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5.26.2022:

Race of the Week: Fran's Valentine at Santa Anita | Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Lead: Memorial Day weekend features no less than 11 stakes races at Santa Anita, including a trio of G1 contests on the holiday Monday card. Saturday boasts the 5-stakes Gold Rush Day for California-breds. I'll focus on the Race 9 Fran's Valentine, named for the millionaire Cal-bred filly who won the 1985 Kentucky Oaks. As the Race 9 finale, the Fran's Valentine will be part of the Golden Hour Double & Pick Four, as well as the late pick four, pick five and Rainbow 6 finale. Players at Xpressbet and on the 1/ST BET app can take advantage of a $3,000 late pick four hit-and-split promotion Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Santa Anita. Take home your parimutuel winnings and split $3,000 more with other players on the platform who also hit the late pick four each day of the promo. ​Field Depth: ALICE MARBLE, FI FI PHAROAH and PULPIT RIDER are stakes winners. SUPER GAME is stakes-placed. ALICE MARBLE and PULPIT RIDER have consistently held the strongest company lines in the race. Pace: Turf sprinter ALICE MARBLE figures to be part of a strong pace that also includes FLYING TO THE LINE and SUPER GAME extending their speed, as well as turf route front-runner SELF ISOLATION. This should be strong-to-fast and give a strong finisher every chance to perform her best. Our Eyes: ALICE MARBLE should be a deserving favorite off a G2 Monrovia runner-up for top connections, trainer Phil D'Amato and jockey Juan Hernandez. The 2-turn distance of a mile will be her longest attempt and first time around a pair of bends. It's not rare for a sprinter to stretch out and win a turf mile, but after 10 career starts, you do wonder why she hasn't been tasked with such a trip yet. PULPIT RIDER finished third in this race last year and obviously fits. But notice the 1-16 local record and fact that her stakes successes came in consecutive renewals of the Solana Beach at Del Mar. She comes into this race off a very similar pattern when unplaced in March's Irish O'Brien for the second straight year. Her mid-pack/closing style at least will be set up nicely by the expected hot pace. SELF ISOLATION has been rock-solid of late with 4 straight in-the-money finishes, but has yet to try stakes company. The Reddam home-bred brings the familiar team of Mario Gutierrez-Doug O'Neill back into the fray. The steady-tempo'd daughter of Square Eddie will have a different dynamic Saturday when facing so many stretch-out sprinters; it's difficult to project how she'll handle it. SUPER GAME has been a downhill turf sprint specialist for trainer Brian Koriner, but has run well in the few attempts at a mile. She's been freshened since February and on a consistent work patter like this race has been targeting for some time. FI FI PHAROAH has raced only once on turf, but had no chance last September at Del Mar behind pedestrian fractions against open company. Sire American Pharoah has done solidly with his turf runners, and his fillies in particular, so this could be a good turf mile fit vs. Cal-breds. FI FI PHAROAH has made 8 of her last 9 starts against open company. She did win the Melair on dirt on Gold Rush Day last year as a 3-year-old. Her work May 21 was her best in some time and signals she might be primed. Her 2-turn races are excellent with her 1-turn races soiling her form. If she takes to turf, look out. Most Certain Exotics Contender: ALICE MARBLE may not be a known commodity at a mile, but her class should keep her punching for the exotics even if the trip gets taxing. Best Longshot Exotics Contender: Hope here is that FI FI PHAROAH, the top pick, also provides the best value. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $100 win FI FI PHAROAH.

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5.26.2022:

Jon White: A Fresh Early Voting Victorious in Preakness

  A so-called new shooter strikes again. A “new shooter” is a Preakness starter who did not run in the Grade I Kentucky Derby. And it turned out that a new shooter, Early Voting, won last Saturday’s 147th running of the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. From 2000 through 2016, only three new shooters won the Grade I Preakness: Red Bullet (2000), Bernardini (2006) and Rachel Alexandra (2009). Now we’ve seen new shooters win four of the last six editions of the Preakness: Cloud Computing (2017), Swiss Skydiver (2020), Rombauer (2021) and Early Voting (2022). For many years, I automatically took a stand against all new shooters in the Preakness. No more. Going forward, based on recent results, I will be taking a serious look at new shooters in the Preakness. In this year’s renewal of the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, Early Voting showed a new dimension by rating off the pace for jockey Jose Ortiz. This was quite similar to what Epicenter did in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes earlier this year. In Early Voting’s three career starts prior to the Preakness, he had either set the early pace or vied for the early advantage. How would Early Voting react if he ever would be asked to come off the pace, even if just slightly off it? Trainer Chad Brown certainly did his best to have Early Voting prepared as well as possible for such an eventuality. In more than one of Early Voting’s workouts before the Preakness, he was given a target to run at, enabling him to gain some experience in this regard. In Early Voting’s only loss, he set the pace in Aqueduct’s Grade II Wood Memorial at 1 1/8 miles on April 9. After leading by two lengths with a furlong to go, Early Voting had to settle for second when not quite able to hold off the late charge of Mo Donegal, who prevailed by a neck. “This horse, he’s better with a target,” Brown said of Early Voting after the Preakness. “I think when we ran him in the Wood, he was waiting on horses when he got to the lane. It’s not because he can’t go that far. So, I was hoping for a target [in the Preakness], that somebody would send. Given the way the track was playing all day, very speed favoring, I certainly wasn’t going to take him out of his game. So, we were prepared to go to the lead. But when the other horse [Armagnac] went to the front, Jose got a good position with a target in front of him.” Early Voting began alertly in the Preakness, then was perfectly willingly to concede the pacesetting role to Armagnac. Early Voting found himself 1 1/2 lengths off the lead through a moderate pace of :24.32 for the first quarter and :47.44 for the half. Compare that to the torrid tempo of :21.78 and :45.36 two weeks earlier in the Kentucky Derby. Early Voting dueled for the lead on the far turn while outside Armagnac. Turning for home, Early Voting edged away to lead by 1 1/2 lengths. Armagnac threw in the towel, eventually finishing seventh in the field of nine. While being ridden aggressively, Early Voting shook away in upper stretch to boast a 3 1/2-length lead at the furlong pole. He drifted out in midstretch, then came in late. There was no need for an inquiry or objection because when Early Voting came in late, he was clear of the oncoming Epicenter. Early Voting won by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:54.54. Epicenter finished second, 2 1/4 lengths clear of Creative Minister in third. Secret Oath, a filly taking on the boys, ended up fourth. Epicenter had a rather rough go of it early, as did Secret Oath. “Epicenter steadied when squeezed back in the opening furlong,” according to the Equibase chart comments. “Secret Oath, brushed at the break, checked sharply between rivals when put in tight by Happy Jack in the opening sixteenth,” again according to the Equibase chart comments. Through the first half-mile, Epicenter raced eighth, while Secret Oath trailed. Epicenter came on steadily turning for home and down the lane when keeping to his task and racing next to the inside rail. But the 6-5 favorite simply was unable to catch 5-1 Early Voting. Secret Oath, another off at odds of 5-1, rallied to loom menacingly while racing about five wide into the stretch. But she lacked the necessary additional punch in the final furlong. She also had rallied before flattening out in the lane against males when she finished third in the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April prior to winning the Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 6. KENTUCKY DERBY RUNNER-UP LOSES AGAIN While new shooters have been successful lately, the dreadful record of Kentucky Derby runners-up in the Preakness continues. As I noted last week, from 1994 to present, there has been exactly one Kentucky Derby runner-up who went on to win the Preakness. That was Exaggerator in 2016. “Of course, not every Kentucky Derby runner-up during this period raced a fortnight later in the big event at Old Hilltop,” I wrote. “Even so, again from 1994 to present, the record of horses to have finished second in the Derby before running in the Preakness is an unenviable 1 for 14 during this 29-year period.” In the aftermath of Epicenter’s defeat last Saturday, Kentucky Derby runners-up are now 1 for 15 when starting in the last 30 editions of the Preakness. Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman took this even further. “Epicenter’s second-place finish continued an inglorious streak for [Kentucky] Derby winners who come back in the Preakness,” Privman wrote. “Since 1961, the Derby runner-up has competed 44 times, and has won just three times, and only once since 1993.” CLOUD COMPUTING 2.0 Early Voting’s Preakness triumph was a wonderful 65th birthday present for oenrt Seth Klarman (Klaravich Stables), who grew up just three blocks from Pimlico. Cloud Computing, racing for the partnership of Klarman and William Lawrence and trained by Brown, finished third in the 2017 Wood Memorial, skipped the Kentucky Derby, then won the Preakness in only his fourth career start. Early Voting ran second in the Wood Memorial, skipped the Kentucky Derby, then captured the Preakness in just his fourth career start. “For any horse to win a classic in his fourth start is really a tremendous accomplishment,” Brown said after this year’s Preakness. After Cloud Computing won the Preakness, he never won another race. The Kentucky-bred Maclean’s Music colt was 0 for 4 after the Preakness. I will be surprised if Early Voting does not win another race. He has been ruled out of the Grade I Belmont Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on June 11. Early Voting is expected to run at Saratoga in the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes on July 30 and Grade I Travers Stakes on Aug. 27. Cloud Computing finished fifth in the Jim Dandy (won by Good Samaritan), then ran fifth in the Travers (won by West Coast). BEYER MISSES AGAIN I thought Epicenter was in big trouble going into the Preakness. Why? He was Andy Beyer’s top pick. Okay, my top pick, Secret Oath, didn’t win, either. But if you like a horse in any of the Triple Crown races, the last thing you want to see is that Beyer is picking him or her to win it. Beyer is the first to admit that his record when it comes to forecasting the winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. At least he did manage to get Medina Spirit right in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit later was disqualified from his Kentucky Derby victory due to a medication violation, but Beyer’s selection counts as a win for betting purposes, which is what matters with horseplayers. Mo Donegal was Beyer’s pick to win in this year’s Kentucky Derby. But I won’t hold that one against the father of the important Beyer Speed Figures too much. I don’t know of anyone whose top pick was Rich Strike, who pulled off an 80-1 shocker. That made Rich Strike the horse with the second-highest odds to ever win the Run for the Roses, exceeded only by Donerail’s victory at 91-1 in 1913. Beyer’s picks in the 2015 Triple Crown races were especially awful. While American Pharoah was putting an end to a 37-year drought by sweeping all three races, Beyer picked against him each time. In the Kentucky Derby, Beyer picked Upstart to win. Upstart was eased and finished 60 1/2 lengths behind American Pharoah. Beyer then picked Kentucky Derby runner-up Firing Line to win the Preakness Stakes. Firing Line stumbled at the start, was eased and finished 45 lengths behind American Pharoah. Next, Beyer picked Materiality to win the Belmont. Materiality finished last, 22 1/4 lengths behind American Pharoah. Beyer’s top pick lost the three races by a combined 127 3/4 lengths. When it comes time for this year’s Belmont, you can only hope that Andy Beyer’s top pick is not the horse you like. EARLY VOTING GETS BEST BEYER YET When Early Voting won an Aqueduct maiden race at one mile by 1 1/4 lengths in his career debut last Dec. 18, he was assigned a 76 Beyer Speed Figure. In his next start, Early Voting recorded a 78 Beyer Speed Figure when he won the 1 1/8-mile Withers Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths on Feb. 5. It is clear that Voting’s performance in the Withers did not impress the DRF’s Privman. “Early Voting seized the opportunity,” Privman wrote. “He came into this race off a debut win going a mile, and stepped right up to stakes company and remained unbeaten. Credit to Brown and owner Seth Klarman for taking advantage of this spot. That’s how you’re supposed to manage a horse at this stage of his career. But in terms of proving to have any serious impact on the Derby trail, I’d be circumspect.” When Early Voting received just a 78 Beyer Speed Figure for his Withers victory in early February, I thought at the time it might have been a tad lower than it should have been. Well, as it turned out, it was a lot lower than it should have been. On March 15, the DRF’s David Grening reported that “the Beyer Speed Figure for the horses who ran in the Grade III, $250,000 Withers Stakes on Feb. 5 at Aqueduct has been elevated by nine points with the winner, Early Voting, having now been assigned an 87.” That’s what you call a significant adjustment. Andy Beyer, head of the Beyer Speed Figure-making team, takes the approach that if at some point a figure looks like it’s off, it’s best to change it. I do not have a problem with that. It tells me that it’s Beyer’s goal to make his speed figures as accurate as possible. For that, I salute him. Grening wrote that the Withers figures had been changed “to reflect the improvement horses who finished behind Early Voting have shown in their subsequent starts following the Withers.” Un Ojo, second in the Withers, went on to win the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 26. Grantham, fourth in the Withers, ran second to Classic Causeway in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby. Smarten Up, sixth in the Withers, lost by a scant nose when he finished second in the City of Brotherly Love Stakes at Parx Racing on March 8. “Andrew Beyer, who developed the speed figures decades ago, said there was some discussion among his team early on that the Withers figure might have been too low,” Grening wrote. “Beyer noted the figure was difficult to make in part because it was the only two-turn race on that day’s nine-race card.” According to Beyer, races are frequently flagged for possible adjustments when the figure was deemed difficult to make due to weather/track conditions or possible timing issues. “There was enough of a body of evidence to suggest that 78 was too low,” Beyer said. “At the time of the race we wouldn’t have been smart enough to know that. None of the top six finishers in the Withers had ever run a figure of 76. It looked like it could have indeed been a weak field, but when these horses started coming back we boosted the number to an 87 to jibe with the subsequent performances of the horses. There are plenty of times when the two-turn races will have a different character, a different variant than one-turn races. If there had been another two-turn race on the card we wouldn’t have been so wary of this.” After Early Voting had his Withers figure boosted from 78 to 87, he posted a 96 Beyer when he finished second to Mo Donegal in the Wood. That certainly justified Andy Beyer’s decision to raise Early Voting’s Withers figure to an 87. Early Voting continued the upward trajectory of his Beyer Speed Figures by being credited with a career-best 105 in the Preakness. Below are the Beyers for Preakness winners going back to 1991: 2022 Early Voting (105) 2021 Rombauer (102) 2020 Swiss Skydiver (105) 2019 War of Will (99) 2018 Justify (97) 2017 Cloud Computing (102) 2016 Exaggerator (101) 2015 American Pharoah (102) 2014 California Chrome (105) 2013 Oxbow (106) 2012 I’ll Have Another (109) 2011 Shackleford (104) 2010 Lookin At Lucky (102) 2009 Rachel Alexandra (108) 2008 Big Brown (100) 2007 Curlin (111) 2006 Bernardini (113) 2005 Afleet Alex (112) 2004 Smarty Jones (118) 2003 Funny Cide (114) 2002 War Emblem (109) 2001 Point Given (111) 2000 Red Bullet (109) 1999 Charismatic (107) 1998 Real Quiet (111) 1997 Silver Charm (118) 1996 Louis Quatorze (112) 1995 Timber Country (106) 1994 Tabasco Cat (112) 1993 Prairie Bayou (98) 1992 Pine Bluff (104) 1991 Hansel (117) FIRST CLASSIC WINNER SIRED BY GUN RUNNER Gun Runner finished second to Arrogate in the Group I, $10 million Dubai World Cup in 2017. After that, Gun Runner was unstoppable. He reeled off four straight Grade I victories (Stephen Foster Handicap, Whitney Stakes, Woodward Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic) en route to being voted 2017 Horse of the Year. In the BC Classic, Gun Runner recorded a 117 Beyer Speed Figure and turned the tables on Arrogate, who finished in a dead heat for fifth. Early in 2018, Gun Runner won the Grade I Pegasus World Cup, a race in which he registered a career-best 119 Beyer. He then exited the racing stage to embark on a career at stud. What Gun Runner already has achieved as a sire is remarkable. From his first crop, in addition to Preakness victor Early Voting, Gun Runner has sired Echo Zulu (the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly of 2021), Cyberknife (winner of the Grade I Arkansas Derby), Taiba (winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby) and Gunite (winner of the Grade I Hopeful Stakes). While Gun Runner’s best Beyer Speed Figure was a 119, his sire, Candy Ride, recorded an even higher Beyer. Candy Ride received a 123 Beyer Speed Figure when he defeated Medaglia d’Oro and company in the Del Mar’s Grade I Pacific Classic in 2003. Candy Ride completed 1 1/4 miles that day in 1:59.11 to set a track record that still stands. PREAKNESS ODDS ON SOME TRULY BAFFLING Not surprisingly, Epicenter was sent away as the 6-5 favorite in the Preakness. But the final odds of 11-1 on Happy Jack and 13-1 on Fenwick left a lot of people bewildered. Pimlico oddsmaker Keith Feustle nailed it in terms of Epicenter, installing him as the 6-5 morning-line favorite for the Preakness. Feustle made Happy Jack 30-1, Fenwick 50-1. Most people, like the DRF’s Privman, are of the opinion that the shorter than expected final odds on Happy Jack and Fenwick were owing to Rich Strike’s gigantic upset at 80-1 in the Kentucky Derby. Rich Strike’s “80-1 upset two weeks ago obviously impacted the mindset of bettors, because no one in the Preakness was longer than 18-1, and seemingly rank outsiders like Happy Jack and Fenwick were only 11-1 and 13-1, respectively,” Privman wrote. Horseracingnation’s Mark Midland was not shocked to see those final odds for Happy Jack and Fenwick as a consequence of Rich Strike’s stunning Derby win at 80-1. Midland felt that this was a case of history repeating itself. “When a huge bomb wins the [Kentucky] Derby, they [the public] bet every single horse in the Preakness,” Midland said. Horseracingnation’s Ron Flatter cited evidence as to the validity of Midland’s point by noting that when Giacomo and Mine That Bird won the Kentucky Derby, both at 50-1, bettors then “chased big odds” in the Preakness. “There was no one longer than 27-1 in the 14-horse Preakness in 2005 and 25-1 with 13 starters in 2009,” Flatter wrote. Others, like Horseracingnation’s Ed DeRosa, see it differently. DeRosa felt this running of the Preakness was an outlier that he had never seen before. “You can’t have a horse be 80-1 in a $1 million double pool and 13-1 in the win pool and seriously think that’s a bunch of Joe Blows taking a flyer on a longshot,” DeRosa said. “Two horses [Happy Jack and Fenwick] with a 1% chance to win both took 6% of the money. It’s incredible.” For whatever reason or reasons, the crazy wagering support for Happy Jack and Fenwick enabled Epicenter to go off at 6-5 instead of even money or odds-on. This also inflated the final odds on contenders Early Voting and Secret Oath to 5-1 apiece when their prices otherwise would have been lower. RACE BOOKS IN NEVADA CLEANED UP Regarding Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby upset 80-1 in pari-mutuel wagering, not only did it seemingly affected the betting in the Preakness, it also produced a huge payday for the race books in Nevada in terms of Kentucky Derby future bets. Think of it. For months, thousands and thousands of dollars were wagered on horses in the Kentucky Derby future book in Las Vegas at Circa and Caesars at William Hill. Hardly any money was bet on Rich Strike. Consequently, the two race books were able to keep the vast majority of the future-book money bet on the Kentucky Derby, thanks to Rich Strike. On March 21, Horseracingnation.com’s Flatter reported that Circa and Caesars at William Hill “combined to list 182 3-year-olds in their Derby futures.” Think of all the money being bet back then on horses considered contenders like Epicenter, Smile Happy, Classic Causeway, Forbidden Kingdom, Messier, Morello, Charge It, Simplification, White Abarrio and Emmanuel. All the money on those horses went down the drain (actually to Circa and Caesars at William Hill). On March 21, it’s obvious that very little money had been bet on Rich Strike to win the Kentucky Derby. His odds at Circa were 300-1. Caesars at William Hill did not even have him listed. NTRA TOP THROUGHBRED POLL There are no newcomers in the Top 10 on this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll. The Top 10 is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 284 Country Grammer (20) 2. 282 Letruska (10) 3. 233 Life Is Good (3) 4. 180 Olympiad 4. 180 Speaker’s Corner 6. 172 Hot Rod Charlie 7. 148 Jackie’s Warrior 8. 83 Express Train 9. 68 Golden Pal 10. 47 Flightline NTRA TOP THREE-YEAR-OLD POLL Going into the Preakness, Epicenter ranked No. 1 in the NTRA Top Three-Year-old Poll. Epicenter now shares the top spot with Preakness winner Early Voting. This week’s Top 10 is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 311 Early Voting (11) 1. 311 Epicenter (20) 3. 244 Zandon 4. 235 Rich Strike (8) 5. 168 Jack Christopher (1) 6. 165 Secret Oath (4) 7. 135 Mo Donegal 8. 69 Creative Minister 8. 62 Simplification 10. 36 Taiba

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5.24.2022:

Canterbury Park: Leading 1/ST BET Handicapping Factors

  Minnesota’s Canterbury Park recently kicked off its 2022 live racing season and 1/ST BET is proud for the first time to be the official wagering app for all the action. For those new to handicapping Canterbury, or for long-time Canterbury horseplayers looking to take advantage of the 1/ST BET app handicapping features, let’s dig into some key points about playing the local races. The 1/ST BET app allows handicappers to apply more than 50 traditional handicapping factors to any race, from speed to class to pedigree and more. But which factors have fared best at Canterbury? We went back to 2016 and listed each factor that has produced 25% or better top-pick winners and separated them by race type. TURF SPRINT (NON-MAIDEN) FACTOR Win % Off Odds Rank 34.00% ML Odds Rank 29.30% Last Purse Rank 27.70% Speed Last Race Rank 27.40% Best Speed Last3 Rank 27.40% Avg Speed Last3 Rank 26.30% Best Speed This Distance Rank 25.30% Avg Best 2 of last 3 Rank 25.10% Trainer Current Year Rank 25.10% TURF ROUTE (NON-MAIDEN) FACTOR Win % Off Odds Rank 35.50% Last Purse Rank 27.90% Days Since Last Race Ranks 27.80% Avg Speed Last3 Rank 27.30% Last Race Class Rank 27.10% Best Speed Last3 Rank 26.80% ML Odds Rank 26.10% Avg Best 2 of last 3 Rank 25.60% DIRT SPRINT (NON-MAIDEN) FACTOR Win % Off Odds Rank 42.50% Avg Speed Last3 Rank 37.10% ML Odds Rank 35.60% Avg Best 2 of last 3 Rank 33.10% Best Speed Last3 Rank 32.60% Speed Last Race Rank 31.20% Trainer Current Year Rank 28.60% Avg E2 Pace Rank 28.50% Last Race Class Rank 28.30% Last Purse Rank 28.30% Best Lifetime Speed Rank 28.00% Trainer 1 yr. Win % Rank 27.90% Best Speed Fast Track Rank 27.50% Trainer Current Meet Rank 26.90% Trainer 6 mo. Win % Rank 26.50% Lifetime Earnings Rank 25.80% In The Money % Rank 25.60% Best Speed Todays Track Rank 25.40% Last E2 Pace Rank 25.20% Best Speed This Distance Rank 25.10% DIRT ROUTE (NON-MAIDEN) FACTOR Win % Off Odds Rank 37.70% ML Odds Rank 31.00% Best Speed Last3 Rank 30.30% Trainer 1 yr. Win % Rank 30.00% Avg Speed Last3 Rank 29.10% Speed Last Race Rank 28.90% Last Purse Rank 28.70% Trainer 6 mo. Win % Rank 28.30% Avg Best 2 of last 3 Rank 28.20% Last Race Class Rank 27.90% Trainer Current Year Rank 27.70% Trainer Current Meet Rank 27.00% Jockey Current Meet Rank 27.00% Avg E2 Pace Rank 26.00% DIRT MAIDEN RACES FACTOR Win % Off Odds Rank 41.80% Last Purse Rank 37.00% Avg Speed Last3 Rank 36.40% ML Odds Rank 35.70% Avg Best 2 of last 3 Rank 34.60% Best Speed Last3 Rank 33.90% Speed Last Race Rank 33.70% Best Speed Fast Track Rank 32.20% Best Lifetime Speed Rank 31.50% Last Turn Time Rank 30.60% Last Race Class Rank 30.10% Lifetime Earnings Rank 30.00% Best Speed Todays Track Rank 29.80% In The Money % Rank 29.80% Avg Turn Time Pace Rank 28.40% Last 3 Purse Rank 27.90% Avg Earnings Todays Track Rank 27.90% Avg E2 Pace Rank 27.50% Trainer 1 yr. Win % Rank 26.90% Trainer Current Year Rank 26.60% Best Speed All Weather Rank 26.50% Days Since Last Race Ranks 26.10% Trainer Current Meet Rank 25.70% % Horses Beaten Rank 25.60% Last 3 Race Class Rank 25.50% Trainer 6 mo. Win % Rank 25.20% Last E2 Pace Rank 25.20% TURF MAIDEN RACES FACTOR Win % Off Odds Rank 39.00% Last Purse Rank 38.80% ML Odds Rank 34.50% Best Speed Last3 Rank 33.30% Best Lifetime Speed Rank 33.30% Avg Speed Last3 Rank 32.90% Best Speed Turf Rank 31.90% Avg Best 2 of last 3 Rank 31.70% Best Speed This Distance Rank 30.80% Best Speed Todays Track Rank 30.70% Speed Last Race Rank 27.80% % Horses Beaten Rank 27.40% Last Race Class Rank 27.40% Avg E2 Pace Rank 27.00% In The Money % Rank 26.60% Turf Earnings Rank 26.50% Trainer Current Meet Rank 26.40% Avg Earnings Todays Track Rank 26.30% Lifetime Earnings Rank 26.20% Best Speed Fast Track Rank 25.40% Trainer 1 yr. Win % Rank 25.20% Avg Earnings Todays Distance Rank 25.00%

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5.23.2022:

Monday Myths: Triple Crown Trios Have Long Been Rare

The Monday Myths space typically empowers the Betmix database to confirm or dispel handicapping assumptions. I’m going to use this space today to take on a hot-button topic surrounding the Triple Crown. There’s a lot of talk after Rich Strike skipped the Preakness that the series needs tweaked to fit modern trainers and horses’ needs. The truth is, even in the heyday of the series’ greatest stars, it was never a three-race series widely attended from Louisville to Baltimore to Long Island. Secretariat and Sham were the only two to tackle all three races in the fabled 1973 spring; same goes for Affirmed and Alydar in 1978. In Seattle Slew’s Triple Crown run of 1977, he was only one of 3 to compete in the trio. Since the new millennium in 2000, only one Triple Crown series has had more than 3 horses compete in all 3 races. To say that there’s a sudden drop in participation across the series would be to assume that previous to recent memory that there was a lineup of runners willing to do so. There hasn’t been. Here are the numbers of horses each year since 2000 to compete in all 3 Triple Crown legs. 2000: 1 | Impeachment 2001: 4 | Point Given, AP Valentine, Monarchos, Dollar Bill 2002: 3 | War Emblem, Proud Citizen, Medaglia d’Oro 2003: 2 | Funny Cide, Scrimshaw 2004: 1 | Smarty Jones 2005: 2 | Afleet Alex, Giacomo 2006: none 2007: 2 | Curlin, Hard Spun 2008: 1 | Big Brown 2009: 2 | Mine That Bird, Flying Private 2010: none 2011: 3 | Animal Kingdom, Shackleford, Mucho Macho Man 2012: 1 | Optimizer 2013: 3 | Orb, Oxbow, Will Take Charge 2014: 3 | California Chrome, Ride On Curlin, General A Rod 2015: 1 | American Pharoah 2016: 2 | Exaggerator, Lani 2017: 1 | Lookin At Lee 2018: 2 | Justify, Bravazo 2019: 1 | War of Will 2020: 1 | Max Player * Triple Crown contested in different order 2021: none In the 21 years listed this new millennium, a grand total of 36 horses have run in all 3 legs of the Triple Crown. Of the 36, only 17 were horses who didn’t win at least the Derby or Preakness to consider sticking around the series and play the hot hand. So unless you’re on a roll, only 17 other horses have tried all 3 legs while chugging along to try and garner a coveted Triple Crown win. And, yet, the Triple Crown races have blossomed with record handles in recent years, sterling pre-pandemic attendance figures and a strength those ‘glory’ years would have fawned over. Sure, there was a time when 5-6 horses ran the entire series, but it hasn't been consistently that deep over decades. To say the Triple Crown series 'needs' horses to run in all 3 legs is neither historically accurate or proven out by the business figures.

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5.23.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Woodbine Mohawk Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Monday, May 23, 2022

Woodbine Mohawk Park starts the week with a 10-race card. The feature goes in Race 8, a Free For All Trot with a $58,500 purse. The 0.20 Late Pick 4 begins in Race 7, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 7 3-Life Is A Feast (9/2)-Here is one of few droppers looking for a picture. Put in a flat line in last and if minds manners should be in the hunt at the wire. 4-All Wrapped Up (5/2)-This could be a wake-up call and was beating better back in March. Roy needs to provide a sharp steer and get this 6-year-old in striking at the top of the lane. 7-Final Claim (3-1)-Has been off 3 weeks but drops to a spot to shine. Winner of 5 in 20 starts at Wbsb may have found a field to beat for an overdue picture. Race 8 6-Pemberton (5/2)-Raced really well in the 1st start since 10-17-20 and came 2nd to Oney Hall. JMac should work a smooth trip and is the one to beat. 9-Forbidden Trade (3-1)-Put in some needed work in last and raced from the back. Did trot the 2nd-half in 54.3 in a needed starts. The wrapper should come off tonight even with this post draw as Oney Hall is sitting this one out. Race 9 2-Tymal Riggs (7/2)-Took advantage of a nice steer to beat easier last time. Comes off a sharp effort, draws well to get a similar trip and best to not overlook. 5-Stay Close (3-1)-Draws a prime post after being stuck with the 9-hole in the last 2. Raced well in last and was hindered down the lane. JMac is back between the pipes, this is 2nd time Lasix and shouldn't blush at anyone in this field. 9-Treasured Tee (4-1)-Likes to compete and McNair should have the pedal down. Has enough gate speed to get on the engine and take control of the mile. Race 10 1-A Boy Named Suuzz (10-1)-Starts slow, that hurt last week and now draws inside for new connections. Willing to take a swing at this price. 4-Cortez The Killer (4-1)-Makes the 3rd start off the bench and showed improvement in last. Debuts for the Cameron barn who has won 2 of 5 starts over the last 30 days. Could be dialed on high here. 9-Julerica (3-1)-Drew off by >4 lengths in last versus this kind but now draws post 9. Raced too good to dismiss, will use and hope for others at a better price. 0.20 Late Pick 4 3,4,7/6,9/2,5,9/1,4,9 Total Bet=$10.80 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.22.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Sunday, May 22, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): Havana Love; 2-Unbridled Mary Forecast: Florida invader Havana Love (TOC=12-1; ML=6-1) is quite interesting in this second-level allowance turf sprint for fillies and mares. An Italian stakes winner when mostly competing over a middle distance, she appears to have plenty of early zip and could display significant improvement while turning back in trip in this six furlong affair. In a race that projects to have moderate early fractions and based on what we’ve seen of her in the morning, she could easily be quick enough to be on or near the lead throughout. Unbridled Mary is a late-runner returning from Kentucky where she finished a close fifth in a listed stakes while earning a career top speed figure. The daughter of Maclean’s Music shows a healthy series of local dirt works to have her fit following a six week respite, so if she can get some help up front the J. Sadler-trained sophomore should be heard from late. Havana Love gets top billing but both should be included in rolling exotic play. Notable Workouts: Unbridled Mary (May 13, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.2h). Grade: B Stride-for-stride with Famous Star (same time) for J. Sadler, mild coaxing through the lane, final quarter mile in :25 flat. Decent work, nothing flashy, probably a bit more comfortable on grass. View Workout Video Havana Love (May 14, Santa Anita, 5f, :59.1hg). Grade: B+ Loved this work from Florida invader now in D. O’Neill barn, splits of :24 flat, :35.2, :47.1 and :59.1, mostly on her own while best over Still on the Books (5f, :59.4hg). Appears to have plenty of natural speed (she was stakes-placed sprinting overseas as a 2-year-old) and may be allowed to show it if shortened up. Had useful Italian form and should be quite competitive on this circuit. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:35 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 1-Fordy G; 7-Tahoma Forecast: Fordy G missed his scheduled debut last week when he was a late scratch but obviously is none the worse for wear as he reappears eight day later in this four and one-half furlong affair for juveniles. The son of American Freedom has displayed plenty of quickness in a.m. drills and could clear the field from the rail, assuming he breaks well. Tahoma, from the first crop of Justify, shows a local gate work (see below) that was solid if not spectacular. Whatever he can do today, he’s most likely to do better down the road as the distances increase. Notable Workouts: Fordy G (April 28, Santa Anita, 4f, :46.2hg). Grade: B Urged most of the way while second best with older Honor It (5f, :59.4hg) and well ahead of Reign of Speed (4f, :48.2hg) for Hanson, splits of :23 flat, :34.2 and :46.4, excellent speed for a juvenile. Have to think he’ll be live at first asking in an abbreviated dash. View Workout Video Tahoma (May 16, Santa Anita, 4f, :47hg). Grade: B From the first crop of Justify, juvenile went three ticks slower than given on our watches while even with Henry Q (same time), ridden a bit most of the way while earning splits of :23.3, :35.1 and :47.3 for K. Desormeaux. Decent work, not earth shattering, but seems fit enough and should make the entries soon and will have a look if not world beaters show up. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:09 PT Grade: X Single: 3-Paid Informant Forecast: Paid Informant (TOC=2/5; ML=Evens) really doesn’t look like a “healthy” odds-on favorite – she’s even money on the morning line and likely will go lower – but in the absence of a viable alternative the D. O’Neill-trained mare is the top pick by default. Following 10 month layoff, she returned protected in a starter optional claimer and ran very well to be third after a rough trip but today she surfaces in a $25,000 event and is clearly “for sale.” If the daughter of Into Mischief has one good one left she’ll take of business, but this suspicious pattern makes her almost unplayable at the short price she’s sure to be. You can use her as a no-value rolling exotic single or better yet just pass the race. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:44 PT Grade: C Use (in order of preference: 6-Here Comes Ralphie; 5-Kelanie Kim; 3-Mo Connelly Forecast: Here’s a six-runner field with nothing to embrace. Rolling exotic players should use as many as they can afford to. Here Comes Ralphie (TOC=5-1; ML=5/2) may be as good as any. She takes a slight but significant drop into a woefully weak race and based on her recent speed figures should be capable of producing the last run. Most of her recent races have been on turf or synthetic but the daughter of Lakerville shouldn’t have a problem with the main track, at least against this group. Kelani Kim (TOC=2-1; ML=2-1) looks like the controlling speed after displaying early speed but then fading in her comeback race last month at Turf Paradise. This return to the claiming ranks is warranted but as a six year old mare with just seven career starts she’s clearly had her issues. Mo Connelly (TOC=7/2; ML=8-1) broke her maiden over this track and distance two races back but then was out of her element and far back vs. starter’s allowance foes on grass in her most recent outing. This is a field she can act with, so at 8-1 on the morning line she is worth tossing in on a ticket or two. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:17 PT Grade: N Single: 3-Summer Lake Forecast: Older maiden California-bred fillies and mares sprint six furlongs on grass, with the second-time starter Summer Lake quite appealing after being given a run at 30-1 last month in her debut when facing similar company. Allowed to lag to the top of the lane, the daughter of Lakerville responded when asked a bit in the final furlong to close a gap without threatening, splitting the field while beaten less than five lengths. We’re expecting a much more serious effort today. K. Frey got to know her and stays aboard, so at 6-1 on the morning line, the B. Heap-trained filly is worth a gamble in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:50 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 5-Doc Adams; 7-Weston; 4-Verragio Forecast: Here’s another somewhat messy restricted (nw-3) claimer, this one for $20,000 older sprinters. Doc Adams (TOC=6-1; ML=5/2) is a first-time gelding taking a significant class drop and turning back from a series of two-turn outings. A prior winner over the Santa Anita main track, the son of Vronsky seems most effective when held up early and allowed to run late, and at this extended sprint trip the A. Harris-trained four-year-old seems primed for major effort. Weston (TOC=4-1; ML=8-1) is drawn comfortably outside, exits a stronger than par race, has numbers that fit, and projects to enjoy a clean, stalking journey and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. Verragio (TOC=6-1; 3-1) has won two of five starts, most recently earning a career top speed figure when winning a $25,000 non-winners of two sprint in mid-March. He’s eligible to produce another forward move and projects to be part of the pace throughout. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:20 PT Grade: C+ Use: 4-Cash Equity; 1-Red King; 3-Seven Charms Forecast: This 10-furlong grass event attracted just five starters, and as the saying goes, top to bottom a chance. Cash Equity (TOC=9/5; ML=8/5) finished second in his U.S. debut last month in a race in which he enjoyed an ideal trip, had every chance when set down for the drive but then failed to produce the necessary late kick and in fact appeared to lose some of his punch late. The question is, will he step forward off that effort today, and if so, how much? The P. D’Amato-trained colt seems a bit of an underlay at his morning line of 8/5, but he certainly could win and must be included in rolling exotic play. His D’Amato-trained stable mate, the multiple graded stakes winner Red King (TOC=3-1; ML=5/2), is eight years old and may have lost a step, so this drop into an optional claimer ($80,000) seems warranted. He’ll be running on late, but in a race that projects to be slowly run early, the race flow isn’t likely to compliment his style. Seven Charms (TOC=6-1; ML=7/2 is lightly-raced and unproven at this level but he may inherit a very easy front-running trip and get brave. In a race in which the major players aren’t completely trustworthy, he’s worth including on your ticket. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:50 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 3-King Rob; 6-Mongolian Kingdom Forecast: Bottom rung ($20,000) maiden claimers meet over a mile, with King Rob deserving of top billing based on his most recent outing, a runner-up in a similar affair earlier this month that produced a career top speed figure. Can he turn in two alike? If so, he can win. Chris Fix stretches out following a series of sprints and should be forwardly placed. However, He’ll need considerable improvement in the speed figure department to challenge our top pick if that one reproduces his last outing. With nothing else to embrace, we’ll sink or swim using just these two in our rolling exotics. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:20 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 8-Dancing Soul; 10-Magic Game Forecast: Dancing Soul didn’t get the best of runs in her debut up north at Golden Gate Fields – she was squeezed back at the start and was wide throughout – but kept to her task to wind up second in a promising effort. She goes for a barn that has solid stats with the second-time starter angle and is bred for grass on both sides of her pedigree, so we’re expecting the daughter of Vronsky to produce a significant forward move. Magic Game received no action (37-1) in her debut but ran well when staying on nicely through the lane to finish second in a similar turf sprint last month. The daughter of Flintshire is another likely to improve with that bit of experience behind her, and if she can secure a decent early position from her outside draw the E. Kruljac-trained sophomore should find this group within her capabilities. A healthy work pattern at Los Alamitos indicates improvement is likely. Both should be used in rolling exotic play with a slight preference on top to Dancing Soul. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.22.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Running Aces Late Pick 4 Analysis | Sunday, May 22, 2022

  Running Aces has a 9-race card scheduled with the first post coming at 7:00 CST. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 6. The sequence has a $3,000 guaranteed pool, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 6 2-Bringoverthemoney (5/2)-This veteran is no stranger to the Aces winner's circle and now has a needed a start under his belt. Drops to a soft spot and should be a main threat. 7-Bordogna (7/2)-Drops after racing well in a quick mile in its Aces season debut. The Anfinson barn has posted 36% winner over the last 30 days and should relish the company. Race 7 4-Pecorino (7/2)-Has battled better at Aces and won, now makes the 2nd start of the meet. Has 2 wins in 8 races here and there isn't much form in this field. Should be in the hunt and appears more ready than others for a big effort. Race 8 4-Mind Yown Business (3-1)-Had a big try in last from the 8-hole versus this kind to finish 2nd. Could be better tonight and hopefully won't be over bet. 5-Mandeville (4-1)-Came 3rd in the same race as the one above and should be better prepared after a race over the track. Plano got on the point in last and could try the same game plan here. 8-Pridecrest (5-1)-This 10-year-old still knows how to win and now makes its Aces debut. Has done well here hitting the board in 36 of 56 with 15 wins. Has been off since 5-1 and that may help the price. Could take a picture if ready for a big try. Race 9 5-Impressive Art (5-1)-Got in a needed start on 5-17 versus better and now Roland takes the lines. Fits well with this crew and could be sitting on a big try. 9-Bobs Time (12-1)-Will take a swing here and play against the program chalk #7 who is 2 for the last 49. This 5-year-old has hit the board in 7 of 16 at Aces with 3 pictures and now drops to a more competitive level. There should be an honest pace and Magee could be rolling hard down the lane. 0.50 Late Pick 4 2,7/4/4,5,8/5,9 Total Bet=$6 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.21.2022:

Preakness Video Analysis: Eddie Olczyk, Jeremy Plonk, Jeff Siegel

Check out our extensive library of short and long-form videos previewing and analyzing this year's Preakness, from our handicappers Eddie Olczyk, Jeremy Plonk and Jeff Siegel. View here.

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5.21.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Best Plays for Preakness Day at Pimlico | Saturday, May 21, 2022

  Pimlico – Eighth Race. Post time: 2:49 ET 4-Beacon Hill (9/2) Although unproven in graded stakes race company, this lightly-raced and improving son of Blame has a chance to make some serious noise in this year’s edition of the Dinner Party Stakes. After taking the worst of a wicked head-bob when beaten a nose with a career top speed figure in a stakes-quality allowance race at Keeneland last time out, the Michael Matz-trained gelding retains Joel Rosario and should step forward considerably in his second race off a layoff. We’re expecting to see him closer to the pace and if so he’ll have every chance to be along in time at 9/2 on the morning line. * Pimlico – Tenth Race. Post time: 4:12 ET 7-Riot House (4-1) Seeks his third straight win while moving into listed stakes company after a pair of impressive grass victories at Gulfstream Park, most recently a smart allowance score with a career top speed figure that makes him a strong threat again despite the class hike. The son of Violence has plenty of early speed but can stalk and pounce if the race flow dictates, so Luis Saez can assess the early fractions and choose his strategy on the fly. The Danny Gargan-trained sophomore is listed at 4-1 on the morning line and offers good value in the win pool at or near that price. * Pimlico – Twelfth Race. Post time: 5:51 ET 9-Hollis (6-1) This tough-as-nails sprinting gelding won the 2020 edition of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint over this course and distance and could do so again with anything close to his best race. Successful in 10 of 25 career starts, the veteran son of Street Sense has been freshened since mid-March, shows a healthy, steady series of recent workouts, and projects to be just where he wants to be, on or near the lead throughout. At 6-1 on the morning line, he is worth a gamble as a win play and in the various rolling exotics. * Pimlico – Thirteenth Race. Post time: 7:01 ET 5-Early Voting (7/2) The lightly raced (just three starts) son of Gun Runner lost a toughie when missing by a neck in the Wood Memorial-G1 in early April and was wisely held out of the Kentucky Derby-G1 and instead was pointed for this race during the last several weeks. The Chad Brown-trained sophomore has looked terrific in the morning, projects as the controlling speed, and seems certain to produce yet another career top performance under conditions that appear ideal. We’ll consider a straight play at or near his morning line of 7/2 and also key him in the various exotics with the other main contenders (Epicenter, Secret Oath, Creative Minister).

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5.21.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Saturday, May 21, 2022

  Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 5-Santos to Wilson; 2-Cherubic Factor Forecast: Santos to Wilson (TOC=5/2; ML=5/2) catches a field without much early zip and should find himself on or very near soft early fractions in this starter optional claiming six furlong turf sprint for older horses. A much improved runner-up in a similar event behind next-out winner Newpark that produced a career top speed figure last time out, the E. Kruljac-trained gelding blew out in a bullet :47 4/5 (fastest of 12) training track drill last week to indicate another forward move is likely. First or second in three of four career starts over the local lawn, the son of Gemologist rates top billing at 5/2 on the morning line. Also worth including in rolling exotic play is Cherubic Factor (TOC=2-1; ML=2-1), a major player on numbers and sporting the always-popular route-to-sprint angle. He’ll have to rally from mid-pack (or even farther back) but with clear sailing through the lane he’ll have his chance to tag the speed. Notable Workouts: Santos to Wilson (May 7, Santa Anita, 4f, :47.1h TT). Grade: B+ Under a pull throughout while coming the final three furlongs in :11.3 and :35 flat, quite sharp for E. Kruljac. Looks ready to produce another forward move. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:30 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 4-Absolutely Zero; 2-Funkhouser Forecast: The two D. O’Neill entrants in this abbreviated sprint for juveniles have trained well enough to be live and well-meant first crack out of the box, with the edge on top going to Absolutely Zero. The daughter of Nyquist impressed in a gate drill (see below) five days ago to tip her hand, while stable mate Funkhouser showed some talent at the OBS March Sale, where she breezed a furlong in 10 1/5 seconds and then brought $40,000 through the ring. She’s ceretainly bred to be an early-win type, being by Maclean’s Music. Both should be included in rolling exotic play, with the main punch going to Absolutely Zero. Notable Workouts: Absolutely Zero (May 16, Santa Anita, 4f, :48hg). Grade: B In company outside Major Nyquist (4f, :48.1hg) and was going the easier of the two throughout, winding up a length clear when eased up after a half mile with splits of :23.4, :35.3 and :47.4 on our watches, never really asked at any stage, rather nice while preparing for debut. Strong filly with substance looks to have some talent and appears plenty fit based on this drill. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:03 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Inch; 2-Like the Wind Forecast: Freshened since February and remaining well above his claim level, Inch set for a winning effort. In the frame in his last pair, most recently with a career top speed figure when missing by a neck in a similar restricted (nw-2) $25,000 affair over the local lawn, the J. Mullins-trained gelding is guaranteed a ground-saving trip. If given the patient ride he requires he’ll have every chance to wear down the leaders close home. Like the Wind shows up in a seller for the first time and based on the number he earned when beating maidens in his debut over this course and distance a year ago February he’ll have a good look with these. Both should be included in rolling exotic play, with preference on top to Inch. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:38 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference: 1-Pioneering Papa; 5-Don’t Talk Forecast: Morning line favorite (4/5) Pioneering Papa, a respectable but distant third behind Taiba in his debut but with speed figures that have gone the wrong way in two subsequent starts, shows up in an expensive claimer today while facing just four rivals, so he really shouldn’t miss this opportunity. The son of Classic Empire has managed to the hit the board in all three starts without posing a real threat, so this drop to the inflated $100,000 level is warranted. Don’t Talk, a filly tackling the boys, appears to have good early zip (see below), though we’re not sure how much stick she has. Toss her in somewhere on your ticket, at least as a back-up or a saver. Tread lightly here. Notable Workouts: Don’t Talk (May 8, Santa Anita, 4f, :49.1hg). Grade: B Under a strong hold every step of the way while even but best inside Spycatcher (same time), able to go considerably quicker if turned loose. Doubt she’s any world beater but she should be quick enough to be a threat in a proper spot for M. Glatt, whose first-timers often run better than the work. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:22 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 1-Johnny Podres; 5-Explosive Forecast: Johnny Podres (TOC=6/5; ML=5/2) is unproven around two turns, but after a series of sharp recent turf sprint efforts the son of Grazen should have every opportunity to stretch out and win, especially from a favorable inside draw. Solid on speed figures and never off the board in six starts over the local lawn, the S. Miyadi-trained gelding is just 2-for-20 in his career and perhaps isn’t one to trust, but the way this race sets up he should have no excuses. For whatever reason, the analytics love him. Explosive (TOC=9/5; ML=9/5 also has strong speed figures for this starter’s allowance event and is the likely choice and one to beat. Second over this course and distance at this level earlier in the meeting, the son of Liam’s Map should find himself in a good stalking position or perhaps even on the front end if no other speed materializes. In a five-runner event, we’ll try to get by using just these two in rolling exotic play. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 4:30 PT Grade: X Single: 3-Zahra Forecast: Zahra (TOC=3/5; ML=4/5) has little to beat in this bottom-rung $10,000 claiming main track miler for fillies and mares and is listed at 4/5 on the morning line. She clearly offers no value at that price, but having won over this track and distance at this level two runs back she’s the logical top pick in a race in which no viable alternative exists. You can use here as a no-value rolling exotic single or better yet just pass the race. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 5:00 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 6-Counterparty Risk Forecast: Away since September but training in sparkling fashion for new conditioner P. D’Amato, the graded stakes winner Counterparty Risk makes her seasonal debut in this second level allowance turf miler for fillies and mares and really should outclass this field. Beaten a head in the listed Lady Shamrock S. in her only previous outing over this course and distance in December of 2020, the Irish-bred mare recently impressed in a team work on the training track with Going Global (see below) to indicate she is ready to resume where she left off last summer when trained in the East by C. Brown. There should be sufficient pace to compliment her late running style, so at 8/5 on the morning line the daughter of Australia seems like a logical short-priced rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Counterparty Risk (May 9, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:02.2h TT). Grade: B+ Broke off several lengths in front of high-class stable mate Going Global (5f, 1:012h TT) and held that one safe through the lane to finish a neck the best at the wire while under a tight hold and with plenty left, then galloped full of run in a far more impressive drill that the final time would indicate, last three furlongs in :12.2 and :36 flat. Been away but looks spot on. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 5:30 PT Grade: C Use (in order of preference): 3-Thrive; 1-Arthur Spooner Forecast: Thrive (TOC=8/5; ML=2-1) has never been one to count on, having been beaten as the favorite in the first four races of his career. He couldn’t help but win at 1/5 in a maiden $20,000 event in mid-March but was a voided claim in that race, and then, when wheeled back in 15 days at odds of 4-1, was beaten nearly 18 lengths in his most recent outing when facing starter’s allowance foes. This drop to the restricted (nw-2) $16,000 level is warranted, and a repeat of his maiden win would be more than good enough, but at 2-1 on the morning line there’s little value to be found. Arthur Spooner (TOC=9/5; ML=3-1) broke his maiden in career start number 11 when all out to win a slow heat vs. inflated maiden $50,000 foes over this track and distance in mid-April. This sharp drop in class is proper and realistic, and on numbers he’s a fit and the one to fear most. In a race we have no plans on playing, these are the two that should be included in rolling exotic play, but you may feel the need to spread deeper, or even buy the race. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 6:00 PT Grade: X Single: 4-Leggs Galore Forecast: Leggs Galore (TOC=2/5; ML=8/5) won the Buena Vista S.-G2 in early March over a mile on grass but she is equally effective if not more so sprinting and therefore projects as a very short price to handle her five rivals in this year’s edition of the Mizdirecton S. A winner over this Hillside Course in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf two races back, the P. D’Amato-trained mare has only one way to go – on the lead every step of the way – and based on the projected pace flow she should be far too quick for these as a logical rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 10: Post: 6:30 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference: 8-Overdue ; 7-Coast of Roan; 8-Overdue; 1-Guildsman Forecast: This grass grab bag for $50,000 older claimers offers a good gambling opportunity with Overdue, listed at 6-1 on the morning line. Burned up pressing a blazing pace in a much tougher spot down the Hillside Course in his comeback in March, the P. D’Amato-trained gelding stretches out today while certain to see much softer early splits. The son of Overanalyze continues to impress in his morning trials and projects to draft into an ideal pace pressing/forcing journey and then have his chance when the pressure is turned on. Coast is Roan is another class dropper making his second start off a layoff, and like our top pick he is a major player and arguably the one to beat. A four-time winner over the Santa Anita grass course, the D. O’Neill-trained gelding does his best work when allowed to make the last run, and if a decent pace materializes he should be heard from late. Guildsman stretches out for the first time and may find himself on the lead from his comfortable three-hole post. The French-bred gelding has never been too genuine but at this level he should be competitive at 8-1 on the morning line. Notable Workouts: Overdue (May 1, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.1h TT). Grade: B+ In blinkers, solo training track breeze for P. D’Amato, under restraint throughout and finishing with a ton left with sharp, easy strides, final three furlongs in :11.4 and :35.3. Had a run down the Hillside Course to shake the rust off in late March and should benefit greatly from the outing. Dangerous on the stretch-out combined with a class drop. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.21.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Meadowlands Early Pick 4 Analysis | Saturday, May 21, 2022

  The Meadowlands has a 13-race card set to go with the feature coming in Race 8, the Cutler Memorial Trot with a $170,450 purse. The 0.50 Early Pick 4 starts in Race 6. The sequence has 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 6 3-Amazing Dream N (3-1)-This is a very good mare that has banked over $1,000,000. She is in sharp form and should be in the hunt with #6. 6-Test Of Faith (6/5)-Showed a lot of guts to win on a sloppy track last week and posted some quick fractions. This mare won getting on the point early on and that's not her usual game plan. It would not be a surprise if she was even better tonight. Race 7 3-Shake That House (3-1)-Made the most of an efficient trip and came away with a nice win at PcD. Returns to the Big M and has hit the board in 9 of 16 starts here with 3 pictures. Dunn's pick fits with this crew and looks like a main player. 5-Stone Hanover (8-1)-Equaled a lifetime mark on a good track last week. Loses Tetrick to #6 but Zeron can work a sharp steer. Should offer a solid price and likes the Big M hitting the board in 15 of 29 with 6 wins. 6-Jack's Shadow N (10-1)-Makes the 4th start of the meet and drops to a better level to compete. Tetrick sticks and could be ready for a big try at a nice price. Race 8 1-Ecurie D DK (3-1)-Svanstedt trainee is a good one and makes the 1st start of the year. Comes off a strong qualifier on a sloppy track and should be a main player tonight. 2-Bella Bellini (9/2)-Winless in 2 starts this year, finished 2nd each time and both were on a wet track. Dunn could land in the pocket and that makes Bella dangerous. 7-Lovedbythemasses (5/2)-Tetrick steers this son of Muscle Mass who has won 6 of 7 in 2022 and is facing its biggest challenge. Can win on the engine or coming off cover and recent form suggests this is the one to beat. Race 9 1-Ana Afreet N (4-1)-Takes a drop to the level of recent success and best to not overlook. David Miller could make the most of starting from the rail and should have in striking range turning for the wire. 2-Ruthless Hanover (5/2)-Makes its season debut coming off a strong qualifier. Loves M1 winning 7 of 16 here and will respect chances in the 1st start off the bench. 8-Splash Brother (3-1)-Has been racing well and won't blush at anyone in this field. The post draw doesn't help but Mark Mac should have in play. 0.50 Early Pick 4 3,6/3,5,6/1,2,7/1,2,8 Total Bet=$27 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.20.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Best Plays for Pimlico | Friday, May 20, 2022

  Pimlico - Second Race. Post time: 12:01 ET 1-Run Raegan Run (8/5) Maryland-bred sophomore finally makes it to the post almost exactly a year after being purchased for $87,000 at the 2021 Timonium sale, where she was quite impressive breezing a furlong in 10 1/5 seconds (galloped out a quarter mile in 21 4/5 seconds). Quick-actioned filly had put together a healthy series of recent workouts for a barn that has impressive stats (24%) with the first-time starter angle, so we’re going to assume that she’s fit and ready. The stable’s go to-rider (J. Toledo) takes the call, so with a clean break from the rail the daughter of Golden Lad should be hard to beat in this waiver $40,000 six furlong sprint. * Pimlico – Fourth Race. Post time: 1:02 ET 7-Affable Monarch (4-1) Promising colt won his debut sprinting by six and one-half lengths last summer at Monmouth Park, so we know he can fire fresh, but then was stopped on and turned out after finishing an unlucky second while probably best in the subsequent Rocky Run S. over a mile at Delaware Park the following month. This talented son of Arrogate returns as a first-time Lasix user with a series of easy breezes at the Colts Neck Stable training center that hopefully will have him fit and ready. The long winded son of Arrogate has a chance to develop into a very useful type and based on his two runs last year could easily outclass this 3-year-olds only first-level allowance middle distance affair. * Pimlico – Eleventh Race. Post time: 4:38 ET 1-Phantom Vision (6-1) This Michael Maker-trained filly drew the far outside in the 13-runner Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland last month and never really had much of a chance after racing wide throughout and then winding up eighth (beaten nine lengths) against a much tougher field than she’s facing today. She’s beautifully drawn on the rail today in this five furlong dash while switching to Flavian Prat, so we’re expecting to see the daughter of Declaration of War revert to her best form, which based on speed figures is good enough to win. There is excellent value available in the win pool and in the various exotics at or near her morning line of 6-1. * Pimlico – Twelfth Race. Post time: 5:10 ET 6-Capacostello (6-1) Morning line favorite (2-1) Vindicative may be the one to beat in this year’s renewal of the Pimlico Special-G3 and should be included in the exotics but let’s go for price in the win pool with this former Panamanian champion, who had a couple of promising outings earlier this year at Gulfstream Park and seems primed to produce a significant forward move. After finishing a distant fourth behind the top class Olympiad in January, the Kentucky-bred son of Cross Traffic rallied strongly but too late when second to the multi-stakes winner Fearless in the Ghostzapper S.-G3 last month. Today, with an extra furlong to work with and with the switch to Flavian Prat, the four-time South American Group-1 winner has a legitimate chance to pull off a mild surprise. * Pimlico – Thirteenth Race. Post time: 5:44 ET 10-Adare Manor (5/2) Lost a toughie at odds-on when out-photo’d by Desert Dawn in the Santa Anita Oaks last month but was flattered when ‘Dawn returned to finish an excellent third in the Kentucky Oaks-G1 behind Secret Oath. This daughter of Uncle Mo has trained in sensational fashion in the last few weeks and appears ready to regain the form that had produced back-to-back wins by a combined 25 lengths and speed figures that are good enough to handle this assignment. She projects to be on or near lead throughout and will offer plenty of wagering value at her morning line of 5/2, if you can get it.

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5.20.2022:

Frank Carulli: Pimlico Black-Eyed Susan Pick 4 | Friday, May 20, 2022

Preakness weekend will kick into high gear with a 14-race card Friday, featuring the Grade III Miss Preakness and Grade II Black-Eyed Susan stakes, both for 3-year-old fillies, and the Grade III Pimlico Special for older colts and geldings. All three races are part of a 50-cent, all-stakes Pick 4 wager that shapes up this way: PIM 10th race (4:07 EST) -- LA CASA D’ORO awakened in her first start for 2021 Maryland Trainer of the Year Brittany Russell, driving clear in mid-stretch to a 5-1/2F maiden win that timed 1-1/5 seconds faster than a same-day allowance won by hard-hitting filly Mattitude (4-9, $164k). She takes a big step up in class in the Grade III Miss Preakness, but she projects an ideal stalking trip in a speed-laden field at a big price. SAUCY LADY T, who rallied for third in three consecutive graded sprints last fall – one against champion Echo Zulu -- makes her seasonal debut for new trainer Graham Motion, who excels with layoff types of 180-plus days. HAPPY SOUL passed by recent Grade II runner-up Pretty Birdie when she won the $150,000 Dixie Belle Stakes off an eight-month layoff. She pressed the pace for 6F in the Grade I Ashland in her first route attempt and worked a 5F bullet since then. UNDER THE STARS can be excused for stumbling badly in the Grade II Santa Anita Oaks. The 8-5 morning-line favorite is the only graded stakes winner in the field; however, the horses she beat in the 7F Santa Inez are 5/0-0-0 since then, losing by a combined 66 lengths. PIM 11th race (4:38 EST) -- The 10-percent chance of rain is a favorable weather forecast for PAYNTDEMBLUESAWAY in the $100,000 Very One Stakes. But she’s not on our ticket despite winning 9 of 11 starts sprinting on firm turf courses throughout the East. She starts outside, offers little value and the rivals she defeated in her last three wins were a combined 2-for-24 in their next start. PHANTOM VISION is a better-priced option after she began her sophomore season with back-to-back wins on the main track but couldn’t overcome a very wide trip from post 13 in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes on the Keeneland lawn last out. She dueled on a short lead in her prior turf sprint try before Toby’s Heart, a three-time turf stakes winner in her last nine starts, passed by. HONEY PANTS, installed as the 5-2 morning-line choice, looms equally dangerous after she followed the move of the 7-to-5 allowance favorite and drew away in the final sixteenth while wearing blinkers for the first time. PIM 12th race (5:10 EST) -- Trainer Todd Pletcher has two live entrants as he seeks his third victory in the Grade III, $300,000 Pimlico Special. VINDICTIVE is our top choice, having won 3 of his last 5 starts at 1-1/8 miles and finishing a troubled third behind Speaker’s Corner, impressive winner of the Grade I Carter Handicap last month. UNTREATED, Pletcher’s uncoupled entrant, will try to avenge a photo-finish setback against FOREWARNED in the Excelsior Stakes in his most recent start. Both finished ahead of favored First Constitution, who came back with a wire-to-wire romp in the 1-3/8-mile Flat Out Stakes. CAPOCOSTELLO, a Grade I winner in Panama at 1-5/16 miles, broke slowly in his U.S. debut, then lagged far back in the Grade III Ghost Zapper Stakes before launching a stretch rally to finish second between winning odds-on favorite Fearless (6-15, $906k) and third-place finisher Greatest Honour, winner of the Grade II Fountain of Youth earlier this year. FIRST CAPTAIN trailed after a half mile but ‘noticeably quickened late’ to reel in the loose leader in a 7F allowance to remain perfect while running on Lasix. He tired in the Grade I Carter Handicap next out, but shows three bullet workouts since then and wears blinkers for the first time. PIM 13th race (5:44 EST) -- Maryland-based star LUNA BELLE is every bit as good – maybe better – than she looked in winning five consecutive minor stakes by a combined 20 lengths. The farther she ran, the faster she appeared to finish for unheralded jockey Dennis Arajuo. She gets top call in the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan at 1-1/8 miles. ADARE MANOR shook a duel on the final turn with Grade II winner Ain’t Easy, then battled to a photo-finish setback in the stretch with drifting winner Desert Dawn, who came back to finish third in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks. INTERSTATEDAYDREAM ran away from her 1-to-2 stablemate to win off a seven-month layoff, then she set the pace and tired in the Grade I Ashland Stakes won by Kentucky Oaks favorite and runner-up Nest (4-6, $850k). BEGUINE, on the improve since stretching out in distance, rode the rail the entire way and just missed in the Grade III Fantasy. She fired a bullet workout leading up to the Kentucky Oaks, but didn’t draw into the race from the also-eligible list. She is another viable longshot. Suggested 50-cent Ticket PIM 10TH Race: 2, 4, 5, 6 PIM 11th Race: 1, 2 PIM 12th Race: 1, 6, 8 PIM 13th Race: 5, 6, 9, 10 COST: $48

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5.20.2022:

Jeff Siegel Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Friday, May 20, 2022

“What You Need to Know” - Santa Anita By Jeff Siegel, 1stbet.com Handicapper & Analyst Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 5-Acquired Class; 6-Helladic Forecast: The opener is a five furlong sprint on grass for 2-year-olds that have never trained on turf, with four of the seven having been prepared out of sight at San Luis Rey Downs. In what amounts to a guessing game, we’ll double the race in rolling exotic play but otherwise pass. Acquired Class, a $70,000 yearling by Cairo Prince, comes from a winning outfit but shows only four listed training center workouts, the last two from the gate. Maybe he can run some, but who (other than maybe his connections) really knows? Helladic has displayed good speed in morning dirt workouts (see below), as one would expect from a son of Kantharos, but with City Zip on the bottom side of his pedigree he should like the lawn, too, so if he can shake loose early he may be able to keep on going in what appears to be a lackluster group of babies. Tread lightly here. Notable Workouts: Helladic (May 11, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.1hg). Grade: B- Was hustled along from the gate while always outrunning Royal Halo (3f, 34.3hg, asked hard, sent a few ticks lower than given) while earning splits of :23.4, :35.1, :47.4 and 1:01.2 on our watches, slowing up noticeably late and while failing to change leads. Has good zip, probably not much stick, the shorter the better for this juvenile son of Kantharos, have to think he’ll be quite competitive in a soft field. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:35 PT Grade: Single: 2-Lunatic Forecast: Lunatic (TOC=2/5; ML=6/5) is listed as the 6/5 morning line favorite and almost certainly will leave at odds-on in this $20,000 claiming sprint for fillies and mares. First or second in her last six starts, exiting a pair of tougher starter allowance sprints but remaining above her $16,000 claim level, the R. Alvarado-trained mare should have no difficultly handling this soft assignment as a no-value rolling exotic single. It’ll be interesting to see how many claims are submitted for her. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:09 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 3-Madiha; 5-Big Clare Forecast: This California-bred first-level allowance turf miler drew a field of six, but the way we see it really offers only two winning possibilities. Madiha (TOC-Evens; ML=2-1) has finished first or second in four of five career starts over the local lawn and seems well-spotted to fire another big shot. The barn (2-for-60 this year) offers little confidence, but this daughter of Shaman Ghost has a good stalking style that should keep her free of trouble and has numbers – including a career top mark last time out - that are better than par for this level. Big Clare (TOC=2-1; ML=5/2) always has preferred to run second or third (eight times) rather than win (once) but she is another with solid in the speed figured and has a prior victory over this course and distance. She’s never been known to punch it in under pressure but against this group can’t help but be a major player with anything close to her best effort. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:35 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference: 5-Breakfast Ride; 2-Tahoe Secrets Forecast: Breakfast Ride is the 7/5 morning line favorite in this maiden $40,000 extended sprint for older horses, not because of anything he’s done but simply as a default measure in a woefully weak affair. The J. Sadler-trained colt exits a hot race (speed/fade) but with this monumental class drop the son of Distorted Humor could shake loose early and get very brave. Tahoe Secrets flashed some speed in his debut before fading back to be a distant fourth in a similar affair last month. He’ll adds blinkers today for a barn that has respectable stats with the second-time starter angle, so it’s within the realm of possibilities that the son of Secret Circle improves enough to be a factor. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:07 PT Grade: B+ Single: 4-Ikigai Forecast: Ikigai (TOC=7/2; ML=3-1) was vanned up north seeking a confidence-building maiden win over the Golden Gate Fields all-weather surface last month and did what was expected when crushing a better-than-par field in a visually pleasing effort that earned a much improved, career top number. As expected, the result was franked when the runner-up returned to graduate in a canter next time. This son of Bayern will be making his first start on grass but the surface switch shouldn’t be an issue, and with the ability to stalk and pounce the R. Alvarado-trained sophomore projects to draft in behind the dueling need-the-lead types Hot Box and Trainer Please and then go on with it when ready. At 3-1 on the morning line, he’s a win play and rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:39 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 3-Loma Vista; 6-Work to Live; 2-Talkative Gal; 1-Pequena Tormenta Forecast: This starter’s allowance event for fillies and mares looks highly-competitive, so we’ll spread the race going four deep in rolling exotic play but otherwise sit it out. Loma Vista (TOC=2-1; ML=5/2) has the proper style for this extended sprint distance and should enough help up front to set things up for her closing kick. The P. D’Amato-trained filly has rising numbers and a healthy work pattern since raced, so we’re expecting a career top effort. Work to Live (TOC=6-1; ML=3-1) had little behind her when graduating by 11 lengths in-March and the number was modest but did it with plenty left and returns after a two-month vacation protected in a sign of confidence and from a cozy outside that allows her to dictate the race tempo. Talkative Gal (TOC=5-1; ML=4-1), away since breaking her maiden in a $50,000 affair last October, returns as a first-time Lasix user with a nice series of local workouts that should have her plenty fit. She could easily be a better type this time around and her numbers from last year give her a major look even if she isn’t. Pequena Tormenta (TOC=3-1; ML=3-1) must overcome the rail but she looked decent graduating in her comeback in late March with a nice figure when trained by R. Baltas, and if she duplicate that type of performance for new trainer G. Papaprodromou she’ll be competitive right back. Notable Workouts: Porquena Tormenta (May 8, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3h). Grade: B- Broke off a length behind Balladeer (5f, 1:00.4h) and finished about a neck back at the wire while a tad second best but without much pressure, splits of :24.1, :36 flat and 1:00.4 on our watches, a tick slower than given but decent, nonetheless. In good shape, should be competitive on the raise. View Workout Video Talkative Gal (May 14, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3hg). Grade: B- Decent solo gate drill for comebacker in D. O’Neill barn, easy early, asked a bit late, splits of :25 flat, :36.2, :48.1 and 1:00.3 on our watches. Coming back as well as she left, has starter’s allowance conditions. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:11 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 5-Barsabas; 1-Cowboy Charlie; 4-Shut Up Michael Forecast: In a high-priced claiming turf sprint restricted to 3-year-olds, Barsabas (TOC=Evens; ML=7/2) turns back in trip after exiting a series of tougher middle distance events and fits nicely on all levels as the logical top pick. He is strong in the speed figure department, shows a prior win over the local lawn and projects to settle into a comfortable pace-stalking position and have every chance from there. The analytics given him an even money chance to win, though he’ll certainly go higher than that. Cowboy Charlie (TOC=6-1; ML=6-1) turns back to a sprint, adds blinkers for the first time and could be the controlling speed if he breaks sharply from the rail. He’s a tad light in the speed figure department but if she can shake loose early he could take this field a long way. Shut Up Michael (TOC=5-1; ML=7/2) broke his maiden sprinting over this turf course in January but wasn’t able to act with allowance foes in four subsequent starts so this drop in class is warranted. We like the blinkers off and route-to-sprint angles and suspect this P. D’Amato-trained Irish-bred gelding will make some noise late. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:42 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference: 4-Team Concept; 9-Big Rosie Forecast: The nightcap is a nine furlong maiden claiming turf event for older fillies and mares. The two that we’ll be using have a bit more potential (and are less exposed) than the others so we’ll try to get without a stiff investment. Team Concept stayed on reasonably well with third in a similar affair in her first outing on grass and acts like she’ll appreciate today’s longer trip. With any kind of forward move, the daughter of Acclamation should be highly-competitive against this group at 6-1 on the morning line. Big Rosie had a right to be a bit short when making the pace before fading late against much stronger starter optional claiming foes in her first outing since August. She returns to the level at which she was claimed, and in her second off the layoff the daughter of Kitten’s Joy seems sure to improve a bunch. The outside post is no bargain but if good enough she’ll overcome it. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.20.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Hoosier Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Friday, May 20, 2022

Hoosier Park begins the weekend with a 14-race card. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 begins in Race 11, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 11 1-Starlit Dandy (4-1)-Beat this kind last week after breaking stride in the previous start. Winner of 2 of the last 3 should be a player if minds manners. 3-Head Games (3-1)-Trotted home with a 56.3 back half but fell short at 3/5. A slow start prevented a 2-race win streak but can make amends with an alert beginning. 4-Northern Rocks (7/2)-This 8-time winner in 2021 woke up last week in the 3rd start off the bench. That was the 1st picture on Lasix and could stay good for another. Race 12 1-Street Boy (6-1)-Recent form has been dull but isn't facing $50k and $60k claimers here. Will look for improvement and should be forwardly placed. 3-Palomar (5/2)-Shipped in from M1 and finished a well beaten 4th going off at even money. Should be better tonight but is 0-3 at HoP and might offer little value. 10-Ima Real Ladys Man (9/2)-Is only 1-12 in 2022 and drops to a more competitive level. Bates could follow #1 and race near the top of the stack. That type of trip could lead to a brush down the lane to roll by this crew. Race 13 5-Lou's A Pansy (5/2)-Finally gets a decent post draw after starting from post 10 three straight times. This is the 4th start off the bench and could be sitting on a big try. 7-Great Image (2-1)-Rallied with a 54.4 back half to beat 3 from this field in last. This program chalk should be a main threat again. Race 14 3-This Kit Rocks (5-1)-Has had trouble beating Caption This (8) as others in this field have. Gets a post draw edge and will take a swing a for a solid price. 6-Brookview Bullet (3-1)-Likes to race near the lead and should be able to follow that plan. DeLong takes the lines, recent form has been good and should be driven aggressively here. 0.50 Late Pick 4 1,3,4/1,3,10/5,7/3,6 Total Bet=$18 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.19.2022:

Download the FREE Xpressbet Preakness Wager Guide

Eddie Olczyk, Jeff Siegel, Jon White and Jeremy Plonk are among a cast of 16 nationally respected handicappers contributing to the most comprehensive Preakness Wager Guide on the planet. Download free at 1st.com/guide.

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5.19.2022:

Jon White: Preakness Stakes Selections and Analysis

  Is Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter a cinch to win this Saturday’s 147th running of the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course? A lot of people think so. Hence, appropriately, Epicenter has been pegged as the strong 6-5 favorite on Keith Feustle’s morning line for the 1 3/16-mile middle jewel in the sport’s Triple Crown. It is known even before the Preakness is run that there will be no Triple Crown winner this year. Rich Strike, dismissed by the bettors at 80-1 in the Kentucky Derby, registered the second-biggest upset in the race’s history. After single-handedly killing a ton of mutuel tickets at Churchill Downs on May 7, Rich Strike is skipping the Preakness to await the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes on June 11. I totally get all the love for Epicenter. Even though he did not win the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby, Epicenter ran a heckuva race in defeat as the 4-1 favorite. He also received quite a heady ride by 2021 Eclipse Award-winning jockey Joel Rosario. Prior to the Kentucky Derby, Epicenter had never been farther back than third early in his six career starts. But Rosario wisely allowed Epicenter to be eighth at the finish line the first time (or a quarter-mile after the start) in the Run for the Roses. Why was that such a smart move on the part of Rosario? Because any horse closer than eighth to the ridiculously fast early pace paid the price and finished up the track. The opening quarter-mile fraction of :21.78 was the fastest in the 148-year history of the Kentucky Derby. The first half in :45.36 also was scorching. The seven horses in front of Epicenter at the first quarter would go on to finish no better than 10th. Check out where those first seven horses at the opening quarter all finished: Position at First 1/4 Finish 1 20 2 13 3 10 4 15 5 18 6 12 7 17 Now check out where the first seven horses across the finish line were at the first quarter: Finish Position at First Quarter 1 17 2 8 3 13 4 15 5 19 6 20 7 14 8 9 9 16 A furlong from the finish, it appeared that the 2022 Kentucky Derby winner was going to be either Epicenter or Zandon. Epicenter was leading by one length at that point. Zandon was second, three lengths in front of gigantic longshot Rich Strike. History was on Epicenter and Zandon’s side. That’s because by being one-two a furlong from the finish, they were where 56 of the last 59 Kentucky Derby winners prior to this year had been at that point in the race. But Rich Strike, who had been far back early in the field of 20, generated a powerful closing kick by running his final quarter in :24 and change to win by three-quarters of a length. Epicenter did everything he was supposed to do other than defeat Rich Strike. Epicenter finished second by stubbornly holding off Zandon throughout the final furlong. But instead of trainer Steve Asmussen finally getting the monkey off his back with his first Kentucky Derby victory, the Hall of Famer now is now 0 for 24. Rich Strike’s trainer? Eric Reed is 1 for 1. I especially appreciate what a gem of consistency Epicenter has become. The Kentucky-bred Gun Runner colt has finished first or second in six consecutive races. But I also look at Epicenter’s short betting price in the Preakness as being, in a word, unattractive, particularly in view of the historically poor record in the Preakness by horses to have finished second in the Kentucky Derby. From 1994 to present, there has been exactly one Kentucky Derby runner-up who went on to win the Preakness. That was Exaggerator in 2016. Of course, not every Kentucky Derby runner-up during this period raced a fortnight later in the big event at Old Hilltop. Even so, again from 1994 to present, the record of horses to have finished second in the Derby before running in the Preakness is an unenviable 1 for 14 during this 29-year period. That does not exactly have me rushing to a computer or smart phone to bet on Epicenter to win the Preakness. I could see playing Epicenter to win at something more palatable, like 5-2 or higher. But I’m just not enthused at 6-5 or shorter. Consequently, Secret Oath is my top pick in the Preakness at her much more attractive odds of 9-2 on the morning line. Secret Oath happens to be the lone Grade I winner in the Preakness field, having achieved that status in the Kentucky Oaks. This indicates to me that this is not the strongest group of males ever assembled for a Preakness, not when none of them has yet to win a Grade I race. My selections for this year’s Preakness Stakes are below: 1. Secret Oath (9-2 morning line) 2. Simplification (6-1) 3. Epicenter (5-2) 4. Early Voting (7-2) “NEW SHOOTERS” HAVE HAD RECENT SUCCESS It used to be that I would automatically take a stand against a so-called “new shooter” in the Preakness (i.e., a horse who did not run in the Kentucky Derby). But in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, it appears to me that the times they are a changin’. From 2000 through 2016, only three new shooters won the Preakness: Red Bullet (2000), Bernardini (2006) and Rachel Alexandra (2009). Now we’ve seen new shooters win three of the last five editions of the Preakness: Cloud Computing (2017), Swiss Skydiver (2020) and Rombauer (2021). This recent trend makes it much easier for me to make my top pick someone other than the three Preakness entrants who started in the Kentucky Derby: Epicenter, Simplification and Happy Jack. Furthermore, of the six new shooters to win the Preakness from 2000 to present, two have been fillies: Rachel Alexandra and Swiss Skydiver. This also makes it easier for me to go with Secret Oath, a filly. TERRIBLE TRIP VS. THE BOYS As far as I’m concerned, Secret Oath easily could have a four-race winning streak going into the Preakness. Her only defeat during the four-race sequence came when she had a dreadful trip and finished third in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 2. On Feb. 26, Secret Oath won Oaklawn’s Martha Washington Stakes by 7 1/4 lengths as a 1-2 favorite on Feb. 26. That was followed by a similarly decisive 7 1/2-length victory as a 1-5 favorite in Oaklawn’s Honeybee Stakes on Feb. 26. After the Honeybee, Secret Oath faced male opponents and was sent off as the 7-5 favorite in theArkansas Derby. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Arrogate finished third to Cyberknife and Barber Road. Secret Oath subsequently regained her winning ways, rallying from eighth to prevail by two lengths in the Kentucky Oaks on May 6. While it’s true that Secret Oath did not win the Arkansas Derby, don’t forget that she did make an electrifying move on the far turn that day. After Secret Oath zoomed past foes during that portion of the race, I think she had a right to flatten out in the lane. To be perfectly frank, I think a major reason Secret Oath rebounded from her Arkansas Derby setback to win the Kentucky Oaks is she received a considerably better ride in the Oaks when piloted for the first time in a race by Luis Saez. I like it that Saez should be more comfortable and confident when riding Secret Oath in the Preakness after they had a chance to get acquainted on the first Friday in May. LUKAS YET ANOTHER PLUS Although Asmussen has been shut out in the Kentucky Derby, he has won the Preakness twice. Asmussen’s Preakness victories were with Curlin in 2007 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Asmussen’s two Preakness wins fall well short of fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ tally. Lukas, who conditions Secret Oath, has won the Preakness six times: Codex (1980), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995), Charismatic (1999) and Oxbow (2013). If Secret Oath does get the job done Saturday, Lukas will tie R. Wyndham Walden and Bob Baffert for most Preakness wins by a trainer. Secret Oath would become the seventh filly to win the Preakness, joining Flocarline (1903), Whimsical (1906), Rhine Maiden (1915), Nellie Morse (1924), Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Swiss Skydiver (2020). While Lukas is trying to win this year’s Preakness with a filly, the Lukas-trained Codex defeated a filly who was attempting to win the Preakness in 1980. Two weeks before the 1980 Preakness, Genuine Risk had become only the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby, following in the footsteps of the great Regret, the 1915 Derby winner. Codex missed the 1980 Kentucky Derby due to not being nominated. A horse could not be supplemented to the Derby at that time. Codex won the Preakness by 4 3/4 lengths, but many believe he should have been disqualified for causing interference to Genuine Risk turning into the stretch. The decision to not take Codex’s number down was a judgment call on the part of the stewards that one can agree or disagree with. Where I think the stewards definitely blew it was not posting the inquiry sign. Lukas already has won a Triple Crown race with a filly. He sent out Winning Colors to take the 1988 Kentucky Derby. To this day, Winning Colors is one of just three fillies to win the roses, along with the aforementioned Regret and Genuine Risk. While it’s true that Lukas won the Kentucky Derby with Winning Colors, many people believe the trainer had an even more talented filly before that. Her name was Landaluce. Landaluce burst onto the American racing scene in the summer of 1982. Following her first two races, there were those comparing her to the legendary Ruffian. Texans L.R. “Bob” French and Barry Beal owned Landaluce. From the first crop of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, the filly was purchased as a yearling at Keeneland for $650,000 (more than $2 million in today’s dollars when adjusted for inflation). Landaluce caused quite a stir when she kicked off her racing career at Hollywood Park on July 3. She won a six-furlong maiden race by seven lengths in a sizzling 1:08 1/5. It was believed to be the fastest a 2-year-old colt or filly had ever run six furlongs around a turn. What Landaluce did just seven days later at that that same track made thousands of jaws drop. In one of the most incredible performances ever seen at a California track, Landaluce won the six-furlong Hollywood Lassie Stakes by 21 lengths after being only 1 1/2 lengths in front at the quarter pole. When I spoke to Lukas at his barn a couple of days after the Grade II Lassie, he said that “a lot of people told me they got goose bumps watching that race.” I know that I sure did. Landaluce’s final time in the Hollywood Lassie was 1:08 flat. She shattered the stakes record established by Terlingua four years earlier by four-fifths of a second. Terlingua’s trainer? D. Wayne Lukas. Sadly, Landaluce became gravely ill and died from a severe bacterial infection. Her death occurred the same day that she was supposed to have run in the Grade I, $518,850 Hollywood Starlet Stakes. In the Daily Racing Form book “Champions,” Steven Crist wrote: “Landaluce, the champion 2-year-old filly [of 1982], evoked legitimate comparisons to Ruffian, winning all five of her starts by a combined 46 1/2 lengths, but contracted an infection in November and died in Lukas’ arms.” Landaluce’s tragic death left many wondering what she might have accomplished beyond the age of 2. Those who were fortunate enough to have witnessed her brilliance could not help feeling robbed of possibly seeing her in the Kentucky Derby and other major events. A book called “Landaluce: The Story of Seattle Slew’s First Champion,” written by Mary Perdue, goes on sale this summer on July 2. It can be pre-ordered on the Amazon.com website. (Full disclosure, I had the honor of writing the forward for this book.) LOGICAL REASONS TO GO IN PREAKNESS As Secret Oath takes on males in Saturday’s Grade I Preakness, Lukas believes the filly should already have a Grade I victory against the boys to her credit. “That trip in the Arkansas Derby was a tough one,” Lukas said in a BloodHorse article this week written by Bob Ehalt. “She should have won that race. That should be on her resume already.” In Ehalt’s article, Lukas explained why he and Secret Oath’s owners and breeders, Rob and Stacy Mitchell (Briland Farm), decided to run the filly in the Preakness. One of the reasons Secret Oath is in the Preakness is that Lukas looked the prospective field over and thinks the filly can be competitive. Also taken into consideration were a race’s grade and distance in terms of what other options besides the Preakness are available for a 3-year-old filly at this time of the year. “The Preakness is a Grade I, and the Black-Eyed Susan [a Grade II on Pimlico on May 20], really doesn’t do much for her resume, if you want to know the truth,” Lukas said. “The Acorn [at Belmont Park on June 11] is a Grade I, but you don’t want to cut back to a one-turn mile for it, and the Mother Goose [at Belmont on June 25] is a Grade II. This is a chance to do something special and step out of the box.” Lukas noted that another reason Secret Oath was entered in the Preakness instead of the Black-Eyed Susan was the disparity in the two purses. The Preakness has purse of $1.65 million compared to $250,000 for the Black-Eyed Susan. SIMPLIFICATION MAY PROVE TOUGH CUSTOMER I think Simplification could have a big say in the Preakness after finishing a respectable fourth at odds of 35-1 in the Kentucky Derby. Simplification’s biggest victory to date came in Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 5. The Florida-bred Not This Time colt rallied from seventh to win by a widening 3 1/2 lengths for trainer Antonio Sano. Simplification then finished third as the 2-1 favorite in the Florida Derby on April 2. According to Trakus, Simplification traveled 6,736 feet in the Kentucky Derby. That was 65 feet (or approximately seven lengths) farther than Epicenter. It will not be anything new if Simplification finishes fourth or better in the Preakness. He has finished at least fourth in seven straight starts. As for Early Voting, will I be surprised if he wins the Preakness? Nope. The Kentucky-bred Gun Runner colt appears to have much ability. I gave serious consideration to making him my top pick. Early Voting races for owner Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown. Klaravich, in partnership with William Lawrence, and Brown won the 2017 Preakness with Cloud Computing. Cloud Computing finished third in Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial, skipped the Kentucky Derby, then won the Preakness in his fourth career start. Early Voting finished a close second to Mo Donegal in this year’s Wood, then likewise skipped the Kentucky Derby. Like Cloud Computing, the Preakness will be Early Voting’s fourth career start. Brown sees “a lot of similarities” between Cloud Computing and Early Voting. The trainer said both 3-year-olds came out of the Wood as “lightly raced, improving horses that could use a little more time and experience than throw them into a 20-horse field in the [Kentucky] Derby.” The decision by Early Voting’s connections to pass the Kentucky Derby looks like a genius move in that the colt’s running style is to be a pace factor early. This running style means there was a very good chance that Early Voting would not have hit the board in the Kentucky Derby due to probably being on or near the insane early pace. It is anticipated that the Preakness pace is not going to be anywhere close to as fast as the Derby pace. With two wins from three career starts, Early Voting goes into the Preakness with an improving Beyer Speed Figure pattern. He recorded a 76 Beyer when victorious at first asking vs. Aqueduct maidens, then an 87 Beyer when he won the Withers Stakes at the Big A, then a 96 Beyer when narrowly beaten in the Wood. Creative Minister, like Early Voting, sports an improving Beyer Speed Figure pattern. Kenny McPeek conditions the Kentucky-bred Creative Cause colt. It took a serious $150,000 supplementary payment to make Creative Cause eligible to run in the Preakness. This will be his stakes debut. He is 10-1 on the Preakness morning line. Creative Cause received a 76 Beyer Speed Figure when unveiled against Gulfstream maidens, then an 83 Beyer in a maiden win on a sloppy track at Keeneland, then a 92 Beyer in an allowance/optional claiming contest triumph on the Kentucky Derby undercard. NTRA TOP THROUGHBRED POLL The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 304 Country Grammer (22) 2. 295 Letruska (9) 3. 247 Life Is Good (3) 4. 189 Hot Rod Charlie 5. 185 Speaker’s Corner (1) 6. 181 Olympiad 7. 172 Jackie’s Warrior 8. 85 Express Train 9. 72 Golden Pal 10. 49 Flightline NTRA TOP THREE-YEAR-OLD POLL The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 345 Epicenter (23) 2. 288 Zandon 3. 267 Rich Strike (8) 4. 240 Secret Oath (4) 5. 194 Jack Christopher (1) 6. 178 Simplification 7. 171 Mo Donegal 8. 53 Early Voting 8. 53 Taiba 10. 39 Nest

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5.18.2022:

Race of the Week: Jim McKay Turf Sprint at Pimlico | Saturday, May 21, 2022

  The Lead: The race immediately preceding the Preakness Stakes takes on a new look Saturday when the Jim McKay Turf Sprint is positioned as Race 12 on the Pimlico card. The McKay replaces the Dinner Party in that time-honored spot as the Dinner Party's reservation was moved up earlier in the program this year. The Jim McKay Turf Sprint is named for the legendary ABC Sports broadcaster and Maryland native who did so much to promote the state's Thoroughbred industry. ​Field Depth: CAROTARI is a G3-placed and listed stakes winner. HOLLIS won this race in 2020 during the autumn Preakness re-boot. Other listed stakes winners include SMOKIN' JAY and GRATEFUL BRED. Pace: With 10 turf sprinters, you expect the pace to pump early. CARTOTARI and SEVEN SCENTS will scoot from posts 2-3. Outside pressure should come from GRATEFUL BRED, HOLLIS and CONCRETE GLORY. This doesn't look like a meltdown scenario, however, as the top pace players are among the strongest candidates. Expect 1 or 2 of them to outlast any potential scuffle. Our Eyes: CAROTARI is the 9-5 morning line favorite and will be firing fresh off a New Year's Eve layoff for sharp turf sprint trainer Brian Lynch. He won his final 2 starts of 2021 and does his best running on firm turf courses like Gulfstream and Ellis Park. With a forecast in the low to mid-90s for Preakness Day, expect the course to be plenty firm and to the liking of CAROTARI. From post 2, he'll have SEVEN SCENTS right next to him throughout to apply pressure. Both are under hustling gate riders Luis Saez and Florent Geroux, so my assumption is they'll hook up. Both are highly capable of winning, but will have to work for it to do so. HOLLIS should be the beneficiary outside of them. We know he likes the course, and this dirt threat also benefits from firmer course conditions on grass. He's had the strongest company lines of late with his series of sprint stakes at Oaklawn. While he failed in his title defense here in 2021, the form cycle looks friendlier this time. He didn't go in the Shakertown at Keeneland and run here as the afterthought as he did a year ago. It looks like trainer John Ortiz has him laid up since March with a circle on the calendar. GRATEFUL BRED is Maryland's top turf sprinter, winning the Maryland Million Turf Sprint at odds-on in October and returning to run a solid third in the local prep, the King T. Leatherbury Stakes. The lightly raced 6-year-old has made just 12 starts, but owns 5 wins and is 2-2 at Pimlico, winning a pair of local allowances. Jockey Jevian Toledo is the undisputed local turf sprint king and will give this one every chance against the out of towners. Most Certain Exotics Contender: Love the trip HOLLIS should get and he's proven locally. Best Longshot Exotics Contender: MR. HUSTLE is 10-1 morning line and it's worth noting trainer Mike Maker's had big success bringing Preakness weekend stakes horses to town in recent years. With Irad Ortiz Jr. named to ride, there's a lot to like here in terms of connections. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $70 win HOLLIS. $10 exacta part-wheel HOLLIS over CAROTARI, SEVEN SCENTS, MR. HUSTLE.

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5.17.2022:

It's Official: Preakness Talk With Siegel & Plonk

Tune in with Jeff and Jeremy here.

