow that should complement her late-running style, and switches to J. Rosario. It all adds up to a major effort at 5-1 on the morning line. Laura’s Light made the running and continued gamely to the wire to be second in the same race Guitty exits in what was just her second career start following a nice maiden sprint win up North. She’s catching a bit more early heat today, but the daughter of Constitution probably isn’t a need-the-lead type. We’ll have a few extra tickets keying Guitty on top but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 9: Post 3:58 PT. Grade: B+Use: 4-Miss Stormy D; 8-Eternal EndeavorForecast: Miss Stormy D earned a giant number breaking her maiden in her seventh career start (but her first on dirt), and now that her connections realize she’s better on the main track than she is on grass the daughter of Tapizar might string a few wins together. A repeat of her last race beats this field and an impressive series of workouts in recent weeks indicates she’s ready to do just that. Eternal Endeavor seems worth including as a back-up or a saver in your rolling exotics. Sparingly raced but with plenty of ability, the L. Powell-trained mare seeks her third straight score after winning a restricted claimer and then a starter’s allowance sprint, and while her numbers don’t quite match up with our top pick she does have the proper style for this extended sprint distance and room for further improvement.RACE 10: Post 4:28 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Big Runnuer; 6-TorosayForecast: Big Runnuer is lightly raced, thoroughly genuine, and effective sprinting or routing. Nosed out in a good mile event at this level earlier this month at Del Mar, the V. Garcia-trained colt turns back to an abbreviated turf dash and projects to inherit an ideal pace-stalking strip. Fast enough numbers with further improvement likely, the son of Stormy Atlantic gets top billing. Torosay graduated over this course and distance two races back and is the likely controlling speed. He’s a bit slower on numbers that ‘Runnuer but is another lightly-raced gelding with some upside and is reunited with “win rider” R. Bejarano. Toss him in on a few tickets as a saver.

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12.28.2019:

Saturday, December 28: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

The Meadowlands has a big 14-race card on tap and the 0.50 Pick 4 begins in Race 8. That sequence will be my focus and it has a $50,000 guaranteed pool with a 15% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 83-JK Wildfire (9/2)-Tyler Buter stuck with #1 so Marcus Miller drives and he may be more aggressive. Will need a top effort but can stay in the hunt.5-Pretty Boy Swag (15-1)-Longshot has 15 wins out of 29 starts and can compete here with a strong effort. May land on the engine or in the 2-hole.6-Drawing Dragons (3-1)-Winner of 2-straight for new barn that has been doing well. Loses Dunn but gets McCarthy to steer and looks like the one to beat with a good trip.8-Decoy (7/2)-Beaten favorite makes 3rd start for the Cullipher barn. Does move outside but can grind his way around when fires best shot.Race 97-One Lucky Dragon (7/2)-Makes 3rd start for Harris barn and bumps up a notch but still fits well. Loses McCarthy but last start was sharp, and Berry should keep in the mix.10-Odds On Lauderdale (3-1)-Didn't leave from post-10 in last but was off 13-days and now drops. McCarthy sticks and if gets off the gate in decent shape may use a big brush down the lane to pass by all.Race 102-Griffon Hanover (9/2)-Fractions were slower in last start and couldn't make up enough ground but was pacing hard. This post draw should help and if pace is quick chances go up at a square price.3-Crusades (3-1)-This is a spot to shine. Will be tough to beat if minds manners and comes with best fastball.5-Art History (6-1)-In from YR and tried the engine in last which was a different strategy. Needs a smart steer but best to not overlook, has won 12 of 29 career starts at the Big M.Race 111-Mike's Z Tam (8-1)-Should like the company and from this post could be forwardly placed which helps chances to surprise.3-Sports Column (8-1)-Honest horse who is usually in the mix. That's enough of a reason to use in this Pick 4 at a nice price.5-Keep On Rocking A (9/2)-Has been on the bench since 8/10 but tuned up nicely with 2 very good qualifiers. This is probably the best horse in the race if fully 100%.6-Closing Statement (7/2)-Last race was on 9/22 but comes off 2 sharp qualifiers like #5, best to respect as Buter should be able to work a trip from this post.My Ticket Race 8) 3,5,6,8 Race 9) 7,10 Race 10) 2,3,5 Race 11) 1,3,5,6Total Ticket Cost) $48 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.28.2019:

Saturday, December 28: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Handicappers also are encouraged to access Jeff’s Daily Santa Anita Workout Analysis (see below), an exclusive report containing commentary, fractional times, grades, and a link to the video of the actual workout by each race’s key contendersGrade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoToday’s Workout Analysis: View PDF FileRACE 1: Post 11:00 PT. Grade: B-Use: 4-Provost; 5-Devil Made Me Doit; 6-GarthForecast: Devil Made Me Doit brought $245,000 at the OBS June Sale, where he breezed a quarter mile in a blistering :20 3/5 seconds, the fastest of the entire venue. His local works leading up to his debut for D. O’Neill have been impressive and indicate the son of Daredevil should be quick enough to make the running and a strong threat to keep on going. Garth likely will be relegated to a stalker’s role and could be in the right spot to pick up ‘Doit if that one fails to stick. The B. Baffert-trained son of Into Mischief remains well-regarded but has burned plenty of money in his three-race career and perhaps isn’t one to trust. We’ll include him in our rolling exotics one more time (but that’s it). Provost has been training out of sight at Los Alamitos and has turned in some solid clockings for J. Sadler over a track that usually produces fast times in the a.m. The son of Street Boss probably is worth tossing in on a ticket or two due to the presence of J. Rosario in the saddle. This jockey-trainer combo always has been lethal (36% with a strong flat-bet profit).RACE 2: Post 11:28 PT. Grade: B+Use: 1-Keeper Ofthe Stars; 2-BrillForecast: Keeper Ofthe Stars couldn’t stay the mini-marathon trip in the Red Carpet H.-G3 at Del Mar last time out but she’s back at her proper distance today and projects to enjoy a lovely pace forcing/stalking trip from her comfortable inside draw. The daughter of Midnight Lute captured the Autumn Miss S.-G3 over this course and distance during the fall meeting and shows a recent bullet workout at her home base up north to indicate she’s ready to resume her winning ways. We’ll also include in our rolling exotics Brill on the theory that she’ll move up considerably in her first career start on grass. The once highly-regarded daughter of Medaglia d’Oro removes blinkers, sports a sharp bullet workout nine days ago (when besting stable mate Instagrand) and picks up F. Prat. She’s the likely controlling speed and could get very brave if not pressured early.RACE 3: Post 11:58 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Swift Socks; 4-La Rosa Drive; 5-Rickie Nine Toe’sForecast: It won’t take a world beater to win this bottom-rung ($30,000) maiden claiming sprint for juvenile fillies, and La Rosa Drive certainly isn’t one, but the daughter of Discreet Cat flashed decent early speed in a pair of Midwestern starts last spring and could be a better type this time around for new trainer D. Hofmans. Her recent workouts indicate fitness, so let’s put her on top in a race that requires a spread in rolling exotic play. Rickie Nine Toe’s is the likely favorite and one to beat after finishing a strong second in a maiden $50,000 affair in late November at Del Mar while earning a better-than-par speed figure for the level. However, this class drop off a fairly promising debut effort is a bit suspicious and perhaps indicates a lack of confidence from her connections. Swift Socks broke slowly and made no impression in her debut in the same race ‘Toe’s exits and has a right to improve with that bit of experience behind her. She received some play in that race (5-1) so the W. Spawr-trained daughter of Lucky Pulpit probably deserves another look.RACE 4: Post 12:28 PT. Grade: B+Use: 1-Fivestar Lynch-Ire; 2-TromadorForecast: Tromador has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch-out pattern while also sporting the always-enticing maiden-to-maiden claiming class drop angle, so let’s go with the son of Exchange Rate on top in a fairly wide open turf miler. Fifth when finishing with interest in a tough turf sprint at Del Mar last time out with an improved speed figure and then working well with a strong gallop out in a Dec. 15 drill on the main track, the B. Koriner-trained colt seems set for significant forward move. T. Pereira, who rides a lot of live runners for this stable, stays aboard. Fivestar Lynch is the certain favorite based on several positive factors that appear in his chart. Beaten a nose in a similar spot at Del Mar while two lengths clear of the rest, the Irish-bred colt lands the rail for the high-percentage F. Prat/R. Baltas combo and projects to have every chance with a comfortable ground-saving, pace-stalking trip. The only concern is that he was even money in his last race and couldn’t seal the deal, but not much more will be needed to day. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; Tromador will be the better price so we’ll put him on top.RACE 5: Post 1:08 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Gift Box; 6-MidcourtForecast: Gift Box won the Big ‘Cap-G1 over this main track last April and then was a close second to subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic-G1 winner Vino Rosso in the Gold Cup the following month, so we know he’s more than good enough to win this Grade-2 affair if he’s fit and ready. The works provide strong indication that he is, so the son of Twirling Candy very likely will be a short price favorite. Midcourt isn’t as accomplished Gift Box on resume, nor is he as fast on speed figures, but the son of Midnight Lute is lightly-raced (just seven career starts) and unbeaten in his last four after earning a career top number in his runaway Native Diver-G3 victory at Del Mar last time out. A versatile type that can win on the front end or from well off the pace, the J. Shirreffs-trained gelding will be dangerous if he can step forward once again. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with Gift Box the logical top pick.RACE 6: Post 1:44 PT. Grade: XSingle: 5-Lady Prancealot-IreForecast: Lady Prancealot will be tough to deny in this year’s edition of the American Oaks-G1, quite frankly one of the weakest Grade-1 events for 3-year-olds fillies we’ve seen in memory. Most of these are still eligible to the first or second allowance condition. ‘Prancealot produced a powerful late kick into the teeth of slow fractions when winning the middle distance Valley View S.-G3 at Keeneland in October and J. Bravo, who rode her in that victory, flies out to keep the mount. The work tab at San Luis Rey Downs is quite impressive, so the only concern, really, is the lack of projected pace, but this mile and one-quarter distance should do nothing but accentuate her superiority. We’ll make the R. Baltas-trained filly a short priced rolling exotic single.RACE 7: Post 2:18 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-Bellafina; 6-Bell’s the OneForecast: Bellafina was spectacular in defeat when finishing a close second while nearly eight lengths clear of the rest to Cofefve in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint over this track and distance in early November and with almost two months off to recover from that hard, taxing effort she should be able to come close to that performance today. A winner of four of five over the Santa Anita main dirt oval and working like she’s fit and ready, the S. Callaghan-trained daughter of Quality Road is a likely heavy favorite and a single in rolling exotic play on many tickets. That said, we’ll also include Bell’s the One, an upset winner at this seven furlong distance of the Raven Run S.-G2 at Keeneland with a career top speed figure in her most recent appearance. She was quite sharp in a recent half mile breeze over this main track just six days ago and picks up J. Castellano, so if Bellafina for whatever reason fails to produce her best effort this daughter of Majesticperfection could produce an upset.RACE 8: Post 2:51 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-Excellent Sunset-Ire; 7-MirthForecast: Mirth won the Rodeo Drive S.-G1 over this turf course during the fall meeting and then led for nine of the 10 furlongs in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf before being swallowed up in deep stretch, eventually winding up sixth. This is a considerably softer assignment for the daughter of Colonel John who enjoys the front end but can stalk and pounce if the race flow dictates. We’ll also include Excellent Sunset, not nearly as accomplished on pure form as Mirth but making a noteworthy trainer change to R. Baltas that could produce a significant amount of improvement. She removes blinkers, picks up J. Rosario, and projects to settle somewhere in mid-pack and then have every chance to kick home from the top of the stretch to the wire.RACE 9: Post 3:26 PT. Grade: XUse: 2-Complexity; 5-Omaha BeachForecast: Omaha Beach has trained better than he ever has for this year’s edition of the Malibu S.-G1 at seven furlongs, which very likely is his preferred distance. Drawn perfectly outside in this five-runner field, the son of War Front can settle just off the leaders and then blast home when called upon. He’s the deserved heavy favorite. Complexity has a ton of natural ability and should be included somewhere on your ticket, at least as a back-up. The runaway winner of the Champagne S.-G1 as a two-year-old, the C. Brown-trained colt returned to that form with a dominating overnight allowance win at Aqueduct in late November while earning a career top speed figure, and if he can build on that today the son of Maclean’s Music might provide Omaha Beach with more than just a bit of competition.RACE 10: Post 4:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 5-Mo Forza; 6-Neptune’s Storm; 8-Proud Pedro-FRForecast: Mo Forza has really gotten good of late and is the one to beat once again in the Mathis Brothers Mile-G2 that provides one last chance for 3-year-olds to compete against their own age group. Winner of both the Twilight Derby and Hollywood Derby when facing similar competition and the earner of a career top number in his most recent score, the son of Uncle Mo is tough at any distance, so shortening up a furlong shouldn’t bother him in the least. J. Rosario will have him within striking range throughout. Neptune’s Storm , beaten less than a length by Mo Forza in the Hollywood Derby and before that a close third to ‘Forza in the Twilight Derby, has won four of seven career starts over this turf course. He’s most effective from a stalking position and seems very likely to inherit that kind of trip. Proud Pedro tries a rider switch after being moved way too soon in the Hollywood Derby, where he loomed a strong threat into the lane before flattening out. If anchored and allowed to produce the last run, the French-bred gelding should at least outrun his odds.RACE 11: Post 4:32 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Include the Tax; 9-Jungle Boy; 11-Totally TigerForecast: The finale is a messy $30,000 maiden claiming sprint for California-bred 2-year-olds. Use as many as you can afford to. Include the Tax was a no-excuse third at this level last time out but the first two finishers came back to win and the effort resulted in a career-top speed figure, so logically the M. McCarthy-trained son of Include will get plenty of play. With just three career starts, he’s eligible to continue to improve. Totally Tiger has no gate speed but this drop for the first time into the maiden claiming ranks makes him a major contender based not only on the lesser competition but also better-than-par speed figures. He’s drawn outside and should have clear sailing but may have to take the overland route. Still, against this group, he’s a fit. Jungle Boy is a first-time starter with moderate drills, but debut runners from the S. Miyadi barn often run better than they work so we’ll including the Boisterous gelding as a back-up.

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12.27.2019:

December 27: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

Cal Expo has a 12-race card set to roll with the feature coming in Race 5, an Open Pace with a $7,200 purse. My focus will be on the 0.20 Pick 4 which begins in Race 8. That sequence has a $30,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 81-Surprisingly Sweet (8-1)-Veteran has taken many pictures at this track and fits better versus this crew. Draws the rail which should help, and last two trips haven't been great. Looking for more at a nice price.5-No Guarantees (2-1)-Program chalk was Kennedy's choice and has been tossing hints. Can't dismiss, but with a 1-24 record in '19 at this price, will look to others with more value.7-Bettor Lady (6-1)-Has been off since 8-31 but qualifier was okay, and this gal loves the track. Has won >33% of CalX starts and if fires hot off the bench could add to that total at a square price.9-Kiss On The Lips (8-1)-Looking for a price and this mare has some gate speed. Should like the company could be rolling late if Longo can work a decent trip.Race 92-Burntisland Billy (8-1)-Doesn't win very often but this is a field that can be beat and lands Kennedy for 1st start of this meet. Should be a decent price in a race without a true standout.3-Panedictine (2-1)-Drops again looking for a win and this could be a spot to shine but not convinced.4-General Time (4-1)-2nd ML chalk is 0-39 and that should tell you something about this field. Drops like #3 and could find some life in 3rd start for new barn but is 0-39 at CalX.6-Major Jesse (6-1)-Loses Wiseman but the change to Roberts shouldn't hurt and may help the price. 5-year-old is camera shy and isn't alone but may have more gas left in the tank than others.Race 102-Along Came Jane (6-1)-Drops to a soft spot after racing in the slop in last 2 starts. Gets a positive driver change as Plano takes a seat and he has been rolling. Looking for better at a square price.3-Alwaysalittlemore ( 3-1)-Lukewarm ML chalk raced well to get a 3rd place check over #2 and was off 2-weeks before that start. Has only one win in 2019 but looks like a player, has been facing stronger competition.Race 111-Red Star Tiger (12-1)-This seems like a race to shoot for a price and here is my swing. Looking for a more aggressive try for new pilot. 11-year-old has done his sharing of winning (9-37) this year and can pass foes down the lane.2-Smoke Rings (7/2)-Plested trainee battled to take a picture in last start. Best to not overlook, defeated #3 and #4 in last and should be in line for a good trip tonight.4-Best Dream Seeker (4-1)-Only 1-40 this year but is a use versus this field. Went off at 29-1 in last and that won't happen but should offer a fair price. Will use instead of #3, the program chalk.0.20 Pick 41,5,7,9/2,3,4,6/2,3/1,2,4Total Bet=$19.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.26.2019:

Turf Routes Big Part of the Gulfstream Late Pick 4 Equation

The last two Gulfstream Park races on Saturday have a cumulative distance of 3 3-16 miles on turf, and they make for some interesting turf handicapping, and joined by a pair of wide-open races, make for an interesting and challenging late Pick 4.The day ends with the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at two miles as the 11th, and just prior to that is the Via Borghese Stakes at 1 3-16th miles. The sequence starts with a mile maiden race in the eighth, and that’s followed by the Tropical Park Derby at 1 1-16th miles on the grass. The first two races are the most challenging and this week’s ticket has a 5x5x2x2 way about it for $50.Eleven maidens are set for the eighth race, and a 4-1 morning-line favorite is a testament to the evenness of the field. Fight Fight Fight is that tepid choice and that one joins four others on the ticket – Elusive Ruler, Mayberry Deputy, Gimme Some Mo and Gear Jockey. Gimme Some Mo is a promising first-time starter and the others have shown talent in very limited appearances.And if that one wasn’t challenging enough, the ninth race – Tropical Park Derby – is chock full of horses that are making their last start as sophomores. After this, they move on to more older horses. Some have already done well against the more seasoned runners and they can be expected to continue. Like the eighth race, this one doesn’t have a solid morning-line favorite. A Thread of Blue is the slight choice at 7-2. He’s on the ticket but has to share this slot with four others: Kadar, Faraway Kitten, Temple and Halladay.Pivotal Connection and War Cabinet are the ticket choices in the Via Borghese for fillies and mares, and American Tattoo and Carom are playable in the finale – the Jerkens. American Tattoo is the 5-to-2 second choice (behind Salute the Colonel), and was 3rd going 1 3-4-miles in the Marathon on Breeders’ Cup Day. The Argentina-bred should have no problem moving his game over to the grass. Carom won his latest over this course and was competitive in New York. He was claimed for $50,000 by trainer Mike Maker and fits well in this spot.Here’s the suggested late Pick 4 play:8) #3 Elusive Ruler, #5 Mayberry Deputy, #9 Fight Fight Fight, #10 Gimme Some Mo, #11 Gear Jockey.9) #2 Kadar, #3 Faraway Kitten, #6 Temple, #13 Halladay, #14 A Thread of Blue.10) #2 Pivotal Connection, #3 War Cabinet.11) #3 American Tattoo. #7 Carom.50-cent Pick 4 ticket: 3-5-9-10-11 with 2-3-6-13-14 with 2-3 with 3-7 ($50).

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12.26.2019:

Xpressbet Race of the Week: San Antonio at Santa Anita

The Lead:Opening Day of the 2019-'20 Santa Anita winter/spring meeting features stakes in Races 2,5,6,7,8,9 and 10. There's a lot to choose from, even if standout favorites such as Bellafina (Race 7 Grade 1 La Brea) and Omaha Beach (Race 9 Grade 1 Malibu) would seem firm choices. They will be keys for many in the late, multi-race wagers.Field Depth:GIFT BOX is the field's only Grade 1 winner. DRAFT PICK is a Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed. MIDCOURT has won at the Grade 3 level, as has MUGARITZ. GRAY MAGICIAN is Grade 2/Grade 3 placed. GIFT BOX and DRAFT PICK have carried the strongest company lines in this field.Pace:This is a race in which nearly every horse has some semblance of tactical speed, but is not a dedicated front-runner. Judging pace in this race is more guess-work than useful.​​Our Eyes:Defending San Antonio champ GIFT BOX nearly ran the table last season at the Great Race Place, adding the Santa Anita Handicap and finishing second to eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He's back after a June layoff, and notably his win in this race came off an even greater March layoff. Trainer John Sadler also has MIDCOURT in this race, which begs old the axiom: Why run two when one will do? Well, the timing here can be a great springboard to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park at the end of January. MIDCOURT has won 4 in a row, making the natural class progression each time. He didn't beat a star-studded field with only 3 challengers in the Native Diver and a bad, odds-on favorite in the under-performing 3-year-old Roadster. Of the Sadler pair, my advantage is GIFT BOX even off the layoff.Other than the Kentucky Derby, which you can't blame anyone for trying, GRAY MAGICIAN has been very well spotted this year. But this will be his 14th race without an extended break, dating back to his debut in August 2018. Toss in a trip to Dubai along with that Derby appearance and there's a reasonable wonder when the vacation has to come. Trainer Peter Miller lures Javier Castellano for the return mount after winning at Keeneland. He's slightly freshened at least, and 1-1/16 miles is about his limit for his best.DRAFT PICK may be a touch better at Del Mar than Santa Anita, even if all 3 career wins have come at Santa Anita against lesser competition. He's a one-paced type who rarely backs up and rarely finishes with the hammer. In this race with so many similar running styles, it would appear that DRAFT PICK could be suited for an even-Steven kind of trip and placing once again.MUGARITZ has won 6 in a row in Northern California and will get the class test while on a roll. Those wins have come on turf, Tapeta and conventional dirt (at Fresno). Speed jockey Ricardo Gonzalez travels south to keep the mount, which means MUGARITZ might be sent to the front in the San Antonio. According to the Betmix database, sire Dialed In's offspring are 25: 5-4-2 on the Santa Anita dirt since 2013, hitting 20% with a $1.49 ROI for each $1 bet.KING ABNER has had trouble finishing late in his races and the 1-1/16 miles distance with this sort of pace set-up may not work in his favor. FIGHT ON had success at Oaklawn last winter/spring for Doug O'Neill and hasn't had the same results on the west coast. He may be looking toward the road after this.Most Certain Exotics Contender: GIFT BOX has the class and affinity for the course.​Best Longshot Exotics Contender: MUGARITZ will avoid a lot of the decision-making if sent to the front, and he has a pedigree to perhaps like this dirt course in his first attempt.Sending it in ($100 bankroll): ​​$100 win GIFT BOX.

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12.26.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: December 27 Stronach 5 Play

A Merry Christmas and happy holidays as we are back to battle in this week’s Stronach 5, which once again has a 100k guarantee. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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.*** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. ***Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:52 ET) – 3up AOC (35k/N2X) at 1-mileThe opening leg is a toughie, as several have winning credentials and would be tough on their day. I think this is a spread, and I’m very interested in #2 MUSICAL AMERICA (6-1), who invades from CD and makes his first start for Atras, who has been known to move them up a good deal, and this one has plenty of back form to win this as is. Clearly #1 TAPPIN CAT (3-1), who has finished 1st in two in a row and hasn’t missed the board in nine starts this year, has to be used, especially since the DQ win last time was at the level. If you toss the claiming crown run last time at GP from #7 DEGROM (5-1) then he fits like a glove here, and his tactical speed should come in handy as well. Lastly, I’ll add in #8 JEFAZO (7-2), who should also like dropping out of the local stakes ranks and had won two in a row at the level before that.Pk5 A horses: 2,1,7,8 (listed in order of preference)I’ll use #4 HAMMERIN AAMER (4-1) as a backup, since Russell is a big 5-for-13 with newcomers to her barn, but this veteran also hasn’t been out since May, and improving off Rodriguez and Cox isn’t easy. You’ll get plenty of value with #5 FORT PECK (12-1), who goes off the claim for Abbott, who rarely dips in for one, but this 4yo just won by 3 at CD and could be very live on the rise for a solid new barn.Pk5 B horses: 4,5Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R8 (4:00 ET) – 3up 16k claimer at 5 furlongs (turf)With rains in the area make sure to pay attention to the course condition and scratches (as well as ticket updates here), as they could be OFF the turf. On the grass, you probably can get aggressive with #4 POCKET CHANGE (9-5), who is the class for Servis, and is a course and distance winner as well, though obviously the drop from two stakes no shows to a 16k claimer is a bit worrisome. With that being said, Irad sees fit to ride and this is a barn that is doing it’s usual at GP this winter, so I’m going to take him at face value and move on, especially since the alternatives aren’t much, and the other four legs look mighty tough to narrow down.Pk5 A horses: 4As I mentioned, the alternatives seem a mixed bag, and about as tough to trust as the favorite, so I’m going to go it alone. However, if you want some additional coverage—and can afford it—then #6 Tale of Kantharos (6-1), #1 Amelia’s Wild Ride (8-1), #2 Diamond Majesty (10-1), and #5 Black Jet (9-2) would all be upset candidates, should the favorite be damaged goods.Pk5 B horses: NONELeg 3: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:30 ET) – 3up AOC (62k/N2X) at 6.5 furlongsYou have to think the Pletcher duo of #2 PROMO CODE (6-1) and #10 OUTSHINE (9-2) will be ready, even though they enter off extended layoffs, as this is a barn that has been firing at the meet and hits at a big 31% off 180+ day layoffs, so I’m using both on the top line, especially since they have more upside than anyone, and the former is 2-for-2 and the latter was a fringe Triple Crown contender last winter. I’ll also use #7 BENEFACTOR (7-2), who didn’t fire in a claiming crown race here last time, but is right on the line with these with any of his prior three, and Navarro has been on the uptick of late as well.Pk5 A horses: 2,10,7 Servis and Dubb show up with #6 J S BACH (3-1), who would be a big underlay as this ML, but it’s never wise to totally leave these connections out here (or anywhere), so I’ll use this one on the back end, along with #1 MOONEVEREBA (12-1), who didn’t fire at the level at CD but goes off the Kenneally claim, and that’s a big 37% angle, and the fact that Jose Ortiz is here says better might be coming today.Pk5 B horses: 6,1Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R9 (4:49 ET) – 2yof 8k MCL at 5.5 furlongsWe welcome back Golden Gate with a tough 10-pack, in which a lot look the same on paper, which makes things that much more difficult, though I think there are a pair of class droppers that we can focus on. A drop out of the state-bred MSW ranks will help #5 EIGHT O FIVE (7-2), especially since she was a fast 7th in a good race for the level on debut, and there will probably be more than a few who single her here and hope she moves forward. I’ll also use the Southern California speed of #3 LADIES LUV MUNNY (3-1), as she too was facing better at Del Mar for O’Neill and now goes to local ae Wong, who is 28% with his newcomers, and the fact he tabs Gonzalez to ride also adds to the appeal, as they are 6-for-15 together.Pk5 A horses: 5,3The problem with backups here is that the rest all look the same, which means you could use several, and that’s not too conducive to playing on a budget. So, I’ll just use #6 THECHAMPISFLORING (6-1), since she drops slightly in class and now starts for Calvario, who is 13% with newcomers, which is significant, as she was with a 4-for-65 Rivera barn in her first four starts. If you’re looking for more, then #9 Understated Beauty (8-1), #2 Spicy Perfection (8-1), and #10 Tequila Y Miel (15-1) all have moderate appeal.Pk5 B horses: 6Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3up 20k MCL at 1-mile (turf)The finale presents quite a conundrum, as #3 DONEGAL AES (9-5) wins this by 7 if he runs back to the big 2nd for 50k two-back at Belmont, but he also enters after being eased in an Aqueduct MSW and now is in for 20k, so there are clearly some warning signs. I’ll use him, but I’m also not bold enough to single him either. Adding further confusion, the second choice, #4 PREACHER MARSEE (7-2), hasn’t started since running last-of-9 in a Saratoga MSW on the dirt in August of 2018, but it is Maker (16% off this long layoff) and Irad, so you have to think this one is live. It’s obvious neither of these are trustworthy, so I’ll also use #7 TRUMP’S KITTEN (20-1), who made his first start on turf for Perez last time and was a solid 4th in a very fast race for the level, and this one has some tactical speed to sit out a trip as well.Pk5 A horses: 3,7,4After the top trio anything goes, so you could fill this space with several, but I’ll keep things on a limited budget and use just #6 ROYAL FAMILY (8-1), since he has some decent form and still has a bit of upside after seven starts. With better posts I’d be a bit more interested in #9 Sweet Giant (12-1), #10 Fine Spirit (8-1), and #11 Perfect Enough (10-1), but these outside draws are tough going this trip, and with a stiff favorite and enough coverage behind him, I’ll make them beat me.Pk5 B horses: 6The tickets:Main Ticket: 2,1,7,8 with 4 with 2,10,7 with 5,3 with 3,7,4 = $72Leg 1 B Backup: 4,5 with 4 with 2,10,7 with 5,3 with 3,7,4 = $36Leg 3 B Backup: 2,1,7,8 with 4 with 6,1 with 5,3 with 3,7,4 = $48Leg 4 B Backup: 2,1,7,8 with 4 with 2,10,7 with 6 with 3,7,4 = $36Leg 5 B Backup: 2,1,7,8 with 4 with 2,10,7 with 5,3 with 6 = $24

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12.26.2019:

Santa Anita Opening Day Stakes Selections

Opening day at Santa Anita each winter traditionally has been Dec. 26, the day after Christmas. But due to anticipated inclement weather, the opener was postponed to this Saturday, Dec. 28.A blockbuster 11-race card highlighted by a trio of Grade I events -- the Malibu Stakes, La Brea Stakes and American Oaks -- will kick off Saturday’s Thoroughbred action at the picturesque venue located at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains.Omaha Beach, who indicated to railbirds that he is on his toes by zipping three furlongs in a bullet :34.00 workout last Sunday at Santa Anita, heads a field of five 3-year-olds entered in the seven-furlong Malibu. The Kentucky-bred War Front colt will be making his first start since finishing second behind Spun to Run in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.Spun to Run subsequently finished second to Maximum Security in the Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Dec. 7.Trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach is a two-time Grade I winner this year. He took the Grade I Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park last April 13 and the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 5.Omaha Beach was the morning-line favorite for the Grade I Kentucky Derby on May 4, but he was forced to miss that race because of an entrapped epiglottis, an issue that required surgery.After the Malibu, Omaha Beach is slated to make the final start of his career in Gulfstream Park’s Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt Jan. 25. He then is to embark on his stud career at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.The Pegasus in 2020 will be contested for the fourth time. Its previous winners were Arrogate (2017), Gun Runner (2018) and City of Light (2019).Bellafina tops a field of nine 3-year-old fillies in Saturday’s seven-furlong La Brea. Trained by Simon Callaghan, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Quality Road is making her first start since she ran second to the speedy Covfefe in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. That’s been Bellafina’s only loss in five starts on Santa Anita’s main track.Below are my selections for all seven stakes races on Santa Anita’s opening-day card:Lady of Shamrock Stakes (Race 2). 1. Keeper Ofthestars, 2. Brill, 3. Lucky Peridot, 4. Mischiffie.Grade II San Antonio Stakes (Race 5). 1. Gift Box, 2. Midcourt, 3. Gray Magician, 4. Draft Pick.Grade I American Oaks (Race 6). 1. Lady Prancealot, 2. Giza Goddess, 3. Vibrance, 4. Mucho Unusual.Grade I La Brea Stakes (Race 7). 1. Bellafina, 2. Bell’s the One, 3. First Star, 4. Hard Not to Love.Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes (Race 8). 1. Mirth, 2. Excellent Sunset, 3. Don’t Blame Judy, 4. Streak of Luck.Grade I Malibu Stakes (Race 9). 1. Omaha Beach, 2. Complexity, 3. Roadster, 4. Manny Wah.Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile (Race 10). 1. Mo Forza, 2. Neptune’s Tune, 3. Kingly, 4. Bob and Jackie.THREE SANTA ANITA GRADE I RACES DOWNGRADEDLet me begin by saying that in the vast majority of cases, I believe the American Graded Stakes Committee (AGSC) of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) does a fine job in terms of grading stakes races. But from time to time, I think they blow it.Toward the end of what unquestionably has been the most tumultuous year in the history of Santa Anita, the historic Southern California track recently received bad news regarding three of its Grade I races.The AGSC recently announced that it has downgraded three of Santa Anita’s Grade I races to Grade II status for 2020.The only other Grade I race downgraded to Grade II in 2020 is Belmont Park’s Vosburgh Stakes.The three Grade I Santa Anita stakes that now will be a Grade II are the Chandelier Stakes, Santa Anita Oaks and Santa Anita Sprint Championship.In my opinion, downgrading all three of these Santa Anita races is out of line.I am not saying this because all three races are at Santa Anita or all three are in California. In the past, I sometimes have been critical when races in New York, Kentucky and Arkansas have been downgraded.The AGSC has upgraded Santa Anita’s Grade III Joe Hernandez to Grade II status in 2020. I don’t especially agree with that. I honestly think it would have been just fine for that race to remain a Grade III.Let’s look at it another way. Should the Chandelier Stakes, Santa Anita Oaks, Santa Anita Sprint Championship and Joe Hernandez all have the same Grade II ranking? I think not.When the AGSC downgraded Santa Anita’s Las Virgenes Stakes from a Grade I to a Grade II, the move received no complaint from me. Even though the Las Virgenes has a glittering list of past winners, I felt downgrading it to a Grade II was not off base because it is, after all, a prep race for the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, which in turn is a prep race for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks.I once blasted the AGSC for downgrading Saratoga’s Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds to a Grade II. That mistake, as I saw it, lasted just one year before the Hopeful was restored to a Grade I.For years on HRTV and in print, I strongly criticized the AGSC for the Arkansas Derby’s Grade II status. After several years, the Arkansas Derby finally properly received its Grade I ranking, which it has retained ever since.But downgrading the Santa Anita Oaks to a Grade II? I’m sorry. I just don’t agree with that. As TVG senior producer Becky Witzman tweeted: “Is anyone else baffled by the Santa Anita Oaks being downgraded to a G2?” She noted in her tweet that the last four winners have been Bellafina, Midnight Bisou, Paradise Woods and Songbird.Keeneland’s Ashland Stakes, which also is a prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, is a Grade I. Why is that? Is it because the Ashland has had more starters than the Santa Anita Oaks? Just because the Ashland has had more starters has that made it a better race than the Santa Anita Oaks? Is a Grade I race with a big field of mostly overmatched runners really better than a Grade I race with a small field when the small field is won by the likes of Bellafina, Midnight Bisou, Paradise Woods and Songbird?The Chandelier is Santa Anita’s prep race for the Grade I BC Juvenile Fillies. The Grade I American Pharoah is Santa Anita’s prep race for the Grade I BC Juvenile. The American Pharoah has retained its Grade I status. Has the American Pharoah been that much better in recent years than the Chandelier vis-a-vis the Breeders’ Cup? I don’t think so.As for the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, it has produced the Grade I BC Sprint winner in two of the last three years. The Santa Anita Sprint Championship was won by Roy H in both 2017 and 2018 prior to his back-to-back BC Sprint victories.Omaha Beach won the 2019 Santa Anita Sprint Championship before finishing second in the Grade I BC Dirt Mile.While on the subject of grading stakes races, I must say that it also did not sit well with me when the AGSC in 2017 downgraded both New York’s Wood Memorial and Kentucky’s Blue Grass to Grade II status.There are six Kentucky Derby prep races in this country that I believe should all should be treated the same. The six races are the Arkansas Derby, Blue Grass, Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial. These are the six most important prep races in this country for the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs, I think appropriately, treats these six races identically in terms of its Kentucky Derby points system.Look, a big problem with whatever the AGSC does is it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. For example, a long time ago, the AGSC upgraded Santa Anita’s Santa Monica Handicap to Grade I status when I did not believe it deserved it. But after the AGSC made the Santa Monica a Grade I, it then started attracting better fields. In other words, the move by the AGSC to upgrade the Santa Monica to a Grade I essentially turned it into a Grade I race for many years.After the AGSC downgraded the Wood and Blue Grass to Grade II status, it became a distinct possibility, if not probability, that both races would be weaker going forward. That’s because some people understandably shy away from those Grade II races and opt instead for the Grade I Florida Derby, Grade I Santa Anita Derby or Grade I Arkansas Derby. And the reality is that makes it difficult for the Grade II Wood and Grade II Blue Grass to now attract good enough fields to ever regain their Grade I ranking.The AGSC wields considerable power. I know they use stats and formulas as part of their decision-making process. I just wish the AGSC sometimes would do better at also using common sense, something I implored them to do for all those years they inadvisably kept the Arkansas Derby as a Grade II before finally seeing the light.

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12.24.2019:

Santa Anita Opens Saturday; My Late Pick 4 Ticket

You’ve probably heard by now but Santa Anita isn’t opening December 26.  There’s rain in the forecast for South California – quite a bit of rain it seems – and I applaud the early decision to postpone Opening Day to Saturday.  While it flies in the face of tradition (Santa Anita Opening December 26 is as popular in circles as the chubby guy in the red suit visiting houses on December 25), it’s the right call to hit ‘pause’ for two days.  From a handicapping perspective, postponing Opening Day should allow the turf races to stay on the grass and for the dirt races to be contested over a fast track.  Plus, it combines those races with an already loaded Saturday card to offer a day of racing that includes seven stakes races, six of which are graded.  Here’s that list, along with key contenders in each:Race 2 (2:30PM ET): Lady of Shamrock S. – Brill, Sold It, Keeper Ofthe StarsRace 5 (4:00PM ET): San Antonio S. (G2) – Gift Box, Midcourt, Gray MagicianRace 6 (4:30PM ET): American Oaks (G1) – Lady Prancealot, Apache PrincessRace 7 (5:00PM ET): La Brea S. (G1) – Bellafina, Mother Mother, First StarRace 8 (5:30PM ET): Robert J. Frankel S. (G3) – Mirth, Excellent SunsetRace 9 (6:00PM ET): Malibu S. (G1) – Omaha Beach, Compexity, RoadsterRace 10 (6:30PM ET): Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) – Mo Forza, Kingly, Neptune’s StormAt Xpressbet, we’re giving away 2 Million XB Rewards Points on Opening Day.  Hit the Early Pick 5 (Races 1 – 5) to Split 1 Million Points and the Late Pick 4 (Races 8 – 11) to Split a ‘Mil.  Plus, we’re offering the Santa Anita Opening Day Challenge handicapping tournament online.  Put up the $1,500 Buy-In and you could win NHC Seats, PWCBC Seats and big cash prizes.I took a look at the Late Pick 4.  Here’s my ticket: Race 8 – Robert J. Frankel Stakes (G3)I was a big backer of MIRTH (D’Amato/Smith) two starts ago in the G1 Rodeo Drive as she was lone-speed against a mediocre field.  They attempted to parlay that victory into a G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf score and she finished a respectable 6th that day behind the likes of Iridessa, Sistercharlie, Vasilika and others.  Not too shabby, but she’s going to be overbet here.  HARMLESS (Hess/Cedillo) should keep her comfortable up front.  Problem is, who else is there?  EXCELLENT SUNSET (Baltas/Rosario) makes her first start off the trainer change and has been knocking on the door lately.  TINY TINA (D’Amato/Prat) could be worth a longshot look.  She reunites with Flavien Prat and is a winner going this distance on this course.Race 9 – Runhappy Malibu Stakes (G1)A nice field is assembled for the G1 Malibu Stakes but with just five horses and a powerhouse performer like OMAHA BEACH (Mandella/Smith) in the fray, bettors are challenged to decide whether or not he’s worth trying to beat.  His rivals include three Bob Baffert trainees – ROADSTER (Rosario), MANNY WAH (Hill) and MUCH BETTER (Prat) and a Chad Brown shipper, COMPLEXITY (Castellano).  Of the Baffert’s, the only worry to Omaha Beach seems to be Roadster while Complexity is 3-for-4 sprinting in New York.  All of that said, Omaha Beach is a single on my ticket because if he brings his A-game, they’ll all be chasing him to the wire.Race 10 – Mathis Brothers Mile (G2)As recently as September, MO FORZA (Miller/Rosario) was an 0-for-5 maiden with no apparent interest in winning races.  Since then, he’s won three races in a row – including a G1 and a G2 – and is arguably the top three-year-old turf horse in California.  He’s nearly beat all of his rivals in here already, but the presence of a few outside-drawn ‘new shooters’ (Loafers Boy and Bob and Jackie) could heat up the front end.  In the event that the pace comes back to the field, I’m going to use ORIGINAIRE (Mullins/Rispoli) and OCEAN FURY (O’Neill/Prat), along with Mo Forza.Race 11 – Maiden ClaimingThe ‘get out’ leg is a difficult state-bred maiden claiming event and I’m going to use a few of these to get through.  Here are my horses with some quick rationale.  INCLUDE THE TAX (McCarthy/Rosario) gets Joel Rosario and this is the first time he’ll run two races in a row without a layoff line.  CHAMPS SUCCESS (Bonde/Cedillo) was well-backed in his debut but failed to fire.  A similar comment is true for TIGER THE MAN (Koriner/Blanc).  PAPA TONY (Papaprodromou/Pereira) could be the fastest of these early while JUNGLE BOY (Miyadi/Velaz) is a firster for a solid barn and TOTALLY TIGER (Lerner/Figueroa) drops in from facing MSW horses and stakes horses in each of five previous starts.  My TicketRace 8: #1 Tiny Tina, #2 Excellent Sunset, #7 MirthRace 9: #5 Omaha BeachRace 10: #2 Originaire, #3 Ocean Fury, #5 Mo ForzaRace 11: #2 Include the Tax, #3 Champs Success, #5 Tiger the Man, #8 Papa Tony, #9 Jungle Boy, #11 Totally TigerTicket Cost: $27 for 50-cents

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12.23.2019:

Horseplayers Must Differentiate Info & Knowledge

Information is not knowledge. That’s not me blathering; it’s Albert Einstein. We can debate which one of us has better hair, but it’s clear he’s the smarter one.The thirst for data and facts in today’s society grows increasingly as readers’ desire to actually put in real time wanes. I cast no stone without admitting that I’ve also fallen victim. About a decade or so ago, I had a conversation with Kenny Mayne about his disdain for the new ticker at the bottom of ESPN’s flagship program SportsCenter. He reasoned that no one would watch the 60-minute show any longer when they can get all the news they needed in the first 4 or 5 headline flips at the bottom of the screen.Imagine that: A legendary television show designed exclusively to compress the entire country’s sports stories into an hour could be snubbed out by a couple of graphics. That was then. Now it’s even more so. Twitter and Facebook have eliminated the need for most all information or traditional media outlets for a large portion of the society. I read Twitter for the headlines and news, and try to stay out of the social aspects of social media. But even by doing just that, I’m fooling myself into thinking that I’m kept up to speed. Remember, Einstein: Information, in any amount of volume or frequency, still isn’t knowledge.All of the efficiency apps, websites and programs are made to help us process information quicker. That may seem like a good thing for a horseplayer, where time ticks down to post time in an unforgiving manner (well, maybe not quite as quickly at Gulfstream …). But I’m concerned that even a seasoned handicapper and horseplayer like me – who has been at this for almost 40 years – has fallen victim to the falsehood that efficiency of information brings actual knowledge.Information on its face, without context, does not paint much of a picture. And, yet, we’ve accepted it in a Wikipedia world. Trainer stats are bet blindly. Someone claims a dead rail and the lemmings jump in line. Speed figure makers are more concerned with how their list of numbers look in succession in a running line, so much that so they’re creating today’s figures based on prior figures so not to blare outliers for all to see. All of these things need context and discernible study; but that’s largely absent in the haste to get to the next race or next wager.Knowledge, Einstein reasoned, comes only with experience. That’s a tough sell today. We want what we want, and we want it now. Technology will drive us faster and faster, and a service economy will find endless entrepreneurs creating products that help do the work for you. Again, I cast no stone without admitting I’ve been a part of both sides of that as an entrepreneur and a consumer. I just wonder aloud here if that’s been as helpful as once thought. But you have to produce what the public wants.Sometimes, though, we need to hear what we don’t want to hear. Maybe there really are no shortcuts to success. This does not mean that bits of information and processes that expedite the flow of information do not have any merit. They do. But they need to be part of a bigger process, one nurtured in experience and continued observation, and not used as a substitute for true crafting of a trade. Not everyone who plays the horses wants to craft a trade or detailed hobby, of course. So there’s an audience for short-cuts outside of this teachable moment to also recognize.Despite all the bells and whistles that modern technology brings, the best way to become a better horseplayer and handicapper has not changed. You must watch a lot of racing and handicap a lot of races, observing and noting everything that you can. I used to say that handicapping the horses is the greatest game of “Concentration” ever created. If you’re not familiar with the childhood board game, it’s where you see something and have to remember where you saw it when it’s your turn. Can you make observations, file them, and recount/reproduce them? That comes with experience.The only source of knowledge, Einstein said, is experience. He’s probably a smart enough cookie that we ought to still heed his advice – even if he never reached the number of Twitter followers as Katy Perry.

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12.23.2019:

Monday, December 23: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

There is a pre-holiday 10-race card set to go at Pompano Park this evening. The 0.50 Pick 4 starts in Race 6 and it has a $10,000 guaranteed pool. The sequence has an industry low 12% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 62-Jazzy Image (3-1)-Drops to a spot to shine after doing respectable work versus Open I company. Looks to have a big shot at this class with an inside post.6-Galarina (8-1)-Hennessey may leave with #5 the ML chalk and that could lead to a lively pace. A win at this level would be no surprise. With fast fractions and good cover, it could happen at a price.Race 71-Gold Star Mysti (5-1)-Versatile mare is in good form and fits well versus this crew. Looks like a player and could be a square price.5-Persistent Bettor (9/5)-10-time winner is always in the hunt at this level. Gets a very good post and figures to be a major player and should be bet hard again.6-Cult Icon (5-1)-Small track specialist has been off since 11/23 but qualifier was very good. Stohler barn has been rolling, so best to not overlook.Race 82-Quick Art (9/2)-Impressive win at 5/8's of a mile on the engine after a sick scratch. May look to take control again and could work a slower quarter into another gutsy win at the longer distance.3-Rockin Away (9/2)-Runner-up as an even money chalk in the shorter distance leg last week. Could get a 2-hole trip behind #2 and turn the tables.5-Ideal Candidate (9/2)-The Candidate seems to carry his speed down the lane better than many of these and the added distance could be a plus.Race 91-Ru Ready To Rock (2-1)-Will include because if old timer is going to win it's probably in a spot like this. But is 0-7 at the Pomp and offers no value with Hennessey from the rail.3-IRA Chief (4-1)-Makes 2nd start for new barn and expecting more tonight in a regular distance race. Draws well and should like the company.4-Team Captain (9/2)-This guy has had excuses since coming to south Florida but shouldn't have any this time. Simons can get a close-up seat and a nice trip, so it could be picture time.My Ticket Race 6) 2,6 Race 7) 1,5,6 Race 8) 2,3,5 Race 9) 1,3,4Total Ticket Cost) $27 for $0.50Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.22.2019:

Sunday, December 22: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight, the Pick 4 at Pompano Park has a $20,000 guaranteed pool. The sequence begins in Race 5, it has a 12% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 54-Jins Shark (3-1)-Seems to be getting acclimated to PPk and steps-up off a wire to wire win. Has the gate speed to be forwardly placed and could duck into the pocket behind #5 and look to trip out.5-Harry Terror (2-1)-Hennessey's choice also moves up off a win and will be looking to get the top. Winner of 8 of 30 starts at PPk is a major player.7-Doo Wop Hanover (8-1)-This race could set-up nicely for a closer and the Blood barn has been doing well. Driver Dave Ingraham is recovering from last week's accident, so the new pilot needs to work a trip.Race 63-Ben N Crosby (7-1)-Drops, gets a positive driver change and makes 4th start since being claimed. Price shot should be forwardly placed and could benefit from a jewel of a trip.4-Skyful Of Lighters (5/2)-Here's the key to the race. Ingraham is off his drives, so it depends if new pilot wants the top, or pushes #9 and then takes the 2-hole. Classy, looks like a player either way and could help determine the pace.7-Late Night Joke (10-1)-Knows how to win but usually floats off the gate so will need the right set-up. If #9 is used hard to get on the engine and keeps a sizzling pace, Simons could be rolling off cover at a nice price.9-Mcjagersonthemove (9/5)-No doubt will be gunning for the top and should get it. What remains to be seen is if Hennessey can slow down the pace, if so here is the likely winner. My view is #4 won't make it that easy.Race 71-American Chrome (5/2)-Parlayed a good trip into a win last week. Faces similar, beat 4 from this field, and could get a similar trip tonight.2-Warr-N-Mum (6-1)-Has 3 second place finishes in 6 starts at the Pomp and could make the most out of this post draw. Has been trying hard and barn has been rolling the past 30 days.5-LA Rockin Simpson (4-1)-Comes off a sick scratch and that is a concern. Looks like a player as long as missing a start isn't a problem. Gets a very good post and Plano can work a trip from here.Race 82-Sporty Redhot (3/2)-Comes off a nice win in the slop and will look to control this race as well. Offers no value but likes the track, fits and from this post is a threat to repeat.6-Legal Power (5/2)-Since arriving in south Florida breaking issues have hurt chances, but last outing was a much better effort versus a tough winner. Seems to have been handled cautiously in most starts. But last week could be a tell, the wrapper may come off tonight and could be best of all.My Ticket Race 5) 4,5,7 Race 6) 3,4,7,9 Race 7) 1,2,5 Race 8) 2,6Total Ticket Cost) $36 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.21.2019:

Santa, Beat the Host Nearly Here

Don’t look now, but Christmas is just five days away; the New Year only 12 and the first of nine Beat the Host competitions merely 15 sleeps from lift-off! That’s right, only 15 days until Saturday, Jan. 4, when horseplayers will attempt to strike out leadoff-hitter Jeremy Plonk in Xpressbet’s popular and profitable $50,000 Beat the Host.Beat the Host has three ways for players to win, but first players must register free for the competition at Xpressbet. That means you’ll have action each and every Saturday in January and February. Play as often or as little as you like. Of course, the more often you play, the better your chances of winning. Duh!The object of Beat the Host, naturally, is to beat the host. Competitors must make single, ‘live’ $5 win wagers on one horse in each of 10 races. If your total exceeds the host’s, you qualify for a seat in the Beat the Host Championship and a shot at $10,000 in prizes. Also, the top 30 finishers in the Championship Round each earn a seat in the $30,000 Xpressbet Showdown—a $200 value each.The second way to win is to outscore fellow players weekly. That aspect of the competition boasts a hefty $2,000 in weekly prizes to the top three players: $1,000 to first, $750 to second and $250 to third. That’s not too shabby and an attractive way to spend a winter afternoon.The third way to cash is new this year. Xpressbet has added a seasonal component to the Beat the Host competition that will reward outstanding play throughout the entire nine-week season. A juicy $10,000 in prizes is available to top players based on cumulative earnings over the entire season. That means you could fail to win a single weekly prize and still come away with a decent chunk of change by finishing first ($5,000), second ($2,500), third ($1,500) or fourth ($1,000) in the seasonal earnings race. Cumulative awards are another great reason to play Beat the Host each Saturday.This year’s roster of Beat the Host pros features a collection of handicapping stars from Xpressbet, Santa Anita, Gulfstream, XBTV and NBC Sports:Jan. 4 Jeremy PlonkJan. 11 Millie BallJan. 18 Jon WhiteJan. 25 Jeff SiegelFeb. 1 Steve BykFeb. 8 Ron NicolettiFeb. 15 Tom QuigleyFeb. 22 Acacia CourtneyFeb. 29 Eddie OlcyzkSee any weak links? Didn’t think so. See anyone you’re particularly afraid of? Didn’t think so. Admit it, they’re good, but not unbeatable. Pick a single spot or take a shot each week. You’re bound to catch one of them on an ‘off’ day, opening the door to your seat in the Championship Round.One fantastic aspect of Beat the Host is that since contest wagers are ‘live’ players can make money each week even without winning a prize. Pick a couple of nice-priced winners along the way and your bankroll will be ‘in the black’ for the afternoon!Beat the Host players have an advantage because hosts must post selections each Friday evening, before late scratches, final track conditions or developing track biases are known. Also, understanding the ‘horse to beat’ in each race beforehand permits players to take direct aim.Usually, Beat the Host competition races will be split--half from Gulfstream and half from Santa Anita--with a mid-afternoon contest start time. This winter, chances are you’ll be playing one or both of those tracks anyway, so why not give Beat the Host a try? Weekly mandatory competition races will be posted along with host selections on the web site each Friday evening.Horseplayers today are alert for ‘value’ and Beat the Host is one of the most generous contests in the universe. Beat the Host boasts zero takeout, rake or skim! That’s because Xpressbet dishes out all the prize money and invites account holders to help themselves to slices of a delicious pie. It’s our way of saying ‘Thanks for playing with Xpressbet!’These days, there are many tournaments for players to choose from and Xpressbet offers several additional fantastic online opportunities, some in conjunction with Santa Anita Park, that often are ‘live’ money events with big purses that often include qualifying seats to the rich Pegasus competition at Gulfstream Park or to the popular Breeders Cup Betting Challenge--both of which also are available on Xpressbet.While outstanding opportunities, some of those ‘live money’ tournaments can be a bit pricey for most players and intimidating to inexperienced tournament participants. Beat the Host erases those barriers to entry because it’s affordable, simple and serves as an appropriate entry-level contest experience.All things considered, there’s next-to-zero reason you shouldn’t play Xpressbet’s $50,000 Beat the Host tournament, beginning Saturday, Jan. 4 and available each Saturday in January and February. See you then!Happy Holidays!Thanks for reading my weekly scribblings in this space. And thanks to everyone for the kind (and unkind) messages throughout the year. Even if we disagree on a topic it’s nice to hear from you. Really. However, the kind comments are far more enjoyable.In a message from everyone at Xpressbet, thanks for playing with us. We know when it comes to Advance Deposit Wagering you have many choices. We’re glad you choose to play with us. We’ll do everything possible to make your wagering experiences as enjoyable and profitable as they can be. We wish you and your families a very Merry Holiday Season and look forward to welcoming you back for a healthy and prosperous New Year!Race On!