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5.17.2022:

Preakness Notes: Tuesday, May 17, 2022

    Epicenter Only ‘Beginning’ His Career in Preakness Oaks Winner Secret Oaks ‘Breaks Their Hearts’ Early Voting Set for Tuesday Afternoon Arrival BALTIMORE – Saturday’s 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) will be Epicenter’s eighth career start, but Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen views the first seven races as just a warm up for the 6-5 morning-line favorite. “I think it’s a very unique opportunity and he has a very nice resume, but we would definitely like to add to it,” Asmussen said in full turn-the-page mode after a narrow Kentucky Derby (G1) defeat. “We expect this is just the beginning of his racing career.” Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter drew Post #8 in a field of nine 3-year-olds entered in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Regular rider Joel Rosario, the 2021 Eclipse Award-winning jockey, has the mount at Pimlico Race Course. If Epicenter’s first seven races indeed prove only a prelude, the main act could be spectacular. Since finishing sixth in his racing debut Sept. 18 – the last time he ran less than a mile – Epicenter has four wins and two seconds. He is a length from being unbeaten during that skein: dropping a head decision after a protracted duel in the Fair Grounds’ Lecomte Stakes (G3) and, obviously far more painfully to his team, the Kentucky Derby, in which Epicenter took charge in the stretch, only to be passed in the final strides by 80-1 shot Rich Strike. The fact that Epicenter’s start prior to the Kentucky Derby was the March 26 Louisiana Derby (G2) now seemingly works in the Not This Time colt’s favor with the two-week turnaround to the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. Simplification (fourth) and Happy Jack (14th) are the only other Derby horses returning in the Preakness. “His races have been spaced considerably since the beginning, and I think that’s what has allowed us the horse we have right now,” Asmussen said. “How he runs back in two weeks and how he comes out of a race back in two weeks is yet to be determined.” All the same, he believes tweaks made for the Fair Grounds’ 3-year-old series – changing the spacing and extending the Louisiana Derby to the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles and the Risen Star (G2) to 1 1/8 miles — are paying dividends. “Love the series in New Orleans, how they’ve lengthened the races and adjusted the timing of them,” Asmussen said. “I thought it gave us a great chance in the Derby, as we’re standing here (after) being second, and now trying to improve upon that and back in 14 days.” Oaks Winner Secret Oath ‘Breaks Their Hearts’ Briland Farms’ Secret Oath stretched her legs around the Preakness Stakes Barn at Pimlico Race Course early Tuesday morning, her first full day on the grounds. The 9-2 third choice in the morning line for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) will attempt to become the seventh filly to win the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown in the 147-year history of the race. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas watched his star pupil as Secret Oath munched on grass outside the barn. Secret Oath and stablemate Ethereal Road, a 3-year-old colt who runs in Saturday’s Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard, arrived at Pimlico Monday afternoon. “It was easy,” Lukas said of the 12-hour van journey from Louisville, Ky. “We left at 4 a.m. and got here just before 4 p.m. It was on the money. Perfect.” Lukas rode shotgun in the pickup truck hauling the van. John Sica, the owner of Sica Horse Transport, did the driving. After an easy day Tuesday, Secret Oath will get her first look at the Pimlico track when she is scheduled to go out at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Lukas said. Secret Oath has won five of eight career starts and has three wins in four starts this season. The only loss came in the Arkansas Derby (G1) April 2 when she was third against males. Her three wins this year – the Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park Jan. 29, the Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn Feb. 26 and the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs – have been by a combined 16 � lengths. “Her turn of foot … she has got that acceleration,” Lukas said. “When you ask her to move, she has a devastating kick. She breaks their hearts.” Lukas hopes that Secret Oath and jockey Luis Saez, who rode her for the first time in the Kentucky Oaks, will be able to work out the same kind of trip in the Preakness that proved so successful in Louisville. “We had the perfect trip in the Oaks,” Lukas said. “I hope we don’t get too far back. She will catch them. Whether we can run by them, we will find out. I stay optimistic with one like this. She gives you reason every day to feel good.” Early Voting Set for Tuesday Afternoon Arrival Klaravich Stable’s Early Voting was shipped from trainer Chad Brown’s barn at Belmont Park to Pimlico Tuesday and was scheduled to arrive at approximately 2 p.m. The son of Gun Runner drew Post 5 in the field of nine for Saturday’s147th Preakness Stakes (G1) and is rated second at 7-2 in the morning line with jockey Jose Ortiz aboard. Early Voting broke his maiden in his debut at Aqueduct on Dec. 18 and easily won the Withers (G3) by 4 � lengths in the mud on Feb. 5. In his most recent start, he was second by a neck in the Wood Memorial (G2) on April 9. The Preakness will be his first start away from Aqueduct, but Brown said the colt has some experience shipping back and forth to Saratoga during his career. Klaravich purchased the colt bred by Three Chimneys Farm for $200,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Sale of yearlings. Brown was involved in the selection and purchase of Early Voting, whose dam, Amour d’Ete, is a half-sister to champion and top sire Speightstown, and a full sister to 2017 Blue Grass (G2) winner Irap, who earned over $1.6 million in purses. “Mike Ryan and I do it together,” Brown said. “He scouts our horses for us, and I came in and looked at him. We thought he was a good prospect, and we were lucky enough to buy him.” Brown said Early Voting was attractive with his combination of looks and pedigree. “He’s a beautiful individual. Very well-bred,” Brown said. “We took a chance on a first-crop stallion, Gun Runner, that has turned out to be a terrific stallion. Everything has sort of worked out.” Creative Minister Well-Versed in Pulling off Inside Jobs When Creative Minister drew Post #2 for Saturday’s 147th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, it continued a coincidental pattern in his young career of only starting toward the inside of the starting gate. In his first three races, Creative Minister started from Post #6 in a field of 11, Post #5 in a field of 12 and Post #4 in the 11-horse field he mastered in winning an entry-level allowance race on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard. So, Post #2 in the Preakness’ nine-horse field would not seem to faze him. “Being inside doesn’t bother him,” jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. said by phone. “He’s had experience running between and inside of horses and in large fields.” Creative Minister, trained by Kenny McPeek for Paul Fireman’s Fern Circle Stables and Greg Back’s Back Racing LLC, isn’t the only horse coming into this Preakness with only three prior starts. But Early Voting’s trio of races includes winning Aqueduct’s Withers (G3) and finishing second by a neck to Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial (G2). “There are some really nice horses in there: Epicenter, Early Voting, and Secret Oath was very impressive in the Kentucky Oaks,” Hernandez said of the Preakness. “This time of the year, horses can really change and develop. He’s dominated maiden and allowance horses, and now it’s time to have him step up and see what he can do.” The ownership group, which includes McPeek being in for 10 percent, has supplemented Creative Minister into the Preakness for $150,000, bringing the total purse to $1.65 million. Hernandez has some first-hand experience with Epicenter, the Preakness’ 6-5 favorite. In addition to trying to beat him, the jockey was in the saddle for Epicenter’s 6 �-length romp in the Fair Grounds’ Gun Runner Stakes on Dec. 26. “I was fortunate enough to get to ride him that one time,” Hernandez said. “You could just tell that he was a serious horse…. But we feel Creative Minister is a really good horse, too.” Hernandez believes Creative Minister has the tools to give him his first victory in one of the 3-year-old classics. “I’ve won a Classic but I never won a Triple Crown race,” said Hernandez, winner of Fort Larned’s victory in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita. “I’m going in with a lot of confidence in this horse, that he has the ability to do it. Obviously, the owners have a lot of confidence, too, putting up $150,000.” Simplification ‘Good and Healthy’ for Preakness Run Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric’s Simplification galloped 1 � miles Tuesday morning in preparation for the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. “He had an easy gallop and then, the last three-eighths [of a mile] an open gallop,” trainer Antonio Sano said. Simplification, who was rated fourth at 6-1 in the Preakness morning-line after drawing Post #1 at Monday’s post-position draw, finished fourth in the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1), in which he closed from 15th to fourth while racing very wide. The son of Not This Time will be the second Preakness starter for Sano, who has been training in South Florida since emigrating from Venezuela in 2009. He saddled Gunnevera, a $5.5 million earner, for a fifth-place finish in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown in 2017 following a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. “It’s very important to win one of these races for the horse. It’s not easy with only five weeks,” Sano said. “I thank God, my horse is good and healthy for the next race.” Simplification has gone about his business cool, calm and collected since shipping from Kentucky to Pimlico a week ago. “Not always. He was a very nervous horse,” Sano said. “He was nervous in the gate, in the paddock, but not now. He’s very relaxed.” Simplification was a bit slow to start when he tossed his head in the gate at the start of the Feb. 5 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream. The Florida-bred colt recovered to close from well off the pace to finish second in the Holy Bull before capturing the March 5 Fountain of Youth (G2) and finishing third in the Florida Derby (G1). Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride Simplification for the first time in the Preakness. Skippylongstocking Gets Acquainted with Pimlico On the morning after arriving in Baltimore by van from Florida Monday, Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking got acquainted with the Pimlico Race Course racetrack over which he is scheduled to run in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1). “He jogged a mile,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. “Tomorrow, he’ll gallop, and he’ll gallop up to the race.” Skippylongstocking, who was rated at 20-1 in the morning line after drawing Post #9 for the Preakness, has been a bit of a pleasant surprise with his late development. “He was stopping in all his races, going a one-turn mile. [Jockey] Junior [Alvarado] recommended to stretch him out, and that’s made the difference with this colt,” Joseph said. “He had gotten to the point where it was getting frustrating.” After winning one of his first seven races, the son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerate broke through with a 4 �-length optional claiming allowance triumph while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream March 2. He came right back to finish third behind Mo Donegal and Early Voting, respectively, in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct at 1 1/8 miles. “The added distance [of the 1 3/16-mile Preakness] hopefully will help him,” said Joseph, who saddled Ny Traffic for a ninth-place finish in the 2020 Preakness. Alvarado has the return mount aboard Skippylongstocking. Armagnac Adds to Yakteen’s Triple Crown Experience The Triple Crown has been a new experience for Tim Yakteen. He is hopeful that Saturday’s 147th Preakness (G1) will give him a better outcome than he got in the Kentucky Derby (G1) two weeks ago. Yakteen will saddle Armagnac, who is 12-1 on the morning line, for a start in the Preakness. In the Kentucky Derby, he watched two of his highly regarded horses be non-factors. Taiba crossed the finish line in 12th place and Messier finished 15th. “It has been a great experience,” Yakteen said. “You always want to do better and, hopefully, in the next leg, we will perform a little bit better.” Armagnac, who is coming off a sharp optional claiming allowance victory at Santa Anita May 7, was scheduled to arrive at Pimlico early Tuesday evening following a cross-country flight from Southern California. Happy Jack to Van Overnight from Churchill Calumet Farm’s Happy Jack will be Pimlico-bound Tuesday night. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt is 30-1 on the morning line for Saturday’s 147th running of the Preakness (G1) and drew Post #6. The 14th place finisher in the Kentucky Derby (G1) is expected to be on the Pimlico grounds sometime after sunrise Wednesday morning after vanning from Churchill Downs. “We want to go at night,” O’Neill said. “It’s a little cooler and there isn’t as much traffic.” The son of 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow spent his last day in Kentucky doing what he usually does. Happy Jack “two-minute licked a mile,” on his daily gallop. While in Kentucky, Happy Jack has been supervised by Sabas Rivera, a barn foreman for O’Neill. “The way I exercise them, he slowly works every day,” O’Neill said. O’Neill will be looking for his second Preakness win. In 2012, he won the race with I’ll Have Another. Trainer: Fenwick Will Be Tough if He Gets His Way Trainer Kevin McKathan said that Fenwick will arrive at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday morning from Kentucky to prepare for a start in Saturday’s 147th Preakness (G1). McKathan reported that Fenwick will leave Churchill Downs via van at 5 p.m. Tuesday night. “He trained this morning and is doing great," McKathan said Tuesday morning. "He galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill. We'll load him on the van and bring him on up.” Fenwick, the first horse McKathan has trained in his name since 1989, is co-owned by Villa Rosa Farm and Harlo Stable and was a late addition to the Preakness field before entries closed. Last of 11 in the Blue Grass (G1) in his stakes debut, he drew Post 3 and is 50-1 on the morning line with Florent Geroux aboard. McKathan had a brief training career in the 1980s before turning to the operation of the McKathan Brothers Training Center in Ocala, Fla. His brother, J.B., died in 2019. McKathan said that he hopes to see Fenwick, a son of Curlin, leave the gates running. “I think the horse fits in," McKathan said. "If he gets his race and runs his race, he will be hard to outrun. I'm not saying he will outrun Steve's horse [Asmussen-trained Epicenter]. I'm not saying anything crazy like that, but if he has his way, they will have a hard time getting by him. If he gets that open move, he will keep doing it, and he does it fast and he does it for a long time.”  

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5.16.2022:

Jeremy Plonk: Preakness Post Position Draw Rapid Reaction

Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter and Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath topped nine entries this afternoon for Saturday’s 147th running of the Preakness Stakes. Pimlico Racecourse’s middle jewel in the Triple Crown tops a 14-race program that begins at 10:30 am ET with Preakness post time set for 6:45 pm ET. Maryland Jockey Club oddsmaker Keith Feustle tabbed Epicenter the 7-5 morning line favorite. Bettors playing Preakness with 1/ST BET and Xpressbet can take advantage of up to a $10 money-back special Friday and Saturday on every Pimlico race – if your win bet finishes second or third. Early bird wagering for the entire Preakness card is available Friday on both platforms. Beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Epicenter will start from post 8 under jockey Joel Rosario for two-time Preakness-winning trainer Steve Asmussen. Secret Oath, attempting to join Rachel Alexandra (2009) as the only Kentucky Oaks-Preakness winners in history, will begin from post 4. She’s conditioned by 5-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lukas, age 86, who last won this race with Oxbow in 2013. Epicenter projects to be on or pressing the Preakness pace with Wood Memorial runner-up Early Voting, who leaves from post 5. Early Voting is the race’s potential front-runner and follows the same path as Klaravich Stables and Chad Brown-trained Cloud Computing, winner of the 2017 Preakness. Being drawn inside of Epicenter, it’s almost certain Early Voting will go to the front. Widest-drawn Skippylongstocking also may show a bit more speed and be part of the mix. With a long run into the first turn and modest field size, post positions should not play a major role in the outcome. For more Preakness in-depth coverage visit 1st.com/guide and download the free 1/ST BET and Xpressbet Preakness Wager Guide, available Wednesday. Also check out https://news.1st.com/blog/preakness-stakes-picks for our complete coverage of Preakness 147, including contender profiles, blogs, videos and more. Pimlico Racecourse // Race 13 // 147th Grade 1 $1.65 million Preakness Stakes// 1-3/16 miles 1. Simplification // Antonio Sano // John Velazquez // 6-1 2. Creative Minister // Kenny McPeek // Brian Hernandez Jr. // 10-1 3. Fenwick // Kevin McKathan // Florent Geroux // 50-1 4. Secret Oath // D. Wayne Lukas // Luis Saez // 9-2 5. Early Voting // Chad Brown // Jose Ortiz // 7-2 6. Happy Jack // Doug O’Neill // Tyler Gaffalione // 30-1 7. Armagnac // Tim Yakteen // Irad Ortiz Jr. // 12-1 8. Epicenter // Steve Asmussen // Joel Rosario // 6-5 9. Skippylongstocking // Saffie Joseph Jr. // Junior Alvarado // 20-1 NBC will broadcast the Preakness action from 4-7:30 pm on Saturday. CNBC will televise undercard races from 2-4 pm ET.

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5.16.2022:

Preakness Notes: Monday, May 16, 2022

Epicenter Works for Preakness 147 Oaks Winner Secret Oath, Lukas Enroute to Pimlico Fenwick Last-Minute Entry for Preakness BALTIMORE – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter, the Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up and expected favorite for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1), breezed an easy half-mile in 50 2/5 seconds early Monday morning at Churchill Downs, a textbook workout for a Steve Asmussen-trained horse five days before a race. “We just gave him an easy half-mile nine days off of the Derby,” Asmussen said shortly after the workout. “Obviously, we’re very happy how Epicenter came out of the Derby. He’s consistently been a sound horse and heads up to Baltimore early (Tuesday) morning.” The Hall of Fame trainer said Epicenter and his other Pimlico-bound horses will leave between 3-4 a.m. in order to avoid morning rush hour leaving Kentucky and afternoon rush hour arriving in Baltimore. Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Epicenter appeared headed to a Kentucky Derby victory with an eighth of a mile to go. But 80-1 shot Rich Strike came flying up the rail to get past him in the final strides for a three-quarters of a length victory. “We were second. Turn the page. Move on. What do we do now?” Asmussen said of the Derby result. “We’ve got a quality 3-year-old that has some wonderful opportunities left in the second half of the year, and we plan on having him ready for them. There are some extremely lucrative, important races out there, and he needs to be ready. He is very accomplished but yet to be a Grade 1 winner. For him to add a Grade 1 in a classic to his resume would be very important to us.” Asmussen won the 2007 Preakness Stakes with eventual two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby. He won the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown two years later with the filly Rachel Alexandra, who was sold to wine magnate Jess Jackson and turned over to Asmussen days after she won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) by 20 1/4 lengths. The Kenny McPeek-trained Creative Minister, an impressive allowance winner on the Derby undercard, galloped at Churchill Downs and also will leave for Baltimore early Tuesday morning. Owners Fern Circle Stables and Back Racing LLC are putting up $150,000 to supplement the Creative Cause colt into the Preakness. Oaks Winner Secret Oath, Lukas Enroute to Pimlico Briland Farms’ Secret Oath, an impressive winner of the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1), began her journey to Pimlico Race Course from Churchill Downs early Monday morning. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who rode shotgun in the cab of the van, will saddle the daughter of Arrogate Saturday in search of his seventh success in the Preakness Stakes (G1) Filly and trainer are scheduled to arrive at Pimlico in late afternoon Monday. Fenwick Last-Minute Entry for Preakness Villa Rosa Farm and Harlo Stable’s Fenwick was entered Monday morning in Saturday’s 147th Preakness Stakes. The son of Curlin was also being considered for a run in the $100,000 Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico Race Course. Fenwick most recently finished 11th in the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, after graduating with a front-running 5 1/2-length victory at Tampa Bay Downs. “We think he should have run well in the Blue Grass. He broke a step slow. He got cut off on the corner. The jock sat down on him for about 10 seconds. He’s the kind of horse who needs to be free to run. He didn’t get that chance,” said Villa Rosa Farm’s Jeremia Rudan, an Ontario, Canada businessman. “I’m not saying he would have won, but if he had made that hole on the first turn, it might have been a different race. “He’s happy; he’s sound. The way the Preakness is lining up, there’s no reason not to give it a shot,” he added. Early Voting Scheduled to Arrive at Pimlico Tuesday Klaravich Stable’s Early Voting will ship from Belmont Park to Pimlico Race Course Tuesday for the final few days of preparations for the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) Saturday at Pimlico Race Course. Early Voting had a routine gallop Monday morning, Brown said, four days after he turned in his final timed workout for the Preakness: a ‘bullet’ five furlongs in 1:00.63 on the main track at Belmont. “He breezed good and came out of it good,” said Brown, who has been pleased with the way the lightly raced colt has progressed. Regular rider Jose Ortiz has the mount for the Preakness. Ortiz was aboard in each of Early Voting’s three previous races: a debut victory in a one-mile maiden race in December; a front-running win in the 1 1/8 miles Withers (G3) on February 5; a second-place finish by a neck in the Wood Memorial (G2) on April 9. Yakteen: ‘Light Came On’ for Armagnac Eight days ago, the “light came on” for Southern California-based Armagnac. And that earned him a plane ride to Baltimore where he will run in the 147th running of the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. Armagnac, owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable and Siena Farm, will ship to Pimlico from trainer Tim Yakteen’s base in Santa Anita in California Tuesday. On May 8, Armagnac, a son of Quality Road, led from gate-to-wire in winning a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita. That came after he was no factor in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). He was fourth in that race behind the well-regarded Taiba and Messier. Happy Jack, another Preakness runner, was third in the Santa Anita Derby, a neck in front of Armagnac, who was 72-1, making him the longest shot on the board in the field of six. Yakteen got a much better result in the allowance, albeit against lesser competition. “The light came on a little bit in his last race,” Yakteen said. “He ran well enough to where the connections thought we would take a shot and run back in the Preakness.” Armagnac has won two of five career starts. In his only other graded-stakes try, he was sixth in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita on March 5. “He’s just a beautifully made horse, a healthy, forward-moving horse,” Yakteen said. “I think if we continue with that nice pattern, we will see a big race from him.” Yakteen, who will be saddled his first Preakness starter Saturday, said Armagnac galloped 1 1/2miles at Santa Anita Monday. The trainer said he will be on the Pimlico grounds Wednesday morning. Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Armagnac in the Preakness. It will be the first time he has ridden the colt. Happy Jack a Horse for the People He likes them. At least that’s what trainer Doug O’Neill says about easy-going Happy Jack. “He is very sociable,” O’Neill said. “If no one is around, he will lay down. If someone is around, he will come right to the front of the stall. He really bonds with people.” Happy Jack is a son of 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow. O’Neill said one of the traits of horses with Oxbow’s lineage is their friendliness. Calumet Farm’s Happy Jack continues to train at Churchill Downs, where he remained after finishing 14th in the Kentucky Derby. Sabas Rivera, a barn foreman for O’Neill, has been overseeing the Preakness preparations in Kentucky. The colt has been galloping daily. “He is very easy to train,” O’Neill said. “Very straightforward. He gets his gallop done and he doesn’t fight. He goes back in his stall, eats and sleeps.” Happy Jack galloped 1 � miles Monday morning and is scheduled to leave Kentucky Tuesday morning and arrive in Baltimore later in the afternoon. O’Neill said he will fly to Charm City Wednesday night and be on the grounds on Thursday. Simplification ‘Very Happy’ Preakness Contender Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric’s Simplification galloped 1 1/2miles Monday on the last morning that the son of Not This Time will be the only contender for Saturday’s 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) training over the Pimlico Race Course racetrack. Simplification, who captured the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, finished fourth in the May 7 Kentucky Derby, in which he closed from 15th to fourth while racing very wide. The Antonio Sano trainee was the first to arrive at Pimlico Tuesday, May 10. “I like how the horse is doing. He’s very happy,” Sano said. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride Simplification for the first time in the Preakness. Skippylongstocking Arrives at Pimlico Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking arrived at Pimlico Race Course at 6:30 a.m. Monday by van following a 15-hour journey from Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Fla. “He traveled well, so all is well, so far,” said trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., who arrived in Baltimore late Monday night. “He’ll go to the track tomorrow.” Shortly after sunrise Tuesday, Alonso’s Novo Sol, who is entered in Saturday’s $250,000 Dinner Party (G2) on the Preakness undercard, will go to the Pimlico track, followed by Skippylongstocking. Skippylongstocking, a son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator is coming off a third-place finish behind Mo Donegal and Early Voting, respectively, in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct.

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5.16.2022:

Preakness Notes: Sunday, May 15, 2022

  Epicenter ‘Pretty Sharp’ for Saturday’s 147th Preakness Creative Minister, Not Epicenter Sports Winchell Bloodlines ‘Oath’ Owner: ‘We’ll Step Outside the Box within Reason’ BALTIMORE – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter, the Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up and probable favorite for Saturday’s 147th Preakness (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, had his penultimate training session at Churchill Downs Sunday morning before being vanned to Baltimore Tuesday. Epicenter galloped 1 1/2 miles Sunday morning and will have one of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s famous easy half-mile works early Monday morning. “He seems to be pretty sharp,” said assistant trainer Scott Blasi, who oversees Asmussen’s Churchill division. “I love how he’s doing. He galloped today like that was nothing; walked off the track with good energy. We’ll put a little work in him and go. Not much to do from here on out…. [but] win,” an apparent reference to Epicenter’s huge effort in the Derby, when he looked like the winner in mid-stretch only to get passed in the final strides on the inside by 80-1 Rich Strike. Asked if the sting of the Derby defeat had ebbed, Blasi said, “If you don’t learn to turn the page in this game, you’re going to be a miserable human. What’s done is done. Move on.” Asmussen won the Preakness in 2007 with 2007-2008 Horse of the Year Curlin and in 2009 with Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. Asmussen has been in Texas the past few days but told the Maryland Jockey Club’s Naomi Tukker: “Obviously we’re very proud of Epicenter and who he is and the races he’s run this year. But it was disappointing to be in that position, feel as confident as we did and not come away with the victory. But Rich Strike ran the better race and is the deserving winner. We will gladly regroup and try to represent well in the Preakness.” Epicenter won the Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Preakness’ 1 3/16-mile distance six weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Creative Minister, Not Epicenter Sports Winchell Bloodlines Winchell Thoroughbreds’ breeding program, one of America’s most successful breed-to-race operations, will be represented in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. However, it won’t be represented by Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up and probable Preakness favorite Epicenter, whom Ron Winchell purchased for $260,000 as a yearling from Bowling Green, Ky., breeder Westwind Farms. Rather it’s Creative Minister, a Derby Day allowance winner for trainer Kenny McPeek and majority owners Paul Fireman’s Fern Circle Stables and Greg Back. Winchell’s Winchell Thoroughbreds did not breed Creative Minister; but it did breed the colt’s dam, Tamboz, a daughter of the Winchell-raced stallion Tapit and his mare Winning Call (whose only win in four starts came as a 4-year-old maiden before retiring with earnings of $10,400.) As an aside, Winning Call was trained by a young horseman named Steve Asmussen, who then was getting the Winchell second string to run in the Southwest and Midwest. Born in 2006, Tamboz was in Tapit’s first crop, before he established himself as the super-sire he is today - and well before Tamboz’s full brother Tapizar won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Tamboz fetched $29,000 as a yearling at auction and would seem to have been well sold. She went on to win only 1 of 21 races and $38,530 while racing mostly in claiming races at Charles Town and Colonial Downs. However, she has passed on the right genes to her offspring. All eight of Tamboz’ foals to race are winners, five of them stakes-placed. Tamboz traces to the mare who started the Winchell breeding empire: Carols Christmas, a swaybacked but speedy filly claimed in 1981 for $25,000 by Verne Winchell. Carols Christmas might have been conformationally challenged, but she went on to produce Grade 1 winner (and Preakness fourth-place finisher) Olympio and Grade 2 winner Call Now. Her daughters proved better broodmares than racehorses, producing major winners Cuvee, Bien Nicole, Wild Wonder, Fun House, Early Flyer and Will He Shine. Fun House is the dam of champion Untapable, Winchell’s 2014 Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner, and $1.7 million-earner Paddy O’Prado. “We were pretty cautious about not letting go much of that family,” said David Fiske, the Winchell family’s long-time bloodstock and farm manager. “Obviously, we sold a few that we didn’t regret, and we kept many that we did. The whole family was ‘don’t give up on them just because they didn’t run.’ … We kept as many as we could, and greatly benefited over the years.” Creative Minister comes by his gray/roan (the official Jockey Club color designation) coat honestly. Gray and roan can be difficult to distinguish between, the difference being the often very subtle red hairs in a roan - hence they were grouped together instead of being two separate official colors of Thoroughbreds. Creative Minister is a son of 2012 Preakness third-place finisher Creative Cause, himself gray/roan and whose dam, Dream of Summer, was gray/roan, as was her dad, Siberian Summer, and his dad (Siberian Express), granddad Caro, great granddad Fortino II and great-great granddad Grey Sovereign, a foal of 1948. On Creative Minister’s female side: Tamboz and Tapit are both gray/roans. Tapit’s mom was the gray/roan Tap Your Heels, whose mom, grandma, great grandma and great great grandma were - yes - gray/roan. Creative Minister is scheduled to van to Baltimore on Tuesday, McPeek said. ‘Oath’ Owner: ‘We’ll Step Outside the Box within Reason’ The groundwork to run Briland Farm’s filly Secret Oath in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) began in the days after she won an Oaklawn Park allowance race by 8 � lengths on Dec. 31. The deadline to make horses early nominees for the Triple Crown at a cost of $600 was Jan. 29, vs. $6,000 by March 28 for late nominations. “Wayne said, ‘We ought to nominate her to the Triple Crown series,’” said Rob Mitchell, who bred and co-owns Secret Oath with his wife, Stacy. “I said, ‘Eh, I don’t think so. She’s not going to be a Derby horse.’ He said, ‘No, no. But if she’s really good, then we could shoot for the Oaks and the Preakness.’ I said, ‘Let me think about it. Will people think we’re crazy to nominate a filly to the Triple Crown trail?’ Then I started doing the Google thing and saw that every year seven, eight, nine, 10 fillies are nominated. I thought this was a very rare thing. But no, it’s not. Once I realized that, I said, ‘Let’s go ahead and do it.’ Then of course she wins the Martha Washington (by 7 � lengths) and she wins the Honeybee (by 7 �).” After those impressive stakes victories at Oaklawn, Secret Oath was routed to the Arkansas Derby (G1). “We were thinking a Grade 1, $1.25 million purse and then the Oaks and then see how we think about the Preakness,” Rob Mitchell said in a phone interview. “I just view it as horse vs. horse. She looks really good. Really strong, perky, muscled up. I just think it’s the right race at the right time. But after this is over, Wayne and I have talked - I don’t care if she wins or comes in last – she’s getting a break for eight or nine weeks.” Lukas will try to win his second Triple Crown race with a filly, the first being 1988 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Winning Colors, who finished third in the Preakness. “We’ll step outside of the box within reason,” Mitchell said. “I really felt like we should have won the Arkansas Derby, but we didn’t. I can see stepping out of the box a little bit. But I’m not thinking Travers, Haskell, Belmont.” He added with a laugh, “Maybe out of the box, but I don’t want to step out of the area code. “I think the Preakness suits her as far as timing. I don’t think it would have been good to wait until the Coaching Club Oaks [July 23]. That would be quite a wait if we didn’t do anything. And she came out of this much better than she came out of the Arkansas Derby. She was really tired the next day after the Arkansas Derby.” Mitchell said he didn’t need to be convinced to take on the boys again, but rather be convinced that the Preakness wasn't too soon after the Oaks. “But I saw her the day after the Oaks and I saw her Friday,” he said. "Totally different horse than after the Arkansas Derby. She started her move so soon in the Arkansas Derby that she was totally depleted with half a furlong to go. Then you go all out that last half-furlong when you have no gas in the tank. She was really washed out for a few days. But that wasn’t the case with the Oaks. If anything, it might have made her stronger.” A week after their biggest victory as an owner or breeder, Mitchell said: “We watched the replay 10 times to convince ourselves we won. It’s still kind of hard to believe, a bit of a blur. I saw when she was coming around that turn and into the stretch; I had a really good feeling. I saw her do that three times in Arkansas – actually four times. I saw her do it in the Arkansas Derby; she just did it at the wrong time.” Secret Oath had another good-looking gallop Sunday morning under Danielle Rosier shortly after the Churchill Downs track opened at 5:30 a.m. Lukas said she will leave early Monday for Baltimore, along with stablemate Ethereal Road, who is scheduled to run in Saturday’s $100,000 Sir Barton for horses that have never won an open stakes. Early Voting Has Recent History on His Side Klaravich Stable’s Early Voting will have the chance Saturday at Pimlico Race Course to become the third straight horse and seventh this century that did not run in the Kentucky Derby (G1) to prevail in the Preakness Stakes (G1). Typically, the Preakness has been won by horses that ran two weeks earlier in the Derby. That trend has been interrupted in recent years with Cloud Computing (2017), the filly Swiss Skydiver (2020) and Rombauer (2021) finishing first in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Swiss Skydiver’s win came in the Covid 19-delayed Preakness, which was conducted in October. Trainer Chad Brown is using the same script that worked for him with Cloud Computing, who was co-owned by Klaravich. Rather than run a lightly raced colt in the huge field of the Derby, he opted to let the second-place finisher in the Wood Memorial (G2) stay home at Belmont Park and get ready for the Preakness. Like Cloud Computing, the Preakness will be the fourth career start for Early Voting, a member of Gun Runner’s first crop. In 2000, Stronach Stable’s Red Bullet handled the heavily favored Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus by 3 � lengths. Bernardini won the 2006 Preakness after Derby winner Barbaro was injured in the first run through the stretch. The Hall of Fame filly Rachel Alexandra jumped from an emphatic victory in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) to handle males in the 2009 Preakness. Early Voting won this first two career starts but was beaten a neck by Mo Donegal in the April 9 Wood. Though Early Voting had enough qualifying points to make it into the Derby field with stablemate Zandon, who ended up third, Brown opted to wait for the Preakness. “It was not a hard decision,” Brown said. “It made a lot of sense. It’s something that we carefully studied. He was under consideration for the Derby right up until the week before the race, but ultimately, we are comfortable with this decision.” Early Voting worked five furlongs in 1:00.63 Friday at Belmont Park and is scheduled to be shipped to Pimlico on Tuesday. Blinkers Back on Happy Jack for Middle Jewel Trainer Doug O’Neill experimented in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with Happy Jack. It didn’t work. So, when the son of 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow runs in Saturday’s Preakness (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, O’Neill will put the blinkers back on Happy Jack. Happy Jack wore the hood in three of his first four starts before O’Neill opted to remove them before the Run for the Roses. Happy Jack was never a factor, finishing 14th at odds of 23-1. “In the Derby, you’re trying to navigate 1 1/4 miles against 19 other horses,” O’Neill said, who won the Preakness in 2012 with I’ll Have Another. “By taking the blinkers off, I thought it would give him a chance to get a little breather.” Happy Jack wore the blinkers in his first career start and broke his maiden at Santa Anita on Jan. 22. O’Neill kept them on in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita on Feb. 6 and the colt finished last in the field of five, beaten 27 � lengths. The hood came off in the San Felipe (G2) on March 5 and Happy Jack was third, beaten 10 1/2 lengths. They were back on in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and he was third again, finishing 12 1/2 lengths behind Taiba. Heading into the Preakness, the blinkers are going back on. “He is kind of a grinder,” O’Neill said. “I think he has to be more involved early. Hopefully, with a shorter field, a better post position and with the blinkers on, he can be more forwardly placed. He’s a trier and a stayer, and I think he can make up more ground more forwardly placed.” Happy Jack is scheduled to arrive in Baltimore on Tuesday. He galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning. “Knock on wood, he’s doing well.” O’Neill said. O’Neill is scheduled to fly to Baltimore from California on Wednesday and be on the Pimlico grounds Thursday. All Systems ‘Go’ for Un Ojo to Run in Preakness Un Ojo, the one-eyed winner of Oaklawn Park’s Rebel (G2) at 75-1 odds, came out of his Saturday workout in good order and is scheduled to van to Baltimore Monday afternoon, trainer Ricky Courville said. The gelding worked five-eighths of a mile at Churchill Downs in 1:02, galloping out three-quarters of a mile in a strong 1:14 3/5. He had a scheduled walk day Sunday, with his care overseen by Courville’s son and assistant trainer, Clay Courville. Un Ojo, owned by Cypress Creek Equine and Whispering Oaks Farm, was withdrawn from Kentucky Derby consideration on May 2, the morning that entries were taken because of a minor foot bruise. “The next day after we didn’t enter, he was pretty good,” Courville said by phone from his Copper Crowne Training Center base in Opelousas, La. “We were soaking the foot a couple of days, and Tuesday morning he got really good. We just gave him the rest of the week, soaking it, making sure, and went on and sent him back to the track Derby morning. He’s been training since. It was just unfortunate. Monday [entry day] he wasn’t 100 percent; Tuesday he was.” Because their hotel rooms were non-refundable for Derby weekend, Ricky Courville said he stayed in town for the race. He watched 80-1 Rich Strike – who had drawn in off the also-eligible list – rally from last behind the fastest first quarter-mile in Derby history to get past favored Epicenter in the closing strides. “After the race, I thought it set up perfect – it would have been good for [Un Ojo], with his running style,” Ricky Courville said of his New York-bred son of Laoban. “But you don’t know what hole we would have drawn. Would it have changed the race if we were in it? Just a lot of ‘what ifs.’ You got to move forward and not even think about it. Clay was upset. But it’s done; on to the next race.” Now he’s hoping Un Ojo pulls off another upset in the Preakness. “I mean, we had a lot of confidence heading into the Derby,” Ricky Courville said. “He was working so good over the Churchill track. Because he’s not much of a workhorse, he never was. He’d work here at Copper Crowne. It’s kind of a two-turn five-eighths work over a six-furlong track. He’ll go in 1:03, 1:02 if you ask him. He goes to Churchill and goes in 59 [seconds] and just looks like he’s loping. He was loving that track.” Simplification One of Three Derby Starters in Preakness Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric’s Simplification galloped 1 1/2 miles at Pimlico Race Course Sunday morning in preparation for a start in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1). The son of Not This Time is expected to be one of the horses in the Preakness field that competed in the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1). Simplification, who rallied from 15th to finish fourth following a very wide trip at Churchill Downs, will be joined by Derby runner-up Epicenter in the field for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown and 14th-place-finisher Happy Jack when entries are taken Monday. Gulfstream Park-based trainer Antonio Sano arrived to join his Fountain of Youth (G2) winner at Pimlico Sunday afternoon. Armagnac Will Make Two-Week Turnaround Saturday An eye-opening allowance victory at Santa Anita last Sunday paved the way for a trip to Baltimore. After Armagnac streaked under the finish line as an easy 4 1/2-length winner in that race, it was decided his next start would be the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course Saturday. “We feel we have a good horse who is improving at the right time,” said Tom Ryan, the managing partner of SF Racing, which co-owns Armagnac. SF Racing owns the son of Quality Road along with Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable and Siena Farm. Armagnac is trained by Tim Yakteen and will be ridden for the first time by Irad Ortiz Jr. in the Preakness. The allowance win, contested at 1 1/16 miles, was Armagnac’s second win in five career starts. Ryan knows they will be asking a lot of their horse in the Preakness. “He might be 15- or 20-1,” Ryan said. “We think it’s something we have to go in and see how it plays out. No one thought the (Kentucky) Derby winner was going to win the Derby.” That, of course, was Rich Strike, who won the Run for the Roses at 80-1 odds. Coming back on the short rest is a cause for concern, but Armagnac isn’t the only Preakness runner doing the quick turnaround. Likely Preakness favorite Epicenter was second in the Derby; Simplification was fourth; and the filly, Secret Oath, won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 6. Also, Happy Jack, 14th in the Derby, and Creative Minister, an allowance winner on Derby day, are wheeling back in the Preakness. “We ran last Sunday, and we had to run fast to win,” Ryan said of Armagnac’s gate-to-wire victory. “But Epicenter had no walk in the park and the filly (Secret Oath) ran massive in the Oaks. Grade 1 races are Grade 1 races, man. They are hard to win.” The Preakness will be the third graded stakes race for Armagnac. He was fourth, beaten a neck for third by Happy Jack in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 9 and was sixth, 27 1/2 lengths behind Forbidden Kingdom in the San Felipe (G2) on March 5. Skippylongstocking Enroute from Florida to Pimlico Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking began his journey by van from Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Fla., to Pimlico Race Course early Sunday afternoon. The third-place finisher in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct is expected to arrive in Baltimore early Monday morning to continue training for a start in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1). Shake Em Loose will bypass the Preakness in favor of the James W. Murphy, a mile stakes on turf for 3-year-olds on Saturday’s undercard, after breezing on the turf at Laurel Park Sunday morning to the satisfaction of owner/trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon.

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5.16.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Woodbine Mohawk Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Monday, May 16, 2022

    The feature on the Monday night card at Woodbine Mohawk Park rolls in Race 9, a Free for All Trot with a $45,500 purse. The 0.20 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 7, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 7 7-Bettor Notbitter A (4-1)-Fits with this kind, McClure gets the nod and he had success in the past steering this 10-year-old. Makes the 1st start off the claim for the Guillemette barn who is posting 30% winners over the past 30 days. Looks like a player at a fair price. 8-A Boy Named Suuzz (3-1)-Won the 1st start for Moreau, comes back versus the same kind but moves outside which should help the price. This veteran can stay good for a while. Race 8 4-Arrakis (4-1)-Usually is in the hunt versus this type and McClure returns and he has done well in the past. This veteran checks a few boxes in a race that isn't easy to read. 5-Hesohot Hanover (9/2)-Rallied well late in the mile to get up in time last week and recent form suggests it's best to not overlook. MacDonell should work a stalking trip and be in the hunt at the wire. Race 9 1-Pemberton (3-1)-Has had issues and hasn't seen action in a betting race since in 10-17-20. Not sure what level of interest there will be to win this affair but both qualifiers were good. Willing to take a swing this 5-year-old will be ready for a top try. Mohawk record is a perfect (8-8) and may have the best chance to stop the winning streak of #3. 3-Oney Hall (5/2)-Winner of 6 straight didn't look as dominant in last but let's not split hairs. Oney is the one to beat and it wouldn't be a shock to see him posing again. Race 10 1-All Wrapped Up (6-1)-Recent from hasn't been special but has been facing better. Looking for some lively fractions and Roy to work a more alert start. Will need things to fall into place but the price should be right. 2-Free Willy Hanover (5-1)-Drops after getting interfered with by #8 last week and this could be the spot to take a picture. Willy does well racing near the top of the stack and shouldn't have much trouble getting a good seat. 8-HP Mama B (7/2)-Made the 1st start since 11-13 and came up with a solid effort. Might have won except for drifting in down the stretch. Did come the back half in 55.1 and should be tighter tonight. 0.20 Late Pick 4 7,8/4,5/1,3/1,2,8 Total Bet=4.80 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.15.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Northfield Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Sunday, May 15, 2022

  It's Sunday and Northfield Park has a 14-race card ready to go. The $1.00 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 11. The sequence has a $10,000 guaranteed pool, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 11 1-Calvin K (3-1)-Steps-up and will need a top effort at this level. Merriman sticks and could end up in the pocket behind #5 and look to roll by down the lane. 5-Amadeus As (2-1)-Drops out of Opens to the level of the last win which came on 4-24. Davis should take control early on and could be an odds-on choice. Race 12 1-Mac Deeno (4-1)-Has been in tough in the last 2 and broke stride each time. Won at this level 3 back off a nice trip and Stahl can follow the same plan here. 3-Settit And Forgetit (2-1)-Steps-up after making every call a winning one last week. Merriman is between the pipes again and although this may not be as easy it's best to not overlook. 4-Chasin' Dreams (7/2)-Fits well with this crew and should land a good seat from this post. Has hit the board in 18 of 28 here with 5 pictures and could offer some value. Race 13 3-Gotti (7-1)-Fits with this group, should be forwardly placed and could reward new connections at first asking. Clegg will need to provide a smooth trip and should offer a nice price. 5-Pet My Rock (7/2)-Fled the scene in the 2nd half of the mile and cruised home by 4 length after starting in the 2nd tier. Comes back versus the same kind looking for its 3rd straight picture. Race 14 4-Just Bookem (4-1)-Seems to do its best work racing near the top of the stack and should offer a fair price. Ebersole needs to provide a sharp steer and has the speed to beat this field 6-Rockn Motion (8/5)-Burke trainee ships back from HoP after facing better. Merriman gets the assignment and could be aggressive from the start. Looks like a player at a short price. $1.00 Late Pick 4 1,5/1,3,4/3,5/4,6 Total Bet=$24 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.15.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Sunday, May 15, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B+ Single: 5-Mia At Midnight; 1-A Thousand Dreams Forecast: Mia At Midnight (TOC=8/5; ML=2-1) makes her first start since arriving from Gulfstream Park and brings with her races and speed figures that are good enough to win this restricted (nw-2) $25,000 turf miler for fillies and mares. In addition to the lucrative purse, there is ship-and-win money available to her, so you can be sure it’s a “go.” K. Frey rides a lot of live runners for this stable, so we’re expecting the daughter of Midnight Lute to be along in time. For protection, you probably should find room on a ticket or two for A Thousand Dreams (TOC=6-1; ML=5/2). In her third start off a layoff, the V. Cerin-trained mare is guaranteed a ground-saving journey from her good rail draw, and if she can get some cover with a second flight trip, she could produce an improved late kick. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:35 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 3-Slam Dunk Sermon; 4-Silken Prince Forecast: Slam Dunk Sermon (TOC=Evens; ML=5/2) moves up a notch on the class ladder after a clever score over this track and distance last month that produced a better-than-par speed figure. A winner of nine races from 22 career outings, the son of Rousing Sermon employs an ideal stalking style that usually puts him in the race and keeps him free of trouble. Silken Prince (TOC=2-1; ML=2-1) is also worth including in rolling exotic play. Not nearly as fast on numbers as our top pick, the Kafwain gelding nevertheless warrants respect after a sharp score in a restricted (nw-3) $20,000 seller two weeks ago before joining the red-hot V. Cerin barn, which hits at 19% with a massive ROI with the first-off-the-claim angle. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:09 PT Grade: X Single: 6-Lady T Forecast: Lady T is listed as the 4/5 morning line favorite and may even going lower in this main track mile affair for maiden fillies and mares. This will be her first try around two turns, but the daughter of Into Mischief should handle the stretch-out in trip, especially against five rivals who appear badly outclassed based on speed figures. In a race that offers no wagering value, you can use her as a short-priced rolling exotic single or simply pass the race. Notable Workouts: Lady T (May 7, Santa Anita, 5f, :59.4h). Grade: B+ Strictly on her own in solo main track drill, splits of :12.1, :23.4, :35.2 and 1:00 flat on our watches, nice as usual. Overdue for a maiden win and should have no difficulty stretching out based on this drill. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:43 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference: 5-Harbored Memories Forecast: In a five runner field, let’s go all in on Harbored Memories (TOC=2-1; ML=5/2) in this highly-competitive second-level allowance turf sprint. Drawn comfortably outside, the M. Puype-trained colt projects to draft into an ideal second flight, stalking position and then have every chance to seal the deal when the pressure is turned on. Most comfortable with this kind of trip, the Washington-bred colt is a strong fit on speed figures and has finished first or second in four of five career starts over the Santa Anita turf course, with the only blemish a respectable fourth place finish down the hill last month. Back on the flat course today and listed at 5/2 under regular rider J. Valdivia, the son of Harbor the Gold is a strong play in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. Notable Workouts: Harbored Memories (May 8, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.4h). Grade: B Broke off a length behind Unusual Heatwave (5f, 1:01h) and was breezing through the lane to finish a head in front at the wire, never asked, final three furlongs in :11.4 and :36.2. Holding his edge for M. Puype. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:16 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 4-Law Abidin Citizen Forecast: We’ll double the fifth race, an allowance/optional claimer at the extended sprint distance of six and one-half furlongs on the main track. Law Abidin Citizen (TOC=5/2; ML=5/2) was disappointing when seventh in the Phoenix Gold Cup at Turf Paradise in mid-March but after a two month freshening we’re expecting the veteran gelding to return to winning form in this easier assignment. He’s eligible to run at this condition for having been entered for $50,000, and at this stage of his career the multiple stakes-winning 8-year-old gelding probably fits best at this level. A heathy work pattern since raced for M. Glatt is another positive factor. California Street, a four-time winner over the Santa Anita main track, is a prototype late-running sprinter, exits a productive race, and should be dangerous with anything close to his best race. Notable Workouts: Law Abidin Citizen (April 30, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.1h). Grade: B In blinkers, very light late coaxing in steady drill for M. Glatt, final three furlongs in :12.1 and :37 flat. Seems in good enough shape after brief freshening, can regain best form but needs a class drop. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:49 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 6-Unbroken Star; 4-Mike Operator Forecast: This bottom-rung $10,000 claiming miler for older horses is a messy affair that is full of question marks and negative angles. No result would surprise. Unbroken Star (TOC=7/5; ML=2-1) just won a $16,000 affair last month but takes a two-level class drop off that win, so his connections obviously don’t view him favorably in the long term. If he has one good one left, the veteran Broken Vow gelding should win, but he was a voided claim earlier this meeting, so his current condition is suspect. Mike Operator (TOC=10-1; ML=4-1) takes a sharp drop in class while returning to his winning level, and if he can secure the role as the controlling speed without undue pressure the J. Wong-trained gelding could get brave and never look back. However with the sprinter-stretching-out Hit the Seam drawn along the rail, ‘Operator may be relegated to a stalker’s role, which isn’t the worst thing in the world since he’s won three races doing just that. Small ticket players may choose to use just these two in rolling exotic play, but if you feel the need to spread the race, go right ahead. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:20 PT Grade: A- Single: 1-Special Ride Forecast: Special Ride was best when third (beaten a neck) after being “risked” for a $150,000 claiming price in his debut, then was protected in straight maiden company and produced a significant forward move to win for fun in a fast, highly-rated sprint that was visually off the charts. Stretching out to a mile while moving into the allowance ranks, the son of Candy Ride from the outstanding race mare Executiveprivilege lands the rail and seems likely to establish the pace and dominate throughout. He’s listed at 9/5 on the morning line; you’ll be lucky to get it. He’s a win play and rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Special Ride (April 27, Santa Anita, 4f, :49h). Grade: B+ Under stout restraint every step of the way while even but best with Sumo (same time) for S. McCarthy while appearing sharp as a tack. Up the ladder, for sure. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:50 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 7-Bolden; 2-Scary Fast Smile; 1-Big Hand Forecast: Bolden won his debut very impressively here almost two years ago as a 2-year-old but then disappeared. He finally makes it back to the races and has trained like he’s never missed a beat. The talented son of Square Eddie looks to have quality that the others don’t, so while this is a salty group of older, seasoned runners, he may simply outclass the field at 3-1 on the morning line. Scary Fast Smile is good enough to win at this level with his best race, but he’s simply not one to trust, having failed the last four times he’s been sent to the post as the wagering favorite. A first-off-the-claim for R. Hess, Jr., the Smiling Tiger gelding seems to have lost a bit of his early speed and may be more comfortable at an extended sprint distance. Big Hand didn’t have a whole lot behind him in his debut but he did it the right way. The rail post does him no favors but the son of Mr. Big can be dangerous with a clean break from the barrier. Notable Workouts: Bolden (April 18, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.2h TT). Grade: B+ Saw him last month breaking off a couple of lengths behind Dick Best (5f, 1:01.4h TT) in training track team drill and finishing head-and-head with that one, never asked a drop at any stage while looking sharp, fit, and ready, splits of :24.3, :36.3 and 1:01.2. Been away for almost two years but looks spot on for P. D’Amato. Was an easy winner of his only outing as a 2-year-old. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:20 PT Grade: B+ Single: 6-Rijeka Forecast: Returning off an eight-month layoff, Rijeka (TOC=8/5; ML=5/2) was given a run up north two weeks ago in a mile allowance race that was too sharp for him and served the purpose of getting the rust off and providing a springboard to this 10-furlong starter’s allowance turf affair that suits him perfectly. The Irish-bred veteran likes to settle early and blast home, and in this softer affair the P. D’Amato-trained gelding should be able to produce the last run. At 5/2 on the morning line, he offers good value in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.14.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Saturday, May 14, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 3-Hudson Ridge; 6-There Goes Harvard; 1-Sword Zorro Forecast: Let’s go for a bit of gamble with Hudson Ridge (TOC=8-1; ML=6-1) in this second-level allowance turf miler that came up quite competitive. A stakes winner as a 3-year-old over the local lawn, the son of American Pharoah has been unplaced in his last five starts but continues to train well while stretching out again, removing blinkers, and switching to J. Hernandez. He’s 6-1 on the morning line and is better than that off his best effort, so in a race that projects to have soft early splits the S. McCarthy-trained colt should draft into an ideal stalking position and have every chance from there. There Goes Harvard (TOC=2-1; ML=4-1) earned a huge number when dead-heating in a victory against a softer group on the main track last month. He is just as good if not better on grass, and projects to settle in the second flight outside with dead aim on the leaders every step of the way. Sword Zorro (TOC=6-1; ML=7/2) launches a comeback for J. Sadler (superior stats with layoff runners) and won the Singletary S. over this course and distance last year. His recent workouts indicate fitness, so with some pace up front the Irish-bred colt should be heard from late. Notable Workouts: Sword Zorro (May 6, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01h TT). Grade: B Mild coaxing throughout in solid solo training track work on the comeback trail for Sadler, splits of :24.4, :36.2 and 1:00.4 on our watches. Coming back well at least as well as he left, was a stakes winner over the local lawn last year; still has second-level allowance conditions. View Workout Video Vantastic (May 8, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.2h TT). Grade: B+ Looked sharp and eager in solo training track drill for P. Eurton, final three furlongs in :11.4 and :35 flat (may have gone faster than given). Can sprint or route when he’s on his game. View Workout Video Hudson Ridge (May 8, Santa Anita, 5f, :59.4h TT). Grade: B Very light coaxing late in solo training track drill for S. McCarthy, strong throughout with splits of :23.4, :35.4, and :59.4, plenty left late. Seems perked up for an improved try based on this drill. View Workout Video Moody Jim (May 4, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.4h). Grade: B- Mild urging through the lane in solo training track drill for J. Mullins, splits of :24.3, :36.3 and 1:01 flat on our watches, okay work, nothing scintillating. May not be quite as sharp now as he’s been in the past. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:35 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Royal Halo; 1-Knockout Guy Forecast: Royal Halo may not be as quick as his :34 3/5 gate drill shows – he was asked pretty hard and went a few ticks slower than given while second best of a team – but in a maiden state-bred sprint for juveniles that came up weaker than normal the son of Curlin to Mischief probably deserves top billing by default. The barn generally does well with its young stock, so we’ll put this homebred colt on top while also including Knockout Guy, a debuting son of Ministers Wild Cat with a reasonable series of workouts on his resume. He might be able to run some but will need to leave cleanly from the rail. Tread lightly here. Notable Workouts: Royal Halo (May 11, Santa Anita, 3f, :34.3hg). Grade: B- Ridden aggressively every step of the way while second best with Helladic (5f, 1:01.1hg) for L. Mendez, a couple of lengths behind workmate went eased up after three furlongs and going slower than given on our watches, :23.2 and :35 flat. Has bit of run but not as good as inflated final time might lead one to believe, though he’s likely good enough to act with soft maiden Cal-bred juveniles in upcoming debut. View Workout Video Good N Thirsty (May 7, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.4h). Grade: C+ Asked and ridden in the final furlong in solo five furlong drill for Solis, splits of :36.2 and 1:02.1 on our watches, a couple of ticks slower and not visually impressive. From cold barn, probably would prefer to see one first. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:09 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 4-Aventapp; 1-Stressed; 5-Girl Ranger Forecast: Aventapp (TOC=9/5; ML=5-1) wired a maiden $50,000 field in a confidence-building score over this course and distance last month and appears well-spotted for a possible repeat in this starter’s allowance sprint for fillies and mares. The main concern is that she will have to contend with a quicker early pace today, especially if Stressed is gunned from the rail. Stressed (TOC=5-1; ML=4-1) returns to the claiming ranks for the first time since beating a maiden $80,000 field more than a year ago on dirt. This will be her second outing following a layoff, and the daughter of Goldencents seems likely to produce a forward move. Girl Ranger is turning back from a couple of route tries and might be a late threat if patiently ridden. In a race that we’ll otherwise pass, all three should be included in rolling exotic play. Notable Workouts: Girl Ranger (May 7, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.4h). Grade: C+ Mild urging through the lane while inside Cinnamon Cat (same time) while working from three furlong pole to the seven furlong pole, splits of :11.4, :36.2 and :49 flat on our watches. Nothing special on dirt, probably prefers the lawn. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:43 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference: 1-Golf Drama; 4-Fordy G; 5-Thirsty John Forecast: Here’s a split of the second race, a maiden juvenile abbreviated sprint. This looks like the tougher division. Golf Drama recorded a three furlong gate drill in :36 2/5 earlier this month (see below) but actually went considerably faster than given and looked good doing it. The son of Smiling Tiger is bred to win early, so if he breaks cleanly from the rail the J. Bonde-trained colt should have a big say in the matter. Fordy G. has a series of fast gate works on his resume and clearly has been cranked up for a major effort first time out. He’s a homebred son of American Freedom that seems certain to receive plenty of play on the tote. Thirsty John probably is a down the road type but he can run a bit, might be closing well, and is worth tossing in on a ticket or two for protection. Notable Workouts: Golf Drama (May 1, Santa Anita, 3f, :36.3hg). Grade: B+ Was a tad slow leaving the gate but then displayed excellent speed while besting Lucy L (4f, :48.4hg) for J. Bonde while going several ticks quicker than given, splits of :23.4 and :35 flat without undue pressure. Son of Smiling Tiger appears to have “win early” ability and should be a live item first crack out of the box when facing juvenile state-bred runners. View Workout Video Smokin Amelia (May 11, Santa Anita, 4f, :49.3h). Grade: B- In blinkers, under a nice hold throughout inside Cocktail Princess (same time), final three furlongs in :12 flat and :37.1. No world beater but probably has a bit of improvement in her. View Workout Video Midnight Lightning (April 17, Santa Anita, 4f, :50h). Grade: B- Clearly best over Golden Again (4f, :50h) in easy breeze for S. Knapp, splits of :12.2, :24.1 and :49.4, never asked. Getting fit, was run up to $130,000 at auction last year and may have some ability. View Workout Video Fordy G (April 28, Santa Anita, 4f, :46.2hg). Grade: B Urged most of the way while second best with older Honor It (5f, :59.4hg) and well ahead of Reign of Speed (4f, :48.2hg) for Hanson, splits of :23 flat, :34.2 and :46.4, excellent speed for a juvenile. Have to think he’ll be live at first asking in an abbreviated dash. View Workout Video Thirsty John (April 24, Santa Anita, 4f, :49.3h). Grade: B- A bit awkward changing leads but did okay in solo main track drill for Solis, final three furlongs in :11.4 and :36.3. Was run up to $97,000 at auction last year; strikes us as a colt that probably will do his best when the distances increase. Has some ability. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:16 PT Grade: X Single: 1-Queen Goddess Forecast: Queen Goddess (TOC=3/5; ML=6/5) will be trying this marathon trip for the first time but based on pedigree (Empire Maker x Lemon Drop Kid) the M. McCarthy-trained filly should have no trouble handling the 12-furlong distance, especially in her projected role as the controlling speed. A recent victory over 10 furlongs in the Santa Ana S.-G3 with Neige Blanche behind her was visually pleasing, and as the winner of the American Oaks-G1 on dirt in December in gate to wire fashion she certainly knows how to take advantage of a front-running trip. At 6/5 on the morning line, she’s a rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Queen Goddess (May 7, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.4h). Grade: B Ridden some through the lane and responded well enough, final half mile in :24 flat and :48.2 while holding her edge. Tough at any surface but might be most comfortable on turf, next stop Santa Barbara S. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:49 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 2-Your Ringer; 6-Poet Laureate Forecast: Your Ringer was claimed for $50,000 last summer in her debut at Del Mar (she was beaten a nose while more than three lengths clear of the rest) but had to be stopped on soon after. She returns in a plausible spot for trainer J. Sadler (strong stats with layoff runners) and shows a series of workouts over the very fast Los Alamitos main track that should have her fit enough. Poet Laureate is a first-timer from the T. Yakteen barn with a solid foundation of workouts, including a gate drill (see below) that was good enough to make her a threat in this league. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with a slight preference on top to Your Ringer. Notable Workouts: Poet Laureate (April 24, Santa Anita, 4f, :48hg). Grade: B- Okay work for a maiden claiming type, splits of :24 flat, :35.4 and :48 flat while even but a tad the best inside Lucy L (same time) for Yakteen, ridden some early but under no real pressure late. Seems fairly fit, should be competitive with moderate fillies and mares. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:19 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 7-Suite Madam Blue; 5-Harper’s Gallop; 6-Storming Lady; 2-Respectfully Forecast: This grass grab bag for starter allowance fillies and mares requires a considerable spread in rolling exotic play. We’ll go four-deep but if you feel the need to include a few more, go right ahead. Suite Madam Blue (TOC=2-1; ML=3-1) looked pretty nice beating a starter $25,000 field over this turf course last time out, employing a good pace-stalking strategy and then coming away late to win with a career top speed figure. If she can turn in two alike, she can win again. Harper’s Gallop (TOC=3-1; ML=, away since November but coming from the L. Powell barn (strong stats from a limited sample with this angle), might prefer more distance and in fact might be prepping for a stretch-out, but her grass form is solid and she is reunited with “win rider” J. Hernandez. Storming Lady (TOC=5-1; ML=4-1) is another that likely will be doing her best work from off the pace. This extended sprint trip seems ideal for her. Respectfully (TOC=6-1; ML=6-1) has a prior win over this course and distance and comes off a clever score in a state-bred allowance race on the main track. She is slower on numbers than the other main contenders but is still worth including as a back-up or a saver. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:50 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 2-One More Bid; 6-Go Joe Won Forecast: One More Bid projects as the controlling speed if he wants to be in this maiden mile affair that attracted a modest field of just six runners. The R. Hanson-trained gelding exits a pair of much tougher events, shows strong workouts since raced, and really shouldn’t miss this chance at 2-1 on the morning line. Go Joe Won displayed improvement when second over this track and distance in his second career outing last month and is worth using as a back-up or a saver, with the main punch going to One More Bid. Notable Workouts: Palagio (May 8, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:02.4h). Grade: C+ Never really asked but didn’t do a whole lot in solo main track drill, final half mile in :24.3 and :51.1. Perhaps a lazy type and certainly isn’t very inspiring in the a.m. Have to think he can improve some with experience and distance. View Workout Video Lord Sheldon (May 9, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.4h). Grade: C+ Plodding type went off slowly and then was urged through the lane without much pick-up, splits of :12.4, :25 flat, :36.4 and 1:02 flat on our watches. Down the road type. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:21 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 9-Rose’s Crystal; 1-Virulante; 4-With This Vow Forecast: The nightcap is a difficult starter’s allowance turf miler for fillies and mares. We’ll go three deep but not with a great deal of confidence. Rose’s Crystal (TOC=9/2; ML=4-1) adds blinkers for the first time, and with enough pace up front to compliment her style she may be able to produce a winning late kick, though she’s generally prefers to just nibble. But on pure numbers, she’s capable of winning this race. Virulente (TOC=7/2; ML=6-1) earned a confidence building win in an optional $50,000 claimer at this trip over the local lawn last month, though the number came up a tad weak. The French-bred filly has a good stalking style and plenty of room for improvement, and from her favorable rail draw the P. D’Amato-trained import is guaranteed a ground-saving trip. Win This Vow (TOC=5/2; ML=5-1) wired the field over this course and distance in a slightly softer starter’s event and similar tactics most likely will be tried today. She’s clearly in good form but will need to produce a forward move to win at this level. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.14.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Meadowlands Early Pick 4 Analysis | Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Meadowlands has a 13-race card scheduled featuring Open pacers and Graduate Series action. The 0.50 Early Pick 4 begins in Race 6. The sequence has 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 6 1-Hail Christian N (7/2)-Raced well in last and was caught late. Comes back versus the same kind and moves in a few slots. TMac should have the 8-year-old forwardly placed. 2-Leon David (4-1)-Similar to #1 coming out of the same race but was used from the 7-hole to drop into the pocket and ended up cashing a 3rd place check. His 3-race win streak was snapped in last, but it wasn't a bad effort. Will respect this winner of 5 races in 18 M1 starts. 6-Bettors Donttell (3-1)-Burke trainee was facing tough foes in the last 2 starts and should be a main threat versus this group. Tried Lasix for the 1st time and Gingras should have the pedal down early and could be in control from gate to wire. Race 7 1-Mayhem Hanover (9/2)-The 0-12 record at the Big M is cause for pause but comes off a nice try when dropped to this level. Dunn sticks and this post draw could help. 2-Heza Real Diamond (5-1)-Took advantage of a sharp steer and beat easier last week, now Callahan will be in the bike. Steps-up, should compete and have no problem racing near the top of the stack. 4-Motive Hanover (3-1)-Jen B entry missed a start and has been facing high priced claimers from outside posts in the last 2 tries. Should be able to get a good early seat and could be sitting on a big effort. 5-De Los Cielos Deo (7/2)-Has been in the mix versus better and can be in the hunt here. Gingras could get on the engine and this time he won't be caught down the lane. Race 8 1-Bella Bellini (9/5)-Comes off a sharp effort last week and trotted the back half in 54.4 with a .26 last quarter. Looks primed for the 1st win of 2022 in the 2nd start off the bench. Race 9 1-Mikala (5/2)-Has a perfect 2 for 2 record this season and both were convincing wins. This mare should be in control from the word "go" and not look back. 0.50 Early Pick 4 1,2,6/1,2,4,5/1/1 Total Bet=$6 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.13.2022:

Eddie Olczyk: Hat Trick Best Bets | Saturday, May 14, 2022

Follow Eddie Olczyk's Saturday best bets only at Xpressbet and 1/ST BET.

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5.13.2022:

$20,000 Sweepstakes Winner Announced

Congratulations to Jared Henry of Virginia, the 2022 Preakness Big Bet Sweepstakes winner. Henry’s name was drawn among thousands of 1/ST BET and Xpressbet customers who placed wagers over the Preakness Big Bet Sweepstakes period, and he’ll now have a cool $20,000 to bet on the single Preakness selection of his choosing. The grand prize for the Preakness Big Bet Sweepstakes also includes transportation, hotel and VIP tickets for the May 20 Black-Eyed Susan Day and May21 Preakness Day programs at historic Pimlico Racecourse. 1/ST BET staff will be on hand to assist Henry in placing his $20,000 Preakness Big Bet Sweepstakes wager. An additional 50 winners of $100 Xpressbet or 1/ST BET wagering vouchers also were drawn and notified. Thanks to everyone who played and good luck to Jared Henry on May 21 in the Preakness Stakes.

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5.13.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Hoosier Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Friday, May 13, 2022

Hoosier Park has an 11-race card set for this evening. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 11, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 11 1-Rockin Speed (8-1)-This will be the 3rd barn change this year and the previous 2 conditioners are usually successful. Joins the Essig stable now, but this is the softest spot of the year and his hit the board in 23 of 46 here with 6 wins. 2-Seeing Eye Single (9/2)-This is the 3rd start in the Burke barn for this Pompano shipper. Drops to a more comfortable level and it's best to not overlook. 9-Goldies's Legacy (9/5)-Cullipher trainee has been facing tough foes at the Big M and has won 7 of 31 races at Hoosier. The post draw doesn't help but should enjoy the company. Race 12 5-Sea Of Life (3-1)-Paced evenly versus better in the 1st start since 8-27 and now drops to a more competitive level. Will use with a race at the track and that could be the difference to come out on top. 7-Palomar (5/2)-Should make the most of this drop as the foes out East were a more difficult challenge. Can't completely trust with a 1-12 record this year but this could be a wake-up call. Race 13 4-Americanprimetime (5/2)-The Rucker barn is 0-18 the past 30 days and this 10-year-old drops again. Not loving the low price but could beat this crew with a top try. 5-Serious Miki (2-1)-Miki likes to win and willing to excuse the break in last on a sloppy track. Putnam should have this 4-year-old racing near the top of the stack and looks like the one to beat. 8-Bet Ninteen (6-1)-Was used hard from the 9-hole in the slop to get on the point off the gate versus this kind last week. Did hang in there and deserves respect. Loses De Long to #9 and that should help the price. Race 14 3-Colin N Down (9/2)-Claimed in last by a cold barn but may have dropped into a winning spot. This isn't a tough bunch and has hit the board in 19 of 49 at HoP with 8 wins. Should like facing this group instead of $20k claimers. 5-Pine Master (6-1)-This MVR shipper makes the 3rd start since coming off the bench and might be ready to fire its best shot. Will use instead of #10 the ML chalk who had no excuse in last. Faded hard down the lane and has been off almost a month. 7-Great Image (4-1)-Tossing last in the slop, off-track record is 1-19. Team Tetrick entry appears to be racing himself into shape and could be sitting on a big try. 0.50 Late Pick 4 1,2,9/5,7/4,5,8/3,5,7 Total Bet=$27 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.13.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Friday, May 13, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 3-Arrabiata; 6-Bud Knight Forecast: Arrabiata (TOC=9/5; ML=2-1) returns the claiming ranks for the first time since breaking his maiden in his debut in December at Los Alamitos. The class drop should do him well. The son of Tapit has earned decent figures even when finishing unplaced in his last pair against considerably stronger foes, so in this restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claiming turf miler the D. O’Neill-trained sophomore appears to have found his friends. Bud Knight (TOC=3-1; ML=3-1) is 1-for-24 and therefore impossible to have confidence in, but the return to grass coupled with a class drop from starter’s allowance company should make him competitive. His speed figures also fit nicely in this league. We’ll toss him in on a ticket or two while reserving the main punch for Arrabiata. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:37 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 6-The Reign Song; 2-Miss Lucilla Forecast: California-bred juveniles meet over four and one-half furlongs in the second race, with five of six starters having been bred by T. Lovingier, who has retained ownership in The Reign Song and Miss Lucilla , the two entrants that figure to get the bulk of the play on the tote. ‘Song finished a distant third in her debut after a slow start and a wide trip behind runaway winner Tom’s Regret, who subsequently won the Kentucky Juvenile S. at Churchill Downs during Derby week. From an outside post and with blinkers being added, the daughter of Stay Thirsty should have no excuses. ‘Lucilla went through the ring as a yearling for $50,000 and shows a sufficient work tab to be fit and ready. The W. Solis stable (2-for-60 in 2022) doesn’t inspire confidence but in an unclassified field she appears to be the most dangerous of the newcomers. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:09 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 3-Kuora; 2-Octane Forecast: Kuora (TOC=8/5; ML=5/2), claimed for $50,000 two races back and fifth in a tougher allowance/optional claimer in her first outing for new connections, drops into the $32,000 ranks and seems as good as any in this nine furlong grass event for older fillies and mares. From the high-percentage V. Cerin barn, the Peruvian-bred mare won for this price the last time she ran for it (last summer at Del Mar) and against this easier group she could easily return to winning form. She does her best running from just off the pace and seems likely to inherit an ideal trip In a race that projects to have soft early splits. Octane (TOC=3-1; ML=2-1) is the likely controlling speed with the addition of blinkers from a good inside draw, and if not policed up front she could get brave and be tough to catch. The Brazilian-bred mare will be trying claimers for the first time, is a fit on numbers, and switches to top rider J. Hernandez. We’ll give Kuora a slight edge on top but include both in rolling exotic play. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:43 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference: 3-Synthethis; 5-Octopus Forecast: Synthesis (TOC=5/2; ML=5/2) has excellent recent form, is fast on figures, and looks well-spotted for a repeat score after capturing a nice starter’s allowance event over this track and distance in late March. He has trained nicely since that race for T. Yakteen and has a good stalking style that should produce a comfortable trip. Octopus (TOC=9/5; ML=4-1) was scheduled to make his first start in 11 months when entered for $20,000 on April 15 but was a late scratch by the stewards (not the vet), worked two days later, and today shows up in a $32,000 seller as a first-time gelding. A three-time winner over the Santa Anita main track, the son of Shackleford shows a steady work tab that should have him fit enough, and in a race without much speed he could find himself on the front end without any real pressure. Both should be included in rolling exotic play, with Synthesis getting a slight nod on top. Notable Workouts: Octopus (April 18, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.3h). Grade: B Under restraint to the wire, then was asked out to the 7/8 pole and did well while clearly best over Lil Richards Bello (4f, :49h), splits of :11.3, :36.2 and :49 flat from the 3 furlong pole to the seven furlong pole. Looked eager, been away for almost a year but seems in good enough shape. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:14 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 3-Southern Horse; 4-Whooping Jay Forecast: Southern Horse (TOC=Evens; ML=2-1) moves up two notches on the claiming class scale after securing his first North American victory over this course and distance last month. The J. Sadler-trained Argentine-bred veteran likes to settle in the second flight and then blast home and should get the trip he needs to handle this tougher assignment. J. Hernandez stays aboard and knows him well. Whooping Jay (TOC=5-1; ML=7/2) was claimed for $100,000 in November at Del Mar, hasn’t done much in three starts since, and today shows up in a $50,000 claimer, so the pattern is suspect. However, he may be the quickest in the field and if he can shake loose early without being pressured he could take this field a very long way. Preference on top goes to Southern Horse but both should be included in rolling exotic play. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:45 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 8-Grazed; 9-Leyas Candy; 4-Creative Peak Forecast: Here’s a fairly competitive sprint for California-bred runners that requires a bit of usage in rolling exotic play. Trainer M. Glatt appears to have two live items. Grazed had a troubled run at Tampa Bay Downs a year ago April when finishing second in a maiden $25,000 grass sprint and then was stopped on. The son of Grazen returns protected in a sign of confidence and has given indication in his morning drills that he possesses much more early zip than he showed in his debut. Stable mate Leyas Candy is a first-timer by Danzing Candy with a work tab that should have him plenty fit. He is drawn comfortably outside and has done enough in the a.m. to make him a “must use” in this affair. Creative Peak makes his first start since October and if he returns as well as he left the son of Creative Cause should highly competitive, as well. In the frame in three of four races last year during his two-year-old campaign (and eliminated when impeded in the one race he wasn’t), the V. Cerin-trained colt should be fit enough for a major effort for a stable that has superior stats with layoff runners. Notable Workouts: Grazed (April 10, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.3h). Grade: B In blinkers, may have gone a few tickets slower on our watches from half mile pole out to seven furlong pole but was under strong restraint early and under a hold late while even but best over Suzie Qzz Brother (same time) for M. Glatt, splits of :24.3, :49.2 and 1:02.1, plenty left late. Been away for more than a year but seems to have much more early speed than his only outing shows. Dangerous vs. maidens. View Workout Video Leyas Candy (March 31, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.2h). Grade: B Broke off a couple of lengths in front of Rookie Mistake (4f, :48.1h) and finished about a length in front while working from the three furlong pole out to the seven furlong pole, mild coaxing only and finishing with something left, splits of :11.4, :36 flat (to the wire) and then out in :48.2. Decent mover looks to have some ability, getting fit, is a decently-bred state-bred sophomore colt. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:16 PT Grade: B+ Single: 6-Teddy’s Barino Forecast: Teddy’s Barino (TOC=2-1; ML=3-1) may have been a bit rusty when a respectable fifth in a downhill turf sprint vs. similar state-bred fillies and mares in her first outing in nine months a few weeks ago but she should be fitter and tighter today in this main track affair. Her only prior outing on dirt (last summer at Del Mar) was quite good when she finished second with a career top speed figure, so we’re expecting the M. Glatt-trained daughter of Grazen to step forward in a big way today. In a race in which nothing else excites, let’s take a stand and make her a win play and rolling exotic single at or near her morning line of 3-1. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:42 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 5-Amadmadworld; 6-Nineeleventurbo; 1-Explain the Audit Forecast: The finale is a wide-open grass grab bag for maiden $50,000 older horses at nine furlongs. Best advice is to go as deeply as your budget allows. Let’s take a shot with Amadmadworld at 8-1 on the morning line. Far back when very green in his debut sprinting on dirt in what has proven to be a highly-productive race, the son of Midnight Lute seems sure to improve a bunch against this modest group and strikes us as a gelding that will truly appreciate this stretch out in trip. In a race in which the known element doesn’t impress, a fresh face could easily win it. Nineelenveturbo is an 11-race maiden but this will be his first try with blinkers and his first vs. maiden claimers. He is solid on numbers, working well, and projects to be prominent throughout. Explain the Audit was overmatched vs. straight maiden company in his last pair but has run very well at this level in the past and is guaranteed a ground-saving trip from his rail post. Look for him to be doing his best work late. Notable Workouts: Nineeleventurbo (May 8, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.2h TT). Grade: B In blinkers, shadow roll, was quite keen early while trying to run off a bit, settled midway, then finished without pressure in solo training track drill for Drysdale, splits of :24.4, :36.2 and 1:00.3 on our watches, decent drill for maiden claiming type. May be more aggressive with the hood on, seeking another soft spot. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.12.2022:

Frank Carulli: Pimlico Late Pick 4 | Friday, May 13, 2022

  Pimlico will offer lucrative Pick 4 guaranteed pools on Preakness weekend. No guarantees when the meet opens this weekend, but Friday’s 50-cent Late Pick 4 could get the party started with what appears a challenging sequence. Here’s an early look at the action, with an update to follow after scratches: PIM 5th race (2:41 EST) -- JIMMY THE KID, idle since he was claimed two months ago at Tampa for $8,000, was the beaten favorite in 5 of his last 8 starts, but he has speed and can use it well from the rail in this spot. DESHACKLED was fractious in the gate, bumped with the runner-up and didn’t change leads as the favorite, but he gets blinkers, gets in light-weighted and draws favorably. Not crazy about LOADED SNIPER (9-2), who gained inside at the 1/8 pole in a long sprint but benefitted from bumpy trips by the three rivals surrounding him, including Deshackled. If the pace falls apart, FRANCIS X looms a late-running threat if he duplicates the ‘nice rail run’ on the turn to finish second behind the 6-to-5 favorite in a higher-tagged claiming sprint. PIM 6th race (3:12 EST) -- ROYAL WHISPER, a $90,000 sales buy for a 23-percent barn with first-time starters, shows a series of bullet workouts that includes a :47.3 move April 10 when only 8 of 76 started from the gate. Her sire has produced 32 debut-winning 2-year-olds from 203 starters but her dam only won once while racing at smaller tracks. LA SAMANA LAURA raced close up early before back-pedaling in a November turf route that produced two Maiden Special Weight winners and two Grade 3 runners-up. She’s worth using on the ticket at double-digit odds. PIM 7th race (3:42 EST) -- ROYAL NUMBER arrives for his first turf test off an allowance victory going long on the main track. His dam won a Maryland-bred stakes race sprinting on the grass. But if he doesn’t handle the change of surface, it’s anybody’s race, so go deep in this leg. PIM 8th race (4:12 EST) -- GOLDEN GULLY is re-united with trainer Gary Capuano, who coaxed a runner-up finish from the then 3-year-old in a productive 6F sprint 10 months ago. ON THE ENGINE stayed on the rail and ‘eagerly drew off’ from a pair of sub 2-to-1 favorites to win off an eight-month layoff. MUGSY MALONE will need to improve to contend, but he sheds 17 pounds and could do so for a sharp claim barn. Suggested 50-cent Ticket PIM 5th Race: 1, 4, 8 PIM 6th Race: 2, 5 PIM 7th Race: 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11 PIM 8th Race: 5, 6, 7 COST: $63

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5.12.2022:

Race of the Week: Santa Barbara at Santa Anita | Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Lead: Turf marathon fillies and mares take center stage Saturday at Santa Anita for the Santa Barbara. The mile and one-half test could have its first repeat champ since Astra and Megahertz dominated this race from 2001-2005. NEIGE BLANCHE won a nose thriller here a year ago, and will be part of the six-pack of challengers that compete in Race 5 on the card. ​Field Depth: QUEEN GODDESS is a Grade 1 winner and has the signature score of this lineup. NEIGE BLANCHE is Grade 1-placed and a multiple Grade 3 winner. The remaining quartet will be tested strongly for class. Pace: COVER VERSION has dabbled in sprints and miles and could be sent to the front of what appears to be a very modest early pace. QUEEN GODDESS also could set the tempo from the rail or sit likely no worse than second. NEIGE BLANCHE is a pace wildcard, having won the Red Carpet wire-to-wire, last year's Santa Barbara from a stalking third and a Del Mar stakes from 6 lengths off the pace. Expect NEIGE BLANCHE's rider Juan Hernandez to put QUEEN GODDESS in his crosshairs and not let her get away from them. Our Eyes: QUEEN GODDESS out-kicked NEIGE BLANCHE last time out in the mile and one-quarter Santa Ana. Both carried equal weights that day and do once again. The distance becomes the big variable to the equation as NEIGE BLANCE is 2-2 at the 12-furlong journey and QUEEN GODDESS has yet to try it. With Belmont Stakes winners as the sire and damsire, there's no reason to think QUEEN GODDESS won't handle it. And as a 4-year-old, you'd assume there's more upside with QUEEN GODDESS and turn of foot vs. the 5-year-old NEIGE BLANCHE. They should have the run of this race and the lean goes to QUEEN GODDESS to repeat her recent victory over NEIGE BLANCHE, and not the latter's title defense. NEW HEAT is a 3-time course winner who has a deep-closing style that likely won't be flattered by this race shape. QUEEN OFTHE TEMPLE exits a fifth-start maiden breaker and is devoid of any early foot. CARPE VINEM was 37-1 when beaten 7 lengths by the favored pair here in the Santa Ana. COVER VERSION is only 1-11 at Santa Anita and her recent form has been flattered by trips to Turf Paradise. Most Certain Exotics Contender: QUEEN GODDESS is in peak form and just beat her principal rival in this race. Best Longshot Exotics Contender: None projected. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $100 exacta QUEEN GODDESS over NEIGE BLANCHE. Your best value here will be singling QUEEN GODDESS in the early and late pick five, which this Race 5 will be part of both on a 9-race program.

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5.12.2022:

Jon White: Recapping Rich Strike's Shocker in Louisville

  Grindstone, Giacomo, Animal Kingdom…and now Rich Strike has joined this exclusive club. Rich who? What club? Rich Strike is only the fourth member of what might be called the “Eighth Pole Exception Club.” The club consists of just four horses to have not been first or second with a furlong left to run in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby from 1963 to present. With a furlong to go in last Saturday’s 148th Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike was gaining fast along the inside rail. But unlike 54 of the last 57 Kentucky Derby winners prior to this year, Rich Strike was not first or second a furlong from the finish. He was third. In fact, Rich Strike was not close to being first or second at that point. Rich Strike was three lengths behind Zandon in second. Zandon was one length behind the leading Epicenter. Last in the field of 20 for a brief time after the start and in front of just two foes three furlongs from the finish, Rich Strike generated quite a rally to reach third at the eighth pole. After passing eighth pole, he continued closing with gusto to win by three-quarters of a length in a gigantic upset. Epicenter, eighth early, ran an admirable race to finish second as the 4-1 favorite. Zandon, who had made a move to loom a serious threat in upper stretch, had to settle for third at 6-1 after never being able to get by Epicenter in the final furlong. The official Equibase chart lists the final time as 2:02.61. According to Daily Racing Form’s Forumulator, which is an extremely useful tool for horseplayers that I highly recommend, Rich Strike ran his final quarter in :24.83 or :24 4/5 in fifths. That’s quite a strong final quarter in a 1 1/4-mile race. Primarily because Rich Strike was 80-1 in the Kentucky Derby, no doubt many will be looking at his win as being pure happenstance. Will Rich Strike turn out to be a one-hit wonder? Maybe. Does he require a sizzling pace to set it up for him in order to beat the likes of Epicenter and/or Zandon? Again, maybe. Or is Rich Strike, a la Charismatic in 1999, blossoming into a serious racehorse at this time of the year? Dawson put it well when he said after the Kentucky Derby, “our horse just keeps getting better and better. Will Rich Strike, like Charismatic, follow his Kentucky Derby victory with a win in the May 21 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico? I think it is a possibility. To be perfectly frank, part of me just can’t help rooting for Rich Strike to win the Preakness and then go on to the June 11 Belmont Stakes with a shot at Triple Crown glory. Imagine all the positive media coverage for horse racing if that does happen. I keep coming back to Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby final quarter in :24 4/5. It indicates to me that his victory might not be the fluke that his rags-to-riches 80-1 odds would seem to suggest. When it comes to final quarters in the Kentucky Derby, the king is, without question, the legendary Secretariat. In the book “Big Red of Meadow Stable: Secretariat, the Making of a Champion,” William Nack wrote that Secretariat, who rallied from far back to win by 2 1/2 lengths, ran his “final quarter-mile in :23.” Secretariat “raced every quarter-mile in the Kentucky Derby faster than the preceding quarter,” Nack added. “His final splits were :25 1/5, :24, :23 4/5, :23 1/5 and :23. No one could remember when a horse had ever done that over a distance of a mile and a quarter. Secretariat literally ran faster from start to finish.” Nack noted in his book that Secretariat was just the third horse in Kentucky Derby history to that point to have ever run the final quarter faster than :24. The other two were Whirlaway in 1941 and Proud Clarion in 1967. Whirlaway and Proud Clarion both ran their final quarter in :23 and change. While Rich Strike did not run his final quarter in :23 and change, doing it in :24 and change certainly is to be commended. WINNER TRAVELED FARTHER THAN EPICENTER, ZANDON According to Trakus, Rich Strike traveled 6,756 feet in the Kentucky Derby. That was 58 feet (or approximately 6 1/2 lengths) farther than Epicenter. It was 71 feet (or approximately 8 lengths) farther than Zandon. I’ve heard it said that Mo Donegal might have won the Kentucky Derby if he had not raced extremely wide into the stretch, unlike Rich Strike, who got through along the inside rail coming to the top of the lane. Because Mo Donegal had come into the stretch so wide, my guess was his trip must have been measured longer than Rich Strike’s. But according to Trakus, Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby trip was 23 feet (approximately 2 1/2 lengths) farther than Mo Donegal’s. Trakus was one of the reasons that I loved I’ll Have Another to win the Preakness in 2012. According to Trakus, I’ll Have Another traveled much farther than runner-up Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby. I’ll Have Another won the Derby by 1 1/2 lengths at odds of 15-1. Bodemeister finished second as the 4-1 favorite. The only Kentucky Derby winner to this day who has started from post 19, I’ll Have Another traveled approximately five lengths farther that day than Bodemeister. To Bodemeister’s credit, he ran a terrific race to finish second in the Kentucky Derby after setting such a hot pace. His carved out early fractions of :22.32, :45.39 and 1:09.80. Andy Beyer in particular raved about how great Bodemeister had run in defeat considering the sizzling splits. I don’t disagree. But I don’t think people have ever given I’ll Have Another enough credit to win from post 19 and travel so much farther than Bodemeister. It also should be remembered that I’ll Have Another did not win in a photo finish. He defeated Bodemeister by 1 1/2 lengths. I also believe that I’ll Have Another has never received his proper due for his final time in the Kentucky Derby. In fifths, it was 2:01 4/5. That clocking was equal to the final Kentucky Derby time of such other winners as Big Brown, Chateaugay, Majestic Prince, Riva Ridge and Swaps. I’ll Have Another’s final time of 2:01 4/5 also was faster than that of such fellow Kentucky Derby winners as Justify (2018), American Pharoah (2015), California Chrome (2014), Animal Kingdom (2011), Street Sense (2007), Charismatic (1999), Real Quiet (1998), Silver Charm (1997), Unbridled (1990), Ferdinand (1986), Pleasant Colony (1981), Genuine Risk (1980), Seattle Slew (1977), Foolish Pleasure (1975), Cannonade (1974), Canonero II (1971), Iron Liege (1957), Needles (1956), Count Fleet (1943) and War Admiral (1937). Despite I’ll Have Another’s fine final time and traveling farther than Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby, when they had their rematch in the Preakness, I’ll Have Another was not sent away as the favorite. Bodemeister was favored at 8-5. I’ll Have Another went off at 3-1. Bodemeister looked like a winner when he had a three-length lead with a furlong left to run in the Preakness. But I’ll Have Another came on relentlessly and prevailed by a neck in a thriller. Did that race take a toll on them both? Perhaps. Neither raced again. It has been confirmed that Epicenter is going to be entered in the upcoming Preakness. I fully expect him to be the betting favorite. Keith Feustle, who makes the morning-line odds for Pimlico, agrees. In a Daily Racing Form story written by Marty McGee, Feustle said Epicenter “definitely” will be the Preakness morning-line favorite, “probably around 9-5, depending on who else is in.” As for what Rich Strike’s morning-line odds are going to be? “From the public’s perspective, I think Rich Strike will fall through the cracks again a little, even as the Derby winner,” Feustle said. Feustle said that Rich Strike will be 8-1 “or maybe even a touch higher” on his Preakness morning line, again depending who’s in and who’s out when entries are drawn Monday (May 16). McGee pointed out that going back to 1999, bettors viewed three Kentucky Derby winners at 30-1 or higher with skepticism when they ran back two weeks later in the Preakness. Charismatic in 1999 won the Kentucky Derby at 31-1, then won the Preakness at 3-1. Giacomo in 2005 won the Derby at 50-1, then was 6-1 in the Preakness. Mine That Bird in 2009 won the Derby at 50-1, then was 6-1 in the Preakness. Epicenter deserves the utmost respect in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness. After all, he probably would have won the Kentucky Derby if it also were a 1 3/16-mile event. Epicenter had the lead at that point in the Derby. And it’s highly unlikely the Preakness pace is going to be anywhere close to as torrid as it was in the Derby. Meanwhile, if you are among those who are convinced that Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby victory was a fluke and dismiss him in the Preakness, it might turn out that you were right to do so. But I warn you. Considering Trakus has Rich Strike traveling approximately 6 1/2 lengths farther than Epicenter and eight lengths farther than Zandon in Louisville last Saturday, you also might end up regretting it if you throw out Rich Strike in the Preakness. THE RIDE WAS A MASTERPIECE Sonny Leon, far from a household name gave Rich Strike a sensational ride in the Kentucky Derby. Pretty much his major accomplishments prior to last Saturday were his Ohio riding titles at Mahoning Valley and Belterra Park. How about this? From what I found out on the Equibase website, Leon had not ridden in a race at Churchill Downs since June 26, 2020. In the sixth race that day, Leon rode Tohu in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance affair contested on a wet-fast main track after it was taken off the turf. What happened to Leon in that race? He was unseated at the start. “Tohu reared on his own when the gates opened, lost his rider and walked off.” Because Leon had not ridden at Churchill Downs in such a long time, I think he’s probably lucky they didn’t turn him away at the door when he showed up to ride Rich Strike in the Kentucky Derby. I could just picture it. Leon shows up at the Churchill Downs jockeys’ room. “Uh, where do you think you’re going?” a security guard asks him. “I’m here to ride in the Kentucky Derby,” Leon responds. “You’re here to ride in the Kentucky Derby? Yeah, sure, kid. Nice try,” the security guard says while Leon begins searching for his jockey license to show the security guard. “No, really, sir, I am here to ride in the Kentucky Derby. Honest,” says Leon, who finally finds his valid license and shows it to the security guard. The security guard permits Leon to enter a jockeys’ room in which there 19 others who will be riding in the Kentucky Derby. In the Derby, Leon will be competing against Hall of Famers Mike Smith and Johnny Velazquez, plus such big-name jockeys as Tyler Gaffalione, Florent Geroux, Irad Ortiz Jr., Jose Ortiz, Flavien Prat, Joel Rosario and Luis Saez. The day before the Kentucky Derby, Leon rode six races at Belterra Park. He won none. In the feature race, the $75,000 Daryl E. Parker Memorial Tall Stack Stakes for 3-year-old Ohio foals, Leon rode the 8-5 favorite, Country Club Bobby. They lost by a neck to Tantrum. That occurred at about 3:45 p.m. The following day at a little past 7:00 p.m., Leon won the feature race at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby, which only happens to be the most coveted prize in all of American racing short of winning the Triple Crown. And now, after the outcome of the Kentucky Derby, there is only one 3-year-old who has a shot at a Triple Crown sweep this year. It is a Kentucky-bred colt that Leon, trainer Eric Reed and owner Rick Dawson call Ritchie. As for Leon’s ride on Ritchie, when watching the overhead drone replay, one can only marvel at how skillfully he negotiated the 10 furlongs. Dawson called the ride “amazing.” He’s right. Oh, sure, there also was an element of good fortune along the way. But every time Leon had to make a single split-second decision, it turned out right. Turning for home, Rich Strike was in heavy traffic and stalled behind a wall of horses. Rich Strike and Leon could have gotten stopped cold right then and there. But they managed to linger patiently for a brief time before somehow making their way through the equine crowd. Coming into the stretch, Leon angled Rich Strike down to the inside rail. Riding the rail as much as possible brought three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel to mind. While Rich Strike and Leon were flying along the rail in the lane, shortly after going past the eighth pole, they found themselves running right up behind faltering Messier, who was in the process of retreating toward the back of the pack after having vied for the lead all the way around the far turn to the top of the stretch. What Leon was confronted with was akin to when you are driving about 70 miles an hour on the freeway and you suddenly realize that you’re rapidly approaching a truck in the same lane going about 50. It appears from the overhead drone replay that Leon initially was going to try and sneak through a narrow hole between the inside rail and Messier. But quicker than you can say Sonny, he changed his mind and elected to go around Messier. That in and of itself was a brilliant piece of race-riding. Without missing a beat, Leon deftly maneuvered Rich Strike around Messier, then moved back down to the rail while continuing to charge home furiously. In deep stretch, Epicenter was in front and trying desperately to hold on. A victory by him would snap Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s much-talked-about 0 for 23 Kentucky Derby record coming into this year. Approaching the finish, Epicenter was well out from the rail. According to Trakus, at the finish, Epicenter was 20.7 feet off the rail. Even further out was Zandon, who was 29.3 feet off the rail. After surging past both Epicenter and Zandon in the final sixteenth, Rich Strike was 13.2 feet off the rail when he crossed the finish line first. In my opinion, Leon’s ride was nothing less than on a par with a Shoemaker, an Arcaro or a Hartack at their very best. Following Leon’s win in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, he went on vacation, but not by choice. He began serving a four-day suspension, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Leon was sanctioned for careless riding aboard One Glamorous Gal in the third race at Ohio’s Thistledown on April 27. A RIDICULOUSLY FAST PACE What helped set the table for Rich Strike’s come-from-behind victory was what often is referred to as a pace meltdown. When the pace of a race is unusually fast, oftentimes it sets the race up to be won by someone with a good late kick. After the race, NBC racing analyst Randy Moss, an expert on the subject of pace, called attention to the early fractions being a scorching :21.78 for the first quarter and :45.36 for the half. “This is a historically fast, suicidal, radioactive Kentucky Derby pace,” Moss said. A short time later, Moss noted that :21.78 made it the fastest opening quarter in Kentucky Derby history. Even though Epicenter did not win, he received a smart ride by Rosario. Epicenter previously had never been worse than third early. But rather than get in the vicinity of such a fast pace, Prat allowed Epicenter to be all the way back in eighth passing the finish the line the first time. The seven horses in front of him at that point wound up paying the price for being on or near the blistering pace and finished no better than 10th. Check out where those first seven horses at the first quarter all finished: Position at First 1/4 Finish 1 20 2 13 3 10 4 15 5 18 6 12 7 17 Now check out where the first seven horses across the finish line were at the first quarter: Finish Position at First Quarter 1 17 2 8 3 13 4 15 5 19 6 20 7 14 8 9 9 16 Summer Is Tomorrow, who had run in sprints before finishing second in the UAE Derby at about 1 3/16 miles, blazed the first quarter in :21.78. He also had the lead after a half in :45.36. Not surprisingly, his early efforts took such a toll that he finished 20th. The fastest first quarter in Kentucky Derby history previously had been Top Avenger’s :21.80 in 1981. He finished 19th in the field of 21. Pleasant Colony won after being 17th early. The fastest first half is still Songandaprayer’s insane :44.86 in 2001. He finished 13th in the field of 17. Monarchos won after being 13th early in the field of 17. California-based runners had finished first in seven of the last 10 Kentucky Derbies coming into this year. Regarding the three such starters this year, Taiba finished 12th, Happy Jack came in in 14th and Messier, as mentioned early, ended up 15th. Taiba was my top pick following his impressive Grade I Santa Anita Derby victory. Many people had taken a stand against him because he had only two career starts under his belt going into the Run for the Roses. Maybe the lack of experience and a foundation did prove to be his undoing. Taiba did not look comfortable early when getting dirt in his face in a race for the first time. I can’t fault John Velazquez on Messier or Mike Smith on Taiba for trying to break well and secure a forward position early. After all, every Kentucky Derby winner going back to 2012 had been not worse than third at any point in the race. But this year’s Kentucky Derby bore no resemblance to those from 2012 to 2021 from a pace standpoint. It turned out that this was not a Derby to be attempting to race forwardly early. In this case, those tactics backfired. WHO IS THAT HORSE? I’ve had three Kentucky Derbies during my lifetime when I asked this question during the stretch run: “Who is that horse?” It first happened in 1971. I was at a track by the name of Yakima Meadows in Yakima, Wash. I wasn’t even watching the race on television. In 1971, Yakima Meadows did not show the Kentucky Derby on any of its TV monitors. Because I wouldn’t be able to watch the race on TV, I decided to do the next-best thing by listening to it on my radio in my dad’s car in the parking lot. When I heard during the radio call that Canonero II had taken the lead during the stretch run, I remember thinking, “Who? Who is that?” In a major upset, Canonero II rallied from 18th to win the Kentucky Derby by 3 3/4 lengths. In 1971, it was a horse from Venezuela who won the Kentucky Derby. This year it was a jockey from Venezuela winning the same race. Pioneerof the Nile was my top pick in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. At the top of the stretch, I thought he was on his way to victory. I was sitting on the HRTV set next to Millie Ball, wife of Tim Yakteen, trainer of this year’s Kentucky Derby starters Taiba and Messier. When a horse seemed to come out of nowhere on the sloppy track and ran right by Pioneerof the Nile in the stretch, I asked Millie: “Who is that?” “I don’t know,” she replied. We soon discovered that it was 50-1 Mine That Bird, who had been last early in the field of 19. While my attention was focused on Epicenter trying to fend off Zandon in the final furlong last Saturday, all of a sudden a horse appeared late on the scene. “Who is that horse?” I thought. I did not readily recognize the red and white silks worn by the jockey on this “mystery horse” coming home with gusto. It appeared to me to that the horse had a white saddle towel, which is the color for the 2 horse. Also, only the number 2 was visible on the saddle towel. This made me think it was Happy Jack. He was the 2 horse. But it was not Happy Jack. It turned out to be No. 21 Rich Strike, wearing a lavender saddle towel, with the lavender so light I easily mistook it for being white. The saddle towel had a 21 on it in navy, but I really could only see the 2 because of the jockey’s black boot was covering part of the number. FANS IN ATTENDANCE UNDERSTANDABLY STUNNED When I read what the crowd’s immediate reaction to Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby upset victory was, it reminded me of what happened when I was on hand at Santa Anita for the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Virtually ignored in the wagering, French raider Arcangues, a son of 1984 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sagace, rallied to win the 1993 BC Classic by two lengths. He paid a whopping $269.20 for a $2 win bet. Talk about a horse outrunning his odds. Immediately after the race, the crowd was unusually hushed as fans were seemingly in a state of shock. To this day, it’s the biggest win payoff in Breeders’ Cup history. After this year’s Kentucky Derby, the crowd reaction was very similar to the 1993 BC Classic. “It’s hard to get about 150,000 people to go from a full-throated roar to library-like quiet,” Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman wrote. “But for a smattering of those who perhaps play blackjack and like the number 21, or especially those connected with a heretofore unknown colt named Rich Strike, Churchill Downs, back with a full house after two years of racing under restrictions [due to COVID-19], fell into mostly stunned silence following the 148th Kentucky Derby on Saturday.” You’ve heard of Sunday Silence, the 1989 Kentucky Derby winner? Well, it seems that there almost was Saturday Silence beneath the famed Twin Spires after Rich Strike’s shocker. Rich Strike’s triumph was the second-biggest upset in the history of the Kentucky Derby, which is America’s longest continuously run sporting event. His win at odds of 80-1 is topped only by 91-1 Donerail, who got the job done by a half-length and paid $184.90 for a $2 win ticket in 1913. As in the case of Rich Strike, the favorite ran second in Donerail’s Derby. That was Ten Point, who was backed down to 6-5 by a crowd said to have been 30,000. The odds actually came down on Rich Strike to 80-1 from the 99-1 he was all day Friday in advance wagering and the 99-1 he still was Saturday morning. A $2 win wager on Rich Strike returned $163.60. He paid $74.20 to place and $29.40 to show. I must confess that I was sorry to see that $74.20 place payout, which was a Kentucky Derby record. The record had been $70.00 set by Closing Argument, my top pick in the 2005 Kentucky Derby. Closing Argument lost by just a half-length while finishing second to 50-1 Giacomo. It was so disappointing to come that close to picking a 71-1 upset winner of the Kentucky Derby, but I always could take some solace in that he set the record for the biggest place payout. But now it’s Rich Strike who holds that record. FIRST ALSO-ELIGIBLE WINNER The 20 horses with the most qualifying points get a spot in the starting gate, with as many as four horses listed in order of preference on the also-eligible list. Rich Strike’s connections had hoped for weeks that he would get into the Kentucky Derby starting gate. They closely monitored the Kentucky Derby points standings. The Grade III Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 16 was the final race with points up for grabs toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby. With all the races offering Kentucky Derby points over, Rich Strike’s 21 points put him No. 24 on the list of Derby candidates. In the 1970s, I formed a racehorse ownership partnership in Spokane, Wash., called Media Madness. This group was similar, at a much smaller level, to such current racehorse partnerships as Myracehorse.com, Little Red Feather, West Point Thoroughbreds, etc. Media Madness Stable consisted of yours truly and seven other members of the media. One of the seven was Terry Mauer of Spokane’s KREM-TV. In an email after this year’s Kentucky Derby, Mauer pointed out how important it was for Rich Strike to have finished third in Turfway Park’s Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks on April 2. Rich Strike came on from last in the field of 11 to get third as a 26-1 longshot. By finishing third, Rich Strike earned 20 Kentucky Derby points. That gave him a total of 21 after he had received a single Kentucky Derby point for finishing fourth in Turfway’s John Battaglia Stakes on March 5. On Monday, May 2, when entries were taken and post positions were drawn for the 2022 Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike had moved up the ladder to No. 21 on the points list, which meant he just missed getting into the main body of the race. Rich Strike’s 21 points were good enough for him to be first on the also-eligible list. Next in line at 22 was Rattle N Roll, who had 20 points. There were no others on the also-eligible list besides Rich Strike and Rattle N Roll. The rules specify that scratch time for the Kentucky Derby is the day before the race at 9 a.m. If no horses had been withdrawn from the Derby, both Rich Strike and Rattle N Roll would have been scratched. At the eleventh hour, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas notified Churchill Downs racing officials that he was scratching Ethereal Road. Lukas later explained that he was not happy with how Ethereal Road had trained Thursday and Friday mornings. “At 8:45 the morning before the Derby, Reed was notified that there were no scratches and they were not going to get in,” Secretariat.com’s Steve Haskin wrote in his Kentucky Derby recap. “The security guard was told to leave the barn and Reed texted his dad and simply said, ‘Didn’t happen.’ He texted some of his friends and said, ‘We didn’t get in. Sorry guys.’ He then went to his crew to tell them in person because he knew they were going to be really let down.” A short time later, steward Barber Borden called Reed. “This is the steward,” Borden said, according to Haskin. “Tomorrow in the twelfth race, the Kentucky Derby, do you want to draw in off the also eligible?” As we know, Reed answered in the affirmative. If Rich Strike had not been able to start in the Kentucky Derby, Plan B was for him to run in this Saturday’s Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park as a springboard to the Belmont Stakes. Reed and Dawson have each said it’s not as if they were expecting Rich Strike to win the Kentucky Derby. But they felt that Ritchie had trained so well that they were expecting him to run well. Rich Strike then went out there and ran a heckuva lot better than just well. ONLY SECOND WINNER FROM POST 20 By scratching in, Rich Strike automatically got the outside post in the field of 20 (coincidentally the same post from which Ethereal Road would have started). Only three horses in history have won the Kentucky Derby from a post position higher than 18. They are I’ll Have Another from post 19 a decade ago, plus Big Brown from post 20 in 2008 and now Rich Strike from post 20 this year. FIRST GRADED STAKES WIN FOR HORSE AND RIDER The Kentucky Derby provided both Rich Strike and Leon with their first-ever graded stakes victory. I’m guessing this is the first time in history that a jockey’s initial graded stakes win has come in the Kentucky Derby. For Rich Strike, the Kentucky Derby was his first stakes victory. It was only his second career win. After the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike is still eligible to run in a race restricted to non-winners of three races lifetime. With that in mind, the racing secretary at Belterra Park supposedly contacted Reed and jokingly said: “I’d be perfectly willing to write a non-winners of three for Rich Strike.” I don’t think we will be seeing Rich Strike show up in some such allowance race at Belterra. I’d say it’s a much safer bet that the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes is going to be the next start for Ritchie. Graded stakes races were introduced in the United States in 1973. From that year to the present, Rich Strike is only the fifth horse to win the Kentucky Derby without having previously been victorious in a graded stakes race. The others are Ferdinand in 1986, Alysheba in 1987, Funny Cide in 2003 and Giacomo in 2005. This also was the first Grade I win of Reed’s 37-year career as a trainer. His first stakes victory occurred at Latonia (now Turfway Park) with Native Drummer in the Forego Stakes. Prior to the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike had won just once in seven career starts. His lone previous victory had come in a one-mile maiden claiming contest on the dirt. Rich Strike won by 17 1/4 lengths. The date was last Sept. 17. The track was Churchill Downs. Rich Strike now is 2 for 2 on the main track at Churchill, but 0 for 5 otherwise. In Rich Strike’s only start before his lopsided Sept. 17 maiden claiming win, he had finished tenth at 9-2 in a one-mile maiden special weight race on the grass Aug. 15 Ellis Park for owner Calumet Farm and trainer Joe Sharp. Rich Strike was 10-1 in the betting when he ran in the Sept. 17 maiden claiming race. Dawson spent $30,000 to claim him. There were no other claims submitted, which means Dawson did not have to win a shake to get Rich Strike. Around that same time, Dawson and Reed did get outshook for another horse they tried to claim. Although they were thwarted in their attempt to claim that horse, they did get Rich Strike for $30,000. First prize in the Kentucky Derby was $1,860,000. FIRST TO BE CLAIMED AND THEN WIN ROSES Rich Strike has yet another distinction. He became the first horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby after having been claimed. According to BloodHorse’s Avalyn Hunter, “three other future Derby winners ran in claiming races without changing hands: Mine That Bird (2009), who won a $62,00 maiden claimer; Charismatic (1999), who started twice with a $62,500 tag; and Dust Commander (1970), who ran for a $7,500 tag in his second start. “All four were pricy compared to Apollo (1882) and Elwood (1904). Both ran in selling races (the precursors to modern claiming races) prior to their big days at Churchill Downs and both were offered at less than $1,000. Unlike a claiming race, horses ran in selling races for price tags which were the minimum bids for a post-race auction.” The way the selling races worked, if no one put a claim in for a horse, then the horses stayed with his or her owner. If one or more people did submit a claim, an auction for the horse was held. The original owner, if they so desired, could even outbid the others to reacquire their horse. Dawson said one of the reasons he claimed Rich Strike is the owner is a big fan of the colt’s sire, Keen Ice. Also, Reed had liked what he had seen of Rich Strike in his workouts on the dirt before Ritchie kicked off his racing career on the turf. A FEEL-GOOD STORY The shocking Kentucky Derby win by Rich Strike seems like it is being embraced by the general public. The fairy-tale story of such an underdog to burst on the scene seemingly from out of nowhere is a much-welcomed boon to Thoroughbred racing following some turbulent times in recent years. It seems to me that Rich Strike’s name is a darn good one for a Kentucky Derby winner. I think it also might well be adding to his appeal with the public. “Rich Strike, he’s no longer is owned by Rick Dawson. He’s owned by America,” Dawson said. “I truly believe that.” As for the trainer, how can one not especially appreciate the heartwarming story of seeing 57-year-old Reed win the Kentucky Derby after he suffered through the devastation of a barn fire in 2016 that swept through his Mercury Equine Training Center in Kentucky, killing 23 horses? Understandably, Reed very nearly got out of racing after that. But he decided to stick with it and, lo and behold, he now is a Kentucky Derby-winning trainer. Do you realize Reed once came close to beating mighty Zenyatta? Reed trained a mare by the name of Rinterval, who was 10-1 in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar in 2010. Zenyatta was an overwhelming 1-10 favorite while seeking to extend her undefeated winning streak to 18 and take the Hirsch for the third straight year. Zenyatta did win the 2010 Hirsch, but by only a neck. Rinterval finished a game second in a performance that made her trainer proud. “It was a great day for me and my horse and a great day for the champ,” Reed was quoted as saying in Tracy Gantz’s Hirsch recap for BloodHorse. Zenyatta would go on to remain undefeated through her first 19 career starts before closing out her magnificent career with a close second to Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Reed? He would go on to saddle the 2022 Kentucky Derby winner. A GIANT LEAP BEYER-WISE Rich Strike was credited with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his Kentucky Derby performance. His previous top had been an 84 in the Jeff Ruby Steaks on a synthetic surface. His previous best figure on dirt had been just a 65 in his maiden claiming romp by 17 1/4 lengths last year. It should be noted that Rich Strike did bring an improving Beyer Speed Figure pattern into the Kentucky Derby. After recording a 56 Beyer at Keeneland last Oct. 9, he posted figures of 64, then 68, then 76, then 84, then the 101 last Saturday. A couple of sharp workouts, coupled with his improving Beyers, indicated Rich Strike was primed to possibly run a better race in the Kentucky Derby than he ever had before. Rich Strike worked four furlongs in :48.00 at Keeneland on April 16. It was the 10th best of 106 works at the distance that morning. That was followed by a sharp five furlongs in :59.60 at Churchill on April 27. Below are the Beyers for Kentucky Derby winners going back to 1989 (the figures prior to 2020 are listed in the American Racing Manual, which is now digital only): 2022 Rich Strike (101) 2021 Mandaloun (101)* 2020 Authentic (105) 2019 Country House (99)** 2018 Justify (103) 2017 Always Dreaming (102) 2016 Nyquist (103) 2015 American Pharoah (105) 2014 California Chrome (97) 2013 Orb (104) 2012 I’ll Have Another (101) 2011 Animal Kingdom (103) 2010 Super Saver (104) 2009 Mine That Bird (105) 2008 Big Brown (109) 2007 Street Sense (110) 2006 Barbaro (111) 2005 Giacomo (100) 2004 Smarty Jones (107) 2003 Funny Cide (109) 2002 War Emblem (114) 2001 Monarchos (116) 2000 Fusaichi Pegasus (108) 1999 Charismatic (108) 1998 Real Quiet (107) 1997 Silver Charm (115) 1996 Grindstone (112) 1995 Thunder Gulch (108) 1994 Go for Gin (112) 1993 Sea Hero (105) 1992 Lil E. Tee (107) 1991 Strike the Gold (not listed) 1990 Unbridled (not listed) 1989 Sunday Silence (102) *Medina Spirit (102 Beyer) finished first but was disqualified and forfeited all purse money due to a medication violation, with Mandaloun being declared the winner **Country House finished second but was placed first through the disqualification of Maximum Security (101 Beyer) LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON Rich Strike’s sire, Keen Ice, is best remembered for ambushing Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga in the summer of 2015. It was a victory that brought to mind such other upsets at the “graveyard of favorites” as Man o’ War getting beat by the aptly named Upset, Gallant Fox losing to Jim Dandy and Secretariat finishing second to Onion. American Pharoah ran second in the Travers at odds of 1-5. It was his only defeat in eight 2015 starts. Later that year, American Pharoah won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland and was voted 2015 Horse of the Year. In the Travers, American Pharoah lost by three-quarters of a length to Keen Ice, who won just three of 24 starts during his career. Though Keen Ice’s Travers victory is appropriately considered to be one of the biggest upsets in the last decade on the American racing stage, he was 16-1 that day, which pales in comparison to his son’s shocking win in the Kentucky Derby at 80-1. Keen Ice is by Curlin, who finished third in the 2007 Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness and back-to-back Horse of the Year titles for Asmussen. Curlin is by Grade I winner Smart Strike. Two-time Eclipse Award winner Lookin At Lucky also is a son of Smart Strike. Lookin At Lucky is the sire of 2019 Kentucky Derby winner (via the disqualification of Maximum Security) Country House. Rich Strike’s dam, Bold Strike, is by Smart Strike. In 2015, Bold Strike won the Woodbine Oaks and finished third against the boys in the prestigious Queen’s Plate. She was Canada’s Sovereign Award-winning 3-year-old filly champion that year. YET ANOTHER DERBY VICTOR BRED BY CALUMET Back in the day, Calumet Farm was a dynasty much like that of the New York Yankees in baseball. Calumet Farm is the breeder of Rich Strike. Thanks to Rich Strike, the famous farm increased the record number of Kentucky Derby winners it has bred to 10. Reclusive billionaire Brad Kelley now is at the Calumet helm. Before Kelley, winners of the Kentucky Derby bred by Calumet while under Warren Wright’s ownership were Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949) and Hill Gail (1952). Following Wright’s death, his widow, Lucille, and her subsequent husband Gene Markey ran Calumet and bred Iron Liege (1957), Tim Tam (1958) and Forward Pass (1968). The Wright’s heirs were in charge of breeding Strike the Gold (1991). Whirlaway and Citation were Triple Crown winners for Calumet. DIVISIVE COMMENTS ACROSS SOCIAL MEDIA Rich Strike’s behavior following the finish of the Kentucky Derby “has been the subject of divisive comments across social media,” the Paulick Report noted. “After Rich Strike crossed the wire in front, outrider Greg Blasi went to collect the colt in order to allow jockey Sonny Leon to be interviewed by NBC,” the Paulick Report continued. “Instead, Rich Strike became aggressive and attempted to savage Blasi’s mount multiple times.” To “savage” in horse racing is to “bite.” And Rich Strike actually did a lot more than attempt to savage Blasi’s pony. Rich Strike did inflict some serious wounds on both the pony and Blasi. Rich Strike’s trainer addressed the issue Monday morning on NBC’s Today Show. Reed said the outrider’s actions actually prevented the colt from hurting himself. “I want to clear that up,” Reed said. “The outrider’s job at the end of the race is to help get the leading horse slowed down, and take him around and let [the jockey] do the interview. Well, Ritchie, he was in ‘killer mode,’ he was gonna outrun every horse on the track. He had not ever had a horse, after the finish line, come over to him. So when he saw that pony coming his way, he thought he had another horse to beat and was trying to run by it. “The man [Blasi] did his job. He reached out and grabbed a hold of the horse and it made [Rich Strike] mad. [Rich Strike] didn’t know that he was trying to help him. He thought he was supposed to outrun that horse, and he bit the guy’s leg terribly. He bit his arm, a couple of really bad bites. The horse is not a mean horse. He was just in race mode and he didn’t understand why they were grabbing him to slow him down. “That man saved my horse from injury, because had he got up in the air and lost my rider, he could have gotten loose.” Reed said he was sorry for the injuries Blasi and his pony sustained in the incident. UPDATED DERBY STRIKES SITUATION In 1999, I developed my Derby Strikes System (DSS). It consists of eight key factors that attempt to ascertain the chances a horse has to win the Kentucky Derby from BOTH tactical and historical perspectives. When a horse does not qualify in one of the eight categories, the horse gets a strike. Because two of the categories deal with graded stakes races, the Derby Strikes System can’t go back any further than 1973. That’s because races in this country were not graded until 1973. The eight categories in the DSS are listed toward the end of this column/blog/article. A number of the categories in my DSS are tied to a Kentucky Derby being run on the first Saturday in May. As a result, when the race was switched from May 2 to Sept. 5 in 2020 due to COVID-19, it rendered my DSS unworkable for that particular year. A horse with zero strikes or only one strike has a much better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than a horse with two strikes or more. According to the DSS as it’s now constituted and excluding the Kentucky Derby of 2020 when the race was run in September, 83% of the Kentucky Derby winners (40 out of 48) have had zero strikes or one strike going back to 1973. Rich Strike is the eighth Kentucky Derby winner to have two strikes. The others were Cannonade (1974), Ferdinand (1986), Sea Hero (1993), Funny Cide (2003), Giacomo (2005), Justify (2018) and Country House (2019). Only one horse has won the Kentucky Derby with more than two strikes. That was Mine that Bird, who had four strikes. Considering Rich Strike’s 80-1 odds were higher than Mine That Bird’s 50-1, you might have expected Rich Strike to have more than two strikes. My friend, enthusiastic racing fan Ryan Stillman, points out that Rich Strike does have three strikes if you include the second half of his name. But for DSS purposes, having “strike” in your name does not count. WINNER’S STRIKES GOING BACK TO 1973 As explained earlier, inasmuch as two of the categories deal with graded stakes races, the Derby Strikes System can’t go back any further than 1973. Again, that is because races in this country were not graded until 1973. Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But the stewards disqualified Maximum Security and placed him 17th for committing a foul when he veered out sharply nearing the five-sixteenths marker to cause interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy. Country House was declared the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But in terms of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun is now recognized as the winner following Medina Spirit’s disqualification. The strikes for each Kentucky Derby winner going back to 1973 are below: 2021 Mandaloun (1 strike) Category 4* 2020 race run in September 2019 Country House (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 3** 2018 Justify (2 strikes) Categories 1 and 7 2017 Always Dreaming (1 strike) Category 1 2016 Nyquist (0 strikes) 2015 American Pharoah (0 strikes) 2014 California Chrome (0 strikes) 2013 Orb (0 strikes) 2012 I’ll Have Another (0 strikes) 2011 Animal Kingdom (0 strikes) 2010 Super Saver (1 strike) Category 4 2009 Mine That Bird (4 strikes) Categories 1, 4, 5 and 9 2008 Big Brown (0 strikes) 2007 Street Sense (0 strikes) 2006 Barbaro (0 strikes) 2005 Giacomo (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 5 2004 Smarty Jones (0 strikes) 2003 Funny Cide (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 8 2002 War Emblem (0 strikes) 2001 Monarchos (0 strikes) 2000 Fusaichi Pegasus (1 strike) Category 6 1999 Charismatic (1 strike) Category 5 1998 Real Quiet (0 strikes) 1997 Silver Charm (1 strike) Category 4 1996 Grindstone (0 strikes) 1995 Thunder Gulch (0 strikes) 1994 Go for Gin (0 strikes) 1993 Sea Hero (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 5 1992 Lil E. Tee (0 strikes) 1991 Strike the Gold (0 strikes) 1990 Unbridled (1 strike) Category 3 1989 Sunday Silence (0 strikes) 1988 Winning Colors (0 strikes) 1987 Alysheba (1 strike) Category 2 1986 Ferdinand (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 4 1985 Spend a Buck (0 strikes) 1984 Swale (0 strikes) 1983 Sunny’s Halo (1 strike) Category 1 1982 Gato Del Sol (1 strike) Category 3 1981 Genuine Risk (1 strike) Category 1 1980 Pleasant Colony (0 strikes) 1979 Spectacular Bid (0 strikes) 1978 Affirmed (0 strikes) 1977 Seattle Slew (0 strikes) 1976 Bold Forbes (0 strikes) 1975 Foolish Pleasure (0 strikes) 1974 Cannonade (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 4 1973 Secretariat (0 strikes) *Medina Spirit (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and all purse money forfeited **Maximum Security (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and placed 17th MY DERBY STRIKES SYSTEM’S CATEGORIES What are the eight categories in my Derby Strikes System? They are listed below: 1. THE GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse ran in a graded stakes race before March 31.) This points out horses who have competed against tough competition prior to March 31 rather than at the last minute in April, enabling the horse to be properly battle-tested. (Exceptions: Going back to the introduction of graded stakes races in the U.S. in 1973, only Genuine Risk in 1980, Sunny’s Halo in 1983, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Always Dreaming in 2017 have won the Kentucky Derby without running in a graded stakes race at 2 or early at 3 before March 31.) 2. THE WIN IN A GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse has won a graded stakes race.) This points out horses who have shown they have the class to win a graded stakes race. (Exceptions: Ferdinand in 1986, Alysheba in 1987, Funny Cide in 2003 and Giacomo in 2005 are the only exceptions going back to the introduction of U.S. graded stakes races in 1973; Alysheba in 1987 did finish first in the Blue Grass, only to be disqualified and placed third.) 3. THE EIGHTH POLE CATEGORY. (In either of his or her last two starts before the Kentucky Derby, the horse was either first or second with a furlong to go.) This points out horses who were running strongly at the eighth pole, usually in races at 1 1/16 or 1 1/8 miles. By running strongly at the same point in the Kentucky Derby, a horse would be in a prime position to win the roses. Keep in mind that 53 of the last 56 Kentucky Derby winners through 2021 have been first or second with a furlong to run. Since Decidedly won the Derby in 1962 when he was third with a furlong to go, the only three Kentucky Derby winners who were not first or second with a furlong to run were Animal Kingdom, third with a furlong remaining in 2011 when only a half-length from being second; Giacomo, sixth with a furlong to go in 2005; and Grindstone, fourth with a furlong to run in 1996. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the Kentucky Derby winners who weren’t either first or second a furlong from the finish in his or her last two starts have been Tim Tam in 1958, Carry Back in 1961, Cannonade in 1974, Gato Del Sol in 1982, Unbridled in 1990 and Sea Hero in 1993, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 4. THE GAMENESS CATEGORY. (The horse’s finish position in both of his or her last two races before the Kentucky Derby was no worse than his or her running position at the eighth pole.) This points out horses who don’t like to get passed in the final furlong. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the exceptions have been Venetian Way in 1960, Cannonade in 1974, Foolish Pleasure in 1975, Ferdinand in 1986, Silver Charm in 1997, Mine That Bird in 2009, Super Saver in 2010 and Mandaloun in 2021, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 5. THE DISTANCE FOUNDATION CATEGORY. (The horse has finished at least third in a 1 1/8-mile race or longer before the Kentucky Derby.) This points out horses who have the proper foundation and/or stamina for the Kentucky Derby distance. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the only exceptions have been Kauai King in 1966, Sea Hero in 1993, Charismatic in 1999, Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird in 2009.) 6. THE NO ADDING OR REMOVING BLINKERS CATEGORY. (The horse has not added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her final start at 3 before the Kentucky Derby.) This seems to point out that, if a horse is good enough to win the Kentucky Derby, the trainer is not searching for answers so late in the game. (Going back to 1973, no horse has added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her last start at 3 before winning the Kentucky Derby.) 7. THE RACED AS A 2-YEAR-OLD CATEGORY. (The horse made at least one start as a 2-year-old.) (Exceptions: Apollo in 1882 and Justify in 2018. Going back to 1937, horses unraced as a 2-year-old now are a combined 1 for 67 in the Kentucky Derby through 2021. During this period, the only horses to finish second or third in the Kentucky Derby without having raced at 2 were Hampden, who finished third in 1946; Coaltown, second in 1948; Agitate, third in 1974; Reinvested, third in 1982; Strodes Creek, second in 1994; Curlin, third in 2007; Bodemeister, second in 2012; and Battle of Midway, third in 2017.) 8. THE NOT A GELDING CATEGORY. (The horse is not a gelding.) (Exceptions: Funny Cide in 2003 and Mine That Bird in 2009 are the only geldings to win the Kentucky Derby since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.) NTRA TOP THROUGHBRED POLL Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer again is in the top spot on the Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll. The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 285 Country Grammer (20) 2. 279 Letruska (10) 3. 229 Life Is Good (2) 4. 227 Hot Rod Charlie 4. 170 Speaker’s Corner 6. 146 Olympiad 7. 138 Jackie’s Warrior 8. 71 Express Train 9. 66 Golden Pal 10. 60 Flightline NTRA TOP THREE-YEAR-OLD POLL Epicenter did not win the Kentucky Derby, but he continues to hold the top spot on the Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll. Rich Strike debuts on the Top 10 at No. 3. Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 314 Epicenter (20) 2. 271 Zandon 3. 256 Rich Strike (10) 4. 203 Secret Oath (4) 5. 167 Jack Christopher 6. 162 Simplification 7. 159 Mo Donegal 8. 52 Taiba 9. 44 Nest 10. 39 Early Voting End

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5.11.2022:

Preakness Notes: Wednesday, May 11, 2022

  Derby Runner-Up Epicenter Confirmed for Preakness 147 ** Late UPDATE: Secret Oath CONFIRMED for Preakness ** Eric Reed: ‘It’s Like a Euphoria That Won’t Go Away’ Oaks Heroine Secret Oath ‘Probable’ for Middle Jewel Simplification Settles in at Pimlico for Preakness Start BALTIMORE – The 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) will feature a Kentucky Derby (G1) rematch between upset victor Rich Strike and favored Epicenter, who appeared home free until passed on the inside in the final strides by the 80-1 long shot. David Fiske, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ longtime bloodstock manager, confirmed after speaking with trainer Steve Asmussen Wednesday morning that Epicenter will run in the May 21 Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at historic Pimlico Race Course. The Louisiana Derby (G2) winner returned to the track for training earlier in the morning at Churchill Downs, with Asmussen liking what he saw as Epicenter jogged and galloped under Roberto Howell. Plans call for Epicenter to work an easy half-mile on Monday and van to Pimlico on Tuesday. “Steve said he was really pleased with how he went back to the track this morning,” Fiske said. “He said he looked great. I mean, we were going. It was just that (Epicenter) needed to tell us that he wanted to go.” After watching Epicenter train, Asmussen called the Not This Time colt “a remarkable physical [specimen]. He’s very strong.” “I thought he traveled well,” he said of Epicenter’s first day back training. “Roberto said he was himself, more of the same. Being himself is a good thing. I thought he took the Derby really well. He laid down like he normally does. He’s been nice and relaxed and traveled really good on the racetrack this morning.” Eric Reed: ‘It’s Like a Euphoria That Won’t Go Away’ While preparing Rich Strike for a start in the May 21 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course four mornings after one of the unlikeliest and most memorable renewals of the Kentucky Derby (G1), trainer Eric Reed was still having trouble wrapping his mind around the son of Keen Ice’s 80-1 victory that shocked and rocked the Thoroughbred world in the first leg of the Triple Crown. “It’s like a euphoria that won’t go away. I’m happier for the guys who work with the horse than I am for myself. I still have a hard time realizing what we’ve done,” Reed said Wednesday morning from his Mercury Training Center near Lexington, Ky. “We’ve won stakes and a lot of races. We’ve had good horses and regular horses. I look at him and say, ‘Man, we just won a nice race.’ But he won the race. He’ll never just be a horse again. He’s always going to be the Kentucky Derby winner, and that’s what we’ve got to get used to. It’s just hard to imagine.” Rich Strike, who was claimed by owner Rick Dawson for $30,000 last fall, won the Kentucky Derby for a trainer who had won one previous graded-stakes race and a jockey (Sonny Leon) who rides far outside the national spotlight at Ohio racetracks. The seemingly hopeless outsider surged past favored Epicenter nearing the finish line to pull off a feel-good upset for the little guy. “I think for two minutes and two seconds, the world forgot about politics and war and COVID,” said Reed, who has saddled 1446 winners during his 37 years of training. “I think for two minutes and two seconds, people got a sigh of relief from all this anxiety we live with today. He did it, not me or anyone else. Richie gave us two minutes of peace.” Meanwhile, it was business Wednesday morning as usual at Mercury Training Center, where Rich Strike galloped under Gabriel Lagunes. “He had a nice little gallop. He had a nice day on the track. Everything seems good,” Reed said. Lagunes, a jockey on the Ohio circuit, has played an important role in Rich Strike’s success. “He sacrifices a lot of time with this horse. He’s done a whole lot more work than anyone else involved with the horse, to be honest with you,” Reed said. Secret Oath More Than ‘Probable’ for Preakness D. Wayne Lukas said the ultimate decision remains to be made but that Briland Farm’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath is “probable” for the May 21 Preakness, a race the Hall of Fame trainer has won six times. Lukas said that Rebel (G2) runner-up Ethereal Road will head to Pimlico Race Course but most likely will run in the $100,000 Sir Barton for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. “It could change, but I’d like to run in the Sir Barton,” Lukas said. “He’ll be a short price there.” Lukas, who won his first of four Kentucky Derbys with the filly Winning Colors in 1988, said he discusses the Preakness for Secret Oath every day with owner-breeders Rob and Stacy Mitchell. If they don’t go in the Preakness, Lukas said the filly will train up to Saratoga’s $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on July 23. He said Secret Oath will only run in Grade 1 route races from now on out. “We agonize over it,” he said at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning. “She’s gone back to the track, and she was very sharp out there today. I don’t see anything about her that would change our decision right now [regarding the Preakness]…. She’s training well. She’s bright. She’s sharp and out there playing.” Asked if Secret Oath could be considered probable for the Preakness, Lukas said, “Yes. You can say probable. Maybe a probable-plus…. If she does that (wins), she’s got a chance to be Horse of the Year, when you step out of the box that far. “Let’s put it this way: The Derby horses pretty much all had a hard race. Her race was not hard on her,” he added. “Now, you sit back and say, ‘Epicenter is going to be the favorite. Chad Brown is putting that other horse (Wood Memorial runner-up Early Voting) in.’ What I always did on those, is I list all the horses going and say, ‘Can I beat this one?’ Yes. ‘Can I beat that one?’ Maybe. Go right down the line. But I still don’t know who’s going. “Epicenter will be difficult. He’s a legitimate favorite. He’s a very good horse. Nobody can go over there and think they’ll just run by him. He is going to be awfully tough to beat. You are taking a shot if you take him on,” Lukas continued. “The other thing that always factors in is that when they are really good like she is right now, you take advantage of that moment, that time frame. We’ve got it planned out all the way to the Breeders’ Cup, but there’s a lot of road until then. Things happen.” Secret Oath jogged a lap around Churchill Downs and then jogged more in the track’s mile chute Wednesday morning under Danielle Rosier. Simplification Settles in at Pimlico for Preakness Start Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric’s Simplification, the only Preakness (G1) contender on the grounds at Pimlico Race Course, has settled in nicely, trainer Antonio Sano’s assistant Jesus ‘Chino’ Prada said Wednesday morning. Simplification, fourth by 3 � lengths in the Kentucky Derby (G1) Saturday at odds of 35-1, shipped from Louisville, Ky. to Baltimore overnight Monday and arrived at the Pimlico Stakes Barn at 5 a.m. Tuesday. “The horse is very good, excellent,” Prada said. Simplification, a son of Not This Time, walked the shedrow Tuesday afternoon. His relaxing schedule for Wednesday called for eating, a pair of 45-minute walks and baths. Prada said the bay colt will go to the track with a pony for the first time at 6 a.m. Thursday. Bobo and her husband, Fernando De Jesus, run a pinhooking business at their farm in Ocala, Florida. They purchased Simplification as a weanling in a private sale with the intention of selling him the next year. When he developed some lower leg issues they held on to him and later decided to race him with Sano. He has a 3-1-2 record from eight starts, a Grade 2 win in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, has earned $665,350, and has taken them and De Meric to the Triple Crown. Prada, 57, has worked around horses since 1984 in his native Venezuela and in the U.S. He said that the colt showed promise early on. “When he came to the barn as a baby, he was a nice baby,” Prada said. “Sano waited for months to get the horse into the barn. The first time he breezed, he showed that he was a good horse. Sano took his time with him when he was a baby, and he’s a very special horse. From the first time that he worked at Gulfstream, we knew he was a big talent.” Early Voting Set for Preakness; Zandon Decision Pending Trainer Chad Brown has not decided whether he will have one or two runners in the 147th Preakness (G1) on May 21 at Pimlico Race Course. Klaravich Stables’ Early Voting is on course for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, while Brown said that he is still considering a run with Zandon, who was third in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1). Zandon arrived at Brown’s barn at Belmont Park from Louisville, Ky. on Tuesday. The four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said he will watch the horse on the track this week before deciding over the weekend whether to enter the Preakness. Brown and owner Seth Klarman opted not to run Early Voting in the Derby and to point him to the Preakness, the race they won in 2017 with Cloud Computing. Early Voting won the Feb. 5 Withers (G3) and was second by a neck to Mo Donegal in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) to stamp himself as a Triple Crown series-caliber runner. “He’s doing fine,” Brown said. “He’s going to have his final work over the weekend and then we’ll head to Baltimore sometime early in the week.” Jose Ortiz will ride Early Voting in the Preakness. Brown is using the same approach with Early Voting that worked with Cloud Computing: skipping the Derby and making the Preakness the fourth career start for colts with graded-stakes experience. “They are very similar,” Brown said. “Lightly raced coming out of the Wood. They have spacing. The same owner. They have similar running styles. Early Voting has shown a little bit more speed and will be close up front. Cloud Computing wasn’t far away in the Preakness.” Creative Minister Resumes Training Creative Minister, an impressive allowance winner on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard, went back to the track in preparation for a start in the May 21 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., seeking his first victory in a Triple Crown race, has the mount. “He galloped, his first day back from running,” said Greg Geier, who oversees trainer Kenny McPeek’s Churchill Downs operation. “He looked good.” McPeek confirmed Creative Minister is Preakness-bound late Tuesday afternoon. The gray son of 2012 Preakness third-place finisher Creative Cause debuted at Gulfstream Park on March 5, finishing second by a neck. Creative Minister then reeled off victories at 1 1/16 miles in a Keeneland maiden race in the slop and in the Derby Day allowance. “He’s been a really late-developing colt,” said McPeek, who won the 2020 Preakness with the filly Swiss Skydiver. “Last year as a 2-year-old, he had development issues, just needed more time. We kept giving him more time, and he didn’t make the races until early March. But he’s really shown composure and talent. You don’t get many opportunities for these things. His race Saturday was ultra-impressive. Somebody said that on the Equibase figures that he got a faster figure than the Derby, so we’re going to try him.” Fern Circle Stables and Back Racing LLC’s Creative Minister was awarded a 108 Equibase speed figure, while Rich Strike’s upset received a 106 in the 1 �-mile Derby. McPeek said Rattle N Roll, the 2021 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner who finished fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds and sixth in Keeneland’s Blue Grass (G1), remains a possibility for the Preakness. Un Ojo ‘Right on Track’ for Preakness Cypress Creek Equine LLC’s Un Ojo jogged two miles Wednesday at Churchill Downs under Clay Courville, assistant to his dad, trainer Ricky Courville. The one-eyed winner of Oaklawn Park’s Rebel (G2) at 75-1 odds finished eighth with a troubled trip in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Un Ojo was withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby on the morning of entries with a minor foot bruise, from which he has rebounded to the point that the Preakness is the goal. “My dad and I decided just to let him jog today,” Clay Courville said. “I’ll see how high he is in the morning when I get here (as far as what they do Thursday). We’re going to take it light on him until Saturday, when he breezes. He’s going good, jogged perfect for me this morning. He’s happy, that’s for sure. We’re on the right track.” As was the case before the Derby, jockey Colby Hernandez will work Un Ojo, with Ramon Vazquez scheduled to ride in the Preakness. At Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking galloped for a planned start in the Preakness. “He’ll work Friday or Saturday before shipping,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. Junior Alvarado has the return mount aboard the son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator, who finished third in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct. Owner/trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon’s Shake Em Loose is scheduled to breeze Sunday morning on turf at Laurel before it is determined whether the son of Shakin It Up will run in the Preakness or the James W. Murphy, an undercard turf stakes.

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5.11.2022:

Preakness Notes: Tuesday, May 10, 2022

  Simplification First Preakness 147 Contender at Pimlico Velazquez to Ride Simplification in Middle Jewel Rich Strike Stretches Legs in Tuesday Morning Gallop Derby Champion a ‘Gamble That Worked Out’ BALTIMORE – Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric’s Simplification, who finished fourth in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1), arrived at historic Pimlico Race Course before dawn Tuesday to begin preparations for the 147th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) May 21. Simplification, the first of the Preakness runners to be bedded down in the Preakness Stakes Barn, stepped off the van at 5 a.m. following an 11-hour ride from Churchill Downs. Jesus ‘Chino’ Prado, the longtime assistant to trainer Antonio Sano, was at the track to oversee the colt’s move into Stall 26. Prada said the overnight trip from Kentucky went smoothly and that Simplification handled it well. “Our horse feels good,” Prada said. “My doctor here checked the horse, and he was perfect. I think everything is good with Simplification.” Video of Arrival: Click here to view Prada said that the bay son of Not This Time would have a quiet first day in Baltimore. He was scheduled to walk the shedrow for 50 minutes in mid-afternoon. Simplification will walk in the morning and the afternoon on Wednesday and go out to the track for the first time at approximately 6:30 a.m. Thursday morning. “That first day he will go out with the pony and walk and jog with my exercise rider so he can get to know the track,” Prada said. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride Simplification for the first time in the 1 3/16-mile Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Velazquez, the leading money-winning rider in North American racing history, replaces Jose Ortiz, who has a commitment to ride Early Voting for trainer Chad Brown. In 11 appearances in the Preakness, Velazquez, 50, has a record of 0-3-1. His top finishes were seconds aboard Derby winners, Animal Kingdom (2011) and Authentic (2020), as well his runner-up placing on Itsmyluckyday in 2013. Prada watched the Derby in Florida. Simplification and Ortiz started from Post 13 and were wide throughout the 1 �-mile race. They passed a half-dozen horses in the final half-mile and ended up 3 � lengths behind the longshot winner, Rich Strike. “I think that the race was very good,” Prada said. “The positions were a little bit wide but the jockey did a good job in a race with 20 horses. It was an amazing race and I think he ran very well. I think we’ve got more of a chance here because the field will probably be nine to 10 horses and because of the track. The track here has a longer stretch. It’s more like Gulfstream Park.” Simplification made the first seven starts of his career at Gulfstream Park and compiled a record of 3-1-2. He won the Mucho Macho Man on Jan. 1, before finishing second in the Feb. 5 Holy Bull (G3), winning the March 5 Fountain of Youth (G2), and checking in third as the 2-1 favorite in the April 2 Florida Derby (G1). Rich Strike Stretches Legs in Tuesday Morning Gallop RED TR-Racing LLC’s Rich Strike returned to the racetrack Tuesday morning for the first time since pulling off an 80-1 upset in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs. The 3-year-old son of Keen Ice jogged a half-mile before galloping a mile at Mercury Equine Center near Lexington, KY in preparation for a highly anticipated start in the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 21 at Pimlico Race Course. Trainer Eric Reed reported that Rich Strike “traveled great.” Rich Strike, who rallied from 15th at the top of the stretch to prevail over favored Epicenter by three-quarters of a length, is scheduled to return to Churchill Downs later this week with the possibility of an easy breeze on Monday or Tuesday before shipping to Pimlico. Derby Champion a ‘Gamble That Worked Out’ Rich Strike’s only victory prior to his Kentucky Derby upset also came at Churchill Downs in his second career start Sept. 17, 2021, when he was claimed for $30,000 by Rick Dawson’s RED TR-Racing LLC after graduating by 17 � lengths “Rick was trying to upgrade his stable and get some younger horses. We thought with the big purses and the well-bred horses we have around here at Churchill in the summer it might be a great chance to jump in and grab something that has a future. Just taking a shot,” trainer Eric Reed said. “The horse was working super good on the dirt and his first race was on the turf when he didn’t run well. We just took a gamble that it was the turf that was the reason he ran poorly and not anything else, and the gamble worked out.” The Kentucky Derby Museum has confirmed that Rich Strike is the only Derby winner who had actually been claimed out of a claiming race. Other horses had run in claiming races prior to their Derby victories but were not claimed, such as 2009 victor Mine That Bird and 1999 winner Charismatic, who had raced for claiming prices of $62,500. Adam Beschizza was the jockey aboard Rich Strike for his graduation. “He didn’t jump off on the lead and keep extending his lead,” Beschizza said during training hours at Churchill Downs Tuesday. “He was still very raw then. He broke a little bit slow – took him maybe a sixteenth-mile to get into the race. Then once he was a furlong, two furlongs into the race, he took it up pretty easy and kept on extending his lead. “For sure, I definitely wasn’t thinking, ‘This horse could win the Kentucky Derby.’ No. But he’s definitely a horse that the farther he goes, the better,” Beschizza added. “That’s what we’re all looking for now, isn’t it? You’re looking for a dirt horse that can take kickback, that can stay a mile and half.” Rich Strike earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 65 that day – 36 points below the 101 figure he was awarded for his Derby score over the same track. “I guess he does like this track. He seems to get over the surface better than the others,” Beschizza said. “But I’m sure the distance definitely moved him up. Obviously coming back to Churchill moved him up again.” Asmussen ‘Happy with Everything He Sees’ from Epicenter Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Epicenter walked the shedrow at Churchill Downs for the third morning after his big effort last Saturday. Trainer Steve Asmussen, a two-time Preakness winner with Horses of the Year Curlin (2007) and the filly Rachel Alexandra (2009), reiterated that the decision concerning Epicenter’s status for the May 21 Preakness Stakes (G1) would be made after the son of Not This Time resumed training but that he likes what he sees so far. “We were going to wait until he goes back to the track (Wednesday) and then discuss it,” the Hall of Fame trainer said at Churchill Downs. “But I’m extremely happy with everything I see to this point, just kind of want to see how he travels, his energy level under weight. But it would be very surprising to me if he’s ever anything but perfect.” Fellow Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said “no changes” when asked if a Preakness decision had been made for either Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath or Ethereal Road. The six-time Preakness-winning trainer said Secret Oath resumed training while jogging at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning. Ethereal Road has been training all along since being scratched last Friday morning from the Kentucky Derby – the defection that paved the way for Rich Strike to draw in off the also-eligible list. Un Ojo, Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes (G2) winner at 75-1 odds, continues to do well since being withdrawn from the Derby with a minor foot bruise on the morning of entries. Assistant trainer Clay Courville was aboard as the one-eyed gelding jogged a mile and galloped a mile Tuesday at Churchill Downs right before the 7 a.m. track renovation break. “He felt really good,” said Courville, the son of trainer Ricky Courville. “He was playing while jogging one time around, so I decided to turn him around and he galloped good. He hit the ground good. He was pulling on me, that’s for sure. He was tough.” Creative Minister Reported to be Preakness Bound Fern Circle Stables and Back Racing’s Creative Minister, a sharp allowance winner on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard Saturday, is headed for the May 21 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, trainer Kenny McPeek told the Daily Racing Form. The son of Creative Cause was not nominated for the Triple Crown and will have to be supplemented for $150,000 to enter the Preakness. McPeek also told the DRF that Smile Happy, eighth in the Derby, would not run in the Preakness. Rattle N Roll remains a possible starter depending upon on how he looks in a timed workout this weekend. Creative Minister was second by a neck in his career debut, a seven-furlong race at Gulfstream Park on March 5. He broke his maiden on April 9 at Keeneland at 1 1/16 miles over a sloppy track and won by 2 � lengths at Churchill Downs on Saturday. ‘More Distance the Better’ for Skippylongstocking Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking, who finished third in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, galloped at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training center in Palm Beach County, Tuesday morning in advance of a scheduled start in the 147th Preakness. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained colt has shown marked improvement while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles in his last two starts, a 3 �-length score in a Gulfstream allowance and his third-place finish behind Mo Donegal and Early Voting in the Wood. “Skippy makes one run, so the more distance the better for him,” Joseph said. “He was coming off that allowance win at Gulfstream and in the Wood he ran another top number, so he’s deserving of a chance. “Seeing the Derby, anything can happen in races. I don’t know if another shocker can happen, but we’re going to give it a go,” he added. Skippylongstocking is a Kentucky-bred son of Exaggerator, winner of the 2016 Preakness Stakes. “I hope he follows in his father’s footsteps,” Joseph said. Joseph-trained White Abarrio, who finished a troubled 16th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), arrived at Gulfstream Park Tuesday morning from Churchill Downs. The Florida Derby (G1) winner will bypass the final two legs of the Triple Crown. Trainer ‘Thinking About Preakness’ for Shake Em Loose Owner-trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon is still thinking Preakness for J R Sanchez Racing Stable’s claimer-turned-multiple stakes winner Shake Em Loose, who breezed Tuesday over the main track at his home base of Laurel Park. “He was very impressive today. He went a half-mile in 47 [seconds] and galloped out five-eighths in 59 and three,” Sanchez-Salomon said. “Very impressive.” Sanchez-Salomon said he wants to see how the Preakness field develops before making a decision. He is also considering the $100,000 James W. Murphy for 3-year-olds going a mile on the grass on the Preakness undercard for Shake Em Loose. “I haven’t decided yet. I don’t know who’s coming or who’s not. I’m thinking about going to the Preakness, but I’m still on the fence,” he said. “I don’t want to break his heart. He breezed unbelievable today and everybody was happy about it, but I’m still going to give him one more breeze Sunday on the grass and I’ll make my mind up then.” In 11 lifetime starts, Shake Em Loose has raced once on the grass last fall for his previous connections, finishing 11th following a troubled start. Sanchez-Salomon worked him five furlongs over Laurel’s world-class turf course May 1. “He really impressed me when he worked on the grass the other day,” he said. “I just want to keep him sound and happy.” Sanchez-Salomon claimed Shake Em Loose for $16,000 last November and the gelded son of Grade 1 winner Shakin It Up has since won three of five races, all at Laurel, including the 2021 Heft at odds of 59-1 and the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms March 19. Following the race, he was nominated to the Triple Crown by the late deadline for $6,000. In his most recent start, Shake Em Loose ran third in the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio April 16, five lengths behind Joe and Mr Jefferson, who were separated by a nose. Joe was taken out of Preakness consideration this week and will instead be pointed to the Murphy. “He was good going into the last race and he just had some bad luck, but that’s horse racing,” Sanchez-Salomon said. “We’re happy with him.”

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5.10.2022:

1/ST Look: Santa Anita Park 5 Facts | May 9-16, 2022

Schedule: Friday-Sunday Carryovers: $244,931 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Friday) Feature Race(s): G3 $125,000 Santa Barbara // distaff turf marathoners // Saturday Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Best Speed Last (43%, +$57.20) Avg Best 2 of 3 Speed (39%, +$47.80) Avg Speed Last 3 (32%, +$35.20) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Phil D’Amto // 14: 3-4-1 (32%, $1.02 ROI) // 2-2 with favorites, adding 28-1 runner-up and 10-1 third T: Sean McCarthy // 9: 3-3-1 (33%, $1.03 ROI) // 0-2 with favorites, all 3 winners were 2-1 odds T: Kristin Mulhall // 5: 2-0-1 (40%, $6.64 ROI) // $33 turf allowance winners on back-to-back days T: Vladimir Cerin // 5: 2-2-0 (40%, $2.60 ROI) // $7, $8 winners snapped 10-race losing streak J: Abel Cedillo // 19: 6-3-0 (32%, $0.96 ROI) // 5: 3-2-0 with favorites // 2 wins with Mark Glatt & Sean McCarthy ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**  

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5.10.2022:

1/ST Look: Gulfstream 5 Facts | May 9-16, 2022

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday Carryovers: $135,184 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Thursday) $4,359 // Super High 5 (Thursday) Feature Race(s): $75,000 Roar // 3-year-old turf sprinters // Saturday Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Trainer Current Meet (28%, +$26.60) Avg. E2 Pace (33%, -$3.20) ITM (In the Money) % (29 %, -$5.60) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Jose Francisco D’Angelo // 8: 4-0-1 (50%, $3.83 ROI) // $6, $11, $12, $30 winners // 3 of 4 wins on turf T: Jorge Delgado // 5: 3-0-1 (60%, $2.00 ROI) // $4, $6, $9 winners // 2 dirt maiden scores T: Saffie Joseph Jr. // 6: 3-2-0 (50%, $2.03 ROI) // 2-2 with favorites + $17 winner J: Emisael Jaramillo // 24: 6-7-4 (25%, $1.08 ROI) // 5: 3-1-1 with favorites // won for 6 different trainers J: Chantal Sutherland // 9: 4-0-1 (44%, $2.77 ROI) // $6, $13, $14, $16 winners // won 3 of her last 4 mounts ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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5.10.2022:

1/ST Look: Golden Gate Fields 5 Facts | May 9-16, 2022

Schedule: Friday-Sunday Carryovers: $12,196 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Friday) Feature Race(s): None scheduled. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): ITM (In the Money) % (47%, +$31.00) Trainer Current Year (34%, +$17.00) Lifetime Speed (38%, +$4.80) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Isidro Tamayo // 9: 4-2-1 (44%, $1.23 ROI) // 4: 3-1-0 with favorites T: Reid France // 8: 4-1-0 (50%, $2.36 ROI) // 2-2 with favorites + $20 winner // 3: 2-1-0 with jockey Irving Orosco J: Evin Roman // 13: 5-0-5 (38%, $2.10 ROI) // 2-2 with favorites // $4, $6, $11, $16, $17 winners // won for 5 different trainers J: Irvin Orozco // 12: 4-2-0 (33%, $1.56 ROI) // 3: 2-1-0 with trainer Reid France // $4, $6, $6, $20 winners J: Frank Alvarado // 5: 3-0-0 (%, $ ROI) // ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**  

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5.9.2022:

Monday Myths: Do Derby Longshots Reproduce at Preakness?

Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities. Assumption: Kentucky Derby longshots can’t be expected to reproduce in the Preakness. Background: With 80-1 shocker Rich Strike and 35-1 fourth-place finisher Simplification both expected to move from the Derby to the middle jewel in 2 weeks, skepticism abounds that they can replicate their success at Pimlico. Let’s see if that’s warranted. Data Points: I dialed up the Betmix database to look at each Preakness since 2013 to monitor how horses 15-1 or more from the Kentucky Derby performed in the Preakness. I looked not only at the horses who ran well in Louisville, but also those dismissed in the Derby at prices who decided to take a second swing where it may not have looked like the obvious move. // Horses 15-1 or more in the Derby have an 18: 2-2-3 record (11% win, 28% in the money) in the Preakness since 2013. Horses less than 15-1 in the Derby have a 19: 4-4-2 record (21% win, 53% in the money) in the Preakness since 2013. // Horses 15-1 or more in the Derby have a $1.31 ROI for every $1 bet in the Preakness since 2013. Horses less than 15-1 in the Derby have a $0.44 ROI for every $1 bet in the Preakness since 2013. // Horses 15-1 or more in the Derby have had 15.0-1 average off odds in the Preakness since 2013. Horses less than 15-1 in the Derby have had 4.1-1 average off odds in the Preakness since 2013. Bottom line: Behind Oxbow and War of Will, Kentucky Derby longshots have more held their own winning two Preakness Stakes in the last 9 years, while horses like Bravazo, Ride on Curlin and Mylute have hit the board at Pimlico following big Derby odds. But the numbers strongly lean toward those under 15-1 in the Kentucky Derby in terms of volume and strike rates. Those horses are bet heavier, however, and the ROI on being faithful to the Derby big prices definitely has shown some short-term gain. This one has a mixed report card. Additional details: You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, check out the Preakness runners in terms of Derby finishing positions and additional factors.

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5.9.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Woodbine Mohawk Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Monday, May 9, 2022

Woodbine Mohawk Park starts the week with an 11-race card. The feature goes in Race 9, a Free for All Trot with a $45,500 purse. The 0.20 Late Pick 4 begins in Race 8, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 8 2-Wishyoudtellme (5-1)-Wired this kind back on 1-7 and there isn't much gate speed in this field. Young could leave, end up on the point or in the pocket and either could work for an upset. 4-Dancer Hall (5/2)-This 8-year-old is 0-7 in 2022 and takes a big drop trying to cash the top check. Draws well and JMac gets the assignment. That all should add up to a win but is only 2 for 23 dating back to last year. Race 9 1-Oney Hall (6/5)-Hasn't struggled versus this group at all and is looking for the 6th straight picture. This is a newly formed class at Mohawk called a Free for All. Names shouldn't matter and the same result should happen unless this 6-year-old knocks himself out of contention. Race 10 3-Royal Renegade (8-1)-Stayed inside last week and paced the back half in .56 to finish 3rd. Cullen could follow the same script and try to use one move to sweep by. Doesn't win often but this feels like a spot for the 2nd picture of the year. 4-Julerica (4-1)-Using off the Moreau claim and Filion will take the lines. This is a contentious affair but will respect connections and this trainer has done well with the 10-year-old in the past. 6-Air Strike (5-1)-Drew off by over 7 lengths in a powerful mile and now faces better. This will be a test but best to not overlook. 8-Hersthatmanagain (15-1)-Has hit the board in 8 of 11 at Wbsb and has been in the money in 8 of 14 in 2022 with 4 wins. JMac is in the bike, and he has done good work with this 5-year-old. The fractions could be lively, that helps, and the price should be right. Race 11 1-Dontpockethedragon (9/2)-Was stuck with post 10 when dropped to this level in last. The slide has been a steep one from facing Preferred company in March and this field doesn't have a standout. 2-Pointomygranson (5/2)-Came off the bench with a sharp effort form the 9-hole at FlmD. This is a soft spot if dialed on high in the 2nd start since 2-3. 6-Bad Eye Bill (7/2)-Makes the 1st start for Auciello after being claimed in last. JMac stakes a seat, and he is posting 21% winners over the past 30 days. Has been working on the smaller oval at FlmD and is only 1 for 12 here. But it doesn't feel right to leave off the ticket versus this crew. 9-Rockin N Talkin (4-1)-Was off for about 6 weeks and came back to face better without any luck. Should be tighter here and like others, drops to a competitive level. 0.20 Late Pick 4 2,4/1/3,4,6,8/1,2,6,9 Total Bet=$6.40 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.8.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Sunday, May 8, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 11-Talklessworkmore; 8-Square Cat Forecast: The Sunday opener is a grass grab bag over a mile for older state-bred maidens. We’ll try to get by using just two, but you may find the need to spread deeper than that. Talklessworkmore is stuck on the far outside 11 post position, but if he can somehow manage to get over and navigate a decent trip the S. Ruis-trained gelding should have as good a chance as any. A respectable third despite a troubled trip in a similar affair in late March, the son of Summer Front recorded a bullet half mile workout in :46 flat (fastest of 74) last week to indicate he’s ready to produce another forward move, so at 4-1 on the morning line we’ll put him on top. Square Cat, in the money in five of six career starts ran well enough to be second under these conditions last time out and really won’t have to improve much to win. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:33 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 7-Red Panty Night; 8-Liberalism; 9-Stoic Luna Forecast: We’ll go three-deep in the second race, a $16,000 restricted (nw-2) claiming sprint for fillies and mares. Red Panty Night (TOC=5/2; ML=5/2) drops to her lowest level ever and is good enough to handle this task with a repeat of her bottom-rung maiden claiming win at Los Alamitos two races back. She was overmatched in her most recent start – a starter’s allowance sprint here in late February – but against this group the K. Mulhall-trained filly could get loose early and never look back. Additionally, she’s reunited with “win rider” R. Gonzalez and shows a steady, healthy recent series of workouts to indicate she’s right on edge. Liberalism (TOC=5-1; ML=6-1) is another dangerous class dropper that should be very competitive in this league. She projects to be part of the pace throughout and has numbers that fit. Stoic Luna (TOC=5-1; ML=4-1) is back sprinting on the main track, the scene of her 10 length maiden claiming win in mid-February. That race, if repeated today, makes her a major player. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:05 PT Grade: X Single: 5-High Connection Forecast: High Connection (TOC=3/5; ML=4/5) destroyed at maiden field in his debut by 10 widening lengths and did so with a stakes quality speed figure, so if he can duplicate that performance on the one-level raise while stretching out around two turns he’ll almost certainly win right back at a very short price. The son of Connect certainly is bred to run long and seems certain to be the controlling speed without having to be sent. At 4/5 on the morning line and likely to be closer to half that on the tote, he’s a no-value rolling exotic single in a race that we’ll otherwise pass. Notable Workouts: High Connection (May 1, Santa Anita, 4f, :47.4h). Grade: B+ Breezed outside Hopper (same time) while earning splits of :23.2 and :47.4, well in hand and finishing with plenty left. Broke his maiden easily in his debut and should be double tough on the raise. Acts like added distance will be easily within his scope. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:35 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference: 5-Doncic; 3-Explosive Forecast: Here’s a fairly contentious starter’s allowance extended turf sprint over the flat course that we’ve boiled down to two main contenders. Doncic has the proper style for this distance, improving speed figures, and a healthy work pattern since raced, so we’re expecting a career top performance from the son of Cairo Prince. The V. Cerin barn has been hot all meeting and we suspect jockey R. Curatolo will be on several live mounts in the coming weeks for this stable. Explosive, a clever winner over the all-weather surface up north in late March, has the route-to-sprint angle that we like and speed figures that make him a strong contender. The Liam’s Map gelding should find himself in an ideal pace-stalking position and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. Notable Workouts: Explosive (April 30, Santa Anita, 6f, 1:13.4h TT). Grade: B+ In blinkers, breezing most of the way while coming the final five furlongs in solo training track drill in :24.1, :36.2 and 1:00.4. Looks plenty fit and ready for a sharp effort. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:07 PT Grade: X Use (in order of preference): 4-Eda; 2-Empire Gal; 3-Elm Drive Forecast: We’ll spread this year’s renewal of the Angel’s Flight S. for sophomore fillies while recognizing that Eda (TOC=Evens; ML=4/5) is the logical top pick and deserved favorite. But this may wind up being a more contentious race than anticipated by the punters. The daughter of Munnings, away for two months following her score in the Santa Ysabel S.-G3, will be seeking her fifth straight win for new trainer S. McCarthy, and has trained well enough to expect a good effort, but on pure numbers she’s not quite the standout than the form suggests. Debut winner Empire Gal (TOC=12-1; ML=4-1), so impressive at first asking at Del Mar in November, returns for M. McCarthy and has looked terrific in her a.m. drills. The daughter of Empire Maker cannot be underestimated. Elm Drive (TOC=11-1; ML=5/2) actually beat Eda last summer at Del Mar in the Sorrento S.-G3 and she, too, has trained like she’s ready to embark on a productive sophomore campaign. She won her debut by eight lengths at Los Alamitos last summer so you know she can fire fresh, and a :58 4/5 bullet five furlong workout (fastest of 64) last week tells us she’s fit and ready. Notable Workouts: Empire Gal (April 30, Santa Anita, 5f, :59hg). Grade: B+ Best in team gate drill with Quintecents (5f, :59.4hg) while looking very impressive, splits of :232.4, :35 flat, :47 flat and :59.1 on our watches, never really asked much and finishing with something left. On the upgrade and will get tested for class next time out. Decent filly, at the very least. View Workout Video Elm Drive (April 25, 5f, 1:00.4hg). Grade: B+ Much best in team gate drill with Golf Drama (4f, :48.4hg), easy early in hand and then strong late without being asked, splits of :25 flat, :36.2, :48.1 and 1:00.4. Aways since October but is returning in strong fashion and should make a very nice 3-year-old. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:39 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 8-Admiral Halsey; 7-National Road; 10-Twokidsfromdabronx Forecast: Admiral Halsey has improving form, rising speed figures, and exits a productive race, so the War Front gelding should be ready to earn his diploma in career start number seven. He has the proper style for this extended sprint distance over the flat course and should have every chance from a second flight, stalking position. National Road is a Midwest invader making his first local start and his first since last June. He could be a better type this time around for new trainer M. Glatt. First Class Dad returned off a year layoff to run a bang-up second in a productive high-priced maiden claimer and is protected today while returning to grass. The J. Bonde-trained colt, a strong runner-up over the local lawn last year, is a fit on numbers and with a forward move today will be the one to fear most at a generous 8-1 on the morning line. A recent bullet workout (:46 3/5, fastest of 76) certainly catches the eye. Twokidsfromdabronx has shown some ability in the a.m. for R. Hanson and is worth tossing in as well at 5-1 on the morning line. A $200,000 yearling purchase, the son of Cupid certainly won’t have to be a world beater to act with these and we suspect he’ll be competitive at this level. Notable Workouts: National Road (April 10, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.4h). Grade: B In blinkers, final half mile in :23.4 and :48.1. light coaxing only, something left late. Been away since last June but is returning in good shape and seems fairly fit. Lightly-raced and may be better than shown. View Workout Video Twokidsfromdabronx (April 30, Santa Anita, 4f, :47.1hg). Grade: B In blinkers, very nice gate drill, not particularly fast early but finishing strongly and with plenty left in team gate drill with Don’tcrossthedevil (4f, :49.2hg) and Classic California (4f, :59.4hg), splits of :23.4, :35.1 and :47 flat on our watches. Cupid gelding looks to have some talent and should make the entries soon. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:11 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 7-Never Sway; 11-Quick Take Forecast: This maiden $50,000 sprint for older state-bred fillies and mares came up soft. Never Sway has numbers that are good enough to win and looks ready to break through after three successive runner-up efforts against competition that was softer than what she’ll see today. She was almost four lengths clear of the rest in her most recent outing and though she’s already had five chances she may still have some improvement in her. Quick Take is a first-time Lasix user and has shown enough early speed to be dangerous in a race without much in it. Freshened since December, the sophomore filly should enjoy a clean trip from outside draw, so at 5-1 on the morning line she’s worth including on your ticket. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:42 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 3-Grandiosely; 8-Topolina; 1-M Is for Magic Forecast: The known element in this soft maiden $50,000 claiming turf sprint for fillies and mares doesn’t inspire let’s go with a fresh face. Grandiosely finally makes it to the post at age five and this homebred daughter of City Zip is bred to love turf and has workouts at Los Alamitos that catch the eye, though fast times are the norm over a surface that always plays quick. The barn has strong stats with debut runners (20%) so at 5-1 on the morning line she’s worth a good look. Topolina has proven form at the level and after finishing a weakening third in a much stronger straight maiden affair over this course and distance in mid-March she drops for the money run while switching to good young rider R. Curatolo. M Is for Magic is a 13-race maiden and not one to trust, but on pure numbers she’s right there with the rest of them and from her rail post she’s guaranteed a good ground-saving trip. We’ll use all three in rolling exotic play with preference on top to Grandiosely. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:13 PT Grade: B+ Single: 2-Bold Endeavor Forecast: Though we’re not convinced either one has to win, stable mates Triple Tap (TOC=6/5; ML=8/5) and Defunded (TOC=3-1; ML=4-1) should receive the bulk of the play in this second-level allowance main track miler for older horses. Here is the problem: ‘Tap has speed figures that have stagnated, and the once-promising half-brother to American Pharoah has failed when well-backed in each of his last three starts. He’s listed at 8/5 on the morning line and offers no real value at that price. Defunded hasn’t been out since winning an entry-level allowance race at Del Mar last summer, and while he has worked well for his return, the gelded son of Dialed In shows speed figures that are lower than par for this level. So, where does that leave us? Bold Endeavor (TOC=10-1; ML=5-1), away since September, has looked especially sharp in morning drills for M. Glatt (excellent with layoff runners) and shows numbers that are good enough to win at this level. First or second in eight of 14 outings over the Santa Anita main track, the son of Bernardini went a bit stale after a tough summer campaign but after several months of R&R should fire a huge shot fresh. At 5-1 on the morning line, he represents strong wagering value as a win play and rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Bold Endeavor (April 23, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01h). Grade: B In blinkers, caught him from the half mile pole to the wire in :23.1 and :47.4 without being asked, sharp and eager on the comeback trail for M. Glatt. Coming back in good shape and should fire a good shot fresh. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 10: Post: 5:43 PT Grade: A- Single: 5-Noble Reflection Forecast: This starter’s allowance/claiming turf miler has several entrants that on paper qualify as major contenders but have proven to be untrustworthy. So let’s look elsewhere. Noble Reflection (TOC=12-1; ML=8-1) stumbled badly at the start and lost all chance when far back in a main track miler in mid-March and before that was disappointing in a pair of sprints following an extended layoff. He drops into a claimer for the first time, switches to one of the barn’s “go to” riders (J. Bravo) and blew out a half mile in a sizzling :45 4/5 (fastest of 31) nine days ago to have him cranked and ready. With good racing luck today, the son of Liam’s Map has a chance to produce a form reversal. He earned a stakes-quality speed figure in his second career start sprinting at Oaklawn Park last year, so the talent is there, and at 8-1 on the morning line the R. Baltas-trained gelding could find himself as the controlling speed and never look back. Let’s take a stand and make him a win play and rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Noble Reflection (April 23, Santa Anita. 5f, :59.4h). Grade: B+ Sharp as a tack in solo breeze, final three furlongs in :36.2, plenty left late. Has to be better than recent races show. Will have big look with a class drop. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.8.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Northfield Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Sunday, May 8, 2022

Northfield Park has a 15-race program set to begin at 6:00 EST. The $1.00 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 11. The sequence has a $10,000 guaranteed pool, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 11 4-Not Today (5/2)-Drops out of Open company where the water was too deep. Fits better here and should be forwardly placed throughout. 5-Hippestcatintown (2-1)-Was bet down to 2/5 in its NFLD debut and tried to wire the field. This Burke trainee fell 1/2 length shy and will look for an even better effort tonight. Race 12 2-Ok Kudo (7/2)-Drops in the 2nd start for the Holzman barn and this time isn't stuck with the 8-hole. Davis should have in striking range turning for the wire and could reward new connections. 3-Sir Charles Of Sky (5/2)-Charles drops to the level of recent success and Grismore could have this Burke 4-year-old racing near the top of the stack. Looks like a player in a short price affair. Race 13 5-One Last Laugh (7-1)-Steps-up after wiring the field last week and the fractions were snappy. Will respect chances with this post draw and should offer a solid price. 9-Bettor Than Spring (5/2)-Might be an odds-on choice if drew inside and will need some help with this post. There is some gate speed inside and Myers may end up with a close-up seat and then use a big brush to take control. Race 14 5-True To Mach (7/2)-Likes to grind it out and one move-type should get an opportunity to roll by down the lane with this post draw. 6-You'remyhearthrob (7/2)-Not the handiest but has good speed. If finds a up-close seat, chances for a picture go up. Needs a good steer to beat this kind and will rely on Grismore doing his part. $1.00 Late Pick 4 4,5/2,3/5,9/5,6 Total Bet=$16 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.7.2022:

1/ST Kentucky Derby Coverage Quick Links

Complete Kentucky Derby Wager Guide (download PDF file) https://1st.com/guide ‍ Kentucky Derby Picks --1/ST BET Artificial Intelligence (Blog) https://news.1st.com/post/1-st-bet-ai-picks-kentucky-oaks-kentucky-derby --Eddie Olczyk (Video) https://news.1st.com/post/eddie-olczyk-video-handicapping-analysis-of-the-kentucky-derby --Jon White (Blog) https://news.1st.com/post/jon-white-kentucky-derby-picks-analysis-and-strikes   Kentucky Derby Insights | Two Minutes with Jeff Siegel & Jeremy Plonk (Video Shorts) --Final Thoughts https://news.1st.com/post/two-minutes-kentucky-derbys-last-24-hours --Longshots https://news.1st.com/post/two-minutes-kentucky-derby-longshots --Favorites https://news.1st.com/post/two-minutes-kentucky-derby-favorites --Pace https://news.1st.com/post/two-minutes-kentucky-derby-pace --Post Position Winners/Losers https://news.1st.com/post/two-minutes-jeff-siegel-jeremy-plonk-discuss-the-kentucky-derby-post-draw   Kentucky Derby Day Stakes Insights | First Call with Jeff Siegel & Jeremy Plonk (AudioPodcast) https://news.1st.com/post/first-call-podcast-with-jeff-siegel-kentucky-oaks-derby-preview ‍ XBTV Workout Video Portal https://www.xbtv.com/triple-crown-trail/   All 20 Contender Profiles https://news.1st.com/blog/kentucky-derby-picks

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5.7.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Saturday, May 7, 2022

  Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 12:30 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Sai Con; 10-Quintecents Forecast: We’ll try to survive and advance using just two in this woefully weak maiden $50,000 turf sprint for older horses. If you feel the need to spread deeper, go right ahead. Sai Con has a race in January that would bury this group, but he’s always been suspect under pressure in the final furlong despite being quick enough to establish a clear early lead. Freshened for almost two months and training typically well in the interim, the R. Baltas-trained gelding should clear the field as usual, and against this group he might be able to hang on. Quintecents had a run last summer at Los Alamitos in straight maiden company that didn’t amount to much, but he could be a bit better type this time around based on a decent (for this level) gate workout for a barn that does okay with layoff runners. The son of Goldencents should be prominent throughout and have every chance from the quarter pole home. Tread lightly here. Notable Workouts: Quintecents (April 30, Santa Anita, 5f, :59.4hg). Grade: B- Not a bad gate work for a maiden-claiming type although no match for Empire Gal (5f, :59hg), ridden along most of the way with splits of :23.4, :35.1, :47.1 and 1:00 flat on our watches for M. McCarthy. Didn’t show much in his only start last summer but returns as a first-time gelding and with Lasix. Maybe worth a small look in a soft spot. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:10 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Dance to the Music; 5-Lady Aces Forecast: This race clearly boils down to two main players. Both will be short-priced and both are returning off long layoffs, so we’ll double the race in rolling exotic play but otherwise sit it out. Dance to the Music (TOC=7/5; ML=7/5) hasn’t been particularly impressive in her comeback works, but she won her debut last summer despite a moderate work tab so maybe she’s the type that runs better than she works. A distant runner-up in the Del Mar Debutante-G1 after pressing a blazing pace, she returns with Lasix for a barn that has strong stats with comebackers, so we’ll put the daughter of Maclean’s Music on top. Lady Aces (TOC=4/5; ML=8/5), away since finishing a close third in the Indiana Oaks-G3 last July, has done some solid work in the a.m. for P. Eurton, has the benefit of the cozy outside draw, and broke her maiden sprinting on this track a year ago before finishing a respectable runner-up in the Summertime Oaks-G2. She’s a year older than her maiden rival, which isn’t necessarily a plus since she’s required to spot ‘Music eight pounds. Notable Workouts: Dance to the Music (April 14, Santa Anita, 6f, 1:14h). Grade: B- Slightly second best with Bold Endeavor (6f, 1:13.4h) for M. Glatt, final three furlongs in :11.3 and :36.3, under some urging through the lane (workmate going easily) while gearing up for her first start since last fall. May not be the most willing worker but to be honest we were expecting a bit better. Has all of her conditions. View Workout Video Lady Aces (April 3, Santa Anita, 4f, :50.1h). Grade: B- Slow time but looked fine while never being asked in easy half mile breeze, splits of :12.3, :24.4 and :50.1 for P. Eurton. Away since last summer but seems to be returning in good shape. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 1:34 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 8-Barristan the Bold; 6-Fenestra; 9-See Through It Forecast: This is a highly-contentious starter’s allowance turf sprint over the flat course that offers several possibilities. We’ll use three and hope that’s enough. Barristan The Bold (TOC=5-1; ML=5/2) has won three of his last four starts over the local lawn and there’s every expectation that he’ll fire another big shot today. Best when held up and allowed to produce a late run, the English-bred gelding is fast on numbers and always has been genuine and consistent. With clear sailing in the lane, he’ll be storming home. Fenestra (TOC=5/2; ML=5-1) is a lightly-raced six-year-old gelding with three wins from six career starts. This will be his first try on turf but based on numbers he projects to have a strong pace presence throughout. See Through It (TOC=7/2; ML=4-1), freshened for two months, finished a close second to our top pick under these conditions in January, and a similar effort today puts him the fray. With patient tactics, he should inherit a cozy stalking spot outside and then have his chance when the pressure is turned on. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:15 PT Grade: X Use (in order of preference: 6-Warren’s Show Bizz Forecast: Warren’s Show Bizz is gradually improving with racing and with another forward move today should earn her diploma at a fairly short price. A closing second in a similar event last month while four lengths clear of the rest in a race that produced a career-top speed figure, the daughter of Clubhouse Rise gets an extra half furlong to work with today and should make the most of the opportunity. At 9/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower, she’s a logical rolling exotic single. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 2:49 PT Grade: B+ Single: 5-Delmona Forecast: Delmona (TOC=6/5; ML=3-1) performed in good company overseas last year, finishing second in a listed stakes at Deauville when beaten a neck by subsequent Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint S.-G2 winner Twilight Gleaming. Both of her local races this year down the Hillside Course have been excellent, including a game win in a first-level allowance dash in late March. She has been impressive in the a.m. for trainer J. Mullins in the interim, and there is every expectation that she will handle today’s stretch out to a mile. At 3-1 on the morning line, she offers a good gamble in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. Notable Workouts: Delmona (April 15, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.4h TT). Grade: B+ Went off slowly and easily while breezing and relaxed (:26.1, :38.2h), then was asked to quicken and responded very well, flying home to be up in 1:01.4 (final quarter mile in :23.2). Should stretch out nicely based on this drill. Quality filly for Mullins. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:25 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Busy Paynter; 4-Take a Leap Forecast: Busy Paynter (TOC=7/5; ML=9/5) seeks her third straight win but is dropping from $20,000 to $12,500, not normally a healthy sign. Perhaps trainer S. Knapp is merely trying to steal a purse, and if so she’ll likely win again, though at 9/5 on the morning line there won’t be much value to be found. For protection, you may want to consider tossing in Take a Leap (TOC=4-1; ML=5/2, a $10,000 claim by the low profile but capable R. Treia last time out. Never worse than second in five career starts over the Santa Anita main track and a threat at any distance, the veteran mare isn’t a fast on numbers as ‘Paynter but will be rolling late and can be dangerous if the favorite fails to fire her best shot. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:37 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 4-Ballet Dancing; 2-Carroll Girl; 11-Snark Forecast: Ballet Dancing displayed ability in her debut last fall when finishing with interest to be a solid third over this course and distance. She returns off the bench with a series of steady, easy workouts that might leave her a race away from being dead fit, but this $800,000 daughter of Medaglia d’Oro appears to be made of the right stuff and is far better than her 12-1 morning line would indicate. The S. Callaghan barn has had a slow meeting – just 3-for-38 – but maybe this filly can help turn things around. Carroll Girl has finished second in three of five career starts and should win one eventually, though her speed figures have stagnated so perhaps she’s nothing more than what she is. She might be most effective if held up early and allowed to run late. Snark looks very much like the controlling speed based on our pace projection and will take them as far as she can. She’s certainly bred to handle the extra distance and, like we always say, if sprinters are ever going to stay two turns, it most likely will be in their first try. Notable Workouts: Ballet Dancing (April 10, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.4h TT). Grade: B Looked nice in solo training track breeze for S. Callahan, never asked at any stage and finishing with plenty left, final three furlongs in a sharp :35.4. Showed some run in her debut last fall but was stopped on; has a chance to be a decent type this time around. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 5:10 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 9-Hopper; 6-Anaheim; 7-Hero Status Forecast: This is a stronger than average maiden special weight extended sprint, with several lightly-raced or debuting colts in the field that are well-regarded and have plenty of upside. At 6-1 on the morning line, Hopper may offer some good wagering value. The S. McCarthy-trained colt didn’t get the best of runs while in traffic in his debut sprinting on grass but has returned to work much better on dirt while breezing favorably with 10-length maiden debut winner High Connection, surprisingly so since he’s bred strictly for turf top and bottom. His cozy outside draw should allow for an ideal stalking trip and at this seven furlong distance we’re expecting to see considerable improvement from the son of Declaration of War. McCarthy saddles another live item, the debuting Anaheim, a colt by Twirling Candy with a series of good drills that should have him plenty fit (see below). He’s been matching strides with Montebello, a debut winner last summer at Del Mar for B. Baffert after which he was stakes-placed at Saratoga and at Los Alamitos. Hero Status is worth tossing in as well. The son of Flatter ran below expectations when a distant third in his debut in a blazingly fast race (won by Special Ride) and it would be surprising if the M. Glatt-trained colt doesn’t step forward significantly today with that bit of experience behind him. Notable Workouts: Virat (May 1, Santa Anita, 4f, :47.2hg). Grade: B In blinkers, team drill with Johnny Paycheck (same time) and may have been a tad second best though mostly stride-for-stride throughout, split of :24 flat, :35.2 and :47.2, never really asked much. Seems fit enough, has a look vs. maidens in no world beaters show up. View Workout Video Anaheim (April 27, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3hg). Grade: B In blinkers, under a strong hold most of the way while even but perhaps a bit the best over Montebello (same time) for S. McCarthy, splits of:24.2, :36 flat, :48 flat and 1:00.3 before coasting to the wire in 1:13.3, plenty left late. Very nice prospect, for sure, should be live at first asking. View Workout Video Hopper (May 1, Santa Anita, 4f, :47.4h). Grade: B Breezing inside High Connection (same time) for S. McCarthy, splits of :23.2 and :47.3 on our watches, stout hold through the lane (workmate going easily, too, but may have been a tad second best). Didn’t show a whole lot in debut but seems much better than that and figures to improve with experience and (perhaps) and switch to the main track. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:43 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 3-Connie Swingle; 8-Countess Rosina; 1-Gracelund Gray; 7-Gem Mine Forecast: The contention runs top to bottom in this grass grab bag down the Hillside Course for first-level allowance sophomore fillies. A reasonable case could be made for each of the nine entrants (feel free to buy the race in your rolling exotics), but we’ll try to narrow it down to just four. Connie Swingle (TOC=8/5; ML=5/2) has the best number of the bunch but this will be her first try on grass. As a daughter of Grazen, she should like the lawn and she’s a California-bred stakes winner still eligible to this open condition, so the P. D’Amato-trained filly probably deserves top billing. Countess Rosina (TOC=5/2; ML=4-1) didn’t beat a whole lot in her U.S. debut when breaking her maiden over the flat course but she did it the proper way while displaying an eye-catching late kick to win like a filly who should adore the downhill course. Gracelund Gray (TOC=9-1; ML=5-1) and Gem Mine (TOC=12-1; ML=8-1) finished third/fourth in a similar affair in late March and both have plenty of room for improvement. Both offer middle-price chances and figure to be doing their best work late. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 10: Post: 6:13 PT Grade: B+ Use (In order of preference): 4-Constitutionaffair Forecast: Constitutionaffair (TOC=9/5; ML=7/2) is a four-time winner over the Santa Anita turf course and is fresh from a career-top score in a $40,000 claimer over a mile last month. He’s never been tried at today’s nine furlong trip but in his present improving form the added ground shouldn’t be an issue, so we’re fully expecting a similar, if not better performance. A bullet half mile main track drill (:46 4/5) tells us he remains right on edge, so at 7/2 on the morning line there’s good value to be found both in the win pool and as a rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Constitutionaffair (April 16, Santa Anita, 4f, :46.4h TT). Grade: B+ Smooth as silk in easy solo training track breeze for M. Glatt, final three furlongs in a razor sharp :34.4. Remains on edge, loves the Santa Anita turf course. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.7.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Yonkers Raceway Late Pick 4 Analysis | Saturday, May 7, 2022

  Yonkers Raceway has a 12-race program set to go this evening. The $1.00 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 7, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 7 1-Macheasy A (9/5)-Caught a nice trip and cashed in for top honors. Did pace the 2nd half in 55.3 and this 9-year-old likes to win. 2-I'm J Bee N (3-1)-Comes off a sharp try to win for the 1st time at YR and like the one above can stay good for another picture. 4-Capitivate Hanover (3-1)-Was 18 lengths back at the 1st call and rallied to finish 2nd by <2 lengths. Will take a swing Marohn will wake this 5-year-old up off the gate and the price will be better than the morning line. Race 8 1-Im The Muscle (3-1)-Got on the engine and didn't look back last week and now steps-up. Should be up to the challenge and has hit the board in 19 of 41 here with 9 wins. Holland could look to follow the same plan and steal a quarter. 3-Magical Journey (4-1)-Broke in last and that has been an issue but drops to a spot to shine. Has beaten better here last month and should be a threat with a flat mile. Race 9 2-Pace N Pride N (3-1)-Just missed last week and has lost the last 2 races by a combined 2 1/2 lengths. Those who finished ahead are not in this field and could snag its 1st win on Lasix tonight. 4-Traceur Hanover (2-1)-Looking for the 3rd straight picture since joining the Burke barn. Mohawk invader should be a main player once again. 5-Gumption (7/2)-Has the gate speed to get a good early seat and was battling better when last here a month ago. Buter needs to supply a good steer and might be overlooked at the windows. Race 10 2-Air Force Hanover (2-1)-Has been facing top end claimers and could be driven aggressively tonight. Dube should be out and rolling from the word "go" and no excuses allowed. $1 Late Pick 4 1,2,4/1,3/2,4,5/2 Total Bet=$18 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.6.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Friday, May 6, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 5-Annie’s Song; 6-Honor It; 7-Briefcase Girl; 8-Too Bossy Forecast: Lots of question marks in the opener, so we’ll spread the race in rolling exotic play. Annie’s Song has the route-to-sprint angle that we like and may in fact be most effective as a late-running turf sprinter. Even at this abbreviated five furlong trip, the Irish-bred filly should be quite dangerous from off the pace. Honor It flopped when well-backed in her only start last year but returns at a distance and surface that should bring out her best. She has plenty of zip – perhaps not much stick – but if she breaks cleanly this time the daughter of Tapit should have a strong pace presence. Both Briefcase Girl and Too Busy have trained like off-the-pace types and therefore may find five furlongs a bit sharp, but both have done some good work in the a.m. while displaying some quality, so at 6-1 on the morning line they’re worth including on the ticket. Notable Workouts: Honor It (April 28, Santa Anita, 5f, 59.3hg). Grade: B Was driven hard from the gate inside Fordy G (4f, :46.2hg) and Reign of Speed (4f, :48.1hg) while almost two lengths clear after the opening half, then failed to change leads and slowed up noticeably in the final furlong, splits of :23.1, :34.2 and :46.3 on our watches before finishing out a tick or two slower when eased up after five furlongs, eventually coasting to the wire in 1:15.2. Has plenty of zip, seems ideally suited for five furlongs (the shorter, the better) and clearly has more speed than her only prior outing last summer indicates. View Workout Video Briefcase Girl (April 17, Santa Anta, 5f, :59.3h TT). Garde: B Broke off a couple of lengths behind Gillian Elizabeth (5f, 1:00.1h) and Candybox (5f, 1:00.3h) in training track drill for Gaines, came through inside entering the lane easily disposed of workmates while drawing clear in the final furlongs, visually pleasing, splits of :23.1, :35.1 and :59.3 on our watches, lengthening out to the wire and galloping out well. Daughter of Hit It a Bomb may be a distance type but has a good turn of foot and could be competitive as a late-running sprinter. Decent turf prospect. View Workout Video Too Bossy (April 4, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01 TT). Grade: B In blinkers, broke off several lengths behind Rosie the Cat (5f, 1:02.3h TT) and easily went by in the lane while mostly on her own, final three furlongs in :36.1, much the best by several lengths at the wire. Has some run, being trained like a stretch-running type. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:38 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Liar Liar; 4-Vetoed; 5-Conundrum Forecast: Vetoed and Conundrum should get more play than they deserve in this bottom-rung maiden claimer, but unless the newcomer Liar Liar can run, the winner probably will be one of these two. Vetoed has failed as the favorite in four of his six career starts and keeps getting slower (based on figures) by the race, so he’s obviously not one to trust, while Conundrum, the subject of a claiming war between G. Papaprodromou and E. Moger, Jr. for reasons that defy logic, has hit the board in five of six starts but seems unable to punch it in under pressure. Meanwhile, Liar Liar offers a viable alternative. Now five years old and finally making it to the races, the son of Clubhouse Ride doesn’t look half bad in the morning, so why not go with the fresh face in a race begging to be won by one? Notable Workouts: Liar Liar (March 31, Santa Anita, 4f, :49hg). Grade: C+ Broke poorly, rushed up and then went head-and-head after the opening furlong with Restoring Dreams (same time) in gate drill for D. Pederson, splits of :25 flat, :36.4 and :49 flat, mostly on his own and finishing with something left. Not the worst but needs to learn how to break. Five-year-old maiden probably will debut cheap. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:15 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Frontier Market; 4-Encroachment Forecast: Encroachment (TOC=4/5; ML=5/2) has form sufficient to win at this level but his pattern is unhealthy. An allowance winner two races back and then dangled as bait when reappearing in a $40,000 seller last time out, the Uncle Mo gelding ran reasonably well to be second, was haltered by R. Alvarado, and returns for $25,000 while providing the evidence of an issue that his new connections apparently don’t want to deal with. Additionally, the lightly-raced five-year-old is facing considerable heat in this race that should produce a less-than-ideal pace flow for a gelding that prefers to be on or near the lead. Frontier Market (TOC=8-1; ML=5-1) isn’t as fast on numbers as Encroachment but he has a closing kick that likely will be promoted by the race shape. He’s winless in five starts over the local lawn and always has preferred to run second or third than win, but he may be able to produce the last run in a race that seems likely to be won from behind. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play but not with a great deal of confidence. Tread lightly. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:45 PT Grade: C Use (in order of preference: 7-Lil Light Headed; 2-Its Big; 6-Chris Fix Forecast: Lil Light Headed is nobody’s ideal version of a 6/5 morning line favorite but may win this split of the second race by default. Lightly-raced with room for improvement that most of the others in the field don’t have, the son of Will Take Charge shows the popular route-to-sprint angle combined with a cozy outside draw but may not be one to trust after failing at 3/5 last time out despite inheriting the role as the controlling speed. Others to (reluctantly) include on your ticket are It’s Big (class dropping to his lowest level and possibly most effective as a late running sprinter) and Chris Fix (exiting better races with figures that fit). Notable Workouts: Chris Fix (April 30, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.4hg). Grade: C+ Broke okay from gate and was ridden most of the way, splits of :24.3, :36.1, :48.3 and 1:01.4, asked most of the way while slightly second best with Stoic Luna (4f, :48.4hg) for A. Marquez. Seems about the same, needs bottom-rung maiden claimers. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:17 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 7-Ghostem; 3-Avery Blue Forecast: Six of the eight runners in this nine furlong maiden turf event for older state-bred fillies and mares exit the same April 10 race, which was contested over a mile. Ghostem made the running in that event but got nailed late while more than two lengths clear of the rest, and with the addition of blinkers today (she’s worn them before) at this longer nine furlong trip the daughter of Shaman Ghost most likely will employ similar front-running tactics. Avery Blue finished fifth (beaten less than five lengths) without being knocked about in her debut and seems likely to produce a forward move in what should be a much more serious effort today. We’ll try to get by using just these two in rolling exotic play. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:49 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 7-Americaredwhiteblu; 8-Finglas Lad Forecast: Americaredwhiteblu (TOC=9-1; ML5/2) was a maiden special weight winner at Oaklawn Park last year but then was haltered when (suspiciously) dropped into a $50,000 claimer and finished far back as the 6/5 favorite. Taken by M. Glatt, the son of American Pharoah was stopped on and turned out but returns protected in his first start for his new connections and his first in 11 months. The work tab looks quite good at San Luis Rey Downs, so let’s assume this lightly-raced 4-year-old colt can return to his best form in this starter’s allowance extended sprint for a barn that has strong stats with layoff runners. Finglas Lad (TOC=15-1; ML=8-1), off the track since October, is another that could return better than he left. The R. Alvarado-trained colt worked nicely from the gate last week to indicate he’s fit enough, and though much slower on speed figures than our top pick could be a much improved type this time around. The main push in our rolling exotic play goes to Americanredwhiteblue but we’ll have tickets using both in our rolling exotics. Notable Workouts: Finglas Lad (April 27, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.1hg). Grade: B- Even but maybe a tad second best in team gate drill outside Superman Shaq (same time), splits of :23.4, :35.2, :47.2 and 1:00.2 (coasted out in front in 1:15.2 to the wire), not bad for R. Alvarado, while gearing up for comeback. Maybe a bit better this time around than last year, eligible to return in a moderate sprint. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:20 PT Grade: A- Use (in order of preference): 8-So It Would Seem Forecast: So It Would Seem is an absolute stick out in tis maiden $50,000 turf sprint for older fillies and mares. Burned up in a torrid speed duel vs. infinitely stronger maiden special weight foes last time out, the J. Sadler-trained filly should bury this group with anything close to her strong runner-up performance vs. maiden $75,000 foes two runs back. The switch to grass shouldn’t be an issue, so let’s make this daughter of Honor Code a strong win play and rolling exotic single and hope to get close to her morning line of 5/2. Notable Workouts: So It Would Seem (Santa Anita, March 30, 5f, 1:00.4h). Grade: B Finished in good rhythm, final half mile in :23.3 and :47.3 mild urging only, nice drill for Sadler. Got cooked in a speed duel vs. straight maidens last time out and seems sure to improve a bunch next time when returned to the maiden claiming ranks. View Workout Video ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:50 PT Grade: Use (in order of preference): 6-Claim of Passion; 8-Black Storm Forecast: This $12,500 sprint for older claimers looks best suited for Los Alamitos-based runners. We’re not planning on getting too involved and will use just two on our ticket. Claim of Passion (TOC=10-1; ML=5/2), first off the claim by S. Miyadi, shortens to a one corner race for the first time in memory and may like the turn back in trip. He’s a prior winner over the Santa Anita main track and may be capable of producing a winning late kick. Black Storm (TOC=9/5; ML=3-1) was a non-threatening fifth from the rail last time out in a tougher event but earned a number that makes him a major player against this group. He’s a 10-time winner overall, with seven of the victories earned at Santa Anita, so on that angle alone he’s a major player. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:21 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 5-Handy Pandy; 9-Beef Winslow; 6-Nero Tulip Forecast Handy Pandy hit the board in a pair of recent turf stakes that produced strong speed figures and today drops to the allowance ranks while seeking a confidence-building win. He’s listed as the 8/5 morning line favorite and deservedly so. With the switch to J. J. Hernandez, we’re expecting the R. Alvarado-trained gelding to be along in time. Beef Winslow was handed an easy front-running trip and took full advantage of the situation to wire the field in a fast event for sophomore maidens. He’ll need to negotiate an extra furlong today but based on numbers he may never look back if left alone again. Nero Tulip showed some ability sprinting in Ireland last fall and makes his U.S. debut for P. Eurton over a distance of ground. His form is hard to gauge, though his Timeform ratings weren’t bad at all, and his local workouts indicate he should enjoy today’s trip. At 8-1 on the morning line, you have to toss him in somewhere. Notable Workouts: Nero Tulip (April 16, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3h TT). Grade: B Broke off many lengths behind Kazuhiko (5f, 1:01.1h TT) and closed the gap through the lane to be about a length back at the finish, ridden through the lane, final three furlongs on training track in :11.4 and :35.1. Irish import has some run, probably a stretch running type, has all of his conditions for P. Eurton. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.6.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Hoosier Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Friday, May 6, 2022

Hoosier Park begins the weekend with a 14-race card, the feature rolls in Race 10 an Open Pace with a $22,000 purse. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 11, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 11 4-Mcthriller (8-1)-Lost all chance in last when suffering an equipment break. The program has this 8-year-old moving up in class, but this appears to be a drop-in class. Looks like a player at a fair price. 5-Hopnroll Heaven (4-1)-Makes the 1st HoP start and the 1st start for the Kamann barn. Shows good speed at VD and was facing better company out East. Tetrick takes the lines and best to respect versus this group. 6-Sweet Troy (7/2)-Would like to see a better price than the morning line but this could be the spot for the 1st win of 2022. Raced well in its season debut here and will look for more improvement in this start. Race 12 4-Luckbewithalex (3-1)-Tried a different plan in last, blasted out and got on the point looking for the 1st win of year. It was a good try but faded late. Will respect chances to make amends here and may not need a 27.1 opening quarter to take control. 6-Paw Patrol (2-1)-Gaskin 3-year-old faced stakes company last year and went off at 2-1 in the 1st start since 10-15. Didn't get a smooth trip, was shuffled, and rallied late to finish 3rd. Should be better here and the short field won't hurt chances. Race 13 1-Shadyjack (8-1)-Will take a swing this 8-year-old might be ready for an aggressive try in the 3rd start off the bench. Drops to a spot to shine and regular pilot Tetrick takes a seat. 5-Sawyer's Desire (8-1)-Burke trainee makes the 2nd start of the meet and was handled conservatively in last. Hoosier is the favorite oval for this 5-year-old who has 9 wins in 44 starts here and has banked >$279,000. Looking for big try at a solid price. 6-Rock Solid Image (9/2)-Loses Smith to #8 but Widger can provide a smooth trip. Comes off an efficient win versus this kind and could be forwardly placed to roll by late once again. Race 14 2-My House (5/2)-Paced the 2nd half in 55.2 to take a picture and now steps-up. Should be in the mix with this crew after a strong effort. 4-Mc Mach (15-1)-Likes to get on the engine and not look back. Tried that plan in last and was used too hard and never got the top. Comes back versus the same kind and should be able to take command early in the mile. 8-Serious Miki (7/2)-The post helps the price and should be in the hunt versus some older foes after beating NW6/8. Putnam could put in play early on and be in striking range turning for the wire. 9-Bet Ninteen (5-1)-Winner in 5 of 9 races at HoP raced well last week after shipping in from M1. Gets stuck with another outside post but drops to a better spot to cash the top check. 0.50 Late Pick 4 4,5,6/4,6/1,5,6/2,4,8,9 Total Bet=$36 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.5.2022:

Race of the Week: Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs | Friday, May 6, 2022

  The Lead: Kentucky Derby weekend gets one of the nation's most illustrious lead-ins with Friday's G1 Kentucky Oaks for the 3-year-old fillies. The 1-1/8 miles 'Run for the Lilies' will be Race 11 of 13 on a mega-card that includes 7 stakes. Two-day bets like the Oaks-Derby Double, the Oaks-Turf-Classic-Derby Pick 3 and an all-stakes Pick 6 add importance to what already shapes up as a great betting race this year. ​Field Depth: G1 winners ECHO ZULU and NEST figure to battle for favoritism. KATHLEEN O., TURNERLOOSE and DESERT DAWN have G2 wins on their ledger. SECRET OATH, NOSTALGIC, HIDDEN CONNECTIO, YUUGIRI and SHAHAMA are G3 winners. This is a Who's Who of 3YO fillies from every corner of the US and beyond; the gang's all here. Pace: With 14 fillies stretched in many cases to their longest career test, expect a strong pace led by YUUGIRI and ECHO ZULU, while HIDDEN CONNECTION has been headstrong in the morning and hints that she's going to be breathing fire. VENTI VALENTINE and TURNERLOOSE should be just off that trio in what projects to be a strong pace. Our Eyes: There's a Big-4 here in ECHO ZULU, NEST, SECRET OATH and KATHLEEN O. that, at various times, each has looked like she could be the division's leader. It's been a matter of timing, however. ECHO ZULU had first lease as the 2-year-old champion and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner. SECRET OATH stormed into consideration in January and February with dominant Oaklawn stakes wins. KATHLEEN O. made her case April 2 when blowing out the Gulfstream Park Oaks to stay unbeaten. And NEST got the last impression with an April 8 Ashland win at Keeneland that maybe trumped everything seen before it. So where are they now, in terms of their best, could go a long way in determining who wears the lilies Friday. ECHO ZULU comes in off a modest victory in the Fair Grounds Oaks by her standards, albeit that prep has been a Kentucky Oaks beacon for a decade or more. SECRET OATH finished third with a poorly timed move in the Arkansas Derby vs. the boys and will change riders to Luis Saez in a big upgrade. KATHLEEN O. and NEST have trained well since their more recent victories and appear to be holding strong form. Of the quartet, it's the champion ECHO ZULU with the most cloud right now. NEST ran so huge in the Ashland, it may have been too big. I fear a chance of a regression off that effort, but a repeat of it would win this. That leaves KATHLEEN O. and SECRET OATH as the Big-4 pair I trust most Friday. Most Certain Exotics Contender: KATHLEEN O. got zero pace help in the Gulfstream Park Oaks and still finished with flair. She'll love how this table is set. The outside post is good for sleek, athletic physique. Best Longshot Exotics Contender: While Todd Pletcher's NEST gets all the attention, his new transfer from Dubai, SHAHAMA, has really impressed me in the mornings. She should be overlooked and useful in the exotics. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $20 exacta key-box 10-KATHLEEN 0. with 1-SECRET OATH ,4-NEST ($80). $5 exacta part-wheel 10-KATHLEEN 0.,1-SECRET OATH ,4-NEST with 13-SHAHAMA ($15). $5 Oaks-Derby Double 10-KATHLEEN O. to 1-MO DONEGAL.