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12.21.2019:

Saturday, December 21: Mohawk Park Jackpot Hi-5 Analysis

The finale at Woodbine Mohawk Park will attract a great deal of attention as it is mandatory payout time for the 0.20 Jackpot Hi-5. The carryover is a hefty $180,992.59 and Race 11 is schedule to go to off at approximately 10:30 EST.Comments below are based on a fast track.Race 111-Regal Son (2-1)-Does take a substantial drop in class and figures to be on the Hi-5 ticket. This is probably not the best post draw for the 8-year-old but at this class he could get a 2-hole ride behind #5.2-Sossys King Kong (6-1)-Simply doesn't like to win and the 1-64 record over the past 2 years supports my point. But best to not dismiss chances to hit the bottom of the Hi-5. Drops to a level where show money is a possibility.3-Croft Bay In (10-1)-Nice try in last start in an added distance race but is another who is camera shy going 1-36 this year. Hensley trainee likes to follow and will need to be close to the pack to get into the top five, but it can happen.4-Atlantis (15-1)-3-year-old taking on older and doesn't like to pass foes in the lane. Recent form is flat and looks like an outsider.5-The Rev (12-1)-There's not much gate speed in this race and from this post McNair will likely blast out. Not sure how likely a win is but McNair will look to steal a quarter and could add some juice to the Jackpot payout.6-Euchred (12-1)-Makes 3rd start for new barn and will need a trip. Jamieson returns, he might be able to work a good steer and be in the hunt. Has one win in six starts at Wbsb and maybe an aggressive try is in the cards at a price.7-Beach Pro (20-1)-Hasn't raced since 10-24 and makes first start for new barn. Longshot could cash a small check if everything fell into place but doesn't look as good as others.8-Weatherly (15-1)-Passed a few down the lane in an added distance race but wasn't the only one to do so and now loses McClure. Hard to expect much from this spot.9-Play Jet Ray (8-1)-First start for a smaller barn who is doing well recently. Barn had a first time starter win on Thursday. McClure sticks after a poor finish as an odds-on favorite in last. Was used hard to get the top in .55 half, thinking a different script will be followed tonight. Post makes it tougher but looks like a use in the Hi-5.10-Indigo Art (15-1)-Doesn't look like much form wise and this post could be a killer. This guy seldom passes foes down the lane and won't get onto the Hi-5 ticket unless he picks off a few in the late going.11-Bit Of Luck (5/2)-Drops to a spot shine and would be a heavy ML chalk from a decent post. Does figure to have a good shot at a Hi-5 finish but winning is another story from this starting slot. Connections are top notch but will look to others to take first prize.Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.20.2019:

Friday, December 20: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

The Meadowlands has a big 14-race card set to go this evening with the feature coming in Race 10, a Preferred Trot with a $20,000 purse. My focus will be on the 0.50 Pick 4 which begins in Race 8 and has a $50,000 guaranteed pool.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 81-Ilana Z Tam (10-1)-Loses McCarthy but Lachance trains and can drive. Comes off a win and from this post is worth a swing. Could hang around and parlay a good trip into a win.5-Kotare Yarra N (7/2)-This mare likes to win and should like the company. This is a difficult race to figure but has the speed to be a factor.8-Dongal Rundlscrk N (12-1)-Drops in 3rd start off the bench and is worth a swing at this price. Callahan needs to work a good trip but top money earner this year could surprise.9-Jewel Lehigh A (8-1)-Has been on the shelf since 5-24 and has had issues this year. Qualifier was okay and McCarthy chooses over #1. Could be a contender if fires hot off the bench and gets a good trip.Race 92-Big Bill Freeze (9/2)-There are reasons to pass but there are more reasons to use versus this crew. Comes off a win, fits well here, McCarthy steers and could get an up-front seat. 0-13 at the Big M but could be a square price.7-For A Dreamer (7/2)-Risky play because of breaking issues but lukewarm program chalk should be in the hunt if minds manners. If ready to roll can leave faster than those starting outside.Race 102-Rich And Miserable (9/2)-Comes off a nice effort from the 9-hole and is no stranger to this class. The post draw doesn't hurt chances for a picture.8-Melady's Monet (7/2)-Comes off a pair of 2nd place finishes and one was from the 8-hole. Post is an issue because of slugish starts, but best to not overlook.10-Southwind Chrome (3-1)-The 10-hole is a bear but will use after the last 2 sharp wins. Dunn sticks and he will need to provide a smooth journey for the 10-time winner in '19.Race 111-Skyway Kon Man (3-1)-Camera shy but appears to have a big chance to be posing tonight. Draws the rail, that may help Dunn to be close at the top of the lane. Other races at the Big M were good and has that edge over others.3-Foreverhillreign (9/2)-Muscle Hill colt has been competitive in Philly and likes the lead. Could get the top, question is will the long stretch be his undoing. McCarthy helps and so does the post draw.My Ticket Race 8) 1,5,8,9 Race 9) 2,7 Race 10) 2,8,10 Race 11) 1,3Total Ticket Cost) $24 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.20.2019:

X Y Jet, Imperial Hint Clash at Gulfstream; My Pick 4 Ticket

A couple of true warriors get together Saturday at Gulfstream Park for the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector, and leaning one way over the other isn’t so easy. So, in the third leg of the late Pick 4, it might be wise to take both.The venerable X Y Jet and the highly accomplished Imperial Hint are among those set for the Mr. Prospector, which will be a big test for each of them since it’s at seven furlongs. These two are fantastic at six- and 6.5 furlongs and going seven make it just that much more exciting.Imperial Hint, because of his New York prowess, is the even-money morning-line favorite, and X Y Jet is 7-5, probably due to the fact he hasn’t raced since his win the Dubai Golden Shaheen. Imperial Hint ran third behind X Y Jet in that one. X Y Jet is a seven-time winner over the Gulfstream strip and Imperial Hint won his only attempt over the Hallandale track.These two have been sprint superstars for quite a while, and their bankrolls are spectacular for what they do. X Y Jet is 12 of 25 for $3 million in earnings and has overcome many physical roadblocks. He’s only putting in three or four starts per year and has made the most of his appearances. Imperial Hint has won 14 of 23 for just short of $2.2 million.The Pick 4 this week take a 5x4x2x2 approach for $40. The first two races are the most difficult, as five in the first leg and four in the second leg necessitate paring down in the last two. Imperial Hint and X Y Jet make it easy in the third leg, while Bacana and Mystery Bank are the selections in the finale. The eighth race is wide open and Assertio, Rebelde, Uncaptured King, Kozy Kat and D’archer are worthy for the ticket, and the ninth is about as tough with Volubile, Valdolobo, Sir Seamus and Justcallmenorman selected.My Suggested Late Pick 4 TicketRace 8: #2 Assertiko, #5 Rebelde, #7 Uncaptured King, #8 Kozy Kat, #9 D’archerRace 9: #2 Volubile, #4 Valdolobo, #5 Sir Seamus, #6 JustcallmenormanRace 10: #2 Imperial Hint, #3 X Y JetRace 11: #4 Bacano, #9 Mystery Bank50-cent Pick 4 ticket: 2-5-7-8-9 with 2-4-5-6 with 2-3 with 4-9 ($40)

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12.19.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: December 20 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle in this week’s Stronach 5, which once again has a 100k guarantee. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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.*** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. ***Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:52 ET) – 3up AOC (35k/N2X) at 7 furlongsWe’re going to start off what will be a very funky sequence of tickets, which will take shape in the next leg at Gulfstream, with a trio on the top line here. I’ll tab #1 WORKING ON A DREAM (6-1) with top billing for an Abbott barn I have a lot of respect for, especially since there’s plenty of tactical speed here, and if you toss the slop run last time, the prior two runs at Laurel put him right in the mix here. There’s little doubt the “now” horse is #8 FACTOR IT IN (3-1), who was scratched last week in the slop and enters off the Mancilla claim (17%), with a big bullet in the holster off a romp last time against slightly lesser. I’ll also use #5 HANALEI’S HOUDINI (5-2) on the stakes drop, as his last pair work here, though he’s also an underlay at this ML.Pk5 A horses: 1,8,5 (listed in order of preference)I’ll have just one B, #4 SMART STEP (8-1), who dueled on the lead last time but should trip out a bit better here, as there’s not as much speed here, and he isn’t far off these on paper either. I suspect that #7 Fort Fortitude (9-2) will get some play, as will #2 Cerulean Springs (8-1), and #10 Chargin Storm (10-1), but the former just looks off form and the latter pair have no speed and have lost 17 in a row combined, so they all can beat me.Pk5 B horses: 4Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R8 (4:00 ET) – 3up SOC (25k/16k) at 1-mile (turf)Here’s where things get a little tricky—and odd—as I’ve got one A and a slew of B’s, so we’ll have to get a bit creative with the tickets. I think #4 ALIEN INVASION (9-2) will be tough here, as he drops in class is tactical, drew perfectly, and has Irad, while also meeting a mixed bag, so he will go it alone on the top line.Pk5 A horses: 4However, should ‘Invasion not get the job done, you could make a case for literally the entire rest of the field, which is why this is such a tough race, and one that requires a bit of handicapping imagination to come up with some backup Stronach 5 tickets that won’t cost a mortgage payment (see below). The backups are as follows: #7 FACE OF VICTORY (4-1), #1 GINS AND TINS (15-1), #6 CASH CALL KITTEN (7-2), #12 TROPICAT (6-1), #11 DONJI (10-1), #9 CAUSE FOR PARDON (6-1), #8 EPIC (20-1), and #10 PADDY O’DINI (15-1).As you can see, there are eight horses there, and adding eight horses in with all the other A’s would cost way, way too much, so here’s where the creativity comes into play. We’ll have to narrow down the A’s in the other four legs to what I call “super-A’s,” which simply means the best of the best. This is a good handicapping exercise in general because the ABC method has a big flaw, in that you spend way, way too much money on your C’s, if you use them equally with all your A’s. At the risk of getting too far off topic for this particular exercise, a C should be the type of horse that might win once every two weeks. So, why would you want to use that horse equally with all you’re A’s? It’s just not cost effective and makes you spend way too much money on tickets that have little hope. And that’s where the super-A’s come into play; you simply take your top A, or possibly top two or three A’s, depending on how many you have in a race, and use them with the C’s, to keep things at a minimum, while still giving you some margin for error if your top of the tops come in.And now, back to this sequence, here are the super A’s in the surrounding four legs:Leg 1: 1,8,5Leg 3: 1Leg 4: 6Leg 5: 10,3,4Pk5 B horses: 7,1,6,12,11,9,8,10Leg 3: Laurel Park R9 (4:22 ET) – 3up 8k claimer at 5 1/2 furlongsBudget players will probably be singling the Super C Racing entry, as both #1 BIRDIES HONOR (3-1) and ELUSIVE HERO (3-1)—could both win, but I also don’t think they have to, which is why I’ll go a bit deeper. Both #8 MINERS QUEST (4-1) and #6 BUST ANOTHER (9-2) are right there and ran 1-3, respectively, here 11/14, so they are worth inclusion, as is #3 EASY RIVER (7-2), who has a pair of big figures showing, albeit against Maryland breds.Pk5 A horses: 1,8,6,3I probably don’t need any more, but the B ticket won’t cost a ton, so let’s also use #2 THE GREAT PROVIDER (9-2) and #7 WAR STROLL (10-1), as both have the form to win this, though the former won’t get an easy pass on the lead, and the is a turf closer, so they both have their scars too.Pk5 B horses: 2,7Leg 4: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:30 ET) – 2yo AOC (75k/N1X) at 1-mileIf you think you’re getting 5-2 on #6 TOLEDO (5-2) I hate to burst you’re bubble, as he’s probably going to be 4-5, but we know this ridiculously inaccurate morning line movie quite well at GP, so it should be no surprise. As for this Juddmonte homebred for Brown, who a lot of people have in their top-10 in the Derby Futures, he’s a huge player here off that sharp Aqu MSW win last time, though he’s also not the cinch the tote will tell you, as facing winners is never easy. Which is why I’ll also use #7 CHURN N BURN (3-1), who impressed winning in his second start at CD, shows the typical progressive pattern for Wilkes, and should relish the added ground too.Pk5 A horses: 6,7There will be no backups here, as Toledo is a very likely winner and ‘Burn is next up on the totem pole, so I can’t justify using anyone else. If you’re looking for more, then #3 Masterday (4-1) looked good winning on debut at GPW and appears to have some talent, while #5 Liveyourbeastlife (12-1) was caught in the wake of Independence Hall’s seminal performance in the GIII Nashua and will like the class relief.Pk5 B horses: NONELeg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3upfm 20k MCL at 1 1/16 miles (turf)The finale might have a standout, as #10 ROONEY (5-2) is simply better than these, but she drew wide, is 0-for-10, has no upside, and no margin for error, so I’ll use a few more, in the hopes of getting a bit more value. Both #3 FUNNY FEATHER (3-1) and #4 CAVALIAS SOUL (4-1), who were together on the line when 2-3 against lesser last time at GPW, has upside, drew much better, and will be better prices, so I’ll use them as well on top.Pk5 A horses: 10,3,4I’ll somewhat begrudgingly use #9 GOODBITOFBIZNESS (6-1), since that 3rd here last time at the level was solid, but it was also at 64-1 and came from nowhere, and her other runs were dreadful, so she’s likely going to bounce, but since it’s relatively inexpensive to use here, she gets the nod.Pk5 B horses: 9The tickets:Main Ticket: 1,8,5 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $72Leg 1 B Backup: 4 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $24Leg 2 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 7,1,6,12,11,9,8,10 with 1 with 6 with 10,3,4 = $72Leg 3 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 4 with 2,7 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $36Leg 5 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 9 = $24

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12.19.2019:

Shoplifted Wins Final Points Race of 2019

Last Sunday’s Grade III Springboard Mile, which was taken by Shoplifted, wrapped up the 2019 portion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points races. The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a series of 35 races from Sept. 14 this year through April 11 next year. These races award a sliding scale of points to the Top 4 finishers. This system has determined preference for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field since 2013. The 2020 Run for the Roses, which had a $3 million purse this year, will be run for the 146th time at Churchill Downs on May 2. The Springboard Mile was the ninth 2019 race to offer points toward the 2020 Kentucky Derby. Below are the nine winners: Date Winner (Race and Track) 09-14-19 Dennis’ Moment (Iroquois at Churchill Downs)09-27-19 Eight Rings (American Pharoah at Santa Anita)10-05-19 Tiz the Law (Champagne at Belmont Park)10-05-19 Maxfield (Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland)11-01-19 Storm the Court (BC Juvenile at Santa Anita)11-30-19 Silver Prospector (Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill)12-07-19 Shotski (Remsen at Aqueduct)12-07-19 Thousand Words (Los Alamitos Futurity)12-15-19 Shoplifted (Springboard Mile) Below are these same nine winners listed in descending order of the Beyer Speed Figure they each recorded: 91 Thousand Words90 Dennis’ Moment89 Tiz the Law87 Eight Rings87 Storm the Court87 Shoplifted86 Maxfield86 Shotski81 Silver Prospector I think the above Beyer Speed Figures are very interesting in that eight of the nine range from a high of 91 to a low of 86. Put another way, in terms of the first nine races on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby, nobody has been able to separate themselves from the pack. Also, no one has stepped up and posted a Beyer higher than 91. Eight of the nine races run so far on the Road to the Kentucky Derby have been worth 10-4-2-1 points. The BC Juvenile had 20-8-4-2 points up for grabs. Four races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby will be decided during January, each worth 10-4-2-1 points. Those four races are the Jerome at Aqueduct on Jan 1; Grade III Sham at Santa Anita on Jan. 4; Grade III Lecomte at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Jan. 18; and Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 24. FIERCE BATTLE TO THE FINISH Shoplifted moved down the class ladder to run in the Grade III Springboard after having started in three consecutive Grade I races. He finished second in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga in early September, fifth in the Grade I American Pharoah at Santa Anita in late September, then seventh in the Grade I BC Juvenile at Santa Anita in early November. Sixth early in the Springboard Mile, Shoplifted rallied to win by a head in 1:37.95. Ricardo Santana Jr. rode the Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Answer In, the 3-5 favorite, finished second. Embolden ended up third, a half-length behind Answer In. MY ECLIPSE AWARD CHOICES FOR THE DECADE Eclipse Award ballots for 2019 recently were disseminated to voters. With this being 2019, I wondered what I would do if I were asked to fill out an Eclipse Award ballot for this decade. In order to qualify for a category on this hypothetical ballot, a horse or a human must have been an Eclipse Award winner from 2010 through 2018. (The 2019 Eclipse Award winners will be announced early next year and they also will qualify for the mythical Eclipse Award ballot of the decade. I will monitor the 2019 winners to determine if I should make any changes regarding my choices. If I do elect to make any changes, I will pass them along early in 2020.) Again, keep in mind that any Eclipse Award champion from 2010 through 2018 is eligible for the mythical Eclipse Award ballot below. And now, without any further ado, this is how I would fill out my ballot: Two-Year-Old Male: Uncle MoTwo-Year-Old Female: SongbirdThree-Year-Old Male: American PharoahThree-Year-Female: BeholderOlder Dirt Male: Gun RunnerOlder Dirt Female: ZenyattaMale Sprinter: Roy HFemale Sprinter: Groupie DollMale Turf: Wise DanFemale Turf: GoldikovaTrainer: Bob Baffert (two Triple Crowns!)Jockey: Javier CastellanoApprentic Jockey: Drayden Van DykeOwner: Ken and Sarah RamseyBreeder: Ken and Sarah RamseyHorse of the Decade: American Pharoah (ended 37-year Triple Crown drought!) You might disagree with any number of my choices. And it’s perfectly fine if you do. This is just my opinion. There is no right or wrong. TRAINER TROY TAYLOR PASSES AWAY It was with sadness that I found out trainer Troy Taylor passed away last Saturday at his home near Langley, Wash. He was 88. Taylor had much success at tracks up and down the West Coast, most especially from Northern California to Hastings Racecourse (formerly Exhibition Park) in Vancouver, B.C. He won numerous training titles at Hastings to go along with those titles he also won at Portland Meadows and Playfair Race Course in Spokane, Wash. For Glen Todd alone, Taylor “trained over 130 stakes winners,” according to the owner. Todd himself was a trainer in the 1970s and 1980s. After Taylor retired in 2016, Todd began training horses again. Todd won this year’s Grade III British Columbia Derby at Hastings as the owner and trainer of Five Star General. Taylor Said was one of the many stakes winners Taylor trained for Todd. When conditioned by Taylor in 2012, Taylor Said won a starter allowance race at Golden Gate in February, then reeled off four stakes victories at Hastings from May 6 to Aug. 6. After those five straight wins, Taylor sent Taylor Said to trainer Mike Puhich for the 2012 renewal of the Grade III Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 19. That is the biggest race in the Pacific Northwest. Taylor Said prevailed by a head under jockey Mario Gutierrez, who earlier in 2012 had won the Grade I Kentucky Derby and Grade I Preakness aboard I’ll Have Another. I have something in common with Puhich. Turbulator is our all-time favorite racehorse. Turbulator’s biggest claim to fame came when he ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14 to break the world record for 6 1/2 furlongs by two-fifths of a second the day he won the Governor’s Handicap at Longacres in 1970. And whose world record did Turbulator break? Turbulator broke Sandy Fleet’s world mark that had been set at Longacres in 1966. And who trained Sandy Fleet? Yep, it was Troy Taylor. Regarding Taylor’s death, Todd tweeted this last Sunday: “It’s sad to pass along this message my longtime friend and a legend in Pacific Northwest horse racing has passed on. RIP my great Friend.” Heath Belvoir is an Equibase chart-caller, having worked in that capacity at a number of tracks, including Saratoga, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and Lone Star Park. Belvoir tweeted this last Sunday: “My uncle Troy was a great guy! He taught me how to golf when I was young! Troy was a true old fashioned horseman! He had a lot of great horses! Troy was known for arriving before everyone else in the morning and finishing before break time! Also for eating dry toast! RIP.” Turn to Fire was another of Taylor’s stakes winners. She is one of the best Washington-bred distaffers of all time. I believe she really should be in the Washington Racing Hall of Fame. At Longacres on May 28, 1972, Turn to Fire won a very important race for me. I put $100 to win on her that day in the $7,500-added Fashion Handicap. It was the first $100 wager of my life. Turn to Fire had been a star at Longacres in 1971 as a 3-year-old filly when she won a number of stakes races outside her division. She won both the Fashion Handicap and Belle Roberts Handicap against her elders. She also won the Tacoma Handicap when beating the boys. Many had hoped to see Turn to Fire take on the top 3-year-old male at Longacres in 1971, Rock Bath, in the Longacres Derby. But “leg ailments” forced Turn to Fire out of action in mid-summer of 1971, “negating hope for an encounter with Rock Bath in the Derby,” according to a story on the filly in the February 1972 edition of The Washington Horse magazine. Turn to Fire went back into training in the spring of 1972 at Golden Gate Fields. “Trainer Troy Taylor started his chestnut charge four times at Golden Gate,” The Washington Horse story continued. “Though racing with such speedy distaffers as Ribula and Veneke, Turn to Fire returned to the winner’s circle twice and finished second and third in her other two starts. “So there was very little genuine surprise when, on May 28, Turn to Fire and stablemate Batita Princess jumped off the tote board at 3-10 odds. The occasion was the 25th running of the Fashion Handicap.” I waited and waited and waited for just the right horse in just the right race to make my first $100 bet. The odds did not matter to me. What mattered was trying as hard as I could to not lose the bet. And I finally decided that I would make this “milestone wager” on Turn to Fire in the 1972 Fashion Handicap. I felt confident she would not let me down. Fleet Ahead was who I feared the most. She had been acclaimed the 1971 Horse of the Meeting at Playfair when the daughter of Dead Ahead outran males to win the Playfair Mile. But based on Turn to Fire’s 1971 record and spring form at Golden Gate, I did not think she would have any problem defeating Fleet Ahead and everyone else in the 1972 Fashion. Though the race took place 47 years ago, I still vividly recall how sweaty my palms were as they reached the starting gate. I watched it while standing in front of the grandstand near the winner’s circle with my father. As expected, Batita Princess and jockey Richard “Tex” Hollingsworth dashed immediately to the front. Fleet Ahead, with Jack Leonard in the saddle, stalked in third on the backstretch. Turn to Fire, with regular rider Larry Pierce aboard, raced in fourth early. Pacesetter Batita Princess zipped the opening quarter in :21 4/5 and half in :44 4/5. Entering the stretch, she led by 1 1/2 lengths. Turn to Fire still was fourth and had yet to begin rallying. I was starting to get very concerned. At the eighth pole, Batita Princess was rolling along and continued to lead by 1 1/2 lengths. But Fleet Ahead now was closing in on the leader. Turn to Fire? She was still fourth. It was beginning to look like maybe Turn to Fire was not going to fire. I suddenly realized that probably my best hope to cash my first $100 wager would be if Batita Princess could stay in front all the way to the finish. So out of pure desperation, during the stretch run, I started rooting for Batita Princess to bail me out. But even that backup plan went down the tubes when Fleet Ahead came on to take the lead in the final furlong. My heart sank. I thought my $100 wager was dead for sure. But then Turn to Fire unleashed a furious late charge. Somehow, she turned what had seemed certain defeat into being involved in a photo finish for the win with Fleet Ahead. I looked at my dad. “Who won?” I asked. He shrugged his shoulders, saying, “I don’t know.” It was that close. We both thought it might even be a dead heat. Turn to Fire was No. 1A. Fleet Ahead was No. 2. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, the “photo” sign came down. And then the numbers were posted on the tote board: 1st 1A2nd 23rd 14th 6 Yes, Turn to Fire had eked out a nose victory. I won $30. Yes, that was nice. But, again, the most important thing to me was not losing my first $100 bet. For me to win this important wager, especially in such dramatic fashion, is a memory that I cherish to this day. And so I will be forever grateful to Troy Taylor, Larry Pierce and, most especially, Turn to Fire for coming through to win the 1972 Fashion Handicap.

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12.19.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: December 20 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle in this week’s Stronach 5, which once again has a 100k guarantee. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:52 ET) – 3up AOC (35k/N2X) at 7 furlongs We’re going to start off what will be a very funky sequence of tickets, which will take shape in the next leg at Gulfstream, with a trio on the top line here. I’ll tab #1 WORKING ON A DREAM (6-1) with top billing for an Abbott barn I have a lot of respect for, especially since there’s plenty of tactical speed here, and if you toss the slop run last time, the prior two runs at Laurel put him right in the mix here. There’s little doubt the “now” horse is #8 FACTOR IT IN (3-1), who was scratched last week in the slop and enters off the Mancilla claim (17%), with a big bullet in the holster off a romp last time against slightly lesser. I’ll also use #5 HANALEI’S HOUDINI (5-2) on the stakes drop, as his last pair work here, though he’s also an underlay at this ML. Pk5 A horses: 1,8,5 (listed in order of preference) I’ll have just one B, #4 SMART STEP (8-1), who dueled on the lead last time but should trip out a bit better here, as there’s not as much speed here, and he isn’t far off these on paper either. I suspect that #7 Fort Fortitude (9-2) will get some play, as will #2 Cerulean Springs (8-1), and #10 Chargin Storm (10-1), but the former just looks off form and the latter pair have no speed and have lost 17 in a row combined, so they all can beat me. Pk5 B horses: 4 Leg 2: Gulfstream Park R8 (4:00 ET) – 3up SOC (25k/16k) at 1-mile (turf) Here’s where things get a little tricky—and odd—as I’ve got one A and a slew of B’s, so we’ll have to get a bit creative with the tickets. I think #4 ALIEN INVASION (9-2) will be tough here, as he drops in class is tactical, drew perfectly, and has Irad, while also meeting a mixed bag, so he will go it alone on the top line. Pk5 A horses: 4 However, should ‘Invasion not get the job done, you could make a case for literally the entire rest of the field, which is why this is such a tough race, and one that requires a bit of handicapping imagination to come up with some backup Stronach 5 tickets that won’t cost a mortgage payment (see below). The backups are as follows: #7 FACE OF VICTORY (4-1), #1 GINS AND TINS (15-1), #6 CASH CALL KITTEN (7-2), #12 TROPICAT (6-1), #11 DONJI (10-1), #9 CAUSE FOR PARDON (6-1), #8 EPIC (20-1), and #10 PADDY O’DINI (15-1). As you can see, there are eight horses there, and adding eight horses in with all the other A’s would cost way, way too much, so here’s where the creativity comes into play. We’ll have to narrow down the A’s in the other four legs to what I call “super-A’s,” which simply means the best of the best. This is a good handicapping exercise in general because the ABC method has a big flaw, in that you spend way, way too much money on your C’s, if you use them equally with all your A’s. At the risk of getting too far off topic for this particular exercise, a C should be the type of horse that might win once every two weeks. So, why would you want to use that horse equally with all you’re A’s? It’s just not cost effective and makes you spend way too much money on tickets that have little hope. And that’s where the super-A’s come into play; you simply take your top A, or possibly top two or three A’s, depending on how many you have in a race, and use them with the C’s, to keep things at a minimum, while still giving you some margin for error if your top of the tops come in. And now, back to this sequence, here are the super A’s in the surrounding four legs: Leg 1: 1,8,5 Leg 3: 1 Leg 4: 6 Leg 5: 10,3,4 Pk5 B horses: 7,1,6,12,11,9,8,10 Leg 3: Laurel Park R9 (4:22 ET) – 3up 8k claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs Budget players will probably be singling the Super C Racing entry, as both #1 BIRDIES HONOR (3-1) and ELUSIVE HERO (3-1)—could both win, but I also don’t think they have to, which is why I’ll go a bit deeper. Both #8 MINERS QUEST (4-1) and #6 BUST ANOTHER (9-2) are right there and ran 1-3, respectively, here 11/14, so they are worth inclusion, as is #3 EASY RIVER (7-2), who has a pair of big figures showing, albeit against Maryland breds. Pk5 A horses: 1,8,6,3 I probably don’t need any more, but the B ticket won’t cost a ton, so let’s also use #2 THE GREAT PROVIDER (9-2) and #7 WAR STROLL (10-1), as both have the form to win this, though the former won’t get an easy pass on the lead, and the is a turf closer, so they both have their scars too. Pk5 B horses: 2,7 Leg 4: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:30 ET) – 2yo AOC (75k/N1X) at 1-mile If you think you’re getting 5-2 on #6 TOLEDO (5-2) I hate to burst you’re bubble, as he’s probably going to be 4-5, but we know this ridiculously inaccurate morning line movie quite well at GP, so it should be no surprise. As for this Juddmonte homebred for Brown, who a lot of people have in their top-10 in the Derby Futures, he’s a huge player here off that sharp Aqu MSW win last time, though he’s also not the cinch the tote will tell you, as facing winners is never easy. Which is why I’ll also use #7 CHURN N BURN (3-1), who impressed winning in his second start at CD, shows the typical progressive pattern for Wilkes, and should relish the added ground too. Pk5 A horses: 6,7 There will be no backups here, as Toledo is a very likely winner and ‘Burn is next up on the totem pole, so I can’t justify using anyone else. If you’re looking for more, then #3 Masterday (4-1) looked good winning on debut at GPW and appears to have some talent, while #5 Liveyourbeastlife (12-1) was caught in the wake of Independence Hall’s seminal performance in the GIII Nashua and will like the class relief. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3upfm 20k MCL at 1 1/16 miles (turf) The finale might have a standout, as #10 ROONEY (5-2) is simply better than these, but she drew wide, is 0-for-10, has no upside, and no margin for error, so I’ll use a few more, in the hopes of getting a bit more value. Both #3 FUNNY FEATHER (3-1) and #4 CAVALIAS SOUL (4-1), who were together on the line when 2-3 against lesser last time at GPW, has upside, drew much better, and will be better prices, so I’ll use them as well on top. Pk5 A horses: 10,3,4 I’ll somewhat begrudgingly use #9 GOODBITOFBIZNESS (6-1), since that 3rd here last time at the level was solid, but it was also at 64-1 and came from nowhere, and her other runs were dreadful, so she’s likely going to bounce, but since it’s relatively inexpensive to use here, she gets the nod. Pk5 B horses: 9 The Tickets: Main Ticket: 1,8,5 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $72 Leg 1 B Backup: 4 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $24 Leg 2 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 7,1,6,12,11,9,8,10 with 1 with 6 with 10,3,4 = $72 Leg 3 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 4 with 2,7 with 6,7 with 10,3,4 = $36 Leg 5 B Backup: 1,8,5 with 4 with 1,8,6,3 with 6,7 with 9 = $24

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12.16.2019:

Harness Highlights: Retirees Leave Indelible Mark On The Sport

Harness racing’s big stage was overloaded with talent in 2019; however, many of the horses that provided the unforgettable moments were lost to retirement by year’s end. The star-studded list included: McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada. He finished with a 40-110 record and $5.1 million bankroll. He took on all challengers and his whirlwind North American tour included stakes wins in the Breeders Crown Open Pace, Adios, Max Hempt Memorial, Progress Pace, William Haughton Memorial, Mohawk Gold Cup, Canadian Pacing Derby and TVG Open Pace, to name a few. Hannelore Hanover, a two-time Breeders Crown trotting champion, $3 million earner and first mare ever to trot a sub-1:50 mile. She was named 2017 Horse of the Year. Lather Up, who equaled the all-age world record when he won in the Graduate series at the Meadowlands in 1:46. He finished 23-37 with $1.7 million in earnings and a 2018 North America Cup victory on his resume.  Emoticon Hanover, a two-time Breeders Crown winner who defeated 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta in the TVG Mares Trot to surpass $2 million in earnings. Greenshoe, a multiple stakes-winning trotter and No.3-ranked standardbred in the most recent Breeders Crown/Hambletonian Society Top 10 poll. He topped $1 million in earnings with a 1:49.4 win in the Bluegrass eliminations at the Red Mile. Six Pack, who trotted to world records in the Stanley Dancer Memorial (1:50), Kentucky Futurity (1:49.1) and Allerage Farms Open Trot (1:49.2) in addition to winning the Yonkers Trot. Courtly Choice, the 2018 Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug winner, who became a millionaire during a 2019 season that included a Canadian Pacing Derby championship. Bit Of A Legend N, a dual-hemisphere double millionaire and 2016 champion of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at his home base at Yonkers Raceway. Jimmy Freight, who finished first or second in 34 of 52 starts and won the 2017 O’Brien Award as Canada’s top 3-year-old.

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12.16.2019:

Triple Crown Prospects Sought in Allowance Ranks

As we look ahead to the 3-year-old crop of 2020, we’ve already discussed the lack of stakes clarity in this blog space. So with the help of the Betmix database, I’ve decided to dig this week into the allowance performers in the current juvenile class. Below you’ll find an alphabetical listing of allowance race winners coast-to-coast with their trainer, sire and accomplishments noted.Keep in mind, 2-year-old allowance races are sort of like Bigfoot. They are rare sightings, indeed. Only 82 of them have been run for the colts/geldings in North America through December 15. I’ve parsed out some of the smaller-circuit heats and ones that look to have little historical context to producing Triple Crown trail types. That left 25 considerations that could not only give us potential contenders down the line, but will help draw some company lines to those returnees who may have met these runners at 2.Alcools (Peter Miller) – Half-bro to Hog Creek Hustle, by Gemologist won 1-1/16M dirt Oct. 27 at CD by 6+ lengths; no match for South Bend at Kee sprinting.Alternate Time (Bret Calhoun) – Alternation won 6F dirt Nov. 29 at RP; tired 10th Springboard Mile next.Amongst (Brad Cox) – Into Mischief won 6F dirt Oct. 19 at Ind; Entered 12/21 Sugar Bowl at FG.Art Collector (Joe Sharp) – Bernardini won 6F dirt Nov. 30 at CD; dam 4th BC F&M Turf, 2nd Flower Bowl.Axiomo (Mike Maker) – Tapiture won 5F turf Nov. 23 at CD; Entered 12/21 Sugar Bowl at FG.Carpe Victoriam (Tom Amoss) – Carpe Diem won 6F dirt Oct. 4 at Ind; 9th Street Sense at CD since.Complexifier (Brian Lynch) – Overanalyze won 6F dirt Oct. 17 at Kee; 3rd Buffalo Man at GP since.Corsi (Josie Carroll) – Honor Code won 7.5F turf Oct. 13 at WO; off tab since early Nov.Crypto Cash (Ken McPeek) – Majesticperfection won 1-1/16M turf Nov. 21 at CD; out of win-early dam.Dynadrive (Jonathan Thomas) – Temple City won 1M turf Dec. 13 at Tam; also won MSW on turf at Mth.Fenwick Station (Eddie Kenneally) – Magician won 1-1/16M turf Sept. 29 at CD; no drills since then.Hariboux (Jeff Mullins) – GB-bred by Havana Gold won 1M turf Nov. 14 at Dmr; 9th in G3 DeMille since.Iberico (Antonio Sano) – Dialed In won 6F dirt Sept. 21 at GP; 6th Buffalo Man since.Laddie Liam (Hugh McMahon) – Golden Lad won 8F dirt Nov. 14 at Lrl; wired 7F Md Juvenile Futurity since.Memorable (Steve Asmussen) – Unclo Mo won 8F Polytrack Dec. 6 at TP; 2nd in off-the-turf Kee ALW to Sir Winsalot prior.Necker Island (Stan Hough) – Hard Spun won 8F dirt Nov. 30 at CD; 2-for-3 losing only to Three Technique at Sar.Perfect Star (Scott Gelner) – Half-bro to G1 winning turfer Her Emmynency by Into Mischief won 8F turf Dec. 8 at FG.Self Taught (Al Stall, Jr.) – Shanghai Bobby won 6.F dirt Nov. 9 at CD; Entered 12/21 Sugar Bowl at FG.Sir Rick (Steve Asmussen) – Paynter won 5F dirt Oct. 17 at DeD; 3rd in Jean Lafitte Stakes since.Sir Winsalot (Ken McPeek) – Algorithms won 8.5 turf Oct. 26 at Kee; no match for Fenwick Station at CD prior.South Bend (Stan Hough) – Algorithms won 7F dirt Oct. 5 at Kee; since won Street Sense, 6th Ky Jky Club.Super John (John Servis) – Super Saver won 8F dirt Dec. 15 at Lrl; troubled 6th in Sapling at Mth in Sept.Three Technique (Jeremiah Englehart) – Mr Speaker won 7F dirt Nov. 20 at Aqu; won Sar dirt MSW prior over Necker Island et al. Half-bro to solid sprinter Stan the Man.Turned Aside (Linda Rice) – American Pharoah won 6F turf Nov. 27 at Aqu; also won MSW on Bel turf; dam runner-up in Miss Grillo on turf at 2.

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12.16.2019:

Monday, December 16: Woodbine Mohawk Park Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight, the 0.20 Early Pick 4 at Woodbine Mohawk Park starts in Race 4 as usual. The sequence will be my focus and it has a $50,000 guaranteed pool.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 41-Always A Rose (4-1)-This is a scattered bunch but will use with this post draw. Jamieson should be able to get the top or an up-front seat and that has worked in the past.5-Bens Jenna (9/2)-Starting slow is an understatement for this 3-year-old. But has been getting bet and might be able to leave more alertly and be in the hunt at a square price.9-E R Rhonda (7/2)-McNair's choice is in good form and should be a major player. Question mark is the post draw but best to respect.Race 51-Speed To Market (7/2)-More of a one move horse and has made the most out of leaving from the rail in last two. Will string a long and look for another picture.5-Leader Tonight (6-1)-1st time Auciello off a claim is enough of a reason to put on the ticket versus this crew. Could be a fair price.9-Go Rrrilla (3-1)-This is the horse to beat off recent form and should be used. But from this post it won't be easy and Roy will need to work a smooth trip.Race 61-Royal Witch (5/2)-Has fallen on hard times in last couple of starts, but she would be the one to beat if near her best. Will likely be bet down anyway at this level and must minds manners.2-B Yoyo (9/2)-9-year-old usually gives an honest effort and was McNair's choice over #8. Doesn't win as often these days but this is a soft spot.7-Sortie (4-1)-Will respect connections but from this post with main foes starting inside, will need everything to click. The trip could work out but is another who has breaking issue at times.Race 77-Oh K Man (7/2)-Barn has been hot, and both starts for new trainer have been sharp. Fits with these, so no need to buck the recent trend.8-Hughgetthecredit (3-1)-This will be the 3rd lifetime start at Wbsb for this competitive but lightly raced 6-year-old.Raced well in last but started very slowly and took the long way around but kept coming, could grind out a win.My Ticket Race 4) 1,5,9 Race 5) 1,5,9 Race 6) 1,2,7 Race 7) 7,8 Total Ticket Cost) $10.80 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.15.2019:

Sunday, December 15: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

The Pompano Park 0.50 Pick 4 starts in Race 6 and it has a $20,000 guaranteed pool. The sequence has a very low 12% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 62-Mcjagersonthemove (8/5)-Started out very fast and kept going to a 53.4 half last week, set an unbelievable pace and was nipped at the wire. Hennessey steers tonight and if he can ration the speed a bit, it could be picture time.5-Hot Art (7/2)-This will be the 3rd race in 11-days for #2. If he falters, Plano should have this 9-time winner in 2019 in position to sweep by.Race 71-Jeremes General (4-1)-Hennessey's choice is a major player versus this crew unless taking to the track is an issue. But has earned checks on the 5/8's on the east coast.2-Skyful Of Lighters (2-1)-Drops out of Open company, draws inside and Ingraham returns, could be sitting on a big try.Race 82-Ideal Feeling (9/2)-HoP invader tuned-up from the 8-hole last week and now Plano takes over which is a positive driver change.4-Panocchio (7/2)-Not Hennessey's pick but this veteran is in fine form and with a top effort is a player even with the step-up.5-American Hustle (9/2)-Here is the key to the race. Has plenty of gate speed to get the top or force a quick pace. Knows how to win, should offer a square price and provide some pop for the Pick 4.6-Rebellious (2-1)-Winner of 2 straight steps-up, Hennessy sticks and should be able to do good work at this class. But it's an interesting short field, using but will look to shoot against.Race 93-Mister Marvalous-Likes the track and could get sucked around from this post. 3-year-old will need a top effort but is talented.5-Better Than Cash (3-1)-Should like the company and makes 2nd start on Lasix. Can take a picture tonight but must mind manners. Last start was the first since 10/24 and off that effort it's best to respect.9-Mach West (3-1)-Here's the likely post-time chalk but the post could be an issue. Not sure a 3-peat is in the cards from this starting slot. But if Hennessey gets the top and walks it certainly could happen.My Ticket Race 6) 2,5 Race 7) 1,2 Race 8) 2,4,5,6 Race 9) 3,5,9Total Ticket Cost) $24 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.15.2019:

Sunday, December 15: Day Makers

Every racing day Jeff Siegel offers two “Day Makers” while specifically concentrating on racing from Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park, and Aqueduct These are “cream of the crop” selections and offer the horse player a unique insight into the process behind the analysis.Day Makers for Sunday, December 15, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Saturday, December 14, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Friday, December 13, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Sunday, December 8, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Saturday, December 7, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Friday, December 6, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Thursday, December 5, 2019: View Video

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12.14.2019:

Saturday, December 14: Gulfstream Park Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoRACE 1: Post 12:00 ET. Grade: C+Use: 2-Just a Bit Sassy; 4-Maries Melody; 9-BratouttahellForecast: Just a Bit Sassy is an intriguing first-timer in a soft spot with an inside draw from a capable outfit with a healthy work pattern. She certainly won’t have to be a world beater to act at this modest maiden claiming level so let’s try a fresh face in an open fray. Maries Melody is bred to run long on grass (Point of Entry) and sports the two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern that always catches our eye. Low percentage connections notwithstanding, she’s a contender. Bradouttahell tries another drop in class, makes a favorable jockey switch to E. Jaramillo, exits a productive race and might improve if held up early and allowed to run late. At 6-1 on the morning line she’s worth including somewhere.RACE 2: Post 12:30 ET. Grade: C+Use: 1-Untitled; 5-Cross Court; 10-BomoseenForecast: Here’s another wide open maiden affair, this one for Florida-bred juveniles. Cross Court has a series of eye-catching workouts on his resume and lands J. Ortiz, Jr., so the son of Cross Traffic gives every indication of being a live item in an unclassified affair. Untitled also shows a series of promising recent drills for a barn that is capable with young stock and if he can leave cleanly from the rail the son of Khozan could be a major player for a live jockey-trainer combo (Jaramillo/Nicks). Bomoseen seems the best of the known element and earned a career top speed figure when a strong runner-up (while four lengths clear of the rest) over a sloppy track at Monmouth Park in late October. L. Saez and K. O’Connell always make a formidable team so we suspect this Twirling Candy gelding will be very competitive. These are the three we’ll be including in our rolling exotics; if you find the need to spread deeper, go right ahead.RACE 3: Post 1:00 ET. Grade: BUse: 2-R U Lucky; 5-Man With a PlanForecast: R U Lucky continues to improve with racing and with another forward move today appears capable of extending his winning streak to three. A winner over this course and distance when breaking his maiden two runs back, the son of Itsmyluckyday must pick up 8 lbs. but hardly should be inconvenienced with the switch to J. Ortiz. Two recent sharp breezes since raced point to another top effort. Man With a Plan earned a competitive speed figure when second sprinting on grass two races back and on the basis of that race is the one to fear most. Second at even money when beaten by R U Lucky last time out over a muddy Gulfstream Park main track, the J. Pinchin-trained colt certainly has a right to make amends today when returning to his preferred surface. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with preference on top to R U Lucky.RACE 4: Post 1:30 ET. Grade: BUse: 3-Sue’s Monster Baby; 4-Filly Jean King; 5-ShyzaForecast: Shyza earned a strong speed figure when graduating in convincing fashion vs. maiden $50,000 foes at Gulfstream Park West in an extended sprint last month and appears quite capable of repeating in this starter optional claimer stretching out to a one-turn mile. The daughter of Cairo Prince likely has plenty of further improvement in her and offers considerable value at 6-1 on the morning line if you can get it. Sue’s Monster Baby, unbeaten in two starts but with speed figures that will need to be improved upon, has the proper style for this trip and for the first time is being protected in a sign of confidence. The J. Navarro stable is off to a dreadful start this meeting but with one of this barn’s go-to riders (I. Ortiz, Jr.) taking the mount this filly could get things jumped started. Filly Jean King is the morning line favorite (2-1) after exiting a series of much tougher races. She’s had eight chances and her numbers have stagnated so we don’t consider her entirely trustworthy but you may find the need to use her on a ticket or two for protection.RACE 5: Post 2:00 ET. Grade: B+Use: 7-Sayyaaf; 10-J Beresford TiptonForecast: Sayyaaf stretches out to a mile for the first time after a strong runner-up effort in a hot sprint at Keeneland in mid-October. The C. Brown-trained colt is quick sort that surely will try gate-to-wire tactics, and with “win rider” J. Castellano returning we’re expecting the son of Sepoy to establish control and keep on going, but at a price shorter than his morning line of 9/5. Beresford Tipton has the blinkers off angle that we like and looks the most dangerous of the closing types. The lightly-raced son of Animal Kingdom seems like a logical exacta partner with our top pick, and with some help up front could make a run for it in the final stages.RACE 6: Post 2:30 ET. Grade: BUse: 2-Bronx Beauty; 3-A Bit of Both; 4-Lady’s IslandForecast: Lady’s Island is the quickest of the quick and should be tough to catch. The winner of eight of her last 10 starts seems the solid choice in this year’s edition of the Sugar Swirl Stakes, a Grade-3 affair over six furlongs for fillies and mares. She’s a career five-for-seven over the Gulfstream Park main track and seems primed for another major effort. A Bit of Both, another course specialist (four wins in five starts) likely will inherit a pace-stalking position and have every chance to wear down the leader when the pressure is turned on late. She earned a career top speed figure when winning a stakes over the all-weather surface in Ocala last time out, and while better will be needed today the daughter of Paynter might have it in her. Bronx Beauty is yet another win machine (8-for-14) and has numbers last summer that put her in the hunt. She’s probably worth using on a ticket or two as a back-up.RACE 7: Post 3:00 PT. Grade: A-Single: 1-Mitchell RoadForecast: Mitchell Road has much in her favor in the My Charmer Stakes, a listed stakes over a mile on grass for fillies and mares. She’s the likely controlling speed from her favorable rail drawn, exits a series of infinitely tougher races, and has never been worse than second in four career starts over the Gulfstream Park turf course. Freshened since early October and training like she’s fit and ready for W. Mott (strong with layoff runners), the daughter of English Channel is listed at 9/5 on the morning line and may very well go a lower as a logical rolling exotic single.RACE 8: Post 3:30 PT. Grade: A-Single: 9-Baccarat FashionForecast: Baccarat Fashion is, as expected, vastly improved since joining the P. Walder barn and today the daughter of Old Fashioned receives the opportunity to stretch out to a one-turn mile as the logical controlling speed in the Rampart S.-G3 for older fillies and mares. Based on running style, pedigree, and the giant recent career top speed figure she just earned when upsetting a good allowance field by more than eight lengths at Gulfstream Park West in her last outing in October, she certainly won’t be 11-1 again any time soon. Two recent sizzling workouts over the local main track indicate she’s ready for another monster effort. At 5/2 on the morning line she’s a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 9: Post 4:00 ET. Grade: BUse: 5-Channel Cat; 8-Admissions OfficeForecast: Nine furlongs is a bit shorter trip than what Channel Cat prefers, but after facing Grade-1 company in five of his last six starts including a respectable seventh (beaten less than three lengths) in the Breeders’ Cup turf last time out the son of English Channel should greatly appreciate the class relief in this year’s renewal of the Ft. Lauderdale S.-G2. A two-time winner over the local turf course, the T. Pletcher-trained colt projects to settle into a comfortable mid-pack spot and then have his chance to exert his superiority from the quarter pole home. We’ll take the 3-1 morning line gamble if it presents itself. Admissions Office is a deep closer that is pace and traffic dependent but with some help up front and good racing luck the B. Lynch-trained son of Point of Entry could make some noise late. We’ll include him on a ticket or two as a saver in rolling exotic play with the main punch going to Channel Cat.RACE 10: Post 4:30 ET. Grade: B+Use: 1-Prince Lucky; 6-BodexpressForecast: Bodexpress demolished a softer field with a career top triple-digit Beyer speed figure at Gulfstream Park West last month and must be given a chance to extend his winning streak to three despite tackling a salty bunch of older horses in the Harlan’s Holiday S.-G3 over a mile and one-sixteenth that will conclude at the short finish line. It’s possible he’ll be sent to the front, though the option is there to stalk and pounce should Flowers of Lisa , drawn inside of him, flash more early zip to the clubhouse turn. Runner-up to Maximum Security (with Code of Honor more than three lengths behind him) in the Florida Derby-G1 earlier this year, the G. Delgado-trained colt appears to be at least as good now if not better than he was then. Prince Lucky is strictly the one to beat. Unbeaten in two starts over the Gulfstream Park main track – both stakes wins earned triple-digit Beyer speed figures – the Corinthian gelding is guaranteed an ideal ground-saving trip from his rail post and have dead aim every step of the way. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics but at 4-1 on the morning line we’ll give Bodexpress a very slight edge on top.RACE 11: Post 5:00 ET. Grade: B-Use: 8-King Orb; 11-My Point ExactlyForecast: The finale is a middle distance turf affair for $16,000 claimers. We’ll double the race and hope that’s enough; you can spread deeper if your budget allows. King Orb is back at his proper level and beats this field with a repeat of his race before last over this course and distance two runs back. All four of his career victories have been accomplished over the local lawn and the R. Chrichton-trained gelding is a versatile type that can be effective on the front end or from well off the pace. My Point Exactly is drawn a bit farther outside than we’d prefer but he’s an old pro with seven prior wins over this course and is back in two weeks after a solid third place effort with a good figure vs. similar in a hot race for the level. At 10-1 on the morning line he’s worth including on a few tickets.

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12.14.2019:

Saturday, December 14: Day Makers

Every racing day Jeff Siegel offers two “Day Makers” while specifically concentrating on racing from Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park, and Aqueduct These are “cream of the crop” selections and offer the horse player a unique insight into the process behind the analysis.Day Makers for Saturday, December 14, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Friday, December 13, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Sunday, December 8, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Saturday, December 7, 2:019: View VideoDay Makers for Friday, December 6, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Thursday, December 5, 2019: View Video

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12.14.2019:

Saturday, December 14: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight's feature at the Meadowlands is carded as Race 7, a Preferred Pace with a $30,000 purse. The 0.50 Pick 4 begins in Race 8 and will be my focus. The sequence has a $50,000 guaranteed pool with a 15% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 83-Warrawee Unique (10-1)-Even effort in 1st Big M start this meet. Gingras could be more aggressive here and should be forwardly placed.5-Bay Rum (4-1)-Draws well and that could be the difference this time. Looks like a major player with a quick pace and that will be the key.7-Father Sarducci (3-1)-Got the top last week and cruised home. There's not a ton of inside speed and as long as the trip doesn't burn Father up, he can repeat.Race 92-Incredible Shark (7/2)-This is a spot to shine and is the top threat if fires best shot. Gingras could get the lead or the 2-hole trip behind #9.7-No Easy Day (8-1)-Speed to the inside and to the outside and if the pace sizzles this guy will be rolling late. Barn has been hot and raced well off a sick scratch, best to not overlook.9-Santafe's Coach (3-1)-It seems like Miller will leave and not rely on finding cover, if so has the gate speed to get on the engine. Doesn't win often but drops and this is a beatable field with a smooth journey.Race 103-David's Dream (6-1)-Took the long way around in last and won by a nose in 1st start this meet. No reason to think tonight's effort won't be good enough to compete for top honors.7-Rocks Noble Artist (4-1)-Went 55.3 in the 2nd half but came up short, this time the pace should be quicker and that's better for the Artist.10-Justin Credible (5-1)-Great effort last week from the 10-hole to just miss. Could offer a square price, is racing well and is another who could benefit from a faster pace.Race 114-Contntlysidewys A (5-1)-Does best work when up close to the front end and this a spot to race that way. Dunn could work a trip and 8-year old has won 27% of Big M starts (6-22).6-Laredo Torpedo N (3-1)-New Zealand import had a nice qualifier and makes Big M debut on Lasix. Should be in the hunt if fires hot off the bench and best to respect connections.9-Da Magician (9/2)-Raced well from the 9-hole in last and that was coming off a sick scratch. Drops, gets a positive driver change and should be forwardly placed. Could be sitting on a big try.My Ticket Race 8) 3,5,7/ Race 9) 2,7,9 Race 10) 3,7,10 Race 11) 4,6,9Total Ticket Cost) $40.50 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.13.2019:

December 13-Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

The feature at Cal Expo rolls in Race 5, The Joe Lighthill Free for All Trot with a $10,000 purse. The 0.20 Pick 4 starts in Race 8 and it will be my focus. The sequence has a $30,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 84-Al's Briefs (4-1)-Plano used this horse hard in the Horowitz Final from the 7-hole in the slop. That strategy didn't work well but $20,000 purses don't happen often at CalX. Will overlook last week and use from a good post versus these.5-Timetoplaythegame (5/2)-Another who was used hard in the slop but should be tighter in 2nd local start. Should like the company and looks like a player.7-Western Devil (6-1)-This will be a test but will toss last in the slop and Kennedy drives which could help a lot. Usually is in the mix, likes the track and could offer a square price.Race 91-Ragin's Flight (8-1)-Fell short on 11/29 after brushing up to the lead versus $8k claimers. Fits in this condition and gets some post relief. Loses Wiseman to stablemate #7 but will use and look for a square price with Svendsen.2-Bunkerhill Bill (5-1)-Makes 3rd start off the bench and has a win versus cheaper and a 3rd place finish at this class in last. Plano sticks, was bet hard in last try and now starts inside, instead of the 8-hole.4-Prodigal (6-1)-Comes off a win and now steps up, loses Kennedy and Magee will steer. Will take a swing the improvement continues in 3rd start off the bench.Race 101-Delightfully Wild (5-1)-Lackey takes over for Kennedy as this mare comes off a nice try from 8-hole at this class. This is the 3rd start off the bench and this gal loves this track (19-45) lifetime.6-Marilyn (7/2)-Kennedy's choice is the lukewarm ML chalk and has been racing well. Steps-up and needs a top effort but best to not overlook.7-Virgin Eyes (5-1)-10-time winner in '19 had a big try in 1st start of the meet and will look for an even better effort tonight.8-Dancingonthesand (9/2)-Plested trainee is competitive but keeps drawing outside. Will respect connections and could take a picture with a top effort.Race 111-Duannes Horizon (3-1)-Drops to the bottom class and gets a positive driver change with Kennedy between the pipes. Should be in the mix versus a suspect crew.5-Uringoodhands (2-1)-Program chalk drops in 5th start of the meet. Svendsen's choice should be put in play early.8-Major Jesse (6-1)-Only 1-33 in '19 and drops in 2nd race after time-off. Last start was fine, using and hoping for an upset for some juice in the Pick 4.0.20 Pick 44,5,7/1,2,4/1,6,7,8/1,5,8Total Bet=$21.60Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.13.2019:

Prince Lucky Among Quality Runners in Gulfstream Late Pick 4

It’s easy for fans of Gulfstream Park racing to mentally flash back to last season in their minds and revisit Prince Lucky’s performances. They’ll get a chance on Saturday to see him again. He’s in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday, which with the 10th on the card and third leg of the late Pick 4. This week’s suggested late Pick 4 ticket uses a 3x6x3x2 strategy for $54. Prince Lucky was dominant at Gulfstream last year and he started his success as he romped by six lengths in the G3 Hal’s Hope. He canvassed the mile in 1:34 4-5 and under restraint won as much the best. His backers (and most everyone else) believed it, played him down to 1-to-5 in the G2 Gulfstream Mile and watched as he coasted in by nearly five in 1:35 1-5. What makes the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes a little different is that it’s at two turns and over 1 1-16th miles, while his one-mile successes were around one turn. He’s twice won at this distance, but those came around one turn at Belmont. The Pennsylvania-bred, Todd Pletcher-trained son of Corinthian takes on a better field that what he faced over the GP strip last year. There’s plenty of quality competition, including War Story and Bodexpress. War Story makes his 1st start for Elizabeth Dobles, who takes over from Jorge Navarro. War Story has been up against the best over the past couple of years and could find this a more favorable situation. Bodexpress is an up-and-comer who turned some heads at Gulfstream Park West this year. However, he also was 2nd in the G1 Florida Derby last year and also ran in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. He was taken up in the traffic jam of the Derby and reared and unseated his rider in the Preakness. He’s an unlucky of a horse as we’ve seen in the Triple Crown races, and trainer Gustavo Delgado watched him break his maiden in easy fashion in October. The Bodemeister colt following with an eye-popping score in an allowance race. There’s plenty to look for Saturday at Gulfstream, and two other stakes are in the late Pick 4. Here’s the suggested play:Race 8) #9 Baccarat Fashion, #10 Cairenn, #11 Cookie Dough.Race 9) #3 Flavius, #4 Instilled Regard, #5 Channel Cat, #7 Cross Border, #8 Admission Office, #9 Marzo.Race 10) #1 Prince Lucky, #5 War Story, #6 Bodexpress.Race 11) #8 King Orb, #12 Compagno.50-cent early Pick 4 ticket: 9-10-11 with 3-4-5-7-8-9 with 1-5-6 with 8-12 ($54).

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12.12.2019:

December 14: Free Gulfstream Park Stakes Picks + Rainbow 6

The Saturday December 14 Gulfstream Park card is a massive prep day for the Pegasus World Cup card in just six weeks. Good performances by horses like Channel Cat, Bodexpress, Prince Lucky or Admission Office could push their owners ‘all in’ on North America’s richest dirt and turf races on Saturday, January 25, 2020.And from a betting perspective, Saturday’s card couldn’t be better. The 20-cent Rainbow 6 is back and that wager is my focus this weekend. You can find my picks below. It won’t be an easy sequence whatsoever, but anyone talented – and lucky – enough to navigate all six legs should be rewarded handsomely at the end with an inflated Xpressbet balance.Plus, speaking of big stakes, Xpressbet is hosting another Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship feeder tournament this Saturday. Put up a $500 Buy-In ($300 Bankroll, $200 Entry Fee) and out-handicap fellow contestants to compete for seats in the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship (PWCBC) on January 25, a $6,000 value each, as well as big cash prizes. In a similar tournament last Saturday, we gave away a pair of tickets and $7,800 cash as 99 contests played. Let’s eclipse 100 this time!Now, back to the picks. Here’s how I’m playing:Race 6 (2:30PM ET) – Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3)Is it time for #6 STORMY EMBRACE (6/1) to re-position herself as a player in the Florida filly/mare sprint division? This race is loaded with speed and would play perfectly with her stalking style. #3 A BIT OF BOTH (3/1) and #4 LADY’S ISLAND (5/2) are ‘need the lead’ types, and #9 HEAVENHASMYNIKKI (5/1) will also want to be in the leading vanguard. I’ll use the former two as they are razor sharp along with ‘EMBRACE, but this will be a nailbiter in the P6.Pick 6 Horse(s): #3 A Bit of Both, #4 Lady’s Island, #6 Stormy EmbraceRace 7 (3:00PM ET) – My Charmer StakesDespite losing three straight races, #1 MITCHELL ROAD (9/5) is probably still the class of this field. The water in the G1 Diana and G1 First Lady was a little deep, so this ungraded stakes field is more to her liking. Let’s also consider using Chad Brown’s #6 ALTEA (3/1). She’s allergic to winning (2-for-15 lifetime) but did just win a race solidly and she figures to get ample pace to run into. Ultimately she is a cut for me as I need to keep my ticket cost a bit more manageable.Pick 6 Horse(s): #1 Mitchell RoadRace 8 (3:30PM ET) – Rampart Stakes (G3)These one-turn mile races often present a grueling test and, with a bunch of speed horses drawn to the outside, this race could unfold any which way. #11 COOKIE DOUGH (7/2) should flash speed, especially with Paco Lopez in the irons, and #8 TWEETING (6/1) and #9 BACCARAT FASHION (5/2) should be close in tow. I’m going to lean aggressive in this race, as I could see this event falling apart late. Even a horse like #1 UNHOLY ALLIANCE (15/1), who was beaten 15+ lengths last out, deserves a look.Pick 6 Horse(s): #1 Unholy Alliance, #3 Perspire, #4 Pink Sands, #6 Molto Bella, #8 Tweeting, #9 Baccarat Fashion, #10 Cairenn, #11 Cookie DoughRace 9 (4:00PM ET) – Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2)Using as many horses as I did in the Rampart requires a bit of precision in other legs. #5 CHANNEL CAT (3/1) is the classiest of these, but he’s been a little anemic as it comes to hitting the wire first. His only win this year came when he surprised a field in the G2 Bowling Green at Saratoga with a gate-to-wire blitz. He’s the best horse and possibly the likeliest winner, but not a slam dunk. #6 UP THE ANTE (6/1) gets Paco Lopez which is always a plus at Gulfstream and I’m going to assume #3 FLAVIUS (6/1) gets a better start in his second try off the pine. I’d love to use #8 ADMISSION OFFICE (9/2) but he’s too pace dependent and this race doesn’t figure to be fast up front. You could talk me into #7 CROSS BORDER (7/2), though…Pick 6 Horse(s): #3 Flavius, #5 Channel Cat, #6 Up the Ante, #7 Cross BorderRace 10 (4:30PM ET) – Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3)To me, this is a two-horse race and it comes down to #1 PRINCE LUCKY (2/1), a Gulfstream lover that finally gets away from the likes of Maximum Security and Mitole, and #6 BODEXPRESS (4/1). He has been a buzzsaw since coming back off his post-Preakness layoff. #3 RED CRESCENT (6/1) would be a player based on current form but his Gulfstream Park races have just never been as good as similar tries at Gulfstream Park West.Pick 6 Horse(s): #1 Prince Lucky, #6 BodexpressRace 11 (5:00PM ET) – ClaimingThe last leg is a decent $16K claiming event going 1 1/16 miles on the lawn and I’m going to use four of these. #2 DAKOTA’S DUDE (4/1) is making his first start with Robert Falcone. He gets Irad and seems very logical. #8 KING ORB (3/1) has won all three of his turf claiming races since moving to Rohan Crichton’s barn, while #11 MY POINT EXACTLY (10/1), a major pace player with Paco in the irons.Pick 6 Horse(s): #2 Dakota’s Dude, #8 King Orb, #11 My Point ExactlyTicket Cost: $115.20 for 20-cents

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12.12.2019:

Game Over

The tournament director sheepishly approached the podium, cleared his throat and adjusted the microphone, eliciting a screech of feedback in return. “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my duty to inform you and the handful of competitors still out on the course that, in an unprecedented occurrence, the leader in the clubhouse, somehow, has just registered a hole-in-one eagle. His lead now is insurmountable. Game over. Thank you for your interest and see you next year!” ‘Unprecedented.’ Yep, that pretty much sums up Maximum Security and his year-long journey from bottom to top. Nothing about this colt went by the book. Only thing he did easy was win races. Nearly all of them. Maximum Security, a homebred colt owned by Gary and Mary West, began his career for a $16K tag in a Gulfstream maiden race. Turns out that was no ordinary maiden claimer. This year, the race has produced not one, but TWO, Grade 1 winners (Math Wizard finished third and later won the Pennsylvania Derby)! Maximum Security then won two Gulfstream starter allowance races before winning the Florida Derby. He then crossed the finish first in the Kentucky Derby only to be disqualified for interference. Quick, name the last horse to take the maiden-claiming/starter allowance/Florida Derby road to the Kentucky Derby? I can’t. ‘Max also is the first ever to be disqualified from victory in the Kentucky Derby. And in Louisville beneath the twin spires, ‘ever’ spans 145 years. ‘Unprecedented,’ for sure. Beginning to get the picture? ‘Max wasn’t bred in the purple. His father New Year’s Day spent a few years in the big leagues of bluegrass breeding, but his batting average wasn’t good enough. Three months before ‘Max’s debut, his old man was sold and shipped to Brazil for stud duty. Made sense at the time. Save some bread. Send him to the minors for seasoning.  Since Max’s Derby success, New Year’s Day has been sold again, and will begin 2020 as a sire in the Japan league. Max’s mother also was a bit of a castoff, peddled over a year ago for just $11K—about the price of a high-mileage 2012 Ford Focus. What a difference a year makes! We’ve all heard how famous parents provide offspring a leg up in the world. In this case, it’s the other way around. Maximum Security’s success has led to increased respect for his family, especially his mother Lil Indy and unnamed sister. In early November, Lil Indy sold at Keeneland for $1.85 million, boasting a cover by well-regarded sire Quality Road. Minutes after Max’s mom sold, a reserve of $190,000 kept Max’s weanling full sister from trading hands.        See what I mean. You can’t make this stuff up. Unless, of course, it’s the plot of a picture show that stars Elizabeth Taylor as the beautiful young girl who ultimately rides ‘Max to momentary glory in the Kentucky Derby; Walter Brennan stars as the cagey, unorthodox trainer; and Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed play caring, doting owners and parents. Had the controversial Kentucky Derby disqualification been the only blemish on Maximum Security’s 2019 race record, he would have been better appreciated more quickly. Unbeaten horses are easy to support. But, as mentioned earlier, ‘Max doesn’t do ‘easy.’ In his next start, following the Kentucky Derby, in the ungraded Pegasus at Monmouth, he stubbed his toe--no, really, he actually stubbed his toe when he stumbled badly at the start).  He lost by a length to King for a Day and the defeat further diminished an image already scarred by sentiment that he and jockey Luis Saez had ‘cheated’ to win the Derby. ‘Max redeemed himself next out in the Haskell, succeeding from multiple graded-stakes winner Mucho Gusto and eventual Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Spun to Run.   The Pennsylvania Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic were intended ports of call, but ‘Max suffered a serious case of colic and missed the boat. Away from the races from July until October, his stock price slid. Out of sight, out of mind. Meanwhile, Code of Honor, third to Maximum Security in the Florida Derby, dominated Dwyer foes, roared home to win the Travers and was elevated to victory via disqualification in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. It was an impressive string of wins for a colt owned and trained by racing royalty—W. S. Farish and Shug McGaughey, respectively. Understandably, the popular colt rocketed to the front of the sophomore class.   Finally, July 20th, ‘Max returned to win the seven-furlong Bold Ruler at Belmont over older foes. Most were impressed, but not overwhelmed. After all, it merely was a Grade 3 sprint.’ Max’s prospects of winning the sophomore Eclipse seemed tenuous, especially without a scheduled Breeders’ Cup appearance on the horizon. To complicate matters, the connections of Maximum Security didn’t scream ‘warm and fuzzy.’ The colt’s owners Gary and Mary West, generous philanthropic people, refused to accept the Kentucky stewards’ Derby decision and continued to drag the matter through court. The colt’s trainer Jason Servis, who wins at an incredibly high percentage no matter where he races, has unorthodox training methods and in interviews is about as forthcoming with information as Bill Belichick. And racing doesn’t do ‘unorthodox’ well. On the first Saturday in November, the 3-year-old male Eclipse Award was Code of Honor’s to win. An in-the-money finish in the Classic, presumably, would seal the deal. Before that race was run, however, a new candidate tossed his hat into the ring. Sophomore Spun to Run, third to ‘Max in the Haskell and an ultra-impressive winner of the M. P. Ballezzi Appreciation Stakes at Parx, dominated elders in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. That performance caused voters to rub chins and mutter, ‘Hmm.’ When Code of Honor finished a disappointing seventh in the Classic behind Vino Rosso divisional honors went up for grabs. Last Saturday, in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, Maximum Security snatched the brass ring. And looking back, perhaps, he always was the top 3-year-old without a serious rival. This year, he had crossed the finish first in all of his Grade 1 races—four of them—Florida Derby, Haskell, Cigar Mile and Kentucky Derby. He’s also never been worse than third at any call in nine career races and registered seven Beyer figures over 100! Code of Honor and Spun to Run have two each. For the first time in his life, Maximum Security made something ‘easy.’ Easy for voters to cast Eclipse ballots in his favor as Outstanding 3-year-old Male. It should have been easy all along. However, as we’ve learned, Maximum Security doesn’t do ‘easy.’ Race On!

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12.12.2019:

Baffert Wisely Studied Esteemed Colleague

Bob Baffert, who won five races in a single day last Saturday at Los Alamitos, graduated from the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree. Baffert later continued his studies at WU. “WU?” you ask? Yes, WU…Whittingham University. In the 1990s, after Baffert switched from training Quarter Horses to Thoroughbreds, his Santa Anita barn was located right next to Whittingham’s. Baffert wisely took advantage of this situation as much as he possibly could. It would be like an up-and-coming football coach being able to observe and pick the brain of Bill Belichick, who has won professional football’s most coveted game, the Super Bowl, six times. Whittingham twice won American racing’s most coveted race, the Kentucky Derby, saddling Ferdinand in 1986 and Sunday Silence in 1989. Lenny Shulman took a look back at the life and career of trainer Charlie Whittingham in a wonderful story that appeared in a recent issue of BloodHorse magazine. Whittingham died 20 years ago. “Inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1974, Whittingham was far more than a compiler of lofty achievements,” Shulman wrote. “He was a larger-than-life racetracker, for all intents and purposes an orphan who hit the racetrack before his teens, and a Marine the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. His hardscrabble beginnings made him a no-nonsense businessman who on the one hand charmed a series of celebrity clients and on the other never hesitated to boot out even the most well-heeled patrons should they question his judgment.” Of Whttingham’s “California statistics,” Shulman wrote, they “are so gaudy as to suggest a Big Leaguer playing T-ball against third graders.” One of Whittingham’s gaudy stats: Nine wins in the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap. A few years ago, after the Baffert-trained Game On Dude became the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap three times (2011, 2012 and 2013), I mentioned to Baffert that I felt that it was a Whittingham-like accomplishment. “You know, I studied Whittingham a lot back when my barn [at Santa Anita] was next to his,” Baffert told me. “I learned a lot by watching him closely and talking to him all the time.” No doubt helped at least to some extent by all that he learned when studying at WU, Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby five times -- with Silver Charm in 1987, Real Quiet in 1988, War Emblem in 2002, American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018. American Pharoah and Justify not only won the Kentucky Derby, they both swept the Triple Crown, horse racing’s Holy Grail. The Triple Crown was something that eluded Whittingham, though he did take a good run at it when Sunday Silence won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before finishing second to Easy Goer in the Belmont Stakes. Last Saturday, Baffert won five of the nine races on the daytime Thoroughbred card at Los Alamitos to equal a SoCal record. Three trainers now have achieved the feat of five victories in one day at a SoCal track. And Whittingham is not one of them. According to Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen, Allen Drumheller Sr. set the SoCal record when he won five races at Hollywood Park on July 4, 1955. Doug O’Neill tied the record when he won five races at Del Mar in 2015 and again this year on July 31. No trainer has ever had a five-win day at Santa Anita. Baffert’s streak last Saturday began in the fourth race with Thousand Words ($5.40) in the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity, followed by Speed Pass ($4.40) in an allowance/optional claiming race, Message ($4.60) in an allowance/optional claiming race, Bast ($6.40) in the Grade I Starlet Stakes, then Ra’ad ($3.40) in a maiden special weight contest. Speed Pass and Ra’ad were the only two of the five winners that were favored. The wet, sealed track was listed as good. Baffert does recall having won five races in a single day once before. He said he won five Quarter Horse trials one afternoon at Arizona’s Prescott Downs in 1983. But unlike last Saturday, those five victories were not in a row. “The purse was $300” in all of those Prescott races, Baffert added. BAFFERT’S DOMINATION CONTINUES Thousand Words continued Baffert’s remarkable success in the Los Alamitos Futurity. He’s now won it 12 times. Baffert has won all six editions of this race since it was switched to Los Alamitos in 2014 following the closure of Hollywood Park. He also won this race six times when it was run at Hollywood Park. Baffert has even more Del Mar Futurity victories to his credit. He’s won that race 14 times. No trainer has dominated any of this country’s current Grade I races to such an extent as Baffert with his 14 Del Mar Futurity wins. Baffert also has had much success in the Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. He’s won that race eight times. According to my research, fellow Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas and Whittingham are the two trainers closest to Baffert in terms of dominating any of this country’s current Grade I races. Lukas has won both the Grade I Del Mar Debutante and Grade I Chandelier Stakes (formerly Oak Leaf Stakes) at Santa Anita nine times. As mentioned earlier, Whittingham won the Santa Anita Handicap nine times. Below are Lukas’ nine Del Mar Debutante winners: 1996 Sharp Cat1989 Rue de Palm1988 Lea Lucinda*1987 Lost Kitty1995 Arewehavingfunyet1994 Fiesta Lady1993 Althea1982 Landaluce1978 Terlingua *Placed first through the disqualification of Approved to Fly. Below are Lukas’ nine winners in the Chandelier (formerly the Oak Leaf): 1996 City Band1995 Tipically Irish1994 Serena’s Song1988 One of a Klein1987 Dream Team1986 Sacahuista1985 Arewehavingfunyet1983 Althea1982 Landaluce Below are Whittingham’s nine winners in the Santa Anita Handicaps: 1993 Sir Beaufort1990 Ruhlmann1986 Greinton1985 Lord at War1975 Stardust Mel1973 Cougar II1971 Ack Ack1967 Pretense1957 Corn Husker Below are Baffert’s 14 Del Mar Futurity winners: 2018 Game Winner2016 Klimt2014 American Pharoah2012 Rolling Fog2011 Drill2009 Lookin At Lucky2008 Midshipman2002 Icecoldbeeratreds2001 Officer2000 Flame Thrower1999 Forest Camp1998 Worldly Manner1997 Souvenir Copy1996 Silver Charm Below are Baffert’s 12 winners in the Los Alamitos Futurity (formerly the Hollywood Futurity and CashCall Futurity): 2019 Thousand Words2018 Improbable2017 McKinzie*2016 Mastery2015 Mor Spirit2014 Dortmund2011 Liaison2009 Lookin At Lucky2008 Pioneerof the Nile2000 Point Given1999 Captain Steve1997 Real Quiet *Placed first through the disqualification of Solomini. FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT FOR THOUSAND WORDS Thousand Words now is two for two. He came from a bit off the pace to win a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special race by a half-length at Santa Anita on Oct. 26. A pace factor from the outset in the 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity, he prevailed by a neck in 1:43.19 while racing with blinkers for the first time. A $1 million yearling purchase, Thousand Words races for Albaugh Family Stables and Spendthrift Farm. In terms of the Kentucky Derby, Thousand Words certainly is highly regarded heading into 2020. So is Dennis’ Moment, who also is owned by Albaugh Family Stable. Dennis’ Moment, who finished eighth as the 4-5 favorite after stumbling badly at the start in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, is scheduled to make his 2020 debut in Gulfstream Park’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 29. Thousand Words, like American Pharoah, is by Pioneerof the Nile. Pioneerof the Nile in 2008 won the Los Alamitos Futurity when it was run at Hollywood Park and known as the CashCall Futurity. After Thousand Words was credited with an 88 Beyer Speed Figure for his first race, he recorded a 91 for his Los Al Futurity victory. Below are the Beyer Speed Figures recorded by winners of the Los Alamitos Futurity as it is now known going back to 1992 (this race was run at Hollywood Park prior to 2014): 2019 Thousand Words (91)2018 Improbable (96)2017 McKinzie (91)+2016 Mastery (91)2015 Mo Spirit (88)2014 Dortmund (91)2013 Shared Belief (106)*2012 Violence (92)*2011 Liaison (91)*2010 Comma to the Top (95)*2009 Lookin At Lucky (83)*2008 Pioneerof the Nile (86)*2007 Into Mischief (95)*2006 Stormello (94)*2005 Declan’s Moon (96)2004 Brother Derek (102)2003 Lion Heart (99)2002 Toccet (102)2001 Siphonic (104)2000 Point Given (101)1999 Captain Steve (101)1998 Tactical Cat (93)1997 Real Quiet (102)1996 Swiss Yodeler (92)1995 Matty G (104)1994 Afternoon Deelites (111)1993 Valiant Nature (106)1992 River Special (96) +Solomini finished first by three-quarters of a length and was assigned a 92 but was disqualified and placed second. McKinzie, who finished second and recorded a 91, was moved up to first via disqualification. *Run on a synthetic surface. MAXIMUM SECURITY SPARKLES IN CIGAR MILE One streak of Baffert’s that we now know is going to come to an end this year is he will not be the trainer of the Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old male of 2019. In light of Maximum’s Security’s three-length victory in last Saturday’s Grade I Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, he now is a slam-dunk to get that award. Jason Servis conditions Maximum Security, who is going to snap Baffert’s streak in this Eclipse Award category at three. Baffert has trained a total of nine Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old male champions -- Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Point Given (2001), War Emblem (2002), Lookin At Lucky (2010), American Pharoah (2015), Arrogate (2016), West Coast (2017) and Justify (2018). Maximum Security received a career-best 111 Beyer Speed Figure for his Cigar Mile triumph. The Kentucky-bred New Year’s Day colt has won six of eight starts this year. The Cigar Mile was his third Grade I win of 2019 to go along with the Florida Derby and Haskell Invitational. His only two losses this year came in the Kentucky Derby and Monmouth’s Pegasus Stakes. He finished first in the Derby, but then the stewards disqualified him and placed him 17th for causing interference. “Max” finished second in the Pegasus after stumbling at the start. REMEMBERING WILLIAM LEGGETT A day after Servis won the Cigar Mile with Maximum Security, the trainer sent out 7-1 Happy Farm to take the rescheduled Grade III Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct. It was final stakes race of the fall meet at the Big A. The Fall Highweight was supposed to have been run on Nov. 28, but the card was canceled that day due to high winds. The race then was rescheduled for Dec. 1, but it was not run that day, either. The jockeys refused to ride the final five races on the Dec. 1 program. Each year when the Fall Highweight is run, I can’t help but think of the late William Leggett. I have saved, for all these many years, what Leggett wrote in 1991 for the Racing Times about the Fall Highweight Handicap, which had a Grade II ranking back then. Leggett, you may know, was an acclaimed Sports Illustrated writer for many years prior to his stint with the Racing Times. “Fall Highweight should be extinct” was the headline on Leggett’s 1991 Racing Times piece. “NYRA loves the Fall Highweight Handicap, or the FHHzzz as some of us call it,” Leggett wrote. “To be gentle about the FHHzzz, it is the dumbest event in Thoroughbred racing.” You think that was being tough on the Fall Highweight Handicap? Leggett was just getting started. “This year, the FHHzzz will have its 78th running, but just because something has been around a long time certainly doesn’t make it correct,” he wrote. “In the FHHzzz, horses which should be carrying 110-122 pounds end up carrying 128-140. That’s a lot of dead weight. So is the race. We will now attempt to answer your questions about the FHHzzz. “Does the Fall Highweight have a bearing on anything? Nothing whatsoever. Is it a factor in voting for champion sprinter? It’s the first race one throws out. How many other tracks have a FHHzzz? Zero. Are other tracks contemplating adding a FHHzz to their schedules? Not if they are a private enterprise which wants to remain in business. Why is a Grade II race? The Flat Earth Society decides that.” And now for my favorite part of what Leggett wrote. “How are weights determined for the FHHzzz? Thought you would never ask. The Weight Bird decides the weights. Once a year, the Weight Bird flies into Belmont from his cave in Montauk. Corn is spread out on an ermine blanket and a horse’s name is screamed at the Weight Bird. The number of kernels the Weight Bird gathers in its beak is then multiplied by 37, which is the number of weeks Wayne Newton works a year.” I have rarely laughed as much as I did when reading that for the first time. Handicap races in North America have pretty much disappeared. There are very few of them anymore. Consequently, most people do not pay any attention to the weight horses carry these days. Weight, though, remains a key component of the Fall Highweight Handicap. The word “weight” even is part of the name of the race. But one would not realize weight mattered at all when reading the stakes recap disseminated by the NYRA press office. In the recap’s 11 paragraphs, you will not find out how much weight the winner or anyone else in the race carried. At least in David Grening’s Daily Racing Form recap, he noted that the victorious Happy Farm carried 125 pounds. Wonderful Light, who packed 127 pounds, finished second. Recruiting Ready, encumbered with 132 pounds, ended up third as the 1-2 favorite. The Weight Bird obviously was not very kind to Recruiting Ready.  

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12.12.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: December 13 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle in this week’s Stronach 5, which once again has a 100k guarantee. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:52 ET) – 3upfm 5k N3L* at 6furlongs The 13-horse opener really boils down to what you want to do with #11 LADY KIM (9-5), who is supposed to win, but we also said that last time, and she couldn’t get it done. She’s a must-use A, but I can’t trust her, so in a race that looks to have an honest pace, I’ll also use the class-dropping #2 THE BAY EXPRESS (15-1), who was in for 10k last time from an outside draw, can settle a bit early, and has never been in this low in here life. Pk5 A horses: 11,2 (listed in order of preference) I don’t know where that fast 3rd from #8 TOWSON (7-2) came from, but if she ran run back to it she’s a big threat, especially since she too can settle and get first run on the pick. The cutback and drop in class should help #5 R True Sensation (12-1), but she hasn’t won in 12 starts, while #6 Flirtatious Walk (6-1) seems in the mix, but was 3 lengths behind ‘Kim last time and offers no reason she can bridge the gap. Pk5 B horses: 8 Leg 2: Laurel Park R9 (4:22 ET) – 3up 25k SOC at 6 furlongs Maybe the fact there are 14 entered means we can get a bit of value by singling #2 FACTOR IT IN (5-2), since he looks like a real standout here, as he just won comfortably over a few here at this level over the track and distance, now goes off the claim for Mancilla (17%), and has worked lights out in two subsequent drills. Pk5 A horses: 2 Considering the strong opinion I have on Factor It In, and the fact no one else here inspires at all, I’ll go it alone, which will allow for more coverage in the more competitive races. If you are looking for some additional coverage, then #8 Rip Rap Riley (8-1) and #1 Successful Zip (15-1) will be prices off sharp wins against lesser, while #14 Like What I See (10-1) and #9 Spicy Meatball (6-1) has a few races to fall back on that would play here. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 3: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:30 ET) – 2yo 50k SOC at 1-mile This looks like a tricky race because several here are better on turf, with little to no dirt form, and the seemingly best dirt horse, #2 LURE HIM IN (9-2), hasn’t been out since a debut MCL win in May. I’ll put him on top, since he took money that day (5-2), returns in a spot where he can’t be claimed, runs as a first-time gelding with first-time Lasix, and could be the controlling inside speed, plus Nicks is a strong 19% off this extended layoff. He’s also an unknown, so I’ll also use #3 PLATO (3-1), who looked good breaking his maiden two-back on the dirt and was in too tough in a turf stakes last time, and #8 DRAMA IN DIXIE (7-2), who might be pressing the pick early and therefore in the right spot off the far turn if he’s not ready, and got some foundation off the two-turn turf run last time. Pk5 A horses: 2,3,8 I’ll use two underneath—#1 PERFECT REVENGE (8-1) and #6 I’M MORE READY (8-1)—and while neither has run on dirt, both are bred for it and have been running two turns of late, the Ortiz brothers are here, and the former invades from Woodbine, where horses have had success from early during this meet in the past, while the latter looked good in a breakthrough turf win last time and has plenty of upside off just three starts. Pk5 B horses: 1,6 Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:45 ET) – 2yof MSW at 5 furlongs I’ve got the ability to use several here, and that’s a good thing, as this is the definition of a spread, with all but three of the 10 entered being first-time starters. I think you have to use the trio with experience—#5 LADY CROCKER (5-1), #1 LA CROIX (3-1), #9 CHARMING LASS (20-1)—as they get a big edge for having met the starter, and the former sure improved with Lasix at Del Mat last time, while ‘Crocker should improve off a middling debut for a 31% France barn, and the latter adds Lasix off a better-than-it-looks 6th on debut. With that being said, the firsters won’t exactly have to be freaks to win this, so I’ll also use #7 DON’T UNZIP ME (7-2) and #6 ANATOLIA (5-2) for top local barns Wong and Wright, respectively, and also #4 GO VAIDAGIRL (15-1), who has some fast works sprinkled in and Tekos and Duran are 15% for a $2.58 ROI together, while #8 BISCOTTINI (10-1), who shows a slew of works for Amescua, who is 2-for-18 with firsters and reaches for 16% jock Couton. Pk5 A horses: 5,1,7,6,9,4,8 With seven of the 10 covered above, there’s no reason to use the other three, who looks a cut below. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3upfm 16k N2L at 1-mile (turf) The finale is riddled with 1’fers, and if you’ve followed me in this space before you know I don’t want anything to do with you if you’re over 1-for-15, so this one, at least for me, is a bit cut and dried. I’m using a trio of 1-for-10 runners—#5 FANTASTIC KINGDOM (7-2), #8 REGAL ROMANCE (8-1), and #4 TAILADIOS (6-1)—since the former drew much better than last time and has by far the best figures here, and the latter two are tactical enough to sit a nice trip in what looks like a paceless race, and have been knocking on the door at the level of late. PLEASE NOTE that if #15 Chasing Helicity 10-1) draws in, she’ll be an A as well, horrific post and all. Pk5 A horses: 5,8,4 The post is brutal for #11 ELITE APPEAL (4-1), but she has been in good form and has some tactical speed, so she’s worth inclusion underneath, and would also go to the A-line if one of the top trio scratches. There’s a chance that #2 Speed too Tume (15-1) gets loose here, but she still looks too slow, while #10 Tennessee Cotton (9-2) just missed at the level last time but is another who is slow, and dre poorly as well. Pk5 B horses: 11 The tickets: Main Ticket: 11,2 with 2 with 2,3,8 with 5,1,7,6,9,4,8 with 5,8,4 = $126Leg 1 B Backup: 8 with 2 with 2,3,8 with 5,1,7,6,9,4,8 with 5,8,4 = $42Leg 3 B Backup: 11,2 with 2 with 1,6 with 5,1,7,6,9,4,8 xxx with 5,8,4 = $84Leg 5 B Backup: 11,2 with 2 with 2,3,8 with 5,1,7,6,9,4,8 with 11 = $42

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12.11.2019:

Harness Highlights: Ohio Drivers Support Disaster Relief Fund

Top drivers from Northfield Park and Dayton Raceway will compete for bragging rights in the inaugural “Battle Of The Buckeyes” this Friday, Dec. 13 at Dayton, but they will unite to support a common cause. Northfield’s Aaron Merriman, Kurt Sugg, Chris Lems, Greg Grismore and David Lake, as well as Dayton’s Brett Miller, Jeremy Smith, Tyler Smith, Kayne Kauffman and Josh Sutton have agreed to donate the $3,000 in prize money from the eight-race competition to the Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund. The fund benefits the neighborhoods that were devastated by a Memorial Day tornado. Post time for the Friday card is 6:15 p.m.   IN THE XPRESSLANE: Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 2015 Horse of the Year, is scheduled to return from a lengthy layoff and run in the 12th race this Thursday, Dec. 12, at Dover Downs. The 7-year-old pacer with nearly $4 million in earnings qualified in 1:54.4 after a final half-mile in :55.4. … Monticello Raceway will hold its annual Au Revoir races Friday, Dec. 27, featuring soon-to-be 14-year-old pacers and trotters who will be forced into mandatory retirement at the end of the year. The purse for each race is $5,000. Call Eric Warner at 845-794-4100 extension 557 for more info. … Tim Tetrick, the top money-earning driver in North America this year, is headed to Finland this week for the inaugural Arctic Horse Race at Mantyvaara Racetrack in Rovaniemi, a three-race competition against drivers from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Italy. … The Harness Youth Foundation’s Harness Heroes trading cards are available just in time for the holidays. Send your name, address and a (suggested) $20 donation to the HHYF, 2711 Friar Tuck Road, Anderson IN 46013 to order your set. The set includes 2018 champions: Ariana G, Atlanta, Captain Crunch, Dorsodoro Hanover, Emoticon Hanover, Exhilarated, Forbidden Trade, Gimpanzee, Homicide Hunter, Illusioneesta, Jimmy Freight, Kissin In The Sand, McWicked, Run Director, Shartin N, Shower Play, Six Pack, Stag Party, Tall Drink Hanover, The Ice Dutchess, Warrawee Ubeaut, Will Take Charge, Woodside Charm and Foiled Again. The featured humans include: Blair Burgess, Ray Cotolo, Ted Gewertz, Mark Hall, Joe Holloway, Dave Little, Marcus Melander, Marlys Pinske, Jerry Silverman, Linda Toscano, and Ted Wing.

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12.9.2019:

Monday, December 9: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

The Pompano Park 0.50 Pick 4 starts in Race 5 and will be my focus. The sequence has a $10,000 guaranteed pool and a low 12% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 52-Team Captain (4-1)-This is a spot to shine for the Captain. May go out, get the top and try to control the race and not look back.3-Fritzie Pic Up Man (7/2)-Form has been flat but at this class and from this post it's probably best to not overlook.6-Andreios Kardia (7/2)-Seems to need the top and from this spot that could happen. A player if Fern provides a good steer.Race 63-Freak On A Leash (7-1)-Looking for 1st PPk win but can be in the mix from this post and could pop at a nice price.4-Donegal Jim (9/2)-Knows how to win and fits well at this class. Could be sitting on a big try and will probably be driven aggressively.6-IRA Chief (7/5)-Not totally sold on this chalk but if Hennessey is allowed to get the top and slow the pace down, chances for a win go up.Race 71-Danza (10-1)-Makes 3rd start for new barn and could get the 2-hole behind #5. Has done well at the Pomp and will use looking for a better Pick 4 payout.5-Grantor Hanover (1/1)-Winner of 2 straight at this class, will get the top and if no one challenges could make it a 3-peat.Race 84-Hypnotic Racer (7-1)-Raced a good 2nd half from the 9-hole but wasn't rewarded. Plano could work a trip and surprise at a square price.5-Caroline GR (6-1)-Will toss last from the 7-hole, should be better with this post draw. Form was good in previous 3 races and will look for a rebound tonight.6-Elm Grove Nellie (10-1)-Makes 4th start for new barn and I'll take a swing here. Leaving both program chalks #2 and #8 off the ticket, last effort was better and Wallis sticks.My Ticket Race 5) 2,3,6 Race 6) 3,4,6 Race 7) 1,5 Race 8) 4,5,6Total Ticket Cost) $27 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.9.2019:

Triple Crown Prospects Remain in the Weeds

I’ve written nearly 1.5 million words about the 3-year-old trail since the start of Countdown to the Crown in 2006. But somehow I’m at a loss to write much definitive at this point about the 2020 crop as we’re just 3 weeks from the New Year and the start of the 15th season of my scouting report.The last few years have seen a spark in late bloomers with success in the Triple Crown. Country House was an 0-2 maiden at this stage a year ago, while Maximum Security still was about 10 days away from his $16,000 maiden claiming debut. We all know Justify was only a name on a halter at this point 2 years ago, and Always Dreaming the year prior had not been seen since Saratoga and was 0-2 in the maiden ranks. Cloud Computing wouldn’t debut until February of his ’17 season that resulted in a Preakness score.So forgive me if the Monday after the Remsen that I’m not going all in for Shotski, the front-end winner at 8-1 on the usual 9-furlong carousel this time of year. Apologies if the wiseguy horse isn’t yet runner-up Ajaaweed, the only closer to make a dent in the top-5 at the Big A. Meanwhile, it’s a no-can-do banking your aspirations on a 4-horse, wet-track Los Alamitos Futurity (won by Thousand Words). And, nope, I’m not willing to commit my letter jacket and go steady with Kentucky Jockey Club winner Silver Prospector or the dispatched and ballyhooed beaten favorite in that race Tiz the Law.The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile didn’t lend clarity and trustworthiness with its 3,900-1 trifecta of bombs. Storm the Court was 45-1 when he won that one; he wound up 41-1 in the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool. That was no better than 14th choice among 22 individual pari-mutuel interests. No, this Breeders’ Cup Juvenile didn’t continue a seemingly solid run of results that gave us sophomores-to-be like Nyquist, Classic Empire, Good Magic and Game Winner in succession.Like most things in life, we wind up with a good news, bad news situation. The bad news is that this 2-year-old crop has done absolutely nothing to distinguish itself or any of its members. The good news is that the last few years has shown that it doesn’t really matter as much as it once did.We will wind up at the first Saturday in May with horses who won or ran well in the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby and more. We always do. But in a society that wants its news now – and its hot takes even faster than that – we’re going to have to exercise patience.As D. Wayne Lukas famously said, “People have questions. Horses have the answers.”

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12.8.2019:

Sunday, December 8: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight, Pompano Park offers a $20,000 guaranteed pool for the 0.50 Pick 4. The sequence starts in Race 5, it has a very low 12% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 55-Panocchio (8/5)-Just missed in last as an odds-on chalk and will be heavily bet tonight. Bumps up a notch and is a threat at this class too but offers no value.6-American Chrome (10-1)-Makes 3rd start for new barn that has been going well and has a positive driver change. May offer a nice price and could land on the engine or in the 2-hole, best to not overlook.8-Music Is Art (3-1)-Raced well at this class in first PPk start but now draws outside. Speedy and should be tighter tonight, using but needs live cover.Race 62-Man Of Mine (6-1)-Last week #5 got rolling early and set a fast pace, and there was no catching the leader. Did race the last half in 56.1 and now makes 4th start at the Pomp. Looking for better and could trip out from this post.5-Mach West (1-1)-Made it look easy in last and will likely be an odds-on favorite here and many will single. Best to respect but 3-year-old isn't the most consistent.Race 74-American Hustle (8-1)-Even effort in 1st PPk start but loves this track and is (13-26) lifetime here. Makes 2nd start after being off since 10/12 and will hope the trip isn't kind to #7.7-Prairie Panther (3/2)-Drew off by 3 1/2 versus many of these in 1st start off the bench. This is another PPk vet who does great work here (20-27). Looks solid as long as the trip isn't an issue.Race 83-Late Night Joke (8-1)-Drops to a better level but needs to avoid a slow start. Is trip dependent and might be overlooked. Pace could be hot and if so chances for a late rally go up.6-Mikado Blue Chip (12-1)-Drops in 2nd local start and has the gate speed to end up in the 2-hole behind #7.7-Feelin Lika Winner (9/5)-Steps-up after just missing from the 8-hole and Hennessey sticks. Was used hard in the 1st half and couldn't rally in the last quarter. 9-year-old knows how to win and could be a popular single but will need a top effort versus this crew.My Ticket Race 5) 5,6,8 Race 6) 2,5 Race 7) 4,7 Race 8) 3,6,7 Total Ticket Cost) $18 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.8.2019:

Jeff Siegel's Day Makers for Dec. 8, 2019

Every racing day Jeff Siegel offers two “Day Makers” while specifically concentrating on racing from Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park, and Aqueduct These are “cream of the crop” selections and offer the horse player a unique insight into the process behind the analysis.Day Makers for Sunday, December 8, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Saturday, December 7, 2:019: View VideoDay Makers for Friday, December 6, 2019: View VideoDay Makers for Thursday, December 5, 2019: View Video

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12.7.2019:

December 7-Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

The feature at the Meadowlands goes in Race 2, a Preferred Pace with a $30,000 purse. The 0.50 Pick 4 begins in Race 8, it has a $50,000 guaranteed pool and a 15% takeout. That competitive sequence will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 81-Ocean Colony (10-1)-Will need a top effort but counting on a smart steer by McCarthy. Leaving from the rail might be the edge to win at a nice price.3-Incredible Shark (10-1)-Has been facing better and is competitive. Looks to be worth a swing at 10-1 in the ML.4-Pacing Major N (8-1)-This is another who has been facing better but not sure a larger oval suits. Dunn should keep Yonkers regular in play, seems to have the speed to be a player.9-Trump Nation (3-1)-Gingras blasted out, got the top and faded last week. This is the 2nd start off the bench and could be tighter and better tonight.Race 91-Campora N (6-1)-Dave Miller takes a spin on Yonkers invader who fits with this group. This is the 1st Big M appearance in a difficult race to predict.5-Thespywholovedme (15-1)-Got on the engine from the 9-hole and didn't last. Usually comes off cover and may go back to that plan. Andy Miller has some options with this post.9-American Sara (9/2)-This is the 3rd Big M start and comes off a win. This won't be as easy and wasn't Gingras choice, but McCarthy can work a trip.Race 103-Wild Goose Chase (15-1)-Will respect connections and drops to the level where best finishes have happened.5-Melodies Major (8-1)-Another who is in a spot to shine. Took the long way around last week and may find a smoother journey here.9-Rock Three Times (7/2)-10-year old still has the gate speed to be put in play from this post. Could be over bet but is a player versus this crew with a top effort .Race 111-Nascar Seelster (9/2)-Tetrick takes a seat and he had success with this Cullipher trainee in November, best to respect.4-Griffon Hanover (3-1)-Wasn't Tetrick's choice but form is sharp and McCarthy can give the 6-year-old a chance for a picture.5-Ever Again (8-1)-Knows how to win and likes the track. Should be in the hunt from this post and could be overlooked at the windows.0.50 Pick 41,3,4,9/1,5,9/3,5,9/1,4,5Total Bet=$54Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.7.2019:

Jeff Siegel's Gulfstream Wagering Strategies - 12/7/19

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.*It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.*Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.*The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.*RACE 1: Post 11:50 ET. Grade: BUse: 4-Mo Clare’s; 5-Hurricane Breeze; 7-Osaka GirlForecast: Mo Clare’s was given a run sprinting on turf at Keeneland in her debut last month and today will get serious when stretching out to a mile. She’s a fit on numbers based on that one race but seems likely to produce a significant forward move with C. Landeros riding her back for I. Wilkes. Hurricane Breeze had every chance when establishing a clear lead in a maiden turf router at Keeneland last time but couldn’t quite seal the deal, getting worn down late. She earned a decent figure in the process, so if she doesn’t go backward today the daughter of Summer Front should be a major player. Osaka Girl is gradually improving with experience – she’s increased her speed figures in each of her three career starts – and with another bit of improvement she should at least hit the board. Toss her in on a ticket or two.**RACE 2: Post 12:18 ET. Grade: B-Use: 2-Travy Boy; 7-Tale of Fire; 9-WhyruawesomeForecast: Trainer J. Navarro has two bullets to fire in this six furlong sprint to kick off the Claiming Crown series and are tough to separate. Whyareuawesome is thoroughly genuine and consistent – he’s been first or second in 21 of 54 career starts – and after a bit of freshening from late September the Monmouth Park shipper seems to have found a proper spot to regain his winning form. He’s a previous winner over the Gulfstream Park main track, is drawn comfortably outside, and should find himself on or near the lead throughout. Stable mate Tale of Fire, perfect in two starts over the local main track, missed at 40 cents on the dollar in his most recent outing in New Jersey in early October but on pure numbers he’s a strong fit at this level and a “must use.” Travy Boy seeks her third straight win and earned a career top speed figure when capturing a Florida-bred stakes race at Gulfstream Park West last month. He’s plenty quick but doesn’t need the lead to win and is worth including in rolling exotic play at 6-1 on the morning line.**RACE 3: Post 12:47 ET. Grade: B-Use: 1-Make a Stand; 6-Leading West; 9-Dr. DoyleForecast: Make a Stand is a first-timer from the T. Pletcher barn with a good inside draw in this maiden special weight turf miler for juveniles. The works are strong, so we suspect this son of Union Rags is cranked up and ready to go. It’ll be interesting to see if he leaves lower than his morning line of 6-1. Leading West also presents value at or near his 6-1 morning line. A closing second in his third career start (but his first for J. Servis) in a two-turn main track maiden affair at Monmouth Park in late September, the Distorted Humor colt should be within striking range throughout and have every chance when it counts. Dr. Doyle, runner-up in a Meadowlands turf sprint in his debut last month while more than four lengths clear of the rest, earned a competitive figure and has a right to improve stretching out. He’s another at a decent price (5-1) that you have to include.**RACE 4: Post 1:17 ET. Grade: B-Use: 2-Liza Star; 5-Cuddle Kitten; 7-Potra LIzaForecast: Cuddle Kitten was transferred to the J. Navarro barn four races back and hasn’t lost since, most recently winning a listed stakes at Parx in mid-September with a career top speed figure. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy has a good stalking style that ensures a clean trip but it’s hard to be sure how she’ll react to this turn back to a one-turn mile. Let’s assume she’ll adapt just fine. Her Navarro-trained stable mate Potra Liza couldn’t handle Cuddle Kitten when they squared off at Parx, but the daughter of Graydar is a perfect two-for-two over the Gulfstream Park main track and should produce a dangerous late kick. Liza Star is a seven-time winner over the local main track has improved vastly since being claimed by P. Walder back in May. Her recent numbers are strong and if she can shake loose early as the controlling speed she could prove hard to catch. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics with a slight edge on top to Cuddle Kitten.**RACE 5: Post 1:47 ET. Grade: BUse: 3-Thinkin Cowtown; 4-Band of AngelsForecast: Band of Angels earned a career top speed figure when demolishing an $8,000 claiming field at Meadowlands in her most recent outing and J. Navarro-trained mare can win right back with a similar effort today. She has 11 wins and no seconds in her career and always seems to find something extra under pressure in the final stages. Thinkin Cowtown has won four races from 16 career starts, all of her wins coming over the Gulfstream Park turf course. She’s a late running sprinter by trade and could be a threat if she can get some help up front. Both should be used in rolling exotic play; we’ll have extra tickets keying Band of Angels on top.**RACE 6: Post 2:20 ET. Grade: B-Use: 6-Yodel E. A. Who; 8-First Deal; 9-BenefactorForecast: Once again J. Navarro has the two main players. Benefactor is very fast on numbers and shows prior winning form over the Gulfstream Park main track. Freshened since September but with a bullet recent workout at Palm Meadows to have him fit and ready, the More Than Ready trained gelding projects to be on or near the lead throughout in the seven furlong affair. Stable matFirst Deal doesn’t quite have the speed figures that Benefactor shows but is lightly-raced and seeking his fourth straight win, so it’s entirely possible he hasn’t yet reached his ceiling. The three-year-old colt has the perfect style for this extended sprint trip. Yodel E. A. Who is another on a hot streak – he’s won his last three in thoroughly convincing fashion – and may be the quickest of the quick. He’s worth including at least as a saver or a back-up.**RACE 7: Post 2:52 PT. Grade: XUse: 3-Shekky Shebaz; 5-Tiger BloodForecast: Shekky Shebaz just finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and has earned triple-digit Beyer speed figures in his last three starts. Logical top pick, right? Well, he’s 7/5 on the morning line and certainly the one to beat, but Tiger Blood is too good of a racehorse to completely eliminate. A perfect four-for-four over the Gulfstream Park turf course and a winner of 15 races from 40 career starts, the tough-as-nails gelding will never back down from a fight. Clear preference on top goes to Shekky Shebaz, but you should have a few save on at least a few tickets with Tiger Blood in rolling exotic play.**RACE 8: Post 3:24 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Dizzy Gillespie; 6-Sensational Ride; 7-Salsa’s ReturnForecast: J. Navarro once again is well represented with the 9-year-old Salsa’s Return, away since mid-September but a tough old pro with 15 career victories on his resume. The son of Olmodavor has a good stalking style and always lays his body known when the pressure is turn on in the final furlong. Based purely on speed figures he rates top billing. Sensational Ride, now in the P. Walder barn, looks like the speed of the speed based on his Thistledown form. This is a tougher group than he’s been used to seeing, but the son of Dunkirk may get brave if he can shake loose early. The Walder barn has another front-running type in the field, Dizzy Gillespie, who may this time employ rating tactics (he’s won stalking in the past). A seven-time winner over the Gulfstream Park main track, the South Carolina-bred gelding is better than his 12-1 morning line and is worth tossing in somewhere.**RACE 9: Post 3:56 ET. Grade: BUse: 7-Vip Nation; 9-Una LunaForecast: Una Luna, first or second in 11 of 16 career starts, has been second in each of her last four outings and is due to get back on the winning track. She likes to settle early and then produce a late run and with clear sailing and decent fractions to run at the daughter of Dunkirk may be able to produce the last run. Vip Nation appears the best of the front-running types and just earned a career top speed figure when nosed out in a good New York-bred allowance event over the Aqueduct turf course three weeks ago. A similar effort today may be good enough. Let’s try to survive and advance using just these two, with preference on top to Una Luna.**RACE 10: Post 4:28 ET. Grade: B+Use: 3-Forest Fire; 5-LeitoneForecast: Leitone demolished a $50,000 claiming field with a superior, career-top speed figure at Belmont Park in late October and if the J. Servis-trained horse duplicates that type of performance today he’ll be very hard to beat. The son of Dunkirk always been a need-the-lead type, so if he can clear the field without too much effort the others may be running for second money. Servis’ other starter, Forest Fire, has good early speed as well, but he can be equally effective as a stalker/pouncer so we suspect that strategy will be employed. It won’t be too much of a surprise if the stable mates finish one-two; we’ll have a few extra tickets keying Leitone on top.**RACE 11: Post 5:00 ET. Grade: BUse: 5-Muggsamatic; 7-DontblamerocketForecast: Dontblamerocket packs a powerful late kick and knows where the wire is, having won six of 13 during his career including his last pair with authority. Fast on figures and with a healthy work pattern to have him fit and ready following a three month layoff, the son of Blame offers value at or near his morning line of 4-1. Muggsamatic, claimed in his last three and now in the J. Servis barn (35% with a strong flat-bet profit with this angle), could improve a ton, as many first-off-the-claims do for this outfit. He’s similar on speed figures to Dontblamerocket and also has been known to produce a strong late kick, so with good racing luck he seems certain to be a major player, if not the one to beat. We’ll use both in rolling exotic play.

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12.6.2019:

Picks for Saturday’s Aqueduct Mandatory Payout Pick 6

It’s another Mandatory Payout Day in racing, this time at New York’s Aqueduct Racetrack.  On top of a phenomenal card that includes six stakes races (four graded) and horses like Maximum Security and Spun to Run, they’re also offering a mandatory payout in their 20-cent Empire 6, which has been growing for weeks.  Heading into today, the ‘everything must go’ carryover is $585,943.The sequence starts with Race 5 at 1:35PM ET. Here’s my ticket: Race 5 (1:35PM ET) – Maiden Special Weight The sequence starts with maidens and I love when that happens.  At least we can see the toteboard and identify horses that are/aren’t being bet.  #1 DEFAULT RATE (3/1) is a Klaravich/Chad Brown horse that hasn’t been backed at the windows in either race, but ran well both times.  He was DQ’d from first in a maiden race at Monmouth at 5/1 odds and ran 3rd in a similar race at Belmont at 6/1.  When Chad Brown horses are paying $10+, that’s generally not a great sign but perhaps this is a field he can handle?  Todd Pletcher’s #5 FARMINGTON ROAD was the less exciting half of a heavy-favorite entry in his debut but he switches to Castellano.  #9 OR’EFFICE (4/1) has been working well and is so well bred that you have to think he’s great if he takes money.  Blinkers go on #2 TAPAGE (9/2).  He’s so well bred but never really gets involved.  Might be worth giving him one more try, but I don’t blame anyone that doesn’t want to.   Race 6 (2:09PM ET) – Go for Wand Handicap (Gr III)We need a single in this sequence and for many, it’ll come in the form of #3 SPICED PERFECTION (3/5).  She’s a millionaire and has won 8-of-19 starts and most recently finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.  She is far from a lock and I don’t think she’s as likely as her 3/5 morning line price suggests, but it’ll take a solid effort to beat her.  The two likeliest upsetters are #1 NEEDS SUPERVISION (10/1), #5 SAGUARO ROW (6/1) and #6 OUR SUPER NOVA (6/1) and all offer great value.  If you like something elsewhere and have the budget to spread here, beating SPICED PERFECTION would make potential payouts skyrocket.Race 7 (2:41PM ET) – Maiden Special Weight We won’t be able to leverage the toteboard in this MSW as it falls mid-sequence so we’ll have to get a little creative with the horses we use.  #12 TWO POINT OH (3/1) is trained by Jeremiah Englehart who has had a great year and excels in races like this.  #10 TRASH TALKER (7/2) is the best of these that have run and #6 HEDONISTIC (8/1) had a rough trip in his first start in the slop.  He should do better here.  Throw in the Steve Asmussen and Bill Mott firsters, #9 ASTRONAUT (12/1) and #1 KING KHOZAN (8/1), respectively, and we see why finding a single or two is so imperative.Race 8 (3:13PM ET) – Demoiselle Stakes (Gr II) I really liked #5 ALANDRA’s (4/1) debut in Saratoga but I thought her trip in the G1 Alcibiades couldn’t have been worse.  She lagged behind early and by the time she got to running, British Idiom was already at the top of the Keeneland short stretch.  #12 LAKE AVENUE (9/2) ran off the screen in her maiden win and while 12 3/4-length wins are as much about competition as they are the winner, Bill Mott jumps her right up in class which is a good sign.  Plus she’s beautifully bred, by Tapit out of G1 winner Seventh Street.  Might as well include local horses #6 CRITICAL VALUE (8/1) and #2 MAEDEAN (7/2).  Race 9 (3:43PM ET) – Remsen Stakes (Gr II)This is always a fun race with so many horses either routing for the first time or coming back off losses that escluded them from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  I don’t have a strong opinion in this race, but I will use #1 CHASE TRACKER (7/2), #3 CLEON JONES (6/1), #4 AJAAWEED (9/2), #7 PRINCE JAMES (15/1) and #8 ALPHA SIXTY SIX (4/1).  I don’t see a lot of pace in here and that could make PRINCE JAMES interesting as he adds blinkers and could forget he’s supposed to stop.  He’s a son of Tiznow and out of a Super Saver mare and has already won around two turns.  Race 10 (4:16PM ET) – Cigar Mile Handicap (Gr I) I’m going to bet this as a two horse race and only use #5 MAXIMUM SECURITY (3/2) and #6 SPUN TO RUN (5/2) on my ticket.  I think SPUN TO RUN, who won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last month, got the best of the draw (being outside of MAXIMUM SECURITY) and if I had to pick one horse to bet here, it would be him.  ‘MAX is in ‘must send’ mode from that post and the target is on his back.  But hey, it was last time out too in the G3 Bold Ruler when he drew the rail and he battled inside and kicked away from a solid field.  My TicketRace 5: 1, 2, 9Race 6: 3Race 7: 1, 6, 9, 10, 12 Race 8: 2, 5, 6, 12 Race 9: 1, 3, 4, 7, 8 Race 10: 5, 6Ticket Cost: $120 for 20-cents You could also cut this ticket in half (to a more manageable $60) by picking a single in the Cigar Mile.  My lean is SPUN TO RUN but I also like what MAXIMUM SECURITY has done throughout his career.  There’s a reason he’s crossed the finish line first in 7-of-8 career starts. 

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12.6.2019:

Competitive Sprint Starts Off Gulfstream 'Crown,' Early Pick 4

The Claiming Crown has the spotlight Saturday at Gulfstream Park, and the 11-race card including nine of the stakes races for horses that have run for claiming prices. Since being eligible for the races, some of the contestants have turned into graded stakes competitors.This week’s target here is the early Pick 4 in races 2-5, and three of the events within the sequence are part of the Claiming Crown. The suggested ticket cost is $36 with a 4x3x3x2 pattern.There will be some short-priced favorites scattered about, and if you can beat them, some attractive payoffs will occur.It begins in the second race with the Claiming Crown Express for older sprinters. Whyruawesome, a Jorge Navarro performer who came into his own when he won three straight and then was second in the Mr Prospector, is the 8-5 favorite and is usable in the sequence but in no way faces pushovers. Harryhee is a 20-1 shot but has been a stalwart in optional-claiming sprinters and occasionally wins stakes races. He’s a nine-time winner of the strip, and while it will take the perfect storm to get him to lead gate-to-wire, he’ll be a strong pace factor. If allowed to clear this group, he could be very difficult to catch.Travy Boy won the Millions Sprint Preview at Gulfstream West in his latest and seeks a third straight win. He has come up the claiming ladder and is a viable candidate in this six-furlong rush to the wire. Another strong contender is Fast Pass, who has been outstanding at GP lately, with a stakes win and a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint. He’ll likely benefit from the fast pace in front of him.The opening leg could be the best race on the card. Others on the ticket including Make a Stand, Majestic Ro and Leading West in the third race; Picasso Moon, Cuddle Kitten and Kodiak Katie in the fourth; and Unaquoi and Dance Till Dawn in the fifth race and final leg of the early Pick 4.Here’s the suggested play for the early Pick 4 Saturday at Gulfstream Park: Race 2) #1 Harryhee, #2 Travy Boy, #4 Fast Pass, #9 Whyruawesome. Race 3) #1 Make a Stand, #3 Majestic Ro, #6 Leading West. Race 4) #1 Picasso Moon, #5 Cuddle Kitten, #6 Kodiak Katie. Race 5) #1 Unaquoi, #9 Dance Till Dawn. Total Ticket Cost) 1,2,4,9/1,3,6/1,5,6/1,9 = $36 for $0.50

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12.6.2019:

Friday, December 6: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

Cal Expo has a 12-race card set to kick-off the weekend. The feature comes in Race 9, the Alan Horowitz Final with a $20,000 purse. The 0.20 Pick 4 begins in Race 8, it has a $30,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 84-Coz And Effect (7/2)-Come off a tough trip, draws inside and can be forwardly placed from here. Kennedy should put in play early and that improves chances.6-Heza Real Diamond (3-1)-3-year-old should like the company and is a player if ready off the bench. Short price most likely and this is the 32nd start of the year. This isn't the most formful race so will respect chances.7-Senga Nitro (6-1)-Will string along as steps-up again after 2 sharp wins. Best to respect chances for a 3-peat.8-Five Card Draw N (6-1)-Hasn't raced since 9/8 but qualifier was good. If 10-year-old is ready to go this is a soft spot and should be a decent price.Race 91-Deweydiddonegood (5/2)-Loses Roland but Svendsen has steered before and last 3 have been strong efforts. Draws the rail and the inside starting spot may be enough to take top honors.5-Mystic Ruler (8-1)-Interesting play, has won over 25% of lifetime starts but 7-year-old has never taken a picture at the Pomp. Seems worthy of a swing and could be overlooked at the windows.7-Al's Brief (3-1)-Strong efforts in last 3 and has been bet. Looks like a major player again and will likely be a short price.Race 101-Villa For Rent (6-1)-Has lacked a closing punch since coming back to CalX. But last was better and could be in line for a ground saving trip at a nice price.2-Joker John (6-1)-2nd time Lasix and gets post relief. Roland could trip out here and sweep by late.3-Na Na Na Baatman (5-1)-Longo trainee flattened out after going 1st over. Could take a picture in an open race but will need a good trip.8-Lodi Eat My Dust (6-1)-Last start was in the slop and looking for an aggressive steer in 3rd start off the bench. Not much gate speed in here and this guy does good work on the engine.Race 112-Tiyaga (5/2)-Program chalk raced better in the slop last time and has no excuses tonight. Draws well and fits with this crew.4-Therealgoods (6-1)-Was used aggressively in the slop and faded, but is only 1-14 on an off track. Could be sitting on a big try at a square price. Has the gate speed to get on the engine or a 2-hole trip behind #7.7-Cenalta Dragster (7/2)-Winner of last 2 starts at this level and is too sharp to leave out. Plano should have him forwardly placed early on.My Ticket Race 8) 4,6,7,8 Race 9) 1,5,7 Race 10) 1,2,3,8 Race 11) 2,4,7Total Ticket Cost) $28.80 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.5.2019:

Plenty of Weekend Stakes: Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Los Al & More

The stars are out this Saturday and Sunday at tracks around the country, with names like Maximum Security, Whitmore, Spun to Run, Shekky Shebaz, Anneau d’Or and Bast running on Saturday and one of horse racing’s most colorful and enjoyable events, the Caribbean Classic, taking place Sunday at Gulfstream Park.  And at Xpressbet, we’re getting in on the action in a big way.  Check out these stellar promotions:Xpressbet $500 Handicapping Tournament: Punch your ticket to the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship (a $6,000 value) on Saturday, January 25, 2019 by playing in our tournament this Saturday.  Put up the $500 Buy-In ($300 Bankroll & $200 Entry Fee) and bet races from Gulfstream and Aqueduct to win PWCBC Seats and cash prizes! Gulfstream Park Saturday 1 Million Point Split: Hit 1 Million Points Saturday at Gulfstream Park when you hit Exacta bets ($2 base minimum) on four different races.Aqueduct Cigar Mile 1 Million Point Split: Hit Aqueduct’s Late Pick 4 (Races 7 – 10) on Cigar Mile Saturday to Split 1 Million XB Rewards Points.Gulfstream Park Sunday 1 Million Point Split: Hit Gulfstream’s Caribbean Classic Late Pick 4 this Sunday to Split 1 Million XB Rewards Points.  But hey, enough commercials.  Let’s get into some previews.Saturday, December 7 – Gulfstream ParkSaturday is Claiming Crown Day at Gulfstream Park.  That’s the day on the calendar where current and former claimers step up into restricted stakes company and compete for more than $1.1 Million in purses across nine stellar races.  This year’s entrants include Claiming Crown Canterbury runner SHEKKY SHEBAZ, third-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and 16-time winner SPRING UP in the Claiming Crown Emerald.  Racing at Gulfstream on Saturday has a special first post of 11:50AM ET and their wager menu includes all of your favorites, including the Rainbow 6, a pair of Pick 5’s and multiple Pick 4’s.  Saturday, December 7 – AqueductCigar Mile Day at Aqueduct is always a winner and this year is definitely no exception.  The field for the Grade 1 ‘Mile includes Haskell and Xpressbet Florida Derby victor (and Kentucky Derby first place finisher) MAXIMUM SECURITY, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner SPUN TO RUN and Breeders’ Cup Sprint third-place finishers WHITMORE, along with last year’s Cigar Mile runner-up TRUE TIMBER and a duo of Chad Brown horses, LOOKING AT BIKINIS and NETWORK EFFECT.  The card also includes the Grade 2 Remsen, starring Todd Pletcher’s ALPHA SIXTY SIX, Shug McGaughey’s AMENDS and Kiaran McLaughlin’s AJAAWEED.  The Grade 2 Demoiselle, also on the docket, attracted a field of 12, headlined by 12-length maiden winner LAKE AVENUE and stakes winner CRITICAL VALUE.  First post at Aqueduct on Saturday is 11:30AM ET, so be sure to get up early and be ready to fire!Saturday, December 7 – Los Alamitos (TB)Saturday’s big races continue in California as Los Alamitos (TB) gets underway at 3:30PM ET and features the Grade 1 Starlet and Grade 2 Futurity for two-year-olds.  The Starlet attracted the 2nd and 3rd place finishers from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, DONNA VELOCE and BAST, while the Futurity nabbed the Juvenile 2nd and 3rd place runners, ANNEAU D’OR and WRECKING CREW, as well as Bob Baffert’s highly-regarded maiden winner THOUSAND WORDS and G3 Bob Hope winner HIGH VELOCITY.  Saturday, December 7 – Sha Tin (HK)I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Saturday night is the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s prestigious Hong Kong International Races, with four major events for some of the top horses in the world.  Horses scheduled to compete are Hong Kong’s reigning Horse of the Year, BEAUTY GENERATION, in the Hong Kong Mile, while a strong international contingent, including MAGIC WAND (Ireland), ANTHONY VAN DYCK (Ireland), DEIRDRE (Japan), PRINCE OF ARRAN (Great Britian) and ADMIRE MARS (Japan) offer a stiff challenge to the ‘home team.’  Racing from Sha Tin gets underway at 11:00PM ET on Saturday night with the International Races going as Race 4 (Vase), Race 5 (Sprint), Race 7 (Mile) and Race 8 (Cup).Sunday, December 8 – Gulfstream ParkThe biggest racing event in the Caribbean, the Caribbean Classic, brings its act to Gulfstream Park for the third straight year!  This is always an event that showcases plenty of passion, as fans cheer on horses from Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Jamaica and more.  First post at Gulfstream Park on Sunday is 11:40AM ET. 

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12.5.2019:

Betting on the Future

Thanksgiving turkey gravy had hardly congealed when a mature man’s attention turned toward spring and the first Saturday in May. If you think late November is too early to begin analyzing that race’s outcome, you probably aren’t interested in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager presented by Churchill Downs and available at Xpressbet. That’s how the majority of US-based horseplayers can get down early on which horse will win the run for the roses. Thanksgiving weekend was the first of four opportunities to dive into such pools. Additional action will be presented Feb. 7 – 9; March 6 – 8 and April 3 – 5. All pools open at Noon and close at 6 pm on each final day. Pool 1 wagering began the day after Thanksgiving and concluded Sunday, with closing pari-mutuel odds, as usual, established by the public. Derby future investments, however, unlike most pari-mutuel wagers, pay off at fixed odds—sort of. We say ‘sort of’ because, while prices can change as long as each individual Derby wagering pool remains open, when wagering closes, punters are guaranteed payoffs at the odds they’ve secured, no matter the ultimate final mutuel return on Derby day. In that sense, future players are able to ‘lock in’ wagers at particular prices. Future wager pools also are offered on the Kentucky Oaks (March 6 -8); the sire of the Derby winner (Nov. 28 – Dec. 1) and the Oaks/Derby Double (March 6 – 8). Exacta wagering for runners and sires also is offered. Personally, I’m not a Derby future wager guy. I like to study 2-year-old form and future odds, but rarely get involved financially. Which may be foolish because I’m actually ahead of the ‘future’ game. As I’ll Have Another (15.30-1) won the 2012 Kentucky Derby, I desperately scanned numerous failed exacta and trifecta wagers. Nothing. An empty wagon. Dejected, I then turned my attention to handicapping the next race at Churchill Downs. Suddenly, I remembered that earlier in the year I had made a decent-sized future wager on the Doug O’Neill-trained Derby winner. I accessed my Xpressbet account balance and voila! Despite several Derby day misfires, it had grown! So, you see, I should be a huge fan of the future wager. But I’m not. Never have been. So, why did I make that winning wager? Opportunity smiled; I remember because it seldom does. I happened to be on a hot streak at the time and my wagering account was flush. I watched I’ll Have Another win the Robert Lewis at Santa Anita and thought, ‘Man, that horse sure looks good.’ I consulted his future odds and found a fair price, so I made the bet. Next out, I’ll Have Another battled Creative Cause to a mere nose victory in the Santa Anita Derby and I cooled on his Derby chances. I didn’t have anything on him Kentucky Derby day, but that two-month old future wager was in pocket. You might wonder, if it worked so well eight years ago, why haven’t I done the same thing since? Well, to be honest, these days, my account balance seldom is ‘flush,’ and I don’t like tying up bread for months at a time. I know, a ‘future wager’ is supposed to be an investment in the ‘future.’ I get it. However, I have enough difficulty picking the winner of the next race with 2 minutes to post—let alone 2 months out. Plus, I figure if a player’s going to take a swing at naming the Derby winner several months beforehand, he ought to get an extremely healthy reward. With just 24 wagering interests in each Churchill pool it’s difficult to garner massive odds on a legitimate outsider. First of all, for a horse even to be included in Churchill’s 24 wagering interests, he has to have done something to put him on the map. And that means most of the ‘value’ is gone. Vegas used to be the US-based place where a player could parlay a correct early Derby opinion into a real score. Now, not so much. Following master oddsmaker John Avello’s Wynn departure, William Hill appears, to my knowledge, as the only game in town with a true Kentucky Derby Future Book that offers 89 wagering options instead of Churchill’s 24. My favorite Kentucky Derby future wager tale occurred a few years ago and features a mid-February $500 wager at 300-1 odds on an unraced 3-year-old colt. Although trained by Bob Bafffert, this colt wasn’t on anyone’s Derby radar. It actually could be argued that 300-1 odds may even have been too short a price! After all, at that time, no horse since Apollo in 1882 had won the Kentucky Derby without starting as a 2-year-old—one of the longest, if not the longest curse in sports. Of course, Justify not only succeeded in Kentucky, but he also took the Triple Crown. The winning ticket holder, a friend of mine who had shown me a snapshot of the wager on his cell phone two months earlier, collected $150,000! Clearly, making correct future wagers can be rewarding…extremely rewarding. And they can be fun, too. We’d all like to predict the future. In some ways, horseplayers are like fortune tellers. We use past performances, sheets, Beyer Speed Figures, etc. instead of crystal balls, wrinkled palms and Tarot cards to see down the road. One huge difference, though, between fortune-tellers and gamblers is that is that soothsayers are paid in advance, gamblers collect only when they’re correct. Race On!

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12.5.2019:

December 7: Hong Kong International Races - Free Picks & Analysis

Betting the Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) this Saturday night at Sha Tin? Here are full card picks for the races from Hong Kong Jockey Club Racing Correspondent and Handicapper, Declan Schuster.  Saturday nights card starts at 11:00PM ET and is available for wagering and live video at Xpressbet.SHA TIN SELECTIONSRace 1: #1 Emerald Spur, #7 Triple Triple, #3 All Wongchoy, #8 Bright KidRace 2: #6 Champion Supreme, #10 Cinquante Cinq, #8 I Do, #5 Vincy Race 3: #14 Prince Of Gems, #3 Be Ready, #8 High Rise Soldier, #7 Magic SupremeRace 4: #10 Deirdre, #1 Exultant, #11 Lucky Lilac, #7 Prince Of ArranRace 5: #14 Aethero, #4 Hot King Prawn, #2 D B Pin, #11 Full Of Beauty Race 6: #9 Monica, #8 Lakeshore Eagle, #7 Star Of Yuen Long, #2 Super Star Race 7: #2 Indy Champ, #1 Beauty Generation, #10 Normcore, #4 WaikukuRace 8: #8 Edisa, #1 Win Bright, #6 Furore, #2 Rise High  Race 9: #7 Raging Storm, #2 Thanks Forever, #4 Fat Turtle, #12 AerohappinessRace 10: #4 More Than This, #7 Nicconi Express, #8 Super Oasis, #10 Star Performance Race 1 (11:00PM ET): Jim And Tonic Handicap#1 Emerald Spur is looking for the hat-trick of wins. He’s racing in career-best form now for the in-form Ricky Yiu and although he has top-weight duties to shoulder, he does shape as the one they have to beat. #7 Triple Triple’s debut run was a total forgive and last-start he ran a competitive third. Further improvement can be expected here and with even luck, he’s going to be in the finish. #3 All Wongchoy has done nothing but impress across his short three-start career in Hong Kong. He’s likely to roll forward and make his own luck for Zac Purton. #8 Bright Kid is next best, especially from the inside draw.  Race 2 (11:30PM ET): Fantastic Light Handicap#6 Champion Supreme flashed home from the tail of the field first-up before finishing only fairly last start. He can find his best stepping up to 1800m and with James McDonald engaged he should go close. #10 Cinquante Cinq rarely runs a bad race. He’s finished runner-up in his last three outings and his consistency warrants respect. He’s never been worse than two lengths off the winner and this is unlikely to change here. #8 I Do narrowly missed two starts ago before he was withdrawn from his latest due to a blood abnormality. He’s since trialled impressively on the dirt and if he can translate that form to the turf, he’ll be in the thick of it. #5 Vincy gets the services of Joao Moreira. He’s drawn to get the right run. Race 3 (12:05AM ET): Able Friend Handicap#14 Prince Of Gems gets in light with only 114lb to carry. He’s drawn a touch awkward but his last two runs have been excellent and if he finds the front he’s capable of pinching this. #3 Be Ready trialled well before his debut sixth. He can bounce back from that run as he’s shown plenty in training and he commands respect. #8 Rise High Soldier closed for a competitive third on debut. He displayed plenty of early talent then and with even luck, he’s going to figure in this affair for the dynamite combination of Vincent Ho and Francis Lui. #7 Magic Supreme is next best. He’s been training well and shouldn’t be too far away. Race 4 (12:40AM ET): LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (G1)#10 Deirdre comes into this following a successful British campaign which resulted in G1 Nassau Stakes victory at Goodwood in August. She overcame the testing undulations to score the second G1 of her career, following her 2017 Shuka Sho success. She flies into Hong Kong following a last-start third behind Magical in the G1 British Champion Stakes and although her recent form has been over 2000m, she appears ready for the step up to 2400m here, especially as she has gotten older and she slots in on top. #1 Exultant is looking for back-to-back wins in the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase. His two runs this term have been excellent and his win last start in the G2 Jockey Club Cup rates highly for this. His form ahead of Lys Gracieux has been franked with her winning the G1 Cox Plate, however, he’s more than likely not going to be under the odds and from the widest stall he could find a bit of trouble. He’s worth opposing here as his last two runs may have taken it out of him. #11 Lucky Lilac is the last-start winner of the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Kyoto finishing ahead of the Japanese Oaks winner, Loves Only You,  Crocosmia as well as Chrono Genesis; who won the G1 Shuka Sho the start prior. She rates highly for this, especially with the current form under her belt. #7 Prince Of Arran comes into this following a promoted runner-up effort in last month’s G1 Melbourne Cup. This is a weaker edition than what he contested last year and his current form suggests that he’s going to be in the finish.  Race 5 (1:20AM ET): LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (G1)#14 Aethero is the new kid on the block and he was utterly dominant last start when winning the G2 Jockey Club Sprint, defeating the majority of this field with ease. He appears to be the real deal, both visually and on the clock and if he manages to bring his best this Sunday, he’s going to take a power of beating. #4 Hot King Prawn was super impressive in his return to racing last start behind Aethero following a bout of colic. He’s seemed to have gotten over that issue following nearly five months on the sidelines and his best is up to this. Last season he came into this following three wins and was sent around as favourite, now, he’s a five-year-old and it’s going to be a test for him but, eight five-year-old’s have won this race since the races inception - the most of any age group. He’s the main danger to Aethero and if he does manage to win, it will be a spectacular training performance by John Size. #2 D B Pin has finished runner-up in the last two editions of the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint. He’s a rising seven-year-old now but each and every year he finds a way to peak for this and if he does the same again, he’s going to be sent around at a massive price. He’s the value proposition of the race and he’s worth backing on an each way basis, especially if he goes around higher than 40/1. #11 Full Of Beauty ran a blinder last start. He’s constantly improving and his consistency warrants respect. Race 6 (1:55AM ET): Highland Reel Handicap#9 Monica has been in excellent form of late, falling short in her latest to Lakeshore Eagle. He was arguably the run of the race that day, closing strongly from the tail of the field to just miss. He can turn the tables here and the strong booking of James McDonald signals intent, primarily as the Kiwi rider has won on him previously. #8 Lakeshore Eagle was that horse who defeated Monica last start. He’s racing in top form also and in his favour is that he remains in Class 3 following that success. #7 Star Of Yuen Long grabbed second last start. He’ll roll forward for Vincent Ho and with even luck, find himself in the finish. Tony Millard and Joao Moreira have been in excellent form together and they combine again here with #2 Super Star. They warrant respect.     Race 7 (2:30AM ET): LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (G1)#2 Indy Champ comes into Sunday’s LONGINES Hong Kong Mile having claimed both of Japan’s premiere G1 mile races, the Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo, followed by the Mile Championship at Kyoto. He lowered Almond Eye’s colours in that Yasuda Kinen and if that’s any form to go off, then he’s going to prove difficult to get past. As well, his Mile Championship win was visually impressive and if he’s held his condition and travelled well, he’s going to give this race a big shake. #1 Beauty Generation’s win streak was snapped two starts ago when he gave away 20lb to the lowest rated horse, though, he then came out and struggled again, hinting that his era of invincibility was now over. Still, he’s shooting for his third LONGINES Hong Kong Mile in a row and if he recaptures his blistering best, he’s going to take beating. He’s still close to the same horse and he warrants respect. #10 Normcore claimed the G1 Victoria Mile two starts ago at Tokyo. She was excellent that day and her work all week at Sha Tin has been visually impressive. #4 Waikuku has come out of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series nicely, winning his latest at G2 level ahead of Beauty Generation. He’s a talent and in a competitive race, he’s going to be in the thick of it all. Race 8 (3:10AM ET): LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (G1)The withdrawal of Almond Eye has thrown the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup wide open and of the field, #8 Edisa catches the eye. She won the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational Oaks two starts ago at Belmont, New York in impressive fashion and although this is a sharp step up in grade, she might be worth taking a chance on at a big price. #1 Win Bright is 1/1 over 2000m at Sha Tin after claiming the QEII Cup late last season. He commands respect once again as he regularly peaks for his grand final following two mediocre runs, which he comes into this with under his belt. His best is more than up to this and he’s going to be a threat in the finish. #6 Furore is the Hong Kong Derby champion who last start, turned his form around to finish runner-up behind Exultant. He’s primed for this with three runs under his belt but he’s going to need to be at his best if he’s going to fend off the international challengers. #2 Rise High looked a touch flat last start but, he’s shown previously that he can mix it at this level. Race 9 (3:45AM ET): Lord Kanaloa Handicap#7 Raging Storm won twice in Class 2 last season over this course and distance and a third win here would not surprise. He’s been racing well considering where he’s been settling in the run and if Ryan Moore can slot him in a touch closer to midfield, he’s going to get his chance. #2 Thanks Forever struggled last start. He’s drawn a touch awkward but dropping back to Class 2 grade here suits for him. #4 Fat Turtle is consistent. He won’t be too far away although the gate makes things tricky. #12 Aerohappiness is next best.  Race 10 (4:20AM ET): Eishin Preston Handicap#4 More Than This is on a Four-Year-Old Classic Series trail and he seeks his fourth consecutive win. He’s a serious talent on the rise and although this will be his toughest test to date, he’s going to be right there in the finish. #7 Nicconi Express was an eye-catching victor last start. He displayed an excellent turn of foot that day which could see him cross the line in first again. #8 Super Oasis placed in the G1 Australian Derby pre-import and also brings some high class New Zealand form to Hong Kong. He won a trial recently and the booking of Zac Purton on debut signals intent. #10 Star Performance is next best with Frankie Dettori aboard.