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5.5.2022:

Jon White: Picks, Analysis for the Run for the Roses and More

Oh my goodness. It appears that Saturday’s 148th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby is loaded with viable candidates that possess the credentials to be posing in the winner’s circle after around two minutes of equine combat is over. The way it’s shaping up in terms of looking to be so competitive, I think the 2022 Kentucky Derby is something for horseplayers to savor beforehand. I see it as an absolutely fascinating handicapping puzzle that presents quite a challenge to try and solve. No doubt many bettors are going to be supporting Zandon and Epicenter. Zandon has been pegged as the 3-1 favorite on Mike Battaglia’s morning line for the 2022 edition of this Grade I event that serves the first leg of the coveted Triple Crown. Epicenter is the 7-2 second choice. Speaking of Battaglia, he has been crafting the Kentucky Derby morning-line odds from 1974 to the present. He installed the coupled entry of Cannonade and Judger as the 8-5 favorite in the 1974 Derby. Cannonade won what became a roughly run race with its record 23 starters. The Cannonade and Judger combo was sent off favored, returning $5 for each $2 win ticket after Cannonade won, thanks in large part to a brilliant ride on the part of Angel Cordero Jr. Little Current rallied from 21st to finish fifth, which was remarkable under the circumstances. A horrendous trip likely kept him from a Triple Crown sweep. Little Current then won the Preakness Stakes by seven lengths, followed by a victory in the Belmont Stakes by the same emphatic margin. What happened in 1974 is a prime example of the best horse not winning the Kentucky Derby. There are myriad other instances of that occurring. This is something you really ought to keep in mind as you try to pick the winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Even if you do correctly figure out who the best horse is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that horse is going to win. Your horse could have a Little Current-like trip from hell. Or your horse could be all but eliminated right away, like what happened to Lookin At Lucky in 2010 and Rock Your World in 2021. Or your horse could pull a Point Given. Point Given finished fifth in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby. It was the only time he did not win or finish second in his 13-race career. Point Given rebounded to take the 1 3/16-mile Preakness by 2 1/4 lengths. He then won the Belmont by 12 1/4 lengths in one of the best performances in the long history of that 1 1/2-mile classic by anyone not named Secretariat. Point Given did not win the Kentucky Derby, yet he was voted 2001 Horse of the Year. I believe a couple of California shippers -- Taiba and Messier -- both merit contender status Saturday. In fact, one of those two from California is my choice to win and continue the recent Kentucky Derby success of runners based in that state. A California-based starter has finished first in the Kentucky Derby in seven of the last 10 years. Those seven were I’ll Have Another (2012), California Chrome (2014), American Pharoah (2015), Nyquist (2016), Justify (2018), Authentic (2020) and Medina Spirit (2021). Medina Spirit, as you no doubt know, was disqualified earlier this year due to a medication violation. American Pharoah and Justify did not just win the Kentucky Derby. They are the only two Triple Crown winners since Affirmed all the way back in 1978. Which one of the two colts from California is my top choice? My selections for this year’s Kentucky Derby are below: 1. Taiba (12-1 morning line) 2. Messier (8-1) 3. Zandon (3-1) 4. Epicenter (7-2) Rounding out my final Kentucky Derby Top 10: 5. Crown Pride (20-1) 6. Simplification (20-1) 7. White Abarrio (10-1) 8. Mo Donegal (10-1) 9. Cyberknife (20-1) 10. Tawny Port (30-1) Below is a horse-by-horse look at my final Kentucky Derby Top 10. TAIBA ranked No. 1. Post position 12. Morning line 12-1. Jockey: Mike Smith. Trainer: Tim Yakteen. Messier had been No. 1 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 for nine straight weeks until the Kentucky-bred colt got beat in the Santa Anita Derby. I then put Taiba at No. 1. But I moved Messier back into the top spot last week. When deciding who to make my top pick this week between those two, I kept going back and forth. My head said to go with Messier. He has much ability and traditional Kentucky Derby foundation and experience. My gut told me to go with Taiba. He is an exceptional equine talent sans the typical Kentucky Derby foundation and experience. Ultimately, I decided to go with my gut. I look at it this way: I would feel worse if I picked Messier on top and Taiba won than vice versa. To be perfectly frank, I just can’t help wanting to see Taiba win. It would be so cool. That would be a mind-boggling accomplishment, far exceeding what he did a month ago. It is believed that Taiba became the first horse to ever win the Santa Anita Derby with just one race under his belt. He did the unthinkable by parlaying a stellar 7 1/2-length six-furlong maiden win at Santa Anita on March 5 into a 2 1/4-length nine-furlong Santa Anita Derby victory on April 9. Can Taiba now continue his winning ways in the 10-furlong Kentucky Derby on May 7? Make no mistake. This is an audacious endeavor on the part of Taiba. If he manages to pull it off, he will thumb his nose at Kentucky Derby history. Taiba will become the first horse to ever not race as a 2-year-old and win the Kentucky Derby with only two starts under his belt. The last -- and only -- Kentucky Derby winner to have made just two previous career starts was Leonatus in 1883. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, our country had just 38 states at that time. Incidentally, as you probably know, it’s traditional to honor the Kentucky Derby winner by placing a garland of roses on the horse in the winner’s circle. Putting roses on the horse did not start until 13 years after Leonatus won. The story goes that when Leonatus won the Kentucky Derby, a bouquet of roses was presented to the winning owner…and Leonatus ate them! I have heard of winning the roses, but eating them? I don’t know if Taiba will be the 3-year-old to have the roses placed on him after this year’s Kentucky Derby, but I do consider him to be the most talented horse in the race. If this is true, or even close to being true, it stands to reason that Taiba just might keep his unblemished record intact Saturday. “If he breaks good, I think he is very live. I do,” bloodstock agent Gary Young said Monday on Steve Byk’s SiriusXM radio program At the Races. In a feature on Taiba written by Marcus Hersh appearing on the Daily Racing Form website Monday, Young said of Taiba: “If he breaks, he’s going to be in front of 16 or 17 horses going into the first turn. If he breaks, that inexperience thing goes right down the [drain]. Now, if he doesn’t break, then everything goes out the window.” Young was the one who signed the ticket to purchase future Grade I winner Medina Spirit for $35,000 at a Florida 2-year-old in training sale in 2020 on behalf of Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stables. Back in Florida for a 2021 2-year-old in training sale, Young again signed the ticket to buy future Grade I winner Taiba, but this time the price was a whole lot bigger at $1.7 million. If Taiba does indeed win the 2022 Kentucky Derby in just his third career start, how can he not be called a super horse? It would take nothing less than a four-footed LeBron James or Tom Brady for the Kentucky-bred Gun Runner colt to begin his racing career with a three-race winning streak consisting of a maiden sprint, the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby. To capture the Kentucky Derby off a single two-turn race would be, without question, a monumental achievement. Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman reported on April 23 that trainer Tim Yakteen said Taiba “will have just one work” in preparation for the Kentucky Derby. I can tell you that I was not thrilled to read that. What bothered me the most was that he had been slated to have a workout on April 24. But that work was postponed. Yakteen explained that he wanted the colt to go into the Kentucky Derby “on the fresher side.” That comment and the delayed workout suggested to me that maybe the Santa Anita Derby had taken a lot out of Taiba, which would not be unreasonable considering he had been asked to run in the Santa Anita Derby with only a maiden sprint under his belt. Taiba had a workout in company at Santa Anita last Friday (April 28). He went six furlongs. He was clocked in 1:12.80, while his workmate, 4-year-old American Admiral, was timed in 1:13.00. I’ve heard people refer to American Admiral as being “a maiden claimer.” Well, it is true that he lost his first eight career starts before winning a maiden claiming race at Santa Anita on March 19. But that was not your ordinary maiden claiming contest. It was a $150,000 maiden claiming race, which is a much tougher race than many maiden special weight races that you will find. American Admiral, who is by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, was a $1.3 million auction purchase. Taiba has been referred to as not being a particularly good work horse. I think there is an element of truth in that statement, though bear in mind that Taiba did work briskly enough prior to being acquired by Zedan for such a considerable amount of money. “The colt blitzed one furlong in :10 15 at the under tack show,” Kentuckyderby.com contributor Kelly Reilly wrote in an outstanding in-depth profile on Taiba. “He wasn’t done yet, yet since he then tacked on a monster gallop-out.” As for Taiba’s April 28 team drill, let’s just say it didn’t have me doing cartwheels. Was it bad? No. Was it terrific? No. To me, it was somewhere in between. That workout can be viewed on XBTV. Here is a link.In the April 28 workout, Taiba wore blinkers. He has not yet raced with blinkers and will not be outfitted with them for the Kentucky Derby. Regarding his April 28 drill, I’ll put it this way: The rider was coaxing him along pretty good down the lane. In my opinion, this was not the type of workout you really want to see on the brink of the Kentucky Derby. Horseracingnation.com’s Ed DeRosa pointed out on Twitter that since Churchill Downs instituted the points system in 2013, Taiba would be just the third Kentucky Derby starter to race four weeks beforehand and then have only one workout prior to the first Saturday in May. The two others were Irish War Cry, who finished 10th in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and Tax, who ran 15th in the 2019 running. But would you say that Irish War Cry and Tax were in the same league talent-wise as Taiba? I know that I wouldn’t. Prior to Taiba’s April 28 workout, Yakteen was asked in a media conference call if it was any concern for Taiba to have one drill going into a 1 1/4-mile race. “No concern,” Yakteen responded. “I had to recognize that the horse, even though he bounced out of his race in great shape -- I mean, he looked super and he continues to look super -- I couldn’t overlook the fact of what he accomplished. And more so, more than anything, I wanted to make sure that I was bringing a horse to Kentucky, to Churchill, with a full tank. It would do me no good to take a horse that I misread to Churchill and have him underperform because I overtrained him.” It’s one thing to want a fresh horse. But when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, even though horses do not race as much these days as they used to, it still seems preferable for a 3-year-old to have a good foundation when asked to go 1 1/4 miles under 126 pounds in early May. Millie Ball, Yakteen’s wife, does an excellent job with her commentary for Santa Anita’s simulcast network. I worked with Millie for many years at HRTV. She knows her stuff, particularly in terms of a horse’s physical condition. On last Sunday’s radio program “Thoroughbred Los Angeles,” host Mike Willman asked Millie if she had a $20 bill, would she put it on Messier or Taiba? “Well, my past experience, Mike, I would have to say that foundation plays a lot into this,” Millie said. “We’ve seen horses that are brilliant, like Justify, that are able to overcome that. Taiba would have to be brilliant in order to overcome his lack of foundation. But one thing about him is he’s got the right mind. My money would probably be on Messier just because he’s had more foundation, more experience.” When Yakteen said last week that Taiba would have just one workout between the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby, I was not alone in not viewing that as a positive development. But then I noticed that Yakteen tipped his hand in Ed Golden’s Santa Anita stable notes last Saturday that Taiba could possibly have a short workout at Churchill. “I’ll play it by ear and see what I want to do,” Golden quoted Yakteen as saying. “I’ll go into Churchill and see if I want to do anything there,” the trainer added. “But since Taiba’s work was a day before Messier’s, I might breeze him in Kentucky or let him stretch his legs a little bit there. If I want to just gallop [him] into the race, I’ll just gallop [him] into the race.” What happened Wednesday (May 4)? Taiba did indeed have a short workout at Churchill. Again wearing blinkers, which he will not have on in the race, Taiba worked three furlongs in :38.40 with Joel Rosario in the saddle. Even though Taiba now has had two workouts between the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby, there are still those knocking him because his time was not better than :38.40. True, he did not break any stopwatches. But as Gary Young noted in a Tuesday interview with TVG’s Caleb Keller, Taiba “is the kind of horse who has figured out the difference between practice and game day.” Taiba’s three-furlong spin Wednesday was practice. “I don’t know how fast he went, but I do know that he felt good,” Rosario said. Yakteen spent many years as an assistant trainer to the great Charlie Whittingham, who often gave a horse a short blowout before a race. That was more common practice in those days. Taiba’s blowout was “nothing special,” Yakteen said afterward at the barn. “It was just what we wanted. I’m following the same pattern we used coming up to the Santa Anita Derby. He blew out there, too.” How about this for a blowout? On the day of the 1958 Kentucky Derby, the popular Silky Sullivan, famous for his come from far behind victories, had a three-furlong blowout at around 8 a.m. at Churchill. Yes, he had a three-furlong workout on the day of the race! Tim Tam won that Derby. Silky Sullivan finished 12th, a defeat that mainly could be ascribed to being overmatched against those foes. Taiba does have two strikes in my Derby Strikes System (the system is explained later in the column/blog/article). I certainly would prefer this not to be the case. History shows that a horse with zero strikes or one strike has a much better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than a horse with two or more strikes. You may wonder, if Taiba has two strikes in my Derby Strikes System, then why in the heck is he my top pick? The main reason is I believe he just might be an unstoppable force. I would not even consider making anyone else with two or more strikes my top pick. The only other time I’ve picked a horse with two strikes to win the Kentucky Derby was Justify, who did not let me down. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Taiba’s two strikes come in the same two categories as Justify. They each got a strike for not having run in a graded stakes race prior to March 31 and for not having started as a 2-year-old. To a large extent, Taiba is my choice to win this year’s Kentucky Derby because of his admirable speed figures in terms of both his Beyer Speed Figures and his Thoro-Graph numbers. I often have said that I regard Beyer Speed Figures as a useful tool for horseplayers. But I’ve also stated many times that I believe Thoro-Graph numbers are superior to the Beyers. That’s because Thoro-Graph takes more factors into account than the Beyers. 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.” The winner of a race never gets a lower Beyer Speed Figure than the horse who finished second, the horse who finished second never gets 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 numbers, a horse who finished second, or even lower, can get a better number than the winner. This is one of the reasons I think Thoro-Graph is better than Beyers. I consider a Thoro-Graph number to be a better reflection of a horse’s performance than a Beyer. Thoro-Graph’s approach reflects the reality that the winner is not necessarily the horse who ran the best race. I highly recommend adding Thoro-Graph to your handicapping toolbox if you are not already using them. Taiba and Messier each have a top Beyer Speed Figure of 103. A 103 is the best of all the Kentucky Derby entrants. Furthermore, Taiba owns the best Thoro-Graph number -- a minus 1/2 in his Santa Anita Derby victory -- of those scheduled to exit the 20-stall starting gate being used this year for the third time. The Thoro-Graph number in his debut victory was a 2. To put these two numbers into perspective, they’re both better than anything Epicenter has done so far. Epicenter and Zandon are expected to vie for favoritism. Epicenter’s best Thoro-Graph number is a 2 1/2. He has recorded a 2 1/2 twice, first when he won the Grade II Risen Star Stakes, then also when he won the Grade II Louisiana Derby. Zandon’s best Thoro-Graph number to date is his 1 1/2 in the Blue Grass. Taiba has a running style that has been effective in the last eight Kentucky Derbies. Because of my Derby Strikes System (which will be explained later), I’m always on the lookout for a horse who has a good chance of being first or second with a furlong to go in the Kentucky Derby. Taiba fits the bill. Keep in mind that 53 of the last 56 Kentucky Derby winners have been either first or second a furlong from the finish. A horse’s chance to be first or second with a furlong left to run is helped by having a proficient rider with a ton of experience, someone like, say, Mike Smith. “Big Money Mike” has a pair of Kentucky Derby victories to his credit. The Hall of Famer won in 2005 with 50-1 Giacomo and in 2018 on 5-2 favorite Justify. Smith’s ride on Giacomo was nothing less than superb, rallying from 18th to edge my top pick, 71-1 Closing Argument. A victory on Taiba will enable 56-year-old Smith to break the legendary Bill Shoemaker’s record for being the oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. Shoemaker was 54 when, in a ride for the ages, he won the 1986 Kentucky Derby on Ferdinand. When Shoemaker was 56, he rode in the Kentucky Derby for the final time, finishing 12th aboard Lively One in 1988. Smith has called Taiba a “mini-Shared Belief.” That is high praise. Shared Belief won 10 of 12 career starts. Shared Belief’s first defeat came as the 5-2 favorite in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic. The way he got knocked around early that day, it looked like he was playing bumper cars at an amusement park. He actually did well to finish fourth. Without the trouble Shared Belief experienced, he might have won. If he had won, Shared Belief probably would have been the 2014 Horse of the Year. The only other time Shared Belief did not come away with a victory was when he was pulled up during the 2015 Charles Town Classic after suffering a hip injury at the start. It would turn out to be the final race of his life. Of course, many understandably have compared Taiba to Justify, who won the Kentucky Derby in just his fourth career start and went on to join Seattle Slew as the only horses to sweep the Triple Crown while undefeated. “People always ask me, can you compare him to Justify?” Smith said this week of Taiba in a Thoroughbred Daily News story written by Bill Finley. “He’s one you can compare to Justify. Both are extremely talented and very intelligent. Though he’s not as big as Justify, both are big chestnuts. They both have a very high cruising speed. They remind me a lot of each other.” I had planned on making Messier my top pick in this year’s Kentucky Derby. But the more I thought about it, I opted to go with Taiba. During the stretch run of the Santa Anita Derby, Taiba put his head down, found another gear (much like his sire used to do) and motored past Messier. If Taiba could kick home like that with only one race under his belt, is it then not possible that he might do something like that again Saturday now that he has two races under his belt? MESSIER (ranked No. 2). Post position 6. Morning line 8-1. Jockey: John Velazquez. Trainer: Tim Yakteen. As I said earlier, I came close to picking Messier on top. There is so much I like about the Canadian-bred colt. For one thing, Messier is based in California. As mentioned previously, runners from that state have produced many Kentucky Derby winners in the last decade. Will we see a California exacta this year of Taiba and Messier or Messier and Taiba? It is unlikely, but I’m stating right here that I do not think that’s out of the question. Unlike Taiba, Messier’s two workouts since the Santa Anita Derby both have been excellent. These are the kind of drills one likes to see going into the Kentucky Derby. I consider Messier’s breeding to be a plus. His sire, Empire Maker, was my pick to win the 2003 Kentucky Derby. As I wrote last week, I think Empire Maker would have won that Derby if Bobby Frankel had been able to train the colt like he wanted. Empire Maker’s training was compromised by a foot issue from running on a muddy track in his victory over Funny Cide in the Wood Memorial. Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby. But Empire Maker then took the Belmont Stakes to thwart Funny Cide’s bid to sweep the Triple Crown. Funny Cide ran third in the Belmont. Empire Maker’s sire, Unbridled, won both the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1990. Messier boasts praiseworthy speed figures. As I previously noted, Taiba and Messier each have a top Beyer Speed Figure of 103. A 103 is the best of all the Kentucky Derby entrants. But I regard the 103 Beyer Speed Figure by Messier to be more relevant vis-a-vis the Kentucky Derby than Taiba’s 103. That’s because Messier’s 103 Beyer came when he won the 1 1/16-mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 15 lengths at Santa Anita on Feb. 6. He then was off for two months and dropped to a 99 in the Santa Anita Derby. Taiba’s 103 Beyer came in a sprint. Thoro-Graph originally credited Messier with a 1 in the Lewis, later adjusted to a 1 1/2. He followed that with another 1 1/2 in the Santa Anita Derby. Because of the two-month gap between the Lewis and Santa Anita Derby, Messier looks poised to run another 1 1/2 or possibly an even better number Saturday. If he does, it will make him a very tough customer. Messier, like Taiba, has a running style that has been effective in the last eight Kentucky Derbies. And Messier, like Taiba, has a Hall of Fame jockey with a wealth of experience. Johnny V. has won the Kentucky Derby three times. That’s more than any other rider going into the race this year. Johnny V.’s victories were aboard Animal Kingdom (2011), Always Dreaming (2017) and Authentic (2020). Velazquez also crossed the wire first on Medina Spirit last year. Another plus for Messier is he’s a prime candidate to be in that prime position of being first or second with a furlong to go. Messier finished second in the Santa Anita Derby. Can he lose that race and then win the Kentucky Derby? There is plenty of evidence showing that it can be done. Medina Spirit had to settle for second in the 2021 Santa Anita Derby. He would go on to finish first in the Kentucky Derby. Authentic was the runner-up to Honor A.P. in the 2020 Santa Anita Derby. Authentic won the Kentucky Derby, while Honor A.P. finished fourth. Going further back, Real Quiet finished second to Indian Charlie in the 1998 Kentucky Derby. Real Quiet won the Kentucky Derby, while Indian Charlie ran third in the first and only defeat in his five-race career. Silver Charm finished second to Free House in the 1997 Santa Anita Derby. Silver Charm won the Kentucky Derby, while Free House came in third. Based on what I saw on video, Messier’s April 29 workout was much better than Taiba’s work the day before. This drill by Messier is what you like to see. But it turns out that it wasn’t necessarily what you want to hear. “Notwithstanding the drama that preceded the workout and the noise he made during the work, Messier posted a visually impressive drill on an eventful Friday morning at Santa Anita,” wrote Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free. Following the 6:30 a.m. track renovation break, Messier was about to begin his six-furlong workout when another horse lost the rider and ran loose. The emergency siren came on to warn everyone that there was a loose horse on the track. “Trainer Tim Yakteen, communicating via radio, cautioned jockey Drayden Van Dyke to delay the work until an outrider caught the loose horse,” Free wrote. “Messier backed up, and after a delay that lasted just two minutes, Yakteen gave the go ahead.” Despite the minor hiccup, Messier worked six furlongs in 1:11.60, moving along as gracefully as an Olympic ice skater. Messier’s 1:11.60 work on his own was in stark contrast to Taiba’s 1:12.80 drill the day before while seemingly having to be pushed along by the rider. Free did mention that Messier made a breathing noise during his workout. Messier “moved comfortably throughout the drill, finished in full stride, and appeared on his toes leaving the track afterward,” Free noted in a first-rate job of reporting. “He does make a perceptible breathing noise while working, a matter that is subject to interpretation. Messier has made a noise in previous works, and several trackside observers Friday said the noise was even louder in Messier’s final workout. It might be nothing.” Wow. I really don’t know what to make of that. I honestly can say it does bother me some. On the other hand, noise or not, I sure liked what I saw from Messier in his April 19 workout when watching it on video. That workout can be viewed on XBTV. Here is a link.ZANDON (ranked No. 3). Post position 10. Morning line 3-1. Jockey: Flavien Prat. Trainer: Chad Brown. It won’t break my heart if Zandon wins. I put $20 on him at 56-1 odds in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1 last Nov. 26. That’s what future betting is all about, getting 56-1 on a horse who ends up being the 3-1 morning-line favorite. I had it on good authority before making that wager that Brown was as high on Zandon as he was on put Jack Christopher. At that time all Zandon had done was win a Belmont Park six-furlong maiden race at first asking by 1 1/2 lengths at 5-1 on Oct. 5. I installed Jack Christopher as the 9-5 favorite for the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar last fall after he had won a maiden race by 8 3/4 lengths in his unveiling, followed by a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade I Champagne Stakes. After missing the Breeders’ Cup, Jack Christopher underwent surgery to have a screw in his left shin by Dr. Larry Bramlage to repair a stress fraction. Jack Christopher is entered in the Grade II Pat Day Mile on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby undercard. Zandon made his stakes debut in Aqueduct’s Grade II Remsen Stakes on Dec. 4. And then, similar to what Taiba did, Zandon nearly won the nine-furlong Remsen with just a six-furlong sprint under his belt. Zandon finished second in the Remsen, losing by a scant nose. Not only did Zandon nearly win, but in this observer’s opinion, Mo Donegal, who finished first, should have been disqualified for causing interference, which would have made Zandon a Grade II winner in his second career start. I have been taking a stand against Remsen winners for many years when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. The Remsen has not been a harbinger of success in the Run for the Roses for a very long time. The last Remsen victor to go on and capture the Kentucky Derby was Thunder Gulch. He won the Remsen in 1994 and subsequently added a Kentucky Derby victory to his resume. When next seen in action, Zandon ran quite well in defeat. Tenth early after a bad start in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 19, he rallied to finish third behind Epicenter and Smile Happy. It’s Zandon’s most recent performance that is a major reason I now have so much respect for him and why a lot of people think he will get the job done Saturday. Early on the far turn in Keeneland’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on April 9, Zandon was last in the field of 11. The Kentucky-bred Upstart colt generated a sustained rally while craftily wending his way through traffic and won going away by 2 1/2 lengths. Prat’s ride was a masterpiece. The presence of Prat is not low on my list of reasons why I think Zandon has such a big shot to be draped in roses Saturday. If you ask me, Prat is the best rider in the country. Folks in California have been singing his praises for several years. Now the whole country is beginning to appreciate what a truly wonderful rider he is. Prat does have a Kentucky Derby victory to his credit. He rode Country House in the 2019 edition at mega-odds of 65-1. Country House finished second, then was elevated to first when the stewards disqualified Maximum Security from first and placed him 17th for drifting out and causing interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy on the far turn. It was the first and so far only time in history that a Kentucky Derby winner has been disqualified for an incident during the running of the race. Zandon’s morning activity suggests that he is poised to run a biggie Saturday for a trainer who seems destined to get a Kentucky Derby trophy to put on his mantel. Adding to Zandon’s appeal is he has an improving pattern in terms of both Beyer Speed Figures and Thoro-Graph. From Zandon’s first race to present, his Beyers have been 80, then 90, then 93, then 98. Zandon’s Thoro-Graph numbers have been 6 1/2, then 4 1/2, then 2 1/4, then 1 1/2. EPICENTER (ranked No. 4). Post position 3. Morning line 7-2. Jockey: Joel Rosario. Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Rosario won the 2013 Kentucky Derby on Orb, who closed from 17th in a field of 19 to win by 2 1/2 lengths on a sloppy track. That was the first year Churchill Downs switched to a points system from graded stakes earnings. It’s the last time the horse to cross the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby was farther back than third at any point in the race. Barring the unforeseen, Epicenter will not be anywhere close to as far back as 17th at any point Saturday. The Kentucky-bred Not This Time colt figures to be forwardly placed early. It is not hard to envision him being in that prime spot of first or second with a furlong to go. It’s also not difficult to picture the Eclipse Award-winning jockey of 2021 finding a way to put Epicenter into that prime spot. As for Hall of Famer Asmussen, he has something of a monkey on his back in that he is 0 for 23 in the Kentucky Derby despite being the winningest North American trainer of all time in victories. Asmussen appears to be exuding a quiet confidence that this might finally be his year to be smelling roses in the shadow of the Twin Spires. He has expressed surprise that he did not win the race with Curlin or Gun Runner. From one of the best 3-year-old crops ever, Curlin finished third at 5-1 in the wagering to Street Sense and Hard Spun in the 2007 Kentucky Derby. Curlin would be voted Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008. In the 2016 Kentucky Derby, Gun Runner ran third at 10-1. Nyquist won. Asmussen twice has trained the Kentucky Derby runner-up: Nehro at 8-1 in 2011 and Lookin At Lee at 33-1 in 2017. Before you are too harsh on Asmussen for throwing a Kentucky Derby shutout so far, bear in mind he has never trained the favorite. It’s possible that changes this year. That’s because Epicenter could possibly be sent off as the favorite. Even if Epicenter is not the betting choice, the lowest odds for an Asmussen trainee in the Kentucky Derby has been Curlin at 5-1 in 2007 and Pyro at the same price in 2008. Pyro finished eighth. Epicenter’s morning line is lower than 5-1. Any way you slice it, this clearly is one of Asmussen’s best chances to at long last get a Kentucky Derby victory. There is just so much to like about Epicenter, from his looks, to his glossy record, to his having won at 1 3/16 miles, to how marvelous he has looked in his a.m. activity. “Epicenter polished off a splendid series of drills exiting the Louisiana Derby with a five-furlong move on Sunday that Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch caught in 1:01.21, the DRF’s Privman wrote. “But it was the way he did it that was far more impressive than the raw time, reflecting the old clocker’s adage that it’s not how fast you go, but how you go fast.” Epicenter’s official time was 1:01.00 on a muddy track. He worked in company with the impeccably bred Alejandro, a 4-year-old with one win and four seconds in nine career starts. Alejandro, who likewise was clocked in 1:01.00, is a son of Curlin and Rachel’s Valentina. Rachel’s Valentina is a daughter of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. “Showing controlled energy, seemingly begging the exercise rider Wilson Fabian to let him do more, Epicenter went along well within himself, in company with the 4-year-old allowance-class Alejandro,” Privman wrote. “He was keen early, never asked for any effort whatsoever throughout the drill, and gave off every indication that he’s sitting on go for the Derby.” What also makes Epicenter a major player Saturday is he showed a new dimension in the Louisiana Derby when not a pace player for the first time in his sixth lifetime start. He calmly sat off the early pace, responded enthusiastically in the lane and won convincingly by 2 1/2 lengths. Epicenter recorded a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure in the Louisiana Derby. It puts him right there with the 103 Beyers by Messier and Taiba. Epicenter, Messier and Taiba are the only three in this year’s Kentucky Derby to sport a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure. But what worries me just a teeny, tiny bit is that Epicenter, as pointed out early, does not have a Thoro-Graph number better than a 2 1/2 to his credit. Messier, Taiba and Zandon have all managed to do better than a 2 1/2. POSSIBILITIES BELOW THE TOP FOUR CROWN PRIDE (ranked No. 5). Post position 7. Morning line 20-1. Jockey: Christophe Lemiere. Trainer: Teruya Yoshida. What a wild card Crown Pride is. The Japanese-bred colt is coming off a 2 3/4-length triumph in the UAE Derby. Granted, UAE Derby runners are 0 for 16 in the Kentucky Derby. Master of Foxhounds finished fifth in the 2011 UAE Derby, then ran fifth in the Kentucky Derby. Fifth has been the best finish by a horse exiting the UAE Derby. But 2017 UAE Derby winner Thunder Snow might have won the Kentucky Derby as my top pick if not for a wacky incident. While Always Dreaming won the roses that year, Thunder Snow started acting like a bucking bronco early and was pulled up. Thunder Snow would go on to win two Dubai World Cups and accrue career earnings of $16,511,476. As for Crown Pride, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before a Japan-based horse adds a Kentucky Derby victory to that country’s growing list of wins in major races on the world stage. As I wrote last week, Crown Pride is a serious horse. The May 4 foal also seems to have thrived during the time he’s been at Churchill Downs. He dazzled in a :46.60 workout Wednesday (May 4). His only defeat in four career starts came when he ran sixth on a muddy track in Tokyo after it appeared he got pinched back badly in the initial strides. Crown Pride’s sire, Reach the Crown, is a grandson of 1989 Kentucky Derby winner and prolific sire Sunday Silence. SIMPLIFICATION (ranked No. 6). Post position 13. Morning line 20-1. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. Trainer: Antonio Sano. His Thoro-Graph numbers indicate he could be in the mix. An effort similar to his 3 1/2-length win in the Fountain of Youth would make Florida-bred Not This Time colt dangerous Saturday. The DRF’s Welsch, who has such a keen eye, has raved about Simplification’s workouts. WHITE ABARRIO (ranked No. 7). Post position 15. Morning line 10-1. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Will I be surprised if a Kentucky Derby win is in the cards for White Abarrio? No. Look at his record of four victories from five career starts. His wins have come by margins from 1 1/2 lengths in a Grade I race (Florida Derby) to 6 1/4 lengths in a maiden race. The only time the Kentucky-bred Race Day colt has tasted defeat, he didn’t have the best of trips and ran third to Smile Happy and Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Jockey Club. I said earlier that I think Prat is the best rider in the country. But if you think it’s Gaffalione, Rosario or Irad Ortiz Jr., I would not argue. MO DONEGAL (ranked No. 8). Post position 1. Morning line 10-1. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Speaking of Irad Ortiz Jr., here he is, riding the Wood Memorial winner. Rosario was aboard Mo Donegal in the Wood, but understandably is riding Epicenter in the Kentucky Derby. Ortiz has ridden Mo Donegal three times, including a win aboard the Kentucky-bred Uncle Mo colt in the Remsen Stakes last Dec. 4. Mo Donegal drew the dreaded post 1 for this race, but if there is someone capable of working out a decent trip in a 20-horse field from this spot in the gate, it is this rider. A concern I do have with regard to Mo Donegal is the long-fused runner is far from a slam-dunk to be either first or second with a furlong left to run. CYBERKNIFE (ranked No. 9). Post position 16. Morning line 20-1. Jockey: Florent Geroux. Trainer: Brad Cox. A price in the neighborhood of 20-1 on a good horse like this is exactly why I led off by stating this year’s Kentucky Derby is “loaded with viable candidates that look capable of posing in the winner’s circle.” The Kentucky-bred Gun Runner colt was something of a goof-off early on, but he is maturing and could have a big say in the outcome Saturday. Cyberknife won the Arkansas Derby by nearly three lengths. It looks like he will relish 1 1/4 miles. His dam is by Flower Alley, sire of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another, my top pick who paid $32.60 for each $2 win wager. Cyberknife also has sparkled in his training up to Saturday’s race. TAWNY PORT (ranked No. 10). Post position 18. Morning line 30. Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Trainer: Brad Cox. Here is my upset special. Is Tawny Port the Charismatic of 2022? Charismatic was my top pick to win the 1999 Kentucky Derby. He prevailed at odds of 31-1. His Beyer Speed Figures told me that he was a live longshot. Charismatic made a giant leap to a 108 Beyer Speed Figure when he won the Lexington Stakes. His previous top was a 95. Tawny Port’s Thoro-Graph number was a 7 when the Kentucky-bred Pioneerof the Nile colt ran second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks. He then showed dramatic improvement to get a 2 3/4 when he, like Charismatic, won the Lexington. That 2 3/4 puts Tawny Port in the ballpark with the big boys in the Kentucky Derby. It tells me that Tawny Port might be improving at the right time, a la Charismatic. THREE OTHERS TO CONSIDER I hate leaving Smile Happy off my Top 10. The main reason he didn’t make the cut is I just haven’t thought all that much of his two starts this year. I can’t help wonder that perhaps he has not moved forward from last year. However, I do recognize that I might not be giving Smile Happy enough credit for his runner-up efforts this year. He lost those two races to the two horses with the lowest Kentucky Derby morning-line odds. Smile Happy finished second to Epicenter in the Risen Star while beating Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Zandon. Smile Happy then ran second to Zandon in the Blue Grass. Don’t forget Smile Happy’s biggest victory thus far came on right there on Churchill’s main track. He won the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes with authority last fall. Runhappy, the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter of 2015, is the sire of Smile Happy. Runhappy surely must hold the world record for being promoted the most as a stallion. If you are concerned about Smile Happy getting 1 1/4 miles because his sire was a sprint champion, it should be remembered that Runhappy is by 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. Beyond my Top 10 and Smile Happy, I’m saying it’s not a mission impossible for Tiz the Bomb or Classic Causeway. Don’t laugh. Okay, go ahead and snicker. But I’m not throwing either of them out. Tiz the Bomb is coming off back-to-back victories on synthetic footing at Turfway Park. He won the John Battaglia Memorial in early March, then the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks in early April. In grass stakes last year, Tiz the Bomb won the $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile and Keeneland’s Grade II Bourbon (despite breaking through the gate before the start). He also closed strongly to finish second to the highly regarded Euro invader Modern Games in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar. A lot of people don’t think Tiz the Bomb can win the Kentucky Derby because it’s run on dirt instead of turf or synthetic. Look, they’re probably right. Yes, the only time the Kentucky-bred Hit It a Bomb colt competed in a stakes race on dirt, he laid an egg. He lost by 20 1/4 lengths when finishing seventh in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5. But Tiz the Bomb trained well on dirt prior to the Holy Bull. He’s also trained well on dirt leading up to this race. Tiz the Bomb did win a one-mile maiden race by a pole (14 1/4 lengths, to be exact) on dirt at Ellis Park last year. I do know that Tiz the Bomb is just a darn good colt now back in form after his Holy Bull dud. It’s also very unlikely that Classic Causeway is going to win Saturday. I get why most people find it hard to like him off his most recent race. He showed his typical early zip in the Grade I Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on April 2, but threw in the towel before going six furlongs and ended up eleventh. Perhaps after he won the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes and Grade II Tampa Bay Derby in his initial two 2022 starts, it was asking too much of Classic Causeway to come back as soon as he did in the Florida Derby rather than run in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes a week later at Keeneland as originally planned. It is encouraging that Classic Causeway has worked smartly since the Florida Derby. It suggests that the Kentucky-bred Giant’s Causeway colt might rebound and run well Saturday. Who knows? Maybe he can at least stick around to finish in the superfecta. Another reason Classic Causeway might outrun his juicy odds Saturday is his equipment is being adjusted by trainer Brian Lynch. “Bryan Lynch suspects Classic Causeway might have displaced his palate in his last race, perhaps accounting for the colt’s poor performance so the trainer is tweaking a couple of things,” the DRF’s Marty McGee wrote Monday. Lynch “felt like he might have displaced in the Florida Derby,” describing a common condition wherein a horse’s soft palate will drift upward to sit atop the epiglottis to partially obstruct the trachea and restrict air flow, McGee wrote. According to McGee, Classic Causeway will be equipped with a dropped noseband bridle, which sits lower on the nose and encircles the chin groove in front of the bit. The noseband can help to keep a horse from opening its mouth and crossing its jaw by increasing pressure on the nose. This is combined with a tongue tie, which Classic Causeway also will have for the first time for a race. A tongue tie, McGee continued, keeps a horse from moving its tongue excessively; some trainers believe it helps prevent a horse from flipping its palate. Classic Causeway worked well in company last Saturday at Churchill Downs with the equipment adjustments, six furlongs in 1:13.20. While I think Tawny Port might be the Charismatic of 2022, could Classic Causeway be this year’s War Emblem? By that I mean a scenario in which Classic Causeway goes right to the front and is left alone while being allowed to set a moderate pace, like War Emblem in 2002. The early pace had been insane in the 2001 Kentucky Derby in which Songandaprayer led through the first six furlongs in 1:09 2/5. Partly due to that torrid pace in 2001, War Emblem the next year was lightly regarded to the tune of 20-1. None of the other riders seemed to pay much attention to 20-1 War Emblem. That helped War Emblem get away with going the first six furlongs in 1:11 3/5. Instead of War Emblem faltering in the stretch, as many people expected, the opposite happened. He increased his lead in the final furlong and registered an emphatic four-length victory. DERBY STRIKES SITUATION I developed my Derby Strikes System (DSS) in 1999. It consists of eight key factors that attempt to ascertain the chances a horse has to win the Kentucky Derby from BOTH tactical and historical perspectives. When a horse does not qualify in one of the eight categories, the horse gets a strike. Because two of the categories deal with graded stakes races, the Derby Strikes System can’t go back any further than 1973. Stakes races in this country were not graded until 1973. The eight categories in the DSS are listed at the end of this column/blog/article. A number of the categories in my DSS are tied to a Kentucky Derby being run on the first Saturday in May. As a result, when the race was switched from May 2 to Sept. 5 in 2020 due to COVID-19, it rendered my DSS unworkable for that particular year. Only one horse has won the Kentucky Derby with more than two strikes. That was Mine that Bird, who had four strikes. A horse with zero strikes or only one strike has a much better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than a horse with two strikes or more. According to the DSS as it’s now constituted and excluding the Kentucky Derby of 2020 when the race was run in September, 83% of the Kentucky Derby winners (40 out of 48) have had zero strikes or one strike going back to 1973. The seven Kentucky Derby winners with two strikes were Cannonade (1974), Ferdinand (1986), Sea Hero (1993), Funny Cide (2003), Giacomo (2005), Justify (2018) and Country House (2019). Below you will find the number of strikes for 22 horses entered in this year’s Kentucky Derby, including also eligibles Rich Strike and Rattle N Roll. ZERO STRIKES OR ONE STRIKE Classic Causeway (1 strike, Category 5) Crown Pride (0 strikes) Cyberknife (0 strikes) Epicenter (0 strikes) Messier (1 strike, Category 4) Mo Donegal (0 strikes) Simplification (1 strike, Category 4) Smile Happy (1 strike, Category 4) Tawny Port (0 strikes) Tiz the Bomb (0 strikes) White Abarrio (0 strikes) Zandon (0 strikes) TWO STRIKES Barber Road (Categories 2 and 3) Pioneer of Medina (Catgories 2 and 4) Rich Strike (Categories 2 and 3) Summer Is Tomorrow (Categories 2 and 4) Taiba (Categories 1 and 7) Zozos (Categories 2 and 7) THREE OR MORE STRIKES Charge It (Categories 1, 2 and 7) Happy Jack (Categories 2, 3, 6 and 7) Ethereal Road (Categories 2, 3, 4 and 5) Rattle N Roll (Categories 3, 5 and 6) WINNER’S STRIKES GOING BACK TO 1973 As explained earlier, inasmuch as two of the categories deal with graded stakes races, the Derby Strikes System can’t go back any further than 1973. Stakes races in this country were not graded until 1973. Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But the stewards disqualified Maximum Security and placed him 17th for committing a foul when he veered out sharply nearing the five-sixteenths marker to cause interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy. Country House was declared the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But in terms of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun is now recognized as the winner following Medina Spirit’s disqualification. The strikes for each Kentucky Derby winner going back to 1973 are below: 2021 Mandaloun (1 strike) Category 4* 2020 race run in September 2019 Country House (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 3** 2018 Justify (2 strikes) Categories 1 and 7 2017 Always Dreaming (1 strike) Category 1 2016 Nyquist (0 strikes) 2015 American Pharoah (0 strikes) 2014 California Chrome (0 strikes) 2013 Orb (0 strikes) 2012 I’ll Have Another (0 strikes) 2011 Animal Kingdom (0 strikes) 2010 Super Saver (1 strike) Category 4 2009 Mine That Bird (4 strikes) Categories 1, 4, 5 and 9 2008 Big Brown (0 strikes) 2007 Street Sense (0 strikes) 2006 Barbaro (0 strikes) 2005 Giacomo (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 5 2004 Smarty Jones (0 strikes) 2003 Funny Cide (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 8 2002 War Emblem (0 strikes) 2001 Monarchos (0 strikes) 2000 Fusaichi Pegasus (1 strike) Category 6 1999 Charismatic (1 strike) Category 5 1998 Real Quiet (0 strikes) 1997 Silver Charm (1 strike) Category 4 1996 Grindstone (0 strikes) 1995 Thunder Gulch (0 strikes) 1994 Go for Gin (0 strikes) 1993 Sea Hero (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 5 1992 Lil E. Tee (0 strikes) 1991 Strike the Gold (0 strikes) 1990 Unbridled (1 strike) Category 3 1989 Sunday Silence (0 strikes) 1988 Winning Colors (0 strikes) 1987 Alysheba (1 strike) Category 2 1986 Ferdinand (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 4 1985 Spend a Buck (0 strikes) 1984 Swale (0 strikes) 1983 Sunny’s Halo (1 strike) Category 1 1982 Gato Del Sol (1 strike) Category 3 1981 Genuine Risk (1 strike) Category 1 1980 Pleasant Colony (0 strikes) 1979 Spectacular Bid (0 strikes) 1978 Affirmed (0 strikes) 1977 Seattle Slew (0 strikes) 1976 Bold Forbes (0 strikes) 1975 Foolish Pleasure (0 strikes) 1974 Cannonade (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 4 1973 Secretariat (0 strikes) *Medina Spirit (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and all purse money forfeited **Maximum Security (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and placed 17th MY DERBY STRIKES SYSTEM’S CATEGORIES What are the eight categories in my Derby Strikes System? They are listed below: 1. THE GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse ran in a graded stakes race before March 31.) This points out horses who have competed against tough competition prior to March 31 rather than at the last minute in April, enabling the horse to be properly battle-tested. (Exceptions: Going back to the introduction of graded stakes races in the U.S. in 1973, only Genuine Risk in 1980, Sunny’s Halo in 1983, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Always Dreaming in 2017 have won the Kentucky Derby without running in a graded stakes race at 2 or early at 3 before March 31.) 2. THE WIN IN A GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse has won a graded stakes race.) This points out horses who have shown they have the class to win a graded stakes race. (Exceptions: Ferdinand in 1986, Alysheba in 1987, Funny Cide in 2003 and Giacomo in 2005 are the only exceptions going back to the introduction of U.S. graded stakes races in 1973; Alysheba in 1987 did finish first in the Blue Grass, only to be disqualified and placed third.) 3. THE EIGHTH POLE CATEGORY. (In either of his or her last two starts before the Kentucky Derby, the horse was either first or second with a furlong to go.) This points out horses who were running strongly at the eighth pole, usually in races at 1 1/16 or 1 1/8 miles. By running strongly at the same point in the Kentucky Derby, a horse would be in a prime position to win the roses. Keep in mind that 53 of the last 56 Kentucky Derby winners through 2021 have been first or second with a furlong to run. Since Decidedly won the Derby in 1962 when he was third with a furlong to go, the only three Kentucky Derby winners who were not first or second with a furlong to run were Animal Kingdom, third with a furlong remaining in 2011 when only a half-length from being second; Giacomo, sixth with a furlong to go in 2005; and Grindstone, fourth with a furlong to run in 1996. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the Kentucky Derby winners who weren’t either first or second a furlong from the finish in his or her last two starts have been Tim Tam in 1958, Carry Back in 1961, Cannonade in 1974, Gato Del Sol in 1982, Unbridled in 1990 and Sea Hero in 1993, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 4. THE GAMENESS CATEGORY. (The horse’s finish position in both of his or her last two races before the Kentucky Derby was no worse than his or her running position at the eighth pole.) This points out horses who don’t like to get passed in the final furlong. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the exceptions have been Venetian Way in 1960, Cannonade in 1974, Foolish Pleasure in 1975, Ferdinand in 1986, Silver Charm in 1997, Mine That Bird in 2009, Super Saver in 2010 and Mandaloun in 2021, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 5. THE DISTANCE FOUNDATION CATEGORY. (The horse has finished at least third in a 1 1/8-mile race or longer before the Kentucky Derby.) This points out horses who have the proper foundation and/or stamina for the Kentucky Derby distance. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the only exceptions have been Kauai King in 1966, Sea Hero in 1993, Charismatic in 1999, Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird in 2009.) 6. THE NO ADDING OR REMOVING BLINKERS CATEGORY. (The horse has not added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her final start at 3 before the Kentucky Derby.) This seems to point out that, if a horse is good enough to win the Kentucky Derby, the trainer is not searching for answers so late in the game. (Going back to 1973, no horse has added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her last start at 3 before winning the Kentucky Derby.) 7. THE RACED AS A 2-YEAR-OLD CATEGORY. (The horse made at least one start as a 2-year-old.) (Exceptions: Apollo in 1882 and Justify in 2018. Going back to 1937, horses unraced as a 2-year-old now are a combined 1 for 67 in the Kentucky Derby through 2021. During this period, the only horses to finish second or third in the Kentucky Derby without having raced at 2 were Hampden, who finished third in 1946; Coaltown, second in 1948; Agitate, third in 1974; Reinvested, third in 1982; Strodes Creek, second in 1994; Curlin, third in 2007; Bodemeister, second in 2012; and Battle of Midway, third in 2017.) 8. THE NOT A GELDING CATEGORY. (The horse is not a gelding.) (Exceptions: Funny Cide in 2003 and Mine That Bird in 2009 are the only geldings to win the Kentucky Derby since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.)

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5.4.2022:

Frank Carulli: Churchill Downs Late Pick 4 | Friday, May 6, 2022

  CHURCHILL DOWNS LATE PICK 4 ANALYSIS Friday May 6, 2022 The eyes of the racing world will focus on the Kentucky Derby this Saturday, but it will be understandable if anyone’s attention is diverted slightly on Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs. The $1.3 million Kentucky Oaks could emerge as the Race of the Year, with a blockbuster field of 3-year-old fillies set to go 1-1/8 miles in the 11th race. The Oaks is part of a 50-cent Late Pick 4 on the wagering menu that shapes up this way: CD 10th race (4:51 EST) -- Punch the ‘ALL’ button in the leadoff leg of the Pick 4. The 13 entrants in the Grade II Twin Spires Turf Sprint are a combined 45-140 on turf with average earnings of more than $400,000. The field includes six graded stakes winners spanning five tracks, four other graded stakes-placed grass sprinters, a 10-1 shot that has seven minor stakes wins in the last year and a 20-1 shot who is 4-4 on the lawn. CD 11th race (5:51 EST) -- To put into perspective how deep the Kentucky Oaks field is, consider this: The 14 entrants – half trained by Hall of Famers – ran in 23 graded stakes this year, combining for nine wins, five seconds and three thirds. To add further perspective: ECHO ZULU won three Grade I stakes and a Grade II in front-end fashion at four tracks, but she isn’t the favorite. Ditto for KATHLEEN O, who has done nothing but improve with eye-catching rallies to win back-to-back Grade II route races. Ditto for SECRET OATH, who was a troubled favorite against the boys in the Arkansas Derby at today’s distance. NEST earned morning-line favoritism with an 8-1/4-length romp in the Grade I Ashland. The picks here are Secret Oath and Kathleen O. Secret Oath was squeezed and bumped between rivals early, at least 4-wide from the backstretch to the top of the stretch, and in range of the winner until her sustained rally fell short in deep stretch. Kathleen O was unhurried and 5-wide chasing a slow half-mile pace, then overpowered the 8-to-5 runner-up in the stretch in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks. CD 12th race (6:25 EST) -- WISH YOU WELL set a brisk pace, drew clear on the turn at 7F and turned back a late run by the troubled runner-up to win in a heavily-bet debut. REAGAN’S DECISION rallied for an 18-1 debut upset, was roughed up at the start in allowance company, then finished third again behind Matareya (3-6, $374k) in a Grade III long sprint. CD 13th race (7:00 EST) -- Race: Not sold on the company lines of several contenders in this 12-horse Maiden Special Weight sprint, so use only one of them alongside two first-time starters. COLORFUL MISCHIEF, a $300,000 sales buy, debuts off a series of bullet workouts at Palm Beach Downs. Trainer Todd Pletcher wins at a high percentage with first-time starters but was only 1-for-17 from March 5-April 4. MILAN’S GIRL went 4 furlongs in :47.1 in her final prep over the track for reigning Trainer of the Year Brad Cox. Her dam, Sky Gesture, went wire-to-wire first out at Saratoga. She gets Lasix but must avoid a wide trip from post 12. Of those that have run, RATHER BE LUCKY gets top billing. She led until the last jump in her 6F debut at Fair Grounds, then faltered as the favorite next out while chasing faster fractions than a same-day, MSW sprint for the boys (:45.1 half-mile split). Suggested 50-cent Ticket CD 10th Race: ALL CD 11th Race: 1, 10 CD 12th Race: 2, 9 CD 13th Race: 8, 9, 12 COST: $78

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5.4.2022:

Kentucky Derby Notes: Wednesday, May 4, 2022

CROWN PRIDE STREAKS BULLET HALF-MILE; TAIBA BLOWS OUT THREE-EIGHTHS LOUISVILLE, KY (Wednesday, May 4, 2022) – Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN), with Derby rider Christophe Lemaire aboard, blazed through a half-mile breeze in :46.60 over a fast track Wednesday morning under overcast skies. Working on his own, Crown Pride produced fractions of :12.40, :24.20, :35.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00. The move was the fastest of nine at the distance for the morning. Working shortly after Crown Pride was Zedan Racing Stables’ Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Taiba who blew out three furlongs in :38.40 and galloped out a half-mile in :52.60. BARBER ROAD – William Simon’s Barber Road, most recently second in the Arkansas Derby (GI), changed his training schedule slightly Wednesday, going out to gallop at 6:30 a.m. with regular rider Elexander Aguilar aboard rather than waiting until the 7:30 a.m. training time set aside of Derby and Oaks horses. “He likes to go out early,” Simon said. “He gets keyed up and wants to get out there, then he comes back and takes his usual nap.” Barber Road is named for the road in rural North Carolina where Simon’s wife, Tammy, grew up and that is named after her grandfather, Clarence. The horse is their first Kentucky Derby starter. “This is an incredible honor,” Simon said. “It’s a blessing. You can’t make up a story like this. He’s a $15,000 weanling purchase that decided he wanted to be a champion.” CHARGE IT, MO DONEGAL, PIONEER OF MEDINA – The Todd Pletcher Derby trio of Charge It (handled by Hector Ramos), Mo Donegal (Amelia Green) and Pioneer of Medina (Humberto Zamora) once again took advantage of the special 7:30-7:45 training period at Churchill Downs to stretch their legs and do some schooling four days out from their dates in the Kentucky Derby. With the Hall of Fame conditioner looking on from trackside, the threesome went through solid gallops of a bit more than a mile and a quarter, then headed up the mile chute for a session with the starting gate. “They were all good at the gate,” Pletcher said. “They went right in.” On Saturday their gate positions will be No. 8 for Charge It, No. 1 for Mo Donegal and No. 11 for Pioneer of Medina. The trainer has scheduled a further bit of educational time for the colts this afternoon with paddock schooling with the horses in today’s sixth race. CLASSIC CAUSEWAY – Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s Classic Causeway galloped 1 � miles Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. “So many people have just been focused on his last race in the Florida Derby but if you draw a line through it, he belongs with a lot of others in this field,” trainer Brian Lynch said. Julien Leparoux rides the speedy Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Derby. “I don’t think he necessarily needs to be on the lead,” Lynch said. “He’s fast but he’s able to track just off horses.” CROWN PRIDE (JPN) – Teruya Yoshida’s UAE Derby (GII) winner Crown Pride (JPN) started his morning jogging in the mile chute under Masa Matsuda during the first harrow break of the morning. Once the tractors left the track, jockey Christophe Lemaire jumped aboard to guide Crown Pride through a half-mile work that was timed in :46.60. Working on his own, Crown Pride produced fractions of :12.40, :24.20, :35.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00. The move was the fastest of nine at the distance for the morning. Following the breeze, Lemaire took Crown Pride back to the mile chute where Matsuda again took the reins for the leisurely trip back to the Quarantine Barn. “I have worked him before in Japan and I very happy with his work today and with the way he changed leads. He did it very well,” said Lemaire, who is back at Churchill Downs for the first time since he rode in the 2010 and 2011 Breeders’ Cups. Lemaire said he has watched video of recent runnings of the Kentucky Derby and the huge fields that accompany the race. “The start is very important and then it is all about the fractions,” Lemaire said. “You ride him to where he is comfortable and then see what happens.” Trainer Koichi Shintani was all smiles after the work by Crown Pride who is scheduled to have a walk day Thursday. CYBERKNIFE, TAWNY PORT, ZOZOS – Trainer Brad Cox sent all three of his Kentucky Derby hopefuls to the track during the special 7:30 a.m. training period and all three galloped 1 � miles with their regular exercise riders and visited the starting gate. Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Cyberknife was ridden by Katie Talbot, Lexington Stakes (GIII) winner Tawny Point had Edvin Vargas aboard and Louisiana Derby (GII) runner-up Zozos was ridden by Kelvin Perez. “I’m happy with all three of them,” Cox said. “They’re doing good.” EPICENTER – Coming out to the track later than usual Wednesday, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter jogged down the backstretch and walked back during the 7:30 a.m. Derby and Oaks training time. Jockey Joel Rosario made a visit to the Asmussen barn afterward to see his Derby mount. On board for all Epicenter’s 3-year-old races, the 2021 Eclipse Award-winning jockey has consistently been Asmussen’s go-to jockey for most of 2022. “It seems like [Epicenter] has no problem with anything,” Rosario said. “He has won on the lead, he has won coming from behind horses, so we’ll see how he handles it. He has matured it seems. In the beginning I had to ride him a little more. But now he’s running and grabs the bridle a bit more, it’s what you want to see.” Asked about their strategy breaking from post three, Rosario joked: “Maybe we’ll just keep it a secret. We’ll get a good break and see what the horse wants to do. He always breaks well out of the gate, so we’ll see how he does on Saturday.” ETHEREAL ROAD – Aaron Sones and Julie Gilbert’s Ethereal Road galloped 1 � miles during the special 7:30 a.m. training time Wednesday. Ethereal Road was the last horse to make the Kentucky Derby field, not becoming an official starter until late Monday morning, but Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who already has four Derby trophies, had been making a case for several weeks why the Quality Road colt deserved a shot in the 20-horse field. “I think he has chance to get a piece of it because of his style,” Lukas said. “He’s one of the few horses in the 20 that has that style of making a half-mile run. Some of them can’t even make a quarter-mile run. I’ve learned in all my years of being in this, that if you can make a sustained long run, you have a chance to get a piece of it.” HAPPY JACK – The Oxbow colt Happy Jack followed his usual Derby pattern Wednesday morning at Churchill during the 7:30-7:45 special training period for Derby and Oaks runners. Exercise rider Tony Romero galloped the well-made bay through a mile and a half in good fashion, then headed back to Barn 41. Trainer Doug O’Neill watched the proceedings from the grandstand, but his longtime right-hand-man, Leandro Mora, oversaw the backside business and stated all was well. “’Jack’ is happy,” Mora said. “And when ‘Jack” is happy, we’re all happy.” Rafael Bejarano has the call Saturday on Happy Jack for the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. MESSIER, TAIBA – Trainer Tim Yakteen had his two Derby colts – the Empire Maker bay Messier and the Gun Runner chestnut Taiba – on the track for the special Derby/Oaks training period from 7:30-7:45 a.m. Wednesday at Churchill Downs. Messier, with exercise rider Beto Gomez up, went about his usual business and galloped a mile and a half on a cool, overcast Louisville morning. But with Taiba, the Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner, the conditioner put a wrinkle into the proceedings and pulled out a stratagem from days gone by that he first saw when he worked on the shedrow of one of the game’s greats, Charlie Whittingham. Yakteen deputized crack rider Joel Rosario – an old friend from the jockey’s days in California – to take a leg up on his colt for his morning exercises. He also put a pair of blinkers on his lightly raced ace (“The blinkers were just something to help him focus; he doesn’t need them to race,” the trainer noted.), then had the two backtrack to the seven-furlong pole before turning to gallop to the three-eights where they broke off and went through a three-furlong breeze. “I don’t know how fast he went,” Rosario said afterward at Barn 37. “But I do know he felt good.” Yakteen had spent a half dozen years in the early 1990s working and learning under Hall of Famer Whittingham, who made it SOP to give his stakes horses a short blowout in the days just ahead of a race. “We blew him out three furlongs this morning,” Yakteen said back at the barn. “Nothing special; I got him in :38 and two (the Churchill clockers did likewise). It was just what we wanted. I’m following the same pattern we used coming up to the Santa Anita Derby. He blew out there, too.” In the Santa Anita Derby – only the second start of the precocious colt’s career – he came running late under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith to beat stablemate Messier by 2 1/4 lengths. RATTLE N ROLL, SMILE HAPPY, TIZ THE BOMB – Trainer Kenny McPeek had Magdalena Racing’s Tiz the Bomb and Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy on the track Wednesday, for maintenance mile-and-a-half gallops. Edwardo Ruvalcaba was on Tiz the Bomb, while Danny Ramsey was aboard Smile Happy. “All routine,” McPeek said. “We backed up, schooled in the paddock, then stood in the gate at the end of the gallop.” Also out at the time reserved for Oaks and Derby horses for a gallop was also eligible Rattle N Roll, with James Graham, who will ride him Saturday if he makes the field. Tiz the Bomb comes into the Derby off a win in the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park, while Smile Happy had strong seconds in the Grade I Blue Grass at Keeneland to Zandon, and in the Grade II Risen Star to Epicenter. “Smile Happy is doing super, so strong,” McPeek said. “He wanted to go around again.” Smile Happy starts from the No. 5 post in the Derby with Corey Lanerie, while Tiz the Bomb, with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard, drew the No. 9 post. RICH STRIKE – RED TR-Racing’s Rich Strike galloped a mile and a half under Gabriel Lagunes and is scheduled to school in the paddock this afternoon early in the 10-race program. Trained by Eric Reed, Rich Strike is the first also-eligible for the Derby and would not one defection by Friday’s 9 a.m. scratch time to make the field. SIMPLIFICATION – Tami Bobo’s Simplification visited the starting gate and then galloped a mile and a half under Ismal Ramirez for trainer Antonio Sano. For Sano, who has 72 horses stabled in South Florida, this is his second shot in the Kentucky Derby having seen his Gunnevera finish seventh behind Always Dreaming in the 2017 Run for the Roses. “I am taking the same approach as I did with Gunnevera,” Sano said. “We got here about eight or nine days before the race and did all of the major work in Florida.” There is one small difference this time. In 2017, Gunnevera was the only horse Sano brought to Louisville but accompanying Simplification on the van ride to Kentucky was the 3-year-old maiden Logico who is entered in the first race Saturday. “He knows some of the Derby horses,” Sano’s son and assistant Alessandro said. “He has run against Charge It and White Abarrio.” SUMMER IS TOMORROW – Michael Hilary Burke and Negar Burke’s Summer Is Tomorrow visited the starting gate and galloped a mile and a half under Heinz Runge. Summer Is Tomorrow is scheduled to school in the paddock this afternoon. Runner-up in the UAE Derby (GII), Summer Is Tomorrow will be making his first start outside of Dubai in the Kentucky Derby. In his seven-race career, Summer Is Tomorrow has not raced on an off track, a surface he may face Saturday with rain in the forecast for the weekend. “He has been on an off track and handled it well in training,” trainer Bhupat Seemar said. WHITE ABARRIO – C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable’s White Abarrio was again the standout on the track Wednesday morning — for his dazzling appearance. The son of Spendthrift Farm sire Race Day, with his brilliant gray coat, had the cameras clicking during the morning workouts. He’s one of three gray colts in the field of 20, but he trends more to gray than Barber Road or Charge It. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. had the Grade I Florida Derby and Grade III Holy Bull winner out Wednesday with exercise rider Vincente Gudiel on a track drying out from a rainy Tuesday. In the 2020 Derby, Joseph made his first training appearance with NY Traffic, finishing eighth at 12-1. “He’s doing well,” Joseph said of White Abarrio. “He had a good gallop of a mile today and all is in order. He’s shown class from Day One. He won his debut, which made the owners buy him, and he’s been doing great all the way.” ZANDON – Jeff Drown’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Zandon galloped 1 � miles Wednesday morning. “He was so visually impressive in the Blue Grass and he’s continued to do very well since arriving at Churchill Downs,” trainer Chad Brown said. THE KENTUCKY DERBY FIELD – Here’s the field from the rail out for the Grade I, $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI): Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr.); Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano); Epicenter (Joel Rosario); Summer Is Tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona); Smile Happy (Corey Lanerie); Messier (John Velazquez); Crown Pride (JPN) (Christophe Lemaire); Charge It (Luis Saez); Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Zandon (Flavien Prat); Pioneer of Medina (Joe Bravo); Taiba (Mike Smith); Simplification (Jose Ortiz); Barber Road (Rey Gutierrez); White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione); Cyberknife (Florent Geroux); Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux); Tawny Port (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Zozos (Manny Franco); Ethereal Road (Luis Contreras). Also Eligibles: Rich Strike (Sonny Leon); Rattle N Roll (James Graham).

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5.3.2022:

Kentucky Derby Workouts: XBTV Analysts Updates | Tuesday, May 3, 2022

In addition to the multitude of workout analyses provided in the 1/ST BET & Xpressbet Kentucky Derby Wager Guide, our XBTV racing analysts have provided some updated notes from the training sessions in recent days. MICHELLE YU Zandon: His last 5f solo breeze looked FANTASTIC. Really reaching out well to the wire and beyond with a lovely stride. I love how controlled this colt is, you can tell he really wants to do more, but is so kind to listen to Prat who was aboard for the move. If you weren't a fan of him before, you have to be now. Smile Happy and Tiz the Bomb: McPeek pair was supposed to go in tandem an easy half-mile, but the plan didn't come to fruition when the always-eager Tiz the Bomb built up a large lead under BJ Hernandez and Corey Lanerie on Smile Happy opted to hang back off that mate. Once allowed into stride, Tiz relaxed but maintained the advantage for the work. A warm-looking Smile Happy closed a large portion of ground late and with no ask to be the better of the pair in my opinion. Cynberknife and Zozos: Cox barnmates with a very nice 6-furlong move. Cyberknife started behind and drew even without being asked a drop. Florent had a snug hold for the entirety of the work and easily could have gone faster or breezed by. As it was, this supposed, stamina-type move at the 6 panels was not even a touch testing for the temperamental chestnut Cyberknife. You couldn't ask for a better work for an improving horse coming into his biggest day. ZOE CADMAN Epicenter: This time working inside a new workmate in Alejandro, a maiden winner at Oaklawn, this week's drill had a more tepid pace than last week. I love the energy that Epicenter shows here and my only critique is he appears to be lugging out going into and coming out of the turn. Now this could well be attributed to the fact that the rider has a massive hold of the horse and he wants to do more. That being said, he was straight and true down the lane and galloped out very well, indeed. But this is the first time I have seen him lean out even a little bit, raising some ??? Still using in top 3 ... in no particular order Zandon, Epicenter and Mo Donegal. MILLIE BALL Messier: He came out of his swift Santa Anita work well and appears to be acting sharp at Churchhill Downs, bouncing off the track after a gallop Tuesday morning. Trainer Tim Yakteen told me, “He got over the track in great shape this morning - I’m very happy with him.” 

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5.3.2022:

Kentucky Derby Notes: Tuesday, May 3, 2022

WHITE ABARRIO MAKES FIRST DERBY WEEK APPEARANCE BENEATH THE TWIN SPIRES LOUISVILLE, KY (Tuesday, May 3, 2022) – C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable’s White Abarrio made his first appearance on the Churchill Downs racetrack since last November when he jogged Tuesday morning over the sloppy surface. Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., White Abarrio finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) two days after Thanksgiving last fall. He returned to the Derby City early Monday morning from his South Florida base. The final scheduled work of the week is planned for Wednesday morning from Teruya Yoshida’s UAE Derby (GII) winner Crown Pride (JPN) with jockey Christophe Lemaire scheduled to be aboard. BARBER ROAD – William Simon’s Barber Road, who is the first Kentucky Derby starter for his owner and trainer John Ortiz, galloped one mile and visited the paddock Tuesday during the special 7:30 a.m. training time. “He’s doing great. He’s loving this. He was enjoying himself in the mud. The track isn’t a concern,” Ortiz said. “He just walked around the paddock like it was nothing. He’s ready. I was more concerned with the pony than him this morning.” CHARGE IT, MO DONEGAL, PIONEER OF MEDINA – The weather turned just before 5 a.m. at Churchill Downs Tuesday and trainer Todd Pletcher took notice. “I was thinking about taking my Derby and Oaks horses out first thing (5:15) to beat the rain,” the Hall of Fame conditioner said, “but there was too much lightning in the sky for my liking. So we waited for the 7:30 special training period.” That turned out to be the right call, for sure. His stable’s trio of Derby colts – the roan Charge It (with exercise rider Hector Ramos up), the Wood Memorial (GII) winner Mo Donegal (Amelia Green) and the Pioneerof the Nile colt Pioneer of Medina (Carlos Perez) – were among the very first to step foot on the wet surface when it opened at 7:30 after the rain had ceased and the lightning had gone away. They each galloped for a mile and one-sixteenth, a shorter distance than their usual routine. “We wanted to get them out and back safely this morning,” Pletcher said. CLASSIC CAUSEWAY – Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s Classic Causeway had a one-mile jog early Tuesday morning under trainer Brian Lynch’s exercise rider Calamity Compton. Lynch reported there are some minor equipment changes that Classic Causeway will race with in the Derby, including a new bridle with an adjusted nose strip. Julien Leparoux has the call. CROWN PRIDE (JPN) – With trainer Koichi Shintani looking on, Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN) jogged for 10 minutes in the mile chute and then galloped the Kentucky Derby distance of a mile and quarter under Masa Matsuda. “From Dubai (where he won the Grade II UAE Derby on March 26), he has really improved and he likes this track,” Shintani said. “He will have a fast work in the morning and (jockey) Christophe Lemaire will be on him.” Lemaire, who most recently rode at Churchill Downs during the 2010 and 2011 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, arrived in Louisville at 3 this morning. Crown Pride trained this morning over a track that was drenched from a steady downpour that began at 5 o’clock. Crown Pride’s only defeat in four career starts came in the Hyacinth at Tokyo in February over a muddy track. With thunderstorms in the forecast for later in the week, an off track for Derby 148 is possible. “In Japan, when the track is muddy a horse’s foot can sink into the surface,” Shintani said. “This track, there is more cushion and it is safer. I don’t see that as being a problem.” Japan is 13 hours ahead of Louisville, so when the horses go in the gate for the Run for the Roses it will be almost 8 Sunday morning in Tokyo. CYBERKNIFE, TAWNY PORT, ZOZOS – Trainer Brad Cox called an audible because of the weather and sent all three of his Kentucky Derby hopefuls to the track early with Zozos, under exercise rider Kelvin Perez, heading out in the first set to gallop 1 � miles. Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Cyberknife followed in the second set with his regular rider Katie Talbot aboard, while Tawny Port went out in the third set with Edvin Vargas handling the riding duties. The stablemates will be close together when they enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate on Saturday. Cyberknife drew post 16, Tawny Port drew post 18 and Zozos drew post 19. “I’m good with where they are starting from,” Cox said. “The post doesn’t really matter with Tawny Port. Zozos has a little more speed so he’ll be able to get out of there. Cyberknife is a quick gate horse, so he should he fine. He has one speed horse to his outside (Classic Causeway) and that should help him. “If we get a wet track on Saturday, I’m fine with that. We train over a wet track all the time and they all handle it good. So far so good, I’m happy with all of them. The key is getting a good trip. I expect all of them to make a good showing.” Cox said his horses will school in the gate tomorrow and will more than likely go out during the special 7:30 a.m. training time. EPICENTER – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line for Derby 148, returned to the track at his usual 5:30 a.m. time to gallop. The morning rains had turned the track muddy, but that did not stop him from impressing his trainer, Steve Asmussen. “He is a horse that has not skipped training days in the mud but he has not performed in a race (in the mud),” Asmussen said. “My favorite thing today about Epicenter is how consistent he has been, how he has looked (in the mornings). I think he looked the same on the racetrack today, four days before the Derby, as he did at New Orleans this winter. Very professional. Very consistent with his temperament and his stride. We are just wanting more of the same, just a little faster which is what he has done in every one of his starts this year and there is no reason he shouldn’t carry on.” Monday’s draw was not without drama for Epicenter’s connections. With two pills to pull, post three and post six remained, and once again, Asmussen’s highly touted Derby entry drew an inside post, the three. “I’m not crazy about the three hole with him,” Asmussen said. “There is a lot of pace to his immediate outside. You just want (to get) away from there fast. You don’t want to get shuffled back, covered up to a position he is not familiar with.” In 2011, Nehro broke from post 19 and finished second with Animal Kingdom passing him coming for home. “In the Nehro year I did not pick up Animal Kingdom,” Asmussen said. “We looked at [Nehro] and it looked like he would get by Shackleford. I glanced back and did not pick up Animal Kingdom, and for that split second, I thought I had won the Derby.” ETHEREAL ROAD – Aaron Sones and Julie Gilbert’s Ethereal Road had his first gallop Tuesday morning as an official Kentucky Derby starter after becoming the last horse to make the 20-horse field with the defection of Un Ojo. He galloped 1 � miles during the special 7:30 a.m. training time. Ethereal Road will be the 50th Kentucky Derby starter for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who already has four Derby trophies. His most recent starter was Bravazo, who finished sixth in 2018. “I guess getting 50 horses qualified for the Kentucky Derby is an achievement,” Lukas said. “I’m real tickled to get this horse qualified because this is a new client. He wanted to get in and have this experience, so I’m happy for him (Aaron Sones). It’s important to get them this experience because it’s what it is all about. “Ethereal Road is doing good. He’s has a good of couple weeks here. I was surprised how well he handled the wet track this morning. He did really good out there. He got over it awfully nice.” HAPPY JACK – Trainer Doug O’Neill had his colt Happy Jack on the racetrack for the 7:30-7:45 special training period for Derby and Oaks horses. The Calumet Farm homebred by Preakness winner Oxbow had veteran exercise rider Tony Romero as his pilot. The two went to stand in the starting gate in the mile chute, then galloped a mile and a quarter. “He was good this morning,” Romero said back at Barn 41. “He was nice and quiet.” O’Neill looked on at the exercise and was pleased by the results. “Touch wood,” the conditioner said doing just that. “It’s all good so far.” MESSIER, TAIBA – Trainer Tim Yakteen has settled in nicely for his first go-round at the Kentucky Derby and had a good battle plan in place for his two Derby colts -- the Empire Maker offspring Messier and the son of Gun Runner named Taiba. Tuesday morning was full of “Kentucky spring sunshine” with the rain coming down and the lightning flashing all around. It was wondered if his California-based twosome might be affected by the wet track conditions, something that is more the exception than the rule out his way. “No, they’ll be fine,” Yakteen said. “We had a pretty good rain and an off track at Santa Anita a couple of weeks back and they handled it well. No problems today.” At the start of the special Derby/Oaks training period at 7:30, the track was wet but the rain and lightning had abated and Yakteen gave exercise rider Beto Gomez a leg up on Messier in the shedrow of Barn 37. The duo went to the racetrack and headed to the mile chute where the good-sized Canadian-bred stood nicely in the starting gate for him. They then headed to the main track and galloped a mile and a quarter. From there the two walked back to Barn 37 and Yakteen was ready to go with a quick shedrow leg-up transfer of Gomez from Messier to Taiba without missing a beat. The rider went trackside and repeated the same program with his chestnut charge and all went well again. “Things are good,” Yakteen said. “Thumbs up.” The trainer scheduled his two horses to paddock school today during the third race. RATTLE N ROLL, SMILE HAPPY, TIZ THE BOMB – Trainer Kenny McPeek had Magdalena Racing’s Tiz the Bomb and Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy on the track Tuesday, galloping a mile and a half. Edwardo Ruvalcaba was on Tiz the Bomb, while Danny Ramsey was aboard Smile Happy. Tiz the Bomb galloped in the company of Oaks filly Cocktail Moments, with Albert Kelly, who was outside of him on the sealed track. Smile Happy started several lengths behind the other two. “It was a routine day, and everyone came out of it just fine,” said Greg Geier, assistant to McPeek. Smile Happy starts from the No. 5 post in the Derby with Corey Lanerie, while Tiz the Bomb, with Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard, drew the No. 9 post. Rattle N Roll is the second also-eligible for the Derby. RICH STRIKE – RED TR-Racing’s Rich Strike, the first horse on the also-eligible list for Kentucky Derby 148, visited the starting gate in the mile chute and then galloped a mile and a quarter under Gabriel Lagunes for trainer Eric Reed. SIMPLIFICATION – Tami Bobo’s Simplification galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Ismal Ramirez for trainer Antonio Sano. The Fountain of Youth winner drew post 13 for Saturday’s Run for the Roses and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz. “The 13 is perfect …a little outside and toward the middle,” Sano said. “I didn’t want to be inside.” Simplification has not raced on an off track but Sano feels from the colt’s works that a muddy surface would not be a problem. Simplification had his final work for the Derby Friday at Gulfstream Park with a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.44. SUMMER IS TOMORROW – Michael Hilary Burke and Negar Burke’s Summer Is Tomorrow had a scheduled walk day Tuesday following a half-mile breeze in :49.20 on Monday morning. Runner-up in the UAE Derby (GII) in his most recent start, Summer Is Tomorrow will be ridden Saturday by Mickael Barzalona and break from post position four. “Perfect,” said Caroline Seemar, wife of trainer Bhupat Seemar, of the spot in the gate. Summer Is Tomorrow is scheduled to school in the paddock this afternoon with horses in the eighth race. WHITE ABARRIO – Settling in after vanning to Louisville from Gulfstream Park, C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable’s White Abarrio was on the track for the first time Tuesday. “He jogged a mile today and did fine,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He’s going to gallop every day, and go to the gate. How about this Kentucky weather? You’re always hoping for a fast track for the Derby, and hopefully it won’t be sloppy.” “They say grays like the slop,” Joseph said of White Abarrio, a gray colt. “So hopefully, if it is sloppy, this gray will do great.” ZANDON – Jeff Drown’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Zandon jogged Tuesday over the sloppy surface. Zandon drew post 10 for the Kentucky Derby. “I wanted him to draw toward the middle of the starting gate and we got just that,” trainer Chad Brown said. “Training wise we’ve done most of our serious work and he’s fit for Saturday.” THE KENTUCKY DERBY FIELD – Here’s the field from the rail out for the Grade I, $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI): Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr.); Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano); Epicenter (Joel Rosario); Summer Is Tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona); Smile Happy (Corey Lanerie); Messier (John Velazquez); Crown Pride (JPN) (Christophe Lemaire); Charge It (Luis Saez); Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr.); Zandon (Flavien Prat); Pioneer of Medina (Joe Bravo); Taiba (Mike Smith); Simplification (Jose Ortiz); Barber Road (Rey Gutierrez); White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione); Cyberknife (Florent Geroux); Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux); Tawny Port (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Zozos (Manny Franco); Ethereal Road (Luis Contreras). Also Eligibles: Rich Strike (Sonny Leon); Rattle N Roll (James Graham).

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5.2.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Woodbine Mohawk Park Pick 4 Analysis: Monday, May 2, 2022

Tonight's feature at Woodbine Mohawk Park rolls in Race 9, a Preferred Handicap Trot with a $36,000 purse. The 0.20 Early Pick 4 starts in Race 4, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 4 4-Cindy Lynn (7/2)-Drops and the pilot who has had good results in the past returns. McClure could step on the gas, land on the point, and not look back. 6-Princesspartypants (4-1)-Takes a significant drop for team Mayotte and hasn't been in this soft all year. Doesn't win too often but this looks like a drop and pop situation. Race 5 1-Combs Hanover (3-1)-Broke in the 1st start off the bench and put in a flat line last week on hopples. Comes right back, drops and could be sitting on a big try. 7-Free Willy Hanover (7/2)-Comes out of the same race as the one above and should relish the company. Drury could be a aggressive in this spot and should be racing near the top of the stack. Race 6 2-Hone The Tone (7/2)-Fits with this crew and Filion may drop in right behind #5 and make the most of a pocket ride to sweep by down the lane. 5-Goodgollymissmolly (3-1)-This mare bumps up and is looking for her 5th straight. The last win was probably her strongest performance considering she was off over 3 weeks before that start. Race 7 1-Arrakis (7/2)-This 10-year-old is in sharp form, fits well again and comes off a take charge win. McClure gets the assignment, and the Guillemette barn is posting 42% winners over the past 30 days. 4-Nylander (3-1)-Drops to a spot to shine. This slow starter shouldn't be as far back versus this kind going into the 1st turn. Cullen should be able to find a live cover flow and be in the hunt at the wire. 5-Meadowbranch Noble (8-1)-Took the long way around in last and is worth a swing at this price. The trip should be better, and solid fractions won't hurt chances for a picture. 0.20 Early Pick 4 4,6/1,7/2,5/1,4,5 Total Bet=$4.80 Check me out on Twitter!

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5.2.2022:

Jeremy Plonk: Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw Rapid Reaction

A total of 22 runners entered the 148th Run for the Roses at the post-position draw held this afternoon at Churchill Downs with a capacity field of 20 starters. Race favorites, Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter and Blue Grass victor Zandon, will begin from posts 3 and 10, respectively. The impact of the post-position draw has been slightly lessened with the advent of the 20-horse starting gate in 2020. The new gate creates more breathing room from the inside and outside rails among the crowded lineup. Still, no Derby winner won from the rail since Ferdinand in 1986 and from post 2 since Real Quiet in 1998. Posts 17-20 account for only 4 victories (one of those via disqualification) since a starting gate was first used in 1930. Expected pacemakers in this year’s Derby are Tampa Bay Derby winner Classic Causeway (post 17) and United Arab Emirates Derby runner-up Summer is Tomorrow (post 4). Reaction to their draws? That they are inside-and-outside at near extremes, the pace could ratchet up a notch as they hustle for position. Californians Taiba and Messier drew posts 12 and 6 and should be forwardly placed in the early hunt. Japan’s representative, Crown Pride, begins from post 7. He had a gate training incident where he took a left-hand turn and dumped his rider, so perhaps caution be to Messier. Trainers Brad Cox (Cyberknife-16, Zozos-19, Tawny Port-18) and Todd Pletcher (Mo Donegal-1, Charge It-8 and Pioneer of Medina-11) make up 30 percent of the field with a half-dozen entrants. Cox won last year’s Derby when Mandaloun was promoted to victory following the medication disqualification of Medina Spirit. Pletcher is a two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer (2010 Super Saver, 2017 Always Dreaming). Mo Donegal will have to overcome a rail that hasn’t won on the first Saturday in May in 36 years. Post time for the Kentucky Derby will be 5:57 pm ET as Race 12 of 14 on a card that begins at 10:30 am ET. Advance wagering on the Kentucky Derby begins Friday at 1/ST BET and Xpressbet. Kentucky Derby 148 Field and Morning Line Odds from Mike Battaglia 1. Mo Donegal // Irad Ortiz Jr. // Todd Pletcher // 10-1 2. Happy Jack // Rafael Bejarano // Doug O’Neill // 30-1 3. Epicenter // Joel Rosario // Steve Asmussen // 7-2 4. Summer Is Tomorrow // Mickael Barzalona // Bhupat Seemar // 30-1 5. Smile Happy // Corey Lanerie // Kenny McPeek // 20-1 6. Messier // John Velazquez // Tim Yakteen // 8-1 7. Crown Pride // Christophe Lemiere // Koichi Shintani // 20-1 8. Charge It // Luis Saez // Todd Pletcher // 20-1 9. Tiz the Bomb // Brian Hernandez Jr. // Kenny McPeek // 30-1 10. Zandon // Flavien Prat // Chad Brown // 3-1 11. Pioneer of Medina // Joe Bravo // Todd Pletcher // 30-1 12. Taiba // Mike Smith // Tim Yakteen // 12-1 13. Simplification // Jose Ortiz // Antonio Sano // 20-1 14. Barber Road // Reylu Gutierrez // John Ortiz // 30-1 15. White Abarrio // Tyler Gaffalione // Saffie Joseph Jr. // 10-1 16. Cyberknife // Florent Geroux // Brad Cox // 20-1 17. Classic Causeway // Julien Leparoux // Brian Lynch // 30-1 18. Tawny Port // Ricardo Santana Jr. // Brad Cox // 30-1 19. Zozos // Manny Franco // Brad Cox // 20-1 20. Ethereal Road // Luis Contreras // D. Wayne Lukas // 30-1 21. Rich Strike // Sonny Leon // Eric Reed // 30-1 22. Rattle N Roll // James Graham // Kenny McPeek // 30-1  

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5.1.2022:

Jeff Siegel's Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Sunday, May 1, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 2-Lone Scout; 4-Flintmore Forecast: Lone Scout has been away since October but if he returns as well as he left he can beat this modest maiden field. The Tonalist gelding is strong on speed figures and has worked well enough to be fit for a major effort off the bench. As an eight-race maiden, he can’t be called trustworthy, but this is the easiest bunch on turf he’s ever faced. Flintmore is one of six exiting the same race (won by Beef Winslow) and finished ahead of the others when winding up second. He’s a one-paced type that should produce a forward move in his first try at nine furlongs. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:33 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Catbernay; 2-Rantanen; 6-Big Scott Daddy Forecast: Catbernay makes his first start since August after being a voided claim and then being turned out. A perfect one-for-one sprinting over the Santa Anita main track, the G. Stute-trained gelding has plenty of zip and, assuming he still has most of his old speed, should be able to clear the field from his rail post position. The work tab looks promising and should have him plenty fit. Rantanen, a willing runner-up in his first start in 18 months, drops sharply in class off that promising run in an indication that his connections don’t view him as a long-term prospect. If he has one good one left, the R. B. Hess, Jr.-trained gelding will be hard to beat, but that may be a big if. Big Scott Daddy, a first-off-the-claim play for J. Wong (26%), is re-equipped with blinkers and could be the most dangerous of the late threats. We’ll try to get by using just these three in rolling exotic play in a race that should be handled with care. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:05 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Big Beauty; 3-All Dialed In Forecast: We’ll double the third race, a turf sprint for first-level allowance state-bred fillies and mares. Big Beauty has been away for nearly a year and returns for new trainer J. Sadler with a series of Los Alamitos workouts that should have her fit enough. Effective sprinting or routing and with a prior win over the local turf course, the daughter of Mr. Big picks up the barn’s main guy J. J. Hernandez and goes for a trainer that boasts superior stats with layoff runners. She’s clearly the top pick. All Dialed In tries grass for the first time and if she can duplicate her dirt form on the lawn she’ll will be quite dangerous. Most effective as a late-running sprinter, the S. McCarthy-trained filly has finished in the money in all five starts and should at least get a piece of it again today. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:35 PT Grade: B+ Single: 2-Settecento Forecast: Settecento has very little to beat in this bottom-rung maiden claiming middle distance main track event and if it’s not him, it could be anybody, so let’s take a stand and make the lightly-raced gelding a win play and rolling exotic single. Runner-up in his debut at this level but then raised in class in his next two outings, the son of Congrats returns to the main track and beats this group with a repeat of any of his three career outings. On pure numbers, he’s a stick out. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:07 PT Grade: B+ Single: 4-With This Vow Forecast: Here’s the second logical single on the program. With This Vow earned a career top number when an excellent runner-up against a similar group at this distance on the main track. Today she switches back to the lawn, and both of her grass outings were solid, so we doubt the surface switch will matter and in fact it might help. In a race lacking in closers, the daughter of Broken Vow should be forwardly placed throughout and then be able to kick home when called upon. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:39 PT Grade: B+ Single: 5-Manitowish Forecast: Manitowish won a waiver protected $16,000 claiming sprint in late March in strong fashion while earning a speed figure that is considerably stronger than par and one that is good enough to beat this tougher restricted (nw-3) $20,000 field. The D. O’Neill-trained gelding has a good stalking style and the ability to produce a second move when set down, so with J. Hernandez riding him back and a bullet workout (:46.4h) at San Luis Rey Downs since raced the son of Carpe Diem looks solid. He’s our third consecutive win play and rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:11 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 11-Split the Double; 8-Red Diamond Forecast: We’ll go two-deep in the seventh race, a slalom event for first-level allowance fillies and mares. Split the Double looks intriguing. She shows the always-popular route-to-sprint angle and a preference for sprint races, so we’re expecting the J. Sadler-trained filly to settle in the second flight outside and then explode crossing the dirt track. The English-bred filly is strong in the speed figure department, shows a healthy work tab for her first outing since mid-March, and catches a pace flow that should allow J. J. Hernandez to pick a preferred position during the early stages. Red Diamond is a tad slower on numbers than Split the Double but is improving with experience and appears set to produce another forward move after finishing a solid second in a similar affair over the flat course. The bulk of our action will go to Split the Double, but we’ll have tickets using both in rolling exotic play. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:42 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 10-Dick Best; 5-Bag’s Gold Forecast: This maiden $50,000 claiming sprint for California-bred runners looks borderline inscrutable, so the best advice is to use as many as your budget allows. For small ticket players, you can try to survive and advance using just the two listed above. Dick Best Bag’s Gold didn’t run badly in his debut when a willing third at this level last month. He adds Lasix and can be expected to be fitter and stronger with that race behind him. Look for him to be doing his best work from off the pace. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:13 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 9-Eddie’s New Dream; 5-Keyflower; 3-Canoodling Forecast: Eddie’s New Dream has made a lucrative living cleaning up on state-bred competition but she’s good enough to act with open company as well, and in her present form the daughter of Square Eddie rates a big look in this year’s edition of the Wilshire S.-G3 for fillies and mares over a mile on grass. Equally effective sprinting or routing, the B. Cecil-trained filly was an extra game winner over previously unbeaten Becca Taylor in the Irish O’Brien S. down the Hill last time out and a similar effort today should be good enough. Keyflower shortens to a mile, exits the tougher Santa Ana S.-G3, and will be dangerous from off the pace. She tends to find trouble but with clear sailing today the French-bred filly will pose a serious threat in the final furlong. Canoodling has races that put her in the hunt, including her win in the listed Megahertz S. over this course and distance two races back. She is capable of being a strong pace presence if allowed to show her natural speed. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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5.1.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis: Sunday, May 1, 2022

It is closing night at Cal Expo and that means mandatory payouts in all pools. The 0.20 Pick 4 starts in Race 5. The 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 5 4-Allmyx'sliventexas (7/5)-Threw a clunker in last but this is a soft bunch except for #6. Don't see the need to be used hard off the gate and should bounce back with a big try. 6-Chase The Gold (9/5)-Has cashed 2nd place checks in the last 2 after winning 9 straight. Could start a new steak if brings his best effort tonight. Race 6 3-Imma Tank (6-1)-Drops to spot to shine and should offer a solid price. Stewart needs to work a smooth trip and keep the 9-year-old near the top of the stack. 5-Albergo Hanover (2-1)-Program chalk drops in search of the 1st win of the year (0-10). Lackey should have his own pupil rolling hard down the stretch. Race 7 5-Bunkerhill Bill (9/2)-Faded down the lane when bumped up to this class last week. Draws well, beat 2 from this field in last and the price should be right to take a swing. 6-Cowboy Dirtyboots (6-1)-Has had excuses in the last few and will need a good steer here. This barn has been cold but will look for a price again and play against the program chalk #1. Race 8 1-Raider Rose (8/5)-Comes off a nice win, took control early on and didn't look back. Loses Plano but Grundy should have this mare forwardly placed throughout. 4-Snoah (9/2)-Steps-up off a sharp win and takes on some older foes but was Svendsen's choice over #6. Will look for another top effort from this Johnson trainee and best to not overlook. 0.20 Pick 4 4,6/3,5/5,6/1,4 Total Bet=$3.20 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.30.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Saturday, April 30, 2022

  Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 8-Self Isolation; 10-Freedom Lass; 4-Pop Pop’s Dream; 9-Dolly May Forecast: The opener is a challenging nine-furlong turf affair for first-level allowance fillies and mares that requires a spread in rolling exotic play. We’ll go four-deep, but feel free to expand your coverage if you deem it necessary. Self Isolation (TOC=2-1; ML=4-1) took seven races to figure things out but after a pair of gate-to-wire wins at a mile over the local lawn the daughter of Square Eddie steps into open company while stretching out in distance. Clearly most effective as the controlling speed, the D. O’Neill-trained Cal-bred shows a recent bullet half mile workout at San Luis Rey Downs (4f, :47.3h) to remain on edge and should be tough to catch once again if not pressured early. However, there are a couple of other speed types in the field that may make her work a bit harder than she’s been used to, so we’ll put her on top but not with a great degree of confidence. Freedom Lass (TOC=4-1; ML=4-1) projects to inherit a pace-stalking trip outside and will have dead aim and every chance from the quarter pole home. Pop Pop’s Dream (TOC=6-1; ML=7/2) may be the most dangerous of the closing types. Her best chance depends on a favorable race shape; the faster the better. Dolly May (TOC=12-1; ML=12-1) tackles older foes for the first time in her third start off a layoff, and while her recent form appears lackluster she is another that could be heard from late if a faster-than-average early pace materializes. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:30 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 2-E Z Pharis; 1-Cocktail Princess Forecast: Four of the six entrants in this maiden juvenile sprint for fillies were bred by T. Lovingier, who has retained ownership interest in three, including E Z Pharis, a daughter of American Pharoah which was bid up and then bought back as a yearling for $350,000. Her workouts at San Luis Rey Downs look pretty solid, so we’ll make the one to beat in a modest event. Cocktail Princess, also carrying the Lovingier colors, is a Stay Thirsty filly that worked a solo half mile from the gate (see below) two weeks ago and did enough to indicate some ability. We’re expecting the winner to be one of these two, with preference on top to E Z Pharis. Notable Workouts: Cocktail Princess (April 16, Santa Anita, 4f, :47.1hg). Grade: B- May have gone a tad slower than given in solo gate drill for Periban, splits of :24 flat, :35.2 and :47.3 on our watches, hustled along early and under mild coaxing late, not bad for an unraced juvenile filly. Seems fit and should have a reasonable look first time out if no world beaters show up. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 1:59 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 3-Del Mar Drama; 1-On Purpose; 5-Gallovie Forecast: We’ll use three of the six entrants in this starter’s allowance ($50,000) grass sprint for fillies and mares but otherwise pass the race. Del Mar Drama (TOC=5/2; ML=5/2) is winless in five starts over the local lawn but she owns a distinct edge on speed figures and projects to enjoy a comfortable pace-stalking trip in a race that projects to have moderate splits, at best. She’s hit the board in her last six starts and seems likely to fire another good shot in an open fray. On Purpose (TOC=2-1; ML=4-1) is another with speed figures that put her squarely in the hunt. From the rail, she’s assured a ground-saving, stalking trip and have dead aim from the top of the lane to the wire. Gallovie (TOC=4-1; ML=2-1) has the route-to-sprint angle on her resume and healthy series of workouts at San Luis Rey Downs to have her primed for a major effort. If she can make the lead without undue pressure, the English-bred mare could get brave and take the field a long way. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:29 PT Grade: X Use (in order of preference: 3-Brickyard Ride; 5-Miles Ahead Forecast: Here’s another short field affair that offers little wagering value, so we’ll double the race using the two main contenders but otherwise pass. Brickyard Ride (TOC=7/5; ML=6/5) has won eight of 11 career outings over the Santa Anita main track but was a weak runner-up (beaten almost 10 lengths) in last year’s renewal of the Kona Gold S.-G3. Perfect in three starts this year, the veteran son of Clubhouse Ride is at least as good if not better this time around, and in a race in which he’ll easily be the controlling speed the veteran sprinter in C. Lewis’s barn should be more than capable of continuing his winning ways. Miles Ahead (TOC=4/5; ML=8/5) is a formidable invader from Florida and will enjoy a perfect pace-stalking trip outside. Fresh from a career top victory in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes in mid-February over the high class Drain the Clock, the son of Competitive Edge will be there to pick up the pieces should ‘Ride fail to punch it in late. Notable Workouts: Brickyard Ride (April 21, Santa Anita, 4fm :48.1h). Grade: B+ Breezing every step of the way, smooth as silk, splits of :12 flat, :23.4, and :48.1. Nice and relaxed while maintaining his edge. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 2:59 PT Grade: B+ Single: 5-Fast Buck Forecast: If Fast Buck (TOC=4-1; ML=7/2) runs as well today as he did when beating state-bred maidens over this turf course last month, he’ll almost assuredly repeat on the raise. Despite a very slow start, the son of Gallant Son gained a clear lead before the opening quarter while displaying intense speed and then kept on going to win with a figure that far exceeds par for this level. The Los Alamitos-based gelding shows a healthy work tab since raced (including a bullet half mile move in :59h), so we’ll make him a strong win play and logical rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:33 PT Grade: X Single: 3-Express Train Forecast: Express Train (TOC=1/5; ML=4/5) simply lays over this year’s Californian S.-G2 field using any kind of metric available. The J. Shirreffs-trained son of Union Rags seeks his fourth straight win while continuing to impress in the a.m., and after winning the Big ‘Cap-G1 in early March with a career top number he shouldn’t have any difficulty with today’s four other rivals. He’s a rolling exotic single in a race that offers no wagering value. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:03 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 2-If Id Told You; 10-Anitanewmercedes; 6-Discretionary Day Forecast: There are three main players in this state-bred, first-level allowance turf miler and they’re tough to separate. If Id Told You (TOC=5/2; ML=5/2) finished a strong runner-up in a similar affair in late March and did so despite lacking room in the stretch that may have cost him the race. Logic says he can win today with a better trip. Anitanewmercedes (TOC=3-1; ML=6-1) made the running in that same race and held on well to be a close third, beaten just over a length. He knows how to win races (eight of 24) and can be tough on the front end or from a stalking position, so the Bay Area-based gelding should be the one to fear most. Discretionary Day (TOC=6-1; ML=6-1), freshened since late February, does his best on the front end and likely will employ gate-to-wire tactics. He was third at this level with a career-top speed figure last time out and will be right there if he can produce another forward move. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:34 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 8-Midnight Memories; 5-Family Affair Forecast: Midnight Memories has done some excellent work preparing for her racing debut, first when under B. Baffert’s supervision and most recently for trainer S. McCarthy. The daughter of Mastery drew the favorable outside post in this extended sprint for maiden fillies and mares and should draft into a cozy stalking position and then have her chance to seal the deal when the pressure is turned on. Family Affair flashed good speed before weakening late when third in a fast, highly-rated event earlier this month, and with another forward move today the P. Eurton-trained daughter of Hard Spun could take some catching. However, at this extended sprint trip, she may be hard pressed to hold off our top pick. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with preference on top to Midnight Memories. Notable Workouts: Midnight Memories (April 16, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.2hg). Grade: B Even but under a nice hold and going the slightly better outside Valiancy (same time) for S. McCarthy, splits of :23.4 :35.1, :47.2 and 1:00.1, plenty left late. Looks like a nice sort and is plenty fit, workmate can run some, too. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:04 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Forgiving Spirit; 12-Disko Tribute Forecast: Forgiving Spirit finished far back as the favorite in his debut last summer at Del Mar and was stopped on. He returns protected in straight maiden company after a series of sharp workouts that clearly indicates he’s much better than his only previous outing indicates. A fast recent gate work (see below) was very impressive, so from the rail in this maiden turf sprint as a first-time Lasix user the son of Shaman Ghost seems like a prime candidate to take control early and never look back. Disko Tribute, a willing third in his debut over this course and distance in February, makes his first start since for new trainer D. Blacker following a $62,500 claim and seems likely to produce a forward move, his extreme outside draw notwithstanding. The recent work tab is steady and healthy, and we’re expecting the son of Tom’s Tribute to making some noise in the final furlong. Both should be included in rolling exotic play, with the main punch going to Forgiving Spirit. Notable Workouts: Forgiving Spirit (April 13, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.1hg). Grade: B+ Best in a gate drill with Superman Shaq (same time) and Classic California (5f, 1:03hg) while looking very sharp throughout, splits of :23.4, :35.2, :47.2 and 1:00.1, something left late, mild pressure in the final stages. Finished far back in his only start but you can toss that race out. Plenty of speed and should fire a big shot off the bench. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 10: Post: 5:36 PT Grade: B Use (In order of preference): 3-Blue Stripe 9-Miss Bigly Forecast: Miss Bigly (TOC=4/5; ML=5/2) was seven lengths clear of the rest when a respectable runner-up to subsequently retired As Time Goes By in the Beholder Mile-G1 in early March and without that filly to worry about today the veteran daughter of Gemologist is the one to beat in this year’s renewal of the Santa Margarita S.-G2 for fillies and mares. Successful in eight of 24 career starts, the P. D’Amato-trained ex-claimer always has been genuine and consistent and employs an ideal pace-stalking style that usually produces a clean, trouble-free trip. A bullet six furlong workout (1:12h) six days ago tells us she’s right on edge. Blue Stripe (TOC=10-1; ML=6-1) was out of her element when far back in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff-G1 in her U.S. debut last fall but her South American form, which includes a Group-1 win last year, was more than decent. Freshened and working extremely well, the M. Polanco-trained daughter of Equal Stripes could pose a serious challenge from the head of the lane to the wire if given the patient ride she requires. At 6-1 on the morning line, she offers better wagering value than ‘Bigly, so while we’ll include both in our rolling exotics, the main push goes to Blue Stripe. Notable Workouts: Blue Stripe (April 23, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.4h). Grade: B Easy early, strong late, mild urging through the lane, splits of :36.4 and 1:01.1, a couple of ticks slower than given but sharp nonetheless. Clearly better than her poor BC Distaff-G1 effort. Better acclimated now. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 11: Post: 6:09 PT Grade: B Use (In order of preference): 4-Dicey Mo Chara; 7-Beyond Brilliant; 6-Masteroffoxhounds Forecast: Dicey Mo Chara (TOC=6-1; ML=4-1) should have sufficient pace to set things up for his late kick in a race in which the two other main contenders may be vulnerable. The English-bred gelding earned a career top number when narrowly missing in the 12-furlong San Luis Rey S.-G3 last month and should be just as effective in this mile and one-quarter grass affair. Relatively lightly-raced (10 starts) and improving as he gets acclimated, the L. Powell-trained son of Adaay will get the patient ride he needs from D. Van Dyke and is worth a gamble in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. For protection, you may want to include Beyond Brilliant (TOC=7/5; ML=9/5) and Masteroffoxhounds (TOC=7/2; ML=2-1) somewhere on your ticket as well. The former is suspect at this distance and is winless in four starts over the local lawn, while the latter has gone more than a year without winning though his most recent runner-up outing vs. allowance foes may indicate that he's rounding back to good form. Both are capable of winning at this level with their best efforts. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 12: Post: 6:38 PT Grade: B+ Single: 7-Motorious Forecast: The finale is a Hillside Turf Course sprint for first-level allowance older horses that looks made to order for Motorious (TOC=4-1; ML=3-1). The P. D’Amato-trained gelding was extremely well-meant in his U.S. debut last month but had to settle for second after a slow start and a wide trip behind the tough-as-nails Cotopaxi in better-than-par six furlong affair over the flat course. Though winless in six starts on grass, the English-bred gelding performed well overseas on the lawn and has the mid-pack, late-running style that usually works so well over this unique layout. Three nice training track breezes since raced should have him set to produce a significant forward move, so with good racing luck he should be along on plenty of time as a win play and rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Motorious (April 24, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.3h TT). Grade: B+ Broke off a couple of lengths in front of Amy C (5f, 1:01.2h TT) and held that one at bay through the lane while mostly on his own, full of run to the finish with splits of :12.1 and :36 flat for the final three furlongs. Had a promising local debut recently and should step forward big time with that race behind him. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.30.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Hoosier Park Pick 4 Analysis | Saturday, April 30, 2022

Tonight, Hoosier Park has 13 races scheduled. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 10, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 10 2-Bridge To Jesse's (5/2)-Double qualified and the last was a 22-length romp. Looks like all systems are go to fire hot off the bench. 4-Miss Smead (7/2)-Takes a meaningful drop out of Open company and lands at the level of its last win on 3-26. Appears to have the best chance of taking down the program chalk #2. Race 11 4-JB's Shooting Star (3-1)-Bates takes a seat as Tetrick sticks with the George entry #5. Fits well at this level and should be in the hunt at the wire. 5-Always A Spinster (7/2)-Drops in the 2nd start off the bench and Tetrick returns. Beaten favorite could be much better after a needed start. 8-Uncut Gem (6-1)-Beaten 9/5 chalk drops to a better spot. Will look for Putnam to be more aggressive here and should offer a solid price. Race 12 4-Flagman (7/2)-Lost all chance with a break caused by the driver. Now makes the 2nd start after shipping in from the Pomp. Should be a player if dialed on high and has won 7 of 38 races at HoP. 6-It's A Herbie (5/2)-Steps-up after drawing off versus easier last week. This looks like a chalky race and Herbie is back at his favorite track. Hoosier Park record is very good (32-12-11-2). Race 13 1-Mel's Vicki Lou (5-1)-Was used hard from post 7 to get on the point and just missed versus this kind last week. Won't be 10-1 but best to respect versus this crew. 2-U'll Learn (8-1)-Stayed inside and came away with an efficient win last time and now loses Bates who will steer his own. Comes back versus the same kind and Oosting could follow a similar script. 4-Debt Motivated (3-1)-This handy mare has raced well in the last 3 starts and Wilfong should have her in striking range turning for the wire. 0.50 Late Pick 4 2,4/4,5,8/4,6/1,2,4 Total Bet=$18 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.29.2022:

Kentucky Derby Notes: Friday, April 29, 2022

  ZANDON WORKS FIVE FURLONGS IN 1:00.40; MESSIER, SIMPLIFICATION WORK ON BOTH COASTS FOR DERBY 148 LOUISVILLE, KY (Friday, April 29, 2022) – There were three works on the Kentucky Derby front Friday morning with the one at Churchill Downs featuring Jeff Drown’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Zandon. Working on his own at 7:30 (all times Eastern) over a fast track with regular morning partner Kriss Bon aboard, Zandon completed the five furlongs in 1:00.40 for trainer Chad Brown. Churchill Downs clockers caught Zandon in fractions of :12.80, :25, :36.80, 1:00.40 and out in 1:12.80 and 1:26.40. Working about the same time at Gulfstream Park was Tami Bobo’s Fountain of Youth (GII) winner Simplification who worked five furlongs in 1:00.44 for trainer Antonio Sano over a muddy track. Junior Alvarado was aboard for the work that was the fastest of 10 at the distance for the morning. A few hours later at Santa Anita, Messier, the runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 for trainer Tim Yakteen. It will be a different story Saturday beneath the Twin Spires with more than half of the projected Derby field scheduled to have their final works. Slated to work are the Todd Pletcher trio of Charge It, Mo Donegal and Pioneer of Medina; the Brad Cox trio of Cyberknife, Tawny Port and Zozos; the Kenny McPeek duo of Smile Happy and Tiz the Bomb; Un Ojo for Ricky Courville, Classic Causeway for Brian Lynch and Barber Road for John Ortiz. Meanwhile at Gulfstream Park, C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stable’s Florida Derby (GI) winner White Abarrio is scheduled to work for Saffie Joseph Jr. and at Keeneland, Calumet Farm’s Happy Jack is scheduled to work at 7:30 for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill. Jockey Rafael Bejarano is slated to be aboard for the breeze. BARBER ROAD – WSS Racing’s Barber Road galloped about 1 1/2 miles at 7:30 a.m. Friday under exercise rider Daniel Ortiz. Trained by John Ortiz, Barber Road is scheduled to work Saturday. CLASSIC CAUSEWAY – Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s Classic Causeway had an easy morning at the track for trainer Brian Lynch. The Giant’s Causeway colt jogged about one mile and continued to have a light canter in the chute. Classic Causeway is scheduled to work Saturday morning with jockey Julien Leparoux in the saddle. CHARGE IT, MO DONEGAL, PIONEER OF MEDINA – The Todd Pletcher-trained trio had routine gallops of 1 3/8 miles Friday morning, the day before their final works for Kentucky Derby 148. Whisper Hill Farm’s Charge It was partnered by Hector Ramos and will have Derby rider Luis Saez aboard for Saturday’s work at 7:30. Sumaya U. S. Stables’ Pioneer of Medina had Carlos Perez aboard for Friday’s exercise and Perez is expected to handle Saturday’s work. Donegal Racing’s Mo Donegal came out at 8 o’clock with Amelia Green aboard. Irad Ortiz Jr. is scheduled to be aboard for Saturday’s work. CROWN PRIDE (JPN) – Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN) galloped a mile under exercise rider Masa Matsuda. Winner of the UAE Derby (GII), Crown Pride is trained by Koichi Shintani who is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Sunday night. Yoshida is expected to be here Derby Day. CYBERKNIFE, TAWNY PORT, ZOZOS – Trainer Brad Cox’s Derby trio of Cyberknife, Tawny Port and Zozos all had a more energetic 1 1/2-mile gallop leading into the final Derby works Saturday. Cyberknife, with Katie Tolbert aboard, and Tawny Port, with Edvin Vargas, both trained at 7:30 a.m. About 40 minutes earlier, Zozos galloped with Kelvin Perez up. EPICENTER – Led by assistant trainer Scott Blasi, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter came out at 5:50 a.m. Under exercise rider Roberto Howell, the Not This Time colt went through his routine gallop. Winner of four out of past last five, including the Risen Star (GII) and TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (GI), Sunday will be Epicenter’s third workout since arriving at Churchill Downs from Fair Grounds MESSIER – Santa Anita Derby (GI) runner-up Messier worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 on his own with Drayden Van Dyke up at Santa Anita for trainer Tim Yakteen. Messier is scheduled to fly with Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba on Sunday to Indianapolis and then van to Churchill Downs. Tabia worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 on Thursday at Santa Anita. SIMPLIFICATION – Despite a muddy track at Gulfstream Park, Tami Bobo’s Simplification worked five furlongs in 1:00.44 for the best of 10 works at the distance. Junior Alvarado was aboard Simplification for trainer Antonio Sano. Jose Ortiz has the Derby mount. “Everything was great,” Sano said of the work that produced fractions of :37 and 1:00.44 with out times of 1:12.80, 1:25.20 and the mile in 1:38.60. “I couldn’t be happier. He leaves here at 5 this afternoon by van.” Sano, who will arrive in Louisville Sunday afternoon, had his first Kentucky Derby starter in 2017 with Gunnevera who finished seventh behind Always Dreaming. Gunnevera came back to Churchill Downs the following year and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI). SMILE HAPPY, TIZ THE BOMB – Trainer Kenny McPeek’s Derby hopefuls —Magdalena Racing’s Tiz the Bomb and Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy — again galloped a mile and a half Friday morning. Edwardo Ruvalcaba was aboard Tiz the Bomb and Danny Ramsey was on Smile Happy. “They’re doing super,” said McPeek, who plans to give them their final works Saturday during the period reserved for Derby and Oaks horses. SUMMER IS TOMORROW – Michael Hilary Burke and Negar Burke’s Summer Is Tomorrow made a visit to the starting gate and then galloped a mile under Heinz Runge for trainer Bhupat Seemar. Runner-up in the UAE Derby (GII), Summer Is Tomorrow is scheduled to work Sunday. The Burkes are scheduled to arrive in Louisville next week for the Derby. UN OJO – Cypress Creek Equine and Whispering Oaks Farm’s Un Ojo walked through the paddock and then galloped a mile and a half under Clay Courville, son of trainer Ricky Courville. The elder Courville was on hand Friday morning after arriving Thursday from his home base in Lafayette, Louisiana. “He looks pretty good to me,” said Courville, who last saw his Rebel (GII) winner more than a week ago when he departed for Churchill Downs. Un Ojo, who is missing his left eye, was equipped with a new blinker Friday morning. “I tried a new blinker to cover his eye,” Courville said. “He may work in it in the morning. I’ll talk it over with the owners.” Un Ojo is scheduled to work at 7:30 Saturday with Clay Courville up. ZANDON – Jeff Drown’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Zandon has his scheduled Saturday moved up one day by trainer Chad Brown. The Blue Grass (GI) winner worked a swift five furlongs in 1:00.40 under exercise rider Kriss Bon. Zandon, one of the top contenders in this year’s Derby, began his work at the half-mile pole and completed the breeze at the seven-eighths pole. He completed early eighth-mile fractions of :12.80, :25, and :36.80. Zandon completed his work with a seven-furlong gallop out of 1:26.40. “I just didn’t want to take any chances with the weather forecast, even though it looks better for tomorrow,” Brown said. “The track is in fabulous shape. You’re not going to get a better track to train over than we got this morning. “With horses at this level heading into the Derby, very few of them work poorly,” Brown said. “It’s the best of the crop running in the Derby. You just hope that you can be in that group of good workers and not in that small one that may not work well.” Zandon will be ridden in the Derby by Flavien Prat. SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Here’s the current Top 20 horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby (with jockey and trainer): Epicenter (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen); Zandon (Flavien Prat, Chad Brown); White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione, Saffie Joseph Jr.); Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Cyberknife (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Crown Pride (JPN) (Christophe Lemiere, Koichi Shintani); Taiba (Mike Smith, Tim Yakteen); Simplification (Jose Ortiz, Antonio Sano); Smile Happy (Corey Lanerie, Kenny McPeek); Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux, Brian Lynch); Tawny Port (TBA, Brad Cox); Barber Road (Rey Gutierrez, John Ortiz); Un Ojo (Ramon Vazquez, Ricky Courville); Early Voting (TBA, Chad Brown); Messier (John Velazquez, Tim Yakteen); Zozos (Manny Franco, Brad Cox); Summer Is Tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona, Bhupat Seemar); Charge It (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher); Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano, Doug O’Neill).

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4.29.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis | Friday, April 29, 2022

  Cal Expo has an 8-race card scheduled for tonight. The 0.20 Pick 4 starts in Race 5. The sequence has a $25,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below ae based on a fast track. Race 5 4-Dancin Lance (5/2)-This Smith trainee has battled #5 all meet and has his share of pictures. It looks like these two are going to be dueling down the lane again. 5-A Major Omen (1/1)-Svendsen takes over for Roland tonight and this Longo entry has won 3 straight. This is the one to beat. Race 6 2-Bobs Time (2-1)-Hasn't won since the end of January and likes to follow. Tough to leave out versus this crew but probably won't offer any value. Using, but looking to others at a better price. 5-Frisky Pedro (7/2)-Should be able to leave and get a good early seat. Plano could be aggressive as there isn't much gate speed in this field. Might be in line for a suck-around trip and then roll by down the lane. 6-Miki's Magic Ride (12-1)-Willing to take a swing on this price shot and hope the fractions are lively. If Grundy can stay within striking range, this 6-year-old might be rolling fastest of all down the lane. Race 7 3-Helen's Girl (8/5)-Started well behind from the 8-hole in last and couldn't make up any ground. Did pace the back half in 56.4 and with an alert beginning it could be picture time. 5-Summer Fantasy (4-1)-This mare has the speed to win and should be a fair price. One move-type needs a good steer, and the short field won't hurt chances. Race 8 1-Roaring Home (4-1)-Stewart steers for the 2nd straight time and will need to work an efficient trip. Should be competitive on the drop and drawing the rail could help. 3-Delightfully Wild (3-1)-This veteran hasn't been able to finish off miles but figures to be in the mix at this level. Plano's choice over the 1/2/6 may have found a beatable field and will play against the #4, the 8/5 program chalk. 0.20 Pick 4 4,5/2,5,6/3,5/1,3 Total Bet=$4.80 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.28.2022:

Jeff Siegel's Triple Crown Rankings | Updated April 28, 2022

1 – Zandon (C. Brown) – Was highly impressive in victory in the Blue Grass S.-G2 while giving every indication of having developed into a true Classic contender. Raced in heavy traffic to the head of the lane but then found room and produced an electric turn of foot to win by two and one-half widening lengths before galloping out far in front. His speed figures have risen with every outing with the expectation that he will continue to improve with experience and distance. It would be no surprise if he went to the post as the lukewarm Kentucky Derby favorite. Latest workout: April 23, 2022, Keeneland, 4f, :48.3b (24/94). 2 – Epicenter (S. Asmussen) – Squashed what proved to be unfounded concerns about his ability to win without a front-running trip in the 9.5F Louisiana Derby-G2, and not only did the son of Not This Time stalk, pounce, and accelerate in his thoroughly pleasing two and one-half length victory, he did so with a career top speed figure and without being asked for his best. His numbers have risen in each of his six career starts and there are no worries about the Derby’s classic distance. Latest workout: April 24, 2022, Churchill Downs, 6f, 1:12.1b (3/4). 3 – Messier (T. Yakteen) – Pressed the pace, took command into the lane but simply couldn’t stay with stable mate Taiba in the final sixteenth and wound up second best, beaten two lengths while 10 clear of the rest, in the Santa Anita Derby-G1. Still the fastest in his class based on speed figures, the son of Empire Maker was making his first start in more than two months following a runaway a 15-length victory in the Robert B. Lewis S.-G2 in early February and could easily produce a significant forward move at Churchill Downs with this excellent tightener behind him. Latest workout: April 23, Santa Anita, 5f, :59.4h (9/48). 4 – Taiba - (T. Yakteen) - Purchased last year in the Fasig-Tipton March 2-year-old in training sale for $1.7 million, the son of Gun Runner has come from nowhere to rank among the very best in his division, winning his debut in March by more than seven lengths (when trained by B. Baffert) and then stepping into Grade-1 company, stretching out to nine furlongs, and proving clearly best over stable mate Messier in the Santa Anita Derby, with both performances earning triple digit Beyer speed figures. Will try to become the first horse since Leonatus in 1883 to win the Kentucky Derby off just two career starts. We wouldn’t put it past him. Latest workout: April 28, Santa Anita, 6F, 1:12.4h (1/4). 5 – Charge It (T. Pletcher) – Finished a troubled (mostly self-caused) second in the fair-to-moderate Florida Derby-G2 behind perfect tripper White Abarrio after getting away a bit slowly and taking dirt for the first time when settling behind the leader, appearing to climb while somewhat unsettled midway, and then lugging in and swapping leads twice from the furlong pole to the wire before going down by little more than a length. The raw talent is there but he’ll have to grow up in a hurry to have a say in a 20-runner runner field in the Kentucky Derby-G1. Latest workout: April 22, Churchill Downs, 5f, 1:00.2b, 10/47)). 6 – White Abarrio (S. Joseph, Jr.) – His only defeat came when third (beaten six lengths) behind Smile Happy in the KJC S.-G2 at Churchill Downs last fall but he remained unbeaten in four starts at Gulfstream Park with a perfect trip, pace-stalking victory in the Florida Derby-G1 that produced a speed figure a few points below what likely will be required to win the Kentucky Derby-G1. He had missed some training time prior to his most recent win due to a minor illness, so there is hope that he can step forward in Louisville. Latest workout: Latest workout: April 24, Gulfstream Park, 5f, 1:00b (5/13). 7 – Mo Donegal (T. Pletcher) – Didn’t get the best of runs when rallying too late to be third in the Holy Bull S.-G3 in early February but took full advantage of a dream run to tag pace setter Early Voting by a neck in the Wood Memorial S.-G2 two months later (he had been entered and scratched in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 in early March). Lacks a great turn of foot but has no distance limitations and has plenty of room to develop with additional experience. Speed figures have risen with each outing though another forward move (entirely possible) will be required to win or at least hit the board in Louisville. Latest workout: April 22, Churchill Downs, 4f, :50.1b (49/62). 8 – Simplification (A. Sano) – Reverted to his prior style as a front runner/pace presser when weakening late to finishing third behind White Abarrio in the moderately-rated Florida Derby-G1 after previously being held up in traffic and then quickening late to win the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 the previous month. He clearly prefers patient handling and likely will employ waiting tactics in the Kentucky Derby-G1 but enters the race with a resume that falls short when compared to the top-rated colts in the division. Latest workout: April 22, Gulfstream Park, 5f, :59.2b (4/17). 9– Early Voting (C. Brown) – Suffered his first defeat in three career outings when going down by a neck as the controlling speed to the late-rallying Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial-G2. Despite the gut-wrenching loss, the son of Gun Runner lost little in defeat in a performance that easily earned a career top speed figure. He should be tighter and tougher in his next start, but as of this writing his connections haven’t committed to a Derby start and in fact might be leaning towards the Preakness S.-G1. Latest workout: April 23, Belmont Park, 4f, :49.4b TT (44/118). 10 – Smile Happy (K. McPeek) – Suffered his first career defeat in a better-than-looked runner-up effort behind “loose-on-the-lead” Epicenter in the Risen Star S.-G2 at Fair Grounds in March but then failed to produce a forward move as hoped when runner-up but no match behind Zandon in the Blue Grass S.-G2 in his final Derby prep. Was forced wide early but then enjoyed a perfect stalking trip the rest of the way yet put up little resistance after hitting the front in the final sixteenth, eventually going down by more than two lengths. It is entirely possible that the Derby’s 10-furlong trip will prove to be out of his range. Latest workout: April 23, Churchill Downs, 5f, 1:00.2b (12/70). Knocking on the door: Tiz a Bomb, Cyberknife, Zozos, Barber Road

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4.28.2022:

Frank Carulli: Golden Gate Late Pick 4 | Friday, April 29, 2022

It’s San Francisco Mile weekend at Golden Gate Fields, but before Saturday’s featured $250,000 turf stakes, handicappers at the Northern California track will have already covered a lot of distance. The Friday and Saturday cards offer 12 more route races, four that make up the 50-cent Late Pick 4 Friday that looks like this: GG 6th race (6:56 EST) -- SUGAR BEETS rallied for back-to-back wins at one mile in the winter but was no threat in three follow-up tries against the likes of America Great (4-11, $48k), Bernalino (18/4-3-7, $77k) and Vantage Point (2-1 odds or less in 8 of his last 9 starts). He gets class relief, adds blinkers and is the top choice in the leadoff leg. DARK AIM steps up off the claim, but he appeared to have the runner-up measured in victory last out and can repeat. SOUTHEAST ASIA finally escaped a traffic jam and upstaged a series of in-the-money finishes with a victory over stretch-out sprinter Katzumoto, who fired a big shot off the claim. GG 7th race (7:26 EST) -- GRAZIN AT SUNRISE stretches out off a much improved second start sprinting, when she chased solid fractions on a track that played extremely fast and held third. She can control the pace from the outside today and the transition to the turf should be no problem for the daughter of Grazen, whose progeny include graded stakes-winning grass routers Lieutenant Dan (8-17, $833k) and Enola Gray (7-12, $585k). RUN FOR MY HONEY showed steady progress while finishing second in her four starts at one mile. She figures to beat this group, but she has yet to race on turf and offers little value at 8-5 on the morning line. THREE DIMENSIONAL is a viable longshot as the first foal out of a dam who earned nearly half her bankroll on turf with a win, second and third. GG 8th race (7:56 EST) -- Five entrants reunite and switch surfaces after a 1-1/16-mile battle on the turf 20 days ago. SKY MAKER won that day, stalking pace-controlling favorite SHE’S SO SHINY from between rivals and getting up in the shadow of the wire to prevail in her first try around two turns and on the grass. Sky Maker was one of three winners to come out of her prior race and the improving 3-year-old ran second to odds-on Miss Union (11/4-2-4, $97k) prior to that. REMEMBER SUE was no threat to the top pair, but she merits a second look off her prior form on the all-weather surface. She ascended the class – and speed figure -- ranks with two wins and two seconds at one mile since entering the 25-percent Steiner barn. GG 9th race (8:26 EST) -- Go deep in this field of unproven maiden turf milers. LOVELY LOLA takes a magnified class drop after she finished a distant third twice at Santa Anita -- behind Arizona Oaks winner Unsolved Mystery and 4-to-5 runaway Work To Live. PRAY TO AN ANGEL is proven at this level and a must use in her first turf start. Her dam was 9/3-3-0 on the lawn. ARISTEIA and LIVIN’ AT THE BU finished second and third at 1-1/8 miles on the turf behind Starship Endeavor, who repeated her wire-to-wire victory in a $12,500/N2L turf-to-dirt claimer next out. KID IN THE FOREST ran second against easier foes at first asking, but her dam was a $75,000 turf earner. Suggested 50-cent Ticket GG 6th Race: 3, 5, 7 GG 7th Race: 3, 7, 8 GG 8th Race: 6, 7 GG 9th Race: 2, 3, 6, 8, 11 COST: $45    

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4.28.2022:

Kentucky Derby Notes: Thursday, April 28, 2022

UNDEFEATED TAIBA PUTS IN FINAL KENTUCKY DERBY WORK AT SANTA ANITA LOUISVILLE, KY (Thursday, April 28, 2022) – The principal action for Kentucky Derby 148 occurred more than 2,000 miles west of Churchill Downs Thursday morning as Santa Anita Derby (GI) winner Taiba worked six furlongs in 1:12.80. “It was very straight forward,” trainer Tim Yakteen said. “He worked three-quarters from the five-eighth pole. It was a typical Taiba work and we accomplished what we wanted. I got him in 1:12.60 and out in 1:26. We’re good.” Drayden Van Dyke was aboard Taiba who worked in company with the 4-year-old American Admiral. Owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Taiba is undefeated in two career starts will be attempting to become the first horse since Leonatus in 1883 to win the Kentucky Derby in his third start. Yakteen plans to work Messier, the Santa Anita Derby runner-up, Friday morning with both colts scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Indianapolis on Sunday and then van south to Churchill Downs. “My general feeling is that both horses are doing really super (following the Santa Anita Derby),” Yakteen said. “They are both very professional and make my job easy.” In addition to Messier working on Friday, Tami Bobo’s Fountain of Youth (GII) winner Simplification is scheduled to work at Gulfstream Park for trainer Antonio Sano. BARBER ROAD – WSS Racing’s Barber Road galloped about 1 1/2 miles at 7:30 a.m. Thursday under exercise rider Daniel Ortiz. CLASSIC CAUSEWAY – Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s Classic Causeway sported his new Kentucky Derby 148 saddle towel and had a 1 1/2-mile gallop at 7:30 a.m. with exercise rider Calamity Compton in the saddle. Jockey Julien Leparoux was on hand to watch his Derby mount gallop. The three-time winner is scheduled to work Saturday. CHARGE IT, MO DONEGAL, PIONEER OF MEDINA – “All is good so far,” trainer Todd Pletcher reported Thursday morning after his trio of Kentucky Derby hopefuls galloped 1 3/8 miles during the 7:30-7:45 training window for Derby and Kentucky Oaks hopefuls. Pletcher plans to work the trio Saturday morning but overnight rain Friday is in the forecast. “We are monitoring the weather,” Pletcher said. On Thursday morning, Donegal Racing’s Mo Donegal was partnered by Amelia Green; Hector Ramos was aboard Whisper Hill Farm’s Charge It; and, Carlos Perez was on Pioneer of Medina. CROWN PRIDE (JPN) – Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN) had a walk day following a half-mile work in :46.40 on Wednesday. CYBERKNIFE, TAWNY PORT, ZOZOS – Trainer Brad Cox’s Derby trio of Cyberknife, Tawny Port and Zozos all had a 1 1/2-mile gallop at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Cox reported all three horses would work Saturday. EPICENTER – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Epicenter returned to his normal 5:45 a.m. training time Thursday. The talented Not This Time colt is scheduled to work Sunday. SMILE HAPPY, TIZ THE BOMB – Trainer Kenny McPeek’s Derby duo of Magdalena Racing’s Tiz the Bomb and Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy galloped a mile and a half Thursday morning with Edwardo Ruvalcaba aboard Tiz the Bomb and Danny Ramsey on Smile Happy. They are scheduled to have works on Saturday. SUMMER IS TOMORROW – With trainer Bhupat Seemar on hand, Michael Hilary Burke and Negar Burke’s Summer Is Tomorrow galloped a mile under Heinz Runge. Following training hours, Summer Is Tomorrow had a paddock schooling session. “Do all the homework now and get the prize next Saturday,” said Seemar, who was returning to Churchill Downs for the first time since 2002 when he was an assistant to Bob Baffert for War Emblem’s Derby. “It has been a long time, but that wasn’t my first Derby,” Seemar said. “I was here as a spectator for Charismatic (in 1999).” Summer Is Tomorrow is scheduled to work Sunday. UN OJO – Cypress Creek Equine and Whispering Oaks Farm’s Un Ojo had a walk day Thursday according to Clay Courville, son of trainer Ricky Courville. Clay Courville had thought about bringing Un Ojo over to the paddock after training hours but opted to wait until Monday “when I have some help.” Help is on the way as his dad left Lafayette, Louisiana, Thursday morning and will be in Louisville tonight. Un Ojo is scheduled to work Saturday. ZANDON – Jeff Drown’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Zandon galloped about 1 1/2 miles at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Zandon is slated to have his final Derby work Saturday. SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Here’s the current Top 20 horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby (with jockey and trainer): Epicenter (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen); Zandon (Flavien Prat, Chad Brown); White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione, Saffie Joseph Jr.); Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Cyberknife (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Crown Pride (JPN) (Christophe Lemiere, Koichi Shintani); Taiba (Mike Smith, Tim Yakteen); Simplification (Jose Ortiz, Antonio Sano); Smile Happy (Corey Lanerie, Kenny McPeek); Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux, Brian Lynch); Tawny Port (TBA, Brad Cox); Barber Road (Reylu Gutierrez, John Ortiz); Un Ojo (Ramon Vazquez, Ricky Courville); Early Voting (TBA, Chad Brown); Messier (John Velazquez, Tim Yakteen); Zozos (Manny Franco, Brad Cox); Summer Is Tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona, Bhupat Seemar); Charge It (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher); Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano, Doug O’Neill).

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4.28.2022:

Race of the Week: San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields | Saturday, April 30, 2022

GRADE 3 $250,000 SAN FRANCISCO MILE AT GOLDEN GATE FIELDS The Lead: It's the biggest day on the racing calendar in Northern California as the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile tops a Golden Gate Fields card that also boasts the California Derby and Oaks. The San Francisco Mile goes as Race 9 of 12 among a half-dozen stakes races. ​Field Depth: GET HER NUMBER is a G1 winner on dirt, NOLDE a G2 turf victor, RESTRAINEDVENGEANCE and FREEPORT JOE are G3 domestic turf winners, and ECRIVAIN is a French G3 winner on grass. The deep lineup includes several graded stakes-placed sorts like INDIAN PEAK, VANNZY, TIZ PLUS, DELAWARE and 2020 San Fran Mile third-place finisher CAMINO DEL PARAISO. In terms of the consistent class, the foreigner ECRIVAIN may have the strongest argument, followed by DELAWARE and RESTRAINEDVENGEANCE. Pace: With 14 turf milers, expect the pace to be brisk into the clubhouse turn with position of such importance. JIMMY BLUE JEANS, TIZ PLUS and GET HER NUMBER appear quickest early, and the latter will have to motor early to compensate for a wide post draw. ​CAMINO DEL PARAISO should be just off the second flight. The pace should be moderate at worst, and maybe a touch on the quick side. Our Eyes: Turf mile races often go to specialists, as much as any division of races in the game. Too many horses are misplaced here because of the crossroads distance between sprint and route. Dirt horses get tossed here as in-betweeners that don't fit just right elsewhere. The true turf milers here in terms of experience and success are TIZ PLUS, DELAWARE, CAMINO DEL PARAISO, RESTRAINEDVEGEANCE and ECRIVAIN. Sort through those 5 of 14 entrants and you'll most likely find the winner. VANZZY kind of hits on the fringes, too, but I prefer some of the aforementioned runners. GET HER NUMBER offers danger upon his best and might end up being a turf miler after trying a bit of everything. TIZ PLUS and DELAWARE come via SoCal as have the last 4 San Francisco Mile winners. Trainer Paddy Gallagher brought Flambouyant here in 2018 to win and will try to replicate that with DELAWARE, who clearly has faced the stronger company of the SoCal milers discussed here. But between them, they're 1-16 in the winner's circle in 2021-'22 and may be better players for the exotics. NoCaler CAMINO DEL PARAISO has been a bit flat late in his last few starts and that fate did him in when a close third in this race in 2020. You almost expect a similar solid, but unsuccessful outcome. This should come down to current SoCal residents RESTRAINEDVENGEANCE and ECRIVAIN. The former has had great success in limited turf mile bids, while the latter got the perfect, old-school allowance prep in his first US start. Richard Mandella now has ECRIVAIN loaded for the money race for $250,000. Most Certain Exotics Contender: RESTRAINED VENGEANCE was third in this race last year, has classy running lines and the mile suits him. Best Longshot Exotics Contender: TIZ PLUS has finished third in his last pair of turf mile stakes bids at 16-1 and 17-1. He'll be a nice number again and could get a share underneath. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $100 win ECRIVAIN.  

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4.28.2022:

Jon White: Kentucky Derby Top 10 Has Much Movement

It’s the last week in April, which means the 148th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs is nearly upon us. There have been a couple of significant developments in the past few days. One involves Tampa Bay Derby winner Classic Causeway. Another involves Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba {pictured above}, who ranked No. 1 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 for the past two weeks. Classic Causeway’s name had been crossed off on the list of Kentucky Derby point earners disseminated by Churchill Downs. At the bottom of the list, it’s explained that when a horse’s name is crossed off, it means the horse is “sidelined, inactive or appears to be no longer under serious Kentucky Derby consideration.” Well, Classic Causeway not only is now under serious consideration, he is running in the 1 1/4-mile classic. This announcement was made Monday (April 25). Classic Causeway kicked off his 2022 campaign with a 3 3/4-length win in Tampa Bay Downs’ Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 12. He followed that with a 2 1/2-length triumph in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby on March 12. Both victories were accomplished in front-running fashion. After the Tampa Bay Derby, Classic Causeway was in the Top 10 on most Kentucky Derby lists. I had him ranked No. 3. Classic Causeway was No. 1 on the Thoroughbred Daily News’ Kentucky Derby rankings compiled by T.D. Thornton. However, Classic Causeway subsequently flopped in Gulfstream Park’s Grade I Florida Derby on April 2. He showed early speed again, but this time he faltered badly and finished 11th. Can a horse rebound from such a poor performance and win the Kentucky Derby? History is against it. According to the Kentucky Derby media guide, from 1940 to present, only three horses have won the Run for the Roses off a race in which they finished worse than fourth. In 2021, Mandaloun finished sixth in the Louisiana Derby. He went on to finish second in the Kentucky Derby, then earlier this year was declared the winner after first-place finisher Medina Spirit was disqualified for a medication violation. For betting purposes, Medina Spirit was the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner. If you don’t count the 2021 renewal, only two horses going all the way back to 1940 have won the roses off a race in which they finished worse than fourth. That does not bode well for Classic Causeway. In 1957, Iron Liege finished fifth in the Derby Trial. He won the Kentucky Derby in his next start. In 1951, Count Turf finished fifth in the Wood Memorial. He took the Kentucky Derby in his next start. One of the most famous pre-Kentucky Derby defeats, of course, came when Secretariat finished third to stablemate Angle Light and Sham in the 1973 Wood Memorial. Back then, the Wood was just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby. Secretariat bounced back big-time, not only winning the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/2 lengths but also posting a final time of 1:59 2/5 to set a track record that has stood for nearly half a century. In 2005, Closing Argument went into the Kentucky Derby off a nine-length loss when third in the Blue Grass Stakes. Nevertheless, I made him my top pick in the Kentucky Derby. Most people didn’t think Closing Argument had a prayer to win, hence his odds of 71-1 at race time. The main reason I went with Closing Argument is I felt he had a very good chance to be either first or second with a furlong to go. By that time I had discovered just how important that is. I also was willing to stick my neck out and go with Closing Argument because he had zero strikes in my Derby Strikes System (more on the system later). “Closing Argument, like War Emblem in 2003, is a Kentucky Derby longshot with the credentials to win,” I wrote for Xpressbet.com in 2005. “He won the Holy Bull (with the vanquished including High Fly) before finishing third behind Bandini and High Limit in the Blue Grass.” It turned out that I was correct about Closing Argument in that he was in front by a half-length with a furlong left to run. He stayed in front until the final yards when not quite able to stave off 50-1 longshot Giacomo. Closing Argument had to settle for second, a half-length behind Giacomo. Though Closing Argument did not win the 2005 Kentucky Derby, he remains one of the picks I’m the most proud of ever making in that he ran so well at such gigantic odds. He paid $70.00 for each $2 place bet. It remains the highest place payoff in the history of the Kentucky Derby. As for Classic Causeway, if I owned him I would skip the Kentucky Derby with him and run him instead in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 21. I think that 1 3/16-mile race is a better fit for him. Of course, it’s a lot easier for me to say I wouldn’t run him in the Kentucky Derby when I don’t actually own him. If a horse does have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby (and Classic Causeway does), I really can’t blame anyone who takes a shot at winning this world-famous, financially consequential event. There is only one Kentucky Derby. And there is just the one chance to run in it. Trainer Brian Lynch said that discussions with Classic Causeway’s owners, Patrick O’Keefe (Kentucky West Racing) and Clarke Cooper, resulted in the decision to run Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Derby despite what happened in the Florida Derby. “I’ve been through every excuse not to run him, and I can’t find one,” Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee quoted Lynch as saying. “The colt has just given me no excuses,” Lynch added. “He’s sound and he worked great Saturday [five furlongs in 1:00.80 at Churchill Downs]. I’ve just got to put a line through the Florida Derby and trek on.” Putting a line through a disappointing race worked before for Lynch. He trained Oscar Performance, who in 2018 was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade I Arlington Million. Not only did Oscar Performance lose, he was pulled up in the stretch and vanned off. “When Oscar Performance appeared to take a bad step in the Arlington stretch, jockey Jose Ortiz acted quickly to pull his mount up and then could do nothing but wait for news as the colt was taken back to the barn for further examination,” BloodHorse’s Alicia Wincze Hughes wrote. “A crises was averted when Oscar Performance cooled out sound and was given a subsequent bill of health after being checked out at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, and when his trainer put him back on the work tab Sept. 3, Oscar Performance confirmed he was unaffected by the incident.” Five weeks after Oscar Performance did not finish in the Arlington Million, he led past every pole in the Grade I Woodbine Mile. He prevailed by 1 1/2 lengths. Barring the unforeseen, Classic Causeway’s presence in the Kentucky Derby will impact the pace. The Giant’s Causeway colt has sat off the early pace only once in six career starts. That was when he finished second as the 7-5 favorite after being fourth early in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill last Nov. 27. Smile Happy won that race by 3 1/4 lengths. CLASSIC CAUSEWAY’S NUMBER OF STRIKES Even though Classic Causeway finished up the track in the Florida Derby, he has just one strike in the Derby Strikes System (DSS) that I developed in 1999. The decision to run him in the Kentucky Derby is more palatable to me than if he had three or more strikes. I developed my Derby Strikes System (DSS) in 1999. It consists of eight key factors that attempt to ascertain the chances a horse has to win the Kentucky Derby from BOTH tactical and historical perspectives. When a horse does not qualify in one of the eight categories, the horse gets a strike. The eight categories in the DSS are listed toward the end of this column/blog/article. A number of the categories in my DSS are tied to a Kentucky Derby being run on the first Saturday in May. As a result, when the race was switched from May 2 to Sept. 5 in 2020 due to COVID-19, it rendered my DSS unworkable for that particular year. Only one horse has won the Kentucky Derby with more than two strikes. That was Mine that Bird, who had four strikes. A horse with zero strikes or only one strike has a much better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than a horse with two strikes or more. According to the DSS as it’s now constituted and excluding the Kentucky Derby of 2020 when the race was run in September, 83% of the Kentucky Derby winners (40 out of 48) have had zero strikes or one strike going back to 1973. The seven Kentucky Derby winners with two strikes were Cannonade (1974), Ferdinand (1986), Sea Hero (1993), Funny Cide (2003), Giacomo (2005), Justify (2018) and Country House (2019). TAIBA NEWS IS A CONCERN The other development, involving Taiba that I mentioned earlier, is Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman reported last Saturday (April 23) that the Gun Runner colt “will have just one work in preparation for the Kentucky Derby, trainer Tim Yakteen said Saturday, a few hours after he worked his other potential Derby starter, Santa Anita Derby runner-up Messier.” Taiba overtook Messier in the final furlong of the nine-furlong Santa Anita Derby and won the Grade I race going away by 2 1/4 lengths. For Taiba to do that with only a six-furlong maiden victory under his belt was “nothing less than phenomenal,” I wrote. After the Santa Anita Derby, Taiba zoomed to the top of my Kentucky Derby Top 10. Yakteen explained to Privman the reasoning behind Taiba having only one workout between the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby. Taiba “doesn’t need much to be fit,” Yakteen said. “I want to go in on the fresher side. He’ll work Thursday or Friday this coming week [April 28 or 29]. I’ll give him a few stronger gallops.” I was not thrilled by the news that Taiba did not have a workout last Sunday (April 24) as originally scheduled. For Taiba to miss that workout and Yakteen to say that he wants the colt to go into the Kentucky Derby “on the fresher side” suggests to me that the Santa Anita Derby did take a lot out of Taiba. If this is the case, it is perfectly understandable considering how much was asked of Taiba for him to run in the Santa Anita Derby having only previously raced once in a maiden sprint. Can Taiba win the Kentucky Derby with but one workout since the Santa Anita Derby? An extremely talented athlete should never be underestimated. And it is clear that Taiba is an extremely talented equine athlete. He has the best Thoro-Graph number, a minus 1/2, among all of this year’s Kentucky Derby candidates. (In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, a higher number is better than a lower one. The opposite is true regarding Thoro-Graph figures.) Taiba recorded his Thoro-Graph number of minus 1/2 in the Santa Anita Derby. The number in his debut victory was a 2. To put these numbers into perspective, they both are better than anything Epicenter has done so far. Many observers believe Epicenter is going to be sent away as the Kentucky Derby betting favorite. His best Thoro-Graph number is a 2 1/2. He has recorded a 2 1/2 twice, first when he won the Grade II Risen Star Stakes, then also when he won the Grade II Louisiana Derby. Do I believe Taiba has the sheer talent to win the Kentucky Derby? You bet I do. But I also can’t help wondering if only one workout between the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby will prove successful. Trying to win the Kentucky Derby in only Taiba’s third career start is enough of a very tough task in itself without making it even more difficult by a revamped workout schedule. Taiba is seeking to become just the second horse to win the Kentucky Derby in his third career start, joining Leonatus, who achieved the feat in 1883. Horseracingnation.com’s Ed DeRosa pointed out on Twitter that since Churchill Downs instituted the points system in 2013, Taiba would be just the third Kentucky Derby starter to race four weeks beforehand and then have only one workout prior to the first Saturday in May. The two others were Irish War Cry, who finished 10th in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and Tax, who ran 15th in the 2019 running. That does not bode well for Taiba. On the other hand, in terms of ability, I would say Irish War Cry and Tax were nowhere close to being in the same league as Taiba. KENTUCKY DERBY TOP 10 My Kentucky Derby Top 10 is how I rank the horses in terms of who I think is the most likely winner of that race. As I mentioned earlier, Taiba ranked No. 1 on my Top 10 the past two weeks. Because of the workout situation, I hemmed and hawed as to whether to move Taiba out of the top spot on my Top 10. I thought about possibly moving him all the way down to No. 5. But I’ve decided to lower him to No. 3. I especially did not want to lower him more than that after some encouraging news Wednesday (April 27). In an interview with the media Wednesday, Yakeen said “Taiba is on schedule. He’s going to breeze tomorrow. We’ll get a good drill in him. We’ll go three-quarters with him. We’ll look for a good, strong drill. He’s got good energy. We’re on schedule. He looks great.” Yakteen was asked if it’s any concern for Taiba to have the one drill going into a 1 1/4-mile race. “No concern,” Yakteen said. “I had to recognize that the horse, even though he bounced out of his race in great shape -- I mean, he looked super and he continues to look super -- I couldn’t overlook the fact of what he accomplished. And more so, more than anything, I wanted to make sure that I was bringing a horse to Kentucky, to Churchill, with a full tank. It would do me no good to take a horse that I misread to Churchill and have him underperform because I overtrained him.” Meanwhile, I find myself circling back to Messier as a strong Kentucky Derby contender. He had been No. 1 on my Top 10 for nine consecutive weeks, but then dropped to No. 3 after finishing second to Taiba in the Santa Anita Derby. I’m moving Messier back into the top spot this week. Now that the Thoro-Graph numbers for the Kentucky Derby are coming into focus, I love what I see in that regard for Messier. I frequently have said that I consider Beyer Speed Figures to be a useful tool for horseplayers. But I’ve also stated many times before that I believe Thoro-Graph numbers are superior to the Beyers. That’s because Thoro-Graph takes more factors into account than the Beyers. 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.” The winner of a race never gets a lower Beyer Speed Figure than the horse who finished second, the horse who finished second never gets 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 numbers, a horse who finished second, or even lower, can get a better number than the winner. This is one of the reasons I think Thoro-Graph is better than Beyers. I consider a Thoro-Graph number to be a much truer reflection of a horse’s performance than a Beyer. Thoro-Graph’s approach reflects the reality that the winner is not necessarily the horse who ran the best race. If you are a serious horseplayer and do not yet utilize Thoro-Graph in your handicapping, you really should. I just wish that I still could see the Thoro-Graph numbers when making the morning line for Santa Anita and Del Mar. Once the morning line started going into the Daily Racing Form, the morning-line odds had to be submitted prior to the Thoro-Graph numbers being posted online. When I was able to incorporate Thoro-Graph into the morning-line process, I was on more of an even playing field with the horseplayers who do seriously use Thoro-Graph numbers. What is the best Thoro-Graph number among all the prospective Kentucky Derby starters this year? It is Taiba’s minus 1/2 in the Santa Anita Derby. The next-best number is White Abarrio’s 1 in his Florida Derby victory. As I noted earlier, possible favorite Epicenter’s two best Thoro-Graph numbers are the 2 1/2 when he won the Grade II Risen Star Stakes and the exact same figure when he won the Grade II Louisiana Derby. When Messier won Santa Anita’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 15 lengths on Feb. 6, Thoro-Graph credited him with running a 1 1/2 (originally a 1). He then was off for two months before registering another 1 1/2 in the Santa Anita Derby. The way I see it, Messier has every right to run another 1 1/2 or quite possibly an even better number on May 7. As I noted earlier, I’m moving Messier back to No. 1 on my Top 10 this week. He was below both Taiba and Epicenter last week. I feel more comfortable going with Messier at No. 1 over Taiba because Messier has much more of a foundation for the Kentucky Derby than Taiba. As for moving Messier above Epicenter, I’m swayed by Messier’s pair of 1 1/2 Thoro-Graph numbers being better than Epicenter’s pair of 2 1/2 numbers. Furthermore, based on Yakteen’s comments Wednesday about Messier, it seems to me that the trainer is anticipating a dynamite performance by the Empire Maker colt on May 7. Yakteen said he thinks Messier’s race in the Santa Anita Derby sets him up “very well” for the Kentucky Derby. “He did have an extended period between races,” Yakteen said. “And he did all of the heavy lifting [in the Santa Anita Derby when pressing pacesetter Forbidden Kingdom]. So I feel we should see a big move forward from Messier. He’s bounced out his race exceptionally well. He doesn’t give me the impression that he was fatigued…I’m very excited about the way he’s doing it in the mornings and looking forward to him moving forward in the afternoon.” Messier’s sire was my pick to win the 2003 Kentucky Derby. I think Empire Maker would have won it if Bobby Frankel would have been able to train the colt like he wanted, which Frankel was not able to do because of Empire Maker’s foot issue that occurred from running on a muddy track in his victory over Funny Cide in the Wood Memorial. Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby. But Empire Maker then took the Belmont Stakes to thwart Funny Cide’s bid to sweep the Triple Crown. Funny Cide ran third in the Belmont. Empire Maker is by Unbridled, who won both the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1990. I’m moving Zandon up to No. 2 this week after he was No. 4 last week. As time has gone on, my respect for Zandon has grown. Check out the improving Thoro-Graph pattern in his four career starts. Zandon received a 6 1/2 at first asking, then a 4 1/2 when the runner-up in the Remsen, then a 2 1/4 when third in the Risen Star, then 1 1/2 when he rallied from last to win the Blue Grass. Epicenter slides down a couple of notches to No. 4 this week on my Top 10. I do still regard him as a major player. There is no question that Epicenter has the credentials to become a Kentucky Derby winner. I’ve elevated Japanese-bred UAE Derby winner Crown Pride from No. 10 to No. 5 this week. More and more I look at him as someone who just might win the Kentucky Derby and continue the recent success of Japanese horses in important races all over the world, such as at the 2021 Breeders’ Cup, plus on the 2022 Saudi Cup and 2022 Dubai World Cup cards. Crown Pride arrived at Churchill Downs on March 30. He has made a favorable appearance in his training there. On Wednesday (April 27), he drilled four furlongs beneath the Twin Spires in a bullet :46.40. “With regular morning partner Masa Matsuda aboard, Crown Pride produced fractions of :11.60 and :23.20 [en route to his four-furlong clocking of :46.40] and galloped out [five furlongs] in 1:00.20 and [six furlongs] in 1:14.80 while working in company with the 4-year-old Southern Passage,” Churchill’s Kentucky Derby Update reported. Below is more detail on Crown Pride’s workout from the keen eye of Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch: “Crown Pride spent a little time warming up in the chute before coming back on the main track to begin his drill while going in company with the Dale Romans-trained Southern Passage, who briefly was on the Kentucky Derby trail himself a year ago and more recently a good second against entry-level allowance company at Keeneland,” Welsch wrote. “Crown Pride, the UAE Derby winner, wore blinkers for the first time locally, an odd-looking set equipped with eye shields to protect him from any kickback that might occur from working behind another horse. “Although the work was officially called in as four furlongs by Crown Pride’s connections, he actually broke off at the five-eighths pole, about four lengths or so behind Southern Passage. After stretching his legs with a :13.01 opening furlong, Crown Pride accelerated rapidly, readily running past his target while getting to the top of the stretch after three-eighths in :35.98. He continued to increase his advantage over a somewhat passive partner while working several paths out from the rail and under pressure to the wire. Crown Pride covered the distance in :59.25 before gearing down seemingly purposefully on the gallop-out, easing up after six furlongs in 1:13.43. This more serious and certainly no less impressive move was in contrast, by design, from several days earlier when he worked solo and breezed through the early stages before finishing full of run into and around the clubhouse turn.” Look, folks, Crown Pride is a serious horse. I wrote this about him for Xpressbet.com earlier this month: “Crown Pride will have plenty of people dismissing him. But I warn you. He just might make his presence felt on the first Saturday in May. I’d go so far as to say I would not rule out another victory by a Japanese horse in an important race on the world stage. He’s won three of four career starts, but he actually had an excuse when he finished sixth in Tokyo’s Hyacinth Stakes on Feb. 20. “The track was muddy the day that Crown Pride lost. But the main reason I believe a line can be drawn through that race is it appears to me that he got squeezed back badly in the initial strides, then has a ridiculously wide trip.” Here is a link to a video of that dirt race, which actually begins on the turf (Crown Pride has saddle towel 9): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GIMPc87_lc This week’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 is below: 1. Messier 2. Zandon 3. Taiba 4. Epicenter 5. Crown Pride 6. Simplification 7. White Abarrio 8. Mo Donegal 9. Tawny Port (new) 10. Cyberknife Tawny Port is a newcomer on my Top 10 this week, while Smile Happy drops off. Brad Cox trains Tawny Port, Cyberknife and Zozos. Not surprisingly, Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife and Louisiana Derby runner-up Zozos are getting considerably more respect than Tawny Port. But I will not be surprised if Tawny Port makes his presence felt in the Kentucky Derby at a big price in the wagering. He might be blossoming at just the right time, much like Charismatic in 1999. Charismatic was my top pick to win the 1999 Kentucky Derby. Why? His Beyer Speed Figures suggested to me that he was a live longshot. In Charismatic’s first 13 starts, all in California, his highest Beyer had been a 95. But then he was sent to Kentucky and won the Lexington Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths. He made a giant leap in the Beyer department, recording a 108 in the Lexington. Charismatic was sent off at 31-1 in the Kentucky Derby. He won. Tawny Port won this year’s Lexington by one length. His price in the Kentucky Derby probably will be at least that of Charismatic’s 31-1. Like Charismatic, Tawny Port showed dramatic improvement figure-wise in the Lexington, not in terms of Beyer Speed Figures but concerning his Thoro-Graph numbers. When Tawny Port finished second to Tiz the Bomb in Turfway Park’s Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks on a synthetic surface April 2, he recorded a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure. He then regressed slightly to an 89 Beyer in the Lexington. Consider how that differs from Thoro-Graph. Thoro-Graph gave Tawny Port a 7 in the Jeff Ruby, then a 2 3/4 in the Lexington. That 2 3/4 puts Tawny Port in the ballpark with the big boys in the Kentucky Derby. UPDATED DERBY STRIKES SITUATION Below you will find the number of strikes for the 20 horses considered at this time to be definite or possible for the 2022 Kentucky Derby, plus nine more who currently do not have enough points to start but whose connections have expressed an interest in running if they can. ZERO STRIKES OR ONE STRIKE Classic Causeway (1 strike, Category 5) Crown Pride (0 strikes) Cyberknife (0 strikes) Early Voting (1 strike, Category 4) Epicenter (0 strikes) Messier (1 strike, Category 4) Mo Donegal (0 strikes) Simplification (1 strike, Category 4) Smile Happy (1 strike, Category 4) Tawny Port (0 strikes) Tiz the Bomb (0 strikes) White Abarrio (0 strikes) Zandon (0 strikes) TWO STRIKES Barber Road (Categories 2 and 3) Bye Bye Bobby (Categories 2 and 4) Major General (Categories 5 and 6) Pioneer of Medina (Catgories 2 and 4) Un Ojo (Categories 3 and 7) Rich Strike (Categories 2 and 3) Skippylongstocking (Categories 1 and 2) Summer Is Tomorrow (Categories 2 and 4) Taiba (Categories 1 and 7) Zozos (Categories 2 and 7) THREE OR MORE STRIKES Charge It (Categories 1, 2 and 7) Golden Glider (Categories 2, 3 and 5) Happy Jack (Categories 2, 3, 6 and 7) In Due Time (Categories 2, 3 and 5) Ethereal Road (Categories 2, 3, 4 and 5) Rattle N Roll (Categories 3, 5 and 6) WINNER’S STRIKES GOING BACK TO 1973 Because two of the categories deal with graded stakes races, the Derby Strikes System can’t go back any further than 1973. Stakes races in this country were not graded until 1973. Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But the stewards disqualified Maximum Security and placed him 17th for committing a foul when he veered out sharply nearing the five-sixteenths marker to cause interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy. Country House was declared the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But in terms of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun is now recognized as the winner following Medina Spirit’s disqualification. The strikes for each Kentucky Derby winner going back to 1973 are below: 2021 Mandaloun (1 strike) Category 4* 2020 race run in September 2019 Country House (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 3** 2018 Justify (2 strikes) Categories 1 and 7 2017 Always Dreaming (1 strike) Category 1 2016 Nyquist (0 strikes) 2015 American Pharoah (0 strikes) 2014 California Chrome (0 strikes) 2013 Orb (0 strikes) 2012 I’ll Have Another (0 strikes) 2011 Animal Kingdom (0 strikes) 2010 Super Saver (1 strike) Category 4 2009 Mine That Bird (4 strikes) Categories 1, 4, 5 and 9 2008 Big Brown (0 strikes) 2007 Street Sense (0 strikes) 2006 Barbaro (0 strikes) 2005 Giacomo (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 5 2004 Smarty Jones (0 strikes) 2003 Funny Cide (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 8 2002 War Emblem (0 strikes) 2001 Monarchos (0 strikes) 2000 Fusaichi Pegasus (1 strike) Category 6 1999 Charismatic (1 strike) Category 5 1998 Real Quiet (0 strikes) 1997 Silver Charm (1 strike) Category 4 1996 Grindstone (0 strikes) 1995 Thunder Gulch (0 strikes) 1994 Go for Gin (0 strikes) 1993 Sea Hero (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 5 1992 Lil E. Tee (0 strikes) 1991 Strike the Gold (0 strikes) 1990 Unbridled (1 strike) Category 3 1989 Sunday Silence (0 strikes) 1988 Winning Colors (0 strikes) 1987 Alysheba (1 strike) Category 2 1986 Ferdinand (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 4 1985 Spend a Buck (0 strikes) 1984 Swale (0 strikes) 1983 Sunny’s Halo (1 strike) Category 1 1982 Gato Del Sol (1 strike) Category 3 1981 Genuine Risk (1 strike) Category 1 1980 Pleasant Colony (0 strikes) 1979 Spectacular Bid (0 strikes) 1978 Affirmed (0 strikes) 1977 Seattle Slew (0 strikes) 1976 Bold Forbes (0 strikes) 1975 Foolish Pleasure (0 strikes) 1974 Cannonade (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 4 1973 Secretariat (0 strikes) *Medina Spirit (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and all purse money forfeited **Maximum Security (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and placed 17th MY DERBY STRIKES SYSTEM’S CATEGORIES What are the eight categories in my Derby Strikes System? They are listed below: 1. THE GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse ran in a graded stakes race before March 31.) This points out horses who have competed against tough competition prior to March 31 rather than at the last minute in April, enabling the horse to be properly battle-tested. (Exceptions: Going back to the introduction of graded stakes races in the U.S. in 1973, only Genuine Risk in 1980, Sunny’s Halo in 1983, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Always Dreaming in 2017 have won the Kentucky Derby without running in a graded stakes race at 2 or early at 3 before March 31.) 2. THE WIN IN A GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse has won a graded stakes race.) This points out horses who have shown they have the class to win a graded stakes race. (Exceptions: Ferdinand in 1986, Alysheba in 1987, Funny Cide in 2003 and Giacomo in 2005 are the only exceptions going back to the introduction of U.S. graded stakes races in 1973; Alysheba in 1987 did finish first in the Blue Grass, only to be disqualified and placed third.) 3. THE EIGHTH POLE CATEGORY. (In either of his or her last two starts before the Kentucky Derby, the horse was either first or second with a furlong to go.) This points out horses who were running strongly at the eighth pole, usually in races at 1 1/16 or 1 1/8 miles. By running strongly at the same point in the Kentucky Derby, a horse would be in a prime position to win the roses. Keep in mind that 53 of the last 56 Kentucky Derby winners through 2021 have been first or second with a furlong to run. Since Decidedly won the Derby in 1962 when he was third with a furlong to go, the only three Kentucky Derby winners who were not first or second with a furlong to run were Animal Kingdom, third with a furlong remaining in 2011 when only a half-length from being second; Giacomo, sixth with a furlong to go in 2005; and Grindstone, fourth with a furlong to run in 1996. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the Kentucky Derby winners who weren’t either first or second a furlong from the finish in his or her last two starts have been Tim Tam in 1958, Carry Back in 1961, Cannonade in 1974, Gato Del Sol in 1982, Unbridled in 1990 and Sea Hero in 1993, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 4. THE GAMENESS CATEGORY. (The horse’s finish position in both of his or her last two races before the Kentucky Derby was no worse than his or her running position at the eighth pole.) This points out horses who don’t like to get passed in the final furlong. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the exceptions have been Venetian Way in 1960, Cannonade in 1974, Foolish Pleasure in 1975, Ferdinand in 1986, Silver Charm in 1997, Mine That Bird in 2009, Super Saver in 2010 and Mandaloun in 2021, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 5. THE DISTANCE FOUNDATION CATEGORY. (The horse has finished at least third in a 1 1/8-mile race or longer before the Kentucky Derby.) This points out horses who have the proper foundation and/or stamina for the Kentucky Derby distance. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the only exceptions have been Kauai King in 1966, Sea Hero in 1993, Charismatic in 1999, Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird in 2009.) 6. THE NO ADDING OR REMOVING BLINKERS CATEGORY. (The horse has not added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her final start at 3 before the Kentucky Derby.) This seems to point out that, if a horse is good enough to win the Kentucky Derby, the trainer is not searching for answers so late in the game. (Going back to 1973, no horse has added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her last start at 3 before winning the Kentucky Derby.) 7. THE RACED AS A 2-YEAR-OLD CATEGORY. (The horse made at least one start as a 2-year-old.) (Exceptions: Apollo in 1882 and Justify in 2018. Going back to 1937, horses unraced as a 2-year-old now are a combined 1 for 67 in the Kentucky Derby through 2021. During this period, the only horses to finish second or third in the Kentucky Derby without having raced at 2 were Hampden, who finished third in 1946; Coaltown, second in 1948; Agitate, third in 1974; Reinvested, third in 1982; Strodes Creek, second in 1994; Curlin, third in 2007; Bodemeister, second in 2012; and Battle of Midway, third in 2017.) 8. THE NOT A GELDING CATEGORY. (The horse is not a gelding.) (Exceptions: Funny Cide in 2003 and Mine That Bird in 2009 are the only geldings to win the Kentucky Derby since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.) REMEMBERING RIVA RIDGE It was 50 years ago that I went on the record in my high school newspaper, the Lewis and Clark Journal, stating that Riva Ridge was my pick to win the Kentucky Derby. Riva Ridge did not let me down. He won by 3 1/4 lengths for owner-breeder Meadow Stable, trainer Lucien Laurin and jockey Ron Turcotte. Riva Ridge was backed down to overwhelming 3-10 favoritism in the Preakness Stakes, but he detested a sloppy track and finished fourth. If Riva Ridge had won the Preakness, his owner, trainer and jockey would have collaborated for back-to-back Triple Crowns inasmuch as they swept the coveted three-race series in 1973 with the great Secretariat. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING I urge you to read the outstanding piece on Bates Motel written by Jay Hovdey for the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary website. Here is a link: https://www.thoroughbredracing.com/articles/bates-motel-if-hed-been-human-being-i-think-he-would-have-ended-federal-prison-john-gosden/ This is Hovdey at his best. His best is why Hovdey in 2012 was selected for inclusion on the Hall of Fame’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor, joining the likes of Charles Hatton, William Nack, Red Smith, Jim Murray and William Leggett. When Bates Motel was racing in the early 1980s, I covered him as a writer on the Southern California beat for the Daily Racing Form. Hovdey at that time was an editor in the DRF’s Los Angeles office. In those days, all of the Eclipse Award winners other than the Horse of the Year were announced early in the year prior to the Eclipse Awards dinner. One chilly morning at Santa Anita early in 1984, thanks to a confidential source, I found out before it was publicly announced that Bates Motel had been voted a 1983 Eclipse Award as champion older male. With that knowledge, I made my way over to Gosden’s Santa Anita barn to pass along the good news to him. When I arrived at Gosden’s barn, he was standing in the doorway of his stable office with a clipboard. “Good morning, John,” I said. “Morning, Jon,” Gosden countered, continuing to look over the sheet of paper on the clipboard. I paused a bit, then said, “I know something you don’t know.” Knowing that the Eclipse Award winners were to be announced later that day, Gosden looked up from his clipboard. He grinned and said, “Is it what I think it is?” “It sure is,” I said. “Bates Motel was voted an Eclipse Award. Congratulations.” “That’s fantastic,” Gosden said. Hovdey’s reflective piece on Bates Motel also is fantastic. NTRA TOP THROUGHBRED POLL Regal Glory, winner of Keeneland’s Grade I Jenny Wiley Stakes on April 16, moves onto the Top 10 in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll this week at No. 10. Ce Ce, No. 10 last week, drops off after finishing third to Letruska and Clairiere in last Saturday’s Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 311 Country Grammer (20) 2. 288 Letruska (9) 3. 261 Life Is Good (3) 4. 227 Hot Rod Charlie 5. 188 Speaker’s Corner 6. 161 Express Train (3) 7. 96 Flightline 8. 70 Olympiad 9. 62 Golden Pal 10. 40 Regal Glory NTRA TOP THREE-YEAR-OLD POLL In this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll, No. 3 Mo Donegal and No. 4 White Abarro swapped places from last week: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 342 Epicenter (28) 2. 285 Zandon (3) 3. 223 Mo Donegal (1) 4. 217 White Abarrio 5. 205 Taiba (1) 6. 170 Cyberknife (2) 7. 149 Messier 8. 95 Smile Happy 9. 59 Simplification 10. 45 Charge It

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4.27.2022:

Kentucky Derby Notes: Wednesday, April 27, 2022

CROWN PRIDE BLAZES HALF-MILE IN :46.40 IN FOURTH CHURCHILL DOWNS WORK LOUISVILLE, KY (Wednesday, April 27, 2022) – Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN) turned in his most impressive pre-Kentucky Derby work Wednesday morning by working a bullet half-mile in :46.40 over a fast track. Working with the 4-year-old Southern Passage from trainer Dale Romans’ barn, Crown Pride produced fractions of :11.60, :23.20 and :46.40 and galloped out in 1:00.20 and 1:14.80. Regular exercise rider Masa Matsuda was aboard Crown Pride, who has had four works at Churchill Downs since arriving here March 30 after winning the UAE Derby (GII). Also working Wednesday morning was RED TR-Racing’s Rich Strike for trainer Eric Reed. With Gabriel Lagunes aboard, Rich Strike worked five furlongs in :59.60. He produced eighth-of-a-mile fractions of :11.80, :23.40, :35, :47.20 and :59.60 and galloped out in 1:12.60 and 1:25.80. Third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) in his most recent start, Rich Strike is 24th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard and would need four defections from the anticipated starters to gain a spot in the starting gate for Kentucky Derby 148. BARBER ROAD – WSS Racing’s Barber Road galloped about 1 1/2 miles at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. The former $15,000 weanling purchase rallied from about six lengths off the early pace in the Arkansas Derby (GI) to finish second by 2 1/2 lengths behind Cyberknife. “I’m certainly not going to change his running style going into the Derby,” trainer John Ortiz said. “He was on the lead when he broke his maiden which gave him a lot of confidence since it was a claiming race. I think if he could be about mid-pack in the Derby it would be the ideal position.” CLASSIC CAUSEWAY – Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s Classic Causeway had a 1 1/2-mile gallop Wednesday morning under regular exercise rider Calamity Compton. Classic Causeway would be Australian-native trainer Brian Lynch’s first starter in the Kentucky Derby. “It’s really exciting for my owners and for us as a barn to have a horse like this,” said Lynch, who moved to the U.S. nearly three decades ago. “We won some pretty big races in the Breeders’ Cup and Queen’s Plate but you could say it would be a dream come true to win the Kentucky Derby.” Lynch moved from Australia and competed on the rodeo circuit riding bulls. In Australia, Lynch worked around horses and eventually bought horses on his own. CHARGE IT, MO DONEGAL, PIONEER OF MEDINA – Trainer Todd Pletcher is watching the weather forecast as he plots the final works for his Kentucky Derby hopefuls. “The forecast looks a little dicey for the weekend,” Pletcher said. “If the forecast looks favorable, I’d work the (Oaks) fillies Friday and the colts Saturday. I am prepared to move up a day or back a day with either of them.” All three of his Derby hopefuls galloped 1 3/8 miles during the 7:30-7:45 morning training window for Derby and Oaks horses. Amelia Green partnered Donegal Racing’s Mo Donegal; Hector Ramos was aboard Whisper Hill Farm’s Charge It and Carlos Perez was on Sumaya U. S. Stables’ Pioneer of Medina, who is No. 21 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. CROWN PRIDE (JPN) – Teruya Yoshida’s well-traveled Crown Pride (JPN) turned in his most impressive pre-Kentucky Derby work Wednesday morning by working a bullet half-mile in :46.40 over a fast track. With regular morning partner Masa Matsuda aboard, Crown Pride produced fractions of :11.60, :23.20 and :46.40 and galloped out in 1:00.20 and 1:14.80 while working in company with the 4-year-old Southern Passage. Crown Pride left Japan on March 17 to travel 5,000 miles to Dubai where he won the UAE Derby (GII). He traveled another 7,300 miles from Dubai to Churchill Downs, arriving here March 30. Wednesday’s work was his fourth since arriving here. Before the work, Crown Pride warmed up in the mile chute while the track was undergoing a harrow break and following the work had a leisurely trip back to the quarantine barn. “That is a typical Japanese training regimen,” said Japan-based representative for the Kentucky Derby Kate Hunter. “Masa was very pleased with the work. He said Crown Pride moves well over the surface with no extra effort.” Crown Pride’s previous works here were six furlongs in 1:18.60 on April 16, a half-mile in :49.80 on April 19 and a half-mile in :49.20 on April 24. He is scheduled to work again Sunday. Trainer Koichi Shintani is scheduled to arrive in Louisville Sunday night and will be at the post position draw Monday afternoon. Jockey Christophe Lemaire is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Monday. CYBERKNIFE, TAWNY PORT, ZOZOS – Trainer Brad Cox’s Derby trio of Cyberknife, Tawny Port and Zozos all visited the Churchill Downs starting gate and had a 1 1/2-mile gallop at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Cox reported all three horses would likely work Saturday. EPICENTER – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Epicenter trained later than his normal 5:30 a.m. to school in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, which is located in the one mile chute. Epicenter was on the track at 7:30 a.m. during the restricted window for Kentucky Derby and Oaks training. After his schooling session he had a standard gallop with exercise rider Roberto Howell in the boot. SMILE HAPPY, TIZ THE BOMB – Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy and Magdalena Racing’s Tiz the Bomb both galloped a mile and a half during the 7:30-7:45 training window for Derby and Oaks hopefuls. Danny Ramsey was aboard Smile Happy and Edwardo Ruvalcaba was aboard Tiz the Bomb for trainer Kenny McPeek. SUMMER IS TOMORROW – Michael Hilary Burke and Negar Burke’s Summer Is Tomorrow galloped a mile and then had a paddock schooling session under Heinz Runge. Runner-up in the UAE Derby (GII) in his most recent start, Summer Is Tomorrow is scheduled to work Sunday. Trainer Bhupat Seemar is scheduled to arrive in Louisville tonight. UN OJO – Cypress Creek Equine and Whispering Oaks Farm’s Un Ojo stood in the starting gate and then galloped two miles under Clay Courville, son of trainer Ricky Courville. “He walked right in there with no problem,” said Clay Courville, who rode Un Ojo through the paddock Tuesday and plans to bring him back Thursday morning after training hours as part of a walk day. Ricky Courville is expected to make the 11-hour drive from Lafayette, Louisiana, to Louisville tomorrow. ZANDON – Jeff Drown’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Zandon galloped about 1 1/2 miles at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. “I’m really excited the way he’s taken to the surroundings here at Churchill,” trainer Chad Brown said. “We’ll likely keep him on the Saturday work pattern.” ALSO ELIGIBLES: RED TR-Racing’s Rich Strike worked five furlongs in :59.60 with Gabriel Lagunes aboard for trainer Eric Reed. Working on his own at 7:30, Rich Strike produced eighth-of-a-mile fractions of :11.80, :23.40, :35, :47.20 and :59.60 and galloped out in 1:12.60 and 1:25.80. “You couldn’t do any better than that,” Reed said of Rich Strike, who is No. 24 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. “Now we’ll just wait and see what happens.” Third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) in his most recent start, Rich Strike would need four defections from the anticipated starters to gain a spot in the starting gate for Kentucky Derby 148. SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Here’s the current Top 20 horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby (with jockey and trainer): Epicenter (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen); Zandon (Flavien Prat, Chad Brown); White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione, Saffie Joseph Jr.); Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Cyberknife (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Crown Pride (JPN) (Christophe Lemiere, Koichi Shintani); Taiba (Mike Smith, Tim Yakteen); Simplification (Jose Ortiz, Antonio Sano); Smile Happy (Corey Lanerie, Kenny McPeek); Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux, Brian Lynch); Tawny Port (TBA, Brad Cox); Barber Road (Reylu Gutierrez, John Ortiz); Un Ojo (Ramon Vazquez, Ricky Courville); Early Voting (TBA, Chad Brown); Messier (John Velazquez, Tim Yakteen); Zozos (Manny Franco, Brad Cox); Summer Is Tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona, Bhupat Seemar); Charge It (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher); Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano, Doug O’Neill).

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4.27.2022:

1/ST BET AI Picks: Keeneland $49K Carryover Pick 6 | Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Keeneland opens its final week of the 2022 Spring Meet today with a $49,000-plus carryover in the traditional pick 6 (with a $1 base minimum wager). To assist your handicapping, top selections provided by the 1/ST BET app measure each contender against the 10 leading factors for each race. The 1/ST BET app looks at 52 handicapping factors and more than 200,000 past races to determine its AI selections. You can use the automated handicapping factors, or create your own factor filters to incorporate angles you prefer. Full-card selections can be found in the 1/ST BET app. We’ve included the official track morning line odds with each runner. Based on the AI Win Projections, here’s a prospective $72 ticket to consider. Keeneland // Race 3 // 2:04 pm ET // starter allowance // 1-1/16 miles #1 My Barilee (5-2) // 34%W #4 Ballinonabudget (3-1) // 21%W Keeneland // Race 4 // 2:36 pm ET // maiden special weight // 5-1/2 furlongs (turf) #4 Trouble Making (15-1) // 23%W #7 Georgetown Road (7-2) // 19% #5 Xtreme Gem (6-1) // 10%W Keeneland // Race 5 // 3:08 pm ET // maiden claiming // 7 furlongs #9 Coco Puff (9-2) // 29%W #11 West Love (6-1) // 19%W Keeneland // Race 6 // 3:40 pm ET // allowance // 1-1/16 miles (turf) #5 Skyro (4-1) // 25%W #3 Absam (15-1) // 17%W Keeneland // Race 7 // 4:12 pm ET // claiming // 1-1/16 miles #3 Down Cold (9-5) // 29%W Keeneland // Race 8 // 4:44 pm ET // maiden special weight // 1 mile (turf) #5 American Pyramid (3-1) // 16%W #4 Spare Cash (5-2) // 13%W #6 Robin’s Fantasy (20-1) // %W

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4.26.2022:

Kentucky Derby Notes: Tuesday, April 26, 2022

CLASSIC CAUSEWAY MOVES BACK INTO DERBY PICTURE LOUISVILLE, KY (Tuesday, April 26, 2022) – Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s Sam F. Davis (Grade III) and Tampa Bay Derby (GII) winner Classic Causeway {pictured above} will once again target this year’s $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI). Classic Causeway, trained by Brian Lynch, will attempt to avenge his enigmatic 11th-place effort in last month’s Florida Derby (GI) in the Kentucky Derby. The Giant’s Causeway colt was scheduled to run in the $500,000 Pat Day Mile (GII) but Lynch reported Monday Classic Causeway will once again join the Derby fray. In other Derby news, Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN) is scheduled to work Wednesday morning as is RED TR-Racing’s Rich Strike. Rich Strike is No. 24 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. BARBER ROAD – WSS Racing’s Barber Road had an easy gallop Tuesday morning for trainer John Ortiz. Barber Road, the runner-up to Cyberknife in the Arkansas Derby (GI), would be the first starter in the Kentucky Derby for Ortiz. “This is a dream come true to even be here and participating in the Derby,” Ortiz said. CLASSIC CAUSEWAY – Trainer Brian Lynch reported Monday afternoon that three-time winner Classic Causeway will now target the Kentucky Derby instead of the $500,000 Pat Day Mile presented by LG and E & KU (GII). “My owners have about 160 years, combined, and who am I to hold them back on running in the Derby,” Lynch said Tuesday morning. “You go back to his races at Tampa and he fits right in with this field. I think he can have an advantage on the pace.” Classic Causeway galloped about 1 1/2 miles around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday with Lynch’s exercise rider Calamity Compton in the saddle. Julien Leparoux has the mount in the Derby. CHARGE IT, MO DONEGAL, PIONEER OF MEDINA – Donegal Racing’s Mo Donegal and Whisper Hill Farm’s Charge It galloped 1 3/8 miles during the special 7:30-7:45 training window for Kentucky Derby and Oaks hopefuls. Amelia Green was aboard Mo Donegal and Hector Ramos was on Charge It. As for Sumaya U. S. Stables’ Pioneer of Medina, he had a walk day Tuesday following a :59.80 five-furlong breeze Monday morning. Pioneer of Medina is 21st on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, a spot that would leave him on the outside looking in should all the horses above him with more points enter on Monday. “We got bumped yesterday,” trainer Todd Pletcher said alluding to the re-entry into the Derby picture of Classic Causeway. And should there be one defection from the prospective Derby field, would Pioneer of Medina be a go on the first Saturday in May? “We’re thinking about it,” Pletcher said. CROWN PRIDE (JPN) – Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride (JPN) warmed up in the mile chute and then had a light gallop under exercise rider Masa Matsuda. Winner of the UAE Derby (GII) in his most recent start, Crown Pride is scheduled to work Wednesday morning. His trainer, Koichi Shintani is scheduled to arrive in Louisville on Sunday. CYBERKNIFE, TAWNY PORT, ZOZOS – Trainer Brad Cox’s Derby trio of Cyberknife, Tawny Port and Zozos all had a 1 1/2-mile gallop at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Gold Star’s Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Cyberknife, who’s named after the non-invasive procedure that helped cure owner Al Gold’s prostate cancer, is scheduled to work Saturday along with Peachtree Stable’s Tawny Port. Zozos, the runner-up in the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (GII) for owners Barry and Joni Butzow, is slated to work Friday. Cox announced Monday that Zozos will be ridden in the Derby by Manny Franco. Florent Geroux has the call on Cyberknife while the jockey on Tawny Port has yet to be determined. EPICENTER – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Epicenter returned to the track Tuesday morning following his scheduled Monday walk day. Epicenter jogged one mile and had a light one-mile gallop under exercise rider Roberto Howell. The speedy Epicenter showed a new style of running in the Louisiana Derby and was able to track just off of the early leaders. “To see the way Epicenter was able to sit just off the pace in the Louisiana Derby is very pleasing considering how fast the early pace is each year in the Derby,” Hall of fame trainer Steve Asmussen said. “With 20 horses in the Derby, the post-position draw matters. We obviously hope he’s able to get away from there cleanly but the success he’s had with variable styles is one less thing to worry about.” SMILE HAPPY, TIZ THE BOMB – Trainer Kenny McPeek’s Derby duo of Magdalena Racing’s Tiz the Bomb and Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy galloped a mile and a half with Edwardo Ruvalcaba aboard the former and Danny Ramsey on the latter. The colts worked together last Saturday with their final pre-Derby drill penciled in for this Saturday, a day in which rain is in the forecast. “I don’t worry about things I can’t control,” McPeek said. “I would have no problem working on an off track here.” SUMMER IS TOMORROW – Michael Hilary Burke and Negar Burke’s Summer Is Tomorrow galloped a mile and a half under Heinz Runge. Trained by Bhupat Seemar, who is scheduled to arrive in Lousville Wednesday, Summer Is Tomorrow is scheduled to work Sunday. UN OJO – Cypress Creek Equine and Whispering Oaks Farm’s Un Ojo galloped about a mile and a half under Clay Courville, son of trainer Ricky Courville. The Rebel (GII) winner is scheduled to have his final pre-Derby drill Saturday. ZANDON – Jeff Drown’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI) winner Zandon galloped about 1 1/2 miles at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Trainer Chad Brown was on hand and watched his top Derby contender from the Churchill Downs clocker stand. The Upstart colt is likely to work Saturday. SHAPING UP: THE KENTUCKY DERBY – Here’s the current Top 20 horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby (with jockey and trainer): Epicenter (Joel Rosario, Steve Asmussen); Zandon (Flavien Prat, Chad Brown); White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione, Saffie Joseph Jr.); Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher); Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek); Cyberknife (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox); Crown Pride (JPN) (Christophe Lemiere, Koichi Shintani); Taiba (Mike Smith, Tim Yakteen); Simplification (Jose Ortiz, Antonio Sano); Smile Happy (Corey Lanerie, Kenny McPeek); Classic Causeway (Julien Leparoux, Brian Lynch); Tawny Port (TBA, Brad Cox); Barber Road (Reylu Gutierrez, John Ortiz); Un Ojo (Ramon Vazquez, Ricky Courville); Early Voting (TBA, Chad Brown); Messier (John Velazquez, Tim Yakteen); Zozos (Manny Franco, Brad Cox); Summer Is Tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona, Bhupat Seemar); Charge It (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher); Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano, Doug O’Neill).

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4.26.2022:

Monday Myths: Are Keeneland Alumni Bet-Againsts Next Out?

Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities. Assumption: Horses are aimed to fire at Keeneland, and may not produce as well immediately after. Background: With Keeneland ending Friday, horseplayers will be posed with a choice to make upon their reappearances. Do you trust the form, or expect a decline after a premier, boutique meet? Data Points: I dialed up the Betmix database to look at all April/May/June starters nationally the past 5 seasons following a Keeneland Spring Meet. Specifically, how did Keeneland runners directly exiting that meet fair in their next start? I also looked at favorites exiting Keeneland whether the public’s trust in the meet performers was warranted. // Keeneland alumni won 13.5% in maiden claiming-level races in their next starts with a $0.64 ROI on every $1 bet. {13.2%, $0.77 for all non-Kee runners}. Keeneland alumni won 14.0% in maiden special weight-level races in their next starts with a $0.72 ROI on every $1 bet. {13.0%, $0.71 for all non-Kee runners} Keeneland alumni won 17.9% in claiming-level races in their next starts with a $0.83 ROI on every $1 bet. {13.8%, $0.76 for all non-Kee runners} Keeneland alumni won 14.9% in allowance-level races in their next starts with a $0.78 ROI on every $1 bet. {14.2%, $0.76 for all non-Kee runners} Keeneland alumni won 15.5% in stakes-level races in their next starts with a $1.02 ROI on every $1 bet. {12.9%, $0.77 for all non-Kee runners} // Keeneland alumni won 42.4% as maiden claiming favorites in their next starts with a $0.97 ROI for every $1 bet. {39.8%, $0.86 for all non-Kee favorites} Keeneland alumni won 39.7% as maiden special weight favorites in their next starts with a $0.86 ROI for every $1 bet. {38.3%, $0.81 for all non-Kee favorites} Keeneland alumni won 43.9% as claiming favorites in their next starts with a $0.98 ROI for every $1 bet. {37.4%, $0.83 for all non-Kee favorites} Keeneland alumni won 36.5% as allowance favorites in their next starts with a $0.82 ROI for every $1 bet. {38.2%, $0.85 for all non-Kee favorites} Keeneland alumni won 35.7% as stakes favorites in their next starts with a $0.80 ROI for every $1 bet. {41.6%, $0.77 for all non-Kee favorites} Bottom line: Keeneland alumni won at a higher percentage at all 5 class levels from 0.3% to 4.1% in span. The Keeneland alumni were more reliable winning favorites in maiden claiming, maiden special weight and claiming races, but not as reliable as allowance or stakes favorites next time. Overall, it’s clear that the Keeneland horses perform better than the general population next out, but the public’s misfires on favorites in higher-profile races appears to be the source of the reputation that Keeneland horses are aimed for that meet and vulnerable next out. Additional details: You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, check out how the Keeneland alumni performed by specific tracks you follow.

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4.25.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Yonkers Late Pick 4 Analysis | Monday, April 25, 2022

Yonkers Raceway has a big Monday night card set to go. One headliner is the Blue Chip Matchmaker Final which goes in Race 7 and has a $381,000 purse. The top event is the Borgata Pacing Series Final that rolls in Race 8 and has a $549,000 purse. The $1 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 7, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 7-Blue Chip Matchmaker Final-$381,000 Purse 1-Drama Act (2-1)-This race comes down to two very good 5-year-old mares. It would be no surprise if either won and this mare could benefit from Brennan having the option of landing on the point or in the 2-hole. This should be a battle to the wire. 2-Racine Bell (5/2)-Has won from the rail and post 7, nothing has stopped her in the last 3 starts. Bartlett could have the pedal down and not look back. My take is this gal will be dictating the pace. Race 8-Borgata Pacing Series Final-$549,000 Purse 1-Tattoo Artist (7/5)-This Ryder trainee is very sharp and with this post draw Dunn should be in control throughout. This Is The Plan and others won't make it easy but unless recent form falters this should be the winner. Race 9 1-Walkinshaw N (6-1)-Has been successful at YR starting from the inside, beating the $100k claimers back in January. Should have enough gate speed to race near the top of the stack and could be overlooked at the windows. 4-Lou's Sweetrevenge (4-1)-Comes off even efforts versus Open company and gets some needed class relief. Fits and likes Yonkers hitting the board in 20 of 33 starts with 10 wins. 5-Town Gossip (5/2)-Was a non-factor in 3 of 4 Borgata races but fits well with this crew. Should enjoy the class relief and be in the hunt. 6-Joesstar Of Mia A (3-1)-Willing to toss the last race from post 7, before that captured two of the previous 3 races. Bartlett gets the assignment after being absent in last and he knows well. Probably has enough gate speed to land on the point and best to respect. Race 10 3-Beltane A (7/2)-Makes the 2nd start after a claim for the Height barn, Gingras takes a seat and gets some class relief. All of that could add up to the 5th win in 13 starts this year. 5-Elwell (5/2)-Should be leaving to be on the point. Kakaley may dictate the pace and if he steals a quarter, it could be picture time. Ran into a couple of tough foes in the last 2 and those winners aren't in this field. $1 Pick 4 1,2/1/1,4,5,6/3,5 Total Bet=$16 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.24.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis | Sunday, April 24, 2022

Tonight, Cal Expo has 9 races ready to roll with the 0.20 Pick 4 starting in Race 6. That sequence has a $25,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout. The card begins with the 0.20 Pick 5 which also has a 16% takeout. The pools have been good for this sequence, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 1 2-Urgointohearmeroar (5-1)-Has been starting slowly and took the long way around in last. Did pace home in 56.1 but couldn't hit the board. Beaten chalk may reward backers this time at a better price. 4-Hay Hay Alright (2-1)-Has cashed checks versus better but not loving the short price morning line. Will respect but needs a good steer to come out on top. 6-Marced Magic (5/2)-Faded down the lane last week after being driven aggressively to get on the engine which isn't the usual plan. Svendsen sticks on this beaten odds-on chalk and will look for a big try. Race 2 2-Brooklynsville (4-1)-Sophomore filly makes its 4th start for the Roland barn. Has shown some ability to pass down the lane and this might be the time for more assertive handling. 4-Datsyukian Deke (9/5)-Was used early on from the 7-hole and faded down the lane. Stewart might be able to work a smooth trip in the 2nd start of the season. Race 3 5-Allmyx'sliventexas (6/5)-Won last week versus the NW4000-L5. That was the 3rd consecutive win when dropped to that class and is back in versus the same tonight. Race 4 3-Gunny Wilson (7/5)-Wilson is 0-56 at CalX but he should top the two trotters (1/2) and the other pacers (5/6). Recent form has been better than most in here so will use in case the one below finds a way to lose. 4-Native's Best Bet (6/5)-Not sure anyone deserves to be 6/5 in this field, but this looks like the one to beat. Kennedy should get into striking range and come off cover down the lane. Race 5 6-Some Playa (8-1)-Will look for a price and Plano has some the gate speed to get a close-up seat. Could get sucked around and surprise. 7-Impressive Art (2-1)-Doesn't win often but will overlook the 1-16 record this year because this is a soft spot. Has raced well in 4 of the last 6 and should have his way with this group if the trip is smooth. 0.20 Pick 5 2,4,6/2,4/5/3,4/6,7 Total Bet=$4.80 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.23.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Hoosier Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Saturday, April 23, 2022

Hoosier Park has a 13-race program scheduled for this evening. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 10, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 10 4-Cassius Lane (8-1)-Comes off 2 even efforts versus straight Open company. Looks like a player on the slight drop and this is the level of recent top finishes. 5-Katie's Lucky Day (5/2)-Stayed inside versus Open company in the 1st local start to finish a close 2nd and was off since 11-5. Should be tighter tonight and could have the best shot at an upset. 7-Whata Swan (7/5)-Has come off the bench hot with a 2nd place finish and a win versus the Open class. Could be posing again with a smooth trip. Race 11 1-Uncut Gem (4-1)-Makes the 4th start of the meet and has been stuck outside in every race. The post relief can help and should be in the hunt. 2-JB's Shooting Star (3-1)-This program chalk is 2 for the last 24 but this isn't a formful field. Comes off a winning effort from post 8 and that is key. Does step-up but appears to fit with this crew. Race 12 3-Hilary Barry N (5/2)-Comes off even races versus better and now makes its 3rd local start. Has the speed to down this group and could be sitting on a big try. 8-Always A Spinster (2-1)-Faced stakes company last year as a 3-year-old and could win at first asking if fires off the bench. Shouldn't offer much of a price and might race from the back in its season debut. But will be tough to beat if dialed on high. Race 13 4-Fox Valley Tinka (5-1)-Usually does better not being used hard off the gate. Might not be pushed early tonight to save some energy for rolling by down the lane. 8-Dancin With Rose (8-1)-Comes off a nice win which was aided by a .56 back half. Will look for another top effort, the price should be solid and will shoot against the program chalks (1-7). 0.50 Late Pick 4 4,5,7/1,2/3,8/4,8 Total Bet=$12 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.23.2022:

Jeff Siegel: National Best Plays for Saturday, April 23, 2023

Aqueduct First Race. Post time: 1:20 ET 3-Forwardly (9/5) Was given a race in his debut last November, lagging early and then finishing on his own courage when fifth, beaten just over three lengths, in a race that was better than the line will show. The Chad Brown-trained colt sports a solid series of workouts for his return and should appreciate this nine furlong trip. A first-time Lasix user with a healthy, steady series of drills, the son of Twirling Candy looks hard to beat in this maiden turf affair Keeneland Ninth Race. Post time: 5:16 ET 1-Bemma’s Boy (5-1) With a couple of middle distance tighteners at Fair Grounds behind him, this proven marathoner gets his favorite trip in this year’s edition of the Elkhorn S.-G2, and in a race loaded with front-running speed types his closing style should be extremely effective. The Mike Maker-trained gelding is assured a ground-saving trip from his rail post and a patient ride from new pilot Umberto Rispoli, so at 5-1 on the morning line the son of Into Mischief represents a good gamble in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics.