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12.4.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: December 6 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle in this week’s Stronach 5, which once again has a 100k guarantee and will include the Opening Day card at Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Gulfstream Park R8 (4:00 ET) – 3upfm Florida-bred AOC (16k/N1X) at 5 furlongs (turf) You could do worse than single #8 SWEET YARE N DIRA (XXX), who might be best to begin with but now goes off the claim for Navarro, from 1-for-19 trainer Crowell, and this outside attack post will help too, but there’s a ton of speed signed on here, so I want someone else in case it falls apart in the lane. That leads me to #7 TRUE HEIRESS (XXX), who aired in a N3L last time and will need to step up on the rise, but will love the race flow, which will aid her stretch run. Pk5 A horses: 8,7 (listed in order of preference) It looks like Klesaris might have #2 BRIGHT VENEZUELAN (XXX) going right again, as she looked good winning off the claim last time, and she’s another with a running style to take advantage of the pace, so if she improves again there’s a chance for an upset. Both #4 Vilaro (XXX) and #6 Distinctly Blue (XXX) are players on the best day, but the former might get caught up in the pace and the latter is 0-for-7 on turf, so let’s make them prove it. Pk5 B horses: 2 Leg 2: Laurel Park R9 (4:20 ET) – 3up 10k MCL at 6 furlongs We’ve got a universal stand alone single here in #4 CAST THE LOT (3-5), who lays over this field off his last, when 2nd and well clear of 3rd at the level, and meets an even weaker cast here, so this looks like name the score time. Pk5 A horses: 4 I’ll have no backups, as ‘Lot looks in the 2-5 range, but if you’re looking for value or something out of the box, then #2 Tom Terrific (10-1) and #5 Perfect Heir (8-1) are next up on the totem pole, should the favorite falter. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 3: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:30 ET) – 3upfm AOC (25k/N1X) at 1-mile In a race that just doesn’t have much, you could probably single #5 QUEEN NEKIA (XXX), who should be just off a likely inside pace duel, has by far the best figures and races of anyone here, and gets a giant jock upgrade to Irad Ortiz, not to mention she was a good 2nd in both starts here last winter. However, I’m also going to use #7 TALKTHETALK (XXX), since she too fits the race profile and may move up on the added ground, as she was running out of room in her last two going 6Fs. Pk5 A horses: 5,7 No one else here merits a backup role, since they are either too slow on paper, like #2 Hunting Season (XXX) and #4 The Gospel of John (XXX), or seem pace compromised, like #1 Sister Gema (XXX) and #3 Sammie Sunshine (XXX), so let’s go it alone on the A-line. Pk5 B horses: Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:45 ET) – 3up 12.5k N2L at 1 1/16 miles We got a free square last week at GG, with a 1-5 winner who couldn’t lose, but things are a lot more difficult in this seven-pack this week, which isn’t a bad thing as we can spread and look for some value after being condensed in the first three legs. I’m going to use them all, in some way shape of form, as it looks like that type of race, so let’s use #1 VAN CORTLANDT (5-2), #7 UNCONTAINABLE (3-1), #4 ELEVATE (9-2), and #2 SAYIN GRACE (6-1) on the top line, as they have the best recent Tapeta form of the group. Pk5 A horses: 1,7,4,2 I’ll use the other three—#3 WILSHIRE DUDE (12-1), #5 I’M AN EIGHT (8-1), and #6 AIGLE (7-2)—as backups, since none of them are too far behind the top quartet, and won’t have to improve much to be in the picture, at nice prices too. Pk5 B horses: 3,5,6 Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3upfm 16k claimer at 1-mile (turf) Good luck in the finale, as it looks impossible and a must spread, since they all look about the same on paper and trips will be paramount at this distance. The inside draw and tactical speed of #3 ISADORABLE AIDA (XXX) makes her my top choice, and the drop in class won’t hurt either, though you have to go a lot deeper to feel safe. I’ll take the bait and use #6 FOUR K’S (xxx), who hasn’t been out since December and was off-form when last seen, but she gets a huge trainer switch from Campitelli to Ward (42% with newcomers and 23% off this extended layoff) and lures Jose Ortiz too, so just maybe she can reclaim her best form. both #7 COLONELS DAUGHTER (XXX) and #9 TRILBY (xxx) have had success here and seem tactical enough to be close early, so they too make the cut at what should be fair prices. On the face of it #10 PAINT THE CORNERS (XXX) might be the horse to beat, as she’s 4-for-8 over the local turf course and has been facing better of late, but those big runs were with Navarro and Joseph and Sancal isn’t quite as potent, plus this is a tough post, so she’s down on the list, but still make the top line cut Pk5 A horses: 3,6,7,9,10 I feel pretty confident with the top group, but I’d like a bit more coverage and the ticket can afford it, so I’ll also use #1 BIG DARLING (XXX), who was awesome winning two-back and likely bounced last time, and #5 SWEET STORY (XXX), a class dropper who isn’t far from the top quintet and is 8-for-18 in the EX here. Pk5 B horses: 1,5 The tickets (I would advocate playing the All-A ticket for $2): Main Ticket: 8,7 with 4 with 5,7 with 1,7,4,2 with 3,6,7,9,10 = $80Leg 1 B Backup: 2 with 4 with 5,7 with 1,7,4,2 with 3,6,7,9,10 = $40Leg 4 B Backup: 8,7 with 4 with 5,7 with 3,5,6 with 3,6,7,9,10 = $60Leg 5 B Backup: 8,7 with 4 with 5,7 with 1,7,4,2 with 1,5 = $32

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12.3.2019:

Tiz the Law Gets Derby Respect Despite Loss

Even though Tiz the Law was upset as a big favorite in last Saturday’s Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs, he nevertheless ended up being the 11-1 favorite among 22 individual horses in Pool One of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) that closed last Sunday. Next at 12-1 was Dennis’ Moment, who was followed by both Independence Day and Maxfield at 13-1. No other individual horses were lower than 24-1. Pool Two of the 2020 KDFW is set for Feb. 7-9, Pool Three for March 6-8 and Pool Four for April 3-5. The 2020 Kentucky Derby will take place May 2. In last Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club, which was contested on a sloppy track, Tiz the Law had to settle for third at odds of 3-5. But in his defense, not only was he racing on a wet track for the first time, the New York-bred Constitution colt had far from the best of trips. Tiz the Law was bottled up all the way until in the vicinity of the eighth pole. A seam then finally did materialize. But when jockey Manny Franco hit the gas pedal and asked Tiz the Law to scoot through between rivals, the colt simply did not produce the needed punch. It was Silver Prospector who emerged victorious in the 1 1/16-mile KJC. Never far back in the field of eight 2-year-olds, he advanced on the far turn while wide. Silver Prospector then resolutely kept to his task in the lane and won by three-quarters of a length at 7-1 with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the saddle. Finnick the Fierce outran his 87-1 odds to finish second. Tiz the Law came in third, a head behind Finnick the Fierce. Time of the race was 1:45.94. Tiz the Law, coming off a win in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 5, was two for two going into the KJC. If Tiz the Law had won the KJC to keep his unblemished record intact, I think he would have become the favorite to be voted a 2019 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. But Tiz the Law’s chances for that award took a severe blow when he was defeated last Saturday. Storm the Court, winner of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in a 45-1 shocker at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, now appears to be in the driver’s seat to get the Eclipse Award in the 2-year-old male category. The Kentucky-bred Court Vision colt, conditioned by Peter Eurton, is scheduled to make his 2020 debut in Santa Anita’s Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 1. Someone else who might get a good deal of Eclipse Award support in the 2-year-old male category is Structor. The Kentucky-bred Palace Malice colt won the Grade I BC Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita for trainer Chad Brown to remain undefeated in three starts. However, in terms of Pool One of the 2020 KDFW, neither Storm the Court nor Structor proved very popular with bettors. Structor ended up at 24-1, while Storm the Court closed at 41-1. Silver Prospector, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, now has won two of five starts. In his most recent race prior to the Kentucky Jockey Club, the Kentucky-bred Declaration of War colt had finished third in Churchill’s Street Sense Stakes on Oct. 27. But even though Silver Prospector lost, Asmussen felt that the colt actually ran well in defeat in the Street Sense because he was coming back rather quickly -- in just two weeks -- after a strong maiden win at Keeneland in which he recorded a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. By the way, Asmussen and Santana also collaborated to win last Saturday’s Grade II Golden Rod Stakes for 2-year-old fillies with Finite. Backed down to 4-5 favoritism, Finite -- like Silver Prospector -- prevailed by three-quarters of a length. The Kentucky-bred Munnings filly completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.99. That was nearly identical to Silver Prospector’s final time in the KJC. The way I see it, it’s to Finite’s credit that she essentially ran 1 1/16 miles as fast as Silver Prospector, Finnick the Fierce and Tiz the Law. Silver Prospector was credited with an 81 Beyer Speed Figure for his KJC victory. Finite received an 80 Beyer for her Golden Rod win. Dennis’ Moment received much respect from those playing Pool One of the 2020 KDFW despite his Breeders’ Cup debacle. He stumbled badly at the start of the BC Juvenile and was never a factor, finishing last as a 9-10 favorite in the field of eight. According to trainer Dale Romans, Dennis’ Moment is fine physically after having been checked out thoroughly after the Breeders’ Cup. Gulfstream Park’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 29 is being targeted as the 2020 debut for the Kentucky-bred Tiznow colt. When all was not well with Maxfield, he was withdrawn from the BC Juvenile. BloodHorse recently reported that Maxfield “is expected to return to racing in early in 2020 after having surgery Nov. 18 to remove a mildly displaced chip from an ankle, according to [the colt’s owner] Godolphin.” Maxfield won the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity this year at Keeneland. Brendan Walsh is sky high on the Kentucky-bred Street Sense colt. Maxfield’s team is hoping he can emulate his sire by becoming a Kentucky Derby winner. Street Sense won the Run for the Roses in 2007. Independence Hall, two for two, is headed to Aqueduct’s Jerome Stakes on New Year’s Day. His camp decided to bypass this Saturday’s Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct in order to give the Kentucky-bred Constitution colt more time to recover from his lights-out victory in the Grade III Nashua Stakes at the Big A on Nov. 3. Independence Hall won the Nashua by 12 1/4 lengths and received a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. The 101 is the highest Beyer recorded by a 2-year-old so far in 2019. Michael Trombetta trains Independence Hall. The Jerome “falls well on the calendar” for the colt, Trombetta explained in Sunday’s Aqueduct notes disseminated by NYRA. “Off such a big win, the Remsen was a little close,” Trombetta added. “The Jerome allows us to run over a track and distance [one mile] that he’s familiar with.” “ALL OTHER 3-YEAR-OLD MALES” OPTION FAVORED Not surprisingly, the “All Other 3-Year-Old Males” option ended up being the favorite in Pool One of the 2020 KDFW. It closed at even money. Keep in mind that the last three Kentucky Derby winners -- Always Dreaming in 2016, Justify in 2017 and Country House in 2018 -- weren’t one of the individual horses in Pool One of the KDFW. Silver Prospector and Finnick the Fierce, who finished one-two in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, have already added to the appeal of the “All Other 3-Year-Old Males” option in Pool One of the 2020 KDFW. If you went ahead and took the short price on “All Other 3-Year-Old Males,” Silver Prospector and Finnick the Fierece are two of the very many horses you are banking on to win the 2020 Run for the Roses. Below are the final odds for Pool One of the 2020 KDFW: 1-1 “All Other 3-Year-Old Males” 11-1 Tiz the Law 12-1 Dennis’ Moment 13-1 Independence Hall 13-1 Maxfield 24-1 Eight Rings 24-1 Structor 25-1 Honor A.P. 29-1 Gouverneur Morris 31-1 Anneau d’Or 34-1 Thousand Words 38-1 Basin 39-1 Three Technique 40-1 High Velocity 41-1 Storm the Court 46-1 Green Light Go 50-1 Authentic 54-1 American Theorem 57-1 “All 3-Year-Old Fillies” 60-1 Great Power 64-1 Answer In 72-1 South Bend 85-1 Scabbard 86-1 Wrecking Crew KENTUCKY DERBY SIRE WAGERING The Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager once again was offered this year at the same time as Pool One of the KDFW. In terms of sire wagering, the “All Others” option closed as the 9-2 favorite. Constitution had the lowest odds among the 23 individual sires at 5-1. Constitution is the sire of three of the 22 individual horses in Pool One of the KDFW -- Gouverneur Morris, Independence Hall and Tiz the Law. Below are the final odds for the 2020 Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager: 9-2 “All Others” 5-1 Constitution 9-1 Curlin 11-1 Tiznow 12-1 American Pharoah 12-1 Uncle Mo 14-1 Street Sense 17-1 Into Mischief 19-1 Honor Code 20-1 Tapit 21-1 Medaglia d’Oro 26-1 Liam’s Map 28-1 Empire Maker 30-1 Quality Road 31-1 Hard Spun 32-1 Pioneerof the Nile 37-1 Bernardini 37-1 Declaration of War 38-1 Candy Ride 49-1 More Than Ready 54-1 Union Rags 62-1 Bodemeister 73-1 Speightstown 77-1 Shackleford NAKATANI ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT Corey Nakatani, a winner of nearly 4,000 races, including 10 Breeders’ Cup victories, recently announced his retirement as a jockey last week. He was honored in a winner’s circle ceremony between races at Del Mar last Saturday. The news of Nakatani’s retirement at the age of 49 came via a press release issued by his son, Matt, a jockey agent. “The time has come to officially announce my retirement from the sport of horse racing,” Nakatani said in the press release. “Although I never imagined this was how my career would end, I am very proud of my accomplishments and know that I competed at the very highest of levels, which gives me a sense of satisfaction.” A native of Covina, Calif., Nakatani demonstrated at an early age that he was a terrific athlete. He was a champion wrestler in high school and would become an excellent golfer. Nakatani rode his first winner as a jockey when aboard Blue King at Caliente on Oct. 2, 1988. He would go on to win a combined 10 riding titles at Del Mar, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita while competing against a slew of jockeys who currently are in the Hall of Fame. In all, Nakatani won 3,909 races, including 120 Grade I events. His mounts earned more than $234 million in purse money. Nakatani ranks 12th on the all-time money list. All 11 jockeys ahead of him on that list currently are members of the Hall of Fame. Below, according to Equibase, are North America’s 12 all-time leading money-winning jockeys through Dec. 2: $414,597,532 John Velazquez $341,628,072 Javier Castellano $327,610,507 Mike Smith $297,914,839 Pat Day $296,113,529 Jerry Bailey $285,495,347 Kent Desormeaux $269,226,750 Edgar Prado $263,986,005 Chris McCarron $258,217,768 Gary Stevens $238,405,472 Alex Solis $237,120,625 Laffit Pincay Jr. $234,554,534 Corey Nakatani Serena’s Song and Lava Man were two of the many top horses ridden by Nakatani. Serena’s Song was voted a 1995 Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly. Lava Man, one of the greatest claims in the history of the sport, joined Native Diver as the only two horses to ever win the prestigious Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup three times. Pat Valenzuela guided Lava Man to his first Gold Cup triumph in 2005. Nakatani then rode Lava Man to his 2006 and 2007 Gold Cup victories. Native Diver won the Gold Cup in 1965, 1966 and 1967 with Jerry Lambert aboard. Nakatani was seriously injured in the last race on the card at Del Mar on Aug. 4, 2018. He rode Irish Spring, who clipped heels, unseating Nakatani. It turned out to be the final race of Nakatani’s riding career. In 1996, Nakatani won a pair of Breeders’ Cup races, the Sprint with Lit de Justice and the Distaff with Jewel Princess. Nakatani’s subsequent Breeders’ Cup victories were aboard Elmhurst in the 1997 Sprint, Reraise in the 1998 Sprint, Silic in the 1999 Mile, Sweet Catomine in the 2004 Juvenile Fillies, Thor’s Echo in the 2006 Sprint, My Miss Aurelia in the 2011 Juvenile Fillies, Regally Ready in the 2011 Turf Sprint and Tapizar in the 2012 Dirt Mile. Below are the Top 10 all-time leading Breeders’ Cup jockeys in wins through 2019: 26 Mike Smith 16 John Velazquez 15 Jerry Bailey 14 Frankie Dettori 13 Garrett Gomez 12 Javier Castellano 12 Pat Day 11 Joel Rosario 11 Gary Stevens 10 Corey Nakatani A GRADE III WIN FOR $8,000 CLAIM ZUZANNA There have been a number of extremely shrewd claims made in Southern California in the last 15 years. One thinks of the likes of Lava Man, Soi Phet and Vasilika. And this year Zuzanna has proven to be yet another marvelous claim on the Southern California circuit. Lava Man was claimed for $50,000 at Del Mar on Aug. 13, 2004. The California-bred Slew City Slew gelding subsequently earned $5,170,103 while trained by Doug O’Neill. At Hollywood Park on May 23, 2013, Soi Phet was claimed for $16,000. Leonard Powell trained him after that. After Powell took over the training duties, Soi Phet earned $986,486. Soi Phet was retired from racing earlier this year. Vasilika was claimed for $40,000 in a race at Santa Anita on Feb. 11, 2018. After that, Vasilika earned $1,722,320 through this year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. As icing on the cake, after this year’s Breeders’ Cup, Vasilika sold for $1.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale. Zuzanna, an $8,000 claim, won last Saturday’s 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet Handicap, a $100,000 grass race at Del Mar with a Grade III ranking. Virtually ignored in the wagering, Zuzanna got the job done by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Bob Hess Jr. and paid $48 for each $2 win ticket. One of Zuzanna’s current owners is Kurt Hoover, a longtime racing broadcaster in Southern California. I spent many years working alongside Hoover in television at Santa Anita. Another person involved as an owner of Zuzanna is Brian “Ferg” Ferguson, one of the most enthusiastic racing fans I have ever known. Hoover and Ferguson have been friends since the seventh grade. Hoover has participated in racing as an owner off and on for many years. This is the first time Ferguson has had an ownership interest in a Thoroughbred. Members of Zuzanna’s current ownership group claimed her for $8,000 at Los Alamitos on Sept. 13, 2018. Since then, the mare has earned $143,851. The day after the Red Carpet, Hoover was effusive in his praise for Hess’ training job with Zuzanna, saying it was “off the charts.” Hoover made the comment on Mike Willman’s radio program Thoroughbred Los Angeles. Hoover said it took a lot of work “to get her right” after they claimed her, a process that included tie-back surgery to address a throat issue. “It was a long journey to even get her to a race,” Hoover added. Early this year it appeared Zuzanna might not make it back to the races. “Bob and I had a long conversation and I said, ‘Look, if you can’t get her right, I’ve got some friends, we’ll give her away and make her a riding horse or whatever,” Hoover said. “We’ll find a home for her. Up to that point she was battling a lot of stuff. So it was a lot work. And Bob’s dad [trainer Bob Hess Sr.] did a lot of work with her too when we sent her up north [to Golden Gate]. He’s an outstanding, old-school horseman.” Zuzanna finally did return to the races at Golden Gate last March 29. She won for an $8,000 claiming price at one mile on synthetic footing by 1 1/2 lengths. For Hoover and company prior to the Red Carpet, Zuzanna won three times from eight starts. Bob Hess Jr. conceded Hoover “pushed him” to run Zuzanna in the Red Carpet. The trainer admitted that he felt it would be more prudent to send Zuzanna to Gulfstream Park for this Saturday’s Claiming Crown. Hess said that he was reluctant to run the mare in the Red Carpet “because I’ve never trained an $8,000 claimer to win a Grade III.” Well, Hess now can say he has trained an $8,000 claimer to win a Grade III. That’s because the trainer wisely acquiesced to Hoover’s suggestion to take a shot in the Red Carpet. Hoover believed the Red Carpet presented a golden opportunity for Zuzanna to enhance her residual value as a broodmare by possibly hitting the board in a Grade III race. Through the years as a broadcaster, Hoover typically has been quick to recognize the enhanced value of a filly or mare whenever they have won or placed in a graded stakes race for the first time, especially if the filly or mare had done so after being claimed. When that’s happened, Hoover often will say something like “they hit a home run with that claim.” And now that $8,000 claim Zuzanna has become a Grade III winner, I am tickled to say that this time it is none other than Kurt Hoover who has hit a home run with this 5-year-old Kentucky-bred Wilburn mare. Hess said Monday to Steve Byk on his SiriusXM radio program At the Races that Zuzanna will be campaigned at Gulfstream this winter.

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12.3.2019:

Harness Highlights: Natasha ‘Super’ In Florida's Night Of Champions

Natasha extended her winning streak to 15 races with a lifetime-best 1:53.4 performance in Florida’s Super Night of champions for 3-year-old filly pacers Sunday at Pompano Park.   Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey was in the bike as Natasha blasted to the lead from the outside post and never looked back despite setting fast fractions of :26.2 to the quarter, :57 for the half and 1:24.3 through three-quarters of a mile. She finished 2 lengths clear of runner-up Prairie Cougar (Peter Wrenn).   “I have always said this filly is a freak and she really proved her merit tonight after facing tough rivals like this, the outside post and a trying first quarter,” Hennessey said in a post-race interview with Pompano Park publicist John Berry.   But the Super Night joy ride was just beginning for Hennessey and Natasha trainer Kim Sears, who won four stakes races each with an average purse of more than $50,000.   The dynamic duo teamed to win the 2-year-old filly pace with Laurie Lee, a 3-1/2-length winner in 1:56.4.   Hennessey drove back-to-back winners for trainer Jim McDonald as 2-year-old filly Prairie Delight trotted to a 3-1/4-length score in 2:03.4 and sophomore colt trotter Damien Hall wired the field by 5 lengths in 1:58. Damien Hall has led at every call in his six wins this season.   Sears sent out Rhinestone Cowboy (Mike Micaleff) to a 2:01 victory in the 2-year-old colt trot and Proud Sophie (Dave Ingraham) to a 2:00.4 win in the 3-year-old filly trot. Rhinestone Cowboy appeared hopelessly beaten when he broke stride on the backstretch, but he recovered in time, making up 10 lengths to win by 3/4s of a length.   Hurricanekingjames (Carl Garofalo) became the night’s fourth wire-to-wire winner with a 1:53.4 score in the 2-year-old colt pace, but he had to survive a stirring stretch battle with Repeal or Replace (Andy Santeramo) to win by a half length.   In the night’s lone pari-mutuel event, Zaza Boy ($6.20, Micallef) brushed past odds-on favorite Mister Marvalous (Hennessey) and held safe 26-1 longshot Gold Star Yoder (James Yoder) for a 1-1/4-length win in 1:53.4      

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12.2.2019:

Monday, December 02: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

Pompano Park has an 8-race card set to roll tonight. The 0.50 Pick 4 sequence begins in Race 5, it has a $10,000 guaranteed pool with a 12% takeout, and it will be my focus.The driver with the hottest hands on Sunday was Wally Hennessey with two winners. The top conditioner on the card was Michael Deters who made two trips to the winner's circle.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 53-Fritzie Pic Up Man (6-1)-May leave and follow one of the 2 chalks and look to roll by late. 8-year-old likes to win and will respect chances although Paquet chose #4.4-Pointsman (2-1)-Figures to be in the mix but will look to others as well. Faded in last off a good trip, so needs to be better.7-Sporty Redhot (5/2)-Was driven very aggressively last week and was hung to a 26.3 opening quarter. Hennessey may try a different strategy with a better result.Race 61-Gigi From Fiji (2-1)-This mare steps-up after a nice score from the 8-hole but wasn't Hennessey's choice. Best to respect 10-time winner in 2019.2-Tay Tay M (8/5)-Hasn't raced since 9/17 but was Hennessey pick off an okay qualifier, will use and also shoot against.5-Roll With Faith (7/2)-Dropped and popped in last and should be in the mix here. Makes only the 4th start of the year and if ready to go again this is a spot to shine for 13 time winner in '18.Race 75-Doo Wop Hanover (3-1)-Steps-up but comes off 2 good efforts from the 8 and 9 hole, should relish the post relief.6-Gibbs (12-1)-Makes 3rd local start and fits well with this crew, using at a price.8-Feelin Lika Winner (9/5)-Dropped to a softer spot in 2nd PPk outing and drew off by 3 lengths. Faces tougher and Hennessey will probably be out and winging. The start could tell the story.Race 81-Terlingua (2-1)-Finished behind #9 who was a strong winner in last. Now gets a more significant post advantage.2-Drive 'Em Cowboy (5/2)-Hennessey sticks and piloted a win from the 7-hole last week. Looks like a player again.9-Rockin Away (5/2)-Comes off an easy win and this will be tougher but has the gate speed to get a good early seat. Likes the track (5-14), and post helps the price.My Ticket Race 5) 3,4,7 Race 6) 1,2,5 Race 7) 5,6,8 Race 8) 1,2,9Total Ticket Cost) $40.50 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.2.2019:

Kentucky Derby Contenders Fill Up Excuse Cards

Back in my public school days, we had a thing called excuse cards. They were 3x5 notecards that were required to be filled out by parents on any missed day of school, therefore becoming an excused absence. Sometimes I was, in fact, ill; sometimes I was visiting Laurel, Pimlico or Bowie with my Dad for a matinee. It was a perfect or imperfect childhood, depending on your perspective.Of course the reason for absence never mentioned the daily double or a hot 10-1 shot we liked in the Form. No, our standbys were the usual: headache, stomach ache, fever. The point was that an excuse was required, and sometimes the most honest one simply can’t be scribbled.Following Saturday’s disappointing third-place finish by Tiz the Law in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, handicapping parents are left with some uncertainty as to what to put on the excuse card this Monday morning. After all, this was supposed to be the Kentucky Derby winter book favorite after a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that left the favorites’ tongues wagging and horseplayers’ heads scratching.The first option could be the sealed sloppy track. Both of Tiz the Law’s opening victories were on fast tracks and all of his published works dating back to Saratoga this summer had been on fast tracks. “Didn’t get ahold of the track,” often is first on the trainers’ playbook of post-race losing quotes. Perhaps it applies here.Option two could be that this was the first road trip for Tiz the Law. He ran out of his home stall at Saratoga and at Belmont in his maiden and Champagne victories. The travel to Louisville, new surroundings and situations (such as racing under the lights) were a first for him. He’ll get to develop that travel skill in Florida over the winter.The previously listed excuses are speculative at best. Who really knows how the horse handled the sloppy track or the environmental factors? Unless you are a horse whisperer, there’s really no way to be certain. Handicappers sometimes resort to accepting the uncertain with no other place to turn. But there are more conclusive evaluations worth exploring in this case.Consider the trip. Stuck down inside on a wet track behind horses is a certain recipe for taking a lot of mud. Midway on the clubhouse turn it became apparent Tiz the Law and jockey Manny Franco were having words with one another. The colt said ‘go’ and the rider said ‘whoa.’ Tiz the Law remained covered up behind 3 horses the entire backstretch run and with pressure to his outside and behind him. When the opportunity to fire presented itself with about 3/16ths of a mile to run, Tiz the Law just ran evenly and didn’t do much with it. He galloped out decently in his first try around 2 turns, just behind the winner Silver Prospector, a former turfer who has found his groove on dirt like War of Will and Omaha Beach a year ago.The trip wasn’t great for Tiz the Law, but it wasn’t awful either. If that’s THE Kentucky Derby favorite, he probably should win with that journey. On a similar thought, the bobbling start for Dennis’ Moment in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was plenty reason for his defeat. But if he is THE Kentucky Derby favorite, he has to at least run a little bit after the initial trouble.What we’ve last seen from Eight Rings, Dennis’ Moment and now Tiz the Law takes us into winter without a standout favorite in the crop. The likely 2-year-old champ defaults to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 45-1 longshot winner Storm the Court. Of course, there’s not a long list of Juvenile winners with massive success in the Triple Crown series, so that position is about as secure as the opening round of musical chairs. The best 2-year-old I’ve seen remains the since-sidelined Breeders’ Futurity winner Maxfield, and we’re not even sure what’s really on his excuse card.

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12.1.2019:

Sunday, December 01: Northfield Park Early Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight, Northfield Park has two Pick 4 sequences with $10,000 guaranteed pools scheduled on a 15-race card. My focus will be on the Early 0.50 pick 4 which begins in Race 7.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 72-St Lads Mystic (3-1)-Makes 3rd start in new barn that has a good batting average in last 30 days. Tossing last in the slop and will put on the ticket but is 1-29 and will use others as well.3-It's Gest Me (9/2)-Makes 3rd start in new barn and beat easier in last. This will be a more difficult task but will use at a square price from this post.4-Ravishing Virgin (9/2)-Has been off for 2-weeks but now drops to a live spot to snatch 9th win of the year. Might be overlooked at the windows, could cash the biggest check with a good steer.9-Melanie's Filly (5/2)-Only 1-25 this year but drops to a soft spot. Could get an overdue win if Allard can work a trip from the 2nd tier.Race 81-Rosie Kit (6-1)-Only 1-20 on an off-track, so will toss last. Makes 2nd start off a sick scratch and has a chance to post a win if gets the right trip.7-Chitty Bang Bang (3/2)-Morning line chalk looks the part. Should like the company and beat $8k claimers on 11/16.Race 93-Mr Nixon (2-1)-Raced well coming off a sick scratch to be 2nd. Should be tighter now and is 2nd time Lasix. Looks like a major player.5-Me And Mrs Jones (8/5)-Likes to finish 2nd more than 1st but this isn't a deep group and may have found a field to beat.Race 101-The Kop (4-1)-This is the right level to take a picture and the driver change to Smith shouldn't hurt.2-Montero Blue Chip (5/2)-Veteran has been off since 8/17 but qualifier was fine. This is a soft spot if 9-year-old can fire off the bench.4-Maradona (3-1)-Sharp win from the 7-hole at this level and best to respect chances for an encore.5-Four Diamonds (6-1)-Tossing last from the 8-hole and previous efforts put this guy in the mix and the barn has been doing well.My Ticket Race 7) 2,3,4,9 Race 8) 1,7 Race 9) 3,5 Race 10) 1,2,4,5Total Ticket Cost) $32 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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12.1.2019:

Sunday, December 01: Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Big Runnuer; 3-Wound Tight; 4-Colosi; 11-HermaphroditeForecast: The opener is a deep and contentious first-level allowance turf miler that requires a spread in rolling exotic play. Hermaphrodite is an intriguing French invader still eligible to non-winners of two despite having several stakes placings in her resume and with Timeform ratings that are superior to par for this level. She makes her U.S. debut facing the boys for J. Sadler with Johnny V. taking the call, and although her extreme outside draw is less than ideal she might simply out class this field. Wound Tight keeps firing bullets and can be relied on for another honest effort. Beaten in photo finishes in each of his last two starts, the R. Hess, Jr.-trained gelding is fast on figures and overdue for some luck. Big Runnuer has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern and lands the rail, so we suspect the lightly raced son of Stormy Atlantic will be forwardly placed throughout while benefitting from a ground saving trip. His speed figures are strong and there’s a possibility that he’ll route better than he sprints. Colosi is a first-off-the-claim for D. O’Neill and may improve enough to at least get a piece of it. Toss him in somewhere on a ticket or two.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: XSingle: 4-Sunny DaleForecast: Sunny Dale is back in the J. Hollendorfer barn and should finally find the winner’s circle in this maiden special weight sprint for older fillies and mares. Freshened since July, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was worn down late in a fast, highly rated affair by next out (and future stakes performer) First Star when last seen and if she returns in that kind of form she should be home free. At 8/5 on the morning line and liable to go lower, she may be too short to play in the straight pool, but we can use her as a no-value, rolling exotic single.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Hit the Road; 3-Kanderel; 7-Goliad; 11-Smooth Like StraitForecast: Here’s another difficult affair with several possibilities. We’ll use four and hope to get a decent price home. Kandereland Goliad give trainer R. Mandella two bullets to fire and both must be considered major players. When they breeze together on the main track in the morning Goliad always looks much the best, but Kanderel clearly is much more effective on turf than he is on dirt and showed it with a romping, highly rated debut maiden win in late September. Bug boy J. Velez retains the mount and should have the son of Candy Ride in the second flight within striking range throughout. Goliad missed in a photo in a good overnight event over this course and distance two weeks ago and today will race with Lasix while being reunited with “win rider” F. Prat. The son of War Front, like his stablemate, should draft into a good spot behind the leaders and then have his chance to quicken through the lane. Hit the Road was well-backed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf but simply couldn’t kick it in when set down in the final furlong. This is an easier spot, and a repeat of his win in the Zuma Beach Stakes two races back puts him right there. Smooth Like Strait is improving with racing and has the pedigree to get a mile, though the outside post does him no favors. He’ll need another forward move to be a threat, but at 12-1 on the morning line the son of Midnight Lute is worth including at least as a backup.RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: XSingle: 3-InstagrandForecast: Instagrand returns to competition for the first time since failing at even money in the Pat Day Mile-G3 at Churchill Downs in early May. He’s had more than his share of issues, but his recent works indicate that he’s back on the beam for new trainer D. Chatlos (a former assistant to the colt‘s previous trainer, J. Hollendorfer) and over a track the saw him win the Best Pal S.-G2 by more than 10 lengths last year the son of Into Mischief should completely out class this second level allowance field. There’s really not much we can do with him at 6/5 on the morning line other than to make him a short price rolling exotic single.RACE 5: Post 2:34 PT. Grade: BUse: 6-Cleopatra’s Strike; 10-UnitedForecast: United missed by a head to leading Horse of the Year candidate Bricks and Mortar in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last month and if he can come close to repeating that type of performance today he’ll win the Hollywood Turf Cup-G1. Regular jockey F. Prat stays aboard the son of Giant’s Causeway, who showed a liking for the local lawn when winning his only previous outing at Del Mar during the summer season. Cleopatra’s Strike returned to winning form with a victory in the John Henry Turf Classic-G2 at Santa Anita in late September and a strong, healthy series of workouts in recent weeks should have this veteran son of Smart Strike primed and ready for another career-top effort. We don’t quite see him beating United, but if that one for whatever reason fails to fire his best shot the P. D’Amato-trained gelding can provide a bit of insurance as a back-up or a saver.RACE 6: Post 3:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 4-Tiz Toffee; 5-Road TestForecast: Tiz Toffee exits a series of tougher races and appears to have found a proper spot to regain her winning form in this $12,500 main track claiming miler for fillies and mares. The daughter of Sidney’s Candy is most effective on the front end but can press and pounce if the race flow dictates. The concern is her failure to deliver the goods as the favorite in her last two outings, so as a backup we’ll also use Road Test. The veteran mare actually finished third in the same race that Tiz Toffee was fourth in last time out and she’s a prior winner over the Del Mar main track while also arguably being the most dangerous of the closing types.RACE 7: Post 3:34 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Significant Form; 5-Toinette; 7-Got StormyForecast: Got Stormy missed as the favorite in her last pair but certainly performed admirably in defeat, a second-place finish in the Woodbine Mile-G1 and then a runner-up effort to Uni in the Breeders’ Cup Mile Turf last month. Back with fillies and mares today and obviously tackling an easier group, the M. Casse-trained filly deserves top billing and at 5/2 on the morning line actually may offer good wagering value at that price if you can get it. Significant Form, winner of three of her last four though not against Grade-1 competition, seems ready to tackle the big girls following a triple-digit Beyer score in the Noble Damsel S.-G2 in late September at Belmont Park. She has an ideal stalking style and Johnny V., who fits her perfectly, flies out to ride her. Toinette always has been a cut below the best in her division but she earned a career top number when winning a lesser affair at Santa Anita last time out and should fire another big shot again today.RACE 8: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Chipper; 6-Summer FireForecast: This juvenile sprint restricted to state-bred runners didn’t come up particularly strong, so we’ll include the two most logical contenders in our rolling exotics but otherwise pass the race. Chipper displayed promise when an excellent second in his debut in early October but was far back when, as a maiden, was pitched too high in the Golden State Juvenile Stakes the following month. Back where he belongs today, the son of Street Boss looks hard to beat if he repeats the quality of his first outing. Summer Fire, a solid runner-up vs. similar over this main track three weeks ago, can be a major threat if he produces any kind of forward move. The R. Hess, Jr.-trained son of Creative Cause switches to P. Lopez and with continued improvement could earn his diploma without causing much of a stir. Both should be included in rolling exotic play.RACE 9: Post 4:30 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Tiger Dad; 7-Blackout; 11-Wildman JackForecast: Wildman Jack has fired big shots in each of his four career starts and the son of Goldencents should be formidable again despite his extreme outside draw in this five-furlong dash for first level allowance sprinters. The D. O’Neill-trained gelding has been quite unlucky – he missed by a nose vs. similar competition in his last two starts – but he’s very fast on numbers and really won’t have to improve at all to beat this field. R. Bejarano stays aboard and knows him well. Blackout is reunited with “win rider” F. Prat and could be dangerous from off the pace. Tiger Dad removes blinkers after finishing in the frame in each of his five most recent starts. Not nearly as fast on pure numbers as Wildman Jack, the son of Smiling Tiger nonetheless appears to be a genuine type and is worth including on a ticket or two.RACE 10: Post 5:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 5-Big Time Grammy; 7-Reducta; 8-Awesome EllaForecast: Reducta makes her U.S. debut for high-percentage connections and rates top billing based on her second place finish (in a 21-runner field) at Cork in Ireland in mid-August in a race that earned her a pretty decent Timeform rating, one that is good enough to beat maidens on this circuit. F. Prat, who we assume had his choice of at least two other logical contenders, opts for the English-bred daughter of Kodiac. We’re going to assume that she’s fit and ready. Awesome Ella is progressing nicely with experience and seems likely to produce another forward move. A closing second over this course and distance last month, the daughter of Mr Speaker picks up P. Lopez and should be running on strongly late. Big Time Grammy is getting the hang of things and is another likely to continue her improving pattern. A willing third vs. similar last time out, the T. Yakteen-trained filly switches to J. Talamo and should make her presence felt from off the pace in the final furlong.

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11.30.2019:

November 30-Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

The Meadowlands has a 13-race card set to go this evening. The 0.50 Pick 4 starts in Race 8, it has a $50,000 guaranteed pool with a 15% takeout. That competitive sequence will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 82-Americanprimetime ( 8-1)-Tossing last race from the 9-hole and looking for much better tonight. Can be a factor from an inside post draw and could be overlooked at the windows.5-Harmabe Deo (6-1)-The driver change to Dave Miller won't hurt and either will this starting spot. Recent form has been very good and it's best to not overlook versus this crew.6-Statement Made A (5-1)-Barn has been going well and this horse usually gives an honest effort. McCarthy could leave or look to follow cover, either way can be a player at a square price.9-Trump Nation (9/2)-Burke trainee makes first start since 9/28 but qualifier was sharp. Gingras may blast out andif it dialed on high could be a big threat in a contentious race.Race 91-Sports Column (5-1)-Has raced well since coming off the bench and shouldn't blush at the competition. Dave Miller takes a seat and could be aggressive in this spot.2-Winning Linc (5/2)-Rolled home in last 2 and now moves up again, but this field doesn't seem that much tougher. The post draw shouldn't hurt and it's best to respect chances of a three-peat.8-Whittaker N (7/2)-The question is will Dunn work the same trip as in last week's win? If so, another picture is a possibility and will lean that Dunn will put him in play.Race 102-Jeremes General (5-1)-The General knows his job, comes off a nice win and was Dave Miller's choice. Seems like a live play at a square price from this post but will need a top effort for an encore.3-Seeing Eye Single (8-1)-Tuned-up at Phl after being off since 8/10. Burke trainee could be ready to roll and if so, this is a beatable field.6-Rock Lights (3-1)-Steps-up after a sharp effort in a fast mile. Should be in the mix again and if McCarthy works a similar trip it could be another picture.Race 112-Santafe's Coach (3-1)-Moves up as do others and what makes this one appealing to me is the post draw. Should have an easy time getting the top or the 2-hole and could benefit from a perfect trip.3-Wild Goose Chase (6-1)-This will be start #7 at the Big M and last week sat and came on late. Dave Miller takes a spin for the first time this meet and could follow the speed and be the best late.4-Thisbeachrghterea (9/2)-Makes 3rd start in a row in sequence and that hasn't happened for a while. Speed isn't an issue but has been handled cautiously since beating cheaper on 10/12 in 1:50.4. Could be sitting on a big try.0.50 Pick 42,5,6,9/1,2,8/2,3,6/2,3,4Total Bet=$54Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.30.2019:

Jeff Siegel's Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies for 11/30/19

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.**RACE 1: Post 12:00 PT. Grade: B-Use: 5-Knifes Edge; 8-Color WarForecast: Color War was eight lengths clear of the rest when second with a career top speed figure vs. similar at this one-mile trip last month at Santa Anita. A repeat of that race today probably lands the A. Sherman-trained gelding in the winner’s circle. The main concern is that he’s drawn outside of eight, and with the short run into the clubhouse turn there’s a distinct possibility that he’ll have to overcome a wide trip. Knifes Edge drops from maiden $50,000 to this maiden $32,000 level following a distant third place effort over this track and distance 15 days ago. He switches to M. Gutierrez and projects to be close up throughout. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play with Color War the preferred top pick.**RACE 2: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-Alms; 6-Overjoyed; 12-Princesa CarolineForecast: Princesa Caroline was so impressive breaking her maiden at first asking for C. Brown in New York that we thought she had an excellent chance to step up and win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. A minor issue surfaced and she wasn’t able to make the race, but we assume she’s fit and ready today following a cross country flight for this Grade 3 turf stakes with J. Castellano making the trip to keep the mount. She’s drawn a bit farther outside than we’d prefer, but if the daughter of American Pharaoah is a good as we think she is the poor post won’t get her beat. Overjoyed is progressing very well for N. Drysdale, and like Princesa Caroline should be a major player following a visually pleasing maiden grass victory over a distance of ground. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has good tactical speed and should draft into an ideal second-flight trip under M. Smith and have every chance kick on from the quarter pole home. Alms is an unbeaten City Zip filly fresh from a grass sprint win in the Matron S.-G3 at Belmont Park in early October. There’s no reason she won’t handle a mile, and the first-time Lasix user projects to be prominent throughout from her comfortable inside draw. In a deep, competitive affair, these are the three we’ll be including in our rolling exotics with preference on top to Princesa Caroline.**RACE 3: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Shuster; 5-Square Deal; 9-Riding With DinoForecast Shuster won at first asking in strong fashion and earned a speed figure that makes him tough right back. The L. Powell-trained son of Curlin to Mischief didn’t break too well in his debut but flashed good zip to establish the running and then provided a second move when asked, winning like a useful type. F. Prat rides him back, so we’ll put him solidly on top. Riding with Dino is comfortably drawn outside and is in good form, having broken his maiden for a $50,000 tag over this main track three runs back and then finishing second in two first-level allowance sprints as the favorite. He’ll be on or near the lead throughout again today but based on his most recent two starts may be suspect under pressure in the final furlong. Square Deal was a two-time stakes winner over the Del Mar main track during the summer meeting but didn’t progress in a pair of subsequent outings while earning numbers that have stagnated. We’ll include him on a ticket or two in rolling exotic play due to the horse-for-course angle but there are others in here - specifically Shuster - that may have a more upside.**RACE 4: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-Lostintranzlation; 6-Keeper Ofthe StarsForecast: Keeper ofthe Stars outclasses this field but she’s unproven over a mini-marathon trip, so it’s hard to take a short price on the daughter of Midnight Lute in this this year’s edition of the Red Carpet H.-G3. A smart winner from off the pace in the Autumn Miss S.-G3 over a mile at Santa Anita last month, the J. Wong-trained 3-year-old continues to impress in the morning and will beat this field if she can drop her head, switch off, get some cover and then show her exceptional turn of foot from the top of the lane to the wire. There’s value at or near her morning line of 3-1, but we suspect she’ll go lower. Lostintranzlation has won over this course and distance in the past (though not at this level) and seems certain to be the controlling speed. If not respected, the daughter of Lucky Pulpit could take this field a very long way. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; we’ll have extra tickets keying Keeper ofthe Stars on top.**RACE 5: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: B-Use: 5-Cabin John; 6-Platinum EquityForecast: Platinum Equity is a tough, durable gelding exiting a starter allowance/optional claimer at Santa Anita last month in which he finished second at 40 cents on the dollar despite having every chance when it counted in the final furlongs. On pure numbers he should be able to make amends today in this similar affair, though low-profile connections may be a cause for some mild concern. Cabin John isn’t as fast on speed figures as ‘Equity but he’s a perfect one-for-one over the Del Mar main track and has been popular at the claim box lately, changing hands in three of his last five starts. The Gio Ponti gelding has a good stalking style that ensures a smooth, easy trip, and a healthy series of workouts since his most recent outing to indicate that he’s ready for a top effort. We’ll try to survive and advance using just these two in rolling exotic play with Platinum Equity getting a very slight edge on top.**RACE 6: Post 2:33 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Om; 5-Sacred Life; 7-Prince EarlForecast: Sacred Life, never worse than second in three starts since joining the C. Brown barn from France, most recently was quite impressive winning an overnight affair at Keeneland last month and based on speed figures appears more than capable of standing a successful raise in class to this Grade 2 middle distance grass affair for older horses. He’ll get the patient ride he needs from J. Castellano and with a decent pace and good racing luck should be along in time. Prince Earl shows back-to-back triple-digit Beyer speed figures since returning off a layoff for P. D’Amato and is strictly the one to beat. Winner of the Del Mar Mile over this turf course in August and then running equally as well when the third nose on the wire in the City of Hope Mile-G2 in early October at Santa Anita, the son of Paddy O’ Prado seems better than his morning line of 5-1 and is a “must use” in your rolling exotics. Om, a fast-finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint-G1, probably is most effective around one turn but is good enough on his best day to act at this level at this distance. At 8-1 on the morning line he’s another that might leave at a bit of an overlay and is worth tossing in somewhere.**RACE 7: Post 3:03 PT. Grade: B+Single: 9-Golden PrincipalForecast: Golden Principal has trained like an excellent prospect for B. Baffert and looks fit and ready to win at first asking, assuming she breaks with her field (debut runners don’t always do). From the first crop of the exceptional young stallion Constitution, she was purchased for $200,000 at the OBS April Sale and hasn’t missed a beat since shipping west to join the B. Baffert barn, which hits at an amazing 42% with first time starters. Drawn comfortably outside and at a reasonable 3-1 on the morning line, she’s a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.**RACE 8: Post 3:33 PT. Grade: B+Use: 1-Mo Forza; 9-Standard DeviationForecast: Mo Forza was a little late figuring things out, but after breaking his maiden in fast time two runs back in his sixth career start, the son of Uncle Mo has really gotten his act together. There was nothing flukish about his highly rated 18-1 upset victory in the Twilight Derby at Santa Anita earlier this month and we’re expecting a similar effort today from the P. Miller-trained colt. From the rail ‘Forza should be able to secure an ideal ground-saving, pace-stalking trip under P. Lopez. Standard Deviation, winner of the Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park in August and an excellent third (beaten less than a length) at 11-1 in the Hill Prince S.-G1 at Belmont Park last month, arrives with good credentials for the always-potent C. Brown/Johnny V. team. If he can continue to progress, the son of Curlin can outrun his morning line of 6-1. In a tough, deep, and highly competitive edition of the Hollywood Derby, we’ll use both in our rolling exotics, but if you feel the need to spread a bit deeper, go right ahead.**RACE 9: Post 4:05 PT. Grade: C+Use: 2-Eskimo Roses; 4-Saddle Bar; 5-ReedleyForecast: Here’s a spread race, a $16,000 restricted (nw-2) claimer at the abbreviated sprint distance of five and one-half furlongs. Saddle Bar may be as good as any; the lightly raced Tapizar gelding has steadily rising speed figures and most recently finished second in a similar spot after pressing the pace throughout. Freshened since early September and showing an excellent series of recent workouts, the R. Hess, Jr.-trained 3-year-old graduated over the Del Mar main track two runs back, so we know he likes the track, and probably has further improvement in him. Reedley turns back in trip, returns to the main track (over which he broke his maiden) and makes a major switch to F. Prat. He’ll probably draft into a good pace-stalking position and have dead aim when it matters. Eskimo Roses shows up in a seller for the first time after a series of turf sprint and should greatly appreciate the class drop. He’s a fairly quick type and will take them as far as he can.**RACE 10: Post 4:33 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Eddy Forever; 5-Forever Poe; 13-TizamagicianForecast: This highly competitive turf miler for 2-year-olds has a number of possibilities. We’ll go three-deep and hope that’s enough. Eddy Forever continues to look terrific in the morning for B. Baffert and should enjoy this return to grass. The son of Medaglia d’Oro projects to inherit a perfect ground-saving position and have every chance to display his excellent late kick from just off the pace. If he’s going to develop into a good colt, today would be a good day to show it. Forever Poe arrives from Belmont Park where he finished a solid runner-up in his debut sprinting on grass last month. We’re expecting he’ll produce a forward move with that effort behind him and this stretch out in trip. The son of Colonel John brought $850,000 at Timonium in May and is bred to improve with experience and distance, so his connections have reason to be optimistic. Tizamagician is drawn farther out than we’d prefer but still must be considered a major contender. He’ll add blinkers for the first time after finishing second at 60 cents on the dollar in a main track miler earlier this month at Santa Anita and while he was disappointing last time out his speed figures remain strong. The R. Mandella-trained son of Tiznow isn’t necessarily bred to improve on grass but you might as well give him a chance.

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11.30.2019:

Jeff Siegel's Gulfstream Park Wagering Strategies for 11/30/19

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.**RACE 1: Post 12:00 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-La Flamenca; 2-Debbies Utube Diva; 9-LemoncitaForecast: Lemoncita passed a few tired horses in her debut without threatening but in doing so earned a speed figures that makes her highly competitive in this maiden $25,000 claiming turf miler for juvenile fillies. It’s not really a good sign that T. Pletcher is giving up on the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid after just one outing but she’s a homebred from a stable that has little interest in carrying cheaper stock, so the class drop is understandable. La Flamenca stretches out for the first time, lands the rail, and seems likely to be prominent early. Her one prior turf outing was poor, but it was against tougher. Debbies Utube Diva flashed some improvement when closing with interest in a slow heat to be second last time out and if she can produce another forward move the daughter of Verrazano may be capable of at least hitting the board again.**RACE 2: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B+Single: 5-Kozy KatForecast: Kozy Kat was nailed on the money when missing at even money in a similar maiden claiming sprint for juvenile fillies at Gulfstream Park West last month. More importantly, she finished nearly 14 lengths in front of the others while earning a speed figure that is considerably stronger than par for this level. We suspect she’ll go lower than her morning line of 7/2, but at anything close to that price she’s a straight play and rolling exotic single.**RACE 3: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: B+Use: 5-Tonalist’s Shape; 6-Power MoveForecast: Tonalist’s Shape is unbeaten in two starts with rising speed figures and should be a short price to extend her streak in this overnight Stakes for juvenile fillies. The stretch out to a mile shouldn’t be an issue – she’s from the first crop of Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist – and given her deep closing style she really should be much more comfortable going long than short. Power Move , a first-time Lasix user, broke her maiden at first asking with a good number at Belmont Park and then was a respectable runner-up (beaten five lengths by Maedean) in the Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct at a one-turn mile. Lightly raced with plenty of upside, the daughter of More Than Read could give the favorite some competition and is worth including somewhere in your rolling exotics.**RACE 4: Post 1:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 6-He’s Super Lucky; 8-Blazing DesireForecast: In this completely unclassified maiden claiming turf affair for juveniles, anything goes. We’ll use two in our rolling exotics, but you should probably use as many as your budget allows. He’s Super Lucky missed by a neck over this course and distance in his second career outing in September and sports a healthy work pattern since to indicate further improvement is likely. He should be forwardly placed throughout and have every chance. Blazing Desire surfaces in a seller for the first time while also being re-equipped with blinkers. His previous grass form isn’t too bad, in fact, on pure numbers he’s the one to beat.**RACE 5: Post 2:00 PT. Grade: B+Use: 4-Complexifier; 5-Went WestForecast: Complexifier seeks his third straight score after breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs and then repeating on the raise in a solid allowance sprint at Keeneland. This overnight Stakes race should be within his capabilities, though the impressive debut winner Went West may have something to say about that. ‘West earned a big figure when graduating at first asking at Parx, beating two next out winners in the process, and the J. Servis-trained son of Union Rags should get nothing but better with experience and – later on – distance. Complexifier has a bit more impressive resume at this stage so we’ll put him on top but Went West may have a higher upside and is a “must use” as well.**RACE 6: Post 2:30 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-The Big Kahuna ; 8-Well ConnectedForecast: The Big Kahuna, from the first crop of Bayern, has done some good work in the morning for T. Pletcher and looks cranked up and ready to win at first asking in this abbreviated maiden sprint for juveniles. He’ll have to contend with Well Connected, a debuting Distorted Humor colt from the same connections that brought you Maximum Security. The J. Servis-trained colt has been training slowly and easily leading up to his first outing, but that’s a typical pattern from this stable, which hits at 23% with first-time starters. Both should be used in your rolling exotics; we’ll have a few extra tickets keying The Big Kahuna on top.**RACE 7: Post 3:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Fujairah; 6-American GiantForecast: American Giant just won a listed Stakes two-turning on grass at Gulfstream Park West with authority and that performance makes the daughter of More Than Ready the logical top choice in this mile grass added money affair for juvenile fillies. She likes to settle off the pace and blast home, and that’s the way L. Saez most likely will ride her. Fujairah was overmatched in the Jessamine Sttakes-G2 at Keeneland last time out but her race before last – a solid runner-up effort in a listed turf Stakes over this turf course - charts well in this spot. From her good inside draw, the daughter of Ghostzapper should be prominent throughout, maybe even in front. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with preference on top to American Giant.**RACE 8: Post 3:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Spanish Point; 8-Sound MachineForecast: Spanish Point graduated for fun when risked for a $50,000 tag (she wasn’t claimed) at Belmont Park in late September and looks capable of taking on this tougher assignment despite drawing the disadvantageous rail. The daughter of Creative Cause sports a bullet workout at Palm Meadows just seven days ago to indicate she’s doing well and likely to produce a forward move. She’ll be tough if she breaks well and avoids early traffic trouble. Sound Machine won her debut by a pole over this track in July but then disappointed badly when unplaced at 60 cents on the dollar in a first-level allowance sprint at Keeneland nine weeks later. We’ll assume that she’s much better than that race shows and the daughter of Into Mischief will have every chance to prove it as the 8/5 morning line favorite. Let’s go with Spanish Point on top – she’ll be the better price – but include both in our rolling exotics.**RACE 9: Post 4:00 PT. Grade: B+Use: 4-King Guillermo; 8-Graceful Kitten; 10-Captain DForecast: King Guillermo was given a race sprinting on dirt in his debut and then got serious when stretched out on grass in his most recent outing, winning by more than six lengths with complete authority while earning a powerful speed figure. Anything close to that effort today will make him tough to beat. The son of Uncle Mo is listed at 3-1 on the morning line, but we don’t expect to get it. Graceful Kitten is the likely pacesetter and already two-time stakes winner, though his bubble was burst when he faded readily in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in his most recent outing. Obviously, this is a much easier spot and if he can shake loose early without pressure he could get very brave. Captain D likes to settle and make a run and with some help up front could be heard from late. His numbers are just okay, but he’s genuine and consistent and must be respected.**RACE 10: Post 4:30 PT. Grade: B+Use: 4-Fort McHenry; 10-PoeForecast: Fort McHenry broke his maiden by a distance two-turning at Gulfstream Park West with a powerful speed figure – by far a career top – and today the T. Pletcher-trained colt will try to repeat on the raise in this one-turn miler. The son of Tapit, a $1.1 million yearling purchase, has the makings of a very nice prospect and at 8/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower California Chrome’s half-brother looks very much like the one to beat. Poe deserves some consideration in rolling exotic play, at least as a backup. Drawn comfortably outside, the son of Brethren has competitive speed figures but certainly not the upside that Fort McHenry has. Give his projected trip, the S. Gold-trained colt should have every chance to at least make a race of it.**RACE 11: Post 5:00 PT. Grade: CUse: 2-Unlimited Data; 4-Bad to the Core; 5-Third ArmyForecast: The finale is a grass grab bag for restricted (nw-2) $16,000 claiming turf routers. Spread as deeply as you can afford to. Bad to the Coe may be as good as any; the French-bred gelding missed by nose in a similar affair at Gulfstream Park West three weeks ago and if he can turn in two alike he’ll be right there. Unlimited Data, third beaten a head in the same race ‘Core exits, should be in the fray once again as well. Third Army plummets in class and almost certainly will go much better at this level. The Hess, Jr.-trained son of Declaration of War has good tactical speed and at 8-1 on the morning line should stick around for a long time against this moderate group.

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11.30.2019:

Late Pick 4 Targeted Saturday at Gulfstream Park

There’s a lot going on Saturday at Gulfstream Park on the second day of the Championship Meet – so much that it’s difficult to pinpoint a single sequence in which to take aim. There are six stakes races on the 11-race card. Three of those are in the late Pick 4, which is where we’re looking today. The sequence begins in the eighth with the House Party Stakes. It’s at six furlongs for 2-year-old fillies, and such races are always a good challenge and often come up with a decent payer. Lavi, Sound Machine and Kimura are on the suggested ticket, which totals $54 this week. Lavi comes with a perfect record in one start and her performance came in at Gulfstream Park West when she came from well off the pace and pulled away by 2.5 lengths at the end. Sound Machine, the probably favorite, was outrun in an optional claiming race at Keeneland in October and returns to where she broke her maiden by 8 1-4 lengths. Kimura is the price play in this one. She broke her maiden in her debut in July 7 and was outrun in a Monmouth stakes race in September. The ninth is the Pulpit Stakes at a mile on the turf for 2-year-olds and looks like the most wide-open of the four races. Four runners made the ticket: Irish Mias, Nettleton, Fame to Famous and Graceful Kitten. Graceful Kitten is the favorite but several have a chance and will be a true scramble to the wire. The Smooth Air Stakes is the 10th race and is a mile, and a three of them make the ticket. Fort McHenry is the favorite and comes off an easy win at Gulfstream West. The company will be considerably stronger in this spot, and Gangly and Peruvian Boy have a chance to connect at a price. Gangly in July broke his maiden at Gulfstream and since then has been fourth and fifth in stakes at Monmouth and Gulfstream West. He has a good chance to be overlooked here. Peruvian Boy was third in the Arlington Washington Futurity and fourth in the G2 Saratoga Special. He has shown late interest and could be set up nicely by the pace here. The finale is for claimers on the turf and Unlimited Data, Bad to the Core and Malibu Music will be in the hunt and look like big players going the 1 1-16th miles. Here’s the suggested play for the Late Pick 4 Saturday at Gulfstream Park:Race 8) #3 Lavi, #8 Sound Machine, #9 Kimura.Race 9) #1 Irish Mias, #5 Nettleton, #7 Fame to Famous, #8 Graceful Kitten..Race 10) #4 Fort McHenry, #5 Gangly, #9 Peruvian Boy.Race 11) #2 Unlimited Data, #4 Bad to the Core, #7 Malibu Music.50-cent Late Pick 4 ticket: 3-8-9 with 1-5-7-8 with 4-5-9 with 2-4-7 ($54).

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11.29.2019:

Friday, November 29: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

Tonight, Cal Expo has a 12-race card scheduled with the 0.20 Pick 4 starting in Race 8. That sequence has a 16% takeout with a $25,000 guaranteed pool and it will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 84-Sir Mammo (5/1)-This will be the 1st start off the bench but raced a quick back half in a qualifier and will bet that he is ready to roll. If so, fits well versus this group and could be a square price.5-Bettor's Outlaw (3-1)-Lukewarm program chalk should be in the hunt with this crew and Magee can put in play early from this post.8-Coz And Effect (7/2)-Will leave the #1 off the ticket and go to this dropper. 5-year-old knows his way to the winner's circle at CalX and could be sitting on a big try in 3rd start back.Race 96-Shock N Awe (8-1)-Looking for a price, gets a post edge on top foes and the two starts at CalX have been sharp.8-Delightfully Wild (4-1)-Aggressive try in 1st local start and was off 21-days. This mare knows how to win and should be tighter tonight.10-Dancingonthesand (4-1)-This gal is a cut above everyone else, winner of 9 of 15 here and 10-26 lifetime. The post should help the price but will make it more difficult.Race 104-Dontcloseyoureyes (6-1)-A solid threat at this level and has raced well in last two starts. Could be forwardly placed from this post and Magee should keep in play.5-Gordy Again (3-1)-Came off cover to beat #4 who had the 8-hole in last. Now makes 2nd start at CalX and should be in the mix for an encore with the right trip.6-Prairie Cowgirl (6-1)-Beaten favorite gets some post relief as last start was from the 9-hole. This is the 4th start off the bench and has raced well in last 3. Best to not overlook and could be a better price this week.Race 115-Buzz Light (3-1)-This will be the 3rd start since coming to town and both efforts were okay. Gets post relief and was facing better this summer at Aces. Barn has been going well and should be in the hunt for a picture.7-Senga Nitro (15-1)-Got the jump on the field in a 1.5-mile race last week and never looked back. Actually, has improved in all 3 CalX starts and at 15-1 in the ML is well worth a swing.8-Bunkerhill Bill (8-1)-Doesn't win much but comes off a victory when drawing off by over 4-lengths. Steps-up a notch but best to not overlook. In a new barn now and hadn't raced since 7/28, could be even better this time so will string along.My Ticket Race 8) 4,5,8 Race 9) 6,8,10 Race 10) 4,5,6 Race 11) 5,7,8Total Ticket Cost) $16.20 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.29.2019:

Friday, November 29 Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Cardiff Cay; 3-Paint Me LuckyForecast: Cardiff Cay makes his first start on dirt after displaying an improving pattern in three grass outings to begin his career. A closing third when favored in a maiden special weight turf outing in his local debut three weeks ago, the son of Medaglia d’Oro has the pedigree to run just as well on the main track, if not better. M. Smith got to know him last time out and stays aboard. Paint Me Lucky makes his first start since June of last year and it is encouraging that as a first time gelding he remains protected by B. Baffert in straight maiden company. Recent works are pretty good, so we’ll assume he will return as least as well as he left. Let’s try to get by using just these two in rolling exotic play with preference on top to Cardiff Cay.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: XSingle: 3-AggressivityForecast: Aggressivity was a respectable but distant runner-up in a maiden special weight sprint last month at Santa Anita and today drops into the maiden $40,000 ranks while trying to break his maiden late in his 4-year-old campaign. This seems like a logical spot, so there should be no excuses for the R. Ellis-trained gelding, who based strictly on speed figures lays over this modest field. At 2-1 on the morning line and likely to go lower, the son of Dialed In isn’t likely to offer much in the way of wagering value but if nothing else we can use him as a no-value rolling exotic single.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: C+Use: 2-Don’tteasethetiger; 4-More Honor; 6-WhatsittoyaForecast Here’s a spread affair, a restricted (nw-3) $16,000 claiming extended sprint for older horses. Whatsittoya earned a career top speed figure when crushing a slightly softer field in early August over the Del Mar main track but hasn’t been out since. The R. Hess, Jr.-trained gelding shows a spotty recent work tab, so this unhealthy pattern makes backing the son of Atta Boy Roy somewhat problematic. Certainly, he can win if he repeats his last outing but that may be a big if. More Honor plummets in class seeking his proper level for the always-dangerous M. Glatt/F. Prat team and may have found his friends. All of his recent efforts have come on grass, but the son of More Than Ready did run well on dirt early in his career, so we’re thinking the surface switch won’t be an issue. He’s a fit on numbers and should get the second flight, stalking trip that he desires. Don’tteasethetiger was all out to beat a restricted (nw-2) $12,500 field at Santa Anita earlier this month and better will be needed for a successful repeat on the raise. We’ll include the G. Vallejo-trained gelding in our rolling exotics on a few back-up tickets because he’s won over this track and distance in the past and shows two good workouts since his victory which gives hope that he can produce another forward move.RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Impression; 6-Dukes UpForecast: Impression looked good beating a $20,000 claiming group over this track and distance earlier this month and this double jump in class is a sign of confidence from his high percentage connections that the veteran Smart Strike gelding came out of the race in peak condition. On numbers alone he belongs at this tougher level, so we’ll put him on top while also including Dukes Up in our rolling exotics. He’s a first-off-the-claim for P. Eurton, retains A. Cedillo, and always has been thoroughly genuine and consistent, having finished first or second in 15 of 31 career starts.RACE 5: Post 2:34 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Secret Square; 5-La CroixForecast: Secret Square stumbled badly at the start when a runner-up at 50 cents on the dollar in a similar maiden $50,000 maiden claiming sprint for state-bred juvenile fillies last month at Santa Anita but it was a decent race for the level and not much more should be needed for the daughter of Square Eddie to make amends in this moderate event. Her speed figures have risen with each of her three starts, so with another forward move the J. Sadler-trained filly should be able to earn her diploma. La Croix is an intriguing Bay Area shipper that is worth including on a few tickets in rolling exotic play. A non-threatening fifth in a better-than-par straight maiden juvenile filly dash at Golden Gate Fields earlier this month, she projects as a strong fit at this level on this circuit, and with the addition of blinkers the daughter of Congrats seems likely to produce a forward move.RACE 6: Post 3:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Trouville; 6-It’s a RiddleForecast: Trouville flashed improvement to finish second while more than five lengths clear of the rest at this level last month at Santa Anita and today will race with blinkers. With F. Prat riding her back for the L. Powell barn, she seems the logical top pick and we suspect she’ll go lower than her morning line of 5/2. It’s a Riddle is a bit faster on pure numbers than Trouville and should get plenty of play as well. Though missing at even money when second while more than five lengths clear of the rest last time out, the daughter of Merit Man actually ran a winning race, one that if repeated today could easily be good enough. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with a slight preference on top to Trouville.RACE 7: Post 3:34 PT. Grade: B-Use: 4-Unbroken Star; 6-Canadian Game; 7-MutineerForecast: Mutineer drops from a first-level allowance main track miler to a starter’s allowance affair and against this easier group the D. O’Neill-trained gelding looks well-spotted to regain his winning form. Twice second in four prior outings over the Del Mar main track, the son of Into Mischief picks up R. Bejarano and projects to enjoy an ideal second flight trip and have every chance from the quarter pole home to wear down the leaders. Unbroken Star got lost on grass when finishing far back in a similar starter’s race last month but remains protected by M. Puype, switches to F. Prat, and broke his maiden over this course and distance during the summer meeting. He definitely can bounce back. Canadian Game, in the money in his last three starts with speed figures that make him a solid fit, returns to dirt after a couple of okay tries on grass and should be set for a forward move. The main concern, of course, is that he’s always preferred to run second or third (10 times) rather than win (once) in 16 prior outings.RACE 8: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Truck Salesman; 7-Top Brass; 10-MadmanForecast: Top Brass missed at 6/5 vs. $20,000 sellers in his last start but earned a strong figure and may prove to be a timely claim by R. Hess, Jr., who protects him today in a first-level allowance sprint while switching to V. Espinoza. A four-time winner at this six-furlong trip and an admirable seven-for-16 overall, the hard-knocking son of Arch likes to settle in mid-pack and then kick it in late, a style that usually works very well over the Del Mar main track. There’s some value to be found at or near his morning line of 9/2. Madman won for fun in his debut last May at Santa Anita while earning a good speed figure but then, according to Daily Racing Form, went to the sidelines with a chip in an ankle. He returns for R. Baltas (a strong 25% with layoff runners) while switching to F. Prat, so the gelded son of Violence is a major contender and a “must use.” Truck Salesman is buried on the rail but a recent outing on grass can be dismissed and a repeat of his runaway starter’s allowance score two runs back charts very well with these. He’ll also be adding blinkers (though he’s worn them in the past). Toss him in on a ticker or two.RACE 9: Post 4:34 PT. Grade: C+Use: 6-Promise Nothing; 8-EustaceForecast: Eustace drops to his lowest level ever and returns from the Bay Area after a couple of non-productive outings over the Golden Gate Fields all-weather surface. His two races at Del Mar during the summer meeting chart quite well in this maiden $32,000 sprint for juveniles, so at 5-1 on the morning line he’s worth consideration both in the straight pool and in rolling exotic play. Promise Nothing drops again in class while seeking his proper level and based on numbers he’s found it today. A respectable third in a maiden $50,000 sprint at Santa Anita last time out, the son of Street Boss was almost three lengths clear of the rest while finishing with interest, and not much more should be needed to make him a major player. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics but feel free to include as many as you can afford to in a race that contains a lot of question marks.

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11.28.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: November 29 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle in this week’s Stronach 5, which once again has a 100k guarantee and will include the Opening Day card at Gulfstream Park’s Championship Meet. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:50 ET) – 3upfm 5k N2L at 7 furlongs It seems like we start off every week with a horse that is suppose to win and looks about 7-5 to do so, and this week is no exception, as #4 CHICKEN DINNER (9-5), who just beat a few of these last time, looks best and the controlling speed to boot. I’ll take the bait and single her, since she’s also lightly raced and has more upside than anyone, and #1 Alphabetting (9-2), who she beat by just a half-length last time, seems a lot tougher to trust. Pk5 A horses: 4 (listed in order of preference) The aforementioned #1 ALPHABETTING got back untracked last time and warrants inclusion, but she still couldn’t win after sitting a dream trip stalking, while ‘Dinner dueled on the lead, and the prospective race flow doesn’t look as cozy for her today. I suppose #8 Priss (5-1) is worth a look, but she got the dream set up last time too and couldn’t get there when 4th, and at 1-for-17 with six 3rds, you know her m.o., which is the same for #3 Wekeend Flyer (3-1), who is 1-for-18 with six underneath finishes, and, while she’s got tactical speed, none of her last five dirt starts give her a winning chance. Pk5 B horses: 1 Leg 2: Golden Gate Fields R2 (4:18 ET) – 3up 3.2k N2L* at 1-mile I’m not sure if they wanted to throw us a bone or this is just the way things sussed out on this particular Friday, but this small six-pack looks like a name the score type of race for #5 TASTE’S LEGEND (1-1), who might be 1-5 on the class drop for Herbertson, who is 6-for-17 on the meet, so I’ll just take the perceived free square and try and use it to my advantage elsewhere. Pk5 A horses: 5 This one looks like such a cinch that I’ll go it alone, though if you’re looking for a bit more coverage then #1 Zippin Wine (6-1) could surprise on the slight class drop, while #2 Charlie Cowden (5-2) was just all-out to wire lesser last time and could potentially get brave if he clears. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 3: Laurel Park R9 (4:20 ET) – 3upfm 40k MCL at 6 furlongs It looks like we’ll have another strong favorite in Maryland with #1 SILENT FLUIDITY (8-5), who win this with her best, but also seems a bit tough to trust and has a descending figure pattern, and got no help from a tricky rail draw. I’ll use her, but I’ll try for a slight upset with #6 KICKSTARTMYHEART (4-1), who drew a nice attack post, will (hopefully) run for the first time on a fast track with blinkers, and fits off that good 3rd two-back at the level. Pk5 A horses: 6,1 The term “tread lightly” immediately comes to mind with #3 GOTTAHAVEAHOLIDAY (5-2), who didn’t fire in her comeback at Parx, while dropping in for a tag for the first time too. However, she was eligible to need that run, and she wouldn’t be the first horse to not handle the Bensalem surface, and that prior trio of NY races wins this, so she needs to be used in some context. Some will argue #4 Dajem (8-1) needed her last too, but she also blew a 4-length late lead and has basically been running the same race every time, so the thinking here is she is who she is, and that’s not good enough here. Pk5 B horses: 3 Leg 4: Gulfstream Park R9 (4:30 ET) – 3up 16k claimer at 1-mile (turf) The good thing about being tight early is you can be a little expansive late, and that’s what we have here, as this looks like the typical tough GP open claimer. I have a trio of A’s, with #6 PHILO (10-1) on top, as his price will be right, he drew well, and Crichton is a ridiculous 41% off the claim, while #7 POWER WALKER (4-1) is the horse to beat with a much better post this time, and #9 MISSION DRIVEN (7-2) will roll late, which means his running style might negate this wide draw. Pk5 A horses: 6,7,9 The B’s are a group of wildcards, and all have their merits, but their warts too, which is why they didn’t make the cut on the top line; #1 GRAY DUDE (8-1), #3 LOVE NEST (8-1), #10 DALARNA (6-1), #8 FLOWMOTION (5-1), and #4 CAN’T TRUMP KITTEN (10-1). Pk5 B horses: 1,3,10,8,4 Leg 5: Gulfstream Park R10 (5:00 ET) – 3upfm 16k N2L at 1 1/16 miles (turf) This one looks a bit more cut and dried than the other GP race, as #9 LA INCONDICTIONAL (7-2) should be a solid favorite on the class drop and figure edge she owns, over a group that has gone out of their way to show they don’t want to win a horse race (see more on that below). However, the post and tactical speed that #3 ALGODONAL (10-1) has makes her interesting, and she comes in off an MCL win, and I don’t think that’s a negative in these modest N2L’s. Pk5 A horses: 9,3 We have the ability to use a few B’s here, so I’ll do it, but this list is littered with lifetime one times, so tread very lightly, as #1 PARTY DANCER (4-1), #4 FOR KICKS (12-1), and #10 HENRY’S TREASURE (5-1) are a combined 3-for-40. I could have also used #2 Karenina (6-1), but when you’re 1-for-23 lifetime, with 14 underneath finishes, you can beat me. Pk5 B horses: 1,4,10 The tickets (I would advocate playing the All-A ticket for $2): Main Ticket: 1 with 5 with 6,1 with 6,7,9 with 9,3 = $12Leg 1 B Backup: 5 with 5 with 6,1 with 6,7,9 with 9,3 = $12Leg 3 B Backup: 1 with 5 with 3 with 6,7,9 with 9,3 = $6Leg 4 B Backup: 1 with 5 with 6,1 with 1,3,8,10,4 with 9,3 = $20Leg 5 B Backup: 1 with 5 with 6,1 with 6,7,9 with 1,4,10 = $18

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11.28.2019:

Maximum Security No. 1 Pick in Fantasy Draft

My horse racing fantasy league held its annual draft this past Monday. Daily Racing Form handicapper Michael Hammersly started this league in 1986. I joined it in 1990 when I also was working for the DRF. I have been the league’s commissioner since 2000. This fantasy league consists of nine members. Each member drafts eight horses. Our league begins each year on Thanksgiving and continues through the final Breeders’ Cup race the following year. Only races in the United States, in Canada, on the Dubai World Cup card and now the Saudi Cup count. I added the lucrative Saudi Cup, new in 2020, to our list of races in which points can be earned. The Saudi Cup is considered a Grade I race for our point-earning purposes. This is how our scoring system works: --A Grade I race is worth 12, 6 and 4 points for first, second and third. --A Grade II race is worth 8, 4 and 2 for first, second and third. --A Grade III race is worth 6, 3 and 1 for first, second and third. --An ungraded stakes race is worth 4 for first. --All other races are worth 2 for first. --All Canadian races are downgraded one level, except the Woodbine Mile, Northern Dancer Turf, Canadian International and E.P. Taylor. --The most valuable bonus races are the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic (36, 18, 12). The other bonus races (24, 12, 8) are the Apple Blossom, Kentucky Oaks, Met Mile, Beverly D., Arlington Million and all of the other Breeders’ Cup races. Each league member can make two claims per month along with two “super claims.” When someone makes a claim, they must drop one horse from their stable. One “super claim,” which is simply an additional claim to the two each month, can be made through the day of the Belmont Stakes. The other “super claim” can be made anytime following the day of the Belmont Stakes. Hammersly, the “father of our league,” won the 2019 title, thanks in large measure to having Midnight Bisou and Bricks and Mortar. As for the draft held this past Monday, Chad Brown again led all trainers with 11 of his trainees among the 72 drafted. Hall of Famer Bob Baffert was next best with seven, followed by Brad Cox with six. These have been the two leading trainers in terms of horses drafted going back to 2016: Year Trainer (Horses Drafted) 2020 Chad Brown (11)Bob Baffert (7) 2019 Chad Brown (12)Bob Baffert (11) 2018 Bob Baffert (11)Chad Brown (9) 2017 Chad Brown (11)Bob Baffert (8) 2016 Chad Brown (9)Todd Pletcher (7) The leading sire for the 2019 draft was More Than Ready with four horses taken. What a difference a year makes. No sons or daughters of More Than Ready were drafted for 2020. The leading sire for the 2020 draft was a five-way tie with three each: --Hard Spun (Hidden Scroll, Lucullan and Spun to Run) --Into Mischief (Authentic, Covfefe and Major Cabbie) --Scat Daddy (Daddy Is a Legend, Toinette and Valid Point) --Tapit (Lake Avenue, Maedean and Tacitus) --Uncle Mo (Bast, Donna Veloce and Mo Forza) The order for the draft held this past Monday was determined by the reverse order of this year’s final standings. This meant that I had the No. 4 pick in the first round. Here, in order, were the 72 Thoroughbreds drafted Monday (my selections are capitalized): 1. Maximum Security 2. Tiz the Law 3. Honor A.P. 4. DONNA VELOCE I debated long and hard between Donna Veloce and Dennis’ Moment. There were two primary reasons why I opted for Donna Veloce. One, the 2-year-old Kentucky-bred Uncle Mo filly is scheduled to run in an upcoming Grade I race, the Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos on Dec. 7 for trainer Simon Callaghan. It would seem Donna Veloce has an excellent chance to earn me 12 points in that race. Two, while I think Dennis’ Moment is extremely talented and a definite Kentucky Derby contender, my thinking in the draft was that even if I did not take Dennis’ Moment in the first round, I still might be able to get a good 2-year-old colt in the second or third round. I was not surprised when Dennis’ Moment was the very next pick in the draft. 5. Dennis’ Moment 6. Got Stormy 7. Code of Honor 8. Independence Hall 9. Omaha Beach 10. McKinzie 11. Midnight Bisou 12. Spun to Run 13. Anneau d’Or 14. Auberge 15. BELLAFINA As I had hoped there still were good 2-year-old colts available here in the second round. I seriously considered taking either Thousand Words or Maxfield. But then I thought that maybe one of those two still would be available in the third round. So instead of taking a 2-year-old colt, I selected Bellafina. The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Quality Road filly is headed to Santa Anita’s Grade I La Brea Stakes on Dec. 26 for trainer Simon Callaghan. Bellafina ran a giant race in defeat when she finished second, three-quarters of a length behind the outstanding sprinter Covfefe, in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Bellafina recorded a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure at the Breeders’ Cup. She has a stellar record on Santa Anita’s main track (five starts, four wins and a second). It would seem she has a very good chance to earn me 12 points in the La Brea. Interestingly, the aforementioned Covfefe was the very next pick in the draft. 16. Covfefe 17. Thousand Words 18. Toinette 19. Three Technique 20. Eight Rings 21. Tom’s d’Etat 22. MAXFIELD Well, the bad news for me at this point in the draft was Thousand Words had been taken. But the good news was Maxfield still was available. So it turned out that I was right that I could get a good 2-year-old in the third round. Maxfield is two for two. I thought the Kentucky-bred Street Sense colt was very impressive when he won the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland by 5 1/2 widening lengths on Oct. 5. When all was not well with Maxfield prior to the the Grade I BC Juvenile, he was withdrawn from the Nov. 2 race. BloodHorse recently reported that Godolphin’s Maxfield “is expected to return to racing in early 2020 after having surgery Nov. 18 to remove a mildly displaced chip from an ankle, according to Godolphin.” Jimmy Bell, president and director of racing for Godolphin in the U.S., said Maxfield is expected to return to training in about 60 days at Palm Meadows with trainer Brendan Walsh. I am hoping that I have a big threat for the Kentucky Derby with Maxfield. 23. South Bend 24. United 25. First Star 26. Cleopatra’s Strike 27. British Idiom 28. Monomoy Girl 29. Mo Forza 30. Storm the Court 31. Valid Point 32. Answer In 33. FINITE I was disappointed when Valid Point, one of Brown’s trainees, was taken at No. 31. I really thought I might get him here for Saturday’s Grade I Hollywood Derby at Del Mar. But it turns out that I already have had some very good luck in this draft. That’s because two days after our draft, the DRF’s Brad Free reported that Valid Point would not be entered in the Hollywood Derby. Valid Point “was a late defection,” Brown told Free. “He didn’t come out of his last work 100 percent, and I’m going to have him checked out and just point to next year. I don’t think it’s anything serious, but he just wasn’t 100 percent.” Thank goodness Valid Point already had been taken before it was time for me to make my fourth-round pick. Even though I already had drafted a 2-year-old filly in Donna Veloce, I chose Finite, another 2-year-old filly, here in the fourth round. She is one of eight entered in this Saturday’s Grade II Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill. Finite, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Munnings, won the Rags to Riches Stakes by six lengths at Churchill on Oct. 27 for trainer Steve Asmussen. Between Donna Veloce and Finite, I’m hoping that I have the winner of the 2020 Kentucky Oaks, one of our bonus races. I gave serious consideration to taking New and Improved instead of Finite here at No. 33. New and Improved is entered in Friday’s Grade II Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs. She also reportedly is a candidate for the Grade I American Oaks at Santa Anita on Dec. 28. New and Improved was the next pick in the draft. 34. New and Improved 35. Street Band 36. Serengeti Empress 37. Significant Form 38. Bast 39. Guarana 40. HIGH VELOCITY Considering Maxfield underwent ankle surgery Nov. 18, I thought it might be prudent to take another 2-year-old colt here in the fifth round at No. 40. I selected High Velocity. I thought he might still be available later, but I decided not to take any chances and went ahead and took him here. It is my understanding that trainer Bob Baffert thinks a lot of High Velocity, who is two for two. The Kentucky-bred Quality Road colt won the Grade III Bob Hope Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths on Nov. 16. 41. Analyze It 42. Complexity 43. Major Cabbie 44. Authentic 45. Juliet Foxtrot 46. Looking At Bikinis 47. Midcourt 48. Baja Sur 49. Alandra 50. Arklow 51. SEEKING THE SOUL Man, oh, man. I really did not know what to do at this point. To be perfectly frank, I am not a Seeking the Soul fan. Nevertheless, I decided to roll the dice and take a chance on him in Friday’s Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill. His last three races leave a lot to be desired, but perhaps a Nov. 21 bullet drill is a sign that the 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Perfect Soul will perk up Friday. Another reason I chose Seeking the Soul at No. 51 is he has done well at Churchill Downs. He won the Grade I Stephen Foster Stakes last June 15 at Churchill when Tom’s d’Etat finished third. Tom’s d’Etat was the 21st pick in the draft. Seeking the Soul won the Clark in 2017. He finished third in the 2018 renewal. We shall see if he can hit the board and get me some fantasy points in the 2019 Clark. He is listed at 12-1 on the morning line, while Tom’s d’Etat is the 8-5 favorite. 52. Starship Jubilee 53. Without Parole 54. Structor 55. Higher Power 56. Princesa Caroline 57. Imperial Hint 58. TACITUS I confess that this, my penultimate pick in the draft, was something of a sentimental selection on my part. I once had Tacitus’ dam, Close Hatches, on my team in this fantasy league. Even though Close Hatches let me down when she finished seventh in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, she really was one of my favorites. While I was unable to get Tacitus in this league for 2019, I decided to take him here at No. 58 for 2020. Tacitus disappointed many horseplayers on a number of occasions last year, such as when he lost the Grade I Kentucky Derby at 5-1, Grade I Belmont Stakes as the 9-5 favorite, Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes as the 8-5 favorite, Grade I Travers Stakes as the 2-1 favorite and Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup at 5-2. But the 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Tapit colt did run in all of those races. He finished fourth and was moved up to third via Maximum Security’s disqualification in the Kentucky Derby, then ran second in the Belmont, second in Jim Dandy, second in the Travers and third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. I’m hoping that with maturity, Tacitus might become a terrific 4-year-old for trainer Bill Mott in 2020. 59. Hidden Scroll 60. Basin 61. Country Grammer 62. Lake Avenue 63. Maedean 64. Sacred Life 65. Clayton 66. Performer 67. Tax 68. Sally’s Curlin 69. DADDY IS A LEGEND Even though this Sunday’s Grade I Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar is shaping up to be a salty race topped by Grade I winner and No. 6 draft pick Got Stormy, I elected to take Daddy Is a Legend with my final pick in the draft. Daddy Is a Legend won an allowance affair by 2 3/4 lengths at Keeneland on Oct. 24. I am hoping that Oct. 24 effort will serve as a springboard to a good performance by her in the Matriarch. George Weaver trains Daddy Is a Legend, a 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred Scat Daddy filly. Daddy Is a Legend finished second to the explosive Uni in the 2018 Matriarch. Uni won this year’s Grade I BC Mile, a race in which Got Stormy finished second. 70. Lucullan 71. Mr. Freeze 72. Arrifana  

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11.27.2019:

Xpressbet Race of the Week: Clark Handicap

GRADE 1 $600,000 CLARK HANDICAP AT CHURCHILL DOWNSThe Lead:It may be Black Friday for holiday shoppers, but why can't we color it green or gold for horseplayers? Friday's Grade 1 Clark Handicap has attracted a dozen runners and should be an outstanding betting race if you can mold an opinion. The 1-1/8 miles event goes as Race 11 with post time just before 6 pm ET.Field Depth:SEEKING THE SOUL is a G1 winner. BRAVAZO is multiple G1-placed. TOM'S d'ETAT is a recent G2 winner. OWENDALE, MOCITO ROJO, MR FREEZE and DRAFT PICK are G3 winners. No doubt SEEKING THE SOUL has consistently kept the best running lines in terms of competition, and he's the most accomplished.Pace:MAJOR CABBIE, FACT FINDING, MR. BUFF, MR FREEZE and PIONEER SPIRIT all will contend for the front based on their preferred styles, while DRAFT PICK and TOM'S d'ETAT also are plenty fast. This should be a hot pace and give come-from-behinders a good chance to strut their stuff.​Our Eyes:BRAVAZO and SEEKING THE SOUL are back from last year's Clark 2-3 finish behind City of Light. They arrive at the rematch after vastly different seasons. BRAVAZO has been sidelined since January's Pegasus World Cup, while SEEKING THE SOUL has gone to Dubai and back for the Breeders' Cup Classic with a victory in Churchill's Stephen Foster in-between. BRAVAZO was a workhorse when in his form cycle, one of his most endearing traits was the ability to push through the seasons more capably than others of his generation. He's training like he means business and you have to think this gets him back to the Pegasus World Cup path and the rich date in January. SEEKING THE SOUL didn't fire in his 2 tries over the deep Santa Anita autumn surface. At age 6, there's some question whether he's still a top-rated puncher; but there's no doubt about his affinity for Churchill Downs.TOM'S d'ETAT, MR FREEZE and MOCITO ROJO rematch from Keeneland's Fayette, where TOM'S d'ETAT dominated in the slop after pressing MR FREEZE on a weak pace. You have to think this pace shakes out way faster than that one. Perhaps the wet track did in MOCITO ROJO who absolutely wasn't himself that day. This is a tougher field for sure than he faced when winning the G3 Lukas Classic at Churchill, so maybe it's equal parts strength of schedule and track condition. Either way, TOM'S d'ETAT is the most attractive of this trio, and he'll have his pace work cut out for him if he's going to repeat stakes wins.SNAPPER SINCLAIR exits a distant fourth in a BC Dirt Mile edition that lacked depth. Spun to Run was awfully good while Omaha Beach was the only real hammer in the field. This has always been a listed-stakes type and I think a cut below the best in here. Still, he's an honest sort for a respected barn.OWENDALE is the 3-year-old representative in this field and should appreciate the fast pace in front him. The Preakness third-place finisher has added the Ohio Derby and Oklahoma Derby, but didn't get a clean run at all in the Breeders' Cup Classic when first testing older horses. Trainer Brad Cox has been dominant most everywhere, especially Churchill Downs, and OWENDALE is 5: 3-1-0 with Florent Geroux aboard. He should be the better price compared with SEEKING THE SOUL and both need the same kind of trip.DRAFT PICK represents the west coast, which was down this year in the handicap ranks and still managed the Breeders' Cup Classic 2-3 finishers with McKinzie and Higher Power. While you might think he has to send from the rail, there's too much other speed to get caught up into that. This is an even-paced type who will see if his :24s can manage to coax the field back to him and hold off the closers.FACT FINDING and MAJOR CABBIE exit sharp Keeneland allowance scores. If not for a wicked pace scenario, you'd consider either of these dangerous on the class rise. MAJOR CABBIE's trainer Peter Miller has been beyond hot with his Churchill runners at the current meet. Of the duo, you'd have to lean toward Miller's player based on recent results.Most Certain Exotics Contender: SEEKING THE SOUL is 10-for-12 in the trifecta at Churchill and gets the right pace set-up for his close.​Best Longshot Exotics Contender: DRAFT PICK has been 13-1 and 14-1 in his last 2 and doesn't need the front to be successful. He could slip under the partimutuel cracks and factor on his best.Sending it in ($100 bankroll): ​​$100 win OWENDALE.

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11.27.2019:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is my favorite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. And, by extension, the day also launches my top-ranked weekend. By stroke of pure genius, Thanksgiving always lands on Thursday. Convenient, don’t you think? Unlike other holidays, Thanksgiving doesn’t occupy different days of the week in seemingly random fashion like alien targets in a video game.Thursday, as we all know, is dutifully followed by Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The four-pack forms a perfect stretch, in this case, collectively known as Thanksgiving weekend.The day following Thanksgiving has a proper name: Black Friday. That’s because it’s the day when merchants hope to push earnings ‘well into the black,’ signifying a successful holiday season. That’s fine, I suppose. But haven’t we already mortgaged Christmas with commercialism? Must we sell out Thanksgiving Weekend, too?This Saturday and Sunday don’t have established nicknames and go by generic labels of Thanksgiving Saturday and Thanksgiving Sunday. The day after the weekend has a proper name, though, and it’s also sales related. We call it Cyber Monday and, while it hasn’t been around all that long, it’s grown up fast. Predictions are that someday it will eclipse Black Friday in total sales. Already has in my house.Name another weekend on the calendar that spans four consecutive days with two of the four boasting proper names? You can’t. Two come sort of close: Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. But only on rare occasions do either of those celebrations enjoy four-day runs. Thanksgiving manages that yearly, with rave reviews.If there are better eats than a leftover plate of Thanksgiving food, I haven’t tasted them. Seriously, I’ve experienced all sorts of international cuisine, but I’ve never sampled any of it while on the couch, in my pajamas and slippers, in front of the television watching football and handicapping horse races!Thanksgiving. The mere word waters my mouth. It’s a feast. Says so right in the brochure.Thanksgiving also is family time--when we gather to share love for each other, or to feign a close approximation. Sometimes, Turkey Days go sideways. What should we expect to happen when we gather, in a room overheated by an actual fire, with a group of sweater-wearing relatives and friends, dizzy from ingesting alcohol, tryptophan, coffee and sugary baked-goods, while harboring competing ideologies fueled by decades of pent-up resentment?Don’t know where you spend this holiday, but I’m at my mother-in-law’s place for the feast. And she does the holiday proud. Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, gravy, biscuits, brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, apple and pumpkin pie. My brother-in-law, who’s been around the clan nearly as long as I have, is a young, sturdy fellow capable of devouring a Fred Flintstone-sized steak in one of those roadside joints, thereby getting it for free. Great news this year is that he and the wife have gone vegan. Besides improving their health, the switch means that there will be even more leftovers for yours truly to doggie-bag! I absolutely love Thanksgiving leftovers…and I don’t have a dog.Del Mar has cancelled Thanksgiving Day racing as a precautionary measure in anticipation of a rainstorm. This Turkey Day, the turf won’t meet the surf. That’s too bad, on several levels. I get why they’re doing it. Still, I’m disappointed. Normally, I advance wager and then, at my mother-in-law’s, watch the races on my phone. It serves as entertainment and as a suitable diversion from conversation with the wife’s family. Well, that and plenty of vodka.This year, according to the heart doctor, no vodka! And now, no Del Mar, either. Thankfully, at least, I can anticipate an uptick in leftover volume to make up for it.Still, by darkness Thanksgiving night, the only one at my mother-in-law’s dinner table to have had a more trying day than me will be the turkey.There are so many things for which I am grateful. In fact, my world is an embarrassment of riches. Not the financial kind, you understand. I’m a working stiff, relying a bi-weekly paycheck. But I’ve got way more than money. I’ve got people I love and those who love me. Multi-decade friendships from coast-to-coast, forged over a nearly 40-year racing career—half on the racetrack in various capacities: publicity, racing official, jockey agent, tip sheet operator, etc.—and half in the Advance Deposit Wagering game—Youbet and now Xpressbet. Racing’s been good to me—calloused my baby fat with tough-love and given me a grandstand-full of amazing experiences.Overall, this has been a challenging year for racing and, particularly, for the racetrack I love most—Santa Anita. It’s impossible to be thankful for what happened there last winter. However, what I am grateful for, as it relates to 2019 racing, is that out of the mess stories have emerged about dedicated people who work with racehorses and treat them better than family. I knew they were there; good people who work long hours for not much money partly because they want what you and I want—better lives for our children—and partly because they care about the animals. I hope the spotlight continues to shine on those who live to groom, ride, train and feed horses--backstretch workers, jockeys, trainers and owners. I’m also thankful that out of an awful situation came heightened awareness regarding veterinary inspection and track condition and maintenance. Great change often requires a significant catalyst.Personally, 2019 has been a bit of a troubled trip because I had two heart procedures--January and November. And for a guy who hates doctors almost as much as slow horses, that’s tough. No big deal, though, really. I’m fine and so much better off than those with serious health issues.I’m grateful for my wife Gail. We’ve been together 20 years and, every time I complain about losing a tight photo, she reminds, “You used up all your luck when you met me.” And she’s right! She’s the best in so many ways. She knows me better than I know myself and loves me double on days whose names end in a Y.This year, though, I’m most grateful for the healthy birth of my granddaughter. It’s been one of the most emotional experiences of my life. She’s absolutely amazing and I wish I could share the love, joy and anticipation I feel each day because of her. Words fail. And for a guy who’s attempted to put them in a somewhat cohesive order for 50 years, that’s saying something.Thank you for reading this, and for wagering with Xpressbet. I work with some wonderful people and we appreciate your business. When it comes to playing the races, you have choices. We’re happy you choose Xpressbet. From our families to yours, we wish you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Enjoy!Race On!

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11.27.2019:

Harness Highlights: Shartin N On Opposite End of Photo Finish

Shartin N fell a nose short of becoming the first mare ever with back-to-back $1 million seasons when archrival Caviart Ally defeated her in the $175,000 TVG Mare Pace last Saturday at the Meadowlands. But Shartin N built a strong enough 2019 resume with a 15-19 record to hold the No. 1 spot in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Top 10 poll – a major indicator for Horse of the Year – after the final major stakes race of the season. Caviart Ally ($8.80, Andrew McCarthy) sat a pocket trip and got up in the final yards for her third recent win over Shartin N that included a Breeders Crown championship. Caviart Ally moved up to No. 7 in the poll with her ninth win of the year and a $672,215 bankroll. In other stakes action:   ·         Always a Prince ($12) went wire-to-wire from post 8 in 1:48.2 to win the $350,000 TVG Open Pace, one of four winners on the night for driver Yannick Gingras. Reigning Horse of the Year McWicked finished fifth, but a retirement ceremony was held in the winners’ circle after the race for the 8-year-old gelding, who finished his career with 40 wins and $4.9 million in earnings. ·         Six Pack is headed for a career at stud, but not before he trotted to a track-record 1:50 victory in the $350,000 TVG Open Trot. He defeated Manchego, the Breeders’ Crown Mare Trot champion, by ¾ of a length to go out with a 19-35 record and $1.9 million in earnings for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. ·         Emoticon Hanover ($16.40, Dan Dube) surged late in a :26.2 final quarter-mile to catch 1-to-9 favorite Atlanta in the $175,000 TVG Mare Trot in 1:51.4. ·         More than $400,000 was on the line in each of four 2-year-old stakes events. El Ideal ($8, Andy Miller) seized the moment when odds-on favorite and Breeders Crown champion Amigo Volo went off stride at the break, leading throughout in the Valley Victory. Senorita Rita ($4.20, Scott Zeron) lived up to favoritism with a head victory in 1:53 in the Goldsmith Maid for filly trotters. Papi Rob Hanover (David Miller) cracked the national Top 10 with a 1:51.4 win in the Governor’s Cup for freshman pacers. JK First Lady (Yannick Gingras) paced to a track-record 1:49.2 in the Three Diamonds pace for fillies. 

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11.25.2019:

Thanksgiving Week Stakes Picks

I’m most thankful for the horseplayers who make this game go. So as we approach one of the year’s most treasured holidays this week, let us share our handicapping passion. Here’s how I see a series of Thanksgiving weekday stakes races, and hope you cash a cornucopia of your own.WednesdayBesides the Penn Mile in June, Thanksgiving Eve is Penn National’s only other day on the calendar where the national interest grows. Races 2-3-4 are stakes with some serious New York influence and get you out before 7:30 pm ET on a card that begins at 6 pm ET. In the $100,000 Swatara (Race 2), Name Changer returns from a nearly 1-year layoff and likely will be under-laid with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the saddle. The play is Monongahela, runner-up in this race a year ago and capable vs. these after being overmatched in his last pair. In the $100,000 Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies for Pennsylvania-breds, Chad Brown’s Nov. 3 Aqueduct debut winner Autunomous and John Servis’ 14-length debut Parx winner Precious should dominate the tote. But the value will be with Ebo Special, and who wants to bet against a 2-year-old by Constitution right now … especially at what figures to be an overlay? The featured $200,000 Fabulous Strike (Race 4) would seem to be an easy check for Breeders’ Cup Sprint fifth-place finisher Firenze Fire. He will go much shorter than the 8-5 morning line under Irad Ortiz, Jr. if he runs; but note he’s cross-entered in the Fall Highweight at Aqueduct on Thursday. Inside-speed Midtowncharlybrown is a threat to wire this race for the second straight year and the key rival to the favorite even if Firenze Fires shows up. ‘Brown is the play for sure in the chalk’s absence.ThursdayThanksgiving Day at Aqueduct includes an 11:50 am ET early first post time. The feature is the 6-furlong Fall Highweight Handicap (Race 7). Under 134 pounds, Firenze Fire carries top weight but could opt to run at Penn National the night before where cross-entered. In a race with a ton of speed, the lighter-weighted, closer No Distortion is an Aqueduct horse-for-course who will be a big price on the class rise. He could be key to exotics in the underneath positions. The program also features the $100,000 Winter Memories (Race 8), where I’m very interested in Keeneland import allowance winner Tuned, a daughter of star turf mare Zagora.It’s opening day at the venerable Fair Grounds in New Orleans (first post 1 pm ET). The traditional feature is the 6-furlong Thanksgiving Classic (Race 7) for a purse of $100,000. With just a field of 5, it’s not a 5-star kind of betting race to say the least. But 8-5 morning line favorite Bobby’s Wicked One has had more troubled starts than wins in his career and might not be a rubber-stamp to the winner’s circle. But the outside draw in a tiny field gives him every chance to overcome his gate issues and improve to 4-for-5 at Fair Grounds.Churchill Downs’ traditional Turkey Day card includes the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap (Race 9) and has 3-1 morning line co-favorites in Chilukki winner Sally’s Curlin and Locust Grove heroine Go Google Yourself. The former has established herself as a potent closer in 1-turn miles, while the latter comes in fresh and more accomplished in 2-turn affairs. But it’s New York-bred Ratajkowski who looks to be potential lone speed and the one to beat/catch off sharp local workouts to get accustomed to the CD footing. Julien Leparoux rides this lightly raced Drosselmeyer mare in search of her fourth straight win.FridayBlack Friday annually has a golden feel on the stakes calendar. Major races at Aqueduct, Golden Gate and Churchill Downs are on the marquee.The Grade 3 Comely at Aqueduct (Race 8) is a great stakes jumping-on point for unbeaten Maryland raider Arrifana. The Curlin filly is 4-for-4, including an allowance roadtrip win at Saratoga and has been handled very patiently by Kelly Rubley. Remington Park Oaks 2-3 finishers Gold Standard and Classic Fit re-match and are win contenders. We’ll get the benefit of seeing how RP Oaks winner Lady Apple runs in Wednesday’s Zia Park Oaks for Steve Asmussen for some additional strength-of-schedule quality.The $50,000 Golden Gate Debutante (Race 7) puts 2-year-old sprint fillies in the spotlight. Bob Baffert sends Eclair north for the first time. Misirlou has won all 3 starts on the Tapeta at Golden Gate since debuting second on dirt at Santa Rosa. The fleet local debut winner Mischievous Curlin should offer another big price after that 19-1 score vs. Cal-breds. She’s capable.Churchill Downs’ Friday card is topped by the Grade 1 Clark Handicap (Race 11), which includes the likes of Seeking the Soul, Tom’s d’Etat, Mocito Rojo and Owendale. Last year’s runner-up Bravazo makes his first start since the Pegasus World Cup in January. There appears plenty of early speed in here to give Churchill-loving Seeking the Soul a chance to launch his late rally like he did in the Stephen Foster. Owendale is the other beneficiary of such a set-up. The Grade 2 Mrs. Revere (Race 9) boasts Chad Brown’s Grade 2 Sands Point winner New and Improved. Give a longshot look to Winter Sunset, an impeccably bred filly who just didn’t fire at Keeneland and is better than that last effort suggests.

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11.25.2019:

Monday, November 25: Woodbine Mohawk Park Pick 4 Analysis

There is a 10-race card set to go at Woodbine Mohawk Park tonight. The 0.20 Pick 4 starts as usual in Race 4. That sequence has a $50,000 guaranteed pool and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 45-Cross My Mind (4-1)-Camera shy 4-year-old draws well and may catch a jewel of trip in 3rd start back since a sick scratch.7-Barn One (8-1)-Needs a top effort and a good start. Likes to roll late and might find some live cover. There might be a few leavers and pace could be brisk.8-Go Rrrilla (2-1)-Winner of 3-straight since being claimed, moves outside but should be bet hard again. Deserves respect, has owned this class lately.Race 52-Rye N Clyne (10-1)-Took the long way around and took top honors at Flmd. Starts inside and may get sucked around to get a rare win on the big track at a price.4-Bringhome Theblue (8-1)-Usually is a slow starter but last finish was better than recent tries. Jamieson steerstonight and that may help chances.5-EL Wild Spirit (2-1)-Almost has to get a better trip than in last and has burned a lot of money in past two starts. Should be pounded again but looks like a major player.Race 62-Superlative (8-1)-This mare has had some issues but knows how to win. Taking a swing for a price, should be in the mix from this post if minds manners in a tough race.3-Odds On Amethyst (4-1)-Fits much better at this level and can win this if Hudon works the right trip.6-Sortie (2-1)-This is a spot to shine but the breaking problems need to stop. Using and thinking Vanderkamp will keep him trotting.Race 73-Stelios (7/2)-Makes 4th start for Auciello, draws inside and is still looking for first picture in new barn. Needs a top effort but appears to have the best chance to knock off #6.6-Julerica (2-1)-Drew off by 7-lengths when dropped to this level. This crew is similar and with a decent trip should score an encore.My Ticket Race 4) 5,7,8 Race 5) 2,4,5 Race 6) 2,3,6 Race 7) 3,6Total Ticket Cost) $10.80 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.24.2019:

Sunday, November 24: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

Pompano Park begins the week with a 9-race card and the 0.50 Pick 4 starts in Race 6. That sequence has a $10,000 guaranteed pool with a low 12% takeout and it will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 65-Cartier Zette (7/2)-Nine-time winner this year should like the company and pilot is one of the better amateurs in the field. Big try in last race from the 9-hole and looks like a major player here.8-Jurgen Hanover (2-1)-Amateur driver is also the trainer and thinking that helps the cause from this post. Could be a clean trip away from a second straight picture.Race 73-Rock N Fantasy (3-1)-Steps-up after a win on the engine at 4/5. Can get the top again and does know how to win, so best to respect.6-I'vegotagirlcrush (7/2)-Hoosier invader fits with this bunch in first start at PPk. Shows good speed on smaller ovals and looks like a real threat to get the biggest check.7-Mc Mach (5/2)-Has been sharp since coming to the Pomp and now gets class relief. Plano's choice over #1, his other stable entry, could get top honors in 3rd local start.Race 82-Hot Art (8-1)-One of two Plano entries, does lose regular pilot but could trip out and surprise at a square price.3-American Chrome (7/5)-First start at the Pomp and should be bet hard with Hennessey. Does get an inside post draw for a change and fits, using but not as confident as the line maker.5-Late Night Joke (3-1)-Slow start hurt in last but now faces an easier group and drew well. This horse knows how to win and with a top effort he could be first under the wire.Race 91-Thatsjusthowiroll (9-1)-Come off a nice win and draws better than main foes. Wrenn has options and might be able to work the right trip.5-Hesallaboutdabass (9/2)-Just missed in last as an even money favorite. Is only 1-24 and obviously that isn't a plus, but versus this crew will use and hope for a square price.8-Man In Black (10-1)-3-year-old takes on some older foes like the ML chalk #10 but comes off a sharp win from the 8-hole. Steps-up to NW3 but will string along.10-Mach West (6/5)-Starting in 2nd tier might be a problem but drops and should be in the mix with a clean trip. Not a 6/5 chalk in my view but this isn't an easy race to predict.My Ticket Race 6) 5,8 Race 7) 3,6,7 Race 8) 2,3,5 Race 9) 1,5,8,10Total Ticket Cost) $36 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.24.2019:

Sunday, November 24: Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoRACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Stealthediamonds; 2-Kentan RoadForecast: The main contention is drawn inside in this five-furlong turf sprint for second level allowance fillies and mares. Stealthediamonds, a recent $80,000 claim by M. Puype, was a sharp winner in her only prior outing over this course and distance during the summer meeting, a race that earned her a career top speed figure. She’s always been pretty much a need-the-lead type and with Kentan Road (who might be tad quicker) breaking right alongside, the daughter Unusual Heat may have to employ stalking or pressing tactics. In the frame in 11 of 15 career starts, she’s thoroughly genuine and consistent, and it will be interesting to see if she can adjust her style successfully. Kentan Road has been in front at the first call in each of her last seven starts and won’t be waiting around for anybody. A two-time winner over the local lawn, the J. Sadler-trained mare was pitched too high in the Ken Maddy S.-G3 and faded late under pressure, but at this level she should be able to stick around a long time. We’ll give Stealthediamonds a very slight edge on top but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: BSingle: 9-ImperatorForecast: The known element doesn’t impress in this bottom-rung maiden claiming sprint so let’s try the sneaky Bay Area shipper, Imperator, on top. The son of Elusive Warning has done some good work in the a.m. over the all-weather Golden Gate Fields surface and we doubt trainer R. Amescua would have vanned him 500 mile south if he didn’t think he could compete on this circuit (there are plenty of similar opportunities on his home track). The barn’s go-to rider (A. Gryder) takes the call, so at 4-1 on the morning line we’ll make him a straight play and rolling exotic single in what amounts to slightly more than an educated guess.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: C+Use: 2-Excellent Sunset; 3-Maxim Rate; 4-Don’t Blame JudyForecast: Here’s a grass grab bag for second level allowance fillies and mares over a mile on grass. We’ll go three-deep but if you find the need to spread even more, go right ahead. Excellent Sunset adds blinkers for the first time while seeking her first win since she finished first but was disqualified over this course and distance more than a year ago. Third beaten a head in her most recent start in listed stakes company, the Irish-bred mare will leave from a good inside post while retaining F. Prat and is the logical favorite at 8/5 on the morning line. But she’s been beaten twice in her last three starts as a heavy favorite, so she’s probably not trustworthy. Maxim Rate may offer better wagering value at 5-1 on the morning line. She also will be racing with blinkers for the first time in her career and will appreciate the class drop, having competed in graded stakes races in every start since breaking her maiden in her debut earlier this year. The S. Callaghan-trained filly should be rolling in the final furlong. Don’t Blame Judy has a prior win over the Del Mar turf course and is fast on figures. On her best day, she’s right there.RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Win Often; 5-Biddy DukeForecast: Win Often was a clever debut winner with a nice speed figure last month at Santa Anita while competing for a $50,000 tag and is protected today in this starter’s allowance sprint for juvenile fillies. The daughter of Vronsky seems to be made of the right stuff and with expected improvement could score right back in this competitive affair. Biddy Duke has been badly overmatched in her last pair but if her confidence hasn’t been diminished she certainly can act in this much more realistic spot. A nearly six length maiden claiming winner over the Del Mar strip in late August, the daughter of Bayern may be the quickest in the field and could get brave if she can establish a clear early lead. Let’s go with Win Often on top but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 5: Post 2:34 PT. Grade: XSingle: 5-ShandlingForecast: This maiden turf sprint should be Shandling’s show. The son of Distorted Humor was shuffled back soon after the start and lost position but then rallied strongly to be second in a promising debut vs. similar last month at Santa Anita., With better racing luck today, the P. D’Amato-trained colt should be able to handle this assignment in a field lacking in depth, so at 8/5 on the morning line he’s a logical no-value rolling exotic single.RACE 6: Post 3:04 PT. Grade: BUse: 8-Gate Speed; 10-Next GenForecast: Next Gen graduated in sharp style with a good speed figure in just his second career start last May and was promptly claimed by J. Sadler. The Super Saver colt makes his first start since and is protected in this starter’s allowance race, so we’ll assume he remains well-liked by his connections. The workouts – including a bullet gate drill (fastest of 30) last week at Santa Anita - indicate he’s fit and ready, so with F. Prat riding him back let’s use him strongly both in the win pool and in rolling exotic play. Gate Speed also is worth including somewhere on your ticket. The M. Glatt-trained gelding ran away and hid from a maiden $40,000 group last time out and did so with a monster speed figure. If he can repeat that type of performance again, he’ll be dangerous.RACE 7: Post 3:34 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Red King; 2-Crystal Tribe; 5-Buckstopper KitForecast: This mini marathon has a number of possibilities in an evenly matched affair. Best advice is to use as many as you can afford to. Crystal Tribe lost early position and appeared a tad erratic through the lane yet was beaten just over two lengths in a similar event earlier this month at Santa Anita. The long-fused Irish-bred colt gets an extra furlong to work with today, and if he moves forward at all the J. Mullins-trained colt could pull off a mild surprise. D. Van Dyke knows him well and stays aboard. Buckstopper Kit, third in the same race Crystal Tribe exits, is a two-time winner over the Del Mar turf course and in a galloper’s race may inherit the role as the controlling speed. He’s reunited with “win rider” A. Cedillo and at 9/2 on the morning line is a “must use.” Red King, in the frame in his last three starts and nosed out over this course and distance in late August, has trained steadily of late and should be set for another typical honest effort. He’s guaranteed a ground-saving trip from the rail and is solid in the speed figure department, but if there is a concern it’s that he’s winless in seven previous outings over the Del Mar lawn.RACE 8: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Ultimate Bango; 3-Fashionably Fast; 5-OliverForecast: Oliver dislikes this Santa Anita main track but at Del Mar it’s a whole different story. The son of Papa Clem turns back to an extended sprint, switches to A. Cedillo, and projects to enjoy a perfect pace-stalking trip outside. Fashionably Fast, the morning line favorite at 8/5, seeks his fourth consecutive win, two of which were accomplished over the Del Mar main track. Oliver is a tad faster on pure numbers, but this son of Lucky Pulpit continues to improve and has the perfect pressing style for this seven-furlong trip. Ultimate Bango was visually very impressive beating a lesser field on grass last time out, a race that produced a career top speed figure. Today he must show he can be just as effective on dirt, and after drawing the rail his task was made tougher, but we’ll toss him in on a ticket or two in our rolling exotics.RACE 9: Post 4:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 3-Push Through; 4-Cono; 8-Perfect WagerForecast: The nightcap is a total mess, a state-bred grass miler that we find inscrutable. The three listed above should run well, but none are what you’d call trustworthy. Push Through likes to finish second or third more than he likes to win, but after being freshened since late August the San Luis Rey Downs-based gelding – who has a history of running his best fresh – could be set for a major effort. In the money in his last two and a prior winner over the local lawn, the son of Square Eddie has good tactical speed and should have dead aim and every chance from the quarter pole home under regular pilot M. Gutierrez. Cono lacks a winning punch but did finish second in a similar affair at Santa Anita last month while earning a career top speed figure. If he can repeat that effort today he’ll be right there. Perfect Wager, third in that same race, does his best running when held up early and allowed to run late. With a decent pace to compliment his style, the J. Mullins-trained gelding might make some noise in the final furlong.

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11.23.2019:

Saturday, November 23: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

There's a star-studded cast ready to roll at the Meadowlands. This is the last night for big stakes in 2019 and it figures to be a very competitive 13-race card. The Pick 4 begins in Race 8, the sequence has a $75,000 guaranteed pool with a 15% takeout and it will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 81-American History (9/2)-Overlooking last at RcR when faded down the lane. Breeders Crown winner can get a similar trip as he got back at Wbsb on 10/25. This race may come down to the best drive and Joe B needs to be sharp again.5-Dealt A Winner (10-1)-Avoided a speed duel at the start of the Potomac in last start and came on late. Could use the same script here and pop at a price. Dave Miller should have 7-year-old in play again to rally late and pace could be hot.6-Dorsoduro Hanover (8-1)-Faded in the Potomac but was used very hard at the start. Could get the top tonight or may let #7 and #1 battle into the first turn. Another who will be dependent on the trip but could be overlooked at the windows.7-Bettor's Wish (3-1)-3-year-old takes on a tough group of older foes but has been sharp all year and shouldn't be overlooked. This post could be an issue as Dunn will likely leave and hope for the best, should be some start.Race 93-Hen Party (10-1)-Looking to spread a bit to shoot against the chalk as in Race 8 and this filly is an interesting play. Likes to race close to the top and finally draws inside. Not crazy about this being her 18th start but does look like a live price shot.4-Marloe Hanover (9/2)-In a spot to get a 2-hole trip behind #6 the program chalk who has ruled this class. Best to respect connections and this gal is in sharp form. Figuring last week was a typical Dave Miller tune-up and now could be sitting on a big try.5-Jk First Lady (7/2)-Took the long way around to win last week's elimination. Gets a good post draw and Gingras could benefit from a sizzling pace and finish fastest of all.6-Lyons Sentinel (2-1)-Winner in 9 of 13 and was a runner-up in the other four starts. This filly is as tough as nails and comes off a track record score at Dover Downs. Tetrick may shoot for the top but that's not the only way she can win. Deserves respect no doubt but will look to shoot against in a tough race.Race 101-Six Pack (3-1)-One of a few retiring to stud after tonight and now finally gets a rare inside post draw. Should be forwardly placed and will be very tough to beat with a clean trip.5-Manchego (2-1)-Muscle Hill mare isn't afraid to take on the boys and can beat them. Program chalk has won 8 of 12 at the Big M and looks to be a major player once again.Race 111-Shartin N (9/5)-Horse of the Year honors is hers to lose and a win here should seal the deal. If fires her best shot and avoids a poor trip it's probably picture time again.7-Caviart Ally (7/2)-This is a fine mare who unfortunately has had to bump heads with Shartin but has beaten her twice. The post draw doesn't help her chances but still figures to have the best shot of an upset.My Ticket Race 8) 1,5,6,7 Race 9) 3,4,5,6 Race 10) 1,5 Race 11) 1,7Total Ticket Cost) $32 for 0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.22.2019:

Firing Away at Mandatory Rainbow 6 Payout at Gulfstream Park West

Players will find it easy to jump into the pool Sunday as Gulfstream Park West heads into the final day of its season with a mandatory payout on the Rainbow 6.Gulfstream Park West hands the south Florida racing reins back to big sis Gulfstream Park, which begins its Championship Meet next Friday.Never one to shy away from such things, here’s my suggested tickets, which totals $67.20 for the sequence.Race 4 The suggested ticket will be perfect after one race. ALL is the choice in this one, which is a mile race for fillies and mares. These are non-winners of three fraces, and most have been working at it for a while. Some of the runners that are fresh off ‘non-winners of two’ triumphs look just as tough as their more-experienced rivals.Race 5Milkah and Golden Nole will be popular selections in this sequence. Milkah is likely to be short on the board was second against a higher level last out. The biggest hope for those against the Palace Malice filly will be that she will not get her legs fully beneath her going only five furlongs. Her three races on the turf were twice at a mile and once at 7.5 furlongs. She’ll be urged to get into the game earlier. Golden Nole failed last time in a race that came off the turf and was contested in the slop. She has shown excellent speed in turf sprints, and while Milkah will attempt to catch up, this one will be winging in on the front end.Race 6 In the sixth, it’s either take a couple or take a bunch. In the interest of keeping the ticket price from getting away from us, the former is the way to go here. Deal With It Duke was third against much better and the question is why he’s dropped to the bottom. This gelding was on the board in allowance race last year at Santa Anita. Cabre didn’t do well in his debut last November, but his three well-spread-out starts this year has been good. He broke his maiden in each fashion and lost photos in his last two. This will be his first try at a mile.Race 7Southern Sea and Eric the Salesman are the two we’re counting on going the 7.5 furlongs on the turf. Southern Sea is in good form with on-the-board finishes in five of his last six and will be in the hunt throughout. He’s not been to the winner’s circle in his last four and is overdue to finish the job again. Eric the Salesman showed interest in his last two but can be very close to the lead throughout this one. He hasn’t won since May but appears to have found a race flow that should work in his favor.Race 8Noncents rarely runs a bad one and has been very consistent while jumping around various class levels, and the daughter of Goldencents will be the one to run down in this seven-furlong sprint for $16,000 claimers. She’s won for $25,000, $35,000 and optional $35,000 levels, was second at this distance last year and fits well here. Shessuchaknockout comes off a win going five furlongs on the turf and broke her maiden on the dirt last year. She’s developed a stalking style recently and can make first move at the leaders. She should be able to get the distance.Race 9A trio of fillies and mares make the ticket in the final leg. Blue Songs, Tennessee Cotton and Tailadios have a good chance to advance from this ‘non-winners of two’ level. Blues Song just missed last out and will be rolling at the end, while Tennessee Cotton just missed by a neck last the time and figures to be a pace factor. Tailadios is a closer and could benefit from a fast pace.Here’s the suggested play for the Rainbow Six Sunday at Gulfstream Park West: Race 4) ALL (7 horses)Race 5) #8 Golden Nole, #9 Milkah.Race 6) #3 Deal With It Dude, #5 Cabre.Race 7) #6 Southern Sea, #8 Eric the Salesman.Race 8) #3 Noncents, #8 Shessuchaknockout.Race9) #4 Blues Songs, #5 Tennessee Cotton, #7 Tailadios. 20-cent Rainbow Six ticket: ALL (7 horses) with 8-9 with 3-5 with 6-8 with 3-8 with 4-5-7 ($67.20)

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11.22.2019:

November 22: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

Cal Expo starts the weekend with a 9-race card. The 0.20 Pick 4 begins in Race 6 and will be my focus. The sequence has a $25,000 guaranteed pool and a 16% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 67-Mr Varsity (7/2)-Plano trainee had a quick back half but couldn't catch the leader. Barn has been doing well and looking for an aggressive move to get the top.8-Rockin Eddie (8-1)-Looking for a price shot, that mile in Kentucky was a stunner. Anything close to that effort puts this gelding in line for another picture.9-Bettor In The Bank (5/2)-Usually would pass a short price, winner of two straight taking a double bump up from the 9-hole. But this 9-year-old is the class of the field, has won 20 of 45 in Sacramento and could stay good in 3rd start off the bench.Race 71-Surprisingly Sweet (9/2)-Makes second start of the meet and from this post could hang around and make one big move to sweep by late. Best to respect and is no stranger to the CalX winner's circle.2-No Gurantees (12-1)-Taking a swing although moves up in class and is only 1 for 21 this year, also ML chalk #5 is 1-25. Has raced from the back in two starts here and paced a big second half last week. Might surprise with the right trip.5-Marilyn (5/2)-Beaten chalk hasn't been used hard in either start here. Maybe tonight is the time for a big try and will respect connections.7-Getter Queen Flush (9/2)-Plano is in the bike for this contest and that should help. The Queen is trip dependent and now has a pilot who can work the right trip.Race 81-Crusin For You (6-1)-Failed as a well bet chalk last time but Svendsen does stick. This is a 1 1/2-mile race, should be forwardly placed and could be rolling late.7-Al's Briefs (4-1)-Plano trainee improved in second start at the meet. Paced a big last half and just missed catching a sharp winner. Another strong effort wouldn't be a surprise.8-Blue Star Maverick (3-1)-Got on the engine and didn't look back in last. May need to follow a different script this time but best to not overlook.9-Buzz Light (9/2)-Drops and might be able to overcome the outside post with the added distance. Team Roland trainee can pass foes down the lane and could find some live cover.Race 97-Panedictine (6-1)-Magee's choice over #10 has never raced at CalX. 9-year-old should like the company and could win at a square price if fires hot off the bench.9-Giggle Monster (9/2)-Has only one win this year but that came off a sharp effort right here on 11/9. Fits well with this crew and post makes the price in a race without a standout.0.20 Pick 47,8,9/1,2,5,7/1,7,8,9/7,9Total Bet=$19.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.22.2019:

Jeff Siegel's Del Mar Analysis & Wagering Strategies for 11/22/19

Jeff Siegel’s Daily Analysis and Wagering StrategiesDel MarFriday, November 22, 2019Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.*Today’s Day Makers: View Video*RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Miracle March; 6-PurianoForecast: Puriano drops to the bottom, removes blinkers, stretches out for the first time and has better than par speed figures for this level. If he can act around two turns, this would be an ideal spot to show it. Miracle March returned off a long layoff and flashed good early speed before fading in a sprint two months ago. The recent work tab is encouraging and from the rail the J. Sadler-trained gelding seems certain to employ gate-to-wire tactics, though on this track inside speed over a distance of ground isn’t necessarily a good thing. We’ll include both in our rolling exotics with slight preference on top to Puriano.**RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: C+Single: 3-The StiffForecast: This race originally was scheduled for turf but has been switched to the main track. The Stiff has the first time-for-a-tag angle, switches to A. Cedillo, and has the pedigree to handle dirt, though all of his previous outings have been on grass. The son of Danza will be doing his best work late and rates top billing in a race that – due the surface switch – probably should be approached with caution. You can use him as a rolling exotic single or simply sit it out.**RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: XSingle: 6-SaralinForecast: Saralin was well-backed in her debut but was worn down late by the more experienced Gingham and settled for second while five lengths clear of the rest in a promising effort at this distance at Santa Anita last month. The daughter of Curlin seems certain to benefit from that effort and as a first time Lasix user with F. Prat staying aboard the S. Callaghan-trained filly seems set to graduate. At 6/5 of the morning line she’ll be unplayable in the straight pool, but we can use her as a no-value rolling exotic single.**RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: C+Use: 5-Go Time; 6-CommanderForecast: This race originally was scheduled for turf but has been switched to the main track. Best advice is to tread lightly. Go Time seeks some of that valuable ship and win money in his first start since joining the P. Miller barn, and the Florida invader gets A. Cedillo and Lasix while stretching out from five furlongs to a flat mile. His maiden debut score in mid-August was solid and after subsequently producing a series of workouts at Churchill Downs the son of Fed Biz arrives fit and ready for a repeat score. His pedigree suggests the added ground and the switch to dirt won’t be an issue. Commander has been chasing tougher since arriving from France and may have found his proper level today. The P. D’Amato-trained colt is wheeled back in eight day after finishing a no excuse third in a first-level allowance affair and may find this easier gang with his capabilities. Of course, he’s abilities on dirt are unknown.**RACE 5: Post 2:34 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Carnelian Hero; 6-ExtractorForecast: Carnelian Hero, in the money in both of his starts and beaten a nose last time out in a similar maiden $50,000 maiden claiming sprint, rates top billing after raising his Beyer speed figure 17 points between his first and second start. R. Bejarano stays aboard the Old Topper gelding who seems the logical top pick, though at 7/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower there’s really not too much we can do with him. Extractor is an intriguing first-time starter from the B. Koriner barn (strong stats with debut runners) and shows a series of workouts at Los Alamitos that should have him fit enough. We’ll toss him in on a ticket or two as a back-up or a saver.**RACE 6: Post 3:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Kookie Gal; 5-KynanceForecast: Kynance has rising speed figures and earned a career top number when a close fourth in a tougher affair over the all-weather track at Golden Gate Fields last month. From a high percentage outfit, the Irish-bred filly has run well over conventional dirt in the past and arrives fit and ready for the money run while realistically dropping into the optional $40,000 claiming ranks. G. Franco should have her in a comfortable stalking position outside throughout. Kookie Gal has two prior starts on dirt, and both were quite good. In her second off a long layoff for P. Miller she should be set for a forward move after a solid third place performance on grass at this level at Santa Anita earlier this month. We’ll try to get by using just these two with Kynance, at 6-1 on the morning line, getting top billing.**RACE 7: Post 3:34 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Velvet Queen; 3-Claudelle; 8-CatorcaForecast: Catorca makes her first start since being claimed for $35,000 by J. Mullins and the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid sports the route-to-sprint angle (always effective over the Del Mar main track) while making a major jockey switch to F. Prat, so we’re expecting a significant forward move. Though strictly a route-type throughout most of her career, she does have the proper style for this extended sprint trip and a bullet half mile workout in 47 seconds earlier this month for her new connections gives indication that she’s spot on. Claudelle seeks her third straight win, though her Beyer speed figure dropped 13 points between her most recent victory and her race before last. She’ll be part of the pace throughout and could score again if not pressured early. Velvet Queen easily won a $50,000 seller restricted to 3-year-olds two-turning on turf last month at Santa Anita, but this will be her first career start on the main track, so its unknown whether she can repeat that type of effort under these conditions. We’ll go three deep in our rolling exotics and then have extra tickets keying Catorca on top.**RACE 8: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Big Time Grammy; 3-California Kook; 5-Ride Sally RideForecast: Big Time Grammy is improving with racing and appears set for another forward move but may prefer turf to dirt and this race has been switched to the main track. The daughter of Mr. Big found her best stride too late when third in a similar affair last month at Santa Anita and land a good inside post while switching to F. Prat. Basically, it all comes down to her ability to handle the main track. California Kook was bet down to favoritism in her debut in the same race Big Time Grammy exits but was never a factor while finishing a well-beaten sixth. Today she gets Lasix and blinkers for a barn that has superior stats with second-time starters (23% with a significant flat-bet profit). Ride Sally Ride was fourth in that common race Oct. 19. She retains T. Baze, and after pulling hard last time out seems likely to be more relaxed today with the removal of blinkers. At 8-1 on the morning line she’s worth including somewhere, especially since her pedigree suggests that she may prefer dirt to grass.