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4.22.2022:

1/ST BET AI Picks: Laurel's Spring Stakes Spectacular | Saturday, April 23, 2022

  The second Spring Stakes Spectacular program in as many Saturdays at Laurel Park is on tap with 5 featured events. To assist your handicapping, top selections provided by the 1/ST BET app measure each contender against the 10 leading factors for each race. The 1/ST BET app looks at 52 handicapping factors and more than 200,000 past races to determine its AI selections. You can use the automated handicapping factors, or create your own factor filters to incorporate angles you prefer. Full-card selections can be found in the 1/ST BET app. We’ve included the official track morning line odds with each runner. Laurel Park // Race 6 // 3:23 pm ET // $100,000 King T. Leatherbury Stakes // 5-1/2 furlongs (turf) #9 Battle Station (4-1) // 31%W #2 Grateful Bred (5-2) // 16%W #3 True Valour (2-1) // 13%W #1 American d’Oro (10-1) // 9%W Laurel Park // Race 7 // 3:56 pm ET // $100,000 Primonetta Stakes // 6 furlongs #7 Kaylasaurus (2-1) // 31%W #4 Princess Kokachin (9-5) // 23%W #3 Prodigy Doll (12-1) // 16%W #6 Street Lute (3-1) // 10%W Laurel Park // Race 8 // 4:28 pm ET // $100,000 Dahlia Stakes // 1 mile (turf) #8 Adelaide Miss (6-1) // 29%W #6 In A Hurry (2-1) // 13%W #5 Traffic Song (5-1) // 12%W #7 Foggy Dreams (20-1) // 10%W Laurel Park // Race 9 // 5:00 pm ET // $100,000 Native Dancer // 1-1/8 miles #7 Plot the Dots (4-1) // 24%W #2 Forewarned (2-1) // 24%W #5 Bird King (3-1) // 19%W #6 Ain’t Da Beer Cold (8-1) // 11%W Laurel Park // Race 10 // 5:32 pm ET // $100,000 Henry S. Clark Stakes // 1 mile (turf) #6 Field Pass (1-1) // 31%W #7 Chez Pierre (2-1) // 17%W #1 Mandate (8-1) // 14%W #3 Sir Alfred James (12-1) // 12%W

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4.22.2022:

Eddie Olczyk: Best Bets | Saturday, April 23, 2022

Check out Eddie Olczyk's Saturday best bets, only with 1/ST BET and Xpressbet.

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4.22.2022:

Frank Carulli: Keeneland Pick 4 Analysis | Friday, April 22, 2022

  With 38 entrants covering the Keeneland Late Pick 4 last Friday, the winning 50-cent combination paid $1,928. With 43 entrants this Friday, April 22, it could be much of the same with deep, competitive fields. Here’s a look at the action with a recommended play for $24: RACE 7 (4:12 EST) -- The pace should be hot in this Maiden Special Weight route race and that suits longshots ALWAYS ABOVE and MAKING IT just fine. Always Above earned the best last-out Beyer speed figure in the field in his second start this year, rallying for third behind lights-out winner Fenwick and 1-to-9 runner-up Command Performance, who both tried the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes in their next start. MAKING IT, by Kentucky Derby winner Orb and from a family of stakes-caliber runners, took some betting action in a debut turf marathon and got up for third. Velazquez returns to ride for a 24-percent barn with the turf-to-dirt angle. SILVER SPUR makes the ticket after he dueled through sprint-like fractions, drifted out at the top of the stretch, then battled back for second to the trip-sitting winner. GREYS THE BOY worked forwardly for his debut, but he broke out at the break and was floated wide on the turn while no threat to the odds-on winner. He is by champion sprinter Midnight Lute, the sire of 12-time graded stakes winner Midnight Bisou (13-22, $7.4 million), who excelled going long. STAY RESTLESS, a beaten favorite in the slop after a promising debut sprint, is not on our ticket; however, it’s worth noting that the 6F race produced three MSW winners with an average 78 Beyer. RACE 8, (4:44 EST) -- OFFLEE NAUGHTY overcame early trouble for two photo-finish victories and a third in his last three non-stakes grass routes at 1-1/8 miles and beyond. His company lines in those races included next-out winner Evening Sun (92 Beyer), Grade III runner-up Dicey Mo Chara and allowance runner-up Tropical Terror (17/2-6-3, $180k on turf), to name a few. The big hurdle will be negotiating traffic in a crowded field. MODUS OPERANDI found his best footing since arriving in the U.S. on the Gulfstream Park main track, tipping wide for the stretch drive and surging past the leaders to win going away at today’s distance. He followed with a fast-closing second behind the pace controlling, 8-to-5 winner on Turfway Park’s synthetic surface. He switches surfaces again, poised for a better effort than his previous two turf runs. JIMMY DAN rallied to win out of a triple-key maiden race, then overcame a snails-like pace to repeat in allowance company. He gets a bigger class test from post 11 but is worth using at 10-1 on the morning line. RACE 9: (5:16 EST) -- MALATHAAT launched a blockbuster 3-year-old campaign with a win in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland off a similar layoff, her first of three Grade I victories. She ran third, beat a half-length, in her first start against older rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff to cap a $1.56 million season. BONNY SOUTH won this race last year off similar rest and projects an ideal stalking trip today. She finished in the money three times in Grade I company behind champion Letruska (18-24, $2.3 million). RACE 10: (5:48 EST) -- MUSICAL DESIGN turned heads in a $50,000 maiden claimer that produced two winners and four runners-up. She broke last, advanced on the rail, closed with a flourish to just miss catching the debut winner and galloped out far in front. ON THE RISE, bumped at the start in a 5F turf sprint at Gulfstream, rallied widest to finish second to the 4-to-5 favorite. She ran well fresh as a 3-year-old and the barn wins with 17 percent of its grass sprinters. Suggested 50-cent Ticket 7th Race: 3, 5, 7, 8 8th Race: 2, 6, 11 9th Race: 1, 4 10th Race: 3, 7 COST: $24

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4.21.2022:

Jon White: A Deep Dive Into Kentucky Derby Experience

“Inexperienced.” That’s a word you are going to see and hear time and again associated with Taiba, who is being prepared for the 148th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7. He will go into the Grade I Run for the Roses with just two races under his belt. “Talented.” That’s another word you are going to frequently see and hear linked with Taiba between now and when the field exits the 20-stall starting gate in the 1 1/4-mile classic. It pretty much boils down to this question as far as Taiba and the Kentucky Derby are concerned: Will his talent be enough to trump his inexperience? BloodHorse’s Byron King respects Taiba enough to rank the clear-cut Grade I Santa Anita Derby winner No. 3 in his Top 12. King has Epicenter at No. 1. Zandon is No. 2. Epicenter won the Grade II Louisiana Derby. Zandon recently took the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes. Taiba “has the skill to win the [Kentucky] Derby, having won the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, but rates behind the top two due to inexperience,” King wrote. Thoroughbred Daily News’ T.D. Thornton does not respect Taiba as much as King. Thornton has Taiba ranked No. 9 (behind Zandon, Epicenter, Mo Donegal, Simplification, Early Voting, Smile Happy, Tiz the Bomb and Charge It). Thornton wrote of Taiba: “Yes, this son of Gun Runner is worthy of superlatives after posting back-to-back triple digit Beyers [103, then 102] in both a MSW sprint and the Santa Anita Derby, a race in which this colt sparred the entire length of the lane against a more seasoned stablemate [Messier]. But Taiba would truly have to be a once-in-a-generation outlier to thrive against top-of-the-crop competition at 10 furlongs in lifetime start number three, all the while shipping for the first time and experiencing a field far larger and far more talented than anything he’s faced in limited SoCal action. Too much too soon is the verdict here -- although admittedly, it would be pretty neat to witness Taiba shatter conventional wisdom.” The Kentucky Derby is too much too soon for Taiba, eh? Look, I get why so much is being made about Taiba going into the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby off just two career starts. It is a big deal, to be sure. But wasn’t it also a big deal for Taiba to go from his first race -- a 7 1/4-length win in a six-furlong maiden race – to the Grade I Santa Anita Derby at nine furlongs? How did that turn out? Was the Santa Anita Derby too much too soon? If Taiba was able to do what he did in the Santa Anita Derby, then why can’t he also win the Kentucky Derby? Just four years ago, a talented colt came along to win a seven-furlong maiden race at first asking, then a one-mile allowance/optional claiming race, then the Santa Anita Derby, then the Kentucky Derby. You’ve heard of Justify, right? Some people said Justify couldn’t win the Kentucky Derby because he had made just three previous starts. Does it really make that much of a difference that Justify had only one more race under his belt going into the Kentucky Derby than Taiba? Many also said Justify would not win the Kentucky Derby because he didn’t race as a 2-year-old. Remember the so-called Apollo curse? No horse had won the Kentucky Derby without starting at 2 since Apollo all the way back in 1882. Well, in 2018, Justify’s talent did trump his lack of experience and he did break the Apollo curse. Not only did Justify win the Kentucky Derby, he went on to achieve Triple Crown immortality, joining Seattle Slew as the only two horses to sweep the coveted three-race series while undefeated. Now it’s 2022 and Taiba seeks to put another curse to rest. This time it’s the curse of Leonatus. Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman, aided by Keeneland Library director Becky Ryder, found that Leonatus in 1883 was “the last -- actually the only -- horse to have won the [Kentucky] Derby in only his third career start. That’s the feat that Taiba will try to equal after his victory in the Santa Anita Derby in only his second career start.” If Justify was able to break the Apollo curse, why can’t Taiba break the Leonatus curse? It appears to me that a major change in the dynamic of Thoroughbred racing in America may have mitigated Justify’s lack of experience when he broke the curse of Apollo. And I believe that this major change might also help Taiba break the curse of Leonatus. The major change is horses generally do not race much anymore, especially stakes horses. Consequently, as a whole, Kentucky Derby runners are much less experienced nowadays. In other words, an inexperienced horse like a Justify and a Taiba has a better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than in past decades when their opponents would have been more experienced. The list below shows the number of previous career starts for each of the Top 20 horses currently listed by Churchill Downs as definite or possible entrants in this year’s Kentucky Derby: Starts Horse 8 Barber Road 8 Tiz the Bomb 7 Simplification 7 Summer Is Tomorrow 7 Un Ojo 6 Cyberknife 6 Epicenter 6 Messier 5 Mo Donegal 5 Tawny Port 5 White Abarrio 4 Crown Pride 4 Morello 4 Smile Happy 4 Zandon 3 Charge It 3 Early Voting 3 Happy Jack 3 Zozos 2 Taiba Consider the huge difference in terms of experience between the prospective 2022 Kentucky Derby field and the 1982 and 1992 editions. Taiba would have been running against much more experienced opponents in 1982 and 1992. The average number of previous career starts for the 19 starters in the 1982 Kentucky Derby was 10.0. The average number of previous career starts for the 18 starters in the 1992 Kentucky Derby was 8.5. When Justify won the 2018 Kentucky Derby with just three races under his belt, the average number of previous career starts for the 20 starters was 5.7. The average number of previous starts for the prospective 20 starters in the 2022 Kentucky Derby is 5.0. The table below shows a continuous decline in the average number of previous career starts: Average No. Starts (Year) Winner and Field Size 10.0 (1982) Gato Del Sol won in a field of 19 8.5 (1992) Lil E. Tee won in a field of 18 7.5 (2002) War Emblem won in a field of 18 6.7 (2012) I’ll Have Another won in a field of 20 5.7 (2018) Justify won in field of 20 5.0 (2022) Current prospective field of 20 It’s perfectly understandable why a lot of people will not be supporting Taiba in the Kentucky Derby due to his lack of experience. But keep in mind that the table above shows that Taiba’s prospective foes, as a group, are pretty lightly raced themselves. To look at this another way, check out the table below showing the number of horses to have made nine or more previous career starts in each of the following Kentucky Derbies: 9+ Starts (Year) 13 out of 19 (1982) 10 out of 18 (1992) 5 out of 18 (2002) 3 out of 20 (2012) 3 out of 20 (2018) 0 out of 20 (Current prospective field of 20) If experience is so darn important, why didn’t the horse with the most previous career starts fare better in the 1982, 1992, 2002, 2012 and 2018 Kentucky Derbies? The table below shows where the horse with the most previous career starts finished in the following Kentucky Derbies: Starts (Year) Horse (Finish) 17 (1982) New Discovery (18th) 14 (1992) Sir Pinder (15th) 14 (2002) It’sallinthechase (16th) 10 (2012) Daddy Nose Best (10th) 10 (2018) My Boy Jack (5th) TAIBA BOASTS SPEED-FIGURE POWER As mentioned earlier, “talented” is a word often associated with Taiba. An indication of Taiba’s talent is he will have the distinction of being the only runner in this year’s Kentucky Derby to have earned two triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. He recorded a 103 Beyer when victorious at first asking in a sprint, then a 102 in his Santa Anita Derby victory. The 103 is tied for the best Beyer Speed Figure in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Messier likewise posted a 103 Beyer when he won Santa Anita’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 15 lengths. Messier recorded a 99 Beyer when having to settle for second to Taiba in the Santa Anita Derby. Epicenter is the only other 2022 Kentucky Derby candidate to have a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure to his credit. He received a 102 Beyer when a 2 1/2-length winner of the Louisiana Derby at 1 3/16 miles. To put Taiba’s two triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in two career starts into further perspective, the other 19 horses currently listed as definite or possible for the Kentucky Derby are a combined two for 98 starts with respect to getting a triple-digit Beyer. It’s an additional indication of just how talented Taiba is that he will be going into the Kentucky Derby with the best Thoro-Graph number. As I have stated before, while I consider Beyer Speed Figures to be a useful tool for horseplayers, I’m of the opinion that Thoro-Graph numbers are superior to the Beyers. That’s because Thoro-Graph takes more factors into account than the Beyers. 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.” 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 numbers, a horse who finished second, or even lower, can get a better number than the winner. This is one of the things I love about Thoro-Graph. I regard a Thoro-Graph number to be a much truer reflection of a horse’s performance than a Beyer. Thoro-Graph’s approach reflects the reality that the winner is not necessarily the horse who ran the best race. Taiba regressed slightly to a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in the Santa Anita Derby off the 103 in his debut. As I wrote last week, I think a case can be made that Taiba’s 102 Beyer might deserve to be a little bit bigger when compared to various past editions of the Santa Anita Derby. In nine Santa Anita Derbies from 1990 to present, the winner’s final time on a fast track was slower than Taiba’s, yet those nine were assigned a higher Beyer than Taiba’s 102. I feel somewhat vindicated by Thoro-Graph in my thought that Taiba’s Beyer Speed Figure for his Santa Anita Derby triumph perhaps should be a bit higher than 102, a slight drop from the 103 in his debut. That’s because his Thoro-Graph did improve -- by quite a bit, actually -- in the Santa Anita Derby from his debut. “We finally had our first negative Thoro-Graph number [among Kentucky Derby candidates] with this freakish colt getting a negative 1/2 in the Santa Anita Derby following his exceptional 2 in his career debut,” Secretariat.com’s Steve Haskin wrote this week. “This makes him the fastest horse in the [Kentucky] Derby, with the next-fastest number being White Abarrio’s 1 in the Florida Derby.” The TDN’s Thornton looks at Taiba as being a bad bet. Thornton wrote that the undefeated Taiba, with his “sky’s-the-limit appeal,” will “probably be the most overbet Derby phenom in a long time.” I see it differently. I am looking at this as one of those relatively rare opportunities to bet on a horse with the best speed figures who quite possibly will be a better price in the betting than he should be. Justify had the best speed figures going into the 2018 Kentucky Derby. He was sent away as the 5-2 favorite and got the job done. The difference with Taiba is that while he has the best speed figures going into this year’s Kentucky Derby, I don’t think he will be the favorite or even the second choice in the betting. I expect Epicenter and Zandon to both have lower odds than Taiba. To put it another way, unlike Thornton, I think Taiba is likely to be a good bet with respect to his odds in relation to his chance of winning. According to Horseracingnation.com’s Ron Flatter, Taiba was the third choice at 6-1 behind co-favorites Epicenter and Messier at 5-1 in Las Vegas on Monday at Ceasars Sportsbook at William Hill. Zandon was 7-1. All others were 12-1 or higher. Epicenter was favored at just under 5-1 at Las Vegas’ Circa. Messier was the second choice at a bit over 5 1/2-1. Taiba was next at under 7-1 at +685. Zandon also was under 7-1 at 6 1/2-1 (+650). All others were 11-1 or higher. The odds in Las Vegas are more meaningful to me because people are actually betting into those odds, unlike various odds opinions elsewhere. Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee has Zandon favored at 4-1, followed by Epicenter at 5-1, then Messier and Taiba at 8-1 apiece. Horseracingnation.com’s early odds have Epicenter at 4-1, followed by Zandon at 5-1, Taiba at 6-1 and Messier at 10-1. Horseracingnation.com’s Matt Shiffman wrote the following: “In a Kentucky Derby year when the favorite is likely to be at least 4-1 and recent history says to put your money on a horse with a victory in a 100 points [to the winner] prep race who will be forwardly placed [early], I will enthusiastically make Epicenter my early pick.” Well, Taiba also is a horse with a victory in a prep race worth 100 points to the winner whowill be forwardly placed early (barring a bad start). And all indications are Taiba is going to be a better price in the Kentucky Derby than Epicenter. Of course, it’s possible that Taiba, like any of the other Kentucky Derby starters, could be doomed right away if he does not have a good start. Don’t forget what happened to Rock Your World last year. In the Santa Anita Derby, Rock Your World dashed immediately to the front, then led his rivals on a merry chase and won by 4 1/4 lengths. Medina Spirit ran second before going on to finish first in the Kentucky Derby, only to be disqualified earlier this year for a medication violation. In my 2021 Kentucky Derby recap for Xpressbet.com, I noted that Rock Your World’s race essentially was over just about as quickly as you can say his name. “Rock Your World, with Joel Rosario in the saddle, broke a step slowly, which many times can spell doom in a large field unless your name is Seattle Slew,” I wrote. “And then in the opening strides, Rock Your World became the cheese in the sandwich when bumped hard from both sides (by Highly Motivated on the right and Essential Quality on the left). Rosario’s foot even momentarily slipped out of his left stirrup before he got his foot back in it. “In Rock Your World’s Santa Anita Derby victory, he set the pace. But he never came close to the front end in the Kentucky Derby after the adversity he encountered at the outset. Instead of setting or forcing the pace, Rock Your World found himself 10th through the early stages. He would finish 17th.” If Taiba does get away in good order in the Kentucky Derby, he figures to race within close attendance of an early pace that does not seem to be shaping up to be all that hot. I can easily envision Taiba then being either first or second with a furlong to go, putting him in a prime position to win the race. My Derby Strikes System (DSS) has taught me to be on the lookout for horses who look like they have a very good chance of being first or second with a furlong left to run in the Kentucky Derby. That’s because 53 of last 56 Kentucky Derby winners have been first or second a furlong out. If it does turn out that Taiba is first or second with a furlong to go in the Kentucky Derby, I can picture him being mighty tough to beat if he then powers home like he has in both of his races so far. I developed my DSS in 1999. It consists of eight key factors that attempt to ascertain the chances a horse has to win the Kentucky Derby from BOTH tactical and historical perspectives. When a horse does not qualify in one of the eight categories, the horse gets a strike. The eight categories in the DSS are listed toward the end of this column/blog/article. A number of the categories in my DSS are tied to a Kentucky Derby being run on the first Saturday in May. As a result, when the race was switched from May 2 to Sept. 5 in 2020 due to COVID-19, it rendered my DSS unworkable for that particular year. Only one horse has won the Kentucky Derby with more than two strikes. That was Mine that Bird, who had four strikes. CURRENT KENTUCKY DERBY TOP 10 My Kentucky Derby Top 10 is how I rank the horses in terms of who I think is the most likely winner of that race. As of right now, Taiba is my pick to win it. This week’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 is below: 1. Taiba 2. Epicenter 3. Messier 4. Zandon 5. White Abarrio 6. Mo Donegal 7. Cyberknife 8. Simplification 9. Smile Happy 10. Crown Pride UPDATED DERBY STRIKES SITUATION Now that all of the prospective entrants will not race again before the Kentucky Derby, everyone’s strikes in my Derby Strikes System can be determined. Last Saturday’s Grade III Lexington Stakes was the final race offering qualifying points toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby. Tawny Port won the Lexington by one length and earned 20 points, which increased his total to 60 and secures a spot for him in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. In terms of my DSS, Tawny Port has zero strikes. A horse with zero strikes or only one strike has a much better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than a horse with two strikes or more. According to the DSS as it’s now constituted and excluding the Kentucky Derby of 2020 when the race was run in September, 83% of the Kentucky Derby winners (40 out of 48) have had zero strikes or one strike going back to 1973. The seven Kentucky Derby winners with two strikes were Cannonade (1974), Ferdinand (1986), Sea Hero (1993), Funny Cide (2003), Giacomo (2005), Justify (2018) and Country House (2019). As I said earlier, at this point Taiba is my pick to win this year’s Kentucky Derby. He’s my choice despite having two strikes, just like Justify was my pick to win the 2018 renewal despite having two strikes. And there is a parallel between Taiba and Justify in that their two strikes came in the same two categories, Category 1 and Category 7. Category 1 is the “graded stakes category.” A horse needs to have run in a graded stakes race before March 31 to avoid getting a strike. If a horse gets a strike in this category, it points out that the horse has not faced tough competition until April, which is late in the game when it comes to preparing a horse for the Kentucky Derby. Category 7 is the “raced as a 2-year-old category.” If a horse did not start as a 2-year-old, the horse gets a strike. As noted earlier, only Apollo in 1882 and Justify in 2018 have won the Kentucky Derby without having raced at 2. Moreover, going back to 1937, horses who didn’t race at 2 are a combined 1 for 67 in the Kentucky Derby through 2021. Would I prefer that Taiba had zero strikes or one strike? Of course I would. But the most important thing to me in his case strike-wise is he does not have three. If Taiba had three strikes, I definitely would not be picking him to win. I can’t imagine ever making a horse with three strikes or more my top pick in the Kentucky Derby. The strikes are listed below for the 28 horses currently listed by Churchill Downs as definite or possible entrants following last Saturday’s Lexington Stakes: ZERO STRIKES OR ONE STRIKE Crown Pride (0 strikes) Cyberknife (0 strikes) Early Voting (1 strike, Category 4) Epicenter (0 strikes) Messier (1 strike, Category 4) Mo Donegal (0 strikes) Morello (1 strike, Category 5) Simplification (1 strike, Category 4) Smile Happy (1 strike, Category 4) Tawny Port (0 strikes) Tiz the Bomb (0 strikes) White Abarrio (0 strikes) Zandon (0 strikes) TWO STRIKES Barber Road (Categories 2 and 3) Major General (Categories 5 and 6) Pioneer of Medina (Catgories 2 and 4) Un Ojo (Categories 3 and 7) Rich Strike (Categories 2 and 3) Skippylongstocking (Categories 1 and 2) Summer Is Tomorrow (Categories 2 and 4) Taiba (Categories 1 and 7) Zozos (Categories 2 and 7) THREE OR MORE STRIKES Charge It (Categories 1, 2 and 7) Golden Glider (Categories 2, 3 and 5) Happy Jack (Categories 2, 3, 6 and 7) In Due Time (Categories 2, 3 and 5) Ethereal Road (Categories 2, 3, 4 and 5) Rattle N Roll (Categories 3, 5 and 6) WINNER’S STRIKES GOING BACK TO 1973 Because two of the categories deal with graded stakes races, the Derby Strikes System can’t go back any further than 1973. Stakes races in this country were not graded until 1973. Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But the stewards disqualified Maximum Security and placed him 17th for committing a foul when he veered out sharply nearing the five-sixteenths marker to cause interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy. Country House was declared the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But in terms of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun is now recognized as the winner following Medina Spirit’s disqualification. The strikes for each Kentucky Derby winner going back to 1973 are below: 2021 Mandaloun (1 strike) Category 4* 2020 race run in September 2019 Country House (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 3** 2018 Justify (2 strikes) Categories 1 and 7 2017 Always Dreaming (1 strike) Category 1 2016 Nyquist (0 strikes) 2015 American Pharoah (0 strikes) 2014 California Chrome (0 strikes) 2013 Orb (0 strikes) 2012 I’ll Have Another (0 strikes) 2011 Animal Kingdom (0 strikes) 2010 Super Saver (1 strike) Category 4 2009 Mine That Bird (4 strikes) Categories 1, 4, 5 and 9 2008 Big Brown (0 strikes) 2007 Street Sense (0 strikes) 2006 Barbaro (0 strikes) 2005 Giacomo (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 5 2004 Smarty Jones (0 strikes) 2003 Funny Cide (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 8 2002 War Emblem (0 strikes) 2001 Monarchos (0 strikes) 2000 Fusaichi Pegasus (1 strike) Category 6 1999 Charismatic (1 strike) Category 5 1998 Real Quiet (0 strikes) 1997 Silver Charm (1 strike) Category 4 1996 Grindstone (0 strikes) 1995 Thunder Gulch (0 strikes) 1994 Go for Gin (0 strikes) 1993 Sea Hero (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 5 1992 Lil E. Tee (0 strikes) 1991 Strike the Gold (0 strikes) 1990 Unbridled (1 strike) Category 3 1989 Sunday Silence (0 strikes) 1988 Winning Colors (0 strikes) 1987 Alysheba (1 strike) Category 2 1986 Ferdinand (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 4 1985 Spend a Buck (0 strikes) 1984 Swale (0 strikes) 1983 Sunny’s Halo (1 strike) Category 1 1982 Gato Del Sol (1 strike) Category 3 1981 Genuine Risk (1 strike) Category 1 1980 Pleasant Colony (0 strikes) 1979 Spectacular Bid (0 strikes) 1978 Affirmed (0 strikes) 1977 Seattle Slew (0 strikes) 1976 Bold Forbes (0 strikes) 1975 Foolish Pleasure (0 strikes) 1974 Cannonade (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 4 1973 Secretariat (0 strikes) *Medina Spirit (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and all purse money forfeited **Maximum Security (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and placed 17th MY DERBY STRIKES SYSTEM’S CATEGORIES What are the eight categories in my Derby Strikes System? They are listed below: 1. THE GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse ran in a graded stakes race before March 31.) This points out horses who have competed against tough competition prior to March 31 rather than at the last minute in April, enabling the horse to be properly battle-tested. (Exceptions: Going back to the introduction of graded stakes races in the U.S. in 1973, only Genuine Risk in 1980, Sunny’s Halo in 1983, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Always Dreaming in 2017 have won the Kentucky Derby without running in a graded stakes race at 2 or early at 3 before March 31.) 2. THE WIN IN A GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse has won a graded stakes race.) This points out horses who have shown they have the class to win a graded stakes race. (Exceptions: Ferdinand in 1986, Alysheba in 1987, Funny Cide in 2003 and Giacomo in 2005 are the only exceptions going back to the introduction of U.S. graded stakes races in 1973; Alysheba in 1987 did finish first in the Blue Grass, only to be disqualified and placed third.) 3. THE EIGHTH POLE CATEGORY. (In either of his or her last two starts before the Kentucky Derby, the horse was either first or second with a furlong to go.) This points out horses who were running strongly at the eighth pole, usually in races at 1 1/16 or 1 1/8 miles. By running strongly at the same point in the Kentucky Derby, a horse would be in a prime position to win the roses. Keep in mind that 53 of the last 56 Kentucky Derby winners through 2021 have been first or second with a furlong to run. Since Decidedly won the Derby in 1962 when he was third with a furlong to go, the only three Kentucky Derby winners who were not first or second with a furlong to run were Animal Kingdom, third with a furlong remaining in 2011 when only a half-length from being second; Giacomo, sixth with a furlong to go in 2005; and Grindstone, fourth with a furlong to run in 1996. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the Kentucky Derby winners who weren’t either first or second a furlong from the finish in his or her last two starts have been Tim Tam in 1958, Carry Back in 1961, Cannonade in 1974, Gato Del Sol in 1982, Unbridled in 1990 and Sea Hero in 1993, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 4. THE GAMENESS CATEGORY. (The horse’s finish position in both of his or her last two races before the Kentucky Derby was no worse than his or her running position at the eighth pole.) This points out horses who don’t like to get passed in the final furlong. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the exceptions have been Venetian Way in 1960, Cannonade in 1974, Foolish Pleasure in 1975, Ferdinand in 1986, Silver Charm in 1997, Mine That Bird in 2009, Super Saver in 2010 and Mandaloun in 2021, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 5. THE DISTANCE FOUNDATION CATEGORY. (The horse has finished at least third in a 1 1/8-mile race or longer before the Kentucky Derby.) This points out horses who have the proper foundation and/or stamina for the Kentucky Derby distance. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the only exceptions have been Kauai King in 1966, Sea Hero in 1993, Charismatic in 1999, Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird in 2009.) 6. THE NO ADDING OR REMOVING BLINKERS CATEGORY. (The horse has not added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her final start at 3 before the Kentucky Derby.) This seems to point out that, if a horse is good enough to win the Kentucky Derby, the trainer is not searching for answers so late in the game. (Going back to 1973, no horse has added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her last start at 3 before winning the Kentucky Derby.) 7. THE RACED AS A 2-YEAR-OLD CATEGORY. (The horse made at least one start as a 2-year-old.) (Exceptions: Apollo in 1882 and Justify in 2018. Going back to 1937, horses unraced as a 2-year-old now are a combined 1 for 67 in the Kentucky Derby through 2021. During this period, the only horses to finish second or third in the Kentucky Derby without having raced at 2 were Hampden, who finished third in 1946; Coaltown, second in 1948; Agitate, third in 1974; Reinvested, third in 1982; Strodes Creek, second in 1994; Curlin, third in 2007; Bodemeister, second in 2012; and Battle of Midway, third in 2017.) 8. THE NOT A GELDING CATEGORY. (The horse is not a gelding.) (Exceptions: Funny Cide in 2003 and Mine That Bird in 2009 are the only geldings to win the Kentucky Derby since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.) GLEN TODD ONLINE DISPERAL SALE As I wrote last week, Glen Todd, a giant in horse racing in the Canadian province of British Columbia, passed away on March 26. He was 75. Todd, whose parents met at Hastings Racecourse [nee Exhibition Park] in Vancouver in 1939, was “involved in the sport for more than 50 years in multiple roles, often at the same time,” Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty wrote. “He owned and trained hundreds of horses while simultaneously providing guidance to the British Columbia racing and breeding industries.” A 10-time leading owner at Hastings, one of Todd’s biggest wins as an owner came in the United States with Taylor Said. Racing for Todd under the name North American Thoroughbred Horse Company, Taylor Said captured the Grade III Longacres Mile in 2012 at Emerald Downs near Seattle. The Longacres Mile is the richest race in the Pacific Northwest. Troy Taylor was Taylor Said’s trainer at his Hastings base. Taylor Said was sent to fellow trainer Mike Puhich at Emerald Downs for the Longacres Mile. Puhich said winning the Longacres Mile as a trainer was “a dream come true” for him. That’s understandable coming from someone who was born not all that many furlongs from Longacres, the picturesque track in Renton, Wash., that conducted racing and from 1933 to 1992. Puhich’s favorite horse (and mine) is Pacific Northwest superstar Turbulator, who took Longacres by storm in 1970 during a summer campaign in which he won five stakes races from July 4 to Sept. 14 and broke a world record. Joe Withee, who joined Turbulator in the Washington Racing Hall of Fame last year when honored for lifetime achievement, told me last week that a dispersal sale would soon be held for Todd’s horses. “Mike Puhich is handling the details for the dispersal,” said Withee, a broadcaster and publicist at Emerald Downs. “It was in Glen Todd’s will that Puhich would handle any dispersal.” The DRF’s Randy Goulding reports that bidding for the 31 horses entered in the Glen Todd dispersal sale will be accepted online only on the website digital.fasigtipton.com from April 27 to May 3. The horses are stabled at Pegasus Training and Equine Rehabilitation Center in Redmond, Wash. “Most of the horses were in training at Hastings prior to Todd’s death and have stayed in training at Pegasus,” Goulding wrote. One of the horses in the dispersal is Five Star General, who finished second in the Grade III Longacres Mile in 2020 and third in last year’s edition. Another is Princess of Cairo, winner of the 2020 Washington Oaks and 2021 Emerald Downs Distaff, both at Emerald. The horses can be viewed in training from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 22, 23, 25 and 26. To see the horses train, a person must sign up with Brooke Ferguson, the Pegasus office manager. Her email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. document.getElementById('cloakfd2a5eb4a9f2f0b459fe06809f44cffc').innerHTML = ''; var prefix = 'ma' + 'il' + 'to'; var path = 'hr' + 'ef' + '='; var addyfd2a5eb4a9f2f0b459fe06809f44cffc = 'bferguson' + '@'; addyfd2a5eb4a9f2f0b459fe06809f44cffc = addyfd2a5eb4a9f2f0b459fe06809f44cffc + 'pegasustrainingcenter' + '.' + 'com'; var addy_textfd2a5eb4a9f2f0b459fe06809f44cffc = 'bferguson' + '@' + 'pegasustrainingcenter' + '.' + 'com';document.getElementById('cloakfd2a5eb4a9f2f0b459fe06809f44cffc').innerHTML += ''+addy_textfd2a5eb4a9f2f0b459fe06809f44cffc+''; . “There will be access online to X-rays, throat scoping and conformation walks,” Puhich said. “We decided to have the sale online because we are a bit isolated here. Bids can come from anywhere and we have had a lot of interest so far. It was an end of an era when Glen died. He meant so much to so many people in British Columbia and Washington.” NTRA TOP THROUGHBRED POLL The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll is in the same order as last week: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 302 Country Grammer (22) 2. 258 Life is Good (3) 3. 244 Letruska (4) 4. 224 Hot Rod Charlie 5. 186 Speaker’s Corner (1) 6. 152 Express Train (4) 7. 90 Flightline 8. 76 Olympiad 9. 70 Golden Pal 10. 51 Ce Ce NTRA TOP THREE-YEAR-OLD POLL In this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll, Charge It moves into the No. 10 spot, replacing Early Voting: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 331 Epicenter (26) 2. 271 Zandon (3) 3. 220 White Abarrio 4. 217 Mo Donegal (1) 5. 210 Taiba (2) 6. 155 Cyberknife (2) 7. 132 Messier 8. 95 Smile Happy 9. 52 Simplification 10. 40 Charge It

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4.21.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Triple Crown Rankings | Updated April 20, 2022

1 – Epicenter (S. Asmussen) – Squashed what proved to be unfounded concerns about his ability to win without a front-running trip in the 9.5F Louisiana Derby-G2, and not only did the son of Not This Time stalk, pounce, and accelerate in his thoroughly pleasing two and one-half length victory, he did so with a career top speed figure and without being asked for his best. His numbers have risen in each of his six career starts and there are no worries about the Derby’s classic distance. Latest workout: April 17, 2022, Churchill Downs, 5f, 1:00.4b, 7/26. 2 – Taiba - (T. Yakteen) - Purchased last year in the Fasig-Tipton March 2-year-old in training sale for $1.7 million, the son of Gun Runner has come from nowhere to rank among the very best in his division, winning his debut in March by more than seven lengths (when trained by B. Baffert) and then stepping into Grade-1 company, stretching out to nine furlongs, and proving clearly best over stable mate Messier in the Santa Anita Derby, with both performances earning triple digit Beyer speed figures. Will try to become the first horse since Leonatus in 1883 to win the Kentucky Derby off just two career starts. We wouldn’t put it past him. Latest workout: None since raced. 3 – Zandon (C. Brown) – Was highly impressive in victory in the Blue Grass S.-G2 while giving every indication of having developed into a true Classic contender. Raced in heavy traffic to the head of the lane but then found room and produced an electric turn of foot to win by two and one-half widening lengths before galloping out far in front. His speed figures have risen with every outing with the expectation that he will continue to improve with experience and distance. It would be no surprise if he went to the post as the lukewarm Kentucky Derby favorite. Latest workout: None since raced. 4 – Messier (T. Yakteen) – Pressed the pace, took command into the lane but simply couldn’t stay with stable mate Taiba in the final sixteenth and wound up second best, beaten two lengths while 10 clear of the rest, in the Santa Anita Derby-G1. Still the fastest in his class based on speed figures, the son of Empire Maker was making his first start in more than two months following a runaway a 15-length victory in the Robert B. Lewis S.-G2 in early February and could easily produce a significant forward move at Churchill Downs with this excellent tightener behind him. Latest workout: None since raced. 5 – Mo Donegal (T. Pletcher) – Didn’t get the best of runs when rallying too late to be third in the Holy Bull S.-G3 in early February but took full advantage of a dream run to tag pace setter Early Voting by a neck in the Wood Memorial S.-G2 two months later (he had been entered and scratched in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 in early March). Lacks a great turn of foot but has no distance limitations and has plenty of room to develop with additional experience. Speed figures have risen with each outing those another forward move (entirely possible) will be required to win or at least hit the board in Louisville. Latest workout: none since raced. 6 – White Abarrio (S. Joseph, Jr.) – His only defeat came when third (beaten six lengths) behind Smile Happy in the KJC S.-G2 at Churchill Downs last fall but he remained unbeaten in four starts at Gulfstream Park with a perfect trip, pace-stalking victory in the Florida Derby-G1 that produced a speed figure a few points below what likely will be required to win the Kentucky Derby-G1. He had missed some training time prior to his most recent win due to a minor illness, so there is hope that he can step forward in Louisville. Latest workout: April 17, Gulfstream Park, 3f, :34.2b 1/41). 7 – Simplification (A. Sano) – Reverted to his prior style as a front runner/pace presser when weakening late to finishing third behind White Abarrio in the moderately-rated Florida Derby-G1 after previously being held up in traffic and then quickening late to win the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 the previous month. He clearly prefers patient handling and likely will employ waiting tactics in the Kentucky Derby-G1 but enters the race with a resume that falls short when compared to the top-rated colts in the division. Latest workout: April 15, Gulftstream Park, 5f, 1:01.4b, 4/6). 8 – Charge It (T. Pletcher) – Finished a troubled (mostly self-caused) second in the fair-to-moderate Florida Derby-G2 behind perfect tripper White Abarrio after getting away a bit slowly and taking dirt for the first time when settling behind the leader, appearing to climb while somewhat unsettled midway, and then lugging in and swapping leads twice from the furlong pole to the wire before going down by little more than a length. The raw talent is there but he’ll have to grow up in a hurry to have a say in a 20-runner runner field in the Kentucky Derby-G1. Latest workout: April 15, Palm Beach Downs, 4f, :47.3b, 1/11). 9– Early Voting (C. Brown) – Suffered his first defeat in three career outings when going down by a neck as the controlling speed to the late-rallying Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial-G2. Despite the gut-wrenching loss, the son of Gun Runner lost little in defeat in a performance that easily earned a career top speed figure. He should be tighter and tougher in his next start, but as of this writing his connections haven’t committed to a Derby start and in fact might be leaning towards the Preakness S.-G1. Latest workout: none since raced. 10 – Smile Happy (K. McPeek) – Suffered his first career defeat in a better-than-looked runner-up effort behind “loose-on-the-lead” Epicenter in the Risen Star S.-G2 at Fair Grounds in March but then failed to produce a forward move as hoped when runner-up but no match behind Zandon in the Blue Grass S.-G2 in his final Derby prep. Was forced wide early but then enjoyed a perfect stalking trip the rest of the way yet put up little resistance after hitting the front in the final sixteenth, eventually going down by more than two lengths. It is entirely possible that the Derby’s 10-furlong trip will prove to be out of his range. Latest workout: none since race. Knocking on the door: Tiz a Bomb, Cyberknife, Zozos, Barber Road

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4.20.2022:

Race of the Week: $1M Oaklawn Handicap | Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Lead: A trio of stakes, including $1 million offerings for the Apple Blossom and Oaklawn Handicap, provide a late-season spectacular in Hot Springs, AR. Saturday's Apple Blossom features Eclipse Champions Letruska and Ce Ce among a field of 5; the Oaklawn Handicap features a deeper overall cast of 8 and goes as Race 11 on the card. For a closer look at the Apple Blossom, be sure to check out Jeff Siegel and Jeremy Plonk's video preview available Thursday on Twitter @Xpressbet and @1stbet as well as on YouTube. ​Field Depth: G1 winners IDOL and SUPER STOCK are joined by G2 winner FEARLESS. Both RATED R SUPERSTAR and rival PLAINSMAN are G3 winners. IDOL and FEARLESS have kept slightly stronger company lines than the talented locals, but there's not a wide gap in the class discussion. Pace: THOMAS SHELBY and PLAINSMAN have dueled in the Razorback and Essex in preparation for the Oaklawn Handicp are expected to make the pace again. FEARLESS figures to sit third in a similar trip to last year's Oaklawn Handicap visit. The pace should be moderate for this class and distance, with no major advantages projected. Our Eyes: FEARLESS missed by a half-length in this race last year and returns looking to one-up his finish for trainer Todd Pletcher. His Gulfstream winter was spent pursuing rising superstar Speaker's Corner in the Fred W. Hooper and Gulfstream Park Mile. He got class relief April 2 in the G3 Ghostzapper and paid it off easily with a 6-length romp. This will be a tougher test than his last, but there are no Speaker's Corner-type talents in this starting gate. FEARLESS will be the one to beat. IDOL is the other newcomer to the local mix, away since going awry in the Oct. 2 Awesome Again at Santa Anita. It was his only start since his defining G1 Santa Anita Handicap score in March '21. Trainer Richard Baltas has had him holed up at San Luis Rey Downs training center away from public eye, so it's a difficult guess which version of IDOL shows up. His last 3 works all have been the 6-furlong variety, indicating the trainer feels the need to pump stamina into IDOL -- sort of an obvious point for a second start in 13 months. I'll have to take a wait-and-see. Last year's Arkansas Derby winner SUPER STOCK is 0-2 at the meet, but his 4th-place finish on the road in the G2 New Orleans Classic was an improved effort. Until winning last week's Count Fleet with 1-2 shot Jackie's Warrior, it's unthinkable that SUPER STOCK's trainer Steve Asmussen was 0-33 in stakes at the meet. SUPER STOCK loses riders Joel Rosario to PLAINSMAN and Ricardo Santana Jr. to RATED R SUPERSTAR. That's not a rousing endorsement. Very little separates the local handicap division stars, namely RATED R SUPERSTAR, PLAINSMAN, THOMAS SHELBY, BEAU LUMINARIE and LAST SAMURAI. They all take turns in the winner's circle and, when defeated, the margins are close and provide continuous debate. Most Certain Exotics Contender: FEARLESS is 12-for-14 in the superfecta lifetime and has run 2 good races over the track at Oaklawn.​ Best Longshot Exotics Contender: Trainer Rodolphe Brisset's barn is going very well recently at Oaklawn, and I liked BEAU LUMINARIE to upset the Essex when a rallying third at 14-1. He doesn't need to improve too much to get the same or better share of this one. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $100 exacta FEARLESS over BEAU LUMINARIE.  

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4.19.2022:

1/ST Look: Golden Gate Fields 5 Facts | April 18-24, 2022

Schedule: Friday-Sunday Carryovers: $7,771 // Super High 5 (Friday) Feature Race(s): None scheduled. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Avg. E2 Pace (41%, +$30.80) Speed Last Race (40%, +$42.40) Avg. E1 Pace (38%, +$32.80) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Jack Steiner // last week 6: 3-0-2 (50%, $2.65 ROI) // 3-4 with Evin Roman // 2-3 in maiden claiming T: Jonathan Wong // last week 14: 3-4-3 (21%, $1.81 ROI) // 1-7 with favorites // 7: 2-2-2 with Evin Roman J: Assael Espinoza // last week 12: 5-1-2 (42%, $2.50 ROI) // 1-1 with favorites // 8-23 last 2 weeks J: Evin Roman // last week 20: 5-2-6 (25%, $1.26 ROI) // 8: 2-2-2 with favorites // 9-35 last 2 weeks J: Bryan Pena // last week 4: 2-0-0 (50%, $1.50 ROI) // 6-16 last 2 weeks ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.19.2022:

1/ST Look: Laurel Park 5 Facts | April 18-24, 2022

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday Carryovers: $3,678 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Thursday) Feature Race(s): $100,000 Henry S. Clark Stakes // turf milers // Saturday $100,000 Dahlia Stakes // distaff turf milers // Saturday $100,000 King T. Leatherbury Stakes // turf sprinters // Saturday $100,000 Native Dancer Stakes // handicap division // Saturday $100,000 Primonetta Stakes // distaff sprinters // Saturday Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Trainer Current Meet (41%, +$41.00) Lifetime Speed (33%, +$8.80) Jockey Current Meet (33%, +$8.40) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Jamie Ness // last week 6: 4-1-0 (67%, $2.17 ROI) // 2-3 with favorites // all with jockey Jamie Rodriguez T: Hamilton Smith // last week 4: 2-1-0 (50%, $3.15 ROI) // $23 winner + Luna Belle in stakes T: Claudio Gonzalez // last week 7: 3-0-2 (43%, $0.99 ROI) // 2-2 in allowance // $3, $4, $6 winners J: Jevian Toledo // last week 11: 4-1-3 (36%, $1.14 ROI) // $4, $4, $7, $8 winners // 3-4 with favorites J: Maclovio Enriquez Jr. // last week 8: 2-1-1 (25%, $6.03 ROI) // $12, $83 winners ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.19.2022:

1/ST Look: Gulfstream 5 Facts | April 18-April 24, 2022

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday Carryovers: $34,373 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Thursday) Feature Race(s): None scheduled. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): % Horses Beaten (29%, -$1.80) Avg. Best 2 of Last 3 Speed (27%, -$13.60) *top-3 factor second straight week* Last Turn Time (25%, +$37.00) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Joe Pinchin // last week 4: 2-1-0 (50%, $4.28 ROI) // $4, $29 winners in sprints (turf & dirt) T: Danny Gargan // last week 2: 2-0-0 (100%, $3.20 ROI) // $3, $9 winners on turf with Miguel Vasquez T: Reynaldo Yanez // last week 2: 2-0-0 (100%, $6.20 ROI) // $8, $16 winners // 3-4 dating back to March 9 J: Miguel Vasquez // last week 25: 7-6-3 (27%, $1.04 ROI) // 2-2 with Danny Gargan, 2-3 with Fausto Gutierrez // 2-5 aboard favorites J: Junior Alvarado // last week 26: 7-4-3 (27%, $1.44 ROI) // 3-11 aboard favorites // 2-3 with Gilberto Zerpa, 2-5 with Saffie Joseph Jr. ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.18.2022:

Monday Myths: Are Triple Crown Trail Class Droppers Good Bets?

Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities. Assumption: Three-year-olds dropping off the Triple Crown trail have a class advantage that wins allowance races. Background: With the slew of Triple Crown prep races nearly now all in the books, the successful runners move on to the main events. Those not successful will be seeking out more realistic spots for their gear-up to the rest of their careers, often in allowance races. But are those Triple Crown trail alumni really stockpiled in talent? Data Points: I dialed up the Betmix database to look at all April and May 3-year-old male allowance runners who last raced in a stakes, dating back 5 years to 2017. I wanted to see how successful they were in comparison to horses who were not coming out of the Triple Crown preps when matched up this time of year. I also wanted to see if those allowance horses bet to favoritism exiting the various class levels were any more or less trustworthy. // April & May 3YOs dropping from stakes to allowance won 16.6% with a $0.79 ROI for every $1 bet. April & May 3YOs racing back in repeat allowance attempts won 14.7% with a $0.76 ROI for every $1 bet. April & May 3YOs rising from maiden special weight to allowance attempts won 16.0% with a $0.79 ROI for every $1 bet. // April & May 3YOs dropping from stakes to allowance won 35.8% as favorites April & May 3YOs racing back in repeat allowance attempts won 38.8% as favorites. April & May 3YOs rising from maiden special weight to allowance attempts won 40.0% as favorites. Bottom line: Triple Crown trail stakes droppers won at a .6% higher rate in allowance races than maiden risers and 1.9% higher rate than those staying in the allowance ranks for a repeat effort. The Triple Crown trail droppers had an identical ROI to those rising from maiden races and both were $.03 better than allowance repeat runners. In terms of favorites, Triple Crown trail droppers were worst in the survey, 3 full percent below allowance repeaters and 4.2% lower than maiden risers bet to favoritism. The numbers bear out that the Triple Crown trail class droppers aren’t any more profitable to bet, win at a negligible better rate, but are wrongly over-bet by the public in terms of favorites with the lowest rate. Overall, the numbers say it’s a myth that the Triple Crown trail class droppers this time of year are strong allowance plays with any sort of advantage. Additional details: You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, sort by tracks and races to see if any particular races historically have been better when its races’ also-rans drop into allowance company.

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4.18.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Woodbine Mohawk Park Pick 4 Analysis: Monday, April 18, 2022

  Woodbine Mohawk Park begins the week with a 10-race card and the feature rolls in Race 9, a Preferred Trot with a $36,000 purse. The 0.20 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 7, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 7 3-Combs Hanover (9/2)-Broke in its season debut but now trotting hopples will go back on. The 2 qualifiers were good, has beaten better here and could be overlooked at the windows. 4-Phoenix (4-1)-Form has been okay but hasn't sealed the deal at this level. Put in a decent try last week but took the long way around. This time Filion may look to race near the top of the stack and should offer a solid price. 6-Patriarch Hanover (5/2)-Raced big in last from post 10 to just miss and came a close 3rd. Those who finished ahead are not part of this field and looks like a main player tonight. Race 8 3-Hello Rocky (10-1)-Slow starts have hurt and has been in versus better. Can close off the right trip and should relish the company. 8-Lyons Image (3-1)-Likes to compete at the B tracks and fits well at this level here. Roy should be out and rolling off the gate and has hit the board in 4 of 9 at Wbsb with 2 wins. Race 9 2-Oney Hall (8/5)-Many will single, and recent form backs up that status. But will look to use 2 others who are good enough to win with a top try. 4-Perfetto (3-1)-Probably the most likely to knock off the chalk and doesn't race as often as others. Henriksen picks his spots and could come up big here. 6-Dream Nation (7/2)-Competes well at this level and should offer some value. This race can shape up nicely, fractions should be lively and Young could be rolling faster than the rest down the lane. Race 10 6-Just Plain Needy (3-1)-Took control and fled the scene to post a new lifetime mark. That effort shouldn't be overlooked. 8-Big Journey (7/2)-Didn't fire off the gate leaving from the rail and was >9 lengths back. But rallied well to cash a 2nd place check versus a strong winner. The post helps the price and McClure could work a sharp steer. 0.20 Late Pick 4 3,4,6/3,8/2,4,6/6,8 Total bet=$7.20 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.17.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Sunday, April 17, 2022

  Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 3-She’s a Joker; 8-Queen of Pompeii Forecast: She’s a Joker has done all of her preparatory work at San Luis Rey Downs, so she has avoided the xbtv.com camera but we did catch a glimpse of her a year ago at the OBS April Sale, where she breezed a furlong in 10 1/5 seconds and looked quite good doing it. Purchase through the ring for $110,000, the daughter of Practical Joke out of a half-sister to multiple champion sprinter Roy H makes her debut in a moderate California-bred maiden turf sprint for fillies and mares and appears well-spotted for a major effort for a barn that has superior stats (with a small sample) with first-time starters. At 4-1 on the morning line, we’ll put her on top. Queen of Pompeii may be the best of those that have raced. Away since last summer, the daughter of Temple City hit the board in both of her prior outings over the local lawn when rallying from off the pace and should appreciate today’s extended sprint trip. She has the blinkers off angle that we like and retains J. Hernandez, who was aboard in all three of her previous outings. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play with the main punch going to She’s a Joker. Notable Workouts: Baker Kait (April 10, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01hg). Grade: B- Did okay without being asked for her best while even but slightly best with Classic Dr Al (same time) for D. O’Neill, splits of :25 flat, :36.4, :48.2 and 1:01 flat, not fast early but decent late, though failing to change leads after straightening for home. Has some run, may be worth some consideration vs. moderate state-bred foes in her debut. View Workout Video Margot’s Girl (April 7, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.1hg). Grade: B- Much best over Norah’s Princess (same time) for C. Lewis in team gate drill, able to go faster if permitted but never being asked for speed, splits of :24.3, :36.1 and :48.4 on our watches, slower than given but not bad from a visual standpoint. Seems fair fit, seeking a soft state-bred sprint. View Workout Video Summer Lake (March 11, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.1hg). Grade: C+ Solo gate work for B. Heap, stumbled at the start but got into stride and went under mild urging while much slower than given on our watches, splits of :24.4, :36.1, :48.1 and 1:01.2, fair to moderate while very late changing leads. Let’s see one first. View Workout Video Queen of Pompeii (April 1, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.2hg). Grade: B No blinkers, clearly best over Team Concept (5f, 1:00.4hg) in gate drill for C. Gaines, coasting throughout while earning splits of :24.2, :36 flat, :48 flat and 1:00.2, plenty left late. Away since last summer but is coming back well, seems fit. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:32 PT Grade: X Single: 4-There Goes Harvard Forecast: There Goes Harvard is listed as the 6/5 morning line favorite in this five-runner first-level allowance optional claiming main track router and probably will win, though at the price he won’t be offering any real wagering value. He has one win from nine career starts to go along with seven seconds/thirds, so the son of Will Take Charge, who has failed to deliver the goods the three times he left as the public choice, may not be one to trust. That said, a repeat of his last outing – a runner-up effort while nearly five lengths clear of the rest – should be more than good enough to handle this modest task. You can use him as a rolling exotic single or simply pass the race. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:05 PT Grade: B+ Single: 3-Worse Read Sanchez Forecast: In a race loaded with front-running or pace-pressing types, Worse Read Sanchez should have every opportunity to produce the last run in this California-bred first-level allowance turf miler restricted to 3-year-olds. With a distinct edge in the speed figure department and a prior win over the course, ‘Sanchez seems likely to go lower than his morning line of 5/2, though we suggest you take it if you can get it. The D. O’Neill-trained colt will get the patient ride he requires from regular pilot M. Gutierrez, and with fractions that are sure to compliment his style the son of Square Eddie should be along in time as a logical rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:38 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference: 7-Union Train; 3-Q B One Forecast: Union Train was on the verge of developing into a real nice colt last fall before he had to be stopped on, and if returns as well as he left this promising sophomore should be a major player in this competitive two-turn main track maiden event. An excellent second in a strong dirt miler at Del Mar last November, the J. Shirreffs-trained colt has trained well enough to be fit and ready and returns with Lasix for a barn that has solid stats with layoff runners. He’ll have to avoid being forced wide from his outside draw, but if he can get over and secure a good stalking spot, the son of Union Rags should have every chance. Q B One might be coming around now that he’s been gelded. A willing but non-threatening third in a tougher maiden heat last month, the son of Uncle Mo from champion mare Beholder lacks tactical speed but should be running on late, and with a projected pace flow that should be faster than par he could make some noise close home at 8-1 on the morning line. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with preference on top to Union Train. Notable Workouts: Got Thunder (April 9, Santa Anita, 5f, :58.3h). Grade: B In blinkers, second best in a three-runner team drill with Ce Ce (5f, :58h, tons best) and Queen Goddess (5f, 1:00.3h), ridden through the lane to finish three lengths behind after the trio broke off head-and-head, splits for the Arrogate colt in :22.3, :33.4 and :58.3, extremely fast time but appearing to lose some of his punch late. Always has trained like a good colt but has been a major disappointment in the afternoon. Might show more speed with the addition of the hood but we’re not convinced the equipment change will otherwise provide all that much improvement. View Workout Video Union Train (April 8, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3h). Grade: B Just coasting through the lane to be even but slightly best over Angel of Freedom (same time), final three furlongs in :37 flat, able to go much faster if asked. Coming back very well for Shirreffs, has a chance to make a decent sort of 3-year-old. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:11 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 3-Unfaithful Ways; 8-Spring Spinning Forecast: Unfaithful Ways missed by a neck in a similar turf miler last time out when benefitting from a race shape (fast early, slow late) that complimented her style. A similar effort today might be good enough, especially with a pace flow that once again should promote her closing style. She switches to J. Bravo, one of the stable’s “go to” riders, so at 5/2 on the morning line the daughter of Street Boss seems fairly logical. Spring Spinning was victimized by a disastrous start when a distant third sprinting on grass in her debut last month and seem sure to improve today with a race under her belt and today’s added distance. The daughter of Hard Spun makes a positive trainer switch to D. O’Neill and picks up J. Hernandez, plus she shows a bullet five furlong training track drill (:59 2/5) two weeks ago that catches the eye. Unfaithful Ways gets top billing but we’ll have tickets using both in our rolling exotics. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:42 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 9-Take a Leap; 7-Bossy Soul Forecast: Here’s a race that should be approached with some caution. Take A Leap, dropping to the bottom off a J. Wong claim after rallying too late as the favorite when second in a $12,500 sprint last month, stretches out again but must leave from the extreme outside post in this dirt miler for fillies and mares. Never worse than second in four career outings over the local main track, the seven-year-old mare can handle this assignment with anything close to her best effort but must avoid getting packed wide early. At 8/5 on the morning line, there really isn’t much wagering value to be found. Rolling exotic players should also find room on their ticket for Bossy Soul. Overmatched in state-bred allowance company last time out on turf, the S. Knapp-trained filly returns to her claim level and has a look off her strong third place effort behind Take a Leap over this track and distance two runs back. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:12 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 1-Heathers Grey ; 5-New Heat Forecast: Heathers Grey has been away since last July but she has looked quite good in morning workouts for trainer S. McCarthy and projects to enjoy an ideal pace-stalking trip from her favorable rail draw – or perhaps even on the lead - in a race that projects to have soft early splits. A two-time winner over the Santa Anita turf course, the veteran mare gets a break in the weights under bug boy D. Herrera and offers good wagering value at or near her morning line of 8-1. New Heat is a three-time winner over the local lawn and just earned a career top speed figure when closing against the grain to be willing second behind loose-on-the-lead winner Park Avenue. If she can get some help up front at this shorter one mile trip, the daughter of Unusual Heat will be heard from late. Notable Workouts: Heathers Grey (March 21, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.3h). Grade: B Hard held most of the way while appearing quite sharp in solo half mile main track breeze for S. McCarthy, final three furlongs in :36.1. Freshened since last July and appears to be returning in fine fettle. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:42 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 8-Scary Fast Smile; 2-Gerlach’s Forecast: Scary Fast Smile earned a career top number when trouncing similar state-bred first-level allowance optional claiming foes two races back but then bounced to the moon when a dull fourth at 6/5 in his most recent start against optional $50,000 claimers last month. Back at his winning level today, the D. O’Neill-trained gelding switches to bug boy D. Herrera to get a bit of a weight break, and if given the patient ride he prefers at this extended seven furlong sprint trip the son of Smiling Tiger should be capable of regaining his winning form. At 5/2 on the morning line, we’ll make him a win play and rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Scary Fast Smile (April 3, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3h). Grade: B+ Very easy early and breezing through the lane, splits of :24.2, :36.1 and 1:00.3, quite nice for D. O’Neill. Disappointed last time out but appears ready to bounce back in a big way. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:12 PT Grade: B+ Single: 1-Dialing Scotty Forecast: Dialing Scotty has done some excellent work in the morning leading up to her debut for C. Gaines and in this below average maiden turf sprint for California-bred fillies and mares the daughter of Dialed In looks ready to win at first asking. Though her workout times don’t jump off the page, she has done everything asked of her in the a.m. while always appearing to have plenty more to give if required. At an enticing 6-1 on the morning line, we’ll use here in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. Notable Workouts: Dialing Scotty (April 10, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.1h TT). Grade: B+ Broke off a couple of lengths behind Candybox (5f, 1:01.3h TT) and was under restraint through the lane to finish head-and-head, never asked at any stage, very nice while coming the final three furlongs in :12.1 and :36.4. Looks fit, seems to have a good late turn of foot and should be live at first asking vs. state-bred foes. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.17.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Handle Surge Wasn't Enough For The Pomp To Survive

  This will be the final night of racing at the “Winter Capital” of harness racing, Pompano Park. Ironically, the track isn’t being shuttered because of a run of bad years. The 2021 handle for the Pomp was the best since the track opened in 1964. But when corporations are involved and it is determined there is a “better use” for the land, the property is sold or used for a different purpose. Recently the same reasoning happened concerning the decision to close Arlington Park. But Gabe Prewitt, Director of Racing for Caesar's Entertainment-Racing wasn’t at the controls in Arlington Heights. Prewitt is the track announcer at the south Florida track, and he is a good one. But make no mistake, Gabe influenced every aspect of racing at the Pomp. What Prewitt managed to do was create a club without a membership fee and called it the #SendItIn army which is how he promoted it on Twitter. Send it in, meaning your bets and that is exactly what happened. In a world where hyperbole is commonplace, I’m comfortable in saying the turn-around at the Pomp over the last four years or so, will never be equaled in harness racing. It didn’t happen in a few weeks but once the #SendItIn army gained momentum Pompano became a destination for horseplayers that it hadn’t been since the 80's, albeit not on site. What Prewitt did best was to make an awful situation better by playing the hand that was dealt and telling the truth. He can talk the horsemen’s language and doesn’t come across like a management suit. Prewitt is also a horseplayer, so he knows what is important to gamblers. Everyone relates to Gabe. Without saying so, Prewitt knew people like to embrace a cause and we are all lemmings to a degree. So, the rallying cry was to keep betting so the Pomp could survive. The handle rose, purses got better, the field size increased and the guarantees on horizontals were boosted. Everything fell into place despite a facility in need of repair, nothing stopped the turn-around. Electrical outages, tote and starting car malfunctions were part of the vibe. The video was circa 1980's poor, the finish line camera position had a bias of at least a long nose. Without the sound, bettors wouldn’t know if it was the 6 horse or the 3 crossing the line first, the same with the 1 or 7. Prewitt knew about the issues and didn’t like it but continued to promote to survive. His efforts added at least a year of life to the Pomp, probably two. There was a time when race tracks were owned by families who were backed by generational wealth. They would be able to shoulder tough times with the aspiration of continuing a legacy of racing at their facility for future generations. It’s much different now and harness racing in total is not a guaranteed life for future generations of horsemen. Unfortunately, that’s the truth, and there are few involved in racing like Prewitt, who can make a significant difference. Prewitt will continue doing his regular stint of calling races at the Red Mile. When I asked Gabe about his future otherwise, he simply said it will be fine and he worries more about the people at Pompano. There isn’t a doubt Gabe will be fine; he is too talented not to be, whether in racing or not. But it would be a shame if he weren’t heavily involved in promoting another track. The 2022 harness racing handle is down 9.8% compared to the same time last year. It’s time to #SendItIn and there might be someone available who knows how to make that happen. Check me out on Twitter!

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4.16.2022:

1/ST BET AI Picks: Lexington & Tesio | Saturday, April 16, 2022

  Potential Kentucky Derby and/or Preakness springboards are being held Saturday at Laurel Park in the Federico Tesio and Keeneland in the Lexington Stakes. To assist your handicapping, top selections provided by the 1/ST BET app measure each contender against the 10 leading factors for each race. The 1/ST BET app looks at 52 handicapping factors and more than 200,000 past races to determine its AI selections. You can use the automated handicapping factors, or create your own factor filters to incorporate angles you prefer. Full-card selections can be found in the 1/ST BET app. We’ve included the official track morning line odds with each runner. Laurel Park // Race 9 // 5:02 pm ET // $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes // 1-1/8 miles #7 Smarten Up (9-2) // 27%W #2 Shake Em Loose (3-1) // 18%W #4 Joe (5-2) // 14%W #1 Vine Jet (6-1) // 10%W Keeneland // Race 9 // 5:16 pm ET // $400,000 Grade 3 Lexington Stakes // 1-1/16 miles #10 Dash Attack (10-1) // 25%W {pictured above|#4 Ethereal Road (10-1) // 21%W #9 Tawny Port (5-2) // 17%W #2 In Due Time (3-1) // 9%W

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4.16.2022:

Eddie Olczyk: Hat Trick Best Bets | Saturday, April 16, 2022

Follow Eddie Olczyk's Saturday best bets only with 1/ST BET and Xpressbet.

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4.16.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Saturday, April 16, 2022

  Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Fore Flag; 3-Just About Enough; 5-Cool Acclaim Forecast: The Saturday opener is an inscrutable California-bred maiden race over nine furlongs on grass. Most of these have been thoroughly exposed, so anything goes. Fore Flag is a one-paced grinder with seven previous outings and speed figures that are, well, what they are. He does strike us as a gelding that will appreciate this nine furlong trip, so by process of elimination he gets top billing at 4-1 on the morning line. Additionally, he gets a break in the weights with the switch to bug boy D. Herrera, and that may make the winning difference. Just About Enough, in the money in three of his last four outings, might appreciate patient tactics and given that type of trip he should fire his best shot. On pure numbers, he’s a major player but he’s also an eight-race maiden. Cool Action was extremely rank early and then faded out of the picture when well-beaten in a similar affair last month. His best chance is to inherit the role as the controlling speed, and if such a trip materializes he could get brave and be tough to catch. Tread lightly here. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:30 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Elector; 2-McLaren Vale Forecast: The two main players in this first-level allowance extended sprint are drawn inside, with big figure maiden winner Elector and the first-time Lasix user McLaren Vale certain to get the bulk of the play. Elector (TOC=6-1; ML=8/5) stumbled badly at the start and was eliminated when well-meant in his debut but then showed his true from with a fast, highly-rated, and thoroughly convincing maiden victory in a race that produced next out wins from the second and third place finishers. In a race that projects to have soft early fractions, the son of Constitution should be quick enough to preserve the rail as the controlling speed and then be tough catch from there. McLaren Vale (TOC=6/5; ML=9/5) , a respectable third in the San Vicente S.-G2 after a moderate maiden debut win earlier this meeting, returns off a 10 week vacation and clearly is the one to fear most. Now in the S. McCarthy barn after being transferred from the B. Baffert stable, the son of Gun Runner should secure a stalking position and then have dead aim and every chance from the quarter pole home. Both should be included in rolling exotic play, with the main punch going to Elector. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:04 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Lookin So Lucky; 1-Song of Fire Forecast: We’ll double the third race, a restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claiming turf miler for fillies and mares. Lookin So Lucky (TOC=9/2; ML=4/2) has a prior win over the local lawn and speed figures that are good enough to win at this level. The class drop to her lowest level ever is warranted based on her recent form and against this group the daughter of Lookin At Lucky appears to have found her friends. Song of Fire (TOC=6/5; ML=3-1), a first-off-the-claim for low profile trainer S. Morfin (good stats with this angle), lands the rail and might find herself as the controlling speed if she’s aggressively handled leaving the gate. She was disappointing as the favorite when fading to fourth after pressing the pace but seems capable of rebounding if given her preferred trip. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play with a slight preference on top to Lookin So Lucky. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:36 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference: 4-Houndstooth; 6-Happy Runner Forecast: Houndstooth has much going for him in this maiden $62,500 sprint for older horses. The five-year-old with just two prior starts produced a significant forward move when fourth in a much stronger straight maiden sprint last time out, and with the addition of blinkers, the son of Uncle Mo is the likely controlling speed. Also, the figure he earned last time out far exceeds par for this level, and with the addition of Lasix the R. Mandella-trained gelding seems set to graduate. Happy Runner can be used as a back-up or a saver on a ticket or two. He shows the route-to-sprint angle, lands the cozy outside post, and projects to inherit a soft stalking position. He’ll need to produce a forward move to beat our top pick, though. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:09 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Doitforandrew; 3-Barsabas Forecast: Doitforandrew (TOC=5-1; ML=7/2) has been victimized by a pair of rough trips in his first two U.S. outings but he continues to very impressive in the a.m. so we’re going to give the P. D’Amato-trained import one more chance in this first-level allowance turf miler restricted to 3-year-olds. The English-bred gelding is assured a ground-saving trip from his rail post and seems likely to display improved tactical speed in a race that projects to have easy early fractions. At 7/2 on the morning line, the son of Ribchester offers a reasonable gamble. Barsabas (TOC=Evens; ML=5/2) pressed the pace before weakening late when fifth in the Pasadena S. over this course and distance in mid-February. Freshened and showing just three workouts in the two month interim, the son of Tale of the Cat may have a condition question but off his best race he’s right there with these. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with Doitforandrew getting strong preference on top. Notable Workouts: Doitforandrew (April 1, Santa Anita, 4f, :47.2h TT). Grade: A- Full of run through the lane in solo training track drill, final quarter mile in :22.4, never asked, sharp as a tack. Hasn’t shown his best yet in the p.m. but with a trouble-free trip next time he should produce a significant amount of improvement. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:40 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 3-Sweet California 10-Alex’s Girl Forecast: California Girl has burned money as the favorite in her last two starts, most recently finishing off the board as the even money favorite in a similar maiden $50,000 claiming sprint here last month. However, with blinkers being added and at this shortened this five and one-half furlong distance, the daughter of Danzing Candy deserves one more chance. Among the newcomers, the D. Hofmans-trained Alex’s Girl looks intriguing. Bred for speed on both sides of her pedigree (Idiot Proof x Tribal Rule) and training a bit better than the workout times might indicate, she certainly won’t have to be a world beater to act at this level, so at 6-1 on the morning line we’ll include her in rolling exotic play. Notable Workouts: Alex’s Girl (March 16, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:02.4h). Grade: B- Breezing early and looking okay late, as maiden-claiming type was much best over Justin’s Lady (5f, 1:03.4h), splits of :24.4, :36.2 and 1:03 flat on our watches. Obviously no world beater but seems like a trier and should be competitive with soft foes. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:11 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 2-Irish Heatwave; 1-Fly the Sky; 6-Liberal Forecast: Five of the nine entrants in this starter’s allowance ($25,000) nine furlong grass grab bag exit the same March 19 race. A similar blanket finish can be expected today, especially in a race that projects to have easy early fractions. Irish Heatwave (TOC=3-1; ML=3-1), a close third in the aforementioned race won by Liberal, is drawn nicely inside and could find himself in a favorable pace-pressing/forcing position if allowed to utilize his tactical speed. He’s a former stakes winner who has won gate-to-wire in the past, so we suggest his connections strongly consider employing that strategy. Fly the Sky (TOC=9/2; ML=4-1) can parlay his rail draw into a ground-saving trip, and with a repeat of his race-before-last the son of Boisterous will have a legitimate chance to regain his winning form. He’s a three-time winner over the Santa Anita turf course and a perfect one-for-one over at this nine furlong distance. Liberal (TOC=7/2; ML=7/2) managed to win that March 19 cavalry charge with a strong late kick, and although he’s picking up two lbs. off that win the veteran Irish-bred gelding could be capable of winning right back with good racing luck. The concern is that he’s winless in five starts (with just one third place finish) at this nine furlong distance. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:42 PT Grade: C Use (in order of preference): 10-Smoothlikebuttah; 8-Smilin Evie; 4-Respectfully Forecast: This California-bred first-level allowance sprint for fillies and mares has many possibilities but nothing to trust, so best advice is to spread as deeply as your budget allows. Smoothlikebuttah (TOC=8/5; ML=5-1) has solid recent form and removes blinkers (like that angle) but she is 1-for-26 during her career with 13 seconds and thirds. Obviously, she’s suspect under pressure in the final furlong but with clear sailing outside she just might fall into a win. Smilin’ Evie (TOC=5-1; ML=6-1) sports the always-dangerous route to sprint angle, and while she’s slower on speed figures than we’d prefer her to be, the R. Baltas-trained filly is lightly-raced with plenty of room to improve. A recent bullet five furlong training track drill (1:00h, fastest of eight) catches the eye. Respectfully (TOC=5-1; ML=10-1) has run quite well over this main track in the past, and although she was beaten at even money in a mixed breed affair at Los Alamitos two weeks ago the daughter of Smiling Tiger has races that put her squarely in the fray at this level. At 10-1 on the morning line, she’s worth tossing in. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:13 PT Grade: Use (in order of preference): 3-Cash Equity; 4-Hong Kong Harry; 7-Comradery Forecast: Trainer P. D’Amato has two major contenders in this second-level allowance turf miler, with recent U.S. debut winner Hong Kong Harry (TOC=7/2; ML=2-1) and multiple French stakes-placed import Cash Equity (TOC=7/2; ML=5/2) having the credentials to win. ‘Harry had little behind him when scoring at 50 cents on the dollar last month in a softer spot but did it stylishly and should be quite competitive right back despite the class hike. However, on pure form, Cash Equity is the better of the two and actually appeared slightly best in a team drill (see below) just six days ago. The son of Toronado shows a work tab that should have him plenty fit, so as a first-time Lasix user with a history running well fresh he’ll get the edge on top. Also worth including on your ticket is Comradery (TOC=3-1; ML=10-1), making his third start off a layoff and likely to produce another forward move. A two-time winner over the Santa Anita turf course, the J. Sadler-trained horse should be doing his best work from off the pace and with help up front seems likely to outrun his 10-1 morning line odds. The analytics give him a real good look. Notable Workouts: Cash Equity (April 10, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.1h TT). Grade: B+ Broke off a length in front of Hong Kong Harry (5f, 1:00h TT) and held that one at bay through the lane, finishing about a neck in front with neither really being asked at any stage, splits of :24.2 and :59.4 on our watches, very sharp drill. French invader was a stakes-quality performer overseas and has been given a sufficient foundation to be fit for a major effort in his U.S. debut. Workmate went well, too, but was about a neck back at the wire and the same galloping out. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 10: Post: 5:44 PT Grade: B+ Use (In order of preference): 10-Hero Status; 3-Special Ride Forecast: Hero Status, a $270,000 2021 OBS March sale purchase, finally makes it to the races more than a year later and has trained like he’s ready to verify the promise he displayed when he smoked a quarter of a mile during the preview session in :21 flat. Recent workouts have been equally impressive, so with a clean break and a clear trip from his outside draw this M. Glatt-trained son of Flatter should be hard to beat at first asking. Additionally, the barn has strong stats with the first-time starter angle (19% with a powerful ROI). Special Ride may have been best when finishing second in a $150,000 claimer in his debut last month. The son of Candy Ride found his best stride too late when rallying to miss by a neck and today he’ll get an extra half furlong to work with. This straight maiden field is tougher but the speed figure he earned in his first start is close to today’s par, so he should fit nicely. Notable Workouts: Hero Status (April 10, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.1hg). Grade: B+ Solo gate work for M. Glatt, splits of :24.1, :36.1, :47.1 and 1:00.1 before easing up to the wire in 1:13.3, extremely sharp while preparing for debut. Looks the part of a quality colt and appears plenty fit and ready. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.16.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Hoosier Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Saturday, April 16, 2022

  Hoosier Park has a 13-race program set for tonight. The feature goes in Race 9, an Open Trot with a $22,000 purse. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 10, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 10 3-Tickle My Fancy (7/2)-Trotted a .57 back half on 4-7 to get up in time. Back in with the same kind, loses Widger but Miller can do the job. Last time the fractions were soft, now gets post relief and this race could shape up even better. 6-Racin Cream Pie (9/2)-Post draws have hurt both times since shipping in from MVR. Did race big from post 8 last time but was nipped by the one above. Might be ready for a big try in the 3rd local start and could get some revenge. Race 11 5-Racing Forthe Mark (5/2)-Gets some needed post relief. Putnam should get a good early seat and look to come off cover down the lane. 6-Hilary Barry N (3-1)-Put in a needed race last week. Looking for a more aggressive steer in the 2nd start since 2-20 and isn't out of place in this field. 7-It's Time For Fun (8-1)-Team Wilfong entry makes its 3rd start since shipping in from Hawthorne. Should be better here for a few reasons and isn't saddled with a 2nd tier start. Has hit the board in 29 of 58 starts at HoP and is worth a swing at a price. Race 12 2-Ima Diamond Babe (3-1)-Was used off the gate at 6/5 in last and faded down the lane. Form has been dull this year but this is soft spot and will look for a big try. The price should be a lot better this time and will shoot against the program chalk (6) who tries Lasix for the 1st time. 5-Imalovelylady (7/2)-Leonard entry has finished 2nd in both starts this meet and usually works on a smaller oval. Those 2 efforts were very good, and the winners are not in this field. This barn keeps rolling batting 30% in the past 30 days. Race 13 6-Moneymakehersmile (7/5)-Came back to town and made short work of this kind last week. Drew off by almost 5 lengths at 1/2. Won't offer a much of a price this time either but looks a decent trip away from another picture. 0.50 Pick 4 3,6/5,6,7/2,5/6 Total Bet=$6 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.15.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis | Friday, April 15, 2022

  The feature at Cal Expo comes in Race 7, the California Sires Stakes Championship for 4-year-old fillies with a $50,000 purse. The popular 0.20 Pick 4 also rolls in Race 7. The sequence has a $30,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 7 4-Senga Nightmare (4/5)-Winner of 2 straight has won 5 of 9 this year and deserves to be the morning line chalk but isn't a lock. Warrants respect but at odds-on will look to others for more value. 5-May Day Maggie (9/2)-Hasn't been able to seal the deal and likes to race near the top of the stack. Could be overlooked at the windows and a pocket ride behind the chalk could be Roland's plan. 6-Tartan Patch (3-1)-Lost all chance at the start in last but was in the hunt in 7 of the past 8 races. Gets a good starting spot and the pace should be lively for Goulet to roll by down the lane. Race 8 1-Villa For Rent (9/2)-Comes off a wasted start due to a a broken hopple. Needs an efficient trip and could get a ground saving journey and surprise at a solid price. 3-Terror Of The Nite (3-1)-This veteran wouldn't be denied in last and the question is will he stay good? My bet is to use off the best start of the meet. Race 9 4-Giggle Monster (6-1)-Bumps up after a sharp win and fits well with this company. This looks like a nice spot for another trip to the winner's circle. Likes to race on the point and shouldn't have much trouble getting there. 7-Northbrook Ron (3-1)-Drops to the level of its last win on 2-25 and this is the 2nd start off the bench. Lackey should have Ron coming off cover looking to tackle #4 down the lane. Race 10 6-A And C Artist (9/5)-The past 4 starts have been very good and the last try from the 7-hole was a game effort. Should be a main player in what looks like a 2-horse race. 9-Tink And Tiger (7/5)-This 14-year-old still enjoys winning and that was evident last week. Could win coming off cover or racing near the lead and can stay good for another picture. 0.20 Pick 4 4,5.6/1,3/4,7/6,9 Total Bet=$4.80 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.15.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Friday, April 15, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 5-Tom’s Regret; 3-Smokin Amelia Forecast: Trainer J. Periban looks to have a couple of live runners in the first juvenile race of the season, a four and one-half furlong dash for state-bred fillies. Tom’s Regret recorded a half mile gate work of :47 3/5 (second fastest of 43) six days ago and last month produced a bullet three furlong drill in :35 4/5 (fastest of 19), so it’s safe to assume that the daughter of Tom’s Tribute has more than an average amount of ability. In an unclassified affair, she earns top billing. Stable mate Smokin Amelia looked okay in a half mile gate drill (:49hg) last week. She wasn’t asked at any stage and finished with plenty left. We’ll prefer Tom’s Regret on top but include both in rolling exotic play. Notable Workouts: Smokin Amelia (April 8, Santa Anita, 4f, :48hg). Grade: B- Not a bad work for 2-year-old filly, splits of :25.1, :37.2 and :49 flat, easy early but decent in the final stages while gearing up for her debut. Hard to say how quick she is but daughter of Smoken looks like she can finish a bit. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:33 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 2-Virulente; 1-Travel Smart Forecast: We’ll double the second race, a starter optional claimer over a mile on turf for fillies and mares. Virulente (TOC=2-1; ML=9/5) shows up in a seller for the first time after chasing home infinitely tougher foes in her first three West Coast outings after being imported from France. She’s a strong fit based on speed figures, so against this group we’re expecting the P. D’Amato-trained filly to be along in time. Travel Smart (TOC=4/5; ML=8/5), re-equipped with blinkers, is guaranteed a ground-saving trip from her inside draw and should settle into a second flight position and then have every chance from the quarter pole home. She has a prior win over the local lawn and numbers that fit. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with preference on top to Virulente. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:07 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 5-Square Not; 4-Anna’s Music; 6-Sapadilla Forecast: We’re not sure if she will duplicate her promising (but green) turf debut on the main track, butSquare Not ran better than the line will show when closing well to be third (and galloping out in front) last month, and the daughter of Square Eddie should be capable of producing a sufficient forward move to win this abbreviated dirt sprint for state-bred fillies and mares. The M. Glatt-trained sophomore was off slowly and lost early position, advanced willingly to be within range entering the lane, then lost her momentum briefly when swapping leads but was going as well as anything in the race approaching the wire. We’ll put her on top but also include two other second-time starters, Sapadilla and Anna’s Music, two-three finishers in a strong race won by Everlys Girl. Each stayed on with interest after starting slowly and then looming a threat entering the lane before understandably losing their punch late. With cleaner starts today, both should be in the thick of it throughout. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:37 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference: 2-Chloe’s Girl; 6-Brocade Forecast: Brocade and Chloe’s Girl, two-three finishers in a maiden affair for older fillies and mares over this track and distance last month, return as the two main contenders in a similar dirt miler, and both should be included in rolling exotic play. Chloe’s Girl was making her racing debut in that event, whereas Brocade had the benefit of two prior runs, so under the assumption that ‘Girl has more room to improve, we’ll give her the edge on top. The daughter of Creative Cause likely will employ gate-to-wire tactics under bug boy D. Herrera and if not pressured early she could be hard to catch. A recent sharp workout indicates she’s very likely to improve considerably, so she’ll get the bulk of our action. Brocade has rising speed figures and will always be within striking range outside, so we’re expecting the Into Mischief filly to have every chance to wear down her main rival close home. Notable Workouts: Chloe’s Girl (April 1, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3h). Grade: B+ In team drill outside Make Mine Wine and Girl Ranger (all same time) and did extremely well for M. McCarthy, breezing through the lane (workmates ridden) while coming the final half mile in :22.4 and :47.4, able to go much faster if asked. Daughter of Creative Cause has talent and seems certain to improve with experience. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:09 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 3-La Pulcinela; 1-Floral Essence Forecast: La Pulcinela (TOC=4/5; ML=2-1) returns to her claim level after finishing a solid runner-up while more than six lengths clear of the rest in a tougher starter $25,000 allowance event over this track and distance in late February. She’s always preferred to run second rather than win and therefore isn’t one to completely trust, but against this restricted (nw-3) $20,000 field the daughter of Flatter seems solid enough. Floral Essence (TOC=5-1; ML=5/2) is seeking her third straight win and should be including in rolling exotic play as well, even though this will be her first try on dirt and she was a voided claim when beating $20,000 non-winners of two company last time out. In a race lacking in effective closers, the two listed above should be on or near the lead throughout. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:40 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 6-Vanisky; 3-Forgotten Views Forecast: We’ll double the sixth race, a main track miler for maiden $50,000 California-bred older horses. Vanisky chased home much tougher straight maiden foes in his last pair in which he was victimized by poor starts and troubled trips, so the son of Vronsky should improve a bunch against this group. With a significant break in the weights with the switch to good bug boy D. Herrera, the J. Bonde-trained gelding looks very much like the one to beat. Forgotten Vows shows the preferred two-sprints-and-a-stretch-out angle, and while he ran better in his first start than he did last time out the N. Drysdale-trained gelding projects to be prominent throughout and have every chance from the quarter pole home. The speed figure earned in his debut puts him squarely in the hunt. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:11 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 3-Rose Maddox; 4-Funny Feline Forecast: Rose Maddox (TOC=6/5; ML=3-1) is genuine, versatile and improving with racing, so let’s go with the daughter of Grazen on top in this one mile turf event for first-level allowance California-bred sophomore fillies. Fresh from a clever off-the-pace dirt sprint win, the S. Miyadi-trained filly stretches out to a distance she’s proven she can handle, so with regular rider K. Frey aboard we’re expecting her to come right back and score again. Funny Feline (TOC=5-1; ML=7/2) likely will be the controlling speed after dominating a maiden state-bred field sprinting over the local lawn last month. The daughter of Smiling Tiger is stretching out for the first time and may find the trip a bit testing, but if she’s ever going to handle two turns, it’ll likely be in her first try. Preference on top goes to Rose Maddox but we’ll have tickets using both in rolling exotic play. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:42 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 2-Octopus; 5-Cajun Treasure Forecast: Octopus (TOC=7/5; ML=7/2) returns waiver protected in his first outing in almost a year in this $20,000 extended sprint for older claimers. In the frame in six of seven career starts, including three wins over the Santa Anita main track, the P. Eurton-trained horse shows a moderate set of workouts leading up to this race, so it’s possible he’ll be a tad short. However, on pure form, he’s good enough to win, so we’ll put him on top while also including Cajun Treasure (TOC=7/2; ML=5-1), another waiver protected comebacker boasting a healthier work tab than our top pick. Always most effective as a late-running sprinter, the son of Treasure Beach should be heard from late. Notable Workouts: Octopus (April 7, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.4hg). Grade: B- Gate work inside Nero Tulip (same time) for P. Eurton, splits of :24.4, :48 flat and 1:00.4 (slightly second best, mild urging) before galloping out six furlongs to the wire in 1:15 flat, not bad. Been away for almost a year, probably not 100% cranked up yet but loves this track and should fire a decent shot off the bench. View Workout Video Cajun Treasure (April 8, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00hg). Grade: B Broke sharply and was always in hand in strong gate work while gearing up for his comeback, splits of :24.3, :36.1, :48 flat and 1:00.1 on our watches, plenty left, while much best over Don’t Talk (4f, :48hg) and Palagio (5f, 1:01.1hg). Should fire a big shot fresh. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________    

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4.14.2022:

Frank Carulli: Stronach 5 Analysis | Friday, April 15, 2022

  The Stronach 5 will go to the post this Friday with an added stipulation: if no one picks all five winners, those with four will share in a mandatory payout. One bettor solved the cross-county wager last week, taking home $89,498 after three of the winners went off at 11-1, 12-1 and 23-1. All it costs is $1 to play and the results will be official in just over an hour. Here’s a look at this week’s slate, with an update to follow Friday after scratches: LEG A: (Laurel Park, race 8, 4:40 EST) -- FLY ME HOME is the logical choice, setting the pace in an 11-horse, turf-to-dirt debut sprint before tiring to finish third. Her dam was a Grade II winner on the grass. But use a couple longshots on the ticket, too. DETERMINED HOPE is working forwardly for her 3-year-old debut after she showed some late foot as a 2-year-old in turf sprints dotted with next-out winners. COVERED BRIDGES, a $63,000 purchase, ships in for Charles Town-based trainer Ollie Figgins III, who has done well with first-time starters during a 14-year run in which the stable topped $1 million in earnings 12 times. LEG B: (Gulfstream Park, race 8, 4:52 EST) -- UNIFIED CONQUEST benefited from a 3-way duel on the front end but caught the eye nonetheless with a furious rally to win in his first start at 5F. PURE SPEIGHT survived the aforementioned duel, sprinted clear in the stretch and tired late. He sheds the blinkers for a good claim barn. LEG C: (Santa Anita, race 3, 5:07 EST) -- With four first-time starters and four other fillies and mares who posted Beyer speed figures between 50-56 in their lone start, go deep in this MSW sprint for California breds. LEG D: (Golden Gate, race 3, 5:21 EST) -- PUSH THROUGH rallied for two seconds and a third in his last four one-mile races on the Golden Gate main track and he projects an ideal stalking trip from the rail in his second start for top trainer Jonathan Wong. ARCH PRINCE also benefits from a projected lively pace as he seeks his fourth photo-finish route victory in his last six starts. LEG E: (Laurel Park, race 10, 5:44 EST) -- TEXAS TOWER gets Lasix and gets in light-weighted for a high percentage new acquisition barn after a troubled debut at Aqueduct. UNCLE JEROME took late money but rallied too late at one mile to finish second as the favorite. Suggested $1 Ticket Leg A: 4, 6, 11 Leg B: 2, 7 Leg C: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 Leg D: 1, 4 Leg E: 3, 6 COST: $168

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4.14.2022:

Jeff Siegel's Triple Crown Rankings | Updated April 14, 2022

1 – Epicenter (S. Asmussen) – Squashed what proved to be unfounded concerns about his ability to win without a front-running trip in the 9.5F Louisiana Derby-G2, and not only did the son of Not This Time stalk, pounce, and accelerate in his thoroughly pleasing two and one-half length victory, he did so with a career top speed figure and without being asked for his best. His numbers have risen in each of his six career starts and there are no worries about the Derby’s classic distance. 2 – Taiba - (T. Yakteen) - Purchased last year in the Fasig-Tipton March 2-year-old in training sale for $1.7 million, the son of Gun Runner has come from nowhere to rank among the very best in his division, winning his debut in March by more than seven lengths (when trained by B. Baffert) and then stepping into Grade-1 company, stretching out to nine furlongs, and proving clearly best over stable mate Messier in the Santa Anita Derby, with both performances earning triple digit Beyer speed figures. Will try to become the first horse since Leonatus in 1883 to win the Kentucky Derby off just two career starts. We wouldn’t put it past him. 3 – Zandon (C. Brown) – Was highly impressive in victory in the Blue Grass S.-G2 while giving every indication of having developed into a true Classic contender. Raced in heavy traffic to the head of the lane but then found room and produced an electric turn of foot to win by two and one-half widening lengths before galloping out far in front. His speed figures have risen with every outing with the expectation that he will continue to improve with experience and distance. It would be no surprise if he went to the post as the lukewarm Kentucky Derby favorite. 4 – Messier (T. Yakteen) – Pressed the pace, took command into the lane but simply couldn’t stay with stable mate Taiba in the final sixteenth and wound up second best, beaten two lengths while 10 clear of the rest, in the Santa Anita Derby-G1. Still the fastest in his class based on speed figures, the son of Empire Maker was making his first start in more than two months following a runaway a 15-length victory in the Robert B. Lewis S.-G2 in early February and could easily produce a significant forward move at Churchill Downs with this excellent tightener behind him. 5 – Mo Donegal (T. Pletcher) – Didn’t get the best of runs when rallying too late to be third in the Holy Bull S.-G3 in early February but took full advantage of a dream run to tag pace setter Early Voting by a neck in the Wood Memorial S.-G2 two months later (he had been entered and scratched in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 in early March). Lacks a great turn of foot but has no distance limitations and has plenty of room to develop with additional experience. Speed figures have risen with each outing those another forward move (entirely possible) will be required to win or at least hit the board in Louisville. 6 – White Abarrio (S. Joseph, Jr.) – His only defeat came when third (beaten six lengths) behind Smile Happy in the KJC S.-G2 at Churchill Downs last fall but he remained unbeaten in four starts at Gulfstream Park with a perfect trip, pace-stalking victory in the Florida Derby-G1 that produced a speed figure a few points below what likely will be required to win the Kentucky Derby-G1. He had missed some training time prior to his most recent win due to a minor illness, so there is hope that he can step forward in Louisville. 7 – Simplification (A. Sano) – Reverted to his prior style as a front runner/pace presser when weakening late to finishing third behind White Abarrio in the moderately-rated Florida Derby-G1 after previously being held up in traffic and then quickening late to win the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 the previous month. He clearly prefers patient handling and likely will employ waiting tactics in the Kentucky Derby-G1 but enters the race with a resume that falls short when compared to the top-rated colts in the division. 8– Early Voting (C. Brown) – Suffered his first defeat in three career outings when going down by a neck as the controlling speed to the late-rallying Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial-G2. Despite the gut-wrenching loss, the son of Gun Runner lost little in defeat in a performance that easily earned a career top speed figure. He should be tighter and tougher at Churchill Downs, especially if he is able to secure his coveted front-running trip. 9 – Charge It (T. Pletcher) – Finished a troubled (mostly self-caused) second in the fair-to-moderate Florida Derby-G2 behind perfect tripper White Abarrio after getting away a bit slowly and taking dirt for the first time when settling behind the leader, appearing to climb while somewhat unsettled midway, and then lugging in and swapping leads twice from the furlong pole to the wire before going down by little more than a length. The raw talent is there but he’ll have to grow up in a hurry to have a say in a 20-runner runner field in the Kentucky Derby-G1. 10 – Smile Happy (K. McPeek) – Suffered his first career defeat in a better-than-looked runner-up effort behind “loose-on-the-lead” Epicenter in the Risen Star S.-G2 at Fair Grounds in March but then failed to produce a forward move as hoped when runner-up but no match behind Zandon in the Blue Grass S.-G2 in his final Derby prep. Was forced wide early but then enjoyed a perfect stalking trip the rest of the way yet put up little resistance after hitting the front in the final sixteenth, eventually going down by more than two lengths. It is entirely possible that the Derby’s 10-furlong trip will prove to be out of his range. Knocking on the door: Tiz a Bomb, Cyberknife, Zozos, Barber Road

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4.14.2022:

Race of the Week: Frank Whiteley Stakes at Laurel | Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Lead: The Maryland Jockey Club presents back-to-back Saturday Spring Stakes Spectaculars at Laurel Park, beginning this week with a quartet of features. Qualifying races for the Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan will be offered in the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes and $125,000 Weber City Miss Stakes. The program also features the $100,000 Heavenly Cause and the $100,000 Frank Whiteley Stakes. It's the Whiteley that catches our handicapping eye as the Race of the Week, a 7-furlong sprint that goes as Race 7. Horseplayers with Xpressbet and 1/ST BET can enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on win bets on the full Laurel Park card if your selection finishes second or third. ​Field Depth: SIR ALFRED JAMES and THREES OVER DEUCES are the established stakes winners in the field. WAR TOCSIN is Grade 3-placed, while YOUNGEST OF FIVE is multiple stakes-placed. SIR ALFRED JAMES has kept the strongest company lines with WAR TOCSIN close up in that discussion. Pace: WAR TOCSIN and BORRACHO likely have the most license on the front end with SIR ALFRED JAMES in close pursuit from the rail.. YOUNGEST OF FIVE could add to what looks to be an average to above-average pace scenario. Our Eyes: WAR TOCSIN and SIR ALFRED JAMES finished 2-3 in the Grade 3 General George Stakes, Laurel Park's premier winter sprint race for the boys. SIR ALFRED JAMES has been very active since then running twice, while WAR TOCSIN comes into the race fresh. With a long run into the turn at 7 furlongs, the outside post for WAR TOCSIN may be advantageous in their rematch. I give WAR TOCSIN the edge in the rematch after he was 3-1/2 lengths clear of his rival in February's matchup. But he was 48-1 that day and the value obviously shrinks. THREES OVER DEUCES also exits the General George, but faded that day and is much better at 6 furlongs than 7. BORRACHO has been on a roll since arriving in Maryland with 2 wins and a runner-up in 3 starts, the first 2 for Jamie Ness and the latest for Mike Gotham since a $50,000 claim. He's won here at 6 furlongs and 1 mile, so there's no reason to think 7 furlongs won' t suit him. He was third in the G1 Woody Stephens in 2019, so there's back class that makes this veteran interesting despite the recent claim. DISCO PHAROAH is a wildcard from New York. The Ray Handal trainee broke his maiden by 19-1/2 lengths last time out in his third career start. The 4-year-old has obviously had physical issues, but this $255,000 American Pharoah purchase was always well-meant. Leading local jockey Jevian Toledo takes the call and there's a lot to get excited about despite the limited resume. Most Certain Exotics Contender: SIR ALFRED JAMES has finished in the money in 6 of his last 7 dirt attempts.​ Best Longshot Exotics Contender: AMERICAN PATROL returns from a long break and make his stakes debut for Cal Lynch off a solid set of workouts. This is bold placement by a shrewd barn that catches your attention. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $100 win DISCO PHAROAH.