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11.21.2019:

Saturday, November 23: Del Mar Early Pick 5 & Late Pick 4 Selections

Will he or won’t he?  Bob Baffert has entered his G1 winner, Roadster, in the G3 Native Diver Stakes Saturday at Del Mar.  They’ve also mentioned Churchill Downs’ G1 Clark Handicap next Friday as potential next start.  So where will he go?If he goes this Saturday at Del Mar, it would add significant appeal to a solid 9-race card that kicks off at 3:30PM ET.  After all, this race could well prove to be an essential step on Roadster’s path to races like the $9 million G1 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 25, 2020.  Also scheduled to race Saturday is the aptly named Del Mar May in Race 4.  While she’ll never race at Del Mar in May, she does have solid back class, including a runner-up performance behind Bellafina in the G2 Sorrento here last August.  But regardless of the caliber of competition, Saturday’s card at Del Mar is one worth playing.  Their Early Pick 5 features a reduced 14% takeout, while the Late Pick 4 includes the aforementioned Native Diver Stakes.  Here are my thoughts on both sequences, along with race-by-race analysis: Early Pick 5 – Races 1 – 5 The opener is a solid field of mid-level claiming horses and they’ll all need to catch #6 ROYAL INSIDER (Carava/Cedillo).  Tactically you have to expect Cedillo to play ‘catch me if you can’ with him.  I’m also going to use #2 BIRD (Hess/Prat).  He would benefit from a fast pace in his first start off the claim for Bob Hess Jr.  #5 ZORICH (Glatt/Talamo) has a good stalk-and-pounce style that works here.  I’m not a huge fan or Race 2, which attracted six maidens entered for a claiming price and #6 MONGOLIAN LEGEND (Ganbat/Gutierrez) is probably the horse to beat despite his 0-for-5 lifetime mark.  He’s been beaten twice by a neck at a lower level but has been consistent.  #5 THE LONGEST NIGHT (D’Amato/Baze) drops out of maiden special weight races and should be the favorite.  It’s hard to not use #2 C FALLS (Ruis/Cedillo) and #3 CHALLAH (Baltas/Prat).  If we’re 3x4 to start this bet we’ll need to find some quantity relief at some point.  Race 3 might be a tough place because this is a big (10) field of maiden claimers on the turf.  I’ll roll the dice with #2 MAGICALLY HONORED (Lerner/Cedillo) on a slight class drop.  He’s the one they’ll need to catch on the front-end.  I don’t love anyone else in this field - #6 DIPPING IN (O’Neill/Gutierrez), #3 ESTABLISH JUSTICE (Puype/Baze) and #5 LACE (Mandella/Pereira) were all considerations – but that lack of confidence makes me want to single MAGICALLY HONORED.  Race 4 is an allowance race for fillies and mares and #1 ROAD RANGER (Koriner/Gryder) and #1A ANDYOUSHALLRECEIVE (Koriner/Cedillo) are coupled for wagering purposes.  All eyes will be on #3 DEL MAR MAY (Baltas/Prat) here.  Her 2018 resume includes bouts in the G1 Chandelier (5th) and the G2 Sorrento (2nd) before finally breaking her maiden in April 2019 at Keeneland.  She ran 7th in the G2 Eight Belles at Churchill.  She’ll be very heavily bet here.  Nobody else in this field shows much solid recent form (ROAD RAGER is the lone last-out winner and nobody else finished better than 3rd in their most recent start).  I will use the entry, assuming ROAD RAGER stays aboard.  She’s the ‘speed of the speed’ here.Nothing looks easy about Race 5, a turf claiming race, so my ticket will include #4 SEASIDE DANCER (O’Neill/Cedillo), #5 QUERELLE (Cassidy/Espinoza), #7 CLOCKSTRIKESTWELVE (Gallagher/Smith), #9 FACTOR OF TWO (O’Neill/Gutierrez) and #10 POSH HOLLY (D’Amato/Franco).  Hopefully if we get this far we can slam the door and cash the ticket.Pick 5 Ticket: 2, 5, 6 / 2, 3, 5, 6 / 2 / 1, 3 / 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 = $60 for 50-centsLate Pick 4 – Races 6 – 9 In Race 6, a maiden special weight, I’m going to use #7 GARTH (Baffert/Van Dyke) and #1 ANCIENT WARRIOR (Hollendorfer/Prat) and reserve the right to add #8 SNAP CHAP (Chatlos/Smith) if that one takes money on the toteboard.  GARTH was bet like a sure thing in his debut (1/5 odds) but he ran into eventual G1 BC Juvenile winner Storm the Court.  ANCIENT WARRIOR has been working bullets in the AM.  This looks like a great spot for #2 RIJEKA (Baltas/Cedillo).  He’s been facing tougher horses in stakes events for the last five starts and just hasn’t been on par with that competition.  The step back in class today should suit him very well.  Let’s also use #8 MORE ICE (Hollendorfer/Van Dyke) and #9 SHINING THROUGH (Hollendorfer/Prat) in a race that figures to have plenty of early pace, assuming no major scratches.This is the G3 Native Diver and the question is whether #4 ROADSTER (Baffert/Van Dyke) runs here or next week at Churchill Downs in the Clark.  Reports have them leaning to the Clark but he’s entered here, so there’s that.  He’s a single in the Pick 4 if he runs here, but if he doesn’t, let’s use #3 ZESTFUL (Glatt/Roman) and #2 MIDCOURT (Shirreffs/Espinoza).  ZESTFUL has been a win machine this year, scoring in 7-of-12 races.  He has a 6-race win streak snapped in the G2 Marathon last out.  The nightcap is a tricky maiden claiming race on the turf and in this type of race I’m usually on the lookout for horses dropping from maiden special weight events.  That list includes #2 FIVESTAR LYNCH (Baltas/Prat) and he’s the likeliest winner.  I’ll also use #6 CAMPS BAY (Sadler/Baze) as his best races could win this and #9 FRIENDLY OUTTHEDOR (Eurton/Cedillo) in his second start off the pine.Pick 4 Scenario 1 (Roadster Scratches):1, 7 / 2, 8, 9 / 2, 3 / 2, 6, 9 = $18 for 50-centsPick 4 Scenario 2 (Roadster Races): 1, 7 / 2, 8, 9 / 4 / 2, 6, 9 = $9 for 50-cents

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11.21.2019:

Sharing The Love

Bill Lyon passed Sunday night. Perhaps, fittingly, news of his death arrived as the Eagles played the Patriots in South Philadelphia. I didn’t know him. Not personally, anyway. Never met the man. Yet, somehow, he knew me. Knew what made me tick—as a teenager to almost 60 years old--what made me smile, cheer, sigh and cry. And he could make me feel, if not better, at least understood. We shared both good and bad times and he always was there. The day after and the day after that. Like the sun. For over 40 years. Praising, soothing, criticizing, chiding, complementing…whatever the situation required. And there were some sticky situations. From the introduction to his Deadlines and Overtimes, Collected Writings on Sports and Life Lyon wrote: I toiled in the vineyards in the Midwest—three papers in 16 years in Illinois and Indiana, and then, in the summer of ’72 was lured to Philadelphia. “The Big Time,” I crowed to the family. “You’re gonna love it. Great sports city. Just great. Winners everywhere.” So we arrived in this promised Big Time just in time to see Steve Carlton win 27 games and the rest of the Phillies combined only 32. The Eagles would conclude another season of spectacular failure, going 2-11-1. The Flyers would be eliminated from the playoffs on the very last game of the regular season. And the 76ers established a record for futility and ineptitude that remains to this day: nine wins and 73 defeats. Good God, I thought, what have I gotten us into? But it got better. Really it did. Lyon wrote about sports and life for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Often at the same time. But that description is partially inaccurate. Lyon didn’t just ‘write’—the way Picasso didn’t just ‘paint’ or Michelangelo merely ‘sculp.’ He delivered masterpieces. Regularly. And on deadline. As fellow Philly area journalist Dick Jerardi explained, “Bill was a poet that happened to write about sports.” His talent is no secret. Credits include seven books, a National Headliner Award, a place in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, two Emmy Awards and six Pulitzer Prize nominations. Perhaps, Bill’s greatest achievement was his ability to repeatedly strike the perfect chord in a town that treats local wins, losses and ties as serious as a heart attack. Lyon sensed our raging emotions and deftly delivered descriptive slivers that mirrored them. His writing style is crisp and direct--well-suited to readership of a similar ilk. He could turn a phrase on a dime and elicit a smile or a wince—sometimes in the same sentence. Here are a few examples of Lyon’s writing on Philly topics: Day of Destiny Feb. 6, 2005 (12 years before the Eagles finally won a Super Bowl) Forty-four years. That’s how long we’ve kept the candle in the window. Forty-four years. Six hundred ninety-two games. Eleven coaches. Five owners. Forty-four years. Sons have become fathers, and fathers have become grandfathers. Women have married and had babies, and those babies have had babies. Forty-four years. And now the Birds are teasingly, tantalizingly, enticingly, seductively close. All that lies between them and victory in Super Bowl XXXIX is a lionhearted opponent that exhibits clinical precision and has unshakable confidence. Vet II: It Was Made for Us Jan. 16, 2003 A dump. He called it a dump. Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Eagles, called Veteran’s Stadium, the arena in which his very own team plays all of its home games, a dump. He is right, of course. But he misses the essential point, which is the Philadelphia point, which is: Yes, it is a dump, but it is our dump. And for all its inhospitable and cheerless cold, for all its crumbling concrete and flaking paint, for all its leaks and stark lack of architectural soul, for all its dank, foreboding gothic grimness, it has, throughout its 32-year-life, served a most useful, if vaguely ignoble, purpose. It has redefined what is meant by home-field advantage. Because opponents would rather play in the Black Hole of Calcutta. And the Eagles will tell you that the Vet is worth points. Yes, sir. At least a field goal. More if the playing surface is as slick as an ice float and the seams frayed and the sinkholes collapsing. A Fine Madness November 1, 2008 It was one of those pristine, crystalline, sun-splashed, green-and-gold shadow-streaked days that October, the best month of the year, favors us with from time to time: a day perfect for, say, a parade. By happy circumstance, we just happened to have one scheduled. And, oh, was it glorious. Well worth the wait, and no matter that the wait had felt like forever and a day. The Phillies, you may have heard, won the World Series the other day. As earlier noted, Lyon didn’t just cover Philly sports. Here are some excerpts from columns dealing with national sports figures and events. From A Fat Chance in Paradise Dec. 10, 1981 Paradise Island, Bahamas—To describe Muhammad Ali as merely fat and 40 is not totally accurate. He will not, after all, turn 40 until next month. As for the weight, well, he tries to camouflage that with bulky, loose-fitting sweat suits. They may have come off the rack of the nearest maternity shop. From Without a Victory, But Winners Anyway Dec. 4, 2003  To play football for Army or Navy is to be told this: All we want is all that you have. On Saturday, near sundown, they will play each other for the 104th time. There’s no other rivalry quite like it.  From the playing field, they will go to a higher calling.  They know the drill, understand the inevitability of the oath they have taken: All will give some, some will give all. No Division I team has ever lost 13 times in one season. Army goes into this game 0-12. You might think by now that they would be numb and couldn’t feel the losing. You would be wrong. You might think that all that losing makes them losers. You would be grievously wrong. Barry Bonds: A Joyless Pursuit Aug. 12, 2007 At nine minutes to midnight in the East, on Tuesday, August 7, in a major-league baseball park with all the splendor of San Francisco, its home, a bloated, gimpy-legged slugger works the pitch count to 3-and-2 and then turns on a fastball with a pristine, measured, disciplined stroke, and drives it well beyond the field of play, 435 feet being the consensus estimate. And with that thunderclap, Barry Lamar Bonds, 43 years old and looking it, who has an ego to match his extravagant talent, a confounding contradiction of incandescent skills and surly temperament, became the most prolific producer of home runs in big-league history. Not all were thrilled. Bill’s final journalistic contributions to the City of Brotherly Love and its citizens is his serial accounting of a personal battle with Alzheimer’s. Anyone with a current or past loved one suffering from this disease knows how insidious it is. Lyon wrote about his war with Alzheimer’s, his wife’ passing and his own mortality, as only he could. My Alzheimer’s fight: Never, ever quit June 4, 2016 In the winter of 2013, with the February cold bone deep, I sat in one of those cramped and sterile little examining cubicles in the Penn Memory Center and listened to the man in the white lab coat ask if I knew what Alzheimer's was. Death by inches, I said. And you have it, he said. I'm pretty sure the world stopped at that moment, and then there was a roaring sound, like a freight train barreling through my brain pan. I sat there, frozen, and I remember thinking what a crummy job this poor guy's got. I call him Al, for short. We've been joined to each other for going on three years now. We're a popular couple - more of us elders join the ranks every year, Alzheimer's being the name that we used to use to describe "natural causes." Or, as my grandmother used to say: "Parts just wear out." (Maude Murphy's parts lasted 95 years, and I hope fervently that she has passed along that DNA.) Al is an insidious and relentless little bastard, a gutless coward who won't come out and fight. Instead, he lies in ambush in my brain, and the only way I can put a face on him is to look in the mirror. Life after Ethel, and why I’ll never, ever give in to Alzheimer’s May 4, 2018 …My wife is gone now, and I struggle with what I am supposed to do. Everyone grieves in their own way. There is no manual for grief. What you should do, I am told, is to go ahead and mourn. Then celebrate the good times, and we had a lot of those. So, I'm going to resume my crusade against Alzheimer's in her memory, and remember the mantra we shared: resist, persist and never, ever give in …This is what Al has taken from me. When I try to read something, I have to go back and reread it two or three more times. I am no longer able to write. I used to have cursive handwriting that I was vain about. Now it looks like something out of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Simple acts have become frustrating. Reading a newspaper befuddles me. One thing you learn about here is dying. No one shies away from that. They've made their peace with this, so let's get on with it. And the roll call changes fast. One day you wake up, and there is an empty chair. But there is frank discussion here about death. And on occasions, you get a laugh out of it. I found it helps to have a sense of humor. Initially, I thought this was grim. But the people I'm with now, well, they resist, persist, and don't ever give up. For a complete look at Bill Lyon’s Alzheimer’s battle, please visit: https://pennmemorycenter.org/news-events/bill-lyons-battle-al/ Finally, as usual, Bill Lyon wrote it best: PhillyBall Feb. 6, 2002 …Like most things Philadelphian, we like out basketball on the grimy side. We like scabby knees and long, angry, red splotches caused by floor burns. Noses permanently bent by bayonet elbows. Lumps and knots, fat lips and fingers disjointed. …There used to be a sign in the Palestra that summed up PhillyBall: To win the game is great. To play the game is even greater. But to love the game is the greatest of all.”   Bill, thanks for sharing the love. Race On!

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11.20.2019:

Several Noteworthy Breeders' Cup Defeats

Is every race won by the horse whose performance was the best? Any seasoned horseplayer can tell you that certainly is not the case. There are a great many examples in which the horse who ran the best race did not win. Take, for example, the recent Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1-2. In six of this year’s 14 Breeders’ Cup races, the winner did not get the best Thoro-Graph figure. It puts a spotlight on a number of horses who, according to Thoro-Graph, ran a better race in defeat than the horse who won. I find the differences between the Beyer and Thoro-Graph figures in this year’s BC Juvenile and BC Juvenile Turf to be especially interesting. Storm the Court came away with the money and glory for winning the BC Juvenile. But according to Thoro-Graph, Anneau d’Or’s performance in defeat was considerably better. Structor was victorious in the BC Juvenile Turf. But according to Thoro-Graph, nine of the vanquished ran as well as, or better than, Structor. Decorated Invader, who finished fourth, posted the best Thoro-Graph figure in that race. Many horseplayers find Beyer Speed Figures to be very helpful. I do think they have value. I would not refer to them as often as I do if I believed otherwise. But as I have stated before, I also believe that Thoro-Graph figures are much better than the Beyers. In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, a higher number is better than a lower one. The opposite is true regarding Thoro-Graph figures. The winner of a race will never get a lower Beyer Speed Figure than the horse who finished second, the horse who finished second will never get a lower Beyer than the horse who finished third, and so on down through the order of finish. In the case of the Thoro-Graph Figures, a horse who finishes second, or even lower, can get a better figure than the winner. This is one of the things I love about Thoro-Graph. I consider a Thoro-Graph figure to be a much more realistic evaluation of a horse’s performance. Thoro-Graph’s approach reflects the reality that the winner is not necessarily the horse who ran the best race. Beyer Speed Figures are based primarily on the time of the race relative to the track variant. The variant is an assessment of a track surface. Was the surface on which the race was run normal? If not, how much faster or slower than normal was the surface? The variant is a tool in which one can put the time of a race into perspective as opposed to raw time. The Beyer-makers will adjust as they deem necessary in order to come up with what they feel is the most accurate figure possible to reflect a horse’s performance. One way the Beyer-makers do this is by keeping an eye on how each horse’s figure in a race compares to its previous performances. When a figure looks out of whack, it will be tweaked in order to make it more realistic in their judgment. A major reason I believe a Thoro-Graph figure is superior to a Beyer Speed Figure is the Thoro-Graph figure takes many more factors into account. According to Thoro-Graph, “each number on a sheet represents a performance rating arrived at by using time of the race, beaten lengths, ground lost or saved on the turns, weight carried, and any effects wind conditions had on the time of the race.” Let’s take a look at all six of the 2019 Breeders’ Cup races in which, according to Thoro-Graph, a horse or horses who lost ran as good as, or better than, the winner: BC FILLY & MARE TURF AT 1 1/4 MILES ON TURF. Iridessa won by a neck. Vasilika finished second. Sistercharlie came in third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Vasilika. According to the Beyers, the performances by Iridessa and Vasilika were equal, with a gap of 5 points back to Sistercharlie. According to Thoro-Graph, the performances by both Vasilika and Sistercharlie were better than Iridessa’s. These were the Beyers for those three: 105 Iridessa105 Vasilika100 Sistercharlie These were the Thoro-Graph figures for those three: 2 Vasilika2 3/4 Sistercharlie3 1/4 Iridessa BC DIRT MILE AT ONE MILE ON DIRT. Spun to Run won by 2 3/4 lengths. Omaha Beach finished second. According to the Beyers, Spun to Run’s performance clearly was better than Omaha Beach’s. According to Thoro-Graph, Omaha Beach’s performance was equal to Spun to Run’s. These were the Beyers for those two: 109 Spun to Run104 Omaha Beach These were the Thoro-Graph figures for those two: negative 1/2 Spun to Runnegative 1/2 Omaha Beach BC TURF SPRINT AT FIVE FURLONGS ON TURF. Belvoir Bay won by 1 1/4 lengths. Om finished second. According to the Beyers, Belvoir Bay’s performance was better than Om’s. According to Thoro-Graph, Om’s performance was better than Belvoir Bay’s. These were the Beyers for those two: 107 Belvoir Bay103 Om These were the Thoro-Graph figures for those two: 1/2 Om1 Belvoir Bay BC JUVENILE AT 1 1/16 MILES ON DIRT. Storm the Court won by a neck. Anneau d’Or finished second. According to the Beyers, Storm the Court’s performance was slightly better than Anneau d’Or’s. According to Thoro-Graph, Anneau d’Or’s performance was considerably better than Storm the Court’s. These were the Beyers for those two: 87 Storm the Court86 Anneau d’Or These were the Thoro-Graph figures for those two: 3 3/4 Anneau d’Or5 1/2 Storm the Court BC JUVENILE FILLIES TURF AT ONE MILE ON TURF. Sharing won by 1 1/4 lengths. Daahyeh finished second. Sweet Melania came in third, a neck behind Daahyeh. According to the Beyers, Sharing’s performance was better than both Daahyeh’s and Sweet Melania’s. According to Thoro-Graph, Sweet Melania’s performance was better than Sharing’s. These were the Beyers for those three: 86 Sharing82 Daahyeh82 Sweet Melania These were the Thoro-Graph figures for those three: 7 1/2 Sweet Melania7 3/4 Sharing9 1/2 Daahyeh BC JUVENILE TURF AT ONE MILE ON TURF. Structor won by three-quarters of a length. Billy Batts finished second. Gear Jockey came in third, a neck behind Billy Batts. They were followed across the finish line by Decorated Invader (fourth), Arizona (fifth), Proven Strategies (sixth), Fort Meyers (dead heat for seventh), Hit the Road (dead heat for seventh, disqualified and placed 14th), Our Country (ninth), Andesite (tenth), War Beast (eleventh), Peace Achieved (twelfth), Graceful Kitten (thirteenth) and Deviant (fourteenth). According to Thoro-Graph, six horses who lost ran a better race than the victorious Structor, plus two horses who lost ran as well as Structor. These were the Beyers for the 14 starters: 79 Structor77 Billy Batts76 Gear Jockey75 Decorated Invader75 Arizona75 Proven Strategies74 Fort Myers74 Hit the Road74 Our Country72 Andesite71 War Beast67 Peace Achieved67 Graceful Kitten40 Deviant These were the Thoro-Graph figures for the 14 starters: 8 3/4 Decorated Invader9 Hit the Road9 1/2 Gear Jockey9 1/2 Fort Meyers10 Arizona10 1/4 Proven Strategies10 1/2 Structor10 1/2 Billy Batts10 1/2 War Beast10 3/4 Andesite12 Our Country12 1/2 Peace Achieved13 3/4 Graceful Kitten18 Deviant  

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11.20.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: November 22 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle in this week’s Stronach 5, which once again has a 100k guarantee. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (3:39 ET) – 3up 10k N2L at 6 � furlongs I often advocate singling a strong favorite in the opening leg of a horizontal sequence, since the betting public doesn’t want to go out early, and therefore they are apt to go deeper than they should. And I think that’s the right move here, as #6 ALWAYS FOREIGN (2-1), who drops from a 40k in NY after catching slop off the Sharp claim, while catching a solid field in fast time. There’s also no one here to be scared off, and even slight regression should get the job done, though I think he’s apt to move forward off that run, especially on dry land. Pk5 A horses: 6 (listed in order of preference) The other reason I think you should be singling is that the perceived main danger, #4 Bucked Tooth (9-2), got beat 4 1/2 lengths last time and was a neck in front of 35-1 shot #9 Seany P (8-1), so that just doesn’t look like a strong race/effort to me. You could also give a look to #13 Call Triple A (8-1), who probably needed his comeback last time off the 15-month break, but couldn’t beat Pa-bred allowance runners at Parx and now plunges in for 10k. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 2: Gulfstream Park West R6 (3:52 ET) – 3up AOC (25k/N1X) at 1-mile (turf) I’m just going to try and blanket this race, as I don’t really have a strong opinion and I think you’re supposed to get through by using #5 NAVY ARMED GUARD (9-2), who drops in class off an impossible spot at Keeneland, #6 CAUSE FOR PARDON (5-2), a sharp winner here off the Hess claim last time, #1 FACE OF VICTORY (3-1), another Kentucky class dropper, and #7 NOTORIOUS NICK (7-2), who just stormed home here to beat Florida breds for Joseph. Pk5 A horses: 5,6,1,7 I could use #8 The Mighty Judge (10-1), but he’s lost six straight, drew worst of all, and that close 5th last time was at 26-1, so it looks a little fluky to me. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 3: Laurel Park R9 (4:10 ET) – 3up 16k MCL at 1-mile Tough sledding here, as the favorites all look the same and no one remotely stands out. I’ll go with the upside of #3 GOODLUCKCHUCK (9-2), since he’s run just twice and the group he was just 4th to last Friday was better than this one. It looks like a spread race though, so #2 BAYANO (3-1) is a must-use on the drop, #9 DYNA’S KNIGHT (5-1) has been knocking at the door and has run just four times, and #5 DAPER’S DRINK (6-1) was run well enough in his last two on the dirt to be given a big shot. Pk5 A horses: 3,2,9,5 Those four should get you through, but #10 UP AGAINST IT (6-1) didn’t run terribly in his first three starts on dirt and has been on the turf since, so if he’s simply a better horse now then he’s in with a price chance. Pk5 B horses: 10 Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:48 ET) – 2f MSW at 5 1/2 furlongs I don’t know who’s going to win this one, but I think you want to remember the names of the gals that don’t, as this looks like a really good heat and has the makings of a key race. As for today, I’ll go with #2 MISS RYLEIGH (9-2) on top for a Delia barn that is having a good meet and is 16% with firsters, though #1 KAYLA’S COWGIRL (4-1) is a serious player for Wong, who himself is 16% on debut and the works here sure whisper ready. The other Wong firster, #6 DYNASTY OF HER OWN (2-1) drew better and has also worked well, so she needs to be used, as does #5 MYLITTLERUNWAY (5-2), who really improved last time and has what can be a key experience edge here. Pk5 A horses: 2,1,6,5 The works are slow on #3 LADY CROCKER (6-1), and France is just 0-for-2 with firsters, but Alvarado is here, this miss has a big pedigree, and this is a barn that is 9-for-31 on the year, so let’s at least sneak her in as a backup. Pk5 B horses: 3 Leg 5: Gulfstream Park West R8 (4:54 ET) – 3up 8k claimer at 1 1/16 miles (turf) In what seems like an impossible race, I’ll take the two MSW droppers, #7 QUEEN OF GOD (4-1) and #9 BEE WINGS (9-2), as they might be best anyway, before taking into account the big drop, which could really put them over the top against a group like this. The former chased and tired here going a mile in his debut and should only improve off that, while the latter was in a good race in her debut at Indiana Grand and should relish the added ground and turn she gets. Pk5 A horses: 7,9 The backups are a problem, as you could literally use about eight here, but that’s not working on a budget, so we’ll have to narrow a bit. I’ll go with three; #1 MARICOPA (7-2), who really improved in her turf debut and drew perfectly; #2 I’LL DO IT MY WAY (6-1), who could be the controlling speed in her turf debut for Spatz, who is 6-for-18 at the meet; and #6 ROYAL CHANT (10-1), an MSW dropper who could move forward in her second start off the Maragh claim. You could also give a look to #11 Silver Palms (6-1), but this wide draw isn’t ideal. *** Please note that to keep the cost down, I’ll single #3 Goodluckchuck in Leg 3. *** Pk5 B horses: 1,2,6 The tickets: Main Ticket: 6 with 5,6,1,7 with 3,2,9,6 with 2,1,6,5 with 7,9 = $128Leg 3 B Backup: 6 with 5,6,1,7 with 10 with 2,1,6,5 with 7,9 = $32Leg 4 B Backup: 6 with 5,6,1,7 with 3,2,9,5 with 3 with 7,9 = $32Leg 5 B Backup: 6 with 5,6,1,7 with 3 with 2,1,6,5 with 1,2,6 = $48

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11.18.2019:

Monday, November 18: Pompano Park Pick 5 Analysis

The Pompano Park Pick 5 was not hit on Sunday night. That will lead to a $8,533 carryover for tonight's sequence and a $30,000 guaranteed pool.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 11-A Farmboys Success (5-1)-Took advantage of a great trip in first start for new barn. Gets another inside post draw and could score an encore.5-Alway'syourway (5/2)-Climbs up the claiming ranks after two nice wins. This will be tougher but is having a big year and will respect connections.6-Grantor Hanover (7/5)-Drew off by 5 lengths in 153.3, 9-year-old knows his job and should be in the hunt for another picture.Race 24-Prairie Westerngal (2-1)-3-year-old can leave in a hurry, has finished second in four starts here and could get a picture with a clean trip.5-Rock My World (7/2)-Likes to race on the lead, start will be key as there is other gate speed in the field.8-Galarina (8-1)-Loves the Pomp and last two starts have been sharp after coming off the bench. Fits here and could win at a nice price despite the post.Race 33-Donegal Jim (8/5)-Moves in from post 8 and comes off a tough trip, Hennessey sticks and best to respect.5-Rocky Regal (5/2)-Showed improvement in second start of the meet and this could be go time for 11-time winner in 2019.Race 47-Drive'em Cowboy (3-1)-Hennessey's choice is a beaten chalk who gets some post relief in third local start.8-Rockin Away (7/2)-This will be the third start back after a rest and last was better, looking for upswing to continue.Race 51-Itsnoproblemman (5/2)-This isn't a group of all-stars and this guy shows speed on smaller ovals, looks like a player.2-Rock N Fantasy (8/5)-Hennessey's choice over the 1-6-7, like #1 has never raced at the Pomp before but should be in the mix. Comes by way of HoP, not sure if he is 8/5 worthy but fits.7-Dee's Rocketman (9-1)-7-year-old has had issues and has been off since 8-4 but qualifier looked good. Will take a swing for a price with a horse who has done well at the Pomp.My Ticket Race 1) 1,5,6 Race 2) 4,5,8 Race 3) 3,5 Race 4) 7,8/ Race 5) 1,2,7Total Ticket Cost) $54 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.18.2019:

Meet America's Winningest Horses

Heavens Whisper runs Wednesday night at Remington Park, and most all of the Thoroughbred community won’t find anything special about it. But a victory would make this 4-year-old filly the nation’s first runner in 2019 to reach 9 victories. In an era of limited starts by the game’s best runners, let’s celebrate the year’s top win machines.Heavens Whisper won’t have a waltz in starter allowance company Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. Tapindeed also is in the field, and she’ll be trying to reach the 8-win mark and join the national leaders for 2019. Heavens Whisper has won at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, Prairie Meadows and Remington Park this year while changing hands from Steve Asmussen to Karl Broberg to Luis Villafranco. She has won from 5-1/2 furlongs to 1 mile and 70 yards.Nationally, 14 different horses have won 8 times this year. None are perfect, but 4 of them boast 8-for-9 records: West Virginia-breds Penguin Power for Jeff Runco and Cuttin Edge Tech for Kevin Patterson at Charles Town (and both are by sire Fiber Sonde); Ohio-based, Georgia-bred Sensational Ride for Jeff Radosevich; and Exclusivo on the island of Puerto Rico. The West Virginia-breds have been prolific as noted and also include multiple stakes winner and 8-win club member Anna’s Bandit (pictured above) for Jerry Robb in Maryland. She’s bagged more than $350,000 this year to lead the earnings among the most prolific winners on the year.Other 8-time winners on the year include the Anthony Farrior-trained Lonely Drifter, a South Carolina-bred who has canvassed the mid-Atlantic; Mr. Benz, victorious at Oaklawn, Canterbury and Zia Park; New Jersey-bred Phonemyposseagain, a second Kevin Patterson trainee on the list based in West Virginia; Cal-bred Insubordination, a well-traveled winner at Delta, Fonner, Columbus, Prairie Meadows and Zia Park; Golden Gate Fields-based Amber Louise reached the mark with a win Sunday; General Mach Four, Cantchaco and Masters Bluff all have ran up their totals in the Pacific Northwest.Just below the 8-win club comes the first of the nationally recognized runners, Midnight Bisou, who had won all 7 starts on the year before a belated rally for second in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. And next among the national players would be Bricks And Mortar at a perfect 6-for-6 on the year, and Mitole at 6-for-7. But those runners are finished for the campaign. From here out, the fun comes at the lower levels as we see who can sprint to the finish first the most times in 2019.Every year since Equibase's seasonal standings began in 2000 includes at least one, most times multiple, winners of 10-plus races. So chances are, these win machines aren't done yet.

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11.17.2019:

Sunday, November 17: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis

The feature at Pompano Park rolls in Race 8, an Open II Pace with a $9,000 purse. The 0.50 Pick 4 begins in Race 5, it has a $10,000 guaranteed pool with a low 12% takeout and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 53-Beatrice (3-1)-Amateur driver's race starts the sequence and this mare comes off a break. Fits better here and now the trainer steers which may help her stay trotting.5-Phoenician (4-1)-Won last time in second start off a break with a nice trip. Could be a player again and best to not overlook.6-Verdi D Em (7/2)-Improved in second start for Hennessey and second time hoppled. Looking for upswing to continue but must mind manners.7-Miss Flora (4-1)-Raced here in Open II company and looks to be a major player versus this crew with a decent trip.Race 61-Imagineuwithoutme (5/2)-Plano trainee came off the bench in fine form. Now draws the rail which shouldn't hurt and could be dialed on high in third start back.3-Mach West (7/5)-Hennessey's choice over #6 and #8 deserves some respect but is a 3-year-old taking on older. Using but will shoot against.4-Rockntouch (9/2)-Drops, gets post relief and likes the Pomp. Barn has been doing well and should be in the hunt.7-Mcjagersonthemove (15-1)-Raced big on 11-4 with a sizzling win on the engine, then stepped-up and was hung-out from the 9-hole. Looks like a live price shot as there isn't much gate speed inside.Race 72-Sporty Redhot (5-1)-Sharp effort from the 8-hole last week. Loses Hennessey but Fern is familiar and should be in the hunt.3-Feelin Lika Winner (1-1)-ML chalk did have a 1:52.4 mile at PPk earlier this year and should get a trip from this post. There are a couple of concerns...Is just 3-17 here and HoP invader hasn't raced since 10-25.Race 81-War-N-Munn (7-1)-Should be on the lead or in the two hole at the 1/4 pole and could get sucked around. Has good speed and might be able to hang in and surprise at a price.8-Rebellious (7/5)-Consistent 5-year-old was doing some good work at the Big M and likes to win in general. Also, has won 10 of 23 at the Pomp. Likes to race near the top so is a major player with a fast start.My Ticket Race 5) 3,5,6,7 Race 6) 1,3,4,7 Race 7) 2,3 Race 8) 1,8Total Ticket Cost) $32 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.17.2019:

Sunday, November 17: Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.Today’s Day Makers: View VideoRACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Bellazano; 6-CoiletteForecast: Coilette moves up a notch following a claim by a high percentage outfit and a repeat of her race before last for her new connections should be good enough to beat this field. Based on analysis of her interior fractions, the daughter of Coil appears quick enough to be on or near the lead throughout. Her only win came in gate-to-wire fashion. Bellazano, in the money in her last three with competitive speed figures, should be within range throughout and really won’t have to improve much to win. Her lone score came at this extended sprint trip. We’ll prefer Coilette on top but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Lighthouse; 4-Nu Pi Lambda; 8-She’s So SpecialForecast: She’s So Special is better than her only prior outing in July shows and the daughter of Hard Spun gets a chance to show it while switching to what should be her preferred surface. Drawn comfortably outside and picking up F. Prat, she’s from the P. Miller barn, which has exceptional stats with second-time maidens and layoff runners. Nu Pi Lambda, a good runner-up in both of her starts, probably can’t beat a real good maiden but should be in the fray throughout and is a “must use.” Lighthouse loses Prat but picks up D. Van Dyke and has a right to improve off a fairly decent debut performance sprinting on grass at Santa Anita. She figures to be in the first flight throughout assuming she leaves cleanly from the rail.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: C+Use: 2-Eddie’s Sister; 3-Elgofranco; 4-Jodie FasterForecast: Trainer P. D’Amato has two bullets to fire and either one can win. Eddie’s Sister has been working out of sight of the private clockers at San Luis Rey Downs, so we really don’t have much to go on other than the presence of F. Prat in the saddle. He’s this barn’s go-to guy so let’s put her on top in what appears to be a below standard race for state-bred juvenile fillies. Stable mate Jodie Faster displayed some ability in her debut when second beaten a neck in a low-rated affair and then was no factor when tried over a distance of ground on turf next time out. Back sprinting on the main track, she must be given a look based on her first try and G. Franco, who knows her well, stays aboard. Elgofranco finished an okay second in a moderate race in her debut, adds Lasix today, switches from grass to dirt, and has a right to produce a forward move. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with a slight edge on top to Eddie’s Sister.RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Murad Khan; 6-ForayForecast: Foray returns to a flat mile after getting nailed right on the money in a highly rated nine-furlong affair at this level last month at Santa Anita. A prior winner of the local lawn, the J. Sadler-trained gelding projects to enjoy his coveted front-running trip and will be tough with anything close to his best effort. Murad Khan, now in the P. Miller barn following a $40,000 claim, seeks his third straight score while being wheeled back in just a week. If the short rest doesn’t affect his current form, the French-bred gelding will be dangerous once again from off the pace. Fray gets top billing, but we’ll use both in our rolling exotics.RACE 5: Post 2:33 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Time for Suzzie; 5-Busy Paynter; 7-Portal CreekForecast: Portal Creek is winless in five starts at Del Mar, but the daughter of Shanghai Bobby is currently in sharp form and is drawn perfectly outside, so we’ll give a chance to break on through. She’s most effective when held up early and allowed to run late and given that type of ride from J. Valdivia she should be able to produce an effective rally-wide move. Time for Suzzie had the misfortune of drawing the disadvantageous rail but she knows how to win races and has scored over this main track in the past. Busy Paynter beat a softer restricted (nw-2) $12,500 field last month at Santa Anita and earned a competitive speed figure, so with only slight improvement the B. Koriner-trained filly has a chance to score right back. At 8-1 on the morning line you have to use her somewhere.RACE 6: Post 3:03 PT. Grade: B+Use: 3-Teachers Big Dream; 6-Madam Bourbon; 7-Peaches and NutsForecast: Peaches and Nuts offers an interesting gamble in this starter’s optional claimer over a mile on grass for 2-year-old fillies. A clever winner sprinting from off the pace in her debut, the daughter of Take Charge Indy was pinched back at the start, lost early position, and was never a factor in a similar starter’s allowance affair at Keeneland in most recent outing. She’s bred to run long, gets her chance, and picks up skilled grass rider D. Van Dyke, who will give her the patient ride that she needs, so at 5-1 on the morning line we’ll put her on top. Madam Bourbon was stakes placed on grass in late September at this trip in her most recent outing at Gulfstream Park after capturing a maiden $50,000 turf affair 13 days earlier. She arrives fit and ready for new trainer M. Glatt, picks up F. Prat, and is the logical favorite and one to beat. Teachers Big Dream broke her maiden in stylish fashion at first asking two-turning on dirt at Santa Anita and her pedigree (Mr. Big) suggests she should be even better on grass. At 6-1 on the morning line she definitely worth including in rolling exotic play.RACE 7: Post 3:33 PT. Grade: B+Single: 5-Mo See CalForecast: Mo See Cal bit off more than she could chew when a well-beaten sixth in the Breeder’s Cup Distaff, but this group is well within her range and the daughter of Uncle Mo should be able to regain her winning form over a track she’s shown a distinct liking for. A. Cedillo, who was aboard the P. Miller-trained filly in an easy allowance win two runs back, returns and seems likely to have her in an ideal pace-stalking position. There’s value here at 5/2 on the morning line if you can get it, so let’s make her a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 8: Post 4:03 PT. Grade: B-Use: 6-Our Romance; 7-Scarlet Heat; 9-TizzyForecast: The finale is a state-bred maiden turf miler for older fillies and mares. Our Romance, in the money in her last pair against similar competition, looks slightly best in an open fray. She’s never been one to find extra under pressure in the lane but might get brave in this below average affair. Her morning line of 7/2 seems about right. Scarlet Heat, away since February, returns with F. Prat in the saddle and could easily be a better type this time around for D. Blacker. She sprinted in both of her two previous races but shouldn’t have an issue with this trip based on pedigree. Tizzy seems to lack a winning punch but has hit the board in each of her last five starts and figures to at least clunk up for another minor award. You can include her on a ticket or two for protection.

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11.16.2019:

Saturday, November 16: Del Mar Analysis/Wagering

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.Today’s Day Makers: View Video RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B+Single: 4-DubnationForecast: Dubnation earned a career top speed figure when breaking his maiden for $20,000 last time out and is realistically spotted in this restricted (nw-2) $16,000 affair. Second in his only prior outing over the Del Mar main track, the P. D’Amato-trained gelding probably will go lower than his morning line of 5/2 as a logical top pick and rolling exotic single.**RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-King Abner; 4-Jalen JourneyForecast: Jalen Journey wasn’t quite up to graded stakes company in his first two local outings but shows up today in a second level allowance main track miler for hot trainer P. Miller and projects to be the controlling speed. Untested around two turns (he did win a one-turn mile in Florida), the son of With Distinction is very fast on speed figures so we suspect he’ll get the trip, but as protection we’ll also include on a ticket or two King Abner, a two-time winner over the local main track and a willing third in a state-bred turf stakes at Santa Anita last month.**RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: XSingle: 5-Zipper MischiefForecast: Zipper Mischief had no visible excuse when missing at 40 cents on the dollar in a similar first-level allowance turf sprint at Santa Anita last month but both of his efforts over the Del Mar course during the summer meeting were quite good, so we’re expecting the B. Heap-trained colt to regain his top form. The pace flow looks comfortable, so a gate-to-wire result seems quite plausible, but at another short price. We’ll make him a no-value rolling exotic single but otherwise pass the race.**RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Luck Is My Name; 6-Brazilian SummerForecast: Brazilian Summer finished a solid second in a similar maiden $20,000 claimer last month at Santa Anita and with further improvement the lightly raced gelding should be able to earn his diploma today. With just three lifetime outings, the M. Chew-trained son of Gervinho has upside the others don’t, so we’ll put him on top while also including in our rolling exotics Luck Is My Name, a Bay Area shipper trying conventional dirt for the first time. He’s a fit on speed figures and has a one-paced, grinding style that might work well over the deepish Del Mar main track.**RACE 5: Post 2:34 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-French Getaway; 5-Moonlight Drive; 9-OffshoreForecast: Offshore missed at even money in a similar mid-level claiming turf event at Santa Anita last month but we’ll give him a chance to make amends over a turf course he’s previously won twice on. The R. Baltas-trained gelding switches to A. Cedillo and looks capable of producing the last run, his outside draw notwithstanding. Moonlight Drive won the race that Offshore just finished third in and must be given a look right back, though the veteran Italian-bred gelding is winless in six previous outings over the Del Mar turf course. French Getaway lands the good rail while dropping in class and should fit nicely at this level. A win over this course and distance during the summer meeting is a positive factor and two subsequent failures on dirt probably can be excused. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with a slight preference on top to Offshore.**RACE 6: Post 3:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 5-Night On the Town; 7-Parkour; 8-Paige AnneForecast: The R. Mandella barn holds the aces here. Parkour chased home a very good filly in her debut when a distant second and with that effort behind her looks primed for a winning effort in a competitive maiden special weight sprint for juvenile fillies. This trainer is solid with second time starters, so we’ll expect the daughter of Carpe Diem to produce a forward move, one that earns her top billing. Stable mate Night on the Town is the one to fear most and attracts F. Prat, so she must be respected. A series of sharp drills should have her fit and ready, so she’s a “must use” in rolling exotic play. Paige Anne, with the always dangerous route-to-sprint angle in her chart, is drawn comfortably outside and adds blinkers. With the cut back in trip, the daughter of Take Charge Indy could be a serious late threat, so be sure to include her as a back-up or a saver.**RACE 7: Post 3:34 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Kitty Boom Boom; 5-SedamarForecast: Kitty Boom Boom hasn’t been out since winning a state-bred stakes at Golden Gate Fields last spring but if she’s ready she can return a winner in this entry-level allowance middle distance turf event restricted to 3-year-old fillies. The works are steady but unspectacular, so there’s a question as to how cranked up she is, but the R. Baltas barn has superior stats (25%) with layoff runners so we’ll assume that she’s fit enough. Sedamar is racing in good, consistent form and shows rising speed figures, so the daughter of Richard’s Kid, with two prior wins over the Del Mar turf course must be considered a major player. She’ll likely fold into a good second flight early position and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with slight preference on top to Kitty Boom Boom.**RACE 8: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: XUse: 5-High Velocity; 6-StrongconstitutionForecast: This is a race we’ll pass, as the two listed above are hard to separate and both will be a short price in a small field. High Velocity won at first asking like a good colt and has trained well since, so the B. Baffert-trained colt should be tough to deny despite the raise into graded stakes company. Strongconstitution lands the cozy outside post and has two excellent races under his belt, including a narrow defeat in the Sunny Slope Stakes last month at Santa Anita. On pure numbers these colts are equally fast, so rather than split hairs we’ll double the race in our rolling exotics but otherwise sit it out.**RACE 9: Post 4:34 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Abusive Gary; 8-Play MoneyForecast: Play Money is overdue for a win and gets ideal conditions to break through. After knocking on the door in his last four starts, the D. Hofmans-trained colt should settle into a soft pace-stalking trip and then be able to seal the deal. Abusive Gary returns as a gelding in his first start since New Year’s Day. The works are solid, though his numbers are average at best. The bulk of our action goes to Play Money, but we’ll have a ticket or two backing up with Abusive Gary.

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11.16.2019:

Saturday, November 16: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

Cal Expo has a 10-race card set to roll this evening. The 0.20 Pick 4 begins in Race 7 and will be my focus. The sequence has a $25,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 74-Cenalta Glory (2-1)-3-year-old could be ready to roll in first start back in town. Record here is good and connections know the way to the winner's circle.6-Rocket Power (8-1)-Last week had a 57.2 back half in first start off the bench. Should be tighter and might be sitting on a big try.8-Villa For Rent (15-1)-Swinging for a price and is second time Lasix. Last start, off a layoff was not bad and now Svendsen steers. Can rally off cover but could also leave and race close to the top.Race 81-Joltin Joe (4-1)-Nice effort in first start back and now is second time Lasix. Kennedy should put in play early and looks to be a player.3-California Rock (3-1)-Loses Plano as he drives his own. Comes back after an easy win as an odds-on favorite with Svendsen in the bike. If duplicates the same effort it could be enough for another picture.8-Rue Hanover (7/2)-Lackey owns, drives and trains and he had his filly ready to roll in last. Best to respect after a sharp win but post is a challenge.Race 92-Zachariahs Honor (5-1)-Didn't get used in first start of the meet but now drops in for a tag. This could be go time for 8-time winner in '19.4-Western Devil (9/2)-Similar to #2 but also gets a positive driver change and has won 11 of 55 at CalX. My two plays have the longest odds in this short field.Race 104-Relentless Dancer (5/2)-Won last week with a 57.1 back half and this crew isn't any better.6-Lookslikewemadeit (6-1)-Lasix has not kicked in yet but was driven aggressively in last and faded. Comes off a rough trip and now gets a boost because Plano will steer. Useable and should be a square price.7-No Guarantees (3-1)-Took the long way around in last and still past horses down the lane. Did face tougher at Aces and best to respect versus this crew.My Ticket Race 7) 4,6,8 Race 8) 1,3,8 Race 9) 2,4 Race 10) 4,6,7Total Ticket Cost) $10.80 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.16.2019:

Promising Juveniles Surface Saturday In GP West Early Pick 4

The Gulfstream Park Championship Meet is getting closer, and some of those with intentions on that impressive season are getting a head start during the current Gulfstream Park West. A good example of that occurs in Saturday’s second race – the first leg of the early Pick 4 – when a promising group of well-bred and well-meant 2-year-olds get to show what they have. Trainer Jason Servis unveils News Break, an American Pharoah colt with the usual Servis slow works. Paco Lopez, who is riding at a 29-percent win clip at the current meet, is lined up for the mount. But News Break is not alone when it comes to promise. Sagamore Mischief, an Into Mischief colt trained by Timothy Hills, ran fourth in a fast maiden race at Belmont and followed with a second at Laurel. Edgar Prado is aboard the speedster. Sir Kahn, trained by Daniel Pita, adds intrigue as he only has one start to his credit, which came at Gulfstream. He broke dead last and went from 13th to fourth in a quick 5.5-furlong race. Jesus Rios gets the recall on Sir Kahn, who this time has a set of blinkers that could help move in along earlier. Sir Kahn has had five straight bullet workouts – the latest since he started on Sept. 29. That trio is worthy of appearing on the suggested Pick 4 ticket, which amounts to $36, which has a 3x4x2x3 approach. The fourth race – the third leg of the sequence – includes a group of bottom-level claimers and a couple of mares in that sprint have a better chance for success than most. Memorize, running for trainer Jennifer Hayford-Quinones, ran third vs. similar last time despite a wide trip and has an excellent shot in which to turn the tables this time, and Simply Great comes in from Monmouth and Parx, where she won a couple of races for trainer Jorge Navarro. Here’s the suggested play for the early Pick 4 Saturday at Gulfstream Park West:Race 2) #3 News Break, #7 Sagamore Mischief, #12 Sir Kahn.Race 3) #2 Macho Mania, #3 Steadily, #4 Perfect Enough, #6 King of Leinster.Race 4) #4 Memorize, #6 Simply Great.Race 5) #3 Tennessee Cotton, #8 Miss Aliphant, #9 Karenina.50-cent early Pick 4 ticket: 3-7-12 with 2-3-4-6 with 4-6 with 3-8-9 ($36).

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11.15.2019:

Friday, November 15: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

The Meadowlands has a big 13-race card scheduled and the 0.50 Pick 4 begins in Race 8. That sequence will be my focus and it has a $50,000 guaranteed pool with a low 15% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 84-Brooklyn Lilacs (8-1)-Lost the lead down the lane in last but hasn't thrown two clunkers in a row for quite a while. Best to respect with this post draw and could pop at a price.5-Shezza GNP N (6-1)--Drew off in last and now steps-up. This won't be as easy, but Dunn should have her forwardly placed again. Winner of two of three at the Big M could score an encore at a square price.6-Skater Chick (3-1)-Idle since 10-25 but comes off a nice qualifier for hot barn. Dave Miller takes a seat, 3-year-old has been facing tough foes and best to respect.9-Thrillonthebeach (9/2)-Last race at DD was a nice effort and this is a better big track horse. Post is a concern but might be overlooked at the windows and does like to win.Race 93-Max Volo (9/2)-Dunn sticks and will look for better in second start off the bench. This is a spot to shine.4-Starsaboveallerage (3-1)-Returns to the Big M but hasn't won here in two years. Not crazy about the 3-1 ML but is tough to leave out at this level.5-Crazshana (7/2)-Takes a drop and has been facing much better on the 5/8's. It's been a while since he has seen the Big M winner's circle but Marcus Miller could work a trip from here.7-Life Well Lived (5-1)-Last two off the bench have been sharp efforts and Auciello can keep them good for a while.Race 103-Piercewave Hanover (3-1)-Got on the engine but couldn't hold a lead in last. Comes back in seven days and draws well. Barn has been hot and best to not overlook.5-Kadabra Queen (9/2)-Makes second straight drop and tries Lasix for the first time. Did go off as chalk in NW10kL5 last week and is dangerous with a trip.Race 115-Oberto (3-1)-Sharp try in last coming off of two breaks. This is a great spot for a picture if minds manners and Dunn can work a smooth journey from this post.8-Grandma Heidi (7/2)-Heidi went off as chalk at this class last week and finished third. Post makes the price, does likes the track and has been consistent this year.My Ticket Race 8) 4,5,6,9 Race 9) 3,4,5,7 Race 10) 3,5 Race 11) 5,8Total Ticket Cost) $32 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.15.2019:

Friday, November 15: Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Hartel; 5-Swamp SouffleForecast: Hartel has rising speed figures for the hot P. Miller barn and though winless in seven starts in 2019 rates top billing over a course he’s shown he likes. Not necessarily a need-the-lead type but probably most comfortable on the front end, the son of City Zip should be tough to run down given the projected pace scenario. Swamp Souffle just won a $50,000 claimer and drops to the $40,000 level today, not necessarily a suspicious move as this is restricted to 3-year-olds and not many more of those will be available as the year concludes. The son off Bodemeister is the most dangerous of the closing types and with a little bit of help up front could produce the last run. We’ll give Hartel the edge on top but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Love of Art; 5-Heart’s PassionForecast: Love of Art drops to her lowest level ever and the Bay Area shipper seems to have found a proper spot to return to winning form. Her recent speed figures are solid for this level, and with the switch to A. Cedillo the daughter of Declaration of War should be along in time. Heart’s Passion, away for seven weeks after finishing second in her first outing in nearly 10 months, obviously has a spotty pattern but she’s stretching out to her preferred trip and shows a bullet six furlong workout at Los Alamitos two weeks ago for the J. Hollendorfer barn, so we’ll assume she’s doing well. Off her best race, she’s right there.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-Venetian Harbor; 4-Beguiled; 6-Morning AddictionForecast: The main contenders in this five-furlong grass dash for juvenile fillies are first-time starters from capable outfits, so we’ll spread the race in rolling exotic play while giving preference on top to Morning Addiction. The P. Eurton-trained daughter of Carpe Diem has done plenty right in the morning and appears blessed with excellent speed, so in an open affair let’s put her on top and hope to get close to her morning line of 4-1. Her dam was a highly capable turf sprinter and maybe this filly will be, too. Venetian Harbor and Beguiled have done all of their preparatory work out of sight at San Luis Rey Downs, so we’re largely guessing with both. ‘Harbor, from the R. Baltas barn, lands F. Prat and has several workout times that indicate plenty of talent, while Beguiled, a daughter of Orb from the P. D’Amato barn, sports a healthy work tab for a trainer whose first-timers often outrun their workouts.RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Eternal Endeavor; 3-D’s Lovely Sophia; 7-Rizzi’s HonorsForecast: Here’s a spread race for starter’s allowance ($32,000) fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on the main track. D’s Lovely Sophia seems as good as any, so we’ll give her a slight edge on top. Both of her prior races over the Del Mar main track – a starter’s allowance win and a runner-up effort in a first-level allowance sprint - earned very strong speed figures and a repeat of either one of those outings today should be good enough. Eternal Endeavor returned off a long layoff and crushed restricted (nw-2) $25,000 foes with a sharp speed figure last time out and if she can duplicate that performance today she’ll be right there. Rizzi’s Honors lands the cozy outside post and is a perfect two-for-two over the Del Mar main track. She has issues – she was a voided claim for $8,000 three runs back – but has run well in two subsequent starts and is protected by M. Glatt, so we’ll assume she’s doing well and will fire her best shot.RACE 5: Post 2:34 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Red Bunting; 2-Saburai; 9-Flying to the LineForecast: This restricted (nw-2) turf miler for $25,000 claiming fillies and mares is another event requiring a spread in rolling exotic play. Flying to the Line gets the worst of the draw but she’s won over this course in the past and may have enough early speed to get over and secure her coveted front-running trip. Fresh from earning a career-top speed figure, she switches to A. Cedillo, one of this barn’s go-to jockeys, and sports a bullet workout at San Luis Rey Downs since raced. We’ll give her the edge on top. Red Bunting drops to her lowest level ever, lands the good rail, retains D. Van Dyke, and will be a strong late threat if she gets a decent pace up front and good racing luck from the quarter pole home. She’s strong in the speed figure department and has run well over this course in the past. Saburai is a one-paced grinder with just won victory from 18 career outings, so she’s certainly not one to bank on, but t he V. Cerin-trained mare is competitive on numbers and projects to be in a good pace-stalking position from her inside draw and have every chance when the pressure is turned on.RACE 6: Post 3:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Temple Bar; 6-Knifes Edge; 7-ItsthattimeForecast: Temple Bar has steadily rising speed figures, stretches out for the first time to a distance he’s bred to like, is comfortably drawn inside and exits a strong, productive heat. The son of Temple City shows a good, healthy work pattern for J. Hollendorfer and seems primed to produce another forward move, one that may land him in the winner’s circle. Knifes Edge exits a series of maiden special weight events and certainly should appreciate this drop into the maiden $50,000 ranks. On numbers he’s a fit and we suspect the son of First Samurai will find himself in an ideal pace-stalking position outside. Itshattime is slower on numbers than the other two main contenders but has an improving pattern and is bred to handle a mile. The J. Bonde-trained gelding switches to R. Bejarano and at 8-1 on the morning line is worth including on a ticket or two.RACE 7: Post 3:34 PT. Grade: B+Single: 1-Doc Yco CheeksForecast: Doc Yco Cheeks looked quite good beating state-bred maidens on turf at this mile trip in just her second career outing at Santa Anita last month and seems more than capable of repeating on the raise from her comfortable inside draw. The daughter of Unusual Heat earned a good speed figure in victory and there doesn’t appear to be any reason why she can’t come right back and add to her resume. At 5/2 on the morning line with R. Bejarano staying aboard for P. Eurton, she’s a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 8: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Tigre Di Slugo; 5-Loafers Boy; 9-Grandpa LouieForecast: Tigre Di Slugo was a $190,000 yearling purchase back in 2016 and finally makes it to the post for M. Puype in this state-bred maiden special weight sprint. The son of Smiling Tiger is bred for much speed, gets F. Prat, and has worked well enough to be live at first asking. Additionally, this barn has terrific stats with debut runners. Loafers Boy has shown some ability in the morning for A. Lerner and is worth some consideration in rolling exotic play. A bullet six-furlong workout in 1:13 3/5 over the deep Santa Anita main track nine days ago is hard to ignore. Grandpa Louie, away since March, gets the favorable outside draw and should be part of the pace throughout. The P. Miller-trained gelding, second twice in three outings vs. similar competition, could easily be a better type this time around and is a “must use” in rolling exotic play.

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11.14.2019:

Jeff Siegel's Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies for 11/14/19

Jeff Siegel’s Daily Analysis and Wagering StrategiesDel MarThursday, November 14, 2019Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: BSingle: 3-Harper’s GallopForecast: Harper’s Gallop ran well when second at this level over this track and distance two runs back and a repeat of that race today probably gets her a diploma. The J. Carava-trained filly was pulled up when her saddle slipped in a two-turn grass event last time out, so toss that race out. She’s back where she belongs today, so in a dreadfully weak maiden $20,000 claimer for fillies and mares we’ll make her a straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: XSingle: 4-HaribouxForecast: Hariboux adds Lasix for his second start since being imported from England and after finishing fifth in the Zuma Beach Stakes last month at Santa Anita the J. Mullins-trained gelding tackles an easier group today and should make the most of it. His form overseas was fairly solid and will beat this field if repeated in this five-runner affair. At 9/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower, he won’t offer much value other than as a short price rolling exotic single.RACE 3: Post 1:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Dr. Bagley; 4-Fast as CassForecast: Dr. Bagley has rising speed figures and rates top billing in this modest restricted $16,000 claiming main track miler. In a race without a true front-runner, the J. Mullins-trained gelding could easily find himself as the controlling speed and if not pressured early should be capable of holding sway. Fast as Cass is just 1-for-17 during his career so he’s not one to trust, but the S. Knapp-trained son of Unusual Heat has speed figures that put him in the fray, and he projects to enjoy a good stalking trip outside and have every chance. We’ll use both in our rolling exotics with slight preference on top to Dr. Bagley.RACE 4: Post 2:00 PT. Grade: B+Single: 5-Speedy JusticeForecast: Speedy Justice is a first timer from the B. Baffert barn (42% with debut runners) and sports a pair of impressive 59 3/5 workouts, the most recent of which was accomplished from the gate in a team that what was visually quite impressive. The son of Dominus has the type of early speed that should be quite effective at this abbreviated sprint trip, and if he handles the grass the son of Dominus could be hard to beat. Too Late and Prince Magician both have shown good ability and will take some beating, but we’ll go with ‘Justice as a straight play and rolling exotic single and hope to get close to his morning line of 5/2.RACE 5: Post 2:30 PT. Grade: XSingle: 6-Oil Can KnightForecast: Oil Can Knight moves up a notch after winning a $20,000 claimer restricted to 3-year-olds at Santa Anita just 11 days ago. He lands the cozy outside draw while shedding four pounds, so there’s every reason to believe he can score right back at what should be a fairly short price. With a prior win over the local main track and with M. Garcia staying aboard, the son of Can the Man looks like another logical short price rolling exotic single.RACE 6: Post 3:00 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Trust Fund Kitty; 7-Kittyhawk LassForecast: Kittyhawk Lass and Trust Fund Kitty finished second and third, respectively, in a similar starter’s allowance event at Santa Anita last month and they meet again as the major players in this mile grass affair. ‘Lass earned a career top speed figure in that race and with just seven lifetime starts probably has a bit more upside than ‘Kitty, who is just 1-for-16 in her career but projects to enjoy an ideal ground-saving trip from her rail post position. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; we’ll have an extra ticket or two pressing with ‘Lass on top.RACE 7: Post 3:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Awesome Anywhere; 3-ThreefiveindiaForecast: Threefiveindia just crushed a softer field by seven widening lengths in his first-off-the-claim for P. Miller and should get plenty play off that impressive performance despite the relatively quick 13-day turnaround and the raise in class. The other concern is his shortening from seven furlongs to three-quarters, a distance he’s a career 0-for-7, so we’ll use him but certainly not single him. Awesome Anywhere loves to win (he’s 6-for-13) but has been away since January and must leave from the rail, a difficult post at this distance. His workout at Los Alamitos for J. Hollendorfer indicate fitness and he does have a triple-digit Beyer speed figure to go back two, so we’ll include him as well.RACE 8: Post 4:00 PT. Grade: B+Single: 2-Lightning FastForecast: Lightning Fast has the classic two sprints and a stretch-out pattern and a pedigree (Violence) that should allow him to handle two-turns and grass. The W. Spawr-trained colt is comfortably drawn inside, catches a field without much pace and could easily find himself on the front end without much pressure. In a race in which the main contenders look suspect, we’ll make him a straight play and rolling exotic single at or near his morning line of 9/2.

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11.14.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: November 15 Stronach 5 Play

Big doing in this week’s Stronach 5, as there is an over $91,081 carryover, which means the pool should swell to well over $500,000, if not $750,000. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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.*** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. ***Leg 1: Gulfstream Park West R6 (3:51 ET) – 2f 35k starter-optional claimer at 7 1/2 furlongs (turf)The opening leg is a real puzzle, so spreading as deep as possible seems like a prudent move, since no one stands out and several are slow on figures. I think you have to start with the “fast” MCL winners #3 BEASAICHI (8-1) and #2 TEACHER DRAMA (9-2), especially since they are drew perfectly, but contention certainly doesn’t end there. A drop in class and good post should agree with #1 LITTLE MARIA (10-1), while getting to the turf and dropping in class might help to wake #5 LUCKY MILADY (8-1) up, especially since she has shown she can pass horses and there looks to be a lot of speed in here. The wildcard is #10 RAIN (5-1), who is the class and has been facing tons better, but has never run on turf and drew poorly, but, in a spot like this, she has to be used.Pk5 A horses: 3,2,1,5,10 (listed in order of preference)The rest are up for debate, but winning on debut from the outside draw at this trip isn’t easy, so I think you need to include #6 LA VENEZOLANA (6-1), who closed nicely too, while two turns seemed to agree to #7 BABYBEL (12-1), who is another who should be flying late. There’s a chance that #8 PRINCESS CARRIGAN (8-1) is the speed of the speed, so I’ll toss her in, since she wired sprinting two-back and was in way over her head in a stakes last time.Pk5 B horses: 6,7,8Leg 2: Laurel Park R8 (4:10 ET) – 3upfm N1X at 1-mileIn a race where there’s not much, it looks like #3 WARM (5-2) is a single, as she enters off three straight, showed she can beat allowance foes last time, and has a big tactical edge over her main (and seemingly only) rival, #1 Indy Union (2-1); yes she rises in class, but there’s just not much here to oppose here and she looks like the “now” horse and then some.Pk5 A horses: 3I have to admit I’ve never thought much of Indy Union, who I’ve used on several occasions only to be disappointed. No one has more respect for Jeremiah Englehart than I do, but ‘Union looks to be pace compromised, will be overbet, and just doesn’t look all that good, plus, her only good run this year came in the mud at the Spa. So in a sequence where I want a lot of coverage in some of the races I think can be chaotic, I’ll be a bit bold and go it alone with Warm.Pk5 B horses: NONELeg 3: Laurel Park R9 (4:40 ET) – 3up 25k MCL at 1-mileA tricky race, as some of the better runners are turfers, which makes it a bit tougher to decipher. I know #4 BOLD TREK (6-1) didn’t fire in his lone dirt start, but that was early in his career and it was a very fast race won by an easy winner, and he seems a better horse now, so I’m going to put him on top, albeit with little conviction. A slight drop in class and a clean trip might be all #3 GALERIO (3-1) needs, as he was in good form before being blocked and stymied last time, though he was also never close to the winner in that trio of 2nd-place finishes.Pk5 A horses: 4,3What you see is what you get from #1 JUNIOR SENATOR (5-2), who is 0-for-5 and has basically run the same race every time, so there’s no reason to think he’ll improve here, but that also doesn’t make him impossible with any of those runs either. I don’t know what to make of #2 Go Lover (12-1), who had some trouble last time but didn’t run an inch and now tries dirt, but if you want to spread a bit deeper he’s not without hope, especially if he can reproduce that turf 3rd from two-back. As for #6 Snidely (7-2), he looks off-form and has finished behind several here, and would be a huge underlay at this ML price, while Penn National invader #10 Goodluckchuck (10-1) has upside off just two starts, but also seems to slow to make a real dent.Pk5 B horses: 1Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:45 ET) – 3up 12.5k N2L at 1-mileWe’ve got one of those races where everyone looks the same on paper, which makes things difficult to narrow down, but with the way I’ve got the tickets constructed I can spread here, which seems like the right play, so here goes. The drop in class should makes #2 VAN CORTLANDT (5-2) a player, as he’s been facing better on turf; #4 SOONER BETTER (6-1) has really picked up his game in his last two and will be rolling through the lane; #9 UNCONTAINABLE (10-1) looked good winning in fast time off the break last time and will offer value again; and #5 I DECLARE WAR (12-1) has been doing the turf thing but should trip out nicely just off what looks like an honest pace.Pk5 A horses: 2,4,9,5The trio of #7 GET LIKE ME (8-1), #8 LEADVILLE (4-1), and #1 IRON ALEX (7-2) have prior form that can win this, and the former has been in solid form on dirt and turf, while ‘Lead drops in class, and the latter stretches out and drops, so while none are the most likely winner, they deserve a spot on the B-line, in case they wake up.Pk5 B horses: 7,8,1Leg 5: Gulfstream Park West R8 (4:54 ET) – 3up 8k claimer at 1 1/16 miles (turf)You could do worse than singling #6 BOW TIE AFFAIR (9-5), who just beat 12.5ks for fun and is by far the best here, so if you’re on a budget there’s something to be said for having an anchor on the end, which will allow for more coverage early, and you’ll also be able to hedge if need be. However, I’ll also use #9 COULD BE (6-1), since he has a lot more tactical speed than the favorite and won’t have to duel on the lead like last time, when he tired and was a distant 3rd to ‘Affair, as the race flow looks a bit kinder today.Pk5 A horses: 6,9The top pair look a cut above, so I’ll go it alone, though if you’re looking for some other ideas, then #4 Unlockthepotential (9-2), #2 The Dow (12-1), and #8 Animal Trick (6-1) aren’t without hope if they deliver their best.Pk5 B horses: NONEThe Tickets:Main Ticket: 3,2,1,5,10 with 3 with 4,3 with 2,4,9,5 with 6,9 = $80Leg 1 B Backup: 6,7,8 with 3 with 4,3 with 2,4,9,5 with 6,9 = $48Leg 3 B Backup: 3,2,1,5,10 with 3 with 1 with 2,4,9,5 with 6,9 = $40Leg 4 B Backup: 3,2,1,5,10 with 3 with 4,3 with 7,8,1 with 6,9 = $60

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11.14.2019:

Eclipse Award Thoughts After the Breeders' Cup

Now that the Breeders’ Cup has come and gone, many racing fans are looking ahead and contemplating which horses stand a good chance to be honored with a 2019 Eclipse Award.This is the 49th year of the Eclipse Awards. Voting closes on Dec. 31. The 2019 recipients will be announced at Gulfstream Park early next year on Jan. 23.There still is some important racing to be conducted during the remainder of 2019, which could conceivably impact 2019 Eclipse Award voting. This is how I see the Eclipse Award situation at this time in various equine categories, including Horse of the Year.2-YEAR-OLD MALE: This is up for grabs. Storm the Court certainly is a contender after winning the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, though he did so in a 45-1 upset. Tiz the Law, undefeated in two starts and a four-length winner of the Grade I Champagne Stakes, might well snag this award if he wins the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30, a race in which he no doubt will be the favorite.2-YEAR-OLD FILLY: British Idiom, undefeated in three starts, appears to have this award locked up following her win in the Grade I BC Juvenile Fillies. She also won the Grade I Alcibiades.3-YEAR-OLD MALE: It appears this one is coming down to either Maximum Security or Code of Honor. Code of Honor could have pretty much wrapped it up if he had won, or at least hit the board, in the Grade I BC Classic. Code of Honor won the Grade I Travers Stakes and Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup (via the disqualification of Vino Rosso). Code of Honor defeated older horses in the Gold Cup, but wound up seventh vs. his elders in the BC Classic.Daily Racing Form’s David Grening reported that trainer Jason Servis said Maximum Security is going to run against older foes in Aqueduct’s Grade I Cigar Mile on Dec. 7. It seems to me that this award quite likely will go to Maximum Security if he wins the Cigar Mile to go along with his Grade I victories in the Florida Derby and Haskell Invitational. Maximum Security also did finish first in the Grade I Kentucky Derby, though he was disqualified and placed 17th for causing interference. Maximum Security most recently won Belmont Park’s Grade III Bold Ruler Handicap against older horses.3-YEAR-OLD FILLY: It looks like there are three top candidates -- Covfefe, Guarana and Serengeti Empress. Covfefe captured the Grade I Test Stakes and Grade I BC Filly & Mare Sprint. Guarana won the Grade I Acorn Stakes and Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks. Serengeti Empress won the Grade I Kentucky Oaks and also finished third against older rivals in the Grade I BC Distaff. Right now, I’d say maybe Covfefe will get this award. But I honestly think it’s possible it will go to any one of these three.OLDER DIRT MALE: Vino Rosso almost certainly clinched this award when he won the Grade I BC Classic with authority by 4 1/4 lengths. He also won the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita, plus finished first but was disqualified and placed second in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup.OLDER DIRT FEMALE: Even though Midnight Bisou ran second to Blue Prize in the Grade I BC Distaff, I believe Midnight Bisou is a slam-dunk to get the award in this category. This was Midnight Bisou’s only 2019 loss. And even though she did not win the BC Distaff, Midnight Bisou acquitted herself well in defeat. She won all seven of her other 2019 starts, including Grade I triumphs in the Apple Blossom Handicap, Ogden Phipps Stakes and Personal Ensign Stakes.MALE SPRINTER: Mitole undoubtedly will get this award following his stellar 2019 campaign in which he won six of seven starts, capped by a victory in the Grade I BC Sprint. He posted four Grade I wins during the year. In addition to the BC Sprint, he took the Grade I Churchill Downs Stakes, Grade I Met Mile and Grade I Forego Stakes.FEMALE SPRINTER: The aforementioned Covfefe is odds-on in this category.MALE TURF: Bricks and Mortar also is odds-on to be voted champion in this category. He won all six of his 2019 starts. Racing from Jan. 26 to Nov. 2, he registered five Grade I victories, all in a different state (Florida, Kentucky, New York, Illinois and California).Bricks and Mortar won the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park in January, Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs in May, Grade I Manhattan Stakes at Belmont in June, Grade I Arlington Million at Arlington Park in August and Grade I BC Turf at Santa Anita in November.FEMALE TURF: I see Sistercharlie as the favorite even though she finished third in the Grade I BC Filly & Mare Turf. Sistercharlie did win three Grade I races during the year (Diana Stakes, Beverly D. and Flower Bowl). Uni also figures to get plenty of support from voters due to having won a pair of Grade I races this year (First Lady, BC Mile). It appears to me that Sistercharlie and Uni are the two main contenders in this category.HORSE OF THE YEAR: Will it be Bricks and Mortar or Mitole?“Both would be deserving winners,” Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman wrote.I agree with that. Nevertheless, I see Bricks and Mortar as an overwhelming favorite to get the most coveted of all equine Eclipse Awards.“But while Bricks and Mortar is the acknowledged favorite, a deeper dive into their campaigns might find this choice should be closer than it first appears,” Privman wrote.Privman noted that “an argument could be made that the level of competition Mitole ran against was superior to what Bricks and Mortar beat.”Mitole not only “beat a top-class field” in the BC Sprint, he most notably “won a Met Mile whose next across the finish line were McKinzie, one of the best older runners in the nation and a top-class miler, and Thunder Snow, who was coming off his second straight win in the Dubai World Cup.”Privman wrote that “Bricks and Mortar for much of the year faced a group of older North American-based turf horses who were not considered world-class talents.”On the plus side for Bricks and Mortar, he “never lost a race, won more Grade I’s than Mitole, and ran longer distances, an aspect visitors usually prefer,” Privman added.In the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of the year following the Breeders’ Cup, Bricks and Mortar ranked No. 1 and received 42 first-place votes. Mitole, who was No. 2, garnered just two first-place votes. No other Thoroughbred received a single first-place vote.Privman characterized the 42-2 tally between Bricks and Mortar and Mitole as “a shockingly lopsided margin.”But even though Mitole received only two first-place votes in the final poll on Nov. 4, it was two more first-place votes than he received in the NTRA poll of Oct. 28 leading into the Breeders’ Cup when he got none.In the Oct. 28 poll, No. 1 Bricks and Mortar received 27 first-place votes, followed by No. 2 Midnight Bisou’s 11 and No. 3 Sistercharlie’s single first-place vote.Bricks and Mortar then built on his support of 27 first-place votes on Oct. 28 by increasing the total to 42 in the final NTRA poll on Nov. 4. When both Midnight Bisou and Sistercharlie lost at the Breeders’ Cup, they also lost out in the final Nov. 4 poll in terms of first-place votes when they each got none.While Mitole did win at the Breeders’ Cup, he simply was unable to attract much in the way of first-place support from the voters in the final NTRA poll.If the Eclipse Award voters do decide to go for Mitole as Horse of the Year, would I be upset? Nope. But I will be casting my Horse of the Year vote for Bricks and Mortar. And I will be shocked if he does not receive the Horse of the Year trophy as a reward for his unblemished 2019 campaign that included five Grade I victories.Below is the Top 10 in the Oct. 28 NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll just prior to the Breeders’ Cup, followed by the Top 10 in the final NTRA poll of 2019 on Nov. 4 after the Nov. 1-2 Breeders’ Cup held at Santa Anita.The Top 10 in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll on Oct. 28:Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)1. 378 Bricks and Mortar (27)2. 348 Midnight Bisou (11)3. 283 Sistercharlie (1)4. 263 Mitole5. 191 McKinzie6. 168 Code of Honor7. 126 Imperial Hint8. 91 Omaha Beach9. 85 Vino Rosso10. 71 Catalina CruiserThe final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of 2019 on Nov. 4:Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)1. 438 Bricks and Mortar (42)2. 388 Mitole (2)3. 332 Vino Rosso4. 297 Midnight Bisou5. 157 McKinzie5. 157 Sistercharlie7. 151 Uni8. 109 Covfefe9. 102 Blue Prize10. 90 Maximum Security

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11.12.2019:

Harness Highlights: Huston Calls it a Career at The Meadows

To put Roger Huston’s race-calling career in perspective, it would take 40 years of calling 10 races per day, five days a week, to reach 100,000. But as the decades passed, it became increasingly clear that the numbers would need drastic reconfiguring. Huston was inseparable from the announcer’s booth and estimates having called more than 188,000 harness races when he announced his retirement this month after a 44-year stint at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania. The “Voice” began his career in 1960 and worked at Lebanon Raceway in Ohio, the Red Mile in Kentucky, Pompano Park in Florida, to name a few venues, before he took up residency at The Meadows, some 25 miles west of Pittsburgh. In all, he has called races at 144 tracks in 20 countries. “Roger has been a mainstay and a voice not just of The Meadows but all of harness racing for over 50 years,” said Mark Loewe, vice president of racing at The Meadows. “His dedication to the sport of harness racing is unparalleled and his voice will be missed by many.” Huston, 77, will continue his Hall of Fame career at the annual fall meeting at the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio, where he began calling the third jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown in 1968.  “I am not retiring, just cutting back on the day-to-day announcing,” Huston said. Huston called Breeders Crown races three times at the Meadows in the 1980s, including the 1984 classic when locally-based Dragon’s Lair upset Nihilator, the first Standardbred to earn $3 million. He was behind the mic for four decades of the Adios Pace and surely can recount Barberry Spur’s 1986 victory for local trainer-driver Dick Stillings, Hall of Fame driver John Campbell’s four-year winning streak in the early 1990s and 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked’s Adios win four years earlier. Huston was there for Dave Palone’s historic run to becoming the winningest driver of all-time, a fact not lost on Palone. When Palone guided Windsong Leo to victory in the $20,000 Roger Huston Farewell race November 2, he raised the lines and looked up at the announcer’s booth as he crossed the wire as a tribute to Huston. “He’s been there for all of my milestones,” Palone told harnessracing.com. “It won’t be the same here without him. He’s going to be missed, not just announcing but in the backstretch community here at The Meadows. He’s like a member of everyone’s family.”

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11.11.2019:

Monday, November 11: Mohawk Park Late Pick 4 Analysis

Woodbine Mohawk Park starts the week with a 10-race card. The 0.20 Late Pick 4 begins in Race 7 and will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 72-Charlie Is A Joker (9/2)-Made a rare break at FlmD and will overlook the miscue. Fits well at this class and could pull off a mild upset in a race without a real standout.4-Oh So Pine (3-1)-Would beat this field no problem on his best days. Still should be in the hunt at this level but best days were last year.5-Setanta (4-1)-Wasn't Filion's choice (#2) but still can grind it out from a good post against this field.8-Irish Thunder (10-1)-Probably needs a few breaks to win. Jamieson could leave and if finds a close-up seat he could be in the hunt at the wire.Race 83-Stolen Art (5-1)-Makes third start for small barn with a high batting average. Last was better and could trip out from here.5-Allstar Seelster (9/5)-Since being claimed by Auciello has booked three wins and a second-place finish against this kind. No reason to think this won't be another big effort.Race 92-Dream Together (2-1)-Beat this class in back-to-back tries in October and then faced Breeder Crown mares. Looks to be the spot to continue winning ways.3-Free Willy Hanover (8-1)-Honest horse who fits here, will need the right trip for top honors and Drury could work a favorable journey.Race 102-Rub Ofthe Green N (8-1)-8-year old has been popular at the claiming box and makes second start for the Budd barn. Faded after a tough trip in an extra distance race, looking for better at a decent price.3-Sports Authority (12-1)-Makes second start for a small barn that is rolling, and this is the first race at Wbsb. Appears to have the speed to stay in the mix and Jamieson could put in play early.6-Midway Island (5/2)-Drops to a spot to shine and might be bet down. Still looking for first Wbsb win (0-7), should be a player but others could have a say.8-Leafs And Wings (10-1)-Comes off a sharp effort at Lon and knows how to win here also. This is another price shot with a chance to take a picture.0.20 Late Pick 4 Race 7) 2,4,5,8 Race 8) 3,5 Race 9) 2,3 Race 10) 2,3,6,8Total Ticket Cost) $12.80 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.11.2019:

Juvenile Calendar Just Warming Up

I dig the 2-year-old stakes late in the season, post-Breeders’ Cup. We put so many eggs into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile basket, but in reality most years that accounts for only 8-12 contenders in the freshman class. The feel in recent years is that top juveniles aren’t being thrust into action as early as the summer boutique meets as once predicated.The November-December calendar leaves plenty of juvenile stakes action still in 2019 before we welcome the 3-year-olds of 2020. Every weekend between now and the end of the calendar year has a race for the 2-year-old colts that I’ll be watching. Here’s the rundown:Nov. 16 Grade 3 Bob Hope at Del MarBob Baffert has won this race 3 of the last 4 years and was runner-up in the other bid. It’s not always an A-lister, but usually gives us something toward the early season SoCal stakes like Mucho Gusto a year ago; and Mastery in 2016 sure had the meteoric potential before sidelined. The November 16 schedule also includes the James F. Lewis at Laurel Park.Nov. 23 Jean Lafitte at Delta DownsSince the lucrative Delta Downs Jackpot went away after 2016, the mid-south has had some void in the juvenile ranks. The Jean Lafitte is a $100,000 opportunity over a 2-turn mile to see what Steve Asmussen, Tom Amoss, Joe Sharp and the like may have toward Fair Grounds’ Lecomte and beyond.Nov. 30 Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill DownsWith Tiz the Law perhaps the most promising member of this freshman class, the 1-1/16 miles Kentucky Jockey Club could have championship implications this year. It’s been since Super Saver in 2009-’10 that the Derby winner played a home game in this event, but it’s always attention-worthy.Nov. 30 Smooth Air at Gulfstream ParkOpening weekend of the Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park offers a couple of 2-year-old stakes at various distances, surfaces and genders. But it’s the Smooth Air for the colts at a 1-turn mile that interests the trail most. It’s a prelim toward the Mucho Macho Man in January and the lucrative Xpressbet Florida Derby series. This weekend’s action also includes the Dec. 1 Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille at Del Mar on turf.Dec. 7 Grade 2 Los Alamitos FuturityThis is the big one left for the year on the west coast. The Santa Anita Derby series’ top contender or two often emerges here. Baffert has won the last 5 with Dortmund, Mor Spirit, Mastery, McKinzie and Improbable. Not a bad lineup.Dec. 7 Grade 2 Remsen at AqueductA Super Saturday for the juveniles continues with New York’s top 2-year-old route offering of the season. The Champagne and Hopeful are around 1 turn. The 1-1/8 miles Remsen is our first regional sense for distance. Its race winner often is over-inflated in the public eye, but we’re still glued to watching. It’s been a long time since Thunder Gulch (1994-’95) sweeping the Remsen and Derby. The December 7 action also includes the Gold Rush at Golden Gate Fields and the Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel ParkDec. 15 Springboard Mile at Remington ParkThe south’s richest 2-year-old test at $400,000 sets the table for Oaklawn’s Arkansas Derby series, influences the Louisiana Derby trail and has become a more popular stop for California, Kentucky and New York outfits. Recent history tells us to keep an eye not necessarily on the winner, but those showing distance potential underneath.Dec. 21 Sugar Bowl at Fair GroundsWhile only 6 furlongs and for $75,000, the Sugar Bowl can serve as a pseudo non-winners of 2 allowance for autumn maiden breakers looking for something developmental towards the Louisiana Derby series. Jinks Fires has gotten some mileage out of this race with the likes of Archarcharch and Gray Attempt last year with transfer success to Oaklawn. And a good sprinter can emerge here like Hog Creek Hustle a year ago.Dec. 28 Heft Stakes at Laurel ParkLaurel Park gets last call on the 2-year-old division in the final weekend of 2019. This $100,000 event at 7 furlongs rose its profile last year. Alwaysmining began his march toward a Preakness berth in this race when holding off Win Win Win, who would make a name for himself at Tampa on the trail and wind up in the middle jewel as well.

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11.10.2019:

Sunday, Novemeber 10: Rosecroft Raceway-Potomac Pace Analysis

Tonight, the fourth annual Potomac Pace Invitational is the headliner of a 13-race card at Rosecroft Raceway. The $100,000 stake features 2018 Horse of the Year McWicked as well as American History and Dorsoduro Hanover. The eight-horse field contains a total of four millionaires and there is also a $10,000 bonus up for grabs. If the track record of 1:47.3 set by Keystone Velocity in the 2017 Pace is broken the new record holder pockets and extra $10,000.Xpressbet account holders who register will receive a $5 bonus for every $50 win or place bet made on the Rosecroft card. Show betting is excluded but there is no limit on how many $5 bonuses you can receive!Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 9-Potomac Pace Invitational-Purse $100,0001-Dealt A Winner (10-1)-Does fine work on the 5/8's but issue is this post might not be an advantage. Probably won't be able to leave a fast as a few others. That spells trouble but does have Dave Miller between the pipes.2-American History (3-1)-Most likely will blast out just like in the BC Open Pace and get the top or the two-hole. This is the first start at Rosecroft and if takes to the surface should be a major player.3-Dorsoduro Hanover (4-1)-Runner-up to #2 in last, did a lot of work to grab the lead into 53.3 half and ended up fading down the lane. May duck in behind #2 and take a two-hole trip. Looks dangerous and the trip could be the difference.4-Endeavor (12-1)-Hoosier Park invader usually has a problem stepping up to face top company. Maybe Tetrick works a great trip and hits the bottom of the Superfecta.5-This Is The Plan (5-1)-The start of this race should be something to see. If Burke trainee brings his "A" game, he could be the fastest off the gate. Has had excuses in last couple, but best to not overlook now and could take a picture at a square price.6-Courtly Choice (6-1)-Hasn't been in top form but as a 4-year old winner of >$1.3 million there is no need to apologize for being here. But would need a form reversible to be a main player tonight.7-McWicked (5/2)-One of my all-time favorites gets a tough post draw but has been known to grind out big wins. The pace should be very quick and that could put the champ in play down the lane.8-Slick Tony (15-1)-Local favorite has a four-race win streak and has won four of five at RcR. That's all good but from this post, against this field, the deck is stacked against Tony.My play is to use #5-This Is The Plan up and down in exactas with #2, #3 and #7. I would also consider betting #5 to win if he is overlooked at the windows.Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.10.2019:

Sunday, November 10: Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in boldface.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: B-Use: 5-Octopus; 6-Mahi Mahi; 7-Nonno’s PolarisForecast: Mahi Mahi was as flat as a pancake in his local debut at Santa Anita, failing to pick up the bridle at any stage and winding up a non-threatening fourth, beaten 10 lengths, as the even money choice in a maiden $50,000 affair last month. A strong runner-up in a Bay Area maiden $25,000 event two runs back charts well here, so we’ll give the J. Wong-trained colt a chance to make amends under the assumption that he’ll handle the Del Mar main track a lot better than he did the one in Arcadia. Nonno’s Polaris, beaten a head in his debut with a competitive speed figure vs. softer, moves up a notch while adding blinkers and landing the favorable outside draw. If he produces a forward move as expected, the H. Palma-trained col will be right there again. Octopus drops to his lowest level ever for P. Eurton and is the likely choice and one to beat. A repeat of his race before last – a decent third place effort vs. straight maidens at Los Alamitos – probably will beat this field if repeated. This race requires a spread, for sure, so we’ll go three-deep in our rolling exotics and then press a bit keying Mahi Mahi on top.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Empress of Lov; 3-Princess DorianForecast: This extended claiming sprint for fillies and mares should boil down to two main contenders. Princess Dorian just won for $10,000 and today shows up in a bottom-rung $8,000 affair, not a healthy sign, but if she has at least one good one left she can score again. The Andrew Lerner-trained mare is winless in five prior starts over the Del Mar main track, but those outings came against much tougher foes. Empress of Lov seeks her fourth straight win but her last two scores came at Los Alamitos, and form from there doesn’t always translate to Del Mar’s deeper strip. However, she’s always been genuine and versatile and can win on the front end or from off the pace. We’ll give a very slight edge on top to Princess Dorian but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: B+Use: 1-Da Kine; 3-Ghost StreetForecast: Ghost Street is lightly raced with plenty of improvement in him, and the Ghostzapper gelding gets ideal conditions to step forward in a big way in this nine-furlong turf affair for older maidens. A close fifth with trouble in his most recent outing in a hot pace miler, he’ll thoroughly enjoy the softer splits that he’ll likely face today, and with his kind of tactical speed the P. Gallagher-trained four-year-old should have every chance to earned his diploma at a nice price. Da Kine is worth a ticket or two as a saver or back-up in your rolling exotics. The Will Take Charge colt continues to train sharply at San Luis Rey Downs for high-percentage trainer R. Baltas and finally gets a chance to show his stuff over a distance of ground (and grass). From the rail there’s a likelihood that he’ll inherit the role as the controlling speed, and if not respected could take the field a very long way.RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: C+Use: 4-Mike Operator; 5-Lord Adare; 6-Silver FuryForecast: Lord Adare, a first-time blinker play, is certain to attract plenty of play as he plummets from straight maiden company all the way down to the maiden $20,000 level for the always dangerous Hess-Desormeaux team. He has back numbers that are more than good enough to beat this field, and a repeat of his race-before-last likely will get the job done. But with this pattern, you can’t fully trust him, so we’ll be backing him up with two others in our rolling exotics. Silver Fury is an 11-race maiden and perhaps not one to trust, but this is first start in a day short of one year and he could be a better type this time around for B. Heap, who has solid stats with layoff runners. The son of Old Fashioned should be running on late, a style that is often promoted by the local main track, and at 20-1 on the morning line he offers excellent long shot value. Mike Operator, in the money in his last three, has the route-to-sprint angle that we like, and his race over this track in August – a good runner-up performance at this level – charts very well in this modest event.RACE 5: Post 2:33 PT. Grade: BUse: 5-Red Livy; 7-Miss Hot LegsForecast: Miss Hot Legs is overdue for another win and shouldn’t have any excuses from her cozy outside draw in this abbreviated turf sprint for first-level allowance fillies and mares. Second after a poor start in a similar grass dash at Santa Anita last month, the daughter of Verrazano projects to secure a nice stalking spot and then have every chance to seal the deal from the quarter pole home. Red Livy is a sharp Bay Area invader with three straight wins at Golden Gate Fields. She’s fast on numbers and has moved all the way up the ladder since being claimed here during the summer meeting for a paltry $8,000. The B. McLean-trained mare is winless in five career starts over the Del Mar turf course but she’s clearly better now than she’s ever been. We’ll give Miss Hot Legs the edge on top but include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 6: Post 3:03 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Prayer Warrior; 4-Tiger StrikeForecast: Tiger Strike was simply second best in a similar allowance optional claiming sprint for state-bred horses at Sant a Anita last month, but it was just his third career start and the son of Smiling Tiger has plenty of room for further improvement. The C. Dollase-trained gelding should be within striking range throughout and rates a slight edge in a competitive dash that requires a spread in rolling exotic play. Prayer Warrior, versatile, genuine, and consistent, returns to dirt, probably his preferred surface. The J. Metz-trained son of Ministers Wild Cat has a right to return to winning form from a second flight, stalking position. The winner should be one of these t wo, so we’ll double the race in our rolling exotics and then press with Tiger Strike on top.RACE 7: Post 3:33 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Murad Khan; 4-Wound TightForecast: Wound Tight earned a career top speed figure when nosed out in a similar first-level allowance turf miler at Santa Anita last month and nothing more will be needed for the Coil gelding to return to winning form today. Regular rider R. Bejarano should have him in an ideal pace-stalking position every step of the way. Murad Khan was visually quite impressive beating a restricted $32,000 claiming field in August over this course and distance and looks live on the one-level raise for new trainer J. Sadler. If he can turn in two alike the French-bred gelding will be heard from in the final furlong. This race should come down to these two and both are “must uses” in rolling exotic play. We’ll have a few extra tickets keying Wound Tight on top.RACE 8: Post 4:03 PT. Grade: XSingle: 4-LeucotheaForecast: Leucothea, a 14-length winner over high priced maiden claimers here in August and most recently very impressive dominating her outclassed rivals in the Anoakia Stakes by more than eight lengths at Santa Anita, seems well-spotted for another runaway score in this year’s edition of the Desi Arnaz Stakes for juvenile fillies. However, she’ll be a very short price – deservedly so – and won’t offer any real wagering value. You can use her a rolling exotic single or simply pass the race.RACE 9: Post 4:33 PT. Grade: B+Use: 2-Much More Halo; 8-Frasard; 11-Royal ActForecast: This maiden turf event miler for juveniles came up usually strong and it will take a pretty good colt to win it. Frasard makes his U.S. debut for L. Powell (good stats with European imports) and the English-bred colt brings with him form that should be good enough to beat this field. Second vs. winners in his last pair, most recently when 13 lengths clear of the rest in a 10-runner field, he’ll race with blinkers following a nice series of local workouts that should have him primed and ready for a winning effort in his first outing since early July. Royal Act is a very well-regarded son of American Pharoah in the P. Eurton barn. His works have been excellent, but he had the misfortune of drawing the extreme outside 11 post position, so his task won’t be easy. Make no mistake, though, this colt can run, and you have to use him somewhere. Much More Halo closed a gap but too late in a turf sprint at Santa Anita while needing the experience and seems certain to improve on the stretch-out for B. Baffert. The barn hits at 24% with second timers and this son of More Than Ready could easily take a giant step forward today.

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11.9.2019:

Novemeber 9-Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis

It's opening night of the fall/winter meet at Cal Expo and there are 12 races scheduled to roll. The 0.20 Pick 4 begins in Race 8. That sequence has a $25,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout, and it will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 82-Miss Sassy Pants (6-1)-Roland's choice over #3 makes first career start at CalX. Taking a stab this barn will have her ready to go and Roland can work a favorable journey.5-Magnifique (3-1)-8-year-old is no stranger to Sacramento and has picked up checks at Haw and HoP this summer and fall. Could be more race ready than others as last outing was <3 weeks ago, should be a player.6-Peekaboo Tattoo (5/2)-Kennedy's choice over #8 has won 6 of 21 here and could take a picture in local debut.Race 95-Lookslikewemadeit (4-1)-Edmonton invader makes 3rd start on Lasix and has a pilot who has won 21% of his drives this year. Last pari-mutuel start was on 10/27 which is the most recent in the field and has won here in the past.6-Relentless Dancer (5-1)-Drew off by 7-lengths in a sharp qualifier. Kennedy's choice over #5 hasn't raced here before but looks ready to contend in first start since 9-8.7-Duet (12-1)-Price shot is a fixture at CalX. Could be an interesting play as barn and driver know their way to the winner's circle.Race 102-Usgeneral WA Mann (5-1)-Comes off a nice qualifier and came the last half in 58.2, appears to have the best shot of beating #7.7-Al's Brief (2-1)-Morning line chalk had a down year in '19 but shows enough speed in past lines for this to be his race to lose. Fits well with this group, has been off since 10-17 but should be tough to beat if fires.Race 113-Sing Along (5/2)-Racing well in the claiming ranks at Aces, now makes 1st start at CalX. Using and hoping will go off above program odds.4-Marilyn (4-1)-Also comes from Aces and was facing easier company than #3. Does come off a decent qualifier on 11-2 and will respect connections.5-Dancingonthesand (9/5)-ML chalk looks the part, comes off a nice qualifier and has won 7 of 13 at CalX. Svendsen knows well and looks like a major player.6-Sweet One (15-1)-First start since 4-27 but comes off a decent qualifier. Looking for some pop in the Pick 4, knows way around Calx and will respect this Plano-Cisco combo.0.20 Pick 42,5,6/5,6,7/2,7/3,4,5,6Total Bet=$14.40Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.9.2019:

Jeff Siegel's Del Mar Analysis/Wagering Strategies for 11/09/19

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis & Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s, and the Pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the exact rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.The selections are available every racing day no later than 9 a.m. (PST). For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.Top selection indicated in bold-face.A=Highest degree of confidence.B=Solid Play.C=Least preferred, or pass.X=likely winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.*RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: CUse: 3-Potantico; 7-Via EgnatiaForecast: The Saturday opener has the look of a chaotic affair, as the favorites seem a bit suspect on paper and probably shouldn’t be trusted. Via Enatia is a first-time gelding returning to the main track with no history of success on dirt, yet he’s the 2-1 favorite by default based purely on speed figures. Certainly, he could win because he’s a need-the-lead type in a race that doesn’t appear to have too much other zip. Potantico was a sharp maiden winner over this track and distance two runs back at 34-1 but then reverted to his previous form when far back and never a threat vs. first-level allowance company. He’s not as fast on numbers as Via Egnatia but we know he can handle the track and at Del Mar sometimes that’s half the battle. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics but not with any degree of confidence, and if you’d prefer to spread the race or pass it altogether that’s fine, too.**RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: B+Single: 7-Gold ArrowForecast: Gold Arrow trained well for her comeback but then spun her wheels over the deep Santa Anita main track and finished far back in a maiden affair last month. She did show enough last winter to indicate she has enough ability to win a race like this, and with the switch to turf the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro should be given another chance to display her best form. With F. Prat under suspension, D. Van Dyke takes over and will likely have this N. Drysdale-trained 4-year-old on or near the lead throughout. At 5/2 on the morning line she’s a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.**RACE 3: Post 1:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 2-Papa Turf; 3-Fast CottonForecast: This race boils down to two main contenders, with slight preference on top to Fast Cotton. Up a notch on the class ladder after a sharp score vs. $10,000 foes at Santa Anita last month, the D. O’Neill-trained gelding is comfortably drawn just outside his chief rival and can be on the pace or just off it depending upon the race flow.. A prior winner over the Del Mar main track and retaining A. Delgadillo, the veteran son of High Cotton seems well-placed for a repeat score. Papa Turf woke up and ran his best race in years when crushing $10,000 foes by almost 13 lengths while earning a powerful speed figure last time out. He’s protected today under the starter’s allowance conditions of the race – a good sign – and if the J. Mullins-trained gelding can turn in two alike he’ll be tough right back. Both should be included in rolling exotic play, with Fast Cotton, the slightly more trustworthy of the two, getting top billing.**RACE 4: Post 2:00 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Savvy Gal; 6-GuittyForecast: Guitty broke her maiden in her U.S debut over this course and distance in early September and a similar effort today will make her tough to beat right back in this first-level allowance grass miler for juvenile fillies. She packs a powerful late kick and in a race that should have a normal to fast early pace the French-bred filly seems capable of producing the last run once again. Savvy Girl lands the good rail and will take them as far as she can on the front end. A respectable fourth in the Surfer Girl Stakes last month at Santa Anita, the daughter of Street Sense graduated over this course in her debut, switches to R. Bejarano, and has three recent easy workouts at San Luis Rey Downs to tick her over. Both should be included in rolling exotic play; we’ll have extra tickets keying Guitty on top.**RACE 5: Post 2:30 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Jeffnjohn’sthundr; 5-Absolute Unit; 6-AuthenticForecast: Absolute Unit has done everything like a quality colt for P. Eurton and though his work tab doesn’t show any fancy fast drills, the son of Will Take Charge is a beautiful mover with plenty of speed and will get a chance to show it when it matters in the afternoon. The barn doesn’t have a great record with debut winners, but this colt may prove the exception to the rule. Authentic has shown enough in the a.m. for B. Baffert to expect a good effort in his debut and due to his connections and the two recent bullet gate works the son of Into Mischief is certain to get plenty play on the tote. We doubt he’s any kind of world beater, but he should be competitive, so we’ll toss him in. Jeffnjohn’sthundr has the benefit of a prior run, having finished an okay third in his debut in a strong race at Santa Anita. The son of Union Rags has every right to produce a significant forward move with that bit of experience behind him, so we’ll include him on a ticket or two in the rolling exotics.RACE 6: Post 3:00 PT. Grade: B-Use: 2-Overjoyed; 3-Beautiful Thunder; 9-LookingtogetevenForecast: Lookingtogeteven flashed plenty of promise in her debut when rallying from far back into the teeth of a modest pace to finish third, but then missed the entire Santa Anita fall meeting (and went a month without a workout) due to some undisclosed physical ailment. She’s had two recent moderate drills, so we can’t be sure how cranked up she is, but if the J. Cassidy-trained daughter of Ghostzapper returns as well as she left she’ll be tough to contain. Overjoyed ran reasonably well when debuting in a turf stakes here during the summer meeting and then failed to threaten when apparently uncomfortable over the Santa Anita main track last month. Back on grass today, the N. Drysdale-trained filly should be heard from in the final furlong. Beautiful Thunder has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch out pattern for B. Koriner and may be quick enough to be the controlling speed from her favorable inside draw. On pedigree she should enjoy the added distance and seems likely to produce a forward move in the speed figure department. We’ll use all three in our rolling exotics while preferring Lookingtogeteven slightly on top.**RACE 7: Post 3:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 2-Principe Carlo; 3-Union Ride; 6-PosterizeForecast: Principe Carlo missed by a neck as the favorite in a recent $40,000 claiming sprint but ran well enough to expect a similar effort despite the slight raise in class. He was a voided claim two runs back in a dominating victory over this main track, so if he has another good one in him the M. Polanco-trained colt should be in the battle once again. Union Ride just edged ‘Carlo by a head in that common race at Santa Anita Oct. 18 and must be given a good look right back. Though fourth in his only previous outing over the Del Mar main track, the H. Palma-trained gelding actually earned a career top speed figure in that event, one that would be good enough to beat this field. Posterize, the third head on the wire in the same race that the other two main contenders exit, is drawn nicely and should be part of the pace throughout. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics – they’re very tough to separate – with a slight preference on top to Principe Carlo.**RACE 8: Post 4:00 PT. Grade: C+Use: 1-Proud Pedro; 3-Ocean Fury; 5-Bob and JackieForecast: There are several question marks surrounding the main contenders in this listed grass stakes for 3-year-olds, so tread lightly. Bob and Jackie, away since winning the Eddie Logan S. at Santa Anita last December and a successful over Omaha Beach when breaking his maiden over this course as a 2-year-old, returns for R. Baltas (a strong 24% with layoff runners) and will be dangerous if fit and ready. The work tab looks okay, not spectacular, so he’s a hard one to gauge, but certainly a “must use” in rolling exotic play. Ocean Fury is wheeled back in a week after finishing unplaced in the Twilight Derby-G2 at Santa Anita. This is a considerably easier spot, and the drop back to a mile won’t hurt, so the D. O’Neill-trained colt will be a major player if the short rest isn’t an issue. Proud Pedro, freshened since July, may find a mile a tad sharp for his liking, but on numbers he’s a fit and the works indicate he’sbe ready for a good effort. Look for this L. Powell-trained French-bred to be running on late.**RACE 9: Post 4:30 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Defense Wins; 5-Uncaptured HeroForecast: The finale in an expensive maiden claiming sprint for juveniles that didn’t come up particularly strong. Defense Wins, third in the Del Mar Futurity-G1 three runs back as a maiden but non-competitive in his last pair, drops to a realistic spot and seems like the logical top pick. Based on speed figures and company lines, he’ll be hard to beat. Uncaptured Hero flashed good speed before weakening in the final furlong when finishing fourth in a maiden special weight affair at Los Alamitos in September. It was a decent race for that track and he has every right to step forward with that effort underneath him. The R. Baltas-trained could get brave if he can shake loose early and is worth including at least as a back-up or a saver.

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11.8.2019:

Friday, November 08: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

To start the weekend's harness action the Meadowlands has a 13-race card set to roll. The 0.50 Pick 4 will be my focus. That sequence has a $50,000 guaranteed pool and a 15% takeout.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 83-Brooklyn Lilacs (9/2)-3-year-old zipped home with a 54.2 last half for a nice win. Fits here too and now Dunn steers. The Jen B. barn is still rolling along, so can score again at a square price.4- Juxta Cowgirl (8-1)-Yonkers invader won't blush at this crew and should be a nice price. Callahan could put in play early and does have a 1:51.4 win at the Big M last year.7-Rockin The Boys A (7/2)-Will use this 6-year-old mare ahead of #8, a 3-year-old filly who is the 3-1 ML chalk. Should like the company and if can avoid being too far back early has a shot to win a competitive race.Race 93-Misslarose (15-1)-Don't know if post time odds will be 15-1 but she still could be a value. Likes the track and will toss last start from post 10. This is the spot to get a trip behind #6 and roll late.6-JL Cruz (3-1)-Will be out and winging and versus this group could wire the field. Will be using but not with the confidence to single even on the drop.7-Very Very Fast (9/2)-Barn has been cold but does get a positive driver change as McCarthy steers. Should be able to get a good seat and find some cover to challenge late. The pace should be quick so best to not overlook.Race 104-Glenferrie Bronte N (5-1)-Will toss last, expecting a quicker pace tonight. Pilot should have a better chance of staying in striking range from this post. Could surprise at a nice price.5-The Lady Sheriff (7/2)-Barn is 0-22 but Zeron will stick and last was a better effort. Needs to be closer to the pace and this is 2nd time Lasix. Gets some post relief and it could be time for a more aggressive steer.9-Rosy Outlook (3-1)-Using because D. Miller is back between the pipes. Last outing with Miller was an on the engine win and probably will try a similar script here.Race 111-Piercewave Hanover (6-1)-Doesn't race at the Big M often but has visited the winner's circle. Parked out from the 10-hole in last outing here but hung in and now the trainer hands the lines to Callahan. Looks to be worthy of a swing.5-Magic MVP (7/2)-Drops and starts from post 5 instead of post 9 and Callahan sticks. This will be the 2nd start for new barn and it could be go time.8-Lucky Sheila (3-1)-Has been competitive at this level although faltered down the lane in last. McCarthy takes a seat and can win from this post but needs the right trip.My Ticket Race 8) 3,4,7 Race 9) 3,6,7 Race 10) 4,5,9 Race 11) 1,5,8 Total Ticket Cost) $40.50 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.8.2019:

Friday, November 08: Del Mar Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.RACE 1: Post 12:30 PT. Grade: C+Use: 1-Summer Fire; 5-I Will NotForecast: We’ll be watching closely to see if the regular anti-inside bias of the Del Mar main track – which was so prevalent during the summer meeting – returns for this 15-day boutique season. Assuming it remains in effect, we’ll give I Will Not a slight edge on top over Summer Fair primarily because of the draw. The son of Square Eddie tries dirt for the first time while returning to a sprint and adding blinkers, so we’re expecting improvement by the D. O’Neill-trained juvenile colt. If he can run, this would be an ideal time to show it. Summer Fire had the misfortune of drawing the rail but the R. Hess-trained colt switches to F. Prat, shows a bullet workout since raced, and has enough early speed to gain a favorable position. In a race that might otherwise be best left alone, we’ll include both in our rolling exotics.RACE 2: Post 1:00 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Big Runnuer; 3-Wildman Jack; 7-General InterestForecast: Here’s a spread race, a first-level allowance turf sprint that has at least three main contenders among the seven entered. Wildman Jack is quite fast on speed figures and all three of his career outings have been excellent. Nosed out in a hot race in his most recent appearance at Santa Anita under similar conditions last month, the Goldencents gelding graduated over this course and distance during the summer meeting and can be expected to fire a similar shot with regular rider R. Bejarano staying aboard for D. O’Neill. Big Runnuer won easily in his debut last month at Santa Anita and while he probably didn’t have a whole lot behind him he did it stylishly while earning a better than par speed figure. We’ll see what he’s made of today. General Interest is the best of the closers, and if there’s a pace meltdown he’ll be heard from late. Toss him in as a saver or a back-up.RACE 3: Post 1:32 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Kenzou’s Rhythm; 5-BrimstonedForecast: Let’s try to get by using just two horses in the third race, a mid-grade claiming main track miler for older horses. In a race loaded with speed-types, Brimstone is intriguing at 5-1 on the morning line. The veteran gelding will get the patient ride he needs from regular pilot B. Blanc, and two of his four career victories were accomplished over this main track. His recent form is just so-so, but under these conditions the son of Unusual Heat seems likely to bounce back. Kenzou’s Rhythm was rusty and far back in his recent comeback in a starter’s allowance event but the J. Mullins-trained gelding certainly can do better and has several back numbers that would fit very well in this field. We’re going to assume he’s okay, otherwise, the barn would be running him considerably cheaper than $20,000.RACE 4: Post 2:03 PT. Grade: C+Use: 2-Golden Melodie; 6-It’s a Riddle; 7-ChieftessForecast: Maiden claiming $32,000 juvenile fillies sprint five and one-half furlongs in a fairly wide open affair that requires a spread. It’s a Riddle, overmatched in straight maiden state-bred company last time out, drops for the money run today and appears to have found her proper level. The R. Hess. Jr.-trained daughter of Merit Man finished a strong runner-up in a maiden $50,000 affair in her debut over this track and distance two runs back and a repeat of that effort today should be good enough to earn her a diploma. Chieftess, in the money in her last pair, has rising speed figures and with another forward move should be in the fray throughout. Golden Melodie adds blinkers for the first time, shortens up a furlong, and displayed sufficient early speed in her four prior runs to project expect that she’ll have a strong pace preference from the start. However, she has only one way to go from her two-hole post, and if the early races on today’s program suggest that track may be biased against inside runners her chances will diminish.RACE 5: Post 2:34 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Hootie; 2-Storm the Bastille; 8-VolubileForecast: Volubile makes his first start since being haltered for $50,000 by R. Hess, Jr. (strong 20% with this angle) and makes a major jockey switch to F. Prat. The son of More Than Ready broke his maiden over this turf course during the summer meeting and with only mild improvement looks capable of producing the last run. Storm the Bastille has speed figures that are rising with every outing and from where he’s drawn projects to enjoy an ideal ground-ground-saving trip. He remains protected in a sign of confidence by W. Spawr and may find himself in a good pace-stalking position in a race that isn’t likely to have fast early splits. Hootie got burned up pressing a 45 seconds half mile in a similar starter’s grass affair at Santa Anita last month and did very well to battle back through the lane and wind up third, missing by only a neck. He’s winless in five career starts over the local lawn – that’s a concern – but if the M. McCarthy-trained gelding is allowed to establish his own pace he may prove tough to catch. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with preference on top to Volubile.RACE 6: Post 3:04 PT. Grade: BUse: 1-Adorably Sweet; 4-Too Hot for Curlin; 7-Stormin RangerForecast: Too Hot for Curlin shortens from a series of grass route events to a dirt sprint and we suspect the change in trip and surface will bring our her best. The P. D’Amato-trained filly figures to settle early and then rally late, a running style that during the summer meeting proved quite effective. Adorably Sweet must overcome the dreaded rail in this abbreviated sprint for maiden state-bred fillies and mares but if the track appears to be playing fair – pay close attention to the early races – she should be a major contender. Off the board and vanned off when favored in her only prior start last December over this main track, the daughter of Richard’s Kid has trained nicely for her return, and it seems significant that she returns protected, not in a high price maiden claimer. Stormin Ranger represents stranger danger as a first-time starter from a capable barn with some decent drills at Los Alamitos on her resume. The daughter of U S Ranger won’t have to be a world beater to act with these, so we’ll include her on a few tickets in our rolling exotic play.RACE 7: Post 3:34 PT. Grade: B+Single: 3-Poster GirlForecast: Poster Girl earned a graded stakes-quality speed figure in the best race of her career when winning an optional claimer over a mile on grass in her most recent outing. Claimed out of that race for $62,500 by W. Spawr, the veteran English-bred mare sports a healthy work pattern since that early October score, and with strong previous form over the local lawn she appears capable of taking this raise in class to overnight stakes company in stride. T. Pereira, who knows her well, stays aboard and should have her in an ideal pace-stalking position, ready to pounce when called upon. At 3-1 on the morning line she’s a strong straight play and rolling exotic single.RACE 8: Post 4:04 PT. Grade: B-Use: 3-Tiz Toffee; 5-Road TestForecast: Tiz Toffee, never worse than second in four career outings over the Del Mar main track, should be the controlling speed in this starter’s allowance main track miler for fillies and mares and is reunited with A. Delgadillo, who was aboard the daughter of Sydney’s Candy when she last won three races back over this track and distance. A similar effort today should be good enough, so we’ll put her on top but also include Road Test in our rolling exotics. Better known for finishing second or third (17 times) rather that winning (four times), she goes for a small but capable outfit in her first off the $12,500 claim and could be a strong late threat if she can settle in the second flight behind the speed types. She’s run well at Del Mar in the past (a win and two seconds in five prior starts) and retains good bug boy J. Diaz, Jr., who has won on her in the past. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with preference on top to Tiz Toffee.

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11.7.2019:

Johnny D's 2019 Breeders’ Cup Recap

For two magnificent days, at the foot of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains under warm Southern California sunshine, Santa Anita Park played the perfect Breeders’ Cup host. That’s not surprising. I love Santa Anita. Spent 30 years there, even lived in a condo on Huntington Avenue directly across from the track. Will always call it my ‘home away from home,’ rich with history, beauty and memories. The place and people mean a great deal to me. For many reasons, it’s the perfect track to host Breeders’ Cup. And few could have argued with that…right up until the last 300 yards of Saturday’s finale. That’s when Mongolian Groom, last out winner of the Awesome Again Stakes over this very track, went wrong, was pulled up and later euthanized. Just writing about the incident develops a pit in the stomach. Because a horse died? Yes. But also, because extensive protective measures didn’t pitch a perfect game. No runs, no hits, one error. And that was one too many. Make no mistake, as long as horses run there will be injuries and deaths. At the track, on the farm and in the wild. This weekend, however, under the most intense scrutiny ever, the game, the track, the sport wanted and needed to jump clean. And they did…right up until the very last unfortunate hurdle. One could argue that a single incident can’t erase two days of magnificent racing. And that’s partly true. Sensational media coverage and unfair demands to close the track from politicians and radical animal rights activists mean that only part of the story is being told. Below is some of what else happened Friday and Saturday at Santa Anita, in a recap of the outstanding performances, triumphs and defeats overlooked by many. FridayRace 5 – Juvenile Turf Sprint In just the second edition of this race Four Wheel Drive, from the Wesley Ward barn, made all the running to win in style. Going in, he seemed the speed of the race and that proved to be a correct assumption. Two editions, two American speedsters as winners. An early trend? Perhaps. This race isn’t suited for the Euros at all as five furlongs around a bend usually is a speedy affair that they’re just not trained to win. Race 6 – Juvenile TurfDon’t know how I missed a Chad Brown turf winner. Guess I got caught looking too far east…Europe instead of New York. Americans dominated the race with Structor in first; Billy Batts, a local Peter Miller bomb, second; Gear Jockey, saddled by Rusty Arnold, third and Decorated Invader, one of trainer Christophe Clement’s hopes to crack his 0-36 BC slump, fourth. Best the Euros could do was Arizona, from the Aidan O’Brien outfit, fifth. Race 7 - Juvenile FilliesBritish Idiom validated her Alcibiades victory and moved her unbeaten string to three races with a win in the BC Juvenile Fillies. This could be the beginning of one of those dominant careers. She’s got a nice combination of speed and stamina. Donna Veloce made a race of it and appeared for a moment as if she just might successfully make that grand leap from first-out maiden sprint victor to Grade 1 BC route race queen. In the end she just couldn’t contain the more experienced ‘Idiom. ‘Veloce’s certainly got a bright future. Bob Baffert’s Bast finished third, less than two lengths back in a good try. Race 8 – Juvenile Fillies TurfSharing parlayed a Selima triumph at Laurel into a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies score. She’s a mere neck away from being unbeaten in four starts for trainer Graham Motion. Blinkers were added in the Selima, the filly’s second turf start. Euro invader Daahyeh, from Roger Varian’s stable, transferred decent Euro form to Santa Anita and finished second. She’s quality and never been worse than second in six lifetime starts in Group 1, Grade 1 and Group 2 company. Nice stuff. Chad Brown’s selflessly, first and second in two previous starts wasn’t able to transfer that good firm to Santa Anita. Race 9 – JuvenileSometimes things just go your way. Saturday was that kind of day for Storm the Court. BC Juvenile favorite Dennis’ Moment went to his knees out of the gate and second choice Eight Rings didn’t show. That left Storm the Court to seize the moment in an upset of the BC Juvenile at a whopping $93.80! Third last out in the American Pharoah behind Eight Rings, over eight lengths in arrears, Storm the Court stormed to the Juvenile lead and battled tenaciously through the lane to keep a head in front of 28-1 shot Anneau d’Or. The latter runner had started once previously in a turf race at Golden Gate for trainer Blaine Wright. It was at a mile around two turns and he won by 8 lengths. Still, a switch to dirt against much stronger made 28-1 a fair price. Wrecking Crew, runner-up in the bolting incident-marred Del Mar Futurity behind stablemate Nucky, finished third, well in front of the rest. Dennis’ Moment never recovered and was last. SaturdayRace 4- F&M SprintI thought Covfefe was worth going against at a short price. Boy, was I wrong. A 3-year-old against older, plenty of other early speed, a huge, possibly bounce-inducing pre-BC effort and a rail draw…none of that mattered. She rated nicely for jockey Joel Rosario and won definitively. She’s fast and talented, which we knew before the race. Now, we can add versatile to the mix. That’s a powerful combination. Bellafina returned to her best form and ran very well to be second. Dawn the Destroyer finished late, as expected, to round out the top three. Bottom line: a race that seemed to this horseplayer to be wide-open turned out fairly formful, although Come Dancing did disappoint. Race 5 - Turf SprintBefore this race, I noted that there wasn’t much speed in this five-furlong dash. Turns out, there was. It all belonged to Belvior Bay. Right out of the gate, she left foes wondering where she went. She cleared from the far outside 12-hole, got to the rail and kept going. Om, previously known to be effective in longer races, fired well to finish second. Trainer Peter Miller trained both the first and second-place finishers and had developed a reputation for cultivating top sprinters, grass and dirt. Pure Sensation, an expected speed factor, didn’t break well and lost his best chance. Shekky Shebaz, also a speedy entrant, did his best to be third but couldn’t match Belvoir Bay’s early foot. Race 6 Dirt - MileThere were two questions that needed to be answered in the Dirt Mile: Could Omaha Beach duplicate his outstanding comeback effort? And, if not, who could upset him? The answer to the first question was compromised immediately out of the gate when Omaha Beach stumbled a few times for several strides. The misfire cost him his early position in the race and he had too much to do to make up ground. The answer to the second question clearly was Spun to Run. Hats off to the Parx-based colt that went to the front and improved his position while validating his stunning 110 Beyer Speed Figure victory in a $106k stakes at Parx. Omaha Beach ran well to be second, and one wonders if the outcome would have been reversed had the favorite not been handcuffed. But ‘wonders’ don’t spend at the grocery store. Spun to Run got the money for the third time in five starts since blinkers were added. Blue Chipper, forging new ground by from Korea to SoCal, showed speed and held third in a creditable performance. Race 7 - F&M TurfJoseph O’Brien became only the second person to both train and ride BC winners and also the youngest to accomplish each feat. Makes sense. He’s bred for it. Sired by Aidan O’Brien, one of the world’s top trainers, young Joe finally had to give up the saddle when his body outgrew that profession. Following the race, the clean-cut young man who looks about a day over 12 dutifully thanked owners, lads at the barn and Irish-bred Iridessa, the winning mare, as an Irish flag floated in the background. Iridessa has now won 4 Group or Grade 1s. Impressive. She rode the rail under jockey Wayne Lordan, angled out for the stretch drive and outlasted a determined Vasilika. As always, Vasilika ran her heart out. She loves the Santa Anita course and now is an incredible 11-for-13 over it. She’s been an absolute joy to watch both this winter and last. As honest as a saint and as determined as an ant. She’s a true pro. Also proudly wearing a figurative ‘P’ on her chest signifying ‘Pro’ was beaten favorite Sistercharlie. She had no real excuse in the race, except that she may not have enjoyed the firm Santa Anita course. She certainly got the pace she required, even without pacesetter Thais in the lineup, but she didn’t quicken enough late to get the job done. Still, she’s been a star for the last two years, winning 7-of-9 starts, including last year’s edition of this race. Race 8 - SprintOnce Imperial Hint scratched, on paper this looked like a two-horse race. Turned out that way on the track, too. Love when that happens. Shancelot figured to make the lead and Mitole was expected to stalk. The question going in was would Mitole be able to run Shancelot down? The answer was a definitive ‘yes.’ Mitole has had a tremendous season, is a cinch to earn an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Sprinter and his name is prominent in the Horse of the Year conversation. It’s a bit strange, too, because earlier this season Mitole was hailed as a superhorse. He won the Met Mile, but post-race conversation predominantly revolved around how much trouble runner-up McKinzie had experienced. A loss next out in the Vanderbilt really sucked the bloom from the rose. He bounced back to take the Forego before winning the Sprint, but his bandwagon never was quite as full as it was earlier in the year. This writer can’t remember a horse running as well as Shancelot has in in three consecutive races…and losing them all. Coming off a scintillating 121 Beyer figure in the Amsterdam, the son of Shanghai Bobby fired a reactionary 96 Beyer to finish third, beaten a head by Mind Control and Hog Creek Hustle, in the Jerkens at Saratoga; he then was nailed by Omaha Beach in the Santa Anita Sprint Special, despite a 102 Beyer, and was caught by Mitole in the Sprint. Tough stuff.Race 9 - MileI could use one of about a million canned lines about ‘Girl Power’ to describe the conclusion of the Mile, but I won’t. Uni, a 5-year-old mare who has now won 3 of 4 starts this year and 10 of 18 lifetime, and Got Stormy, a 4-year-old filly who claims 3 wins in 7 starts this year and 4 of 14 lifetime, finished one-two in the Mile. Success in this race has been a fairly common experience for females, but a cold all distaff exacta was a minor surprise. Without Parole, bred in Great Britain by John and Tanya Gunther who brought us Triple Crown winner Justify, began his career across the pond and won his first 4 starts. He then lost his next five before being moved to the US-based barn of Chad Brown. ‘Parole, reportedly, had trained very well for the BC Mile, in company with eventual Turf winner and probable Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar. Notable money showed early and steadily for Without Parole and he ran well to be third. Keep an eye on him going forward.Race 10 - DistaffYours truly got drunk on Midnight Bisou and it cost him. Going in, I thought she was the most probable winner on the BC card. I was wrong. No disrespect to Blue Prize, but this horseplayer considered that her best races had come in Kentucky and that she already had had her sunny moment at Keeneland in the Spinster. Wrong again. That I was wrong about both Midnight Bisou and Blue Prize’s chances definitively proves the adage that two wrongs don’t make a right. If I had more accurately estimated Blue Prize’s chances of victory, I would have elevated her from a ‘C’ to a ‘B’ on my pick six sheets and collected $55k instead of a measly $650 for four consolations. Ouch!Race 11 - TurfBricks and Mortar proved once more that he doesn’t need to take his turf course with him. Over a rich, bright green, Santa Anita swath that seemed to favor those most familiar with it, the son of Giant’s Causeway—a confirmed closer—mounted another strong finish to triumph in the shadow of the wire. It is the sixth different turf course he has won on this year! The victory solidifies the Chad Brown-trained 5-year-old’s case as Horse of the Year and caps an outstanding unbeaten season that began with victory in Pegasus World Cup Turf and ends triumphantly in the Breeders’ Cup Turf--at a mile and one-half, a distance he’d never tried. Lifetime, he has won 11 of 13. United, a 51-1 shot trained by Hall-of-Famer Dick Mandella and ridden by local star Flavien Prat, seemed to have made a first run, winning move in the Turf until Bricks and Mortar came calling in the final jumps. United rallied back on the inside but missed by a head. An improving 4-year-old, United really hadn’t done much beforehand to suggest he was ready for this type of challenge. Such is the case, though, with improving horses: they sometimes surprise with explosive positive efforts. Top Euro prospect, 3-year-old Anthony Van Dyck, finished third. Old Persian, another Euro that had attracted this horseplayer’s attention (and money) pulled against the rider throughout and faded into oblivion when the real running began. Race 12 - ClassicTrainer Todd Pletcher, a certain Hall-of-Fame occupant the minute he becomes eligible, added an important missing piece to his incredible resume when Vino Rosso charged home best of all in the 2019 BC finale. It was Pletcher’s first victory in the race. The trainer has done an outstanding job with Vino Rosso, permitting him to develop into a much better horse at 4 than he was at 3. In the future, when folks say, ‘Curlin’s get better with age,’ think Vino Rosso as an example. It would be fine to see the horse continue to develop, but that’s not in the cards. After the race, before anyone could say Pegasus World Cup, he was whisked-away to the stud. Bob Baffert-trained McKinzie finished second, tail swishing his way home under new rider Joel Rosario. It’s probably true that a mile and one-quarter is not his favorite distance, but he really never seemed at his best. Higher Power was a well-beaten third, never a threat to the winner. Elate finished an unremarkable fourth. As previously mentioned, my Breeders’ Cup wagering experience came down to a share of four Pick 6 consolation payoffs totaling roughly $650. Compared to the $55k that went to those who had all six winners, they really didn’t provide much consolation. Nine Xpressbet account holders correctly turned the pick-six carryover trick Saturday. Winning sheets ranged in cost from $216 to $15,750. Other successful Xpressbet weekend hits included several Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge contest wagers: A cold $2k exacta in the 11th race with Bricks and Mortar over United was worth $137,200; A $32,500 win wager on Bricks and Mortar returned $65k and a $10k win wager on Covfefe in the 4th race earned $25k. A 9th race non-contest $5,500 win and place wager on Uni collected $38,500. Nice to hear. At least some of my fellow Xpressbet account holders emerged victorious. I got next! Race On!      