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4.14.2022:

Jon White: Taiba's Victory an Astounding Achievement

What Taiba did to win the Santa Anita Derby last Saturday, four weeks after a maiden triumph in his career debut, was nothing less than phenomenal. “This will be quite an accomplishment if Taiba pulls it off,” I wrote last week regarding his audacious attempt to win the Grade I Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles in just his second career start. “Has a horse ever won the Santa Anita Derby with just one race under his belt? Maybe somebody has done this before, but I’m not aware of it.” The day after the Santa Anita Derby, I was quoted as saying this in the track’s stable notes: For Taiba “to win the nine-furlong Sana Anita Derby with only one six-furlong race under his belt is without a doubt one of the greatest accomplishments that I have seen at Santa Anita since my first year here as a Daily Racing Form writer in 1981.” When it comes to second career starts that I’ve seen at a Southern California track in the last four decades, only one other ranks right up there with Taiba’s Santa Anita Derby. That was Landaluce’s sensational victory in the Grade II Hollywood Lassie Stakes at six furlongs in 1982. Just seven days after Landaluce’s won a six-furlong maiden race at Hollywood Park, the super-talented 2-year-old filly stepped way up in class and won the Grade II, six-furlong Hollywood Lassie by an astounding 21 lengths. It’s widely considered one of the most incredible performances in SoCal racing history. (A book written by Mary Perdue called “Landaluce: The Story of Seattle Slew’s First Champion” goes on sale July 2. It can be pre-ordered on the Amazon.com website. Full disclosure, I had the honor of writing the forward for this book.) Taiba, a 1,175-pound Kentucky-bred Gun Runner colt, was hiked in class all the way up to the Grade I level in last Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby off his scintillating 7 1/2-length win at first asking. It was the owner’s call to do it. Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stable owns Taiba, who was bought for $1.7 million at public auction in Florida as a 2-year-old. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was chosen to train Taiba. Medina Spirit, a $35,000 auction purchase at 2 owned by Zedan and trained by Baffert, finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Earlier this year on Feb. 21, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced that the stewards overseeing the 2021 Kentucky Derby had issued a ruling stating that Medina Spirit had been “disqualified and all purse money forfeited.” Medina Spirit was DQ’d as a result of testing positive for traces of betamethasone, a medication that is legal to use but not on race day. Churchill Downs has banned Baffert from running horses in the Kentucky Derby in 2022 and 2023. Horses trained by Baffert also are not eligible to earn qualifying points toward the 2022 and 2023 Kentucky Derbies. Tim Yakteen took over as Taiba’s trainer after the colt’s maiden victory owing to Baffert being handed a 90-day suspension that began on April 4, a penalty stemming from Medina Spirit’s medication violation. After Taiba had been switched from Baffert to Yakteen, the colt became eligible to earn Kentucky Derby points in the Santa Anita Derby. Messier, with different ownership than Taiba, likewise became eligible to earn Kentucky Derby points in the Santa Anita Derby after being moved from Baffert to Yakteen. What Justify did to win the 2018 Santa Anita Derby was extraordinary. He did it in his third career start. What Taiba did to win the 2022 Santa Anita Derby in just his second career start was even more extraordinary. What’s next? Are we going to see someone win the Santa Anita Derby as a first-time starter? Geez, after Justify and Taiba, I’m beginning to wonder if that just might happen one of these days. And now Taiba, much like Justify, is going to try and put an end to a so-called curse. Justify broke the often referred to “curse of Apollo.” Justify was the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old. Taibi seeks to break the “curse of Leonatus.” Leonatus won the 1883 Kentucky Derby. He “is the last -- actually the only -- horse to have won the Derby in only his third career start,” according to Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman. As for Taiba and the Santa Anita Derby, that race originally was not on the docket for him. According to Gary Young, bloodstock manager for Zedan, the plan had been to run Taiba in Keeneland’s Grade III Lexington Stakes this Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile Lexington is the final race with Kentucky Derby points up for grabs. But unlike the Santa Anita Derby, in which the first four finishers were rewarded with 100-40-20-10 points, the Lexington offers only 20-8-4-2 points. “There was an audible called,” Young explained Monday on the SiriusXM radio program “At the Races” hosted by Steve Byk. “We were originally planning on the Lexington.” Yakteen and Young both advised Zedan against running Taiban in the Santa Anita Derby. Zedan “was the only one pushing for” the Santa Anita Derby, Young said. “He’s the one who pays the bills. He’s with the Kentucky Derby like I am with Haagen-Dazs. He basically just said he didn’t want to go to the Lexington, the winner gets only 20 [Kentucky Derby] points. He said, ‘What am I going to do with 20 points?’ And so, here we were, going in the Santa Anita Derby.” That was confirmed by Zedan in a Thoroughbred Daily News story Tuesday written by Bill Finley. “They wanted to wait things out and then target the Lexington,” Zedan said. “I had to overrule everybody. I told them that our entire program was built around trying to win the Kentucky Derby. I did not want to go to bed at night knowing that we didn’t give it our best chance. I thought we had to give him a shot. Sometimes talent compensates for experience and he showed that.” Taiba’s situation is far from the only time that it worked out when the owner said go despite the trainer saying no. Another case that comes to mind occurred in 1980. Diane and Bert Firestone owned Catoctin Stud in Virginia. The fillies they raced did so in Diane’s name, while the males raced in Bert’s. They owned Genuine Risk, who was trained by LeRoy Jolley. After Genuine Risk finished third when racing against the boys in the Wood Memorial, Jolley did not want to run the filly in the Kentucky Derby. The Firestones insisted. Genuine Risk become only the second filly to win the Run for the Roses, joining the great Regret, who had done so 65 earlier. Genuine Risk, by the way, sold for considerably less than Taiba. Genuine Risk was a $32,000 yearling purchase. But more often than not, when an owner wants to run a horse in a race despite the trainer not being on board, it doesn’t work out. When Taiba trounced maidens in early March, he showed early zip. After vying for the early lead through fractions of :22.26 for the opening quarter and :45.69 for the half, he drew away and, as mentioned earlier, won by 7 1/2 lengths. His final time was 1:09.97. In the Santa Anita Derby, most people envisioned the speedy Forbidden Kingdom setting the early pace. He did. Because both Messier and Taiba reside in the same barn, there were those who surmised that Taiba had been put in the race as a “rabbit,” i.e., someone to hound Forbidden Kingdom early. I didn’t see it that way. Why? Because asking a $1.7 million colt to be a rabbit generally is not done. Indeed, it turned out that Messier, not Taiba, pressed Forbidden Kingdom and jockey Juan Hernandez through the initial six furlongs. The fractions through that portion of the race were :23.23, :46.66 and 1:10.93. Turning for home, Messier and Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez took the lead. Taiba, with Hall of Famer Mike Smith aboard, now loomed menacingly while three wide. Forbidden Kingdom began to retreat and eventually ended up last. Forbidden Kingdom emerged from the race with “an inflamed throat,” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said Sunday in a Daily Racing Form story written by Steve Andersen. “We’ll take him on Monday and scope it and look under the epiglottis,” Mandella added. “He certainly has a sore throat.” A possible epiglottis issue, eh? You may recall that the Mandella-trained Omaha Beach was the morning-line favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby, but the colt had to be scratched due to needing surgery for an entrapped epiglottis. Messier sported a one-length advantage with a furlong to go. At that point, no doubt many thought he probably was on his way to a Santa Anita Derby victory. After all, which sophomore figured to do better in the final furlong, the more-experienced, multiple graded stakes-winning Messier, or the inexperienced stakes-debuting Taiba? Well, as it turned out, Taiba was the one who came home with the most gusto. He took the lead just inside the sixteenth pole, then bounded clear with the smooth, efficient strides of a seasoned pro to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths. Keep in mind, that was no bum Taiba charged past during the stretch run. Messier was coming off a 15-length win in Santa Anita’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, an effort that produced a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. The only other 3-year-old to record a Beyer as big as a 103 this year is none other than Taiba, who did so when he earned his maiden diploma. According to the original Equibase chart, the fractions and final time for the Santa Anita Derby were :23.23, :46.66, 1:10.93, 1:35.97 and 1:48.67. The chart subsequently was changed to :22.75, :46.70, 1:10.97, 1:35.86 and 1:48.46. Taibi originally was given a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. Following the corrected times, the Beyer was upped to 102. The 102 Beyer Speed Figure was the highest in the three 1 1/8-mile races offering Kentucky Derby points last Saturday. Zandon, who rallied from last in a field of 11 to win Keeneland’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths, was credited with a 98 Beyer. Mo Donegal, who rallied from last in field of eight to win Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial by a neck, received a 96 Beyer. I actually think a case can be made that Taiba’s 102 Beyer might deserve to be a little bit bigger when compared to various past editions of the Santa Anita Derby. Check out these final times and Beyers in which the winner posted a SLOWER final time than Taiba on a fast track, yet received a BIGGER Beyer: Year -- Final Time (Beyer) Santa Anita Derby Winner 2022 1:48.46 (102) Taiba 2018 1:49.72 (107) Justify 2015 1:48.73 (106) Dortmund 2013 1:48.76 (105) Goldencents 2004 1:49.24 (103) Castledale 2003 1:49.36 (104) Buddy Gil 2000 1:49.08 (109) The Deputy 1999 1:48.92 (108) General Challenge 1997 1:48.81 (104) Cavonnier 1990 1:49.00 (109) Mister Frisky TAIBA TRAVELED FARTHER THAN MESSIER Not only did Taiba win the Santa Anita Derby in his first start around two turns, he traveled 30 feet farther than the runner-up. Hence, while Taiba’s margin of victory was 2 1/4 lengths, he traveled approximately three lengths farther than Messier. FORBIDDEN KINGDOM SENT AWAY AS FAVORITE As I noted last week, it was “a very difficult decision” in terms of making either Messier or Forbidden Kingdom the favorite on the Santa Anita Derby morning line. “I believe race-time favoritism between Messier and Forbidden Kingdom could go either way,” I wrote. I made Messier the morning-line favorite at even money, with Forbidden Kingdom the 6-5 second choice. In the actual betting, Forbidden Kingdom was 3-5 early. But favoritism eventually switched to Messier. Shortly before the horses started being loaded into the starting gate, Messier was the favorite at even money, with Forbidden Kingdom at 6-5. But it flip-flopped right at the end, with Forbidden Kingdom going off as the favorite at even money, with Messier at 6-5. Taiba was entered in the Santa Anita Derby completely out of the blue. He had not been mentioned anywhere by anyone as a possibility for the race. Regarding the Santa Anita Derby morning line, I wrote last week that “I found it extremely difficult to try and forecast what Taiba’s odds will be at race time. He is a gigantic wild card.” I settled on 4-1 for Taiba’s morning-line odds. He went off at 4-1. In all the years that I have been making morning lines, which goes all the way back into the 1970s, I have never been prouder of nailing a horse’s price. MY KENTUCKY DERBY TOP 10 As I’ve explained before, my Kentucky Derby Top 10 is how I rank the horses in terms of who I think is the most likely winner of that race. As of right now, Taiba is my pick to win the 1 1/4-mile classic on the first Saturday in May. That’s why he debuts on the Top 10 this week at No. 1. I will admit that when it comes to trying to predict who will win the Kentucky Derby, I have downgraded the Remsen form in recent years. This approach has worked well. Runners who did well in the Grade II Remsen at Aqueduct late in the year have not been going on to Kentucky Derby glory. That’s why Mo Donegal and Zandon have not been in my Top 10. Mo Donegal won the Remsen by a nose (and should have been disqualified for causing interference, in my opinion). Zandon finished second. But I am looking at both Zandon and Mo Dongel in a new light after their victories last Saturday. As mentioned earlier, Zandon won the Blue Grass, while Mo Donegal took the Wood Memorial. Zandon and Mo Donegal are newcomers on my Top 10 this week. Zandon is No. 4. Mo Donegal is No. 6. Dropping off my Top 10 this week are Emmanuel, who finished third in the Blue Grass, and Forbidden Kingdom. My Kentucky Derby Top 10 for this week is below: 1. Taiba 2. Epicenter 3. Messier 4. Zandon (new) 5. White Abarrio 6. Mo Donegal (new) 7. Cyberknife 8. Simplification 9. Smile Happy 10. Crown Pride LEXINGTON STAKES SELECTIONS My selections for Saturday’s Grade III Lexington Stakes at Keeneland are below: 1. In Due Time 2. Ethereal Road 3. Tawny Port 4. Major General DERBY STRIKES UPDATE After Taiba won the Santa Anita Derby, Charlie McCaul sent a text message to me. Veteran racing official McCaul, who is Santa Anita’s assistant clerk of scales, wanted to know how many strikes Taiba has in my Derby Strikes System (DSS). I developed the DSS in 1999. It consists of eight key factors that attempt to ascertain the chances a horse has to win the Kentucky Derby from BOTH tactical and historical perspectives. When a horse does not qualify in one of the eight categories, the horse gets a strike. A number of the categories in my DSS are tied to a Kentucky Derby being run on the first Saturday in May. As a result, when the race was switched from May 2 to Sept. 5 in 2020 due to COVID-19, it rendered my DSS unworkable for that particular year. Only one horse has won the Kentucky Derby with more than two strikes. That was Mine that Bird, who had four strikes. A horse with zero strikes or only one strike has a much better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than a horse with two strikes or more. According to the DSS as it’s now constituted and excluding the Kentucky Derby of 2020 when the race was run in September, 83% of the Kentucky Derby winners (40 out of 48) have had zero strikes or one strike going back to 1973. The seven Kentucky Derby winners with two strikes were Cannonade (1974), Ferdinand (1986), Sea Hero (1993), Funny Cide (2003), Giacomo (2005), Justify (2018) and Country House (2019). The answer to McCaul’s text is Taiba has two strikes. Ironically (or perhaps not), he has the same two strikes as did Justify. Their strikes came in Categories 1 and 7. Category 1 is the “graded stakes category.” A horse needs to have run in a graded stakes race before March 31 to avoid getting a strike. If a horse gets a strike in this category, it points out that the horse has not faced tough competition until April, which is late in the game when it comes to preparing a horse for the Kentucky Derby. Category 7 is the “raced as a 2-year-old category.” If a horse did not start as a 2-year-old, the horse gets a strike. As noted earlier, only Apollo in 1882 and Justify in 2018 have won the Kentucky Derby without having raced at 2. Moreover, going back to 1937, horses who didn’t race at 2 are a combined 1 for 67 in the Kentucky Derby through 2021. Even though Justify had two strikes, I still picked him to win the Kentucky Derby. I did so because I felt that his considerable talent could overcome his two strikes. Not only did Justify get the job done in the Derby, he went on to sweep the Triple Crown, joining Seattle Slew as the only two horses to win the coveted series while undefeated. Because two of the categories deal with graded stakes races, the DSS can’t go back any further than 1973. Stakes races in this country were not graded until 1973. The eight categories in the DSS are listed toward the end of this column/blog/article. After a 3-year-old makes his or her final start before the first Saturday in May, I then can determine their number of strikes. It so happens that, overall, the candidates for the 2022 Kentucky Derby have done well by getting either zero strikes or one strike. I construe this as an indication that a large number of horses actually are capable of being draped in roses this year. Considering so many horses have zero strikes or one strike, perhaps I should be fitted for one of those jackets with the sleeves in the back for making a horse with two strikes my top pick. Why go with Taiba? Because, as was the case with Justify in 2018, I believe the most talented horse running in this year’s Kentucky Derby is Taiba. Tawny Port’s number of strikes can’t be determined yet because he is scheduled to run in Saturday’s Lexington Stakes. As for the others among the 21 leading Kentucky Derby point earners as listed by Churchill Downs when the leaderboard was updated on April 10, their number of strikes are below: ZERO STRIKES OR ONE STRIKE Crown Pride (0 strikes) Cyberknife (0 strikes) Early Voting (1 strike, Category 4) Epicenter (0 strikes) Messier (1 strike, Category 4) Morello (1 strike, Category 5) Simplification (1 strike, Category 4) Slow Down Andy (1 strike, Category 6) Smile Happy (1 strike, Category 4) Tiz the Bomb (0 strikes) White Abarrio (0 strikes) Zandon (0 strikes) TWO STRIKES Barber Road (Categories 2 and 3) Pioneer of Medina (Categories 2 and 4) Un Ojo (Categories 3 and 7) Summer Is Tomorrow (Categories 2 and 4) Taiba (Categories 1 and 7) Zozos (Categories 2 and 7) THREE OR MORE STRIKES Charge It (Categories 1, 2 and 7) Happy Jack (Categories 2, 3, 6 and 7) PENDING Tawny Port WINNER’S STRIKES GOING BACK TO 1973 Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But the stewards disqualified Maximum Security and placed him 17th for committing a foul when he veered out sharply nearing the five-sixteenths marker to cause interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy. Country House was declared the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But in terms of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun is now recognized as the winner following Medina Spirit’s disqualification. The strikes for each Kentucky Derby winner going back to 1973 are below: 2021 Mandaloun (1 strike) Category 4* 2020 race run in September 2019 Country House (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 3** 2018 Justify (2 strikes) Categories 1 and 7 2017 Always Dreaming (1 strike) Category 1 2016 Nyquist (0 strikes) 2015 American Pharoah (0 strikes) 2014 California Chrome (0 strikes) 2013 Orb (0 strikes) 2012 I’ll Have Another (0 strikes) 2011 Animal Kingdom (0 strikes) 2010 Super Saver (1 strike) Category 4 2009 Mine That Bird (4 strikes) Categories 1, 4, 5 and 9 2008 Big Brown (0 strikes) 2007 Street Sense (0 strikes) 2006 Barbaro (0 strikes) 2005 Giacomo (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 5 2004 Smarty Jones (0 strikes) 2003 Funny Cide (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 8 2002 War Emblem (0 strikes) 2001 Monarchos (0 strikes) 2000 Fusaichi Pegasus (1 strike) Category 6 1999 Charismatic (1 strike) Category 5 1998 Real Quiet (0 strikes) 1997 Silver Charm (1 strike) Category 4 1996 Grindstone (0 strikes) 1995 Thunder Gulch (0 strikes) 1994 Go for Gin (0 strikes) 1993 Sea Hero (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 5 1992 Lil E. Tee (0 strikes) 1991 Strike the Gold (0 strikes) 1990 Unbridled (1 strike) Category 3 1989 Sunday Silence (0 strikes) 1988 Winning Colors (0 strikes) 1987 Alysheba (1 strike) Category 2 1986 Ferdinand (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 4 1985 Spend a Buck (0 strikes) 1984 Swale (0 strikes) 1983 Sunny’s Halo (1 strike) Category 1 1982 Gato Del Sol (1 strike) Category 3 1981 Genuine Risk (1 strike) Category 1 1980 Pleasant Colony (0 strikes) 1979 Spectacular Bid (0 strikes) 1978 Affirmed (0 strikes) 1977 Seattle Slew (0 strikes) 1976 Bold Forbes (0 strikes) 1975 Foolish Pleasure (0 strikes) 1974 Cannonade (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 4 1973 Secretariat (0 strikes) *Medina Spirit (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and all purse money forfeited **Maximum Security (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and placed 17th MY DERBY STRIKES SYSTEM’S CATEGORIES What are the eight categories in my Derby Strikes System? They are listed below: 1. THE GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse ran in a graded stakes race before March 31.) This points out horses who have competed against tough competition prior to March 31 rather than at the last minute in April, enabling the horse to be properly battle-tested. (Exceptions: Going back to the introduction of graded stakes races in the U.S. in 1973, only Genuine Risk in 1980, Sunny’s Halo in 1983, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Always Dreaming in 2017 have won the Kentucky Derby without running in a graded stakes race at 2 or early at 3 before March 31.) 2. THE WIN IN A GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse has won a graded stakes race.) This points out horses who have shown they have the class to win a graded stakes race. (Exceptions: Ferdinand in 1986, Alysheba in 1987, Funny Cide in 2003 and Giacomo in 2005 are the only exceptions going back to the introduction of U.S. graded stakes races in 1973; Alysheba in 1987 did finish first in the Blue Grass, only to be disqualified and placed third.) 3. THE EIGHTH POLE CATEGORY. (In either of his or her last two starts before the Kentucky Derby, the horse was either first or second with a furlong to go.) This points out horses who were running strongly at the eighth pole, usually in races at 1 1/16 or 1 1/8 miles. By running strongly at the same point in the Kentucky Derby, a horse would be in a prime position to win the roses. Keep in mind that 53 of the last 56 Kentucky Derby winners through 2021 have been first or second with a furlong to run. Since Decidedly won the Derby in 1962 when he was third with a furlong to go, the only three Kentucky Derby winners who were not first or second with a furlong to run were Animal Kingdom, third with a furlong remaining in 2011 when only a half-length from being second; Giacomo, sixth with a furlong to go in 2005; and Grindstone, fourth with a furlong to run in 1996. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the Kentucky Derby winners who weren’t either first or second a furlong from the finish in his or her last two starts have been Tim Tam in 1958, Carry Back in 1961, Cannonade in 1974, Gato Del Sol in 1982, Unbridled in 1990 and Sea Hero in 1993, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 4. THE GAMENESS CATEGORY. (The horse’s finish position in both of his or her last two races before the Kentucky Derby was no worse than his or her running position at the eighth pole.) This points out horses who don’t like to get passed in the final furlong. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the exceptions have been Venetian Way in 1960, Cannonade in 1974, Foolish Pleasure in 1975, Ferdinand in 1986, Silver Charm in 1997, Mine That Bird in 2009, Super Saver in 2010 and Mandaloun in 2021, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 5. THE DISTANCE FOUNDATION CATEGORY. (The horse has finished at least third in a 1 1/8-mile race or longer before the Kentucky Derby.) This points out horses who have the proper foundation and/or stamina for the Kentucky Derby distance. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the only exceptions have been Kauai King in 1966, Sea Hero in 1993, Charismatic in 1999, Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird in 2009.) 6. THE NO ADDING OR REMOVING BLINKERS CATEGORY. (The horse has not added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her final start at 3 before the Kentucky Derby.) This seems to point out that, if a horse is good enough to win the Kentucky Derby, the trainer is not searching for answers so late in the game. (Going back to 1973, no horse has added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her last start at 3 before winning the Kentucky Derby.) 7. THE RACED AS A 2-YEAR-OLD CATEGORY. (The horse made at least one start as a 2-year-old.) (Exceptions: Apollo in 1882 and Justify in 2018. Going back to 1937, horses unraced as a 2-year-old now are a combined 1 for 67 in the Kentucky Derby through 2021. During this period, the only horses to finish second or third in the Kentucky Derby without having raced at 2 were Hampden, who finished third in 1946; Coaltown, second in 1948; Agitate, third in 1974; Reinvested, third in 1982; Strodes Creek, second in 1994; Curlin, third in 2007; Bodemeister, second in 2012; and Battle of Midway, third in 2017.) 8. THE NOT A GELDING CATEGORY. (The horse is not a gelding.) (Exceptions: Funny Cide in 2003 and Mine That Bird in 2009 are the only geldings to win the Kentucky Derby since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.) EPICENTER FAVORED IN FUTURE WAGER Bettors participating in Pool 5 of Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Wager (KDFW) backed Epicenter down to 9-2 favoritism. The pool closed last Saturday before the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby had been run. Inasmuch as Taiba was not one of the individual horses listed in KDFW Pool 5, he was included in the “All Other 3-Year-Olds” option. This was the final Kentucky Derby Future Wager offered by Churchill this year. Below are the final odds for KDFW Pool 5: 9-2 Epicenter 6-1 Messier 9-1 Smile Happy 9-1 Forbidden Kingdom 12-1 White Abarrio 15-1 Morello 16-1 Charge It 17-1 Cyberknife 18-1 “All Other 3-Year-Olds” 18-1 Zandon 22-1 Tiz the Bomb 24-1 Crown Pride 24-1 Mo Donegal 28-1 Barber Road 29-1 Early Voting 32-1 Simplification 35-1 Emmanuel 40-1 Ethereal Road 40-1 Zozos 50-1 Slow Down Andy 66-1 Summer Is Tomorrow 95-1 In Due Time 114-1 Tawny Port 123-1 Pioneer of Medina RACING MOURNS DEATHS OF TODD, FITTERER AND PARKER Glen Todd, a giant in horse racing in the Canadian province of British Columbia, passed away on March 26. He was 75. Todd, whose parents met at Hastings Racecourse [nee Exhibition Park] in Vancouver in 1939, was “involved in the sport for more than 50 years in multiple roles, often at the same time,” Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty wrote. “He owned and trained hundreds of horses while simultaneously providing guidance to the British Columbia racing and breeding industries.” A prime example of Todd’s immense impact on Thoroughbred racing in British Columbia is he “provided a $1 million interest-free loan to the horsemen at Hastings last year during a time when strict COVID-19 restrictions in the province had brought live racing to a standstill,” Hegarty wrote. One of Todd’s biggest wins as an owner came with Taylor Said. Todd, racing as North American Thoroughbred Horse Company, took the Grade III Longacres Mile in 2012 at Emerald Downs near Seattle. The Longacres Mile is the richest race in the Pacific Northwest. Troy Taylor was Taylor Said’s trainer at his Hastings base. Taylor Said was sent to fellow trainer Mike Puhich at Emerald Downs for the Longacres Mile. Winning this race was a dream come true for Puhich. The first Longacres Mile that Puhich ever attended was in 1970. At that time, his father, Nick Puhich, was jockey Larry Pierce’s agent. Pierce rode the 6-5 Longacres Mile favorite, Turbulator, who two weeks earlier had broken the world record for 6 1/2 furlongs by two-fifths of a second. In the most famous defeat in the history of racing in that part of the country, Turbulator finished fifth in the 1970 Longacres Mile. Turbulator lost by 2 1/2 lengths, but it was a miracle that he even completed the race after Pierce’s left stirrup broke at the start. “Turbulator was my favorite horse growing up,” Puhich once told me. “I know Secretariat inspired a lot of people to get involved in racing. For me, it was Turbulator. That’s who really got me hooked on racing. Turbulator is the only reason I became a trainer.” According to Joe Withee, who was inducted into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame last year for lifetime achievement, a dispersal sale will be held for Todd’s horses. “Mike Puhich is handling the details for the dispersal,” said Withee, a broadcaster and publicist at Emerald Downs. “It was in Glen Todd’s will that Puhich would handle any dispersal.” Meanwhile, it was with much sadness that I read in the latest Washington Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association (WTBOA) newsletter that Phil Fitterer had died at the age of 79 following a short battle with cancer. I got to know Fitterer quite well from the time that I was first hired by the Daily Racing Form in 1974 at Playfair Race Course in Spokane, Wash. That was the start of my 24 years with the DRF. After I worked as a call-taker at Playfair in 1974, my first DRF assignment as a chart-caller (aka trackman) came when I replaced Fitterer at Yakima Meadows in Yakima, Wash., the following spring. I was thrilled to get that assignment. And Fitterer, in turn, let me know that he was thrilled to turn over those chart-calling duties to me. He much preferred working as the associate editor to Clio Hogan in the DRF’s Seattle office rather than having to make the roundtrip from his home in Puyallup, Wash., to Yakima via picturesque Snoqualmie Pass over the Cascade Mountains. It was a pleasure to deal with Fitterer in the DRF’s Seattle office while I was a chart-caller and writer at Playfair, Yakima Meadows and Longacres from 1975 to 1980. As noted in the WTBOA newsletter, Fitterer spent many years as the general manager of the DRF’s Seattle office until he retired in 2004. Replacing him as general manager was Mike Pfliger, who began his DRF career as my call-taker at Playfair in the 1970s. I had gotten to known Pfliger before I went to work for the DRF when we were both racing fans hanging out in the crowd at Playfair. I recruited Pfliger to go to work for the DRF because I was aware that he knew a lot about racing. It was not a tough sell on my part. Pfliger was working at Silver Lanes Bowling Alley in Spokane at the time. Just like me a few years earlier, Pfliger jumped at the chance to go to work for the DRF at Playfair. Who knew at the time that Pfliger eventually would take the reins from Fitterer as the GM of the DRF’s Seattle office (which no longer exists). There was additional sad news last week with the announcement that turf writer and racing editor Ellen Parker had passed away in Lexington, Ky. I first met Ellen in the early 1980s when she and her late husband, Ron Parker (also a turf writer as well as a handicapper), were visitors in the press box at Hollywood Park. It did not take long for me to learn that Ellen quite probably was Round Table’s biggest fan. A respected pedigree analyst, Parker was a longtime member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. She wrote for such publications as American Turf Monthly, California Thoroughbred and Washington Thoroughbred. NTRA TOP THROUGHBRED POLL There are no newcomers in the Top 10 of this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 324 Country Grammer (23) 2. 276 Life is Good (3) 3. 260 Letruska (4) 4. 238 Hot Rod Charlie 5. 192 Speaker’s Corner 6. 177 Express Train (4) 7. 124 Flightline (1) 8. 90 Olympiad (1) 9. 81 Ce Ce 10. 58 Golden Pal NTRA TOP THREE-YEAR-OLD POLL Blue Grass Stakes winner Zandon (No. 2), Wood Memorial winner Mo Donegal (No. 3) and Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba (No. 5) all are new on the Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll. Also new on the Top 10 this week is Wood Memorial runner-up Early Voting (No. 10). The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 348 Epicenter (26) 2. 284 Zandon (4) 3. 241 Mo Donegal (1) 4. 234 White Abbario 5. 219 Taiba (3) 6. 171 Cyberknife (3) 7. 148 Messier 8. 103 Smile Happy 9. 46 Simplification 10. 39 Early Voting Justify received much more respect from NTRA voters after his win in the Santa Anita Derby than Taiba following his victory in this year’s renewal of that race. The Top 10 in the NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll after the 2018 Santa Anita Derby is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 392 Justify (21) 2. 324 Magnum Moon (3) 3. 323 Audible (7) 4. 287 Good Magic (2) 5. 279 Bolt d’Oro 5. 279 Mendelssohn (10) 7. 133 Vino Rosso 8. 119 Noble Indy 9. 60 Enticed 10. 44 My Boy Jack In the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll that same week in 2018, Taiba’s sire, Gun Runner, ranked No. 7. West Coast was No. 1, followed by City of Light, Mind Your Biscuits, Accelerate, Unique Bella and Army Mule.

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4.12.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis | Tuesday, April, 12, 2022

Pompano Park has an 11-race card ready to roll and the 0.50 Late Pick 4 begins in Race 9. The sequence has a $15,000 guaranteed pool with a low 12% takeout, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 9 5-Phoenician (9/5)-This is Hennessey's choice over #6 and should be driven aggressively from the word "go". Doesn't win much these days but this looks like a fine spot for the 2nd picture this year. Drew off by over 8 lengths the last time Wally was between the pipes. Race 10 5-Danzon Hanover (7-1)-Recent form was dull but raced better when bumped up to this level and Plano took a seat. Will look for the upswing to continue and could drop in for a pocket ride behind #6. 6-Ethan (2-1)-This gal is in fine form, Chindano usually gives her a chance to win and has hit the board in 8 of 11 here. Could land on the point and not look back for consecutive wins. Race 11 1-Gold Star Igotdis (2-1)-Has issues with slow starts but at this level Braden can get a decent early seat. The pace could be lively and that should help the cause for this mare. 6-Casie's Believer (7/2)-Had an issue with a hoof last week and was scratched. The connections should have this game mare in top shape and will look for a big try. Race 12 3-Queen Me Again (2-1)-In this race both morning line chalks are winless this year, but nothing looks as good. MacDonald should race near the top versus a suspect bunch. 4-Heavenly Evelyn (5/2)-Gets some needed post relief and has enough gate speed to get on the engine. If Fenn provides a sharp steer this mare could break a 0 for 22 dry spell going back to last year. 0.50 Late Pick 4 5/5,6/1,6/3,4 Total Bet=$4 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.12.2022:

1/ST Look: Santa Anita Park 5 Facts | April 11-17, 2022

  Schedule: Friday-Sunday Carryovers: $365,341 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Friday) Feature Race(s): No stakes scheduled. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Avg. Race Class (31%, +$34.00) In The Money % (31%, +$30.40) Avg. Speed Last 3 (30%, +$4.00) *top-3 factor third straight week* Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Dan Blacker // last week 3: 2-0-0 (67%, $2.40 ROI) // $6, $8 winners both on turf T: Bob Hess // last week 4: 2-1-0 (50%, $4.65 ROI) // $7, $29 scores including stakes winner Cairo Memories T: John Sadler // last week 9: 2-0-3 (22%, $1.06 ROI) // $7, $12 winners including stakes victor Bran J: Juan Hernandez // last week 22: 7-3-3 (32%, $1.34 ROI) // wins for 7 different trainers // 1-4 on favorites, 3 winners paid $10+ J: Ricardo Gonzalez // last week 8: 3-1-0 (38%, $10.64 ROI) // winners paid $5, $9 and $165 // 6-14 last 2 weeks ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.12.2022:

1/ST Look: Laurel Park 5 Facts | April 11-17, 2022

Schedule: Thursday-Saturday (no racing Easter Sunday) Carryovers: $3,621 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Thursday) Feature Race(s): $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes // 3-year-old routers // Saturday $125,000 Weber City Miss Stakes // 3-year-old filly routers // Saturday $100,000 Frank Whiteley Stakes // elder sprinters // Saturday $100,000 Heavenly Cause Stakes // distaff milers // Saturday Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Jockey Current Year (42%, +$55.60) Speed Last Race (36%, $14.00) Best Speed Last 3 (34%, +$27.80) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Ferris Allen // last week 14: 3-3-2 (21%, $1.55 ROI) // $11, $12, $19 winners to go with 38-1 runner-up and 14-1 shot in the trifecta T: Keiron Magee // last week 9: 3-1-1 (33%, $2.38 ROI) // $4, $6 and $32 winners // 2-5 with favorites T: Marilyn McMullen // last week 2: 2-0-0 (100%, $4.15 ROI) // $5, $11 winners // 3 straight wins date back to March 25, first or second in last 4 starts J: Jeiron Barbosa // last week 17: 6-1-1 (44%, $2.58 ROI) // won for 7 different trainers // 4 winners paid double-digit win prices J: Forest Boyce // last week 7: 4-1-1 (57%, $5.30 ROI) // $7, $8, $11, $48 winners // 2: 1-0-1 with Ben Perkins Jr. ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.12.2022:

1/ST Look: Gulfstream 5 Facts | April 11-April 17, 2022

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday Carryovers: $84,598 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Thursday) Feature Race(s): None scheduled. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Best Speed Track (30%, +$45.40) Avg. Best 2 of Last 3 Speed (32%, +$4.60) Speed Last Race (27%, +$0.40) * top-3 factor second straight week * Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Saffie Joseph Jr. // last week 9: 4-2-0 (44%, $1.03 ROI) // 3-3 with favorites // 2-2 in maiden claimers T: Kent Sweezey // last week 11: 3-2-0 (27%, $2.06 ROI) // $10, $13, $20 scores all in maiden claimers T: Garry Lee // last week 2: 2-0-0 (100%, $8.75 ROI) // $10, $24 winners // 3 straight wins date back to March 23 T: Monica McGoey // last week 2: 2-0-0 (100%, $8.20 ROI) // snapped 0-13 since Jan 21 // $13, $19 scores J: Edwin Gonzalez // last week 18: 5-4-1 (28%, $1.50 ROI) // wins for 5 different trainers // 4: 2-2-0 with favorites plus $10, $16, $20 scores. ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.12.2022:

1/ST Look: Golden Gate Fields 5 Facts | April 11-17, 2022

  Schedule: Friday-Sunday Carryovers: $28,725 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Friday) Feature Race(s): None scheduled. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Trainer Current Year (30%, +$2.60) Avg. Speed Last 3 (29%, +$1.40) Jockey Meet (23%, +$36.60) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Isidro Tamayo // last week 13: 4-3-3 (31%, $1.09 ROI) // 7: 3-2-2 with favorites T: Reid France // last week 5: 2-1-0 (40%, $1.86 ROI) // $3, $15 winners // 4-11 last 2 weeks J: Assael Espinoza // last week 11: 3-3-0 (27%, $3.28 ROI) // $5, $27, $39 winners J: Evin Roman // last week 15: 4-1-3 (27%, $1.28 ROI) // $3, $4, $5, $25 winners // 2-6 favorites J: Bryan Pena // last week 12: 4-1-1 (33%, $1.57 ROI) // // $4, $4, $5, $22 winners // 2-2 favorites ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.11.2022:

Monday Myths: Is Derby Morning Line Meaningless and Offline?

Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities. Assumption: The Kentucky Derby morning line is a meaningless formality and does not reflect the final odds. Background: With the major preps in the books for the May 7 Kentucky Derby, the major focus for horseplayers now will be evaluating which horse at which price will catch their wagering dollar. While the morning line maker Mike Battaglia has been doing it for more than 40 years in the Run for the Roses, there’s still a wide swath of horseplayers critical of the projections and process. Data Points: I dialed up the Betmix database to look at the last 10 Kentucky Derby renewals and studied the morning line projected odds and the final off odds of its winners. 2012: I’ll Have Another | 12-1 ML, 15-1 off odds 2013: Orb | 7-2 ML, 5-1 off odds 2014: California Chrome | 5-2 ML, 5-2 off odds 2015: American Pharoah | 5-2 ML, 5-2 off odds 2016: Nyquist | 3-1 ML, 2-1 off odds 2017: Always Dreaming | 5-1 ML, 9-2 off odds 2018: Justify | 3 ML, 5-2 off odds 2019: Country House | 30 ML, 65 off odds **2019: note disqualified winner Maximum Security | 9-2 ML, 9-2 off odds (not counted in our summary)** 2020: Authentic | 8 ML, 8 off odds 2021: Medina Spirit | 15 ML, 12 off odds Bottom line: Six times in 10 years, the Kentucky Derby morning line has been within 1 point of its off odds, 7 times within 1-1/2 points, 9 times within 3 points. In two of the “3-point” instances, I’ll Have Another and Medina Spirit were within a single click on the toteboard as the odds posted show from 12-1 to 15-1 in a single increment. The only wild distribution was Country House at 65-1 off odds from his 30-1 morning line, but it’s a rarity to have a Kentucky Derby contender lined at more than 30-1 out of a time-honored respect for connections entering horses in prestigious races and not embarrassing their horse. Right or wrong on that theory, and whether it applied in 2019, is not for data debate. What also is not for debate, based on the data, is the success of the morning line projections Battaglia has put forth. It’s a myth that the Derby morning line is meaningless and does not reflect the actual betting. Additional details: You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, take a look at second, third-place finishers … or morning line favorites … in the Derby and see how they stack up. Do the same for the Preakness or Belmont.

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4.11.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis | Monday, April 11, 2022

Pompano Park has an 11-race card set to go and the Pick 5, with a $58,000 guaranteed pool will start the night. The 0.50 Pick 4 begins in Race 6. That sequence has a $15,000 guaranteed pool, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 6 5-Freaky Flyer (4/5)-Took control in last and wired the $4k claimers. Looks like a main player again and this 14-year-old still likes to win. 6-JK Nowornever (4-1)-Just missed by a nose from beating the one above on 3-22. Makes the 2nd start for the Clarke barn and appears to have the best chance of upsetting the chalk. Race 7 2-Simply Volo (2-1)-This 8-year-old has breaking issues and qualified well on 4-4. Should compete with this crew if able to stay flat. Not loving the short price morning line but this Plano trainee might be ready for a big try. 3-Loyal Fox Hanover (7/2)-Will need a top effort but this post draw should help Wallis get a good seat off the gate. Made a rare break in last and will overlook, fits well with this crew. 4-Cash Hit (6-1)-Drops to a competitive level and willing to use at a price in a field without a standout. Race 8 5-Hurrikanekingcarlo (2-1)-Winner of 2 straight comes off a game win. Should be bet down but best to not overlook. 6-Gold Star Artie (4-1)-Comes out of the same race as #5 and just missed by a head. Has been in fine form, an honest pace will help and likes to roll off cover. Race 9 3-Lucky Evens (6-1)-Steps-up off an efficient trip to cash a a 2nd place check. Chindano will try the same game plan here and is worth a look at this price. 4-Trix And Stones (5/2)-Here's another who steps-up but this 6-year-old comes off a sharp win. Has beaten this kind before and off the last effort it could happen again. 7-Bend In the River (7-1)-This will be the 4th start for the Holiday barn and last week was the best try when dropped to this level. Can leave and there isn't much gate speed inside, could surprise at a price. 0.50 Pick 4 5,6/2,3,4/5,6/3,4,7 Total Bet=$18 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.10.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Sunday, April 10, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 5-Stoic Luna; 4-La V., 2-Ready Jet Go Forecast: The Sunday opener is a challenging five furlong turf sprint for restricted (nw-2) $25,000 claiming fillies and mares. Stoic Luna (TOC=9/2; ML=5-1 shows the route-sprint-angle combined with a class drop and earned a speed figure two races back when breaking her maiden that is good enough to win at this level. As for the grass, who knows? Her pedigree suggests she should be okay with it. La V. (TOC=4-1; ML=4-1) has been stopped and started on a few times, so she clearly has her problems, but the L. Powell-trained filly has enough speed to be effective at this five furlong trip and numbers that make her a fit. However, she’s another with unproven form on turf. Ready Jet Go (TOC=5-1; ML=7/2) is a perfect one-for-one over the Santa Anita turf course and returns to her claim level after having a tightener in a mixed-breed allowance race at Los Alamitos last month. With a forward move today, she should be right there. These are the three we’ll be using in our rolling exotics with very slight edge on top to Stoic Luna. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:32 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Roman Empress; 4-Lookin At Sweetie Forecast: Lookin At Sweetieis listed as the 6/5 morning line favorite after crossing the wire first in a maiden $20,000 sprint earlier this meeting but then losing the purse due to a bad test (she was also a voided claim in that race). If she can turn in two alike, she can win, and this raise to the $40,000 is a sign of confidence, but at the price she sure seems like an underlay. Roman Empress is a much more attractive gamble, especially at 8-1 on the morning line. The daughter of Empire Way stretches for the first time, has sprint numbers that fit, and has a pedigree that suggests she should improve around two turns. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with ‘Empress getting the nod on top due to price considerations. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:06 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 3-Kandarel; 5-Indian Peak Forecast: Kandarel (TOC=3-1; ML=3-1 has been away since last summer but he is a prototype late-running turf sprinter with a perfect two-for-two record over the local lawn and with workouts that indicate he’s fit and ready. A winner of this very same Siren Lure Stakes last year, the son of Candy Ride should have enough pace up front to compliment his style, and with regular pilot J. Hernandez taking the call the R. Mandella-trained gelding is sure to receive the patient ride he requires. Indian Peak (TOC=7/5; ML=2-1), second in a pair of graded stakes races down the Hill, switches to the flat course today and will be heard from in the final furlong. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with the main punch reserved for Kandarel. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:36 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference: 3-Unwritten Code; 7-Princess Alexis Forecast: Unwritten Code (TOC=2-1; ML=3-1) stumbled badly and lost her position when far back in a fast turf sprint last month but deserves another chance in a similar starter’s allowance sprint on dirt. The daughter of Desert Code earned a pretty decent number when graduating over this track and distance two runs back, and a repeat of that effort today makes her the one to beat. Princess Alexis (TOC=5/2; ML=4-1) scored at first asking in mid-February, returns protected, is comfortably drawn outside and shows a steady series of recent workouts to have her plenty fit. She’ll need to step it up in the speed figure department but could easily do so. We’ll give Unwritten Code a slight edge on top but include both in rolling exotic play. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:08 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 4-Lansdowne; 4-Trainer Please Forecast: Lansdowne (TOC=6-1; ML=9/5) was well-meant in his U.S. debut last summer over this course and distance but settled for second in a solid effort. However, he went to the sidelines and missed the remainder of the year. A recent series of steady workouts should have him fit enough, so if the P. D’Amato-trained gelding returns as well as he left he should be able to handle this moderate band of older maiden turf sprinters. Trainer Please (TOC=8/5; ML=5/2) has finished in the money in five of six career starts but has proven to be vulnerable under pressure in the final stages of his races. The D. O’Neill-trained gelding has solid speed figures and enough early speed to establish the pace, so he should win one of these eventually, perhaps today. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with a slight edge on top to Lansdowne. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:38 PT Grade: X Use (in order of preference): 7-Ganadora; 3-Musica Forecast: Ganadora won like a future star in her debut when trained by B. Baffert, strolling home by more than six lengths in powerful fashion while earning a stakes-quality speed figure. Now in the S. McCarthy barn, the daughter of Quality Road once again lands the cozy outside post, which gives her the option to pop and go, or stalk and pounce. She’s listed at 6/5 on the morning line but we suspect will go lower. Also worth including on your ticket, at least as a back-up, is Musica, a hot maiden winner in her second start after finishing a sharp runner-up to next-out winner Ironic Twist in her debut. Based strictly on speed figures, she’s reasonably competitive with the favorite, though Ganadora’s upside may be unlimited. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:08 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference) 6-Miss Louna; 1-Savvy Gal; 5-Bristol Bayou Forecast: Miss Louna (TOC=6-1; ML=4-1) makes her U.S. debut in a starter’s allowance turf sprint after competing for a mid-level tag last year in France. She subsequently improved enough to win a black-type race at Longchamp last fall, so she should be able to outclass this field. The works look good and the barn generally does well with European imports. Savvy Gal (TOC=5/2; ML=4-1); and Bristol Bayou (TOC=7/2; ML=4-1), one-two finishers in a similar starter’s allowance grass affair last month, both should fire good shots right back and are the ones to fear most. The former is a three-time winner over the local lawn and will be running on strongly late, while the latter, although racing in good form, is winless in 10 career outings on turf. All three should be included in rolling exotic play with preference on top to Miss Louna. Notable Workouts: Miss Louna (March 23, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.3h TT). Grade: B Solo half mile training track breeze for L. Powell, never asked, splits of :24.4 and :48.3, easy early and strong late. Was a listed stakes winner at Longchamp last fall and should be quite competitive in decent comeback on this circuit. Seems fairly fit and can be tough sprinting or up to a mile. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:40 PT Grade: B+ Use: 2-Triple Tap; 4-Royal Ship Forecast: Royal Ship (TOC=2-1; ML=5/2), rested since last summer, returns in a listed main track mile stakes that his connections hope will produce a confidence-building win to kick off his 2022 campaign. Successful in the Californian S.-G2 here almost a year ago, the Brazilian-bred gelding subsequently missed in a photo in the Hollywood Gold Cup-G1 to Country Grammer, who won the Dubai World Cup-G1 a couple of weeks ago. If the R. Mandella-trained son of Midshipman is anywhere near fit he will be tough to beat, but it must be noted that he does have a history of racing himself into shape, so we’re concerned that he might not be 100 percent cranked up. Triple Tap (TOC=5-1; ML=3-1) had no visible excuse at 20 cents on the dollar when third in a recent second-level allowance sprint but he’s returned to work very impressively with blinkers on, and we suspect the addition of the hood may make a world difference to the son of Tapit. American Pharoah’s half-brother is stretching out for the first time and he should love the added distance. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with preference – at 3-1 on the morning line – to Triple Tap. Notable Workouts: Triple Tap (March 31, Santa Anita, 6f, 1:11.3h). Grade: A In blinkers, in company with Defunded (6f, 1:14.4h) and left that one far behind while being ridden mildly through the lane, extra sharp drill, final quarter mile in an eye-catching :23.2. The hood may have really woken this colt up. Ready for a career top effort, it would appear. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:12 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 7-Machtenhaironfire; 6-Boisterously Irish Forecast: Boisterously Irish finished an okay second in her debut last month and a similar effort probably will be good enough to handle this bottom-rung maiden claiming sprint field of older fillies and mares. However, she is going to be short price and was lugging out late, so we’re not quite sure what we are going to see today. Machtenhaironfire, a weakening fourth in the same race after cutting out the fractions from the rail, may have as much if not more improvement in her and will be a better price at 4-1 on the morning line. It’s hard to ignore anything V. Cerin sends out these days. Both should be used in rolling exotic play in a race that you should treat with caution. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 10: Post: 5:44 PT Grade: X Single: 1-Barrister’s Ride Forecast: Barrister’s Ride should have been unsaddled when second in a similar state-bred turf event last month. Severe traffic at a critical stage entering the lane cost her valuable momentum but once clear she finished eagerly, only to run out of room. The whole world saw the trouble, so she’s listed at 6/5 on the morning line and may even go lower than that. She lands the rail and retains R. Gonzales, so with any kind of good racing luck she should be along in plenty of time as a logical, short-priced rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.9.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Rosecroft Raceway Pick 4 Analysis | Sunday, April 10, 2022

The 13-race card at Rosecroft Raceway kicks off with the feature, a Maryland Preferred Open Handicap with a $12,500 purse. The 0.50 Pick 4 starts in Race 9, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 9 2-My Name Is Hairy (3-1)-The 0-9 record this year is cause for pause but now drops to a competitive level. Has been plagued by poor post draws and has the gate speed to make the most of this opportunity. 5-Danceathon (7/2)-This will be the 2nd start of 2022 and the 1st race at RcR this season. It looks like a nice spot for a debut. Hasn't missed the board in 3 RcR starts and should be a player. 7-Boot Leg (9/2)-Has been hurt by tough trips and recent form hasn't been good enough. Looking for a Roberts to work a smooth journey and a better finish to the mile at a solid price. Race 10 3-Shim (3-1)-Has been trying hard and starting from post 3 instead of post 7 could make a significant difference. Foster can blast out and not look back. 5-Maurice (7/2)-Steps-up and will need its best versus this group but has the gate speed to land in the pocket behind #3. Appears to have a tactical advantage over most of these and it's best to not overlook. Race 11 6-Jack Quick (3-1)-Drops to the level of the last win on 3-20 and this post draw should suit. Foster could find some live cover and roll by down the lane. Race 12 2-Twin B Fighter (5/2)-Made its RcR debut last week and had a game effort off a tough trip. Will be difficult to beat if dials it up a notch after a sharp try in an acclimating mile and did miss a start. 6-Transparency (9/2)-Drops out of the Open class after 2 very good races versus this kind. Wagner should be leaving hard and could get a close-up seat. This 4-year-old has won 10 of 28 here and might be overlooked at the windows. 0.50 Pick 4 2,5,7/3,5/6/2,6 Total Bet=$6 Check me out on Twitter!  

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4.9.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Saturday, April 9, 2022

  Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 12:00 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Toby’s Heart; 1-Alice Marble Forecast: Eastern shipper Tobys Heart (TOC=8/5; ML=2-1) is a prototype late-running turf sprinter and therefor is perfectly suited for the Hillside Course. She can route, too, but is much more comfortable going short and in fact sports a career record of four wins from five starts (including three stakes) in grass sprints. Freshened since December, the daughter of Jack Milton should fire a big shot off the bench under Johnny V., and in a six-runner affair shouldn’t have to worry about any traffic issues. As the second choice at 5/2 on the morning line, the B. Lynch-trained filly warrants top billing. Alice Marble (TOC=2-1; ML=2-1) is strictly the one to beat. Winner of the restricted Wishing Well S. over the flat course in late February, the daughter of Grazen has a bit more tactical speed than Tobys Heart and could get first jump on her main rival approaching the dirt crossing. From there, it’s just a matter of who can outkick who. Both should be used in rolling exotic play, with the preferred punch going to Tobys Heart. Notable Workouts: Alice Marble (April 3, Santa Anita, 5f, :59.3h TT). Grade: B+ Went off quickly without being asked and finish on her own in extra sharp solo main track drill for P. D’Amato, final half mile in :22.3 and :47.1. Tough on any surface and remains right on edge. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 12:30 PT Grade: X Single: 4-Smuggler’s Run Forecast: The Echo Eddie Stakes for state-bred 3-year-olds attracted just five entrants, including Smuggler’s Run (TOC=Evens; ML=6/5), who returns to the local main track, the surface over which he graduated in his debut on New Year’s Day by more than five lengths. He’s run well on turf in three subsequent outings, most recently when second vs. open company in a fast allowance race that produced a speed figure that should easily win this race. At 6/5 on the morning line, the R. Baltas-trained colt won’t offer any real wagering value other than as a short-priced rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Smuggler’s Run (April 1, Santa Anita, 4f, :49.4h). Grade: B In blinkers, nothing more than a high gallop while even but best with Candy for Carmel (same time) while breezing far off the rail, splits of :24.4 and :50 flat on our watches, sharp and eager. Handles any surface but might actually prefer dirt. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 1:02 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 6-Bestrella; 5-Rapid Transit; 1-Operative Forecast: We’ll go three-deep in the third race, a $25,000 claiming turf miler for fillies and mares. Bestrella (TOC=9/5; ML=2-1) is winless in seven starts over the Santa Anita turf course but is adding blinkers for the first time in her 17 race career, and it will be interesting to see if the hood wakes her up. Second as the odds-on 3/5 favorite vs. similar over this course and distance last month, the D. O’Neill-trained import hasn’t been one to trust since arriving from Ireland, though she’s certainly good enough to win on her best day. Rapid Transit (TOC=2-1; ML=7/2) does her best work on the front end and managed to wire the field when outlasting a $20,000 field over this course and distance two races back. She was overmatched in starter’s allowance company last time out but isn’t today. Operatic (TOC=9/2; ML=5-1) is guaranteed a ground-saving trip from her rail post position and gets a break in the weights with the swift to bug boy D. Herrera. Victimized by a lack of pace when closing much too late to be third behind Rapid Transit last time out, the P. Aguirre-trained mare has finished first or second in 15 of 34 lifetime starts and can be expected to get at least a piece of it again today. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 1:35 PT Grade: X Single: 5-Adare Manor Forecast: Adare Manor (TOC=3/5; ML=3/5) earned identical 94 Beyer speed figures in her two most recent races (her only two outings around two turns) when destroying maidens and then winning the Las Virgenes S.-G3 by a combined 25 lengths. She’s since been transferred to the T. Yakteen barn but has trained as well as ever, so we’re expecting the daughter of Uncle Mo to run at least as well and perhaps better in this year’s edition of the Santa Anita Oaks-G-2. She’s drawn outside in the five runner affair, so it would not be surprising to see Johnny V. employ stalking tactics outside. At 3/5 on the morning line, she’s logically unplayable in the win pool but you can use her a rolling exotic single or simply pass the race. Notable Workouts: <b Splendid solo main track work for sophomore daughter of Uncle Mo, from the five furlong pole out to the seven furlong pole in :23.1, :35 flat, :59.4 and 1:12.3 on our watches, a couple of ticks faster than given and breezing most of the way. Won her last two races by a combined 25 lengths and it’s easy to see why. Next stop, the Santa Anita Oaks-G2. View Workout Video _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 2:05 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 4-Lucky Girl; 3-Cairo Memories Forecast: Lucky Girl (TOC=6/5; ML=5/2) continued her improving pattern with an authoritative victory in the China Doll Stakes in a performance that verified the strength of her upset score in the Lady Shamrock Stakes the previous month. Both of those wins came over a mile; today, the R. Baltas-trained import stretches out to nine furlongs but we doubt she’ll have an issues with the longer trip. Her numbers have risen in each of her five starts since arriving from Ireland, and with a healthy work tab at San Luis Rey Downs to tick her over, the daughter of Exceed and Excel should continue to improve as she gains experience. There’s value at 5/2 on the morning line if you can get it. Cairo Memories (TOC=2-1; ML=7/2) was virtually eased in the Santa Ysabel S.-G3 last month on the main track but she’s much more comfortable on grass and should regain her top form under these conditions. She can be expected to display enough tactical speed to always be within range of the leaders in a race that projects to have soft splits. We’ll prefer Lucky Girl on top but have tickets using both in our rolling exotics. Notable Workouts: Cairo Memories (March 31, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.3h). Grade: B Breezing through the lane and finishing with plenty left in solo five furlong drill, splits of :24.1, :36.2 and 1:01.2, quite nice for a grass specialist working on dirt. Toss out her poor run in the Santa Ysabel S.-G3 in early March; clearly is much more comfortable on grass and should bounce back on her preferred surface in her next start. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 2:45 PT Grade: X Single: 4-Messier Forecast: Messier (TOC=Evens; ML=Evens) won the Robert B. Lewis by 15 lengths in early February while earning a 103 Beyer number, the fastest figure earned by any member of the sophomore division so far, and he did so without being required to do anything close to his best. The son of Empire Maker was part of the pace in that race; today, he’ll have to prove he can be just as effective from a second flight early position, what with the speedy Forbidden Kingdom (and perhaps recent maiden sprint winner Taiba) insuring a much quicker early pace. It shouldn’t matter. He has looked terrific in the a.m. in the two months since his most recent win and should have no trouble reproducing his best form no matter what the pace flow turns out to be. In a race like this, you have to take a stand, so we’ll sink or swim with the sure-to-be short-priced Messier on top in our various rolling exotic plays. Notable Workouts: Messier (April 2, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3h). Grade: B+ Under cruise control throughout, never taking a deep breath, splits of :24.3, :36.1 and 1:00.4 to the wire on our watches before coasting out an extra furlong in 1:13.4. On edge for the Santa Anita Derby. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 3:17 PT Grade: X Single: 1-Going Global Forecast: Going Global (TOC=3/5; ML=4/5) labored on dirt when finishing far back three months ago in the American Oaks-G1 in a race that at the last minute was switched to the main track but based on her recent workouts she’s clearly over the experience and is ready to return to peak form. Unbeaten in four starts over the local lawn, the Irish-bred filly owns a decided class edge over her rivals in this year’s renewal of the Royal Heroine S.-G2, and a recent training track drill while in company with stable mate Excelerina (see below) was exceptional. At 4/5 on the morning line, The P. D’Amato-trained filly is a no-value rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Going Global (April 3, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.1h TT). Grade: A In company inside Excelerina, 5f, 1:00h TT) in training track drill for P. D’Amato and was head-and-head to the top of the lane before accelerating in the final furlong to draw away as tons the best while mostly on her own, splits of :24.2, :36 flat and :59.4. Freshened since December and looks better than ever. Workmate was a bit keen early and was right with ‘Global entering the lane but then couldn’t keep pace despite being asked and fell back. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 3:52 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 7-Economical; 1-Dutch Bus; 8=Poseidon’s Kid Forecast: Here’s a maiden $50,000 claiming sprint for older horses that presents an opportunity for a price play, with the first-timer Economical worth a bit of a gamble at 12-1 in the morning line. The S. McCarthy-trained son of Tiz a Minister didn’t look half-bad in a recent team gate drill while mostly on his own and able to go faster if permitted (see below), so in a wide open affair in which the known element looks somewhat ordinary, let’s take a flyer with a fresh face at a big price. Dutch Bus remains well above his $20,000 claim level in his second start since being haltered by T. Yakteen, so we’ll assume the lightly-raced gelding remains well-liked by his connections. A willing third place effort in a similar event last month charts well with these, so with a clean break from his rail post the son of Will Take Charge should have ever chance to fire his best shot. Poseidon’s Kid displayed a modest amount of ability last year while earning speed figures that should be competitive against this group. Away since July, the P. D’Amato-trained gelding looks about the same in recent workouts but may be good enough to at least get a piece of it. Notable Workouts: Economical (April 3, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.3hg). Grade: B- Gate drill outside Steel Nerves (same time) for S. McCarthy and didn’t do badly for a maiden-claiming type, slightly second best early but then taking control late without ever really being asked for his best, splits of :24.2, :36.1, :48.1 and 1:01.3, something left late. Could be a threat in a soft maiden claimer and is worth a look in the proper spot. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 4:22 PT Grade: B Single: 2-Granola Girl Forecast: Granola Girl ran well under similar conditions when finishing with interest to be a close fourth two races back and then pressed the pace before weakening late in a turf miler last month. Back around one turn today, the daughter of Jack Milton may be capable of producing a winning late kick in what appears to be a below average field of maiden fillies and mares. Two nice recent breezes should have her right on edge, so at 3-1 on the morning line, let’s make the R. Baltas-trained filly a win play and rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 10: Post: 4:52 PT Grade: Use (In order of preference): 2-Connie Swingle; 6-Professors’ Pride; 8-Everlys Girl Forecast: This is a fairly decent edition of the Evening Jewel Stakes for sophomore fillies that offers three legitimate possibilities. Connie Swingle (TOC=6/5; ML=9/5) has looked very sharp in the morning while preparing for her comeback, and the stakes-winning daughter of Grazen will outclass this group if she returns as well as she left. Away since winning the Generous Portion Stakes at Del Mar last September, the P. D’Amato-trained filly recently honed her speed with a :59 flat gate work (see below) that should have her right on edge. She is listed as the 9/5 morning line favorite and deservedly so. Professors’ Pride (TOC=6-1; ML=4-1) is undefeated in two starts on dirt and returns to state-bred company, so we’re expecting the daughter of Bayern to snap back to top form. Herself a stakes winner as a two-year-old, the daughter of Bayern projects to enjoy a comfortable pace-stalking trip and then have every chance when the pressure is turned on. She is reunited with “win rider” J. Hernandez and shows three easy breezes since raced that indicate she is doing well. Everlys Girl (TOC=8/2; ML=8-1) was impressive breaking her maiden by more than eight lengths last month while earning a solid number, and with another forward move today the daughter of Shaman Ghost should be competitive, especially if she can get over and establish the pace. You should include her in on a ticket or two for protection. Notable Workouts: Connie Swingle (April 3, Santa Anita, 5f, :59hg). Grade: B+ Much best over Poseidon’s Kid (5f, 1:00.2hg) for P. D’Amato, drawing away with power after straightening for home while under light coaxing only. Appears to be returning at least as good if not better than she left and appears fit enough. View Workout Video ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ RACE 11: Post: 5:22 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 3-Arkaan ; 7-Burnin Turf; 10-Harbored Memories; 8-Anaconda Forecast: Top-to-bottom a chance in this slalom event for second-level older allowance runners in a race that offers plenty of price possibilities. We’ll go four-deep in rolling exotic play and hope that’s enough. Arkaan (TOC=10-1; ML=8-1) makes his first start since January of 2021 for new trainer V. Cerin, and because he won his debut we know he can fire fresh. A healthy recent series of workouts should have him plenty fit, so if the son of Into Mischief can reproduce his best form in his first try on grass, he could produce a significant upset at 8-1 on the morning line. In a race that projects to have an average early pace, the pace flow suggests he’ll find himself on or near the lead throughout. Burnin Turf (TOC=9/2; ML=4-1) earned a career top speed figure when winning over this course and distance last month from a first-level allowance field. This is a tougher group but based on numbers he should be quite competitive right back. It was the first sprint race of his career and maybe running short is what he’s always wanted to so. Harbored Memories (TOC=5-1; ML=5-1) lost a toughie when worn down late in a similar affair over the flat course in his recent comeback. He equaled his career top number and should produce a forward move today, so the M. Puype-trained colt must be considered a strong contender right back. Anaconda is back sprinting where he belongs and should be rolling in the final furlong. The lightly-raced five-year-old flattened out when favored over a mile last time out but under these conditions should be able to settle early and blast home late. At 5-1 on the morning line, you have to use him. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 12: Post: 5:52 PT Grade: C+ Use (In order of preference): 1-Brotherly Love; 6-Halfbarberbingie; 4-Today Matters; 2-It’s Big Forecast: The nightcap is a messy maiden claiming turf miler that looks borderline inscrutable. Nothing would surprise us. Brotherly Love lands the rail, projects to enjoy an ideal ground-saving trip, and should be within range with every chance from the quarter pole home. He’s a fit on numbers, retains good bug boy D. Herrera, and with only four prior starts has room for improvement that most of the others don’t. At 10-1 on the morning line, why not? Halfbarberbingie shows a race over this course and distance two runs back – a runner-up effort at 25-1 – that charts well with these. With the switch to U. Rispole, the son of American Pharoah should run at least as well today and perhaps better. Today Matters has finished in the frame in his last three, most recently winding up second over nine furlongs at 32-1 in a race that produced a career top number. Not much more will be needed today, and this shortening in trip shouldn’t hurt, either. Its Big is re-equipped with blinkers and exits a pair of straight maiden state-bred events. He could improve enough against this softer bunch to have a chance at 20-1 on the morning line. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.8.2022:

1/ST BET AI Picks: Saturday's Kentucky Derby Preps

  A trio of most-important Triple Crown preps fill the Saturday docket from California to Kentucky to New York. To assist your handicapping, top selections provided by the 1/ST BET app measure each contender against the 10 leading factors for each race. The 1/ST BET app looks at 52 handicapping factors and more than 200,000 past races to determine its AI selections. You can use the automated handicapping factors, or create your own factor filters to incorporate angles you prefer. Full-card selections can be found in the 1/ST BET app. We’ve included the official track morning line odds with each runner. Aqueduct // Race 8 // 4:45 pm ET // $750,000 Grade 2 Wood Memorial // 1-1/8 miles #1 Mo Donegal (5-2) // 31%W #5 Morello (8-5) // 17%W #6 Skippylongstocking (15-1) // 15%W #3 Early Voting (5-2) // 13%W #7 A.P.’s Secret (20-1) // 8%W #4 Long Term (30-1) // 6%W #8 Barese (8-1) // 5%W #2 Golden Code (15-1) // 5%W Keeneland // Race 9 // 5:10 pm ET // $1 million Grade 1 Blue Grass // 1-1/8 miles #10 Smile Happy (9-5) // 30%W #4 Zandon (5-2) // 17%W #6 Emmanuel (9-2) // 13%W #1 Commandperformance (12-1) // 10%W #9 Rattle N Roll (8-1) // 6%W #7 Golden Glider (20-1) // 5%W #5 Volcanic (20-1) // 3%W #12 Grantham (20-1) // 3%W #2 Fenwick (20-1) // 3%W #3 Trademark (30-1) // 3%W #8 Ethereal Road (20-1) // 3%W #11 Blackadder (20-1) // 3%W Santa Anita // Race 6 // 5:45 pm ET // Grade 1 $750,000 Santa Anita Derby // 1-1/8 miles #6 Taiba (4-1) // 32%W {pictured above}#3 Forbidden Kingdom (6-5) // 18%W #4 Messier (1-1) // 18%W #1 Happy Jack (20-1) // 11%W #2 Armagnac (20-1) // 11%W #5 Win The Day (20-1) // 10%W

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4.8.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Hoosier Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Friday, April 8, 2022

Hoosier Park has a 13-race program set for this evening. The feature goes in Race 9 an Open Pace with a $22,000 purse. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 starts in Race 10, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 10 1-Rocking Retirement (9/2)-Has a perfect 1-1 record at HoP and this will be the 1st start of the meet for this MVR invader. Should fit well with this crew and Miller can have in play early on. 6-Armbro Arya (3-1)-Finished 3rd to better in the 1st start last week and came the back half in 55.3. Widger sticks on #2 and Tetrick should handle the assignment. Looks like a major player and it could be picture time in the 2nd local try. Race 11 3-Odds On Hong Kong (4-1)-Had a successful debut at Hoosier on 3-31 and team Wrenn can keep this sophomore rolling. 6-Luchbewithalex (7/2)-This Rideout trainee put in a flat line in last and that was his 1st race since 10-20. Should be tighter tonight and fits well with this group. 8-Caption This (5/2)-Even effort in last and came out of the same race as #6. Should relish the company and has hit the board in 3 of 5 at HoP with 2 pictures. Race 12 4-General Dolan (7/2)-Winner of 2 straight and now regular pilot Tetrick makes an appearance. This veteran downed the $75k claimers in last and looks like the one to beat here. 5-Saying Grace N (9/2)-This will be the 1st HoP start since arriving from MVR, De Long will be between the pipes, and he had 3 winners on Thursday. This Cullipher trainee should offer a fair price, likes HoP winning 7 of 24 and this could be a beatable field for the 9-year-old. Race 13 2-Straight Up Cool (3-1)-Drops to a spot to shine in a competitive race. Raced from the back in the first 2 starts off the bench and looking for an aggressive steer this time. 3-Odds On Osiris (9/2)-Pompano invader is no stranger to the HoP winner's circle. Looking for a big try in its 3rd local race. 4-This Kit Rocks (7/2)-Won off an efficient trip in last and there is no reason to dismiss chances versus this crew. 6-Saddle Up (4-1)-Had a sharp try in the 1st start since 11-18 and raced the back half in a quick in 55.2. Could be better this time and best to not overlook. 0.50 Late Pick 4 1,6/3,6,8/4,5/2,3,4,6 Total Bet=$24 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.8.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Friday, April 8, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 5-Rhea Moon; 1-Kirstenbosch Forecast: Rhea Moon was unlucky when second after a troubled trip over a mile in her U.S. debut last month and with that outing behind her she should be primed for a major performance in this nine furlong turf maiden special weight affair for fillies and mares. The P. D’Amato-trained Irish-bred shows three solid works since raced, switches to J. Hernandez, and seems likely to go shorter than her morning line of 8/5. We’ll also include on a back-up ticket the second-time starting Kirstenbosch, a willing runner-up in a highly-rated dirt sprint after breaking slowly and then finishing with interest while apparently wanting more ground. This step-up to a mile and one-eighth while switching to grass with just one race of experience is problematic, but the daughter of Midnight Lute looks like a decent sort of prospect. Notable Workouts: Rhea Moon (April 2, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3h TT). Grade: B+ Broke off a length behindRjeka (5f, 1:00.4h TT) and finished head-and-head at the wire, both breezing throughout and looking sharp, splits of :25 flat, :36 4/5, and 1:01 flat on our watches, a bit slower than given but nice, nonetheless. Was unlucky when second in her U.S. debut but based on this drill seems likely to produce a significant forward move. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:33 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 5-Midnight Jamboree; 2-Dream Princess Forecast: This five-runner allowance optional claiming main track miler should boil down to two main contenders. Midnight Jamboree (TOC=4/5; ML=7/5 exits a series of starter’s allowance races, and after a smart score over this track and distance last time out the W. Spawr-trained mare should be quite capable of repeating in this slightly tougher affair. She has a good stalking style and projects to draft into a nice in-the-clear early position and then have every chance from there. Dream Princess (TOC=3-1; ML=8/5 is the one to fear most. It may (or may not) be significant that J. Juan Hernandez jumps off Midnight Jamboree to ride this J. Sadler-trained filly, who demolished a starter optional field in late January and remains protected following a 10 week respite. She’s slightly slower on figures than our top pick but with just six starts certainly has room for further improvement. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:07 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 1-Smiling Goodbye; 2-Thirsty Always Forecast: Thirsty Always (TOC=4/5; ML=3-1) drops into a claimer for the first time, and if he has one good one left this multiple stakes-winning son of Stary Thirsty should have no trouble handling this $25,000 field. However, those front wraps probably aren’t for looks, and the barn is 1-for-40 this year, so tread lightly if you decide to back him. Smiling Goodbye (TOC=5-1; ML=3-1) would appear to be a viable alternative, if for no other reason than he’s had just two starts and has considerable room for improvement. A desperate (by a nose) maiden-claiming winner last month, the son of Smiling Tiger raised his Beyer speed figure by 10 points following his first start, so at this abbreviated sprint distance and with another forward move, the D. Pederson-trained sophomore should be a strong pace factor from his inside draw every step of the way. We’ll try to get by using just these two in rolling exotic play. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:37 PT Grade: B+ Single: 5-Carroll Girl Forecast: We were a bit disappointed with the fifth place finish by Carroll Girl in a similar maiden turf affair last time out but she was beaten less than a length, gets blinkers today, stretches out to nine furlongs, and faces six rivals, none of whom have ever shown any desire to be on or near the lead. This R. Baltas-trained filly projects to be the controlling speed and given that type of trip the daughter of First Samurai should be capable of making the lead and never looking back. She is 3-1 on the morning line, so let’s take a stand and make her a win play and rolling exotic single. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:09 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 2-Big Hand; 6-Magnificent Ride Forecast: Big Hand makes his debut in a below standard state-bred maiden sprint and won’t have to be a world beater to win at first asking in this extended sprint trip for older horses. The T. Yakteen-trained colt has plenty of size and substance – typical of a son of Mr. Big – and while he may not be especially quick he should have enough speed to be within range throughout. In a race in which none of the others have ever earned a speed figure that his par for this level, let’s go with the newcomer on top. Magnificent Ride shows rising speed figures in each of his three starts and with another forward move should be the most dangerous of the known element. The H. Palma-trained gelding lands the cozy outside post position and projects to enjoy an ideal stalking trip. Notable Workouts: Big Hand (Santa Anita, March 17, 5f, 1:01.2hg). Grade: B- Good-sized colt was much best in gate drill with Ticklish (5f, 1:03.1hg), mild coaxing only with steady splits of :24.2, :36.1, :48.3 and 1:01.2, a little awkward changing leads but turning in a decent drill while gearing up for his debut. Cal-bred colt has some talent and should be live at first asking in a moderate affair. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:42 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 4-Gritty Girl; 5-Dancing Dana Forecast: Gritty Girl (TOC=3-1; ML=3-1) looks very much like the controlling speed in this extended turf sprint over the flat course for starter optional claiming fillies and mares, and while she may be suspect over this trip – her only win came at five furlongs- the daughter of Street Boss may be able to relax early and then hold on late. At 3-1 on the morning line, we’ll give her top billing while also including Dancing Dana (TOC=5/2; ML=4-1) . The C. Lewis-trained filly has been away since last July but the work tab should have her fit enough and the daughter of Clubhouse Ride has speed figures from last year that make her a major player. Notable Workouts: Gritty Girl (April 1, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.2h TT). Grade: B In blinkers, light late coaxing in solo half mile training track drill for J. Mullins, final three furlongs on our watches in :11.2 and :34.4. Has all of her speed and appears in good shape. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:15 PT Grade: Use (in order of preference): 1-Papale; 7-Mogolian Ford Forecast: Papale (TOC=2-1; ML=3-1) and Mongolian Ford (TOC=7/5; ML=5/2) finished one-two in an expensive ($100,000) maiden claimer here almost a year ago and they meet again in this starter ($50,000) main track miler. Papale has been off the track since that win but was given a solid foundation of workouts at San Luis Rey Downs prior to joining M. Glatt’s main track and should be able to pick up where he left off. The barn has strong stats with the layoff angle (22% with a significant ROI), and from his rail post position the son of Frosted is guaranteed a ground-saving trip, second flight trip. The number he earned in his maiden victory is more than good enough to beat this field. Mongolian Ford, first or second in his last three starts, also has recent speed figures that can, so if he can navigate a decent trip from his outside post position, the son of Shackleford should be in the hunt once again. The others in the field are just too slow on figures to trust, so let’s sink or swim using just two, with the main push going to Papale. Notable Workouts: Papale (April 1, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00hg). Grade: B- Second best by a length inside Hero Status (5f, :59.4hg) in gate drill for M. Glatt but wasn’t really asked much and did okay on the comeback trail, splits of :24.2, :35.4, :47.4 and 1:00.1 on our watches. Possibly a work away from behind dead fit but has run well (and won) off a layoff in the past. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:49 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 6-Conundrum; 2-Besame Mucho Forecast: Bottom-rung maiden claimers sprint six and one-half furlongs in the nightcap in a race that appears to have two main contenders. Conundrum was claimed back for $20,000 last time out by trainer E. Moger, Jr. and appears to have found a proper winning spot. In the money in four of five career outings, the son of Super Saver has back numbers that exceed par for this level and a closing style that should work quite well at this extended sprint trip. We’re expecting him to be along in time. Besame Mucho ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.8.2022:

Frank Carulli: Stronach 5 Analysis | Friday, April 8, 2022

The Stronach 5 continues to pay off for those who can solve the five-race, cross country wager. A winning $1 ticket last week returned $2,729 with a 6-1 and 7-2 winner and three others at 2-1 or less. Don’t miss out on action, which all takes place in 50 minutes. Here’s a look at this week’s slate, with an update to follow Friday after scratches: LEG A: (Gulfstream Park, race 8, 4:51 EST) -- AMERICAN OF COURSE was ‘hustled’ along after a bumpy start, bid 5-wide at the top of the stretch and did well to finish a clear second to favored returnee Alecka Star. NO DECAF ‘sustained a rally’ on the turn while the race favorite was recovering from an early shuffle. She finished evenly behind winner Merseyside (4-20, $172k) but she has 7F experience and can move forward in her second start this year. LEG B: (Santa Anita, race 3, 5:07 EST) -- PERFECTO AMOR stalked the dueling leaders and finished willingly for third on a day when speed dominated at Los Alamitos. He could sit a similar trip from the outside in a speed-laden field at a good price. The race winner, Code Duello, ran second in a $50,000 sprint at 6F last fall and was stakes-placed going a route of ground. PRINCE MAGICIAN, a 5-1/2F maiden breaker at Santa Anita through disqualification, is working forwardly for his return from an eight-month layoff and he, too, will be running late. LEG C:  (Laurel Park, race 9, 5:12 EST) -- With four first-time starters arriving from training centers and three Maiden Special Weight class droppers in the field of 10, go deep in Leg C of the Stronach 5. LEG D: (Golden Gate, race 3, 5:21 EST) -- THEULTIMATEPRIASE broke slowly in 5 of 8 starts thus far, but he plunges to the bottom level, gets plenty of pace to rally into and should cash in for a victory if he settles into striking range without too much trouble. He is today’s solo play. LEG E: (Santa Anita, race 4, 5:37 EST) -- Wide rallying QUEEN OF THE TEMPLE, troubled SUNNY MORNING and favored CARROLL GIRL were separated by � of a length in a one-mile grass route last month, so use all three on the ticket. KHLASS arrived from Ireland and made a good first impression locally, recovering from a troubled start to finish third at 6-1/2F. Suggested $1 Ticket Leg A: 6, 8 Leg B: 3, 8 Leg C: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 Leg D: 2 Leg E: 2, 4, 5, 6 COST: $144

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4.7.2022:

Jon White: Kentucky Derby Future Wager Analysis

This week is your last chance to participate in Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW). Wagering in KDFW Pool 5 begins Thursday (April 7) at noon and concludes Saturday at 4:30 p.m., both ET. Keep in mind betting closes before the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby are run. Pool 5 of the KDFW originally had been scheduled for last week, but Churchill officials made the decision to delay it by one week. As usual with respect to the KDFW, Pool 5 consists of 23 individual horses, plus an “all other 3-year-olds” option. Mike Battaglia has been making the official Kentucky Derby morning line going all the way back to 1974. This will be his 49th year in that role. Battaglia also sets the morning line for the KDFW. He has pegged Epicenter as the 5-1 morning-line favorite in Pool 5, followed by Smile Happy at 6-1. Forbidden Kingdom, Messier and White Abarrio are next, each listed at 8-1. The “all other 3-year-olds” option is 15-1 on Battaglia’s line. As I have mentioned previously, what you generally want to do in future wagering is to take a swing at a possible big payoff with a horse at a really nice price. But as the Kentucky Derby gets closer, trying to find a worthwhile future bet becomes harder. Take Simplification, for instance. He is 15-1 on Battaglia’s Pool 5 line. If you like Simplification, waiting until race day to bet him would seem the prudent way to go. Not only are you likely to get a price in that neighborhood of 15-1 on race day, the important difference is if he’s entered and doesn’t start, you get a refund. That’s not the case in future wagering. One horse at the morning-line prices in KDFW Pool 5 that looks interesting to me is Japan’s Crown Pride at 50-1. If the UAE Derby winner stays anywhere around 50-1, I definitely will be putting some money on him. Considering Japan’s recent prowess in big races all over the globe, playing Crown Pride at around 50-1 does not seem to be a wacky idea. That’s a big enough of a price to go ahead and bet him despite not receiving a refund if it so happens that he doesn’t start. Below are the morning-line odds for Pool 5 of the 2022 KDFW: No. Horse (Morning Line Odds) 1. Barber Road (30-1) 2. Charge It (12-1) 3. Crown Pride (50-1) 4. Cyberknife (12-1) 5. Early Voting (20-1) 6. Emmanuel (20-1) 7. Epicenter (5-1) 8. Ethereal Road (50-1) 9; Forbidden Kingdom (8-1) 10. In Due Time (50-1) 11. Messier (8-1) 12. Mo Donegal (20-1) 13. Morello (20-1) 14. Pioneer of Medina (30-1) 15. Simplification (15-1) 16. Slow Down Andy (50-1) 17. Smile Happy (6-1) 18. Summer Is Tomorrow (50-1) 19. Tawny Port (50-1) 20. Tiz the Bomb (12-1) 21. White Abarrio (8-1) 22. Zandon (20-1) 23. Zozos (30-1) 24. “All Other 3-Year-Olds” (15-1)

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4.7.2022:

Race of the Week: G2 Royal Heroine at Santa Anita | Saturday, April 9, 2022

The Lead: Santa Anita Derby Day features several standout stars in stakes action across a fantastic day of racing, From Adare Manor in the Santa Anita Oaks to the Derby's 1-2 punch of Messier and Forbidden Kingdom, the road to Louisville across two divisions runs through Arcadia. The G2 $200,000 Royal Heroine for turf milers will be Race 7 on the 12-race program and kick off the Rainbow 6. Horseplayers with Xpressbet and 1/ST BET can enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on win bets on the Santa Anita Derby if your selection finishes second or third. The same offer applies to Saturday's fellow Triple Crown preps, the Blue Grass at Keeneland and Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. ​Field Depth: G1 winner GOING GLOBAL holds all the credentials in this field. JAVANICA, AVENUE DE FRANCE and PARK AVENUE are G3-placed. The bulk of GOING GLOBAL's races have been against then-3YOs, while PARK AVENUE and AVENUE DE FRANCE have been steadily facing elder stakes players and the class gap might be a bit closer than it appears. Pace: PARK AVENUE could be controlling speed and dangerous on the front end with only JAVANICA to worry about in a pressing role on paper. Deep closers will have their work cut out for them. Our Eyes: GOING GLOBAL wasn't herself in the off-the-turf G1 American Oaks, but you can't fault her connections for trying the dit when you're 4-5 in a G1. That was Dec. 26, and she's been freshened more than 3 months for this reappearance. She's raced only once against elders, and that ws a victory in the G2 Goldikova at Del Mar against a good group that included Zofelle and Princess Grace (who was favored). It's the only time in her last 6 in which she wasn't the public choice; but that won't be the case Saturday. GOING GLOBAL will be 3-5 or less. Umberto Rispoli replaces Flavien Prat, who has departed for the Keeneland meet. The pace works against her here and the new rider may not know all the buttons, while capable. If there's an upset hope, that's it. If you're going to beat a standout like GOING GLOBAL, you have to do it with an adverse running style. If the race sets up for her style, you're not going to be good enough to upend her. That makes PARK AVENUE the most likely to pull this off after a wire-to-wire victory in her first turf try 20 days ago. Trainer John Sadler strikes while the iron is hot with this stakes-placed dirt runner. There's a decent amount of turf pedigree on the damside and sire Quality Road is having some success with grass runners. AVENUE DE FRANCE also has pace worries as a one-run closer. She would cap a great meet for Leonard Powell iwth an upset here, like she nearly pulled off in the G3 Megahertz over this course and distance at 24-1 in late January. JAVANICA could be icing on a major cake day for jockey John Velazquez, who pilots Adare Manor in the Oaks and Messier in the Derby. JAVANICA is capable of being near the front if the pace is on the tepid side, but isn't a speed merchant by any means. She was a hard-luck filly in a couple of nearrow stakes losses last year, but her last few have been disappointing. Allowance winner EXCELERINA is likely here to help fill the race for stablemate GOING GLOBAL, but she's also capable of getting some easy black-type in a field of 5 if she beats a few runners and that's big on the checkbook for a filly when it comes time for breeding. Most Certain Exotics Contender: GOING GLOBAL is 4-4 on the Santa Anita turf, the class and will come running at the end.​ Best Longshot Exotics Contender: Not applicable in a field of 5, but we're hoping the price is fair on PARK AVENUE and that we can compound some value with the Santa Anita Derby lead-in by taking a stand where a lot of tickets will split with the dual favorites. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $100 daily double from Race 6, MESSIER to PARK AVENUE.