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11.7.2019:

Sunshine Millions Preview Day Saturday - Top 5 Plays for Gulfstream Park West

Saturday is Sunshine Millions Preview Day at Gulfstream Park West, showcasing Florida-bred runners in nine stakes races worth a combined $675,000.The Sunshine Millions, a concept in existence since 2002, was originally a California vs Florida showcase of the top Florida and California-bred animals, with races held at Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park.  I remember watching the races on NBC a few times.  Pretty big deal.   The series has changed significantly in the last decade, but it remains an important player on the Gulfstream Park stakes schedule.  Between this Saturday’s Preview event at Gulfstream Park West and the Sunshine Millions ‘main event’ at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 18, $1.275 million in purses will be doled out to Florida-bred horses.  And with so many solid stakes performers on one card this Saturday, it’s going to be hard to for handicappers like me to pass things up.  Couple that with a $575,659 Jackpot Pick 6 Carryover (heading into Thursday’s races) and this is a card I’ll be playing.  Here are my top 5 plays on the card:Race 1 (12:00PM ET) – Millions Turf Preview Stakes#7 Galleon Mast (5/2) The stakes action kicks off early on Saturday – Race 1 in fact – with the Sunshine Millions Turf Preview Stakes.  Any my eyes are on GALLEON MAST, who won this race last year by a nose and seems to be rounding back into form for David Fawkes.  He was beaten last out at 9/5 odds by DRIVEN BY THUNDER, but he was extremely pace compromised that day.  It’s just hard to close from last when they go :25 4/5, :51 1/5 and 1:14 3/5 in a 1 1/16-mile race.  That’s just too slow.  I expect SWAGGER JAGGER and FREEDOM MATTERS to put a little pressure on DRIVEN BY THUNDER early, which would set this up just right for GALLEON MAST, who also gets a positive jockey upgrade to Paco Lopez (the top jock at GP West), who was aboard him last year for his win in this race.  Race 4 (1:26PM ET) – Millions Classic Preview Stakes#4 Art G is Back  (2/1)  The day’s ‘biggest’ race – at least in the sense that the Classic is the premier division – is the Classic Preview Stakes, which goes as Race 4 on the card, probably to keep it out of the Late Pick 4 and Rainbow 6 due to a small field size.  Only five horses have entered this, but one of those is the extremely well-regarded MR. JORDAN.  He’s a perfect 5-for-5 at Gulfstream Park West and leaned on all of his class to win this race by a nose last year.  Unfortunately, he’s 0-for-7 in ’19 and it seems Father Time has caught up with him.  The heir apparent to this throne would be ART G IS BACK.  He’s a 3YO facing older which gives me significant pause, but he’s beaten older horses twice at Gulfstream and once of those was by 13-lengths in an off-turf allowance.  If the chips break the right way, this is the horse trending way up in this division.  My colleague, Jeremy Plonk, made this race his Xpressbet Race of the Week.  Here’s how he’s betting it.    Race 6 (2:26PM ET) – Millions Sprint Preview Stakes#6 He Hate Me (9/5) HE HATE ME has developed into a sharp allowance sprinter, having won races at Gulfstream and Saratoga in the last year, and looks like a good bet in this field.  JACKSON is a solid runner but he’s a 3YO facing older horses and FRONT LOADED hasn’t won on a fast track since July 2018 (he’s 2-for-2 in the slop since then, though). HE HATE ME has the versatility to adapt to any pace scenario and he’s easily the class of the field.  Race 7 (2:56PM ET) – Juvenile Fillies Turf Stakes#7 Our Little Jewel (3/1)  Another race and another Paco Lopez-ridden top pick.  Might just be a trend.  OUR LITTLE JEWEL debuted in New York for Mike Trombetta and while she wasn’t quite good enough to win races on the NYRA circuit (she finished 7th, 2nd and 5th in turf races at Saratoga and Belmont), a trip down the highway to Maryland was enough for her to get her first win.  She scored on the Laurel turf with a big closing kick despite a wide trip.  She’s going to need some pace and racing luck, but her ceiling appears to be the highest of anyone in this field.  Race 9 (3:56PM ET) – Millions Filly & Mare Turf Preview Stakes #6 Bienville Street (8/1)  This is strictly a pace play but this year’s Filly & Mare Turf Preview Stakes is loaded with speed and horses like DADDY’S BOO, MISS DEPLORABLE, PICARA (defending champion) and SOUPER ESCAPE are all most comfortable when put into the race early.  And with that much speed signed on, I’ll take a closer with a penchant for winning and a top jock (Paco Lopez) on her back.  She’s won three of her last eight starts after beginning her career 0-for-11 and she placed in a pair of stakes race in September at Gulfstream. 

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11.7.2019:

Weekly Bankroll Builder: November 8 Stronach 5 Play

Back to battle with this week’s Stronach 5, which continues to be one of the best bets on the track. To refresh, the Stronach 5 is a Pk5 wager spread across as many as four tracks and up to 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. *** 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 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. *** Leg 1: Laurel Park R8 (4:10 ET) – 3up N2L at 6 furlongs The opener is deep, though I’m not sure how competitive, as there are several who can’t win. Of those who can, I prefer #9 AWESOME AGENDA (12-1), since it’s never a bad thing to be a rousing MCL winner in a race like this, and #10 MAKE THE RULES (5-1), who drops in class and goes third-off a long layoff. I’ll also add in #13 BARAVELLI, who just missed at the level last time, though this wide draw did him no favors. Pk5 A horses: 9,10,13 (listed in order of preference) I don’t necessarily trust #3 BEEN REDEEMED (5-1), but the drop in class is significant and that slow 2nd for 14k last time might play here, while #6 HEY PREZ (10-1) is another dropper and the barn change to Morris could be a sneaky wake up. Pk5 B horses: 3,6 Leg 2: Gulfstream Park West R7 (4:21 ET) – 3up ALW at 7 ½ furlongs (turf) I’ll stab a bit with #5 BLOCKBUSTER (8-1), who hasn’t been out since January, though Casse is 16% off this break, and with expected improvement he’s got every right to make a dent. The more logical is #9 BELGRANO (5-2), even from this tough post, as he’s a better, faster horse than the rest, and has been facing better in NY as well. I’ll also toss in #7 MANTRA (6-1), who gets a big jock upgrade to Bravo and that close 2nd last time makes him a player. Pk5 A horses: 5,9,7 The rail and that fast race last time says you have to look at #1 MOROCCO (10-1), even though he could bounce, but the price will be right if you believe he’s running back to that fast 2nd last time. Pk5 B horses: 1 Leg 3: Laurel Park R9 (4:40 ET) – 3up 10k N3L at 6 furlongs I’ll take the class dropping #4 SUNMAN (5-1) over #8 ZITARROSA (7-2) and #10 FACT OF WAR (9-2), though all three are very logical, as the former has been facing better while the latter two go off the claim for Farrior and Ness, which are 27% and 26% moves, respectively. Pk5 A horses: 4,8,10 You might be able to go it alone on the top-3, though #6 HARGUS (8-1) and #5 NAUTICAL NATURE (8-1) both drop and will offer value, and aren’t too far behind on paper, so if they wake up against this reduced group, I want to be there. Pk5 B horses: 6,5 Leg 4: Golden Gate Fields R3 (4:48 ET) – 3upfm 4k claimer* at 1-mile Budget players will single #4 FRUITFULLY (1-1), and I get it, but she nibbles more than she wins and note the big win two-back was on dirt, so she’s a little sketchier than the ML says to me. With that being said, I’ll go with #7 MOONLIGHT MYSTIQUE (5-1), who will offer value, has run well here before, and should like getting off the dirt. Pk5 A horses: 7,4 With just seven entered, and a heavy, heavy favorite, I can’t use two on top and then anyone else down below, especially since the gap seems like a seismic one. If you want a name or two then it’s #1 Warrens Lil Margie (4-1) and #3 Euphemistic (6-1), though neither seem all that trustworthy. Pk5 B horses: NONE Leg 5: Gulfstream Park West R8 (4:51 ET) – 2yo 20k MCL at 1-mile (turf) I’ve ranted plenty of times about post position in these races, but it just seems like #9 DELIA’S PRIDE (3-1) just has to win this off her last race, as this is a wretched crew and that 3rd last time makes her look imposing here. With that being said, I’ll also use the well-drawn #2 CAT CAY (8-1), who gets a huge trainer change to De La Cerda, who is 17% first-turf, and a few of her dirt runs would give her a puncher’s chance here. Pk5 A horses: 9,2 I’m probably supposed to use someone else, but I just can’t come up with one, since they look terrible on paper and the best other turfer, #11 Debbies Utube Diva (15-1), drew very poorly and was 34-1 last time. I guess #5 Queenoftheminstrel (9-2) and #6 Wonder Blondy (4-1) wouldn’t make me faint if they win, but they can do it without me off their previous runs. Pk5 B horses: NONE The Tickets: Main Ticket: 9,10,13 with 5,9,7 with 4,8,10 with 7,4 with 9,2 = $108 Leg 1 B Backup: 3,6 with 5,9,7 with 4,8,10 with 7,4 with 9,2 = $72 Leg 2 B Backup: 9,10,13 with 1 with 4,8,10 with 7,4 with 9,2 = $36 Leg 3 B Backup: 9,10,13 with 5,9,7 with 6,5 with 7,4 with 9,2 = $72

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11.7.2019:

Jon White's 2019 Breeders' Cup Recap

VENUE: Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1-2. Main Track: dirt, fast Friday and Saturday; Turf Course: firm Friday and Saturday. $6 MILLION CLASSIC (NOV. 2) Results: (1) Vino Rosso, who paid $11.20, (2) McKinzie, (3) Higher Power. Winner: Owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable; trained by Todd Pletcher; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 111. Accelerate won the 2018 BC Classic at Churchill Downs with a 105 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Classic: 124 (Sunday Silence in 1989 at Gulfstream Park, Ghostzapper in 2004 at Lone Star Park). Recap: The final race of Vino Rosso’s career quite probably was his finest. Fourth early in the 1 1/4-mile BC Classic, he surged to the front with a little more than a sixteenth to go, then drew away to win with authority by 4 1/4 lengths in 2:02.80. This actually was an excellent final time on a main track that many deemed to be deep and quite tiring during both days of this year’s Breeders’ Cup. In my Breeders’ Cup selections for Xpressbet.com and the official Santa Anita program, I picked Vino Rosso to win, McKinzie second and Higher Power third. They finished one-two-three in that order. The 50-cent trifecta paid $98.50. This win meant a lot to Pletcher, who is a slam-dunk to be inducted into the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible for the first time in 2021. Pletcher has won the Kentucky Derby twice (Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017), but the BC Classic had eluded him until this year. Like a fine wine, Vino Rosso has seemed to get better as he has aged. He was a pretty good 3-year-old in 2018, highlighted by a victory in the Grade II Wood Memorial during the spring. But he clearly has been better this year at 4. In his BC Classic win, Vino Rosso was credited with a career-best 111 Beyer. It was his fourth straight triple-digit figure. He did not record a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure in any of his races prior to this year. It hardly seems a coincidence that Vino Rosso’s first triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure came last spring in a race run over the same surface and at the same 1 1/4-mile trip as this year’s BC Classic. He posted a 105 Beyer when victorious in the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 27. In between the Gold Cup during the spring in Southern California and the BC Classic in SoCal during the fall, Vino Rosso raced twice in New York. He recorded a 100 Beyer in the Grade I Whitney Stakes and a 106 in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup. Vino Rosso ran third behind McKinzie and Yoshida in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 3. Vino Rosso then finished first by a nose in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 28, but the stewards disqualified him and placed him second for causing interference, which elevated Code of Honor to first in that 1 1/4-mile event. Code of Honor went into the Gold Cup at Belmont off a win in Saratoga’s Grade I Travers Stakes against fellow 3-year-olds. Vino Rosso, off at 9-2, avenged his Whitney and Jockey Club Gold Cup losses in the BC Classic by outrunning both 5-2 favorite McKinzie and 7-2 second-wagering choice Code of Honor. Vino Rosso followed in the footsteps of his sire, Curlin, as a BC Classic winner. Curlin, voted Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008, won the 2007 BC Classic on a sloppy track at Monmouth Park by 4 1/2 lengths, almost the same 4 1/4-length margin as Vino Rosso in this year’s BC Classic. As for McKinzie, many have expressed the thought that he probably is at his best when racing from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. But despite being no match for Vino Rosso in the final sixteenth last Saturday, McKinzie did manage to beat everyone else in this particular 1 1/4-mile race. Not only that, it’s to McKinzie’s credit that even though he did not win the BC Classic, he ended up 4 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Higher Power. It is true that McKinzie now is winless in three starts at 1 1/4 miles. But it should be remembered that he did run well enough to lose the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap by a only nose when second to Gift Box in that prestigious 1 1/4-mile affair last April 6. This year’s BC Classic unfortunately was marred by an injury sustained by Mongolian Groom. After winning Santa Anita’s Grade I Awesome Again Stakes on Sept. 28 in a 25-1 upset, he was made eligible to compete in the BC Classic when his owner, Mongolian Stable, paid a nomination fee of $200,000. After racing just off pacemaker War of Will through the early furlongs last Saturday, Mongolian Groom began to retreat after going one mile. Jockey Abel Cedillo then pulled up Mongolian Groom in the stretch when the 4-year-old Hightail gelding was in distress. He was vanned to the equine hospital at Santa Anita. What happened to Mongolian Groom cast a pall over what had been an extremely entertaining two days of Breeders’ Cup competition until that sad incident. The Breeders’ Cup issued a statement Saturday evening, which said in part: “Mongolian Groom sustained an injury in the Breeders’ Cup Classic today and was immediately attended to by an expert team of veterinarians, led by board certified veterinary surgeon Dr. Ryan Carpenter. During their evaluation at the equine hospital at Santa Anita, they observed a serious fracture to his left hind limb. Radiographs were taken and a complete evaluation was performed. Given the extent of the injury, Dr. Carpenter, in consultation with Dr. Wayne McIllwraith, veterinary surgeon and professor emeritus at Colorado State University; Dr. Rick Arthur, Equine Medical Director of the California Horse Racing Board; and attending veterinarian Dr. Vince Baker recommended humane euthanasia of Mongolian Groom.” $4 MILLION TURF (NOV. 2) Results: (1) Bricks and Mortar, who paid $4 as the favorite, (2) United, (3) Anthony Van Dyck. Winner: Owned Klaravich Stable and William Lawrence; trained by Chad Brown; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 104. Enable won the 2018 BC Turf at Churchill Downs with a 114 Beyer. Top Beyer in the Turf: 118 (Daylami in 1999 at Gulfstream Park). Recap: With this win, Bricks and Mortar completed his racing career with an unblemished 2019 campaign. He was six for six this year while racing from January to November. Five of his 2019 victories came in Grade I events. There are 14 Breeders’ Cup races, yet none were considered to be in Bricks and Mortar’s comfort zone in that it was evident that Brown preferred to run him in races at 1 1/8 miles or 1 1/4 miles. Consequently, for a time during the summer, Brown indicated that Bricks and Mortar might not even be seen at the Breeders’ Cup. The 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million was under consideration to serve as Bricks and Mortar’s Breeders’ Cup race, so to speak, according to Brown. But after Bricks and Mortar won the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 10 to solidify his position as a leading Horse of the Year candidate, it was decided that a trip to the Breeders’ Cup was in order. But which Breeders’ Cup race should Bricks and Mortar run in, the Mile or the 1 1/2-mile Turf? Brown had been leaning to the Mile. But then a couple of weeks or so before the Breeders’ Cup, he let the cat out of the bag that, based on how Bricks and Mortar had been training, he now was thinking seriously of opting for the longer Turf. It actually made sense that if Bricks and Mortar were to stretch out to 1 1/2 miles for the first time, Santa Anita was an ideal place to try it inasmuch as the first part of the race would be run downhill. As it turned out, Bricks and Mortar did not have the best of trips in the BC Turf. He pretty much was bottled up through most of the race. After Bricks and Mortar continued to be bottled up on the far turn, Ortiz seized the opportunity to maneuver him toward the outside turning into the stretch to give them a clear run at the top of the lane. “Bricks and Mortar now gets a seam and he’s going to be cut loose with a furlong to go,” said track announcer Frank Mirahmadi during his call of the race. “Here comes Bricks and Mortar on the outside. And he is finishing with a flourish! Bricks and Mortar STORMS to the front! United running a giant race. But it’s Bricks and Mortar bringing his brilliance to the biggest stage to win the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf!” By the way, while Bricks and Mortar no doubt was impressive in taking this year’s BC Turf, his performance is an indication of just how great Enable is. Bricks and Mortar was credited with a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for his BC Turf win. When Enable won the 2018 BC Turf, she recorded a 114 Beyer. After Bricks and Mortar’s BC Turf victory, accomplished in 2:24.73, he will race no more. He heads off to stud having won 10 of 12 lifetime starts. Bricks and Mortar is odds-on to be voted a 2019 Eclipse Award as champion male turf horse. He also is a heavy favorite to be voted 2019 Horse of the Year. An indication of the support Bricks and Mortar is going to get from Eclipse Award voters for the Horse of the Year title is he was the overwhelming choice as the top-ranked horse in the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for 2019. He received 42 first-place votes, compared to only two such votes for Mitole. No one else received a single first-place vote. Bricks and Mortar, I believe, would be a very deserving Horse of the Year in that he ranked No. 1 in the poll for most of the year. When he ranked No. 1 this week, it was the 32nd consecutive week that he had held the top spot. Here is the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of 2019: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 438 Bricks and Mortar (42)2. 388 Mitole (2)3. 332 Vino Rosso4. 297 Midnight Bisou5. 157 McKinzie5. 157 Sistercharlie7. 151 Uni8. 109 Covfefe9. 102 Blue Prize10. 90 Maximum Security Also receiving votes: Code of Honor (50 points), Omaha Beach (34), Imperial Hint (18), Higher Power (16), Spun to Run (15), Got Stormy (14), Elate (10), Iridessa (10), British Idiom (8), Vasilika (7), Belvoir Bay (4), Storm the Court (2), World of Trouble (2), Four Wheel Drive (1). This was the ballot that I submitted for the final NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll of 2019: 1. Bricks and Mortar2. Mitole3. Vino Rosso4. Midnight Bisou5. Sistercharlie6. Uni7. Maximum Security8. Omaha Beach9. McKinzie10. Code of Honor A Paulick Report poll is another indication that Bricks and Mortar is going to be the 2019 Horse of the Year. The last time I checked, Bricks and Mortar was receiving 68% of the vote, followed by Mitole at 14%, Vino Rosso at 11% and Midnight Bisou (7%). $2 MILLION DISTAFF (NOV. 2) Results: (1) Blue Prize, who paid $19.80, (2) Midnight Bisou, (3) Serengeti Empress. Winner: Owned by Merriebelle Stable; trained by Ignacio Correas; ridden byJoe Bravo. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 103. Monomoy Girl won the 2018 BC Distaff at Churchill Downs with a 96 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Distaff: 120 (Princess Rooney in 1984). Recap: After losing her first 3 starts of 2019, Blue Prize reeled off three straight victories. Blue Prize won the Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 18. Next, she took the Grade I Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 6, a race she also had won in 2018. And then Blue Prize, in the biggest triumph of her career, rallied from 10th to win the 1 1/8-mile BC Distaff by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:50.50. Midnight Bisou, toward the back of the pack going into the far turn when seeming to struggle on the track, rallied belatedly to finish second in the field of 11 when well clear of everyone but the winner. Serengeti Empress held on for third after leading to the final furlong in her bid to add a BC Distaff win vs. older rivals to her resume after having become a Grade I Kentucky Oaks winner back on May 3. Midnight Bisou went into the Breeders’ Cup with seven wins this year from seven starts, a record that made her a Horse of the Year candidate. But her Horse of the Year hopes took a major hit with her defeat in the BC Distaff, a race she had finished third in as a 3-year-old in 2018. As for Blue Prize, who was bred in Argentina, the 6-year-old Pure Prize mare came away with first prize in the 2019 BC Distaff. $2 MILLION MILE (NOV. 2) Results: (1) Uni, who paid $9.20, (2) Got Stormy, (3) Without Parole. Winner: Owned by Head of Plaines Partners, Michael Dubb, Robert LaPenta and Bethlehem Stables; trained by Chad Brown; ridden by Joel Rosario. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 106. Expert Eye won the 2018 BC Mile at Churchill Downs with a 101 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Mile: 119 (Miesque in 1987 at Hollywood Park). Recap: This race was all about girl power. Uni unleashed a devastating late kick, as she had done a number of times before, to win going away by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:32.45. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred More Than Ready mare was 7-2 in the betting. Got Stormy, the 3-1 favorite and the only other distaffer in the field, had a slight lead with a furlong to go. But Got Stormy had to settle for second in the field of 13. European shipper Without Parole nosed out Circus Maximus, also a Euro invader, for third. With this victory by Uni, she turned the tables on Got Stormy. They had met previously in the Grade I Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 10, a race in which Got Stormy won, while Uni wound up third. In Uni’s only start between the Fourstardave and the BC Mile, she rocketed home to win Keeneland’s Grade I First Lady Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths on Oct. 5. $2 MILLION SPRINT (NOV. 2) Results: (1) Mitole, who paid $5.60, (2) Shancelot, (3) Whitmore. Winner: Owned by William and Corinne Heiligbrodt; trained by Steve Asmussen; ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 112. Roy H won the 2018 BC Spint at Churchill Downs with a 111 Beyer. Top Beyer in the Sprint and the top Beyer in Breeders’ Cup history: 125 (Precisionist in 1985). Recap: This ride by Santana was a masterpiece. Shortly after Mitole broke alertly, Santana took a peek to his right. Toward Santana’s outside, the speedy 3-year-old Shancelot and Japan’s Matera Sky were dashing for the lead with the kind of speed similar to the Road Runner zooming away from Wile E. Coyote. Sensing it would not be a good idea to get embroiled in what seemingly was going to be a wicked pace, Santana took a light hold on Mitole, who cooperated to his rider’s cue while proving amenable to being rated. This put Mitole 3 1/2 lengths off the early lead. It might not seem like much, but this meant Mitole was farther behind early than he had ever been in his previous 13 lifetime starts. Shancelot would go on to complete the opening quarter in :21.47, extremely swift on this track. At that point, he was 1 1/2 lengths in front of Matera Sky, who was the same margin in front of Firenze Fire, who was a half-length in front of Mitole. A decision to rate a horse early, whether made by a jockey spontaneously or whether a jockey is riding as instructed, can be very significant. A prime example of not rating a horse when it would have been prudent to do so took place in the 2016 Preakness Stakes. Think of what might have happened if Nyquist had been rated early by Mario Gutierrez in the Preakness. Nyquist would have had a much better chance to win rather than running out of gas late and finishing third after getting cooked in a wicked pace duel with longshot Uncle Lino. How wicked was that pace? It was the fastest opening quarter, :22.38, in the history of the Preakness. In the Daily Racing Form, Andrew Beyer slammed Gutierrez for his ride. “It’s not as if Nyquist is a one-dimensional horse,” Beyer wrote. “He did win the Breeders’ Cup coming from eighth place. So he’s a tractable horse when they want him to be. When the gate opened, Gutierrez just put him in a drive, going head-and-head with a 40-1 shot, Uncle Lino. It was reminiscent of Ronnie Franklin [on Spectacular Bid] hitting the gas in the middle of the Belmont to put away a 40-1 shot.” However, in Gutierrez’ defense, he was riding to the instructions that had been given to him by trainer Doug O’Neill. O’Neill did admit that Gutierrez was only doing what he had been told to do. Not only did Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist get beat for the first time in his life when he lost the Preakness, he was never the same after that race. He ran fourth and sixth in his next two starts before being retired to stud. What happened to Nyquist in the Preakness illustrates what a brilliant move it was on Santana’s part to take a light hold early on Mitole in the six-furlong BC Sprint. Shancelot flirted with going the half in :43 and change, a sizzling pace on any surface, let alone on this one. When Shancelot blazed the initial half in :44.04, Mitole had moved closer to get within 2 1/2 lengths of the lead while racing in fourth. At the eighth pole, Mitole got even closer to the leader, who still was Shancelot. Mitole now was second, just 1 1/2 lengths off Shancelot. In the final furlong, Mitole charged past Shancelot to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:09.00. Shancelot held on for second in the field of eight as the 3-2 favorite. It was an admirable effort by Shancelot considering the rapid pace he had set. Whitmore ended up third, 2 1/4 lengths behind Shancelot. This completed an outstanding 2019 and a stellar racing career by Mitole. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred Eskendereya colt goes off to stud having won 10 of 14 lifetime starts. He won six of seven this year, highlighted by Grade I victories in the Churchill Down Stakes, Met Mile, Forego Stakes and BC Sprint. Mitole’s 112 Beyer was the highest figure by a winner at this year’s Breeders’ Cup. He is almost certainly will be voted a 2019 Eclipse Award as champion male sprinter. $2 MILLION FILLY & MARE TURF (NOV. 2) Results: (1) Iridessa who paid $28.40, (2) Vasilika, (3) Sistercharlie. Winner: Owned by Mrs. C.C. Regalado-Gonzalez; trained by Joseph O’Brien; ridden by Wayne Lordan. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 105. Sistercharlie won the 2018 BC Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs with a 103 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Filly & Mare Turf: 112 (Banks Hill in 2001). Recap: Move over Craig Dollase. O’Brien, 26, became the youngest trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup race with this victory. He broke the record held by Dollase, who at the age of 27 saddled Reraise to take the 1998 BC Sprint. In 2011, O’Brien became the youngest jockey to win a Breeders’ Cup race. He guided St. Nicholas Abbey home first in the 2011 BC Turf for his father, trainer Aidan O’Brien. Close up when third early in the 1 1/4-mile BC Filly & Mare Turf, Iridessa responded when the real test came to win by a neck in 1:57.77. Vasilika finished second in the field of 10. Sistercharlie came in third as the 4-5 favorite, 2 1/4 lengths behind Vasilika. Iridessa won two of seven 2019 starts prior to the Breeders’ Cup while racing in Ireland and England. The 3-year-old Ruler of The World filly was victorious at the Group I level in Ireland this year in June and September. Vasilika could not quite win, but a splendid try was nothing unusual for her on this grass course. Including this race, Vasilika’s record on the Santa Anita turf course is nothing less than remarkable: 13 starts, 11 wins, 2 seconds. Unquestionably one of the greatest claims in the history of the sport, Vasilika was taken for $40,000 in a race at Santa Anita on Feb. 11, 2018. After that, Vasilika would win 13 of 18 starts while earning $1,722,320 through the BC Filly & Mare Turf. By finishing third in this race, Sistercharlie was unable to defend her title after winning the 2018 BC Filly & Turf. This defeat also brought an end to Sistercharlie’s streak of six straight victories, all in Grade I events. $1 MILLION DIRT MILE (NOV. 2) Results: (1) Spun to Run, who paid $20.20, (2) Omaha Beach, (3) Blue Chipper. Winner: Owned by Robert Donaldson.; trained by Juan Carlos Gonzalez; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 109. City of Light won the 2018 BC Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs with a 110 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Dirt Mile: 119 (Corinthian in 2007). Recap: Spun to Run won in wire-to-wire fashion by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:36.58 while defeating nine foes. This proved his 6 3/4-length victory in the M.P. Ballezzi Appreciation Mile at Parx Racing on Oct. 12 was not a fluke. Spun to Run recorded a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the Parx race. He came very close to duplicating that number at the Breeders’ Cup by posting a 109. This was Spun to Run’s fifth win from eight starts this year. It was his first victory in a Grade I race. The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred Hard Spun colt’s only other win in a graded race came in the Grade III Smarty Jones at Parx on Sept. 2. Omaha Beach, also 3, was sidelined following an operation for an entrapped epiglottis that caused him to be withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby on May 4. He returned to competition by winning the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 5, a race in which he defeated the speedy Shancelot by a head in a terrific 1:08.79. That six-furlong clocking was faster than Mitole’s 1:09.00 to win the BC Sprint. Sent off as the even-money favorite in the BC Dirt Mile, Omaha Beach did not break sharply. He was 7 1/2 lengths off the lead at the quarter pole. Making up that kind of ground in the final quarter on the main track proved problematic for everyone during this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Omaha Beach kept trying and did gain in the lane, but lost by 2 3/4 lengths when unable to close the gap on Spun to Run. Blue Chipper, the first Korean-raced Thoroughbred to ever participate in a Breeders’ Cup race, finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Omaha Beach. It was a fine effort at 16-1 by Blue Chipper, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by two-time Grade I BC Classic winner Tiznow. $1 MILLION TURF SPRINT (NOV. 2) Results: (1), Belvoir Bay, who paid $31.60, (2) Om, (3) Shekky Shebaz. Winner: Owned by Gary Barber; trained by Peter Miller; ridden by Javier Castellano. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 107. Stormy Liberal won the 2018 BC Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs with a 119 Beyer. Previous top Beyer in the BC Turf Sprint: 119 (Stormy Liberal in 2018). Recap: Trainer Peter Miller, in quite an accomplishment, won this race for the third straight year. Additionally, Miller finished one-two in this race, also sending out runner-up Om. The $1 Peter Miller exacta paid $133.70. Miller won this race in both 2017 and 2018 with Stormy Liberal, who finished eighth in this year’s renewal. Stormy Liberal seemed to have lost a step this year at the age of 7. He had lost six in a row going into last Saturday’s BC Turf Sprint. Belvoir Bay darted immediately to the front and won by 1 1/4 lengths to outrun 11 opponents while completing five furlongs in :54.83. Though Belvoir Bay went into this race having lost three straight, she figured to appreciate a return to this grass course. This was her seventh win from 10 starts on the turf at Santa Anita. The 6-year-old Great Britain-bred Equiano mare also showed she should not be taken lightly in this race by finishing second to the marvelous sprinter Blue Point in the Group I, $2 million Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai last March 30. Om, now 7, once again had to settle for second in the BC Turf Sprint. He also was the runner-up in the 2016 edition, losing by a scant nose to Obviously when the race was contested at about 6 1/2 furlongs down the hill at Santa Anita. $1 MILLION FILLY & MARE SPRINT (NOV. 2) Results: (1), Covfefe, who paid $5, (2) Bellafina, (3) Dawn the Destroyer. Winner: Owned by LNJ Foxwoods; trained by Brad Cox; ridden by Joel Rosario. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 106. Shamrock Rose won the 2018 BC Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs with a 92 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Filly & Mare Sprint: 108 (Groupie Doll in 2012 at Santa Anita). Recap: Unlike the last couple of years, this race was not won by a huge longshot this year. Bar of Gold paid $135.40 for a $2 win ticket when she took this race in 2017 at Del Mar. Shamrock Rose returned $53.80 for a $2 win wager when she was victorious in this race in 2018 at Churchill Downs. This time it was the favorite, Covfefe, who got the job done and paid $5 to win. Covfefe raced third early in this seven-furlong sprint while within close attendance of the early pace after breaking from the inside post. She grabbed the lead nearing the quarter pole, shook well clear in upper stretch, then held off Bellafina late. Covfefe won by three-quarters of a length in 1:22.40. Three-year-old fillies finished one-two. Dawn the Destroyer, a 5-year-old, trailed early in the field of nine and ended up third, 7 3/4 lengths behind Bellafina. This was Covfefe’s fifth win in six 2019 starts. It was the third time this year that she recorded a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure. For this race, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Into Mischief received a 106 Beyer. She previously had recorded a 107 when she won the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs on Sept 21 and also a 107 when victorious in the Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 17. $2 MILLION JUVENILE (NOV. 1) Results: (1) Storm the Court, who paid $93.80, (2) Anneau d’Oro, (3) Wrecking Crew. Winner: Owned by Exline-Border Racing, David Bernsen, Susanna Wilson and Dan Hudock; trained by Peter Eurton; ridden by Flavien Prat. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 87. Game Winner won the 2018 BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs with a 93 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile: 113 (War Pass in 2007 at Monmouth Park). Recap: This was a record-breaking victory. Virtually ignored in the wagering, Storm the Court returned $93.80 to win. This broke the record for the biggest upset in the 36-year history of the BC Juvenile. The highest win payout in this race previously had been $63.20 when European shipper Vale of York took the 2009 renewal by a head on a synthetic surface over 2-1 favorite Lookin At Lucky. The complexion of this race changed dramatically at the beginning. Dennis’ Moment, the 9-10 favorite, stumbled badly at the start. He trailed throughout. Considering what happened to Dennis’ Moment at the start, many no doubt then thought 3-2 second favorite Eight Rings had a golden opportunity to win. Eight Rings sat just slightly off pacesetter Storm the Court through the early furlongs. But on the far turn, Eight Rings began to retreat and eventually finished sixth in the field of eight. Storm the Court, a Kentucky-bred son of Court Vision, won by a neck while completing his 1 1/16-mile journey in 1:44.93. Anneau d’Oro, 28-1 in the wagering, finished second. Wrecking Crew, 39-1, came in third, 3 1/4 lengths behind Anneau d’Oro. Court Vision once scored an even bigger upset in a Breeders’ Cup race than Storm the Court. Court Vision paid $131.60 when victorious in the 2011 BC Mile at Churchill Downs. Storm the Court now has won two of four starts. He won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race by 1 1/2 lengths at first asking Aug. 10 at Del Mar. But in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs on Sept. 2, 14-1 Storm the Court was an innocent victim when 1-2 favorite Eight Rings took a left-hand turn shortly after the start and bumped Storm the Court, causing Storm the Court to unseat Prat. In Santa Anita’s Grade I American Pharoah Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Sept. 27, Eight Rings won by six lengths. Storm the Court finished third, 8 1/4 lengths behind Eight Rings. Eurton added blinkers to Storm the Court’s equipment for the BC Juvenile. This time, Storm the Court not only won, he beat Eight Rings by 12 1/4 lengths. $1 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES TURF (NOV. 1) Results: (1) Sharing, who paid $29.60, (2) Daahyeh, (3) Sweet Melania. Winner: Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gainesway Stable; trained by Graham Motion; ridden by Manuel Franco. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 86. Newspaperofrecord won the 2018 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs with a 96 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf: 96 (Lady Eli in 2014 and Newspaperofrecord in 2018). Recap: Talk about a young filly with a Breeders’ Cup pedigree. Sharing’s sire is 2004 BC Sprint winner Speightstown. Sharing’s dam is 2010 BC Filly & Mare Turf winner Shared Account. Sharing’s maternal grandsire is 2003 BC Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect. Motion trained Shared Account, who won the BC Filly & Mare Turf in an even much bigger Breeders’ Cup upset than Sharing. Shared Account paid $94 for a $2 win ticket when she captured the BC Filly & Mare Turf by a neck at Churchill Downs. How shocking was Shared Account’s BC Filly & Mare Turf win in 2010? At the time, the only bigger longshot to win in Breeders’ Cup history was Arcangues, who paid a rags-to-riches $269.20 for each $2 win wager in the 1993 Classic at Santa Anita. Fourth early last Friday in the field of 14, Sharing generated the necessary rally to win by 1 1/4 lengths while completing one mile in 1:34.59. Daahyeh, the 7-2 favorite, finished second. Sweet Melania came in third, a neck behind Daahyeh. $2 MILLION JUVENILE FILLIES (NOV. 1) Results: (1) British Idiom, who paid $7.40, (2) Donna Veloce, (3) Bast. Winner: Owned by Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables; trained by Brad Cox; ridden by Javier Castellano. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 79. Jaywalk won the 2018 BC Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs with a 94 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Fillies: 107 (Tempera in 2001). Recap: British Idiom now is three for three following this hard-fought, narrow victory at 5-2 over 2-1 favorite Donna Veloce. Bast finished third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Donna Veloce, in the field of nine. British Idiom and Donna Veloce played bumper cars going into the first turn. After that, Donna Veloce lurked in fourth on the backstretch, while British Idiom was three lengths or so farther back. Donna Veloce moved up readily to take command turning into the stretch. British Idiom came on to challenge Donna Veloce a furlong out, with just a half-length separating the pair at that point. These two then battled it out fiercely all the way to the finish. British Idiom won by a neck while completing 1 1/16 miles in an unimpressive 1:47.07. Donna Veloce had to settle for second while making only her second career start and racing around two turns for the first time. In British Idiom’s first career start, she won a six-furlong maiden special weight race by 3 1/2 lengths at Saratoga on Aug. 15. The Kentucky-bred Flashback filly then took Keeneland’s Grade I Alcibiades Stakes by 6 1/2 lengths when stretched out to 1 1/16 miles. $1 MILLION JUVENILE TURF (NOV. 1) Results: (1) Structor, who paid $12.60, (2) Billy Batts, (3) Gear Jockey. Winner: Owned by Jeff Drown and Don Rachel; trained by Chad Brown; ridden by Jose Ortiz. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 79. Line of Duty won the 2018 BC Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs with an 83 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Turf: 93 (Donativum in 2008, Outstrip in 2013, Oscar Performance in 2016). Recap: Sixth early in the field of 14, Structor got shuffled back to 11th, then came on strongly in the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length while completing one mile in 1:35.11. Billy Batts, off at odds of 55-1, finished second. Gear Jockey, an even bigger longshot at 67-1, came in third. Arizona, 12th in the early stages after a sluggish start as the 2-1 favorite, did rally late to end up fifth, though he never threatened. With this victory, Structor remained undefeated in three starts. He won a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight race on the grass Aug. 31 at Saratoga. Next, he won Belmont’s Grade III Pilgrim Stakes by a head at 1 1/16 miles on the turf Sept. 20. Structor is a Kentucky-bred Palace Malice colt. Palace Malice won the Grade I Belmont Stakes in 2013 and Grade I Met Mile in 2014. According to Brown, dirt racing likely is in Structor’s future in terms of seeing if he could be a candidate for the Grade I Kentucky Derby next year. $1 MILLION JUVENILE TURF SPRINT (NOV. 1) Results: (1) Four Wheel Drive, who paid $5 as the favorite, (2) Chimney Rock, (3) Another Miracle. Winner: Owned by Breeze Easy; trained by Wesley Ward; ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 86. Bulletin won the 2018 BC Juvenile Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs with a 90 Beyer. Top Beyer in the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint: 90 (Bulletin in 2018). Recap: This was just the second running of the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint. Remaining undefeated in three starts, Four Wheel Drive dashed immediately to the front and went on to prevail by three-quarters of a length in the field of 12. The Kentucky-bred American Pharoah colt got the job done as the favorite by holding off a late challenge from 12-1 Chimney Rock. It was an Oritiz brothers exacta, with Irad winning and Jose finishing second. The $1 exacta paid 23.10. Four Wheel Drive, who won the BC Juvenile Turf Sprint by completing five furlongs in :55.66, has never run in a maiden race. He won the 5 1/2-furlong Rosie’s Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths on the grass as a first-time starter Aug. 31 at Colonial Downs when defeating six opponents who all had raced previously. Four Wheel Drive then won Belmont’s Grade III Futurity by three lengths at six furlongs on the turf Oct. 6 prior to his BC Turf Sprint triumph. The Juvenile Turf Sprint kicked off this year’s Breeders’ Cup action at Santa Anita. The Breeders’ Cup will be held next year at Keeneland on Nov. 6-7.  

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11.5.2019:

Harness Highlights: Team Alagna 2-Year-Olds Double Up In ‘Crown’

Trainer Tony Alagna and driver Andrew McCarthy stole center stage at this year’s Breeders Crown, teaming for three wins in the two-day, 12-race championship lineup at Woodbine-Mohawk Park. The dynamic duo was rivaled only by the 2-year-old fillies that got the party started. Ramona Hill trotted to a 14-1 upset and Reflect With Me paced to a 27-1 shocker in back-to-back $600,000 finals. “It just goes to show that the barn has matured,” said Alagna, who joined Jimmy Takter, Ron Burke and Bob McIntosh as the only trainers in history to win at least three Breeders Crown trophies in the same year. “The owners kept the faith, the drivers had confidence, and everything came together.” Ramona Hill, the beaten favorite in her Crown elimination the previous weekend, negotiated post 10 at the 7/8-mile oval to earn her crown for co-owners Bradley Grant, Robert Leblanc, Crawford Farms Racing and the The Gym Partners. She blasted off the gate to the lead, yielded to a first-over brush by favorite Hypnotic AM, then pulled from the pocket in early stretch, proving best by ¼-length over late-running Sister Sledge in 1:53.2. “Ramona Hill, even though she had the 10-hole, I still considered her one of the better shots I had throughout the weekend because I know how talented she is,” McCarthy told Ken Weingartner of the U.S. Trotting Association. “She wasn’t herself the week before, but I knew Tony would get on top of that and have that figured out.” Reflect With Me took an opposite route to victory. She dropped back from post 8, while even-money favorite Lyons Sentinel worked to clear second choice Priceless for the lead through a sizzling :53.3 opening half mile. Reflect With Me was fourth-over but sustained a 4-wide rally to prevail by a neck over a stubborn Lyons Sentinel in 1:50.3, missing the Crown record by one-fifth of a second for co-owners Bradley Grant and Brittany Farms. McCarthy was on his way to becoming the eighth driver in Breeders Crown history with four winners in the same year. The only ones as happy as Team Alagna were the bettors who keyed Ramona Hill and Reflect With Me for $1 superfecta payouts of $4,918 and $6,042, respectively. Multiple stakes winner Captain Midnight gave Team Alagna a live shot at a third 2-year-old Crown title, but he finished fourth in the $600,000 Colt Pace that featured its own share of drama. Elimination winner Papi Rob Hanover (David Miller) was a head in front at the wire after a stretch-long duel with Tall Dark Stranger, but Tall Dark Stranger avenged the only loss of his career when driver Yannick Gingras’ objection for interference was upheld and the order reversed. Nancy Johansson trains Tall Dark Stranger for Howard Taylor, Marvin Katz, Crawford Farms Racing and Caviart Farms. There was no such drama in the $600,000 2-Year-Old Colt Trot. Amigo Volo, who broke stride as the odds-on favorite but recovered in time to qualify for the finals, was sent to the lead by driver Dexter Dunn and cruised to a 4-length victory in 1:54.3. Nifty Norman trains Amigo Volo for David J. Miller and Pinske Stables.

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11.4.2019:

Monday, November 4: Mohawk Park Late Pick 4 Analysis

Woodbine Mohawk Park has an 11-race card set to kick-off the week. The feature comes in Race 9, a Preferred Trot with a $34,000 purse. The Late Pick 4 begins in Race 8 and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 81-Dress To The Nines (7/2)-Might be a shade below #4 and #6 but Roy has a way of making a difference and will use from the rail. But 2-21 is a cause for concern.4-Betsea (4-1)-Gets a positive driver change and shouldn't be 15 lengths back at the 1/4 pole, could get some revenge on #6.6-Esprit Dequipe (2-1)-Winner of 2 straight deserves respect and if gets the top without much trouble it could be 3 in a row. But it may not be smooth sailing with main foes starting inside.Race 91-Dunbar Hall (10-1)-Was in tall cotton facing Breeder Crown foes but can make some noise with this field. The post draw should help and Hudon could work an advantageous trip and surprise.8- Emoticon Hanover (9/5)-Looks for an overdue win and has been facing some tough foes. McClure probably will be blasting out and could be put in play early. Program chalk looks the part and should be tough to beat will a decent trip.Race 103-Free Exchange (3-1)-Beat a couple in this field last week as an odds-on favorite from the 8-hole. It appears like #6 should get the jump and be in front at the top of the stretch. This filly will need to grind it out and if cover flow is good should be heard from late.6-Lady Driver (5/2)-Impressive win in last as the 2-1 chalk in 1st start for Auciello. Looks like a major player again off that confident win.Race 113-Knight Angel (15-1)-Comes off a win and now steps-up, will look to string along at a nice price.6-On The Ropes (7/2)-Keeps winning and moving up the class ladder. Drury will likely leave and can get on the engine and not look back.9-B Yoyo (3-1)-Raced big in last and was bet, this looks like a spot for an overdue win if trip doesn't take its toll.My Ticket Race 8) 1,4,6 Race 9) 1,8 Race 10) 3,6/ Race 11) 3,6,9Total Ticket Cost) $7.20 for $0.20Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.4.2019:

Bettors Get Breeders' Cup Saturday Right

The public didn’t miss by much at the 2019 Breeders’ Cup. While the pick six didn’t go quite as scripted on Saturday as it did a year prior – when first or second public wagering choices won each race – it was not far off. And overall favorites on Saturday performed awfully well given the competition level, where few toss-outs appear in any field.Saturday’s chalk went 9: 2-5-1 with only 7-2 shot Pure Sensation in the Turf Sprint missing the money (and he had an extremely troubled trip when fifth, beaten just over 3 lengths). Shockingly, the only other favorite to finish outside the exacta was 4-5 hammer Sistercharlie in the Filly & Mare Turf. She wound up third and almost universally was respected as the favorite with the least questions to answer in the entire Breeders’ Cup.Favored Covfefe delivered at 3-2 in the Filly & Mare Sprint to open Saturday’s action. And Bricks and Mortar likely sealed a Horse of the Year campaign in the Turf as the even-money chalk. Favored runners-up included Omaha Beach (1-1) in the Dirt Mile, Shancelot (3-2) in the Sprint, Got Stormy (3-1) in the Mile, Midnight Bisou (1-1) in the Distaff and McKinzie (5-2) in the Classic.With the favorite running second five times on Saturday, you’d hope those were chances to find a price. But those five were beaten by two public second choices, two third choices and a fourth choice. All five were single digits, topped by 9-1 Spun to Run as fourth choice in the Dirt Mile.The two price shots on Saturday came in the races where the favorites delivered the worst performances. The $31.60 return on Belvoir Bay in the Turf Sprint came in the event where Pure Sensation missed the superfecta altogether. Iridessa paid $28.40 in the wake of Sistercharlie’s lackluster, one-paced F&M Turf performance while not threatening in third. Outside of catching a big win mutuel on that pair, in order to take down the exotics you had to stand pretty hard against the favorites. But even without Sistercharlie in the F&M Turf, the $2 exacta paid just $130 to Vasilika. If you caught the pair of Peter Miller trainees (both virtually 15-1) from posts 12-11 in the Turf Sprint, the $2 exacta was worth $267.40.Yes, the public had this Breeders’ Cup pretty well dialed in for the second straight year. It may not feel that way as you’re swimming through difficult race after difficult race. I cast my line and came back without a bite on a seemingly endless pattern over the weekend, so I know how you feel.The public also didn’t misread much on Saturday. Come Dancing underperformed at 2-1 in the F&M Sprint, but that was hardly a bettors’ underlay; Old Persian beat just one runner in the Turf as the 7-2 second choice, joining a long list of second-off-the-plane runners who just regress for some reason; and Code of Honor didn’t factor at all when seventh in the Classic as the 7-2 second choice. And throughout Saturday's 9 championship races, only 2 horses 20-1 or more lit the trifecta, the closer Dawn the Destroyer in the F&M Sprint who was very usable underneath, and Richard Mandella's 51-1 Turf runner-up United.

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11.3.2019:

Sunday, November 03: Northfield Park Late Pick 4 Analysis

Northfield Park has 15-races set to roll with the feature coming in Race 10, a condition pace with a $20,000 purse. There are two Pick 4 sequences on the card, both with $10,000 guaranteed pools. My focus will be on the $1 Late Pick 4 which begins in Race 11. The driver with the hottest hands on Saturday was Aaron Merriman with four wins. Conditioners Sam Schillaci, C. Brian Loney and Chris Short led the trainers with two trips to the winner's circle.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 113-And We'll See Ya (8/5)-Gets post relief and Merriman sticks, should be in the mix at a short price.5-Big Place (7-1)-Last start was back in March and hasn't had a win in a long time. Even though he is 0-20, his first start off the bench was good. Should be tighter here and could beat a suspect field at a nice price.8-The Kop (20-1)-10-year-old has the gate speed to be put in play, this is a soft bunch and if trip works out he could light up the board.Race 124-Rushing Reba (15-1)-Price shot makes 4th local start, last was better and draws well, will use at this price.8-Dawnna Marie (7/5)-Came off a lame scratch with 2 nice efforts, post is a concern but on paper, her race to lose.Race 137-Bourbans Best (3-1)-Merriman has had success steering this 12-year-old so will respect chances. But will need a top effort to take a picture.8-Dance Life Well (9/5)-First start for new barn after a big win, program chalk looks the part and has the gate speed to get the top.Race 141-Wanderer (5/2)-Even efforts in DTN but this is a spot to shine, was good at this class back in August. One issue is not racing since 10/3.2-Blooming Genuis (9/2)-Grismore needs to work a good trip, if so, can win at a square price.3-Lovedancinwithyou (15-1)-Last was better and now draws inside. Also, since missing about 3 weeks between races now makes 3rd start since 10/21. That could mean this 9-year-old is sitting on a big try at a big price.$1 Pick 4 Race 11) 3,5,8 Race 12) 4,8 Race 13) 7,8 Race 14) 1,2,3Total Ticket Cost) $36 for $1.00Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.3.2019:

Sunday, November 03: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.RACE 1: Post 11:30 PT. Grade: BSingle: 3-Single Me OutForecast: Single Me Out is an eight-race maiden and probably not one to trust, but the j. Cassidy-trained gelding has rising speed figures and shouldn’t be bothered by the surface switch to grass. In the money in his last three, the four-year-old gelding surfaces in a below par maiden $50,000 claimer and with a repeat of his most recent start should be set to graduate. At 5/2 on the morning line he’s a straight play and rolling exotic single; if he goes appreciably lower, we’ll tread lightly or perhaps sit it out altogether.RACE 2: Post 12:00 PT. Grade: C+Use: 1-Zucchera; 6-Flying BlueForecast: The two main players in this maiden $30,000 claiming main track affair for fillies and mares are both dropping sharply in class and are trying the main track for the first time, so this race could easily turn out chaotic. Zucchera exits a productive race at Del Mar and has winning connections, so if will be surprising if she isn’t a strong factor against this modest group. Same can be said for Flying Blue, who actually has a dirt pedigree and may appreciate the switch to the main track after finishing a fair fourth in straight maiden company over the Golden Gate lawn in her most recent outing. Both have speed figures that are better than par for this level but, again, those numbers were earned on turf. You can double the race in your rolling exotics and simply pass.RACE 3: Post 12:31 PT. Grade: B-Use: 1-Tyrannical Rex; 2-Cape Point; 4-TorosayForecast: The third race is a grass grab bag for older maidens sprinting five and one-half furlongs on grass. Tyrannical Rex ran quite well under these conditions in his debut but then was far back when stretched out over a distance of ground. Back around one turn today, the son of Fed Biz figures to be heard from in the final furlong. Torosay flashed good speed before fading in the same race that Tyrannical Rex finished second in. Blinkers go on today, so the son of Goldencents has a right to produce a forward move in this, his second career start. Cape Point is bred for turf (Temple City) and has shown some ability in workouts at Los Alamitos. It’s somewhat encouraging that J. Sadler chooses to debut the gelding in a straight maiden rather in a claimer, so on that basis alone he’s probably worth including in rolling exotic play in what on paper appears to be a modest affair.RACE 4: Post 1:03 PT. Grade: XSingle: 1-Oil Can KnightForecast: Oil Can Knight off slowly and never in the hunt when pitched too high in a strong first-level allowance sprint on grass last month but a repeat of his race before last – a highly-rated score vs. starter’s allowance foes – will be more than good enough to handle this $20,000 claimer restricted to 3-year-olds. The concern is the class drop – obviously his connections aren’t protecting him with this placement – and at 9/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower the son of Can the Man won’t be offering any wagering value. Single him in rolling exotic play of you like or just wait for better opportunities.RACE 5: Post 1:34 PT. Grade: B+Use: 3-Crystal Tribe; 8-Real Master; 9-UnapologeticForecast: Crystal Tribe was given a run in his U.S. debut when fifth without being knocked about in a similar first level allowance affair at Del Mar in late August and should be tighter and much more serious today. The well-bred son of Dansili retains D. Van Dyke and based on pedigree will appreciate this 10-furlong trip. If the J. Mullins-trained 3-year-old improves as much as well expect him, the Irish-bred colt, at 6-1 on the morning line, can be along in time at a nice price. Another ex-Euro, Real Master, puts on blinkers and has a right to continue to improve after earning a career top speed figure when a close fifth in a mini marathon at this level at Del Mar. His French form wasn’t great but good enough to make him competitive on this circuit at this level, and at 8-1 on the morning line he’s worth including in your exotics. Unapologetic removes blinkers in his second off-the-claim for hot trainer P. Miller while also benefiting from a break in the weights with the switch to good bug boy J. Velez. Three of his seven career wins have been accomplished over this turf course, so while his past pair of been below standard he does have some good races to go back to.RACE 6: Post 2:05 PT. Grade: BUse:3-Tizamagician; 5-TaishanForecast: Taishan split the field in an uneventful debut at Del Mar in mid-August but has trained quite a bit better since so improvement is likely in this maiden special weight miler for two-year-olds. The son of Twirling Candy should handle two turns and be close up throughout with every chance. Tizamagician is the logical favorite (he’s 4/5 on the morning line) following an excellent runner-up effort to the highly regarded Honor A. P. over this track and distance last month. The son of Tiznow wound up 10 lengths clear of the rest in what certainly was a winning effort; not much more should be needed today. Taishan clearly will be the better price of the two so we’ll put him on top but use both in our rolling exotics.RACE 7: Post 2:40 PT. Grade: XSinglee: 4-Morning CynnForecast: With very little to beat in this bottom-rung maiden claimer for older fillies and mares, Morning Cynn really shouldn’t miss this opportunity. The daughter of Paynter just failed as the even money favorite in a similar affair when winding up second, though she was more than nine lengths clear of the rest while earning a Beyer speed figure that if repeated today most likely would land her in the winner’s circle. At 2-1 on the morning line and likely to go lower, the D. O’Neill-trained filly won’t offer any real wagering value so you can use her a rolling exotic single or just pass the race.RACE 8: Post 3:12 PT. Grade: BUse: 3-Richmond Avenue; 5-ToinetteForecast: Toinette is highly logical in the featured Goldikova S.-G2 over a mile on grass for fillies and mares, hence her morning line of 6/5. The N. Drysdale-trained filly has won three of her last four starts, including the recent Swingtime Stakes over this course and distance and this step up in class from listed to graded stakes won’t be an issue for the classy daughter of Scat Daddy. Richmond Avenue probably is worth using somewhere on your ticket as a saver or a back-up. She has performed consistently well in listed stakes company in England and France this year and is fresh off the plane with rising, competitive Timeform ratings. If she gets cover and settles, the daughter of Invincible Avenue has really turn it on late.RACE 9: Post 3:47 PT. Grade: B+Single: 5-Don’tteasethetigerForecast: The season finale is a restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claiming sprint that appears made to order for Don’teasethetiger. Dropping a notch on the class ladder after encountering a bit of a rough go in a $16,000 affair last month, the Vallejo-trained gelding has a series of recent speed figures that are good enough to beat this field and if he breaks with his field he’ll be on or near the lead throughout. At 4-1 on the morning line he’s a straight play and rolling exotic single.

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11.3.2019:

Sunday, November 03: Santa Anita Workout Analysis

The following workouts have been extracted from Jeff Siegel’s West Coast Daily Workout Analysis, which appears in this blog and is updated daily.SECOND RACE1-ZuccheraSept. 20, 20195f, 1:03.1hGrade: CSecond best under urging through the lane with A G Indy (same time), not impressive for Baltas. Needs soft maiden claimers to be competitive on this circuit.THIRD RACE3-Magic RateOct. 19, 20195f, 1:02.4hgGrade: CWorked from gate with older turf router Ronald R (6f, 1:15.2hg) and was under some coaxing most of the way while a tad second best, slow early and not particularly fast late, either, splits of :25.4, :L49.4 and 1:02.4, up at the eighth pole while workmate continued to the wire. Hard to endorse right now, should make the entries soon.3-Magic RateSept. 27, 20195f, :48.3hGrade: C+No match for Omaha Beach (4f, :46.3h), breaking with classy stable mate and going fairly quick early (:11.2, :22.4) before fading in the lane while very late switching leads. Exchange Tate unraced 3-year-old colt should make the entries soon, probably a maiden claimer.4-TorosayOct. 19, 20195f, 1:01.1hGrade: BBest by a couple of lengths inside Factor of Two (4f, :49.1, up at wire) and went pretty well throughout without being asked much, splits of :24.1, :48.1 and 1:01.1 out to 7/8 pole. Flashed good speed before weakening in debut, has a right to improve.FOURTH RACE5-Concord JetOct. 20, 20195f, 1:02.1hGrade: BLooked good for a cheap type, breezing throughout and coasting home while much best over Cocoa Cents (5f, 1:03.2h), splits of :24.4, :36.3 and 1:02.1, Perking up, should be dangerous in a modest claiming sprintFIFTH RACE7-Buckstopper KitOct. 21, 20195f, 1:04h TTGrade: B-Broke off five lengths in front of Mirth (5f, 1:03h) and managed to hold that one at bay through the lane, not really asked much (workmate asked), finishing well after going off slowly. Comes off restricted $32,000 claiming win and holds that form.8-Real Master-FRSept. 13, 20194f, :51.3hGrade: C+French-bred worked solo in training track move, going off slowly but picking it up a bit through the lane while being let run, final three furlongs in :38.2 for Bell. Marathon-type has all of his conditions.SIXTH RACE5-TaishanOct. 20, 20195f, 1:00.2hGrade: B+Twirling Candy colt worked extremely well for Baltas in company with BC Distaff-bound Secret Spice (5f, 1:00h), breaking off in front of that one and then holding her at bay under mild coaxing only, final three furlongs in :11.4 and :36.1, plenty left late. Had an outing at Del Mar and certainly can improve with that race behind him, expecting a nice forward move next time out.5-TaishanOct. 13, 20195f, 1:02hGrade: BMostly on his own, final half mile in :24.2 and :48.4, solid drill. Had an even run when fifth in his debut at Del Mar and has a right to improve with experience.5-TaishanOct. 6, 20195f, 1:02.2hGrade: B-Ridden through the lane to finish about a half-length in front of Two Thirty Five (same time, not asked much), final half on our watches in :49.4. Twirling Candy juvenile colt may have a bit of improvement in him.EIGHTH RACE1-Don’t Blame JudyOct. 21, 20195f, 1:01.3h TTGrade: B-Ridden through the lane, fair to okay in solo training track drill, final three furlongs in :11.4 and :37.3. Probably needs turf to show her best stuff.

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11.2.2019:

Saturday, November 02: Meadowlands Pick 4 Analysis

The Kindergarten Classic Finals are the headliners on a 13-race card at the Meadowlands tonight. The 0.50 Pick 4 starts in Race 8, it has a $50,000 guaranteed pool and will be my focus.Comments and selections below are based on a fast track.Race 82-Rocknificent (3-1)-Winner of 2 straight and last was in 1:51.1 drawing off by 6+ lengths. If races back to last it should be another picture but with big money on the line it probably won't be so easy.5-Hen Party (7/2)-Also, has made it looks easy in last 2 but those were while racing on the lead with 56.3 first half, pace should be quicker tonight.6-Sail By (10-1)-McCarthy returns, that should help and has had excuses. Maybe a 2-hole trip behind #2 or #5 is in the cards and then rolls by late.Race 92-Another Daily Copy (7/2)-This will be 3rd start off the bench and showed improvement in last, comes home with big last quarters and best to respect.3-Annihilation (8-1)-Steps-up after a win and will need best at this class. But will use at 8-1 with Dunn taking a spin from this post in an interesting race.5-Quality Bud (6-1)-Drops, gets post relief and likes the track. Fits with this bunch and can win at a square price.Race 104-Ideal Perception (4-1)-Got on the engine and didn't look back in last, tough to leave out after that effort. But did miss a start and that's curious, but should be a player if ready.5-Major Betts (12-1)-Taking a swing after racing up north versus Breeders Crown foes, fits much better here and did win only start at the Big M.8-Keystone Dash (15-1)-Gingras takes a seat and my guess is this colt blasts out, could get the engine or 2-hole behind #4. Will use at 15-1 and hope the trip works out.Race 113-Buschwacker (9/2)-First start since 4/28, may need one or two, but if fires this is a field that can be beat from this post with Dunn.6-Solo Story (7/2)-Drops to a spot to shine and was A. Miller's choice over a couple of others. This looks like go-time but 2 for 38 is cause for pause.7-City Hall (3-1)-Steps-up after a sharp win from post #8 and has won 20 of 43 at the Big M. Does have good gate speed but others can leave too, will respect chances in a tough race.My Ticket Race 8) 2,5,6 Race 9) 2,3,5 Race 10) 4,5,8 Race 11) 3,6,7Total Ticket Cost) $40.50 for $0.50Check me out on Twitter, @AlCimaglia

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11.2.2019:

Saturday, November 02: Santa Anita Wagering Strategies

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “Daily Analysis and Wagering Strategies” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.It is recommended that Jeff’s selections be used to augment the reader’s own personal handicapping, though excellent results can be achieved by applying the rolling exotic strategy specified by Jeff’s analysis. Jeff’s recommended plays are intended for players with a moderate budget; however, readers are encouraged to adjust Jeff’s wagering strategy to fit their preferred investment level.Grade A=Highest degree of confidence.Grade B=Solid Play.Grade C=Least preferred, or pass.Grade X=probable winner but odds are not likely to offer wagering value.The selections are available every racing day after morning scratches. For updates, please follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.RACE 1: Post 10:07 PT. Grade: BUse: 4-Just Grazed Me; 8-Girls Know Best; 9-EscapadeForecast: The opener is a highly competitive turf sprint graded stakes for fillies and mares with at least three strong possibilities. Give the projected pace flow, we’ll put Just Grazed Me slightly on top in a race that may very well set up beautifully for a second-flight stalker. The daughter of Grazen just won a nice state-bred stakes over this course and distance with a career top speed figure, and with plenty of speed signed on she may inherit the same type of trip that she capitalized on last time out Girls Know Best and Escapade will ensure a blazing pace and could do each in, although both are high quality types so if one manages to shake loose from the other this race could turn in to a parade. ‘Best has won 12 of 23 during her career and consistently earns strong speed figures while Escapade, drawn comfortably outside, has the luxury of stalking and pouncing if J. Castellano chooses that strategy. We’ll include all three in our rolling exotics in a race might depend on how fast the opening quarter of a mile is run.RACE 2: Post 10:42 PT. Grade: A-Single: 3-RoadsterForecast: Roadster won the Santa Anita Derby-G1 last spring but has been started and stopped on a couple of times since and today returns in the listed Damascus Stakes over a seven furlong trip that he absolutely should love. The son of Quality Road won his debut sprinting so we know he can fire fresh, and his workouts in recent weeks have been the best of his career. The B. Baffert-trained colt gets blinkers and I. Ortiz, Jr. and is more than fast enough on speed figures t