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4.7.2022:

Jon White: Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass, Wood Memorial Picks

The final two Grade I races on the 2022 Kentucky Derby trail will be contested this Saturday (April 9). Six are entered in the Grade I, $750,000 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. In addition to the highly anticipated rematch between Messier (No. 1 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 and pictured above) and Forbidden Kingdom (No. 9), highly regarded Taiba surprisingly has joined the party. At Keeneland, the Grade I, $1 million Blue Grass Stakes has enticed a field of 12 headed by Smile Happy (No. 7 on my Top 10), who ran second to Epicenter in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 19. Zandon, third in the Risen Star, also is in the Blue Grass. Another entrant is Emmanuel (No. 8 on my Top 10), who tries to rebound following a wide journey when he finished fourth in Gulfstream Park’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 5. The Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass each have 100-40-20-10 qualifying points up for grabs toward a spot in the starting gate for the 148th running of the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7. The Grade II, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct is also this Saturday. It likewise offers 100-40-20-10 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby. A pair of undefeated graded stakes-winning colts in Morello and Early Voting clash with Grade II Remsen Stakes winner Mo Donegal and five others in the Wood. Morello is coming off a 4 1/2-length victory in Aqueduct’s Grade III Gotham Stakes on March 5. Early Voting makes his first start since taking the Grade III Withers Stakes at the Big A on Feb. 5. The Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass and Wood will each be contested at 1 1/8 miles. SANTA ANITA DERBY SELECTIONS Making the morning-line odds for this year’s Santa Anita Derby brought back memories for me of 2018. It was a very difficult decision whether to make Justify or Bolt d’Oro the morning-line favorite. I gave it considerable thought for several days. Ultimately, I installed Justify as the 4-5 morning-line favorite. There were those who were surprised that I opted to make him the favorite inasmuch as he had run in only two races. Even Justify’s trainer, Bob Baffert, publicly expressed his belief that I should have made Bolt d’Oro the morning-line favorite. “I can’t believe Jon White made Justify the favorite. Jon’s letting his emotions get to him,” Baffert said on the Lousville radio program “Inside Churchill Downs.” In the Los Angeles Times, Baffert was quoted by John Cherwa as saying: “I don’t see making my horse 4-5. He’s only had two races.” I stated in the Los Angeles Times’ horse racing newsletter that I would not have been surprised if Bolt d’Oro did end up being the Santa Anita Derby favorite. But having to make the call one way or the other, I made Justify 4-5 and Bolt d’Oro 6-5. As it turned out, Justify was indeed sent away as the Santa Anita Derby favorite at 4-5, with Bolt d’Oro the second choice at even money. Not only did Justify win the Santa Anita Derby by three lengths (Bolt d’Oro finished second), he went on to sweep the Triple Crown, joining Seattle Slew as the only horses to do so while undefeated. Whether to make Messier or Forbidden Kingdom the morning-line favorite in this year’s Santa Anita was a very difficult decision for me, just as it was in having to choose between Justify and Bolt d’Oro in 2018. Once again, I gave much thought to Santa Anita Derby favoritism for a number of days. And once again, I believe race-time favoritism between Messier and Forbidden Kingdom could go either way. Consider the different opinions I’ve read or heard regarding Santa Anita Derby favoritism. In the April 1 Santa Anita stable notes, Ed Golden wrote: “Probable Runhappy Santa Anita Derby favorite Forbidden Kingdom had his final important breeze Thursday for the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby on May 6, going seven furlongs under Nestor Capitaine in 1:26.60.” But then in the April 3 Santa Anita stable notes, Golden pointed out that Messier “has been favored in each of his five races, four times at odds-on, and will vie for favoritism with Forbidden Kingdom in the Santa Anita Derby.” So in a matter of just two days, Golden went from Forbidden Kingdom being the “probable favorite” to saying that Messier and Forbidden Kingdom “will vie for favoritism.” Also consider what I heard on Mike Williman’s radio program “Thoroughbred Los Angeles” last Sunday morning. Ron Flatter of horseracingnation.com said Forbidden Kingdom is going to be the Santa Anita Derby favorite. Bob Mieszerski, whose selections and odds appear in Los Angeles area newspapers such as the Pasadena Star News and San Gabriel Tribune, said he thought Messier is going to be the favorite. I think handicapper Bruce Finkelstein, a regular guest on William’s radio show, got it right when he said favoritism “could be a coin flip.” “Ron [Flatter] was definite on Forbidden Kingdom being the favorite in the Santa Anita Derby,” Finkelstein told Willman. “I’m not so sure about that. That’s a tough call. That could be a coin flip. I don’t know that one really towers over the other…I’ll tell you what. Calling the favorite is going to be tough.” When all was said and done, I decided to make Messier the morning-line favorite at even money, with Forbidden Kingdom just a notch higher at 6-5. Why did I decide to make Messier the favorite? A big reason, as Golden noted, is Messier has been the favorite “in each of his five races, four times at odds-on.” I consider that to be a major clue that Messier will be the Santa Anita Derby favorite. Forbidden Kingdom? He has been the favorite in only two of his five career starts. Hall of Famer Bob Baffert trained Messier through the colt’s most recent start, a lopsided triumph in Santa Anita’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 6. Baffert currently is serving a suspension. Tim Yakteen now is training the Kentucky-bred colt by 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker. Fellow Hall of Famer Richard Mandella trains Forbidden Kingdom, a Kentucky-bred American Pharoah colt. American Pharoah, trained by Baffert, ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought when he swept the three-race series in 2015. As mentioned earlier, this will be a rematch between Messier and Forbidden Kingdom. They faced each other in Del Mar’s Grade III Bob Hope Stakes at seven furlongs on Nov. 14. What happened in the Bob Hope in terms of both the betting and the outcome is something else I took into account when making the Santa Anita Derby morning line. Bettors sent Messier away as the 6-5 favorite. Forbidden Kingdom went off at 5-1. Messier prevailed by 3 1/2 lengths. Forbidden Kingdom finished second, but in his defense, he stumbled at the start. That certainly did not help Forbidden Kingdom’s chances that day vis-a-vis Messier. When Forbidden Kingdom won Santa Anita’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths at seven furlongs on Jan. 29, he sure looked good. And then he looked even better when he rolled to a dominant 5 3/4-length victory in Santa Anita’s San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on March 5. Forbidden Kingdom’s final time in the San Felipe was a solid 1:43.98. But Messier posted an even faster clocking of 1:42.89 when he won the Lewis in splendid isolation by 15 lengths on Feb. 6. Messier received a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for his Lewis tour de force. That’s another reason I decided to make him the favorite on the Santa Anita Derby morning line. It’s the highest Beyer by a 3-year-old in a race longer than one mile in the entire country this year. In fact, the only other triple-digit Beyer achieved by a 3-year-old in a race longer than one mile this year is the 102 by Epicenter in his Grade II Louisiana Derby triumph on March 26. But Forbidden Kingdom’s Beyers are nothing to sneeze at. The upward trajectory of his figs in his last four starts (a 59, then a 79, then a 94, then a 98) indicates that he might run a big race this Saturday and perhaps turn the tables on Messier. Nevertheless, I expect Messier’s 103 Beyer Speed Figure to attract a lot of wagering dollars in the Santa Anita Derby. But hold on. It turns out that Messier is not the only Santa Anita Derby entrant sporting a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Completely out of the blue, Taiba showed up in the entries for the Santa Anita Derby. He had not been mentioned anywhere by anyone as a possibility for the race. For me, in having to come up with the morning line for this race immediately after the draw, the task was not made any easier as a result of a major curve ball that would have made Sandy Koufax envious. A $1.7 million auction purchase as a 2-year-old by Amr Zendan’s Zendan Racing Stable, Taiba was a scintillating 7 1/2-length debut winner in a six-furlong maiden contest at Santa Anita on March 5 for Baffert. Pounded down to 1-2 favoritism, he registered a 103 Beyer. Taiba, like Messier, currently is being trained by Yakteen while Baffert serves a 90-day suspension. In terms of the Santa Anita Derby morning line, I found it extremely difficult to try and forecast what Taiba’s odds will be at race time. He is a gigantic wild card. On the one hand, Taiba certainly lived up to expectations stemming from his extravagant purchase price and sharp a.m. drills when he kicked off his racing career so impressively. On the other hand, it’s asking a whole lot from Taibi to go from winning a maiden sprint to running in a Grade I event at 1 1/8 miles. This will be quite an accomplishment if Taiba pulls it off. Has a horse ever won the Santa Anita Derby with just one race under his belt? Maybe someone has done this before, but I’m not aware of it. 1/ST BET analyst and handicapper Jeff Siegel raved about Taiba following his first race. “It seems that the most impressive performance in a race for 3-year-olds over the weekend was not Simplification [winning] the Fountain of Youth Stakes, or Forbidden Kingdom [winning] the San Felipe Stakes, or Morello [winning] the Gotham Stakes, or Tiz the Bomb [winning] the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes,” Siegel wrote. “No, it was a first-time starting maiden trained by Bob Baffert. “Taiba, purchased for $1.7 million at the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-old in training sale last year, finally got around to making an afternoon appearance Saturday at Santa Anita and ran to his works, his reputation and his sales price when winning his debut by 7 1/2 widening lengths and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 103, making him the co-fastest colt on speed figures (along with stablemate Messier) in the sophomore class of 2022. “In do so, the son of Gun Runner brought back memories of the Baffert-trained Charlatan, who was a late-developing 3-year-old two years ago when he captured his debut in similar style in February. Two races later he wired the field in the Arkansas Derby, but then missed the spring classics and most of the remainder of the year due to injury. Charlatan returned to win the Malibu Stakes the following winter, finished second to Mishriff in the Saudi World Cup, then was injured again and retired. “Those who witnessed Taiba’s race on track were concerned that jockey John Velasquez eased him up quickly on the gallop out and then slowly walked him back to the winner’s circle, invoking memories of the Baffert-trained Mastery winning the 2017 San Felipe. That colt, an undefeated son of Candy Ride, pulled up abruptly galloping out to the seven-furlong pole, never got his picture taken and never raced again. “Fortunately, this wasn’t that. “We were allowed to inspect Taiba Sunday morning -- yeah, he’s magnificent, looking very much like what a $1.7 million colt should -- and spoke to Baffert about the fallout from Taiba’s post-race situation.” Baffert told Siegel: “Johnny thought he felt something funny behind, so he pulled him up. By the time he got back to the winner’s circle, the colt was fine. I don’t know if he was put on the vet’s list, but it was nothing.” Four published workouts, plus being entered in the Santa Anita Derby, strongly suggests that what happened with Taibi immediately after his eyebrow-raising maiden victory was indeed “nothing.” I am going with Messier as my pick to win the Santa Anita Derby. But he had better have his running shoes on if he’s going to beat a formidable foe in Forbidden Kingdom and a sky-appears-to-be-the-limit Taiba. Messier is No. 1 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10. That means at this moment is my pick to win the Run for the Roses. We shall see if he still is in the top spot next week. My selections for the Santa Anita Derby are below: 1. Messier 2. Forbidden Kingdom 3. Taiba 4. Happy Jack BLUE GRASS SELECTIONS My selections for the Blue Grass Stakes are below: 1. Smile Happy 2. Emmanuel 3. Zandon 4. Ethereal Road WOOD MEMORIAL SELECTIONS My selections for the Wood Memorial are below: 1. Morello 2. Early Voting 3. Mo Donegal 4. Barese MY KENTUCKY DERBY TOP 10 Cyberknife, winner of last Saturday’s Grade I Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, and UAE Derby victor Crown Prince are newcomers on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 this week. Secret Oath and Classic Causeway drop off the Top 10. Secret Oath, No. 3 last week, had a cringeworthy trip and finished third as the 7-5 favorite in the Arkansas Derby. Classic Causeway, No. 4 last week, showed early speed, faltered badly and ended up 11th at odds of 7-2 in last Saturday’s Grade I Florida Derby at Gulfstream. After Secret Oath’s Arkansas Derby defeat, she will run next in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 6. Following Classic Causeway’s Florida Derby debacle, his future plans are, not surprisingly, up in the air. Japan’s Crown Pride already is at Churchill Downs. These days, you take any Japanese horse lightly at your own peril, as evidenced by their success at last year’s Breeders’ Cup and on both the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup cards this year. Crown Pride will have plenty of people dismissing him. But I warn you. He just might make his presence felt on the first Saturday in May. I’d go so far as to say I would not rule out another victory by a Japanese horse in an important race on the world stage. He’s won three of four career starts, but he actually had an excuse when he finished sixth in Tokyo’s Hyacinth Stakes on Feb. 20. The track was muddy the day that Crown Pride lost. But the main reason I believe a line can be drawn through that race is it appears to me that he got squeezed back badly in the initial strides, then has a ridiculously wide trip. Here is a link to a video of that dirt race, which actually begins on the turf (Crown Pride has saddle towel 9): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GIMPc87_lc My Kentucky Derby Top 10 for this week is below: 1. Messier 2. Epicenter 3. White Abarrio 4. Cyberknife (new) 5. Simplification 6. Morello 7. Smile Happy 8. Emmanuel 9. Forbidden Kingdom 10. Crown Pride (new) BUBBLING UNDER MY TOP 10 (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) Barber Road Blackadder Charge It Classic Causeway Early Voting Ethereal Road In Due Time Mo Donegal Pioneer of Medina Tiz the Bomb Zandon Zozos DERBY STRIKES UPDATE History shows that when it comes to the Derby Strikes System (DSS) that I developed in 1999, only one horse has won the Kentucky Derby with more than two strikes. That was Mine that Bird, who had four strikes. The DSS consists of eight key factors that attempt to ascertain the chances a horse has to win the Kentucky Derby from BOTH tactical and historical perspectives. When a horse does not qualify in one of the eight categories, the horse gets a strike. A number of the categories in my DSS are tied to a Kentucky Derby being run on the first Saturday in May. As a result, when the race was switched from May 2 to Sept. 5 in 2020 due to COVID-19, it rendered my DSS unworkable for that particular year. Stakes races in this country were not graded until 1973. Because two of the categories deal with graded stakes races, the DSS can’t go back any further than 1973. A horse with zero strikes or only one strike has a much better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than a horse with two strikes or more. According to the DSS as it’s now constituted and excluding the Kentucky Derby of 2020 when the race was run in September, 83% of the Kentucky Derby winners (40 out of 48) have had zero strikes or one strike going back to 1973. The seven Kentucky Derby winners with two strikes were Cannonade (1974), Ferdinand (1986), Sea Hero (1993), Funny Cide (2003), Giacomo (2005), Justify (2018) and Country House (2019). As mentioned earlier, Mine That Bird, with four strikes, is the lone Kentucky Derby winner with more than two strikes. The eight categories in the DSS are listed toward the end of this column/blog/article. After a 3-year-old makes his or her final start before the first Saturday in May, I then can determine their number of strikes. The number of strikes for five horses on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 can’t yet be determined until after they race this Saturday. They are No. 1 Messier, No. 6 Morello, No. 7 Smile Happy and No. 8 Emmanuel and No. 9 Forbidden Kingdom. The Kentucky Derby field is limited to 20. Below are the strikes for the 20 leading point earners as listed by Churchill Downs when the leaderboard was updated on April 2. ZERO STRIKES OR ONE STRIKE Classic Causeway (1 strike) Crown Pride (0 strikes) Cyberknife (0 strikes) Epicenter (0 strikes) Simplification (1 strike) Slow Down Andy (1 strike) Tawny Port (1 strike) Tiz the Bomb (0 strikes) White Abarrio (0 strikes) TWO STRIKES Barber Road (Categories 2 and 3) Pioneer of Medina (Catgories 2 and 4) Un Ojo (Categories 3 and 7) Summer Is Tomorrow (Categories 2 and 4) Zozos (Categories 2 and 7) THREE OR MORE STRIKES Charge It (Categories 1, 2 and 7) Pappacap (Categories 3, 4 and 5) TOP 20 POINT EARNERS WITH STRIKES PENDING Forbidden Kingdom Grantham Morello Smile Happy WINNER’S STRIKES GOING BACK TO 1973 Because stakes races in this country were not graded until 1973, the Derby Strikes System can’t go further back than that year. Two of my eight categories deal with graded stakes races. Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But the stewards disqualified Maximum Security and placed him 17th for committing a foul when he veered out sharply nearing the five-sixteenths marker to cause interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy. Country House was declared the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But in terms of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Mandaloun is now recognized as the winner following Medina Spirit’s disqualification. The strikes for each Kentucky Derby winner going back to 1973 are below: 2021 Mandaloun (1 strike) Category 4* 2020 race run in September 2019 Country House (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 3** 2018 Justify (2 strikes) Categories 1 and 7 2017 Always Dreaming (1 strike) Category 1 2016 Nyquist (0 strikes) 2015 American Pharoah (0 strikes) 2014 California Chrome (0 strikes) 2013 Orb (0 strikes) 2012 I’ll Have Another (0 strikes) 2011 Animal Kingdom (0 strikes) 2010 Super Saver (1 strike) Category 4 2009 Mine That Bird (4 strikes) Categories 1, 4, 5 and 9 2008 Big Brown (0 strikes) 2007 Street Sense (0 strikes) 2006 Barbaro (0 strikes) 2005 Giacomo (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 5 2004 Smarty Jones (0 strikes) 2003 Funny Cide (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 8 2002 War Emblem (0 strikes) 2001 Monarchos (0 strikes) 2000 Fusaichi Pegasus (1 strike) Category 6 1999 Charismatic (1 strike) Category 5 1998 Real Quiet (0 strikes) 1997 Silver Charm (1 strike) Category 4 1996 Grindstone (0 strikes) 1995 Thunder Gulch (0 strikes) 1994 Go for Gin (0 strikes) 1993 Sea Hero (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 5 1992 Lil E. Tee (0 strikes) 1991 Strike the Gold (0 strikes) 1990 Unbridled (1 strike) Category 3 1989 Sunday Silence (0 strikes) 1988 Winning Colors (0 strikes) 1987 Alysheba (1 strike) Category 2 1986 Ferdinand (2 strikes) Categories 2 and 4 1985 Spend a Buck (0 strikes) 1984 Swale (0 strikes) 1983 Sunny’s Halo (1 strike) Category 1 1982 Gato Del Sol (1 strike) Category 3 1981 Genuine Risk (1 strike) Category 1 1980 Pleasant Colony (0 strikes) 1979 Spectacular Bid (0 strikes) 1978 Affirmed (0 strikes) 1977 Seattle Slew (0 strikes) 1976 Bold Forbes (0 strikes) 1975 Foolish Pleasure (0 strikes) 1974 Cannonade (2 strikes) Categories 3 and 4 1973 Secretariat (0 strikes) *Medina Spirit (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and all purse money forfeited **Maximum Security (0 strikes) finished first but was disqualified and placed 17th NTRA TOP THROUGHBRED POLL There are no newcomers in the Top 10 of this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 313 Country Grammer (22) 2. 273 Life is Good (4) 3. 272 Letruska (4) 4. 246 Hot Rod Charlie 5. 192 Express Train (4) 6. 124 Flightline 7. 90 Olympiad (1) 8. 81 Ce Ce 9. 71 Speaker’s Corner 10. 58 Mandaloun NTRA TOP THREE-YEAR-OLD POLL Cyberknife, winner of last Saturday’s Grade I Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, debuts at No. 5 in the Top 10 of this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll. Debuting at No. 8 is Charge It, runner-up to White Abarrio in last Saturday’s Grade I Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. The Top 10 in this week’s NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll is below: Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes) 1. 336 Epicenter (26) 2. 261 White Abarrio 3. 247 Forbidden Kingdom (4) 4. 218 Messier (3) 5. 201 Cyberknife (2) 6. 133 Smile Happy 7. 88 Simplification 8. 86 Charge It 9. 80 Secret Oath 10. 48 Morello MY DERBY STRIKES SYSTEM’S CATEGORIES What are the eight categories in my Derby Strikes System? They are listed below: 1. THE GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse ran in a graded stakes race before March 31.) This points out horses who have competed against tough competition prior to March 31 rather than at the last minute in April, enabling the horse to be properly battle-tested. (Exceptions: Going back to the introduction of graded stakes races in the U.S. in 1973, only Genuine Risk in 1980, Sunny’s Halo in 1983, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Always Dreaming in 2017 have won the Kentucky Derby without running in a graded stakes race at 2 or early at 3 before March 31.) 2. THE WIN IN A GRADED STAKES CATEGORY. (The horse has won a graded stakes race.) This points out horses who have shown they have the class to win a graded stakes race. (Exceptions: Ferdinand in 1986, Alysheba in 1987, Funny Cide in 2003 and Giacomo in 2005 are the only exceptions going back to the introduction of U.S. graded stakes races in 1973; Alysheba in 1987 did finish first in the Blue Grass, only to be disqualified and placed third.) 3. THE EIGHTH POLE CATEGORY. (In either of his or her last two starts before the Kentucky Derby, the horse was either first or second with a furlong to go.) This points out horses who were running strongly at the eighth pole, usually in races at 1 1/16 or 1 1/8 miles. By running strongly at the same point in the Kentucky Derby, a horse would be in a prime position to win the roses. Keep in mind that 53 of the last 56 Kentucky Derby winners through 2021 have been first or second with a furlong to run. Since Decidedly won the Derby in 1962 when he was third with a furlong to go, the only three Kentucky Derby winners who were not first or second with a furlong to run were Animal Kingdom, third with a furlong remaining in 2011 when only a half-length from being second; Giacomo, sixth with a furlong to go in 2005; and Grindstone, fourth with a furlong to run in 1996. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the Kentucky Derby winners who weren’t either first or second a furlong from the finish in his or her last two starts have been Tim Tam in 1958, Carry Back in 1961, Cannonade in 1974, Gato Del Sol in 1982, Unbridled in 1990 and Sea Hero in 1993, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 4. THE GAMENESS CATEGORY. (The horse’s finish position in both of his or her last two races before the Kentucky Derby was no worse than his or her running position at the eighth pole.) This points out horses who don’t like to get passed in the final furlong. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the exceptions have been Venetian Way in 1960, Cannonade in 1974, Foolish Pleasure in 1975, Ferdinand in 1986, Silver Charm in 1997, Mine That Bird in 2009, Super Saver in 2010 and Mandaloun in 2021, with Canonero II in 1971 unknown.) 5. THE DISTANCE FOUNDATION CATEGORY. (The horse has finished at least third in a 1 1/8-mile race or longer before the Kentucky Derby.) This points out horses who have the proper foundation and/or stamina for the Kentucky Derby distance. (Exceptions: Going back to 1955, the only exceptions have been Kauai King in 1966, Sea Hero in 1993, Charismatic in 1999, Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird in 2009.) 6. THE NO ADDING OR REMOVING BLINKERS CATEGORY. (The horse has not added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her final start at 3 before the Kentucky Derby.) This seems to point out that, if a horse is good enough to win the Kentucky Derby, the trainer is not searching for answers so late in the game. (Going back to 1973, no horse has added blinkers or had blinkers removed in his or her last start at 3 before winning the Kentucky Derby.) 7. THE RACED AS A 2-YEAR-OLD CATEGORY. (The horse made at least one start as a 2-year-old.) (Exceptions: Apollo in 1882 and Justify in 2018. Going back to 1937, horses unraced as a 2-year-old now are a combined 1 for 65 in the Kentucky Derby through 2021. During this period, the only horses to finish second or third in the Kentucky Derby without having raced at 2 were Hampden, who finished third in 1946; Coaltown, second in 1948; Agitate, third in 1974; Reinvested, third in 1982; Strodes Creek, second in 1994; Curlin, third in 2007; Bodemeister, second in 2012; and Battle of Midway, third in 2017.) 8. THE NOT A GELDING CATEGORY. (The horse is not a gelding.) (Exceptions: Funny Cide in 2003 and Mine That Bird in 2009 are the only geldings to win the Kentucky Derby since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.) KENTUCKY DERBY FUTURE WAGERING This week is your last chance to participate in Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW). Wagering in KDFW Pool 5 begins Thursday (April 7) at noon and concludes Saturday at 4:30 p.m., both ET. Keep in mind betting closes before the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby are run. Pool 5 of the KDFW originally had been scheduled for last week, but Churchill officials made the decision to delay it by one week. As usual with respect to the KDFW, Pool 5 consists of 23 individual horses, plus an “all other 3-year-olds” option. Mike Battaglia has been making the official Kentucky Derby morning line going all the way back to 1974. This will be his 49th year in that role. Battaglia also sets the morning line for the KDFW. He has pegged Epicenter as the 5-1 morning-line favorite in Pool 5, followed by Smile Happy at 6-1. Forbidden Kingdom, Messier and White Abarrio are next, each listed at 8-1. The “all other 3-year-olds” option is 15-1 on Battaglia’s line. As I have mentioned previously, what you generally want to do in future wagering is to take a swing at a possible big payoff with a horse at a really nice price. But as the Kentucky Derby gets closer, trying to find a worthwhile future bet becomes harder. Take Simplification, for instance. He is 15-1 on Battaglia’s Pool 5 line. If you like Simplification, waiting until race day to bet him would seem the prudent way to go. Not only are you likely to get a price in that neighborhood of 15-1 on race day, the important difference is if he’s entered and doesn’t start, you get a refund. That’s not the case in future wagering. One horse at the morning-line prices in KDFW Pool 5 that looks interesting to me is Japan’s Crown Pride at 50-1. If the UAE Derby winner stays anywhere around 50-1, I definitely will be putting some money on him. Considering Japan’s recent prowess in big races all over the globe, playing Crown Pride at around 50-1 does not seem to be a wacky idea. That’s a big enough of a price to go ahead and bet him despite not receiving a refund if it so happens that he doesn’t start. Below are the morning-line odds for Pool 5 of the 2022 KDFW: No. Horse (Morning Line Odds) 1. Barber Road (30-1) 2. Charge It (12-1) 3. Crown Pride (50-1) 4. Cyberknife (12-1) 5. Early Voting (20-1) 6. Emmanuel (20-1) 7. Epicenter (5-1) 8. Ethereal Road (50-1) 9; Forbidden Kingdom (8-1) 10. In Due Time (50-1) 11. Messier (8-1) 12. Mo Donegal (20-1) 13. Morello (20-1) 14. Pioneer of Medina (30-1) 15. Simplification (15-1) 16. Slow Down Andy (50-1) 17. Smile Happy (6-1) 18. Summer Is Tomorrow (50-1) 19. Tawny Port (50-1) 20. Tiz the Bomb (12-1) 21. White Abarrio (8-1) 22. Zandon (20-1) 23. Zozos (30-1) 24. “All Other 3-Year-Olds” (15-1)

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4.7.2022:

Jeff Siegel's Triple Crown Rankings | Updated April 6, 2022

1 – Epicenter (S. Asmussen) – {pictured above} Squashed what proved to be unfounded concerns about his ability to win without a front-running trip in the Louisiana Derby-G2, and not only did the son of Not This Time stalk, pounce, and accelerate in his thoroughly pleasing two and one-half length victory, he did so with a career top speed figure and without being asked for his best in the 9.5 furlong race. His numbers have risen in each of his six career starts and there are no worries about the Derby’s classic distance. He has earned his top ranking as we await the results of several other key Derby prep races that include the Santa Anta Derby-G1, the Wood Memorial S.-G2, and the Blue Grass S.-G2. 2 – Messier (T. Yakteen) – No longer in the Bob Baffert barn and therefore eligible to earn the required Kentucky Derby-G1 points that will assure a place in the starting gate, the son of Empire Maker tuned up in a 1:00 2/5 five furlong workout April 2 seven days prior to his next start, the Santa Anita Derby-G1 on April 9. Still the fastest in his class based on speed figures, he was always going to be given a chance to participate in the Spring Classics via a trainer switch if that option became the last resort (and it was). His runaway 15-length victory in the Robert B. Lewis S.-G2 in early February remains the highest rated and most impressive performance by a 3-year-old this winter. 3 – Smile Happy (K. McPeek) – Lost little when suffering his first career defeat in a better-than-looked runner-up effort behind “loose-on-the-lead” Epicenter in the Risen Star S.-G2 at Fair Grounds. The Runhappy colt was caught in traffic and then finished with purpose against the race-shape after getting clear too late. He breezed an easy half mile in :49 2/5 at Gulfstream Park April 2 before vanning to Keeneland for the Blue Grass S.-G2 April 9 in a race that we expect will produce a significant forward move. 4 – White Abarrio (S. Joseph, Jr.) – His only defeat came when third (beaten six lengths) behind Smile Happy in the KJC S.-G2 at Churchill Downs last fall but he remained unbeaten in four starts at Gulfstream Park with a perfect trip, pace-stalking victory in the Florida Derby-G1 that produced a speed figure a few points below what will be required to win the Kentucky Derby-G1. He had missed some training time prior to his most recent win due to a minor illness, so there is hope that he can step forward in Louisville. 5 –Forbidden Kingdom (R. Mandella) – In his first start around two-turns, the son of American Pharoah blasted to the front and ran his foes into the ground in an eye-catching performance that produced a legitimate 98 Beyer speed figure. But winning in such a manner at a mile and one-sixteenth isn’t the same as doing so at the Derby’s classic distance of a mile and one-quarter. After missing a scheduled breeze in late March due to a slight temperature, he has been back on the beam in three workouts since while preparing for the nine furlong Santa Anita Derby-G1 April 9 and a collision with Messier. 6 – Simplification (A. Sano) – Reverted to his prior style as a front runner/pace presser when weakening late to finishing third behind White Abarrio in the moderately-rated Florida Derby-G1 after previously being held up in traffic and then quickening late to win the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 the previous month. Clearly prefers patient handling and likely will employ waiting tactics in the Kentucky Derby-G1 but enters the race with a resume that falls short when compared to the top-rated colts in the division. 7 – Emmanuel (T. Pletcher) – Was a well-backed second choice at 5/2 (behind Simplification) in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 but wound up fourth, beaten just over five lengths, after a sluggish start that contributed to an extremely wide journey every step of the way. Bad trip and all, we expected a bit better. Will get his chance to prove he belongs in the division’s upper tier in the Blue Grass S.-G2 at Keeneland April 9 to prove he’s as good as we originally thought he was. 8- Morello (S. Asmussen) - Produced a workmanlike performance to remain unbeaten in three starts when winning the Gotham S.-G3 at the Big A over a one-turn mile with a perfect, pace-stalking trip. His Beyer numbers have gone from 72 to 84 to 96, a consistent leap of 12 points per outing. If he can continue that race-by-race level of improvement (easier said than done), he’ll win the Wood Memorial S.-G2. His pedigree suggests nine furlongs (and perhaps farther) should be within his range. 9– Early Voting (C. Brown) – He is undefeated in two starts, a maiden win and a dominating score in the nine-furlong Withers S.-G3 over the deeper-than-quicksand main track at Aqueduct. The assigned Beyer number originally was a weak 78, but then a month later was arbitrarily raised nine points to 87, still far short of what will be required to be competitive in the Spring Classics. Hasn’t missed a beat in a series of workouts that date back on a steady schedule since early February, so fitness should not be a problem in his next start, the Wood Memorial S.-G1 April 9. 10 – Charge It (T. Pletcher) – Finished a troubled (mostly self-caused) second in the fair-to-moderate Florida Derby-G2 behind perfect tripper White Abarrio after getting away a bit slowly and taking dirt for the first time when settling behind the leader, appearing to climb while somewhat unsettled midway, and then lugging in and swapping leads twice from the furlong pole to the wire before going down by a length and one-quarter. The raw talent is there but he’ll have to grow up in a hurry to have a say in a 20-runner runner field in the Kentucky Derby-G1. 11 – Mo Donegal (T. Pletcher) – Didn’t get the best of runs when rallying too late to be third in the Holy Bull S.-G3. Lacks a great turn of foot but has no distance limitations and has plenty of room to develop with additional experience. Was entered as the 5/2 morning like favorite in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 (March 5) but drew a poor post, came up with a temperature, and had to scratched, leaving the Wood Memorial S.-G2 April 9 as a last chance option. 12 – Zandon (C. Brown) – Won his debut sprinting, was unlucky when nosed out in the Remsen S.-G2, and then was victimized by a wide trip and a lack of pace when third in the Risen Star S.-G2 in his sophomore debut. He’s a grinder but will run all day and may eventually be best suited as a Belmont Stakes-type. The Blue Grass S.-G1 is next. Knocking on the door: Tiz a Bomb, Cyberknife, Taiba, Zozos

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4.6.2022:

Jeremy Plonk: Santa Anita Derby Post Draw Rapid Reaction | Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Two of America’s fastest Kentucky Derby prospects square off Saturday in the $750,000 Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. San Vicente and San Felipe winner Forbidden Kingdom (pictured above) and Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Messier headline a field of six that was drawn today for the 1-1/8 miles test. Santa Anita oddsmaker Jon White called it a veritable draw in his public projection, Messier the even-money favorite over Forbidden Kingdom at 6-5. Forbidden Kingdom leaves from post 3 and will have Messier just to his outside in the next stall. Tactically, Messier may be able to apply some pressure from the outside and have the more comfortable run of the pair in the clear. Fleet debut winner Taiba, like Messier a former Bob Baffert-trainee, could take on the pace-pressing role from post 6 as he stretches out off a single, 6-furlong sprint victory. That, too, could allow Messier some tactical advantage. The field is rounded out by a third former Baffert trainee (all now trained by Tim Yakteen), Armagnac, sixth in the San Felipe to Forbidden Kingdom; San Felipe distant third-place finisher Happy Jack and his Doug O’Neill-trained stablemate Win the Day, a March 6 maiden winner at one mile. Horseplayers who utilize the 1/ST BET and Xpressbet betting platforms for the Santa Anita Derby can take advantage of to a $10 money-back guarantee on win bets that finish second or third on the big race – as well as Saturday’s Derby preps in the Wood Memorial (Aqueduct) and Blue Grass (Keeneland). Santa Anita’s Saturday program also includes the Grade 2 Santa Anita Oaks as well as five additional stakes events. First post is 3 ET / noon PT. The Santa Anita Derby will be televised live on NBC from 4:30-6 pm ET. Both Xpressbet and 1/ST BET will offer the fifth and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pools this weekend, which run Thursday through Saturday at 4:30 pm ET, closing prior to the Wood, Blue Grass and Santa Anita Derby for the first time in the wager’s history. // 2022 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby // Santa Anita Park // Saturday, April 9, 2022 1 - Happy Jack // Doug O’Neill // Abel Cedillo // 20-1 2 - Armagnac // Tim Yakteen // Drayden Van Dyke // 20-1 3 - Forbidden Kingdom // Richard Mandella // Juan Hernandez // 6-5 4 – Messier // Tim Yakteen // John Velazquez // Even 5 - Win the Day //Doug O’Neill // Umberto Rispoli // 20-1 6 - Taiba // Tim Yakteen // Mike Smith // 4-1 For more coverage of the Santa Anita Derby from the 1/ST BET artificial intelligence, handicappers Jon White, Jeff Siegel, Jeremy Plonk, Eddie Olczyk and more, visit https://news.1st.com/blog/santa-anita-derby-picks.

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4.5.2022:

1/ST Look: Gulfstream 5 Facts | April 4-April 10, 2022

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday Carryovers: $0 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Thursday) Feature Race(s): None scheduled. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Speed Last Race (38%, +$0.40) Avg. Speed Last 3 (35%, +$8.80) Trainer Jockey Combo (33%, +$12.60) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Brendan Walsh // last week 6: 4-0-1 (67%, $3.55 ROI) // $3, $5, $10, $22 winners // 3-4 with Tyler Gaffalione T: George Weaver // last week 3: 3-0-0 (100%, $2.70 ROI) // 3-3 with favorites T: Jose Francisco D’Angelo // last week 6: 3-1-0 (50%, $0.92 ROI) // 3-4 with favorites // 3-4 claiming races T: Saffie Joseph Jr. // last week 20: 5-2-4 (25%, $0.81 ROI) // 3-6 with favorites // won G1 Florida Derby with White Abarrio J: Miguel Vasquez // last week 19: 4-1-2 (21%, $1.24 ROI) // $4, $7, $15, $19 winners + 10-1 runner-up and 46-1 in the trifecta ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.5.2022:

1/ST Look: Santa Anita Park 5 Facts | April 4-10, 2022

Schedule: Friday-Sunday Carryovers: $221,198 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Friday) Feature Race(s): G1 $750,000 Santa Anita Derby // 3-year-old olds // Saturday G2 $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks // 3-year-old fillies // Saturday G2 $200,000 Royal Heroine // distaff turf milers // Saturday G2 $200,000 Monrovia // distaff turf sprinters // Saturday G3 $100,000 Providencia // 3-year-old filly turf routers // Saturday $150,000 Evening Jewel // 3-year-old filly Cal-bred sprinters // Saturday $150,000 Echo Eddie // 3-year-old Cal-bred sprinters // Saturday $75,000 John Shear Mile // elder dirt milers // Sunday $75,000 Siren Lure // elder turf sprinters // Sunday Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Avg. Speed Last 3 (45%, +$51.00) *top-3 factor second straight week* Best Speed Last 3 (39%, +$46.60) Speed Last Race (43%, +$11.40) *top-3 factor second straight week* Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Mike Puype // last week: 6: 3-1-0 (50%, $2.17 ROI) // $6, $9, $11 winners // 2-2 with Tyler Baze T: Steve Miyadi // last week 6: 2-1-1 (33%, $2.12 ROI) // $3, $21 winners // won with only favorite T: Doug O’Neill // last week 18: 4-5-4 (22%, $0.52 ROI) // 3-3 with favorites, 1-15 otherwise J: Ricardo Gonzalez // last week 6: 3-1-0 (50%, $4.30 ROI) // $3, $4, $43 winners + 13-1 runner-up // both big prices for trainer Jonathan Wong J: Juan Hernandez // last week 19: 4-6-2 (21%, $0.56 ROI) // 0-9 with horses 3-1 or more odds ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.5.2022:

1/ST Look: Laurel Park 5 Facts | April 4-10, 2022

Schedule: Thursday-Sunday Carryovers: $0 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Thursday) Feature Race(s): None scheduled. 4 stakes slated for April 16. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Best Speed Fast Track (36%, +$16.00) Trainer Current Meet (33%, +$24.40) Best Lifetime Speed (33%, +$9.40) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Jamie Ness // last week 8: 3-1-1 (38%, $3.80 ROI) // $3, $9, $15 winners all in 1-mile races T: Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon // last week: (60%, $1.42 ROI) // all 3 winners 9-5 odds or less // 2-2 with Angel Cruz T: Mike Trombetta // last week 6: 2-2-0 (33%, $1.37 ROI) // $5, $11 maiden winners J: Jamie Rodriguez // last week 11: 4-1-0 (36%, $1.55 ROI) // $3, $5, $9, $15 winners // 8-24 last 2 weeks J: Jevian Toledo // last week 8: 3-0-3 (38%, $1.31 ROI) // $3, $5, $11 winners + 27-1 in trifecta ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.5.2022:

1/ST Look: Golden Gate Fields 5 Facts | April 4-10, 2022

Schedule: Friday-Sunday Carryovers: $17,218 // Rainbow 6 Jackpot (Friday) Feature Race(s): None scheduled. Key 1/ST BET Factors (top pick win %, top pick profit/loss): Last Race Class (27%, +$42.00) *top-3 factor second straight week* Turf Pedigree (36%, +$30.40) Mud Pedigree (29%, +$22.40) Jockey/Trainer Trends from Betmix: T: Tim McCanna // last week 9: 3-0-2 (33%, $1.82 ROI) // $3, $11, $17 winners // 2-2 with Frank Alvarado T: Jose Bautista // last week 2: 2-0-0 (100%, $4.10 ROI) // $5, $10 winners // 1-23 on year prior at GGF T: Reid France // last week 6: 2-1-0 (33%, $1.10 ROI) // $4, $8 claiming sprint winners + 7-1 runner-up J: William Antongeorgi // last week 9: 6-0-1 (67%, $3.67 ROI) // $13, $14, $17, $17 winners among 2 favorites // won for 5 different trainers J: Silvio Ruiz Amador // last week 13: 3-1-1 (21%, $2.33 ROI) // $7, $13, $43 winners all in Tapeta sprints ** ROI reflects return on $1 win bet**

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4.5.2022:

Monday Myths: Are There Fewer Secrets With April 2-Year-Olds?

Welcome to a continuing handicapping series for our Monday blog space, “Monday Myths.” Each week I’ll use the power of the Betmix database to take common handicapping assumptions and either support or dispel them with data. Betmix data powers the 1/ST BET app and its features like Angler and Birddog give data-minded horseplayers a treasure trove of information in which to query your own curiosities. Assumption: Early season 2-year-old races offer few surprises and the winners are often no secret. Background: With April comes the year’s first juvenile tests at tracks like Keeneland, Gulfstream, Aqueduct, Sunland and Turf Paradise traditionally the most prevalent of the baby races. Wesley Ward’s success at Keeneland is widely known as the dominant player in the division. Data Points: I dialed up the Betmix database to look at all April juvenile races since 2015, a total of 155 in all. I wanted to compare the average winning payouts and percentage of winning favorites to these races nationally compared to the general race population, as well as juvenile races run later in the year. Also, I looked at the obvious Wesley Ward factor vs. other juvenile race winners this time of year in April. Findings: The average win odds in 2-year-old April races since 2015 has been 3.6-1. The average win odds in all April races since 2015 has been 4.7-1. The average win odds of 2-year-old races May-December since 2015 has been 4.8-1. // The percentage of winning favorites in 2-year-old April races since 2015 has been 46.8% The percentage of winning favorites in all April races since 2015 has been 36.8% The percentage of winning favorites in 2-year-old May-December races since 2015 has been 36.5% // Trainer Wesley Ward’s April 2-year-olds have an average win odds of 0.8-1. Trainer Wesley Ward’s percentage of winning favorites in 2-year-old April races since 2015 has been 52.1%. Non-Ward favorites win 42.5% Bottom line: The numbers speak for themselves in that April juvenile racing is far heavier toward favorites and shorter prices than the rest of the year and the rest of the month’s racing population. Win odds are a full point shorter, and the percentage of winning favorites 10% higher. Even when you factor out the obvious Wesley Ward influence in April, other national favorites still win at a rate about 6% higher than subsequent months and older horses within the same month. This myth is absolutely confirmed that secrets are hard to come by in April 2-year-old races. Additional details: You can go into Betmix and run your own queries for a deeper dive into this theory and any that you can create. For instance, which trainers besides Wesley Ward are worth your attention this early in the year with the freshman class?

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4.4.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Pompano Park Pick 4 Analysis | Monday, April 4, 2022

Pompano Park has a 12-race card scheduled with the feature rolling in Race 6 an Open Trot with a $14,200 purse. The 0.50 Pick 4 starts in the same race. The sequence has a $15,000 guaranteed pool with a 12% takeout, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 6 5-Max (9/5)-Lost all chance on an interference break caused by #6 last time. Hennessey takes over for Miller and could get revenge. 6-Flagman (3-1)-Has been in fine form and tonight will leave from post 6 instead of being handicapped with post 9. This Plano trainee is the main foe for the favorite. Race 7 3-China Dream (3-1)-Hennessey should be on the point or in the pocket behind the program chalk. Either trip could work for a picture. 6-Another Daily Copy (1/1)-Nine-year-old doesn't race often and has only 2 wins in 16 starts over 2 years. So, not loving the even money program odds but this is a soft spot. Drops in for a tag and should be a player versus this crew. Race 8 3-Splitsville (8/5)-This race is a real taffy pull and there is no value here. But someone has to win and Hennessey could provide the right steer to give this old-timer a chance to score. 4-Stache (8-1)-Has the speed to beat this group and if Spano provides a sharp drive an overdue win could happen at a decent price. 5-Overnight Shipper (8-1)-Will blast out as usual and maybe this field is shallow enough that Hoffman can hold the lead until the wire. Race 9 3-Elrama N (3-1)-Can compete at this level and finally draws inside. Hennessey should have this 13-year-old in striking range at the head of the lane. 5-Fred And Roz (8-1)-Raced well in the 1st start of the meet versus this kind. Will take a swing that dropping back to a more comfortable spot will lead to a trip to the winner's circle. 8-Song Cycle Senese (7/2)-Had a 2-race win streak snapped when taking on $20k claimers from the 9-hole. Drops to a competitive level and can be a threat even with this post draw. 0.50 Pick 4 5,6/3,6/3,4,5/3,5,8 Total Bet=$18 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.3.2022:

1/ST BET AI Picks: Gulfstream Mandatory Rainbow 6 Payout | Sunday, April 3, 2022

Sunday’s Gulfstream Park card features a mandatory payout in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 pool that boasts more than $700,000 in carryover money. Expect a pool of more than $4 million trying to take down the final sequence of this year’s Championship Meet. To assist your handicapping, top selections provided by the 1/ST BET app measure each contender against the 10 leading factors for each race. The 1/ST BET app looks at 52 handicapping factors and more than 200,000 past races to determine its AI selections. You can use the automated handicapping factors, or create your own factor filters to incorporate angles you prefer. Full-card selections can be found in the 1/ST BET app. We’ve included the official track morning line odds with each runner. Gulfstream Park // Race 6 // 3:36 pm ET // claiming // 1-1/16 miles Tapeta #5 Meteorito (4-1) // 30%W #9 Gonna Be Epic (7-2) // 14%W #7 Souper Fortune (20-1) // 11%W #2 Superposition (5-1) // 9%W Gulfstream Park // Race 7 // 4:07 pm ET // maiden special weight // 7 furlongs #5 Logico (7-2) // 28%W #3 Agarreamesipuedes (8-1) // 13%W #2 Mendenhall (8-1) // 10%W #4 Gate Runner (3-1) // 10%W Gulfstream Park // Race 8 // 4:38 pm ET // claiming // 1 mile 70 yards Tapeta #6 Conundrum Queen (5-2) // 28%W #5 Siren’s Lucky Song (7-2) // 19%W #7 Splicer (6-1) // 16%W #1 Elusive Uncaptured (10-1) // 10%W Gulfstream Park // Race 9 // 5:10 pm ET // maiden optional claiming // 7-1/2 furlongs turf #15 Sunset Provision (9-5) // 22%W #6 Vocalize (7-2) // 18%W #5 Boggiemiester (15-1) // 10%W #2 Streaming Tap (5-1) // 10%W Gulfstream Park // Race 10 // 5:42 pm ET // allowance optional claiming // 6 furlongs #1 Absolute Grit (9-5) // 30%W #6 The Distractor (10-1) // 17%W #5 Old Time Revival (10-1) // 13%W #2 Gangly (5-1) // 10%W Gulfstream Park // Race 11 // 6:14 pm ET // maiden claiming // 1 mile turf #1 Knowwhentofoldem (2-1) // 24%W #7 Sweet Actress (7-2) // 17%W #9 Always Eden (20-1) // 11%W #13 Hurry Up Dear (20-1) // 8%W

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4.3.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis / Workout Commentary | Sunday, April 3, 2022

  Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B+ Single: 5-Youte Forecast: Youte has rapidly rising speed figures, and with another forward move in just her fourth career start the daughter of Danzing Candy should take care of business in this downhill turf sprint for first-level allowance state-bred fillies and mares. She has the proper style for the course, and with the patient ride she requires for J. Hernandez the Cliff Sise, Jr., trained 3-year-old should be along in plenty of time. At 5/2 on the morning line, she’s a win play and rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:32 PT Grade: Single: 2-Busy Paynter Forecast: Busy Paynter (TOC=3/5; ML=6/5) is listed at 6/5 on the morning line and may go lower in this five-runner affair despite the two-level raise in class for new trainer S Knapp following a $12,500 claim last month. First or second in six of nine career starts over the Santa Anita main track, the veteran mare is pretty much a need-the-lead type, and at this abbreviated sprint trip there will be no breathers, but if she breaks well she should be able to handle the heat. In a race that probably should be left alone, you can use her as a short-priced, no-value rolling exotic single or better yet just sit out the race. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:06 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 6-Newpark; 3-Cherubic Factor; 4-My Summer Dream Forecast: In another race that probably should be handled with care, we’ll go three-deep in rolling exotic play but without anything resembling a strong opinion. Newpark (TOC=7/2; ML=9/5) projects as the controlling speed, and if he can shake loose early without being sent the Irish-bred gelding may get brave and roll all the way to the wire. We’re not sure what the addition of blinkers will accomplish but we do like the drop in class, so we’ll put him slightly on top. Cherubic Factor (TOC=3-1; ML=5/2) has finished in the money in his last three starts, has a prior win over the local lawn, and will be doing his best work late. Numbers-wise, he’s a strong fit, so he’s a major player despite his lack of tactical speed. My Summer Dream (TOC=7/2; ML=3-1), third in the same race Cherubic Factor finished second in last month, is another that will be running on late. F. Prat stays aboard, and that’s always a good thing. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:36 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference: 4-Lil Light Headed; 6-Tribute to Afleet Forecast: Here’s an inscrutable affair in which the ultimate one-paced grinder and 12-race maiden Whiskey Vision actually may win, and that’s a scary thought;. The four-old gelding has hit the board in his last pair but never produces any punch under pressure, so he’s always hard to back with confidence. Let’s go in a different direction. Lil Light Headed was beaten 27 lengths in his only start, but at least he flashed good speed for a half before packing it in, and he was facing infinitely tougher straight maiden company in a race that already has produced a next out winner. He’ll add Lasix today while stretching out as the presumed front-runner, so under these conditions the son of Will Take Charge will have every opportunity to wire the field. You can also toss in Tribute to Afleet, another class dropper and making his second start off a layoff while returning to dirt and adding blinkers. He tends to lag early and pass a few late, and if our top pick fails to see out the trip this J. Cassidy-trained gelding may be able to tag the faltering leaders late. Tread lightly here. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:08 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 2-Constitutionalaffair; Border Town; 7-Sniper Kitten Forecast: Older $40,000 claimers meet over a mile on grass in a race that has a few possibilities. Constitutionalaffair (TOC=3-1; ML=4-1) is reunited with “win rider” F. Prat and projects to draft into a ground-saving, stalking position and then have his chance to repeat his race-before-last, a clever win over this course and distance that earned a solid figure. A three-time winner over the local lawn, the M. Glatt-trained gelding was overmatched in a downhill sprint vs. stronger goes last time out but is realistically spotted today and can bounce back. Border Town (TOC=6-1; ML=7/2) hasn’t been our kind of horse – he’s finished off the board in 11 of 20 career starts, but he has numbers that fit and should greatly appreciate the first-time drop in a claimer. All three of his wins have been accomplished over the Santa Anita turf course, so with the help of fast early fractions he should have his chance to make an impact late. Sniper Kitten (TOC=7/2; ML=5/2) projects to settle in mid-pack and produce a run in a race that should have plenty of early speed signed on. The barn is just 1-for-29 this season and rider just 1-for-33, so you’d probably want more than the 5/2 morning line, but on pure form this veteran son of Kitten’s Joy is a fit and should be included somewhere on your ticket. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:38 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 6-Big Scott Daddy; 5-Quantum Quest Forecast: Low level restricted (Nw-2) $12,500 claimers meet over the extended sprint distance of six and one-half furlongs. We’ll try to survive and advance using just two. Big Scotty Daddy (TOC=8/5; ML-9/5) has a prior win over the track (his debut, Dec. 26, 2018) and has been chasing much tougher foes while earning speed figures good enough to win at this level, so we’ll put him on top, though at 9/5 on the morning line the M. Puype-trained gelding doesn’t offer any real value. Quantum Quest (TOC=4-1; ML=5/2) is worth using, as well. Re-equipped with blinkers and dropping to his lowest level ever, the D. O’Neill-trained gelding looks like the best of the speed types and could take some catching if he can clear early. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:08 PT Grade: Single: 2-Summer Daisy Forecast: Summer Daisy (TOC=4/5; ML=6/5) missed by a head in a similar starter optional claimer over this course and distance last time out and not much more will be needed to regain her winning form. She gets a major upgrade in riders to F. Prat, lands a good inside draw, and should draft into a pace-stalking position and then have every chance to seal the deal. However, there’s no value to be found at her morning line of 6/5. You can use her as a rolling exotic single or simply sit it out. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:40 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 1-Proverb Forecast: Proverb (TOC=8/5; ML=8/5) moves up a level after a game win for $40,000 two weeks ago, and if he can turn in two alike, the R. Baltas-trained horse should be tough right back. The pace projection appears modest, so we’re expecting to see F. Prat take advantage of his rail post and put him in the race right from the start. There is nothing inspiring about the other five entrants, so at 8/5 on the morning line the veteran son of Flatter seems logical, it not terribly appealing, as the logical short-priced favorite. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:12 PT Grade: B Single: 5-Street Ruckus Forecast: Street Ruckus (TOC=7/5; ML=5/2) has rising numbers and in his present form should be capable of a repeat score after winning a starter’s allowance main track affair on dirt last time out. This is a tougher assignment but the switch to grass won’t be a bother and neither will this longer nine-furlong distance. Most effective as the controlling speed, the Street Boss gelding projects as the controlling speed, so if he’s allowed to take it easy during the early stages he’ll be very tough to run down late. At 5/2 on the morning line, he’s a win play and rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.3.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Rosecroft Raceway Pick 4 Analysis | Sunday, April 3, 2022

  Tonight, Rosecroft Raceway has a 13-race card set to roll. The feature is slated as Race 11, a Maryland Preferred Open Handicap Pace with a $12,500 purse. The 0.50 Pick 4 starts in Race 9, and the sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 9 1-Cole On The Beach (3-1)-Camera shy 6-year-old comes off a good try on a sloppy track and now steps-up. Might be overlooked at the windows and may benefit from an efficient trip in a race without much form. 2-Boot Leg (4-1)-Comes off an even effort at this class but did miss a couple of starts. Fits with these and should be a player if returns to the form shown on 3-2. 3-Foiledbythebeach (7/2)-Bumps up a couple of levels after an easy win on 3-27. Needs a trip and should have enough gate speed to get a good seat. Should be rolling off cover and the pace could be lively, which helps the cause. Race 10 1-Cousin Brucie (7/2)-Steps-up after a sharp win leaving from the rail. Foster can put this 10-year-old in play and it's best to respect chances for an encore. 6-Buckeye N (5/2)-This veteran drops to a more comfortable spot and has enough gate speed to get a good seat. Does good work racing near the top of the stack and Foster could have that plan in mind. 7-Never Easy Z Tam (3-1)-Drew off by almost 8-lengths versus much easier on 3-31 as a big chalk and now returns quickly. Has the speed to compete here and the start will be key. Wagner will need to work a trip, but the price will be much better than 1/9. Race 11 1-Starship (6-1)-Was stung early on in last and could benefit from a suck-around trip. This 5-year-old has hit the board in 26 of 38 starts at RcR with 11 pictures. Roberts could work a pocket ride and be heard from late in the mile. 3-Slick Tony (3-1)-Tony made the most of a hot pace and was the best in the late going. Paced the 2nd half in 55.3 to take top honors versus this kind last week. That was a sharp effort coming off a sick scratch and best to not overlook tonight. 6-Precision Bluechip (5/2)-Foster should have the pedal down off the gate and if gets the top without using up much gas it might be picture time. Beat straight Open company on 3-6 and will likely be bet hard again. Race 12 1-Jack Quick (5/2)-Was in tall cotton in last versus Open company and is now at a better level to compete. Doesn't have big gate speed but can close nicely off cover. Will be a threat if brings the same type of effort as the last win on 3-20. 5-Uncle Coz (3-1)-Steps-up after falling short after a gate to wire try from post 7. Fits here and may land on the point without a sizzling 25.3 opening quarter. That could be the difference needed to cash the top check. 0.50 Pick 4 1,2,3/1,6,7/1,3,6/1,5 Total Bet=$27 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.2.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Hoosier Park Late Pick 4 Analysis | Saturday, April 2, 2022

  Hoosier Park has an 11-race program scheduled for tonight. The headliner comes in Race 10 when eight pacers compete in the Mega Bowl, which has a $26,000 purse. The 0.50 Late Pick 4 begins in Race 8, and that sequence will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 8 3-Southwind Caeser (6-1)-Raced from the back in the 1st start off the bench and came the 2nd half in .57 with a 26.1 last quarter to finish 3rd. That was the 1st race since 12-4 and now bumps up. Winner in 4 of 15 here should be handled more aggressively and hopefully won't be over bet. 6-Triathlon As (3-1)-This mare comes off an efficient win versus easier in the 1st start since 1-30. One of only 2 mares in the field will need her best at this level. But likes this oval, hitting the board in 18 of 34 starts with 10 pictures. 7-Brookview Bolt (5/2)-Gets some class relief and is another who likes Hoosier finishing in the money in 20 of 27 with 12 wins. Had been racing at MVR and could be ready to reward connections in the 1st the start of the meet. Race 9 3-Pick Me Upper (3-1)-Broke at 8/5 versus this kind and was knocked out from the start. Should be forwardly placed and the price could be better tonight. If #6 doesn't have his fast ball this 5-year-old could trip out. 6-Swingforthefences (4/5)-Ended last year on fire and came off the bench versus this kind to snag a victory. Looks the part of an odds-on chalk after an easy win in last. Race 10 2-Threeofthebest A (8/5)-Got on the engine and didn't look back in last. Could be even better here in its 2nd start since 2-24. 5-Major Nemesis (9/5)-Beaten chalk finished a neck short of #2 and looks like a main player again in a chalky contest. Race 11 1-State Of Wiggles (6-1)-Was stuck with post 9 in HoP debut and raced from the back of the pack. Paced the 2nd half in .57 and returns in 7-days this time rather than 17-days. Should offer a solid price and could be sitting on a big try. 7-Friskie Jolie (2-1)-Beat the $10k claimers in last from the 2nd tier and was claimed. Makes its 1st start for the Stohler barn and De Long steers. Using and hoping the price isn't too short. Will respect chances for an encore and can beat this field with a big try. 8-Shecaughtthekaty (3-1)-Beaten odds-on favorite makes the 2nd start for the Leonard barn. Looking for an improved effort and should be a better price. 0.50 Late Pick 4 3,6,7/3,6/2,5/1,7,8 Total Bet=18 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.2.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Saturday, April 2, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B+ Use (in order of preference): 2-Beef Winslow; 6-Migration Forecast: The Saturday opener boils down to two main contenders in this maiden turf miler for older horses. Beef Winslow shows rising speed figures with each outing, and with three sprints underneath him he should be ready for another forward move in his first start around two turns. From a good inside draw, the D. O’Neill-trained colt likely will be on or near the lead throughout. His pedigree and workouts (see below) suggests he’ll improve as the distances increase, so the son Honor Code has much in his favor while offering good value at 7/2 on the morning line. Migration finally made it to the races at age four in a turf sprint last month and overcome some early self-caused trouble to finish with some interest to be fifth while clearing in need of the outing. The R. Mandella barn has strong stats with the second-time starter angle (24%), so we’re expecting a significant amount of improvement with that debut run behind him. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play, with the main punch going to Beef Winslow. Notable Workouts: Beef Winslow (March 20, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:02h TT). Grade: B+ Just galloping along early, picked it up entering the lane and finished in a rally while never really being asked, splits of :25.4, :38 flat and 1:01.4, plenty left in the tank. Should be better routing than sprinting based on this drill. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:33 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 1-Lookin for Revenge; 2-Unbroken Star Forecast: Lookin for Revenge (TOC=7/2; ML=6-1) seems certain to be the controlling speed from his inside post in this $16,000 claiming miler for older horses and given that type of trip the T. Yakteen-trained gelding should be able to take full advantage of the situation. First or second in six of 12 starts, the son of I Want Revenge is better than his last race shows and looks quite playable at or near his morning line of 6-1. Unbroken Star (TOC=3-1; ML=9/5) was a voided claim for $20,000 two races back and then was a one-paced, non-threatening third at the 6/5 favorite in a $25,000 seller last time out, so his current condition is a bit of a mystery, but this drop this class drop following a six week vacation could perk him up. The M. Puype-trained gelding shows a healthy series of four recent workouts, and in a race without much pace he projects to draft into a pace-stalking trip and have every chance from there. Notable Workouts: Lookin for Revenge (March 26, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.1h). Grade: B- Maybe a tad second best but wasn’t ever really asked much while even with Dutch Bus (same time) for T. Yakteen, splits of :23 flat and :48 flat on our watches, solid maintenance drill. Most effective on the front end going long, freshened since mid-February, seems in good enough shape. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:03 PT Grade: A- Single: 5-Sumter Forecast: Sumter (TOC=4/5; ML=6/5) made his sophomore debut in the Pasadena S. in mid-February and left his juvenile form far behind with a pace-pressing score that produced a vastly improved speed figure. He has trained in spectacular fashion since, so we’re expecting another forward move in this year’s renewal of the listed Singletary Stakes. Whether or not he’s the controlling speed or relegated to a stalker’s role (behind Durante), the R. Mandella-trained colt should handle this assignment and then go on to bigger and better things. Notable Workouts: Balnikhov (March 21, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.1h TT). Grade: B In a three horse training track team drill with Going Global (5f, :59.3h TT) and Almanera (5f, 1:00.3h TT) and did well, sitting second early and then responding to light late coaxing to wind up second best behind the rallying ‘Global and ahead clear of the pacesetter Almanera, splits of :23.1 and :47.4 for the final half mile. Looks like a useful sort for P. D’Amato, won three of his last four starts in useful company in France on all-weather surfaces. View Workout Video Sumter (March 20, Santa Anita, 4f, :48h). Grade: A Even but best inside Astute (same time) while going faster and farther than given, under wraps every step of the way, splits of :23 flat and :46.4 to the wire before continuing out to the seven furlong pole in :59 flat, looking exceptional. Handles dirt fine but is bred for grass and probably will be kept on the lawn for now. Top miler in the making. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:36 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference: 3-Bella Renella; 6-Circulodeganadoras Forecast: Bella Renella (TOC=3/5; ML=8/5) seeks her third straight win but was a voided claim after her most recent score, so her current condition is suspect. If she shows up with anything close to her best race, the daughter of Clubhouse Ride will win again while facing similar low-level claiming fillies and mares. Regular pilot T. Baze stays aboard, knows her well, and should have the D. O’Neill-trained mare settled in the second flight and then have dead aim from the top of the lane to the wire. Furthermore, this extended sprint distance is perfect for her style. Circulodegandadoras (TOC=6-1; ML=5/2) isn’t as fast on speed figures as our top pick but is the likely controlling speed and will be formidable given that type of trip. First or second in 18 of 38 career starts, the always genuine and consistent daughter of Marino Marini shows the popular route-to-sprint angle in addition to a weight break with the switch to bug boy D. Herrera. If Bella Renella doesn’t fire her best shot, she’s the logical alternative. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:10 PT Grade: B+ Single: 1-Gold Phoenix Forecast: Gold Phoenix (TOC=2-1); ML=9/5) has the classic two-sprints-and-a-stretch-out pattern while displaying fast, rising speed figures to go along with a lovely inside draw. The lightly-raced gelding lacks tactical speed but should enjoy an ideal mid-pack ground-saving trip and then have every chance to seal the deal when given his cue from the quarter pole home. It would be nice if he broke with his field today - something that he didn’t do in his first two local outings - to allow for a more favorable early position. At 9/5 on the morning line, he’s a win play and rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:50 PT Grade: X Single: 1-Shaaz Forecast: Even in victory (via disqualification), Shaaz (TOC=4/5; ML=8/5) ran below expectations when remaining unbeaten in a first-level allowance sprint in early February, crossing the wire second (behind Disco Ball) before getting promoted to the top after being floated out through the stretch. His Beyer number came up 16 points less than what he had earned in his debut, but today, in his first try around two turns from a good rail post in a race that will allow him a role as the controlling speed, the son of Uncle Mo has found ideal conditions to remain perfect. A recent solo seven furlong drill (see below) should have him plenty fit for his first start in two months, so at 8/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower, the B. Baffert-trained colt – a $1.1 million purchase in the 2020 Timonium 2-year-old in training sale – seems a logical, short-priced, rolling exotic single. Notable Workouts: Shaaz (March 26, Santa Anita, 7f, 1:25.2h). Grade: B+ Solo main track drill for B. Baffert, splits of :11.4, :23.3, :35.1, :47 flat, 1:12 flat and 1:25.1 out to the seven furlong pole, never really asked much, strong work for unbeaten (in two starts) son of Uncle. Should have no difficulty stretching out based on this drill. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:25 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference): 9-Hail Freedom; 8-Big Flame Forecast: Hail Freedom (TOC=6/5; ML=5/2) is clearly the one to beat in this state-bred, first-level, allowance Hillside Turf sprint but he’s always preferred to run second or third (eight times) rather that win (once), so he’s not entirely trustworthy, especially since he just failed at even money against a similar field over the flat course last month. Re-equipped with blinkers after two prior strong outings wearing the hood, the D. O’Neill-trained colt should be prominent throughout in a field that doesn’t have a whole lot of early speed signed on, so from his cozy outside draw, the son of Box Score seems likely to dictate the pace flow. Simply stated, there should be no excuses today. Big Flame (TOC=8-1; ML=5-1) goes as a first-off-the-claim by S. Miyadi for $25,000 and is protected in a sign of confidence. The barn’s stats with this angle are outstanding (20% with a flat-bet profit), and with rising speed figures and a recent win over the local lawn (flat course), the son of Mr. Big certainly would appear to have plenty of room for further improvement. These are the two we’ll be using in rolling exotic play, with a slight preference on top to Hail Freedom. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 5:00 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 7-Lady T; 2-Family Affair; 4-Secret Fix Forecast: Let’s prefer the fillies with experience in this maiden main track sprint that marks the debut of Karin With an I, a Curlin filly from Beholder, who seems sure to attract money based strictly on her pedigree, if nothing else. We think she might be okay down the road, but she doesn’t strike us as a sprinter and must leave from the rail, so we’ll watch her for future reference. Lady T couldn’t stay with future stakes star Ganadora in her seasonal bow in mid-February when winding up a distant second in a fast, highly-rated and productive race while six lengths clear of the rest. This looks like a significantly easier task for the first-time-Lasix, stakes placed daughter of Into Mischief, so let’s go with the J. Shirriffs-trained filly slightly on top. Family Affair failed to run to her press clippings when fifth (beaten nine lengths) in her debut, but a messed up start proved costly, so we’ll give her another chance. She gets Lasix and blinkers and seems quite likely to be the controlling speed, assuming that she breaks. Also worth tossing in, at least as a saver or a back-up, is Secret Fix, a four-year-old making just her third career start and with numbers that are competitive. The S. Ruis-trained daughter of Secret Circle likely will settle into a stalking position and then have her chance to make an impact when the pressure is turned on. Notable Workouts: Karin With an I (March 19, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.3hg). Grade: B Okay gate drill for R. Mandella in company inside Chris Fix (same time), splits of :24.2, :36 flat, :48.1 and 1:00.3, mild urging only and finishing with something left. Curlin filly from Beholder is good-sized with some scope but doesn’t strike us as a win-early, sprint type. Probably will need some experience before showing her best but definitely has some ability. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:32 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 3-Woodbine Way; 9-Equilove; 1-Taming the Tigress Forecast: The nightcap is a fairly competitive allowance optional claiming sprint for older fillies and mares. Woodbine Way (TOC=5-1; ML=7/2) is an intriguing Eastern shipper making her first start since October and seems well-spotted for a major effort for new trainer L. Powell. A quick filly who when last seen pulverized a starter’s allowance field at Belmont Park with a monster number, the daughter of Tourist has looked quite good in a series of local training track breezes that should have her plenty fit, so at 7/2 on the morning line, she’ll offer reasonably wagering value in the win pool and in rolling exotic play. Equilove (TOC=2-1; ML=4-1), a winner in a similar affair in mid-February and with a series of extra sharp workouts in the interim for P. D’Amato, is a strong contender as well and looks fairly priced at 4-1 on the morning line. She has a good stalking style and should have her sights set on Woodbine Way as the field approaches the head of the lane. Taming the Tigress (TOC=9/2; ML=5-1) is a late-running sprinter with a reasonable chance if the early pace comes up faster than par. First or second in three of four career starts over the Santa Anita turf course, the daughter of Smiling Tiger is assured a ground-saving trip from the rail, and if she can secure a clear path from the top of the lane to the wire she could have a strong impact late. Notable Workouts: Woodbine Way (March 16, Santa Anita, 4f, :49h TT). Grade: B+ Came through the lane in a breeze in easy half mile training track move, final quarter mile on our watches in :23.4, quite nice. Bouncy, light on her feet, looks to have plenty of speed, and should do quite well on this circuit for L. Powell. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.1.2022:

Jeff Siegel: Santa Anita Analysis/Workout Commentary | Friday, April 1, 2022

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s Daily Santa Anita Handicapping Analysis, Wagering Strategies, Workout Commentary, and True Odds Calculations (“TOC”) identify those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6. * The “TOC” quantifies the findings of a personal thoroughbred analytics program that contains in its database the results of every race contested at Santa Anita since 2004. More than 75 critical factors in the fields of class, distance, surface, age, and sex have created 227 algorithms that are highly specific to the race being handicapped. The result is a probability line that reflects each contender’s true odds based on a pure 100-point takeout. The “TOC” applies its mathematical formula only to non-maiden races and displays a maximum of four runners considered the most likely contenders to win. Also listed is the specific algorithm’s sample size plus the top-rated horse’s win percentage and return on investment (ROI). It is suggested that the player utilize the program’s findings to compare each contender’s “true odds” with the morning line and/or actual wagering odds to identify potential overlays and underlays. Also-eligible runners are not included in any of the calculations until verified as actual starters. When possible, adjustments to the “TOC” will be updated after late scratches. For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing. * * Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 1: Post: 1:00 PT Grade: B Single: 1-Precedent Forecast: Let’s take a shot with the second-time starter Precedent in this extended turf sprint for older maiden $50,000 claimers. In his debut, the son of Into Mischief broke slowly and was allowed to lag, took hold while strictly on his own entering the lane and rallied to finish respectable seventh, beaten less than four lengths, before galloping out in front. He gets an extra half-furlong to work with today, breezed five furlongs in :58 4/5 at San Luis Rey Downs since raced, retains J. Bravo, and is guaranteed a ground-saving trip from his rail post position. With plenty of room to improve, the P. Capestro owned and training sophomore seems likely to produce a significant forward move, so at 6-1 on the morning line he offers good gambling value in the win pool and in the various rolling exotics. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 2: Post: 1:33 PT Grade: B+ Single: 1-Fury Kap Forecast: Fury Kap (TOC=3/5; ML=3-1) finished a distant third in a much tougher open $32,000 claiming sprint last month but even in defeat earned a pretty good speed figure, one that if repeated today should be more than good enough to handle this restricted (nw-2) $20,000 field. Assuming he breaks cleanly from the rail, the J. Sadler-trained gelding projects to have a strong pace presence, and in a race lacking in effective closers he seems like a fairly solid top pick. A winner over this track and distance two runs back, the son of Fury Kapcori switches to the barn’s “go-to” rider J. Hernandez and shows a bullet workout at Los Alamitos (4f, :47 flat, fastest of 17) since raced, so at 3-1 on the morning line let’s make him a win play and rolling exotic single. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 3: Post: 2:07 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 1-Ian Glass; 7-Southern Horse Forecast: Stablemates Ian Glass (TOC=7/2; ML=3-1) and Southern Horse (TOC=5/2; ML=7/2) are the ones to beat in this six furlong turf sprint for older $32,000 claimers. ‘Glass moves up a level after a clever score vs. $25,000 foes over this course and distance in mid-February and is a four-time winner (from seven starts) over the Santa Anita lawn. The J. Sadler-trained gelding employs an effective pace-stalking style and projects to enjoy an ideal ground-saving trip from his rail post position. Southern Horse may be the most dangerous of the closing types. A strong runner-up over the flat course in a $40,000 seller two races back, the Argentine-bred veteran failed to land a blow when overmatched vs. allowance rivals in a downhill affair last time out but should be capable of bouncing back at this level, especially in a field with plenty of speed types signed on. Both should be included in rolling exotic play with a very slight edge on top to Ian Glass. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 4: Post: 2:43 PT Grade: B- Use (in order of preference: 1-Justhappenlikethat; 4-Mo Connelly Forecast: Bay Area invader Justhappenlikethat stretches out for the first time, lands the rail, and should have every chance to continue her improving pattern in this bottom-rung maiden $20,000 claimer over a mile for older fillies and mares. It’s possible she’s just a late-running sprinter but her pedigree suggests she should be able to get the trip, her numbers continue to rise with each start, and with the switch to good bug boy D. Herrera she’ll enjoy a considerable weight break, so let’s make the daughter of Stanford our top pick at 2-1 on the morning line. The actual morning line favorite at 9/5 is Mo Connelly and is a “must use” as well, even though, as a beaten favorite in her last pair, she may not be one to trust. In the frame in four of five career starts and more than four lengths clear of the rest when second in a similar event over this track and distance, the daughter of Mineshaft could find herself as the controlling speed, although sprinter-stretching-out Admiral Aeschbach may have something to say about that. _____________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 5: Post: 3:15 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 4-Ben’s a Goalie; 2-Maxim Moment Forecast: Ben’s a Goalie snatched defeat from the jaws of victory when leading the way into the lane by four lengths before losing his concentration, drifting out, and getting tagged close home in a main track maiden $50,000 sprint a year ago January. Claimed by trainer J. Sadler, he finally makes it back to the races at the same level (a good sign), and gets Lasix, blinkers, and the barn’s “go-to” rider J. Hernandez, so if he takes to the grass (as most Grazen’s do) he may be able to control this race from gate to wire. A bullet five furlong workout (1:01 1/5, fastest of 14) leads one to believe he’s fit off the bench. Maxim Moment managed to hit the board just once in six starts in the Midwest prior to joining the P. D’Amato barn, but in his first start since last June the son of Hard Spun could easily be much improved. Based strictly on speed figures he’s the one to beat and the works look solid, hence his morning line favorite’s role at 9/5. We’ll give Ben’s a Goalie the edge on top but include both in rolling exotic play. Notable Workouts: Maxim Moment (March 7, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.3hg). Grade: B In blinkers, breezing every step of the way while much best over Lady Maryann (5f, 1:02.2hg) for P. D’Amato, splits of :24.3, :36.1, :48.1 and 1:01.3, looking decent off a long layoff. Has a right to be a better type now that last year for new connections. Seems better than a typical older maiden claimer. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 6: Post: 3:45 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 4-Back On the Street; 5-Shout It Out Forecast: We’ll double the sixth race using the two J. Wong entrants in this restricted (nw-2) $12,500 claiming sprint for fillies and mares. Back On the Street (TOC=9/5; ML=5/2) seems properly-spotted, assuming the big class drop is nothing more than an attempt to locate her proper level. The daughter of Malibu Moon lacks tactical speed but at this extended sprint distance she should be able to settle early and finish up late in a race in which the speed types look suspect. The recent workouts tell us she’s doing well and capable of producing the last run. Stable mate Shout It Out (TOC=4-1; ML=3-1) may not be one to trust – she has one victory and 10 seconds and thirds – but her recent speed figures over the all-weather surface at Golden Gate Fields match up favorably with this group and she did run well when third over the conventional dirt track at Pleasanton last summer. She gets a break in the weights with the switch to bug boy D. Herrera and should have every chance from a comfortable pace-stalking position. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 7: Post: 4:15 PT Grade: B Use (in order of preference): 2-Self Isolation; 2-Vivacious Vanessa Forecast: Self Isolation (TOC=5-1; ML=5/2) crushed a maiden field with a huge speed figure in late February but did so as an uncontested front-runner, so the race (and number) may have flattered her. However, based on the projected pace flow of this state-bred first-level allowance turf miler, the daughter of Square Eddie should have every chance to secure a similar trip, and if she does, the D. O’Neill-trained filly may be capable of a repeat victory. A healthy recent work tab at San Luis Rey Downs indicates she’s maintained her edge. Vivacious Vanessa (TOC=9/5; ML=7/2) prefers patient tactics and may need some help up front to have her best chance, but if the early fractions are legit she can be expected to make some serious noise in the final furlong. Her numbers have risen in each of her four career starts and with another forward move today the G. Mandella-trained daughter of Not This Time will be right there. Notable Workouts: Vivacious Vanessa (March 18, Santa Anita, 6f, 1:13h). Grade: B Inside Q B One (6f, 1:13.3h) and was slightly best to the wire before continuing out to the seven furlong pole, easy early, mild coaxing late, splits of :23.2, :47.4 and 1:00.3 for the final five-eighths on our watches. Solid drill, has state-bred allowance conditions and can handle any surface. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 8: Post: 4:45 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 3-Pray for My Owner; 1-All Dialed In; 5-Rose Maddox Forecast: Pray for My Owner (TOC=6-1; ML=2-1) holds a distinct edge in the speed figure department in this state-bred first-level allowance dirt sprint but she’s been away since last June, so her current condition is a question. It would seem that the daughter of Temple City has been given a sufficient foundation by trainer M. Glatt (powerful stats with layoff runners) so we’ll put her on top even there are others in the field that should press her early. In case there’s a pace meltdown (and there could be), we’ll also include a couple of closing types on our ticket. All Dialed In (3-1; ML=5/2) has numbers that are steadily rising, so she should make her presence felt late, while Rose Maddox (TOC=6-1; ML=5-1) has been in the frame in all three of her one-turn races and is another that would appreciate faster-than-par early fractions. Tread lightly here. Notable Workouts: Pray for My Owner (March 27, Santa Anita, 4f, :49hg). Grade: B Solo gate drill by come-backing filly in M. Glatt barn, never asked at any stage, splits of :36.3 and :49 flat, looking good despite slow final time. Coming back quite well, been away since last June but should fire a big shot fresh. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ RACE 9: Post: 5:15 PT Grade: C+ Use (in order of preference): 9-Aventapp; 1-Miss Mensa Forecast: The finale is a grass grab bag sprint for maiden $50,000 older fillies and mares. Anything goes. Aventapp was six lengths clear of the others when a runner-up in a slightly stronger event over this course and distance last month and not much more will be needed to earn her diploma. We’re not crazy about the outside draw – especially with the rail out 30 feet – but if the M. Glatt-trained filly can drop over and get some cover, she could be along in time. Miss Mensa has trained okay for her debut – she doesn’t show any fancy times on her work tab but hasn’t been asked much – and with Lemon Drop Kitten on the bottom side of her pedigree she should have no trouble with the surface. The M. Glatt barn hits at 20 percent with a significant ROI, so she could easily turn up a live item at 8-1 on the morning line. These are the two we’ll be using in our rolling exotics but if you feel the need to spread deeper, go right ahead. Notable Workouts: Miss Mensa (March 14, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:02.3hg). Grade: B- Even but a tad the best in team gate drill with Don’t Talk (same time) for M. Glatt, splits of :24.4, :36.4, :49.1 and 1:02.3, never really asked much, not too bad for a maiden claiming type. Might be worth a look in a soft spot. View Workout Video ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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4.1.2022:

Al Cimaglia: Cal Expo Pick 4 Analysis | Friday, April 1, 2022

Cal Expo begins the weekend with an 8-race card. The feature goes in Race 4 when California bred 3-year-old fillies battle for a share of a $15,000 purse. The 0.20 Pick 4 starts in Race 6. The sequence has a $30,000 guaranteed pool with a 16% takeout, and it will be my focus. Comments and selections below are based on a fast track. Race 6 2-Albergo Hanover (2-1)-Left from the 6-hole and was used hard which led to fading down the lane when dropped to this level. Beaten chalk could make amends here and record the 1st CalX win (0-6). 4-Alilthundadownunda (8/5)-Morning line chalk looks the part. Has been close at this level and may finally seal the deal, previous winners aren't in this field. Race 7 1-Witch Hunter (2-1)-Raced the back half in 57.2 to just miss. Stewart is back again and starting from the rail shouldn't hurt chances. 3-Treacherous Sky (3-1)-Captain Treacherous filly was bet down to 3/2 in last and was driven aggressively. Disappointed backers but the trip should be better this time and probably the price. Race 8 2-Fox Valley Triton (3-1)-Added distance race makes it different and also more difficult to handicap. My play is to uses horses who will be forwardly placed rather than aim for dead closers. This 6-year-old fits that thinking and Roland should have in play early on. 3-Frisky Pedro (5-1)-Not sure how the added distance will suit this Plano trainee but will respect connections. Looking for an advantageous trip and a square price. Race 9 1-Villa For Rent (4-1)-Plested trainee is usually right there at the wire. Svendsen should be leaving, looking to race at the top of the stack and and then use one move down the lane to roll by. 4-Terror Of The Night (4-1)-Loses Svendsen to (1) and Stewart steers this trip dependent veteran. Drops to a competive level and draws well. Should offer a fair price and be in the mix with a sharp steer. 6-Paddy Murphy (2-1)-Comes off a win and the last 2 starts have been nice efforts. Best to respect and can stay good for a while. 0.20 Pick 4 2,4/1,3/2,3/1,4,6 Total Bet=$2.40 Check me out on Twitter!

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4.1.2022:

Frank Carulli: Stronach 5 Analysis | Friday, April 1, 2022

If your handicapping can go the distance, you can unlock this week’s Stronach 5. The $1 wager spans five tracks nationwide, but three of the races in the 62-minute sequence are maiden claiming routes at Laurel Park, Santa Anita and Golden Gate, respectively. Here’s a look at this week’s action, with an update to follow Friday after scratches: LEG A: (Laurel Park, race 9, 4:56 EST) -- UNCLE JEROME found the proper level in his first start this year, stalked the pace 3-wide, then ‘fought to mid-stretch’ and ran third. MR MOSLEY set a clear pace to the stretch in a comeback 6F sprint at this level two starts ago, changed tactics and rallied mildly last out and has prior route experience. LEG B: (Santa Anita, race 3, 5:07 EST) -- With four, six-figure turf earners in a field that is a combined 94/19-14-18 on the grass, go deep in Leg B of the Stronach 5. LEG C: (Gulfstream Park, race 9, 5:16 EST) -- Good recent and long-distance form abounds in this starter allowance. YAMATO rallied for back-to-back wins on Gulfstream’s synthetic track and CONGLOMERATE arrives with three wins in a row, the latest with a 5-wide surge at 8-1 odds. STRIKE TO THE TOP got first run on both rivals to loom boldly at the stretch call but weakened late in both races. LEG D: (Santa Anita, race 4, 5:43 EST) -- MO CONNELLY gave way after a backstretch-long duel with the winner in her first route try, but she held second and now makes her third start as a 3-year-old. HARDDIANE exited a double key race two back, finished an even third in a faster-paced mile, now returns at the same level off a pair of solid workouts. LEG E: (Golden Gate, race 3, 5:58 EST) -- TAM TRICKY stretches out to a new distance for all nine entrants, finished in the money behind proven rivals Dress Rehearsal (4-10, $211k) and Bonito Leon (next-out $25k/2L runner-up) and looms a forward factor from the rail at a good price in her first start on turf. ZAFFERANA has run mostly in Maiden Special Weight company, finished fourth behind next-out repeater Bellamore (5/2-2-0, $69k) and her dam, Old Topper, was an accomplished graded stakes route runner, albeit on the main track. Suggested $1 Ticket Leg A: 1, 2Leg B: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 Leg C: 1, 3, 6 Leg D: 2, 4 Leg E: 1, 8 COST: $120

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3.31.2022:

Race of the Week: Ghostzapper at Gulfstream Park | Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Lead: Among 10 stakes on the Florida Derby Day card at Gulfstream Park is this highly interesting 1-1/8 miles contest in the Classic division. The G3 $100,000 Ghostzapper will go as Race 6 on the program. Horseplayers with Xpressbet and 1/ST BET can enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on win bets on the entire Saturday card at Gulfstream if your selection finishes second or third. The 14-race program also features $750,000-guaranteed pools in the late pick 4 and pick 5. ​Field Depth: Local G2 winners GREATEST HONOUR and FEARLESS are the most credentialed members of this 7-horse cast. CAPOCOSTELLO was a G1 winner in Panama. TWELVE VOLT MAN and CARLOS L are listed stakes winners. No doubt FEARLESS has held the strongest company lines with GREATEST HONOUR a clear second in that regard. Pace: LAUGHING BOY and CARLOS L in posts 2-3 figure to have the most early foot. TWELVE VOLT MAN could be hustled from the outer draw with some natural foot. The early pace does not appear to be overly taxing. Our Eyes: FEARLESS has been second-best in his last 2 local starts to rising star Speaker's Corner in the G3 Hooper and G2 Gulfstream Park Mile. Both of those were 1-turn events and he'll stretch back out around 2 bends on Saturday at the tail end of a taxing meet. To run him back for $100K almost seems like an afterthought with quality races on the horizon in Kentucky and New York. He's absolutely the horse to beat, but this soft placement raises some doubt to taking a very short price -- particularly at a distance in which he's 3: 0-1-0 lifetime. GREATEST HONOUR looked like a bona fide Kentucky Derby prospect when he won the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth here last winter. But he disappointed in the Florida Derby as the 4-5 favorite and went to the sidelines for 350 days before reappearing last month at Tampa bay Downs. GREATEST HONOUR was lackluster in his G3 Challenger Stakes return and a modest workout tab at Payson Park since doesn't give any hint that he's storming back to form just yet. The 1-1/8 miles is a big ask with little underneath him in the past year in terms of foundation. At 118 pounds, he gets in 6 lighter than FEARLESS and that could help. Those 2 dominate the betting in all likelihood, but there's a feeling of vulnerability to this eye. COMMANDEER was blown out in the G1 Pegasus World Cup, but has been working very well for veteran Jimmy Toner since then. His autumn allowance win over LAUGHING BOY at Churchill Downs could put him in the mix here at his best. Tyler Gaffalione has had a strong meet and takes over for the first time on COMMANDEER. As for LAUGHING BOY, he'll have a pace advantage perhaps and a fantastic post draw in the 2-hole. It has been a demoralizing meet for Kenny McPeek's barn, winning only 1 race coming into closing week and having a shedrow of Triple Crown hopefuls struggle to make their way. Julien Leparoux is an underrated rider on speed horses and if he gives LAUGHING BOY his head and lets him run, he could take them a long way. CARLOS L has been away since May and makes his first start at Gulfstream for Marcial Navarro, who lures Joel Rosario to the saddle. This one likely presses the pace of LAUGHING BOY and is a winner from 6-1/2 furlongs to 1-1/2 miles. Another interesting riding pairing comes with Irad Ortiz Jr. hopping aboard CAPOCOSTELLO for the firs ttime. The Panamanian import was no match in allowance company Jan. 15 in his US debut, but the winner that day (Olympiad) has come back to win 2 graded stakes since. Claiming Crown Jewel winner TWELVE VOLT MAN has won over the course and distance at the meet. This will be a class test for the Constitution gelding trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. Most Certain Exotics Contender: FEARLESS has been in the exacta in 4 straight races over this track since November.​ Best Longshot Exotics Contender: COMMANDEER was 18-1 in winning an allowance 2 starts back and untouched at 106-1 in the Pegasus World Cup. He'll be let go at an intermediate price here and I like his chances. Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $70 win COMMANDEER. $25 exacta COMMANDEER over FEARLESS. $5 exacta COMMANDEER over LAUGHING BOY.

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3.31.2022:

Jon White: Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby, Jeff Ruby Picks

A pair of Grade I races on the 2022 Kentucky Derby trail will be run this Saturday (April 2). At Gulfstream Park, 11 are entered in the Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby. At Oaklawn Park, the Grade I, $1.25 million Arkansas Derby has enticed a field of nine. The Florida Derby and Arkansas Derby both will be contested at 1 1/8 miles. They each have 100-40-20-10 qualifying points up for grabs toward a spot in the starting gate for the 148th running of the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7. The Grade III, $600,000 Jeff Ruby at Turfway Park is also this Saturday. To be decided at 1 1/8 miles on a synthetic surface, it likewise offers 100-40-20-10 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby. FLORIDA DERBY SELECTIONS The Florida Derby has attracted three horses on my current Kentucky Derby Top 10. They are No. 4 Classic Causeway, No. 5 Simplification and No. 6 White Abarrio. Among those taking on my three Top 10ers is scintillating 8 1/2-length maiden winner Charge It. Grade II winner and Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Pappacap will be trying to rebound after a clunker when eighth in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes. My selections for the Florida Derby are below: 1. Classic Causeway 2. Simplification 3. White Abarrio 4. Charge It I will not be surprised if any of those four is posing for pictures in the winner’s circle this Saturday. Classic Causeway is coming back just three weeks following his front-running 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby on March 12. This is a quick return to the races by today’s standards. But I think two things help mitigate his relatively brief time between starts. First, Classic Causeway seemed to have plenty of gas left in the tank at the finish of the Tampa Bay Derby. As I wrote in my recap of that race for Xpressbet.com, I loved the way he looked while galloping out and returning to the winner’s circle. It appeared to me that the race took very little out of him, as if it was not much more than a workout. Lynch noticed that, too. On the radio program “Thoroughbred Los Angeles” the next morning, Classic Causeway’s trainer, Brian Lynch, said to Mike Willman: “The gallop out was fantastic, as was the way he came back to the winner’s circle.” Second, the impression that the Tampa Bay Derby was not a taxing race for Classic Causeway seemed to be validated by his workout last Saturday at the Palm Meadows training center. His time for the four-furlong drill, according to Equibase, was :47.45. It ranked as the second-fastest of 95 works at the distance that morning. The only faster work was the :47.05 clocking credited to Pillbox, an unraced 3-year-old We Miss Artie filly. Daily Racing Form’s Mike Welsch wrote that the DRF had an even faster :46.60 clocking for Classic Causeway, which would have made it a bullet drill. Classic Causeway is two for two this year. In his 2022 debut, he won the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes in emphatic fashion by 3 3/4 lengths at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 12. The Kentucky-bred Giant’s Causeway colt originally was to run next in Keeneland’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes on April 9, but then the decision was made to redirect him to the Florida Derby after his marvelous workout last Saturday. According to Lynch, “a combination of reasons” has brought Classic Causeway to the Florida Derby. “First of all, he came out of his last race so well,” Lynch told Welsch. “His work [last Saturday morning] showed us that. And logistically, it seems like the right thing to do. The [Florida Derby] is right down the road rather having to send him to Kentucky where there are some concerns about the weather at this time of year, which could cause us to possibly miss some training. He’s had a good winter in Florida, so we might as well play out the string down here right to the end.” Another reason I’ve made Classic Causeway my top pick in the Florida Derby is he again will have Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. Ortiz has ridden him four times. They do seem to make a good team (four starts, three wins, one third). What happens if Classic Causeway either goes too fast early or is asked to come from off the pace Saturday? The only time he sat off the early pace, he got beat. That’s when he finished second to Smile Happy in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last Nov. 27. I believe that Classic Causeway, if need be, can succeed if not being part of the pace. But it is something that he still needs to prove that he can do. My primary concern regarding Classic Causeway in the Florida Derby is he has not yet posted a Beyer Speed Figure higher than 90, which he recorded when he kicked off his racing career with a 6 1/4-length maiden win at Saratoga last summer. His four subsequent Beyers have all been lower -- 73, then 84, then 84, then 88, then 84 in the Tampa Bay Derby. Simplification, White Abarrio and Charge It have all Beyered higher than Classic Causeway. I did come very close to making Simplification my top pick in the Florida Derby. I like him a lot. The Florida-bred Not This Time colt comes off a 3 1/4-length win in Gulfstream’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 5. He was credited with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure for that sparkling performance. Simplification, much like Essential Quality last year, has been adaptable to various pace scenarios. He has been versatile in being able to win as a front-runner and from well off the pace. Antonio Sano trains Simplification. The Florida Derby affords Simplification a chance for revenge after he finished second, 4 1/2 lengths behind White Abarrio, in Gulfstream’s Grade III Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 5. After the Holy Bull, it was announced that White Abarrio would skip the Fountain of Youth and go directly to the Florida Derby. I actually came away from the Holy Bull more impressed with Simplification than White Abarrio. White Abarrio had an ideal stalking trip in the Holy Bull, whereas Simplification had to overcome a bad start that prevented him from setting the pace, as most people had expected him to do. But after Simplification found himself seventh early, he nevertheless rallied to finish second, albeit well behind White Abarrio. I do have much respect for White Abarrio. After all, the only blemish he has in four lifetime starts came when he finished third to Smile Happy and Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Jockey Club. White Abarrio’s effort that day was far from a disgrace in that he raced third early, dropped back to fifth, then came back on to get third. Saffie Joseph Jr. trains White Abarrio, a Kentucky-bred Race Day colt. How good is Charge It? It appears the sky is the limit off his 8 1/2-length victory in a Gulfstream maiden race when he completed one mile in a strong 1:35 and change on Feb. 12. He recorded a 93 Beyer Speed Figure in his maiden win, a huge leap from the 83 he received in a narrow defeat when unveiled in a one-mile maiden race at that same track in early January. Even with just two races under his belt, Charge It is scary Saturday. That’s not only because his maiden graduation was so impressive, but also because he has such a wonderful pedigree. Owned and bred by Mandy Pope (Whisper Hill Farm) and trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Charge It is a son of premier sire Tapit and the Indian Charlie mare I’ll Take Charge. I’ll Take Charge’s dam is multiple Grade I winner Take Charge Lady, an earner of $2,480,377. Pope bought I’ll Take Charge as a yearling for $2.2 million at Keeneland in 2013. I’ll Take Charge won only one of five career starts, but she is a half-sister to Take Charge Indy and Will Take Charge. Take Charge Indy, an earner of $1,103,496, won the 2012 Florida Derby. Will Take Charge earned $3,824,648 and the 2013 Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male. I’ll Take Charge also is a half-sister to Charming, dam of Take Charge Brandi and Omaha Beach. Take Charge Brandi, who banked $1,692,126, won the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2014. Omaha Beach earned $1,651,800 in a career highlighted by Grade I victories in the 2019 Arkansas Derby, 2019 Santa Anita Sprint Championship and 2019 Malibu Stakes. ARKANSAS DERBY SELECTIONS This one is easy for me. I am wholeheartedly on the Secret Oath bandwagon. Not only is she my top pick in the Arkansas Derby, the Kentucky-bred Arrogate filly ranks No. 3 on my current Kentucky Derby Top 10. No other Arkansas Derby entrant is on my Top 10. Secret Oath has been stellar at Oaklawn, reeling off three straight victories by a combined 23 lengths for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. My selections for the Arkansas Derby are below: 1. Secret Oath 2. We the People 3. Doppelganger 4. Cyberknife The highly regarded We the People is two for two. In a pair of starts at Oaklawn this year, the Kentucky-bred Constitution colt has won by 5 3/4 lengths and five lengths for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. Doppelganger, now trained by Tim Yakteen, won by 3 1/2 lengths at first asking last Dec. 11 at Los Alamitos when with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt then ran in two Grade II races at Santa Anita for Baffert, finishing fourth in the Jan. 29 San Vicente Stakes and second in the March 5 San Felipe Stakes. Forbidden Kingdom won both the San Vicente and San Felipe. Cyberknife, conditioned by Brad Cox, should not be taken lightly. He is coming off a win in a Fair Grounds allowance/optional claiming contest on Feb. 19. The Kentucky-bred Gun Runner colt seems to possess a lot of talent, but he sometimes has acted goofy during a race, seemingly due to immaturity. It’s encouraging that Cyberknife looked more focused on the task at hand when he prevailed by three lengths in that Feb. 19 race. JEFF RUBY SELECTIONS The Jeff Ruby Steaks has drawn a field of 13, including one also eligible. My selections for the Jeff Ruby are below: 1. Tiz the Bomb 2. Royal Spirit 3. Blackadder 4. Stolen Base I once considered Tiz the Bomb to be a Kentucky Derby contender. Now he is only a lukewarm choice on my part to win the Jeff Ruby. Trained by Kenny McPeek, the Kentucky-bred Hit It a Bomb colt is coming off a win in Turfway’s John Battaglia Memorial. It is important that he already has won on that synthetic oval. Royal Spirit, whose five career starts thus far have all come on the turf, hails from the powerful Pletcher barn. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt finished a close second in the Grade III Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park last time out on Feb. 5. Grass runners often do well when racing on a synthetic surface. Blackadder, now trained by Brisset after having been conditioned by Baffert, had the misfortune to get post 12 for Saturday’s race. Still, the Kentucky-bred Quality Road colt belongs on the list of contenders after winning the Grade III El Camino Real Derby on synthetic footing Feb. 12 at Golden Gate Fields. Stolen Base lost by only a neck when the runner-up to Tiz the Bomb in the Battaglia. Mike Maker trains Stolen Base, a Kentucky-bred Bodemeister colt. Stolen Base will be racing with blinkers for the first time Saturday. By the way, as I’ve written before, the Jeff Ruby Steaks is a cute play on words. (Technically, it’s the Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes, but who says or writes that?) Probably no race in the world has had more different names than this one. The following is what I once found in terms of various names for what began in 1972 as the Spiral Stakes at Latonia (before the track changed its name to Turfway Park in 1986): 1972-1981 Spiral Stakes 1982-1983 Jim Beam Spiral Stakes 1984-1998 Jim Beam Stakes 1999 Galleryfurniture.com Stakes 2000-2001 Turfway Spiral Stakes 2002 Lane’s End Spiral Stakes 2003-2010 Lane’s End Stakes 2011-2012 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes 2013-2016 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes 2017-2022 Jeff Ruby MY KENTUCKY DERBY TOP 10 Messier continues to hold the top spot on my Kentucky Derby Top 10, but only just barely over Epicenter, who makes a giant leap to No. 2 after being No. 9 last week. As you probably know, there was important Messier news last Thursday (March 24). Messier, Doppelganger and McLaren Vale all were transferred from Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert to his erstwhile assistant, Tim Yakteen, in order for the three colts to become eligible to earn qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby. This also is why Blackadder has been switched from Baffert to Brisset. Churchill Downs has banned Baffert from racing at that track for a two-year period. Horses trained by him also are ineligible to earn Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks points. This stems from last year’s Kentucky Derby in which Medina Spirit finished first but tested positive for traces of betamethasone, a medication that is legal to use but not on race day. On Feb. 21, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced that the three stewards overseeing the 2021 Kentucky Derby had issued a ruling stating that Medina Spirit was disqualified and all purse money forfeited because of the medication violation. Baffert and his legal team are continuing to fight the disqualification. Messier makes his next start in the Grade I, $1 million Runhappy Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 9. The Kentucky-bred Empire Maker colt has not raced since his 15-length tour de force in Santa Anita’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 6, a performance that produced a 103 Beyer Speed Figure. Last Sunday at Santa Anita, Messier had what Yakteen termed “a lights out” workout, six furlongs in 1:11.60. It was the fastest by nearly three seconds (approximately 15 lengths) of the five workouts at that distance on the main track Sunday at Santa Anita. This is a link to view Messier’s Sunday drill on XBTV.com: https://www.xbtv.com/video/messier-worked-6-furlongs-in-1/messier-worked-6-furlongs-in-111-40-at-santa-anita-park-on-march-27th-2022/ When I watched the video, what made this truly “a lights out” drill in my eyes was how smoothly, how effortlessly Messier stepped six furlongs in such a crisp time. “We had Johnny [Velazquez] work him and he’ll ride him in the Santa Anita Derby,” Yakteen was quoted as saying in Ed Golden’s Santa Anita stable notes. Velazquez “gave us a thumbs up. The horse looked great, although he ended up with some unexpected company. We almost had a little training race out there.” Messier’s last three workouts all have been nothing less than terrific. As for Epicenter, I wrote this last week: “Should Epicenter win the Louisiana Derby, his stock with me would rise if he were to do so from off the pace this time. It would prove that he can stalk and win. He has yet to do that.” Well, Epicenter did indeed stalk and win the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby by 2 1/2 lengths as the even-money favorite. Consequently, yes, his stock with me has risen, as evidenced by his ascendancy to No. 2 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10. What especially made Epicenter’s ability to rate off the pace and win so significant is the probable presence of speedster Forbidden Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby. Other than Forbidden Kingdom, everyone else better be able to be effective coming from off the pace because I don’t see anybody outrunning him early if he’s in the race. Epicenter’s Louisiana Derby victory also was praiseworthy inasmuch as he registered a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen is the winningest trainer of all time. He had 9,689 victories to his credit through Tuesday. But he is 0 for 26 in the Kentucky Derby. Epicenter gives Asmussen an excellent chance to finally win the 1 1/4-mile classic. And don’t forget that Asmussen also trains Morello, who is undefeated in three career starts and headed to Aqueduct’s Grade II Wood Memorial on April 9. After the Louisiana Derby, there is absolutely nothing I don’t like about Epicenter, which is why the Kentucky-bred Not This Time colt very nearly took over the top spot on my Top 10 this week. Epicenter, appropriately, has become the Kentucky Derby future book favorite in Las Vegas at both Circa and Caesars Sportsbook at William Hill Nevada, according to horseracingnation.com’s Ron Flatter. It’s also appropriate that Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee has cut Epicenter’s price from 8-1 last week to 7-2 favoritism this week in DRF’s Derby Watch. What is not appropriate, in my estimation, is McGee listing Messier at 10-1, which makes him a co-fifth choice. Messier is the second favorite in Las Vegas. To make Messier a co-fifth choice is ridiculous. (McGee, like the DRF’s Marcus Hersh, is not shy to bash other people’s morning-line odds.) My Kentucky Derby Top 10 for this week is below: 1. Messier 2. Epicenter 3. Secret Oath 4. Classic Causeway 5. Simplification 6. White Abarrio 7. Morello 8. Smile Happy 9. Emmanuel 10. Forbidden Kingdom 1/ST BET analyst and handicapper Jeff Siegel’s “main players” this week in his Triple Crown rankings are: 1. Epicenter, 2. Messier, 3. Smile Happy, 4. Simplification, 5. White Abarrio, 6. Classic Causeway, 7. Secret Oath, 8. Forbidden Kingdom, 9. Early Voting, 10. Emmanuel, 11. Morello, 12. Charge It, 13. Zandon, 14. Mo Dongegal, 15. Zozos, 16. In Due Time. BUBBLING UNDER MY TOP 10 (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER) Charge It Crown Pride Cyberknife Early Voting Ethereal Road In Due Time Mo Donegal Pappacap Pioneer of Medina Un Ojo We the People Zandon Zozos HOW MANY STRIKES DOES EPICENTER HAVE? Once a 3-year-old makes his or her final start before the first Saturday in May, I can determine their number of strikes in the Derby Strikes System (DSS) that I developed back in 1999. The DSS originally consisted of nine categories. When a horse did not qualify in one of the nine categories, the horse received a strike. As I noted last week, various “rules” for the Kentucky Derby once were very popular. A “Derby rule” meant that a horse needed to have done this or that, or not done this or that, in order to win the Kentucky Derby. However, through the years, many of the so-called “Derby rules” were broken. This caused their popularity to wane. I think what has distinguished my Derby Strikes System from any one “Derby rule” is the DSS is more comprehensive. The DSS consists of a multitude of factors that attempt to ascertain the chances a horse has to win the Kentucky Derby from BOTH tactical and historical perspectives. It is the merger of the TACTICAL with the HISTORICAL that might well make the DSS better than any single “Derby rule.” A number of the categories in my DSS are tied to a Kentucky Derby being run on the first Saturday in May. As a result, when the race was switched from May 2 to Sept. 5 in 2020 due to COVID-19, it rendered my DSS unworkable for that particular year. As it was originally constructed back in 1999, the DSS seemed to work well through the years. Because of that, I resisted making any changes. But when the DSS returned last year after the Kentucky Derby reverted to its traditional date of being run on the first Saturday in May, I decided that the time had come to make a logical and appropriate tweak. This tweak was in reaction to this major change in the sport: Horses just do not race nearly as much as they did when the DSS was introduced in 1999. One of the original categories was that a horse needed to have made at least six lifetime starts prior to the Kentucky Derby. It is abundantly clear that this no longer is relevant. Therefore, I eliminated the category dealing with lifetime starts, reducing the DSS to eight categories. The eight categories are listed toward the end of this column/blog/article. According to the DSS, a horse with zero strikes or only one strike has a much better chance to win the Kentucky Derby than a horse with two strikes or more. According to the DSS as now constituted and excluding the Kentucky Derby of 2020 when the race was run in September, 83% of the Kentucky Derby winners (40 out of 48) have had zero strikes or one strike going back to 1973. The seven Kentucky Derby winners with two strikes were Cannonade (1974), Ferdinand (1986), Sea Hero (1993), Funny Cide (2003), Giacomo (2005), Justify (2018) and Country House (2019). Only one horse, Mine That Bird in 2009, has had more than two strikes. He had four. As for Epicenter, he will go into the Kentucky Derby with zero strikes. Japan’s Crown Pride, winner of last Saturday’s Group II UAE Derby, likewise has zero strikes. I think he could be dangerous in the Kentucky Derby, especially considering the tremendous success Japanese-based runners have been enjoying on the world stage lately. Slow Down Andy, who was plucky to grind out a half-length win in last Sunday’s Grade III Sunland Park Derby at 1 1/8 miles, has one strike (Category 6). Though Slow Down Andy is in good shape stakes-wise with just one, even trainer Doug O’Neill has acknowledged that the California-bred Nyquist colt will need to do better in order to win the Kentucky Derby. Slow Down Andy recorded a modest 86 Beyer Speed Figure for his triumph at Sunland. He also seemed to take his name seriously in terms of the manner in which he came home that day from a time standpoint. The Sunland Park Derby was “a race that was very fast early [1:09.54 for six furlongs], very slow late [final three furlongs in a glacial :40.62],” wrote Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman. O’Neill has won the Kentucky Derby twice, first with I’ll Have Another in 2012, then with Nyquist in 2016. Zozos, who finished second in last Saturday’s Louisiana Derby, has two strikes (Categories 2 and 7). Pioneer of Medina, third in the Louisiana Derby, also has two strikes (Categories 2 and 4). WINNER’S STRIKES GOING BACK TO 1973 Again, because stakes races in this country were not graded until 1973, the Derby Strikes System can’t go further back than that year. The reason, as mentioned earlier, is two of my eight categories deal with graded stakes races. Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But the stewards disqualified Maximum Security and placed him 17th for committing a foul when he veered out sharply nearing the five-sixteenths marker to cause interference to War of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy. Country House was declared the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He had zero strikes. But as mentioned earlier, in terms of the 2021 Kentucky Derby, Medina Spirit now is recognized as the winner following Medina Spirit’s disqualification. Based on the Derby Strikes System and its eight categories, the strikes for each Kentucky Derby winner going back to 1973 are below: 2021 Man