I’ve said many times as students and fans of the Sport of Kings we have been quite fortunate the last decade or so. While the game has had a fair share of problems and then some, we have not lacked truly great racehorses. The accomplishments of some of these runners would be superlative in any era. That’s saying something in a game with a history like ours and a list of equine stars miles long. Who would have thought in a year where we had a Triple Crown winner there would be a debate amongst turf writers and racing’s social media ranks over Horse of the Year. What would normally be a foregone conclusion is now a debate due to the early retirement of Justify. That left the door open for Accelerate, and he came crashing through with a decisive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I’m not going to…
Juvenile Fillies Sprint Stakes – Race 5 at Gulfstream Park West- Post Time 2 PM Eastern Lovesick opens at 9 to 2 odds and if those odds hold up, or even if she drifts down to about 2 to 1, the odds could prove to be a gift as I think she's an absolute standout in this eight horse field of Florida breds. In her debut on August 19, Lovesick made short work of a similar field when leading but lapped-on in the early stages and continuing powerfully to the wire in front by a length and one-half. The 80 Equibase Figure doesn't do justice to how well she ran and now three months later, more mature physically and mentally, she's not facing much tougher than she did over the summer as she beat "open" (not restricted) company that day and is facing statebreds here. This gal is bred to…
If you are in this game at any level, at some point you are going to be humbled. There are two types of horse players; those that have been humbled, and those that will be humbled. As with many aspects of life, it comes down to how you respond to these types of things. I suggest picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and getting back into the fight. If you backed Abel Tasman in the recently run Breeders' Cup Distaff, it was a humbling experience. While after the race she was easy to knock off the last poor performance, but to do that prior to the race, with conviction you'd have to believe two things. First, that Bob Baffert brings horses to big dances at less than their optimum. Second, that you are smarter than he is at accessing a horses' chances. Both not likely, the latter especially, when it…
Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile - Race 5 at Churchill Downs- Post Time 1:16 PM Eastern Time The problem with horses which are undefeated, such as Catalina Cruiser, is must of the public bets them as much based on hype as on form, which pushes down their odds. That situation makes it difficult to bet them to win unless they are standouts, which Catalina Cruiser is NOT in this field, but he is definitely one of four that can win. The good part of undefeated horses being bet down is other horses, who normally would go to post at low odds, will offer value for the risk. Firenze Fire is such a horse, opening at ridiculous 6 to 1 odds in my opinion where he was 5 to 2 winning the Dwyer Stakes by nine lengths in July and was 7 to 5 winning the Gallant Bob Stakes near the end…
Marathon Stakes - Race 10 at Churchill Downs- Post Time 6:43 PM Eastern Time Honorable Duty has NEVER raced past a mile and one-eighth in 20 starts so this 12 furlongs could be an issue BUT both his breeding AND trainer's record are in his favor. Sire Distorted Humor has a couple of marathon distance winners from seven starters in the last five years and trainer Walsh won the 2016 Marathon (on Breeders' Cup weekend) with Scuba, saddled the 2nd place finisher in the race in 2014 and the 3rd place horse in 2013 so apparently knows whether his horses have a shot in this kind of race. Honorable Duty is just shy of having earned $1 million in his career and was 2nd in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster over the track in June so there are no questions of class or liking the track, particularly as he has…
By now most of us have at the least finished our preliminary work for the Breeders’ Cup. We know the post positions, fields, probable weather and the wagering menu. Before finalizing decisions, I am going to keep some bullet points in the forefront of my mind. Here we go: The draw is important in some races. Pay attention to it and who it has helped and who it has hindered. Consider rider tendencies when you project how you think the pace will play out. Pace often makes the race. Some riders are more aggressive than others. Anticipating what they are likely to do can be an edge. You have waited a year to get to this dance and you’re in it. Nothing in the rear view matters this weekend. Go in strong and with conviction on your opinions. #NoFear The board is less important this weekend than on any given…
Overskate Stakes – Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:47 PM ET Not So Quiet is an up-and-coming star while some of the others in this race, already proven, are contenders as well but open at much lower than the 5 to 1 he opens at. Not So Quiet is three-for-four in his career, with all three wins earned in dominating fashion leading from start to finish. Hernandez was up for all three wins and rides today and there is little doubt the strategy will be to SEND the horse to the lead form the start and control things on the front end once more. The 114 Equibase figure from the most recent win, on 9/22, is better than ALL BUT ONE of the career Equibase figures likely heavy favorite Pink Lloyd has earned in his 16 wins and better (by one point) than the 113 figure Kingsport (who…
The Breeders’ Cup is a little over a week away. The pre-entry past performances are out. The early weather forecast is in. It is almost time to seal the deal. The Breeders’ Cup is a major wagering event for many of us and there is a good reason for that. There will be a lot of opportunities and a full wagering menu to make the most of them. While final handicapping comes after the draw, I have begun to strategize my attack and will share some early thoughts. Most serious players keep track of where they stand annually. I have for many years. While most years I am usually in a good spot by now and comfortably in the black, this year that is not the case. It has been a rough year on the racetrack for me, but that won’t change anything in my approach. I will kick the…
Maid of the Mist Stakes – Race 7 at Belmont - Post Time 3:42 PM ET Today is Empire Showcase day at Belmont and most of the state bred races are ho-hum affairs consisting of horses who take turns beating one another. Not so for the stakes for two year olds, this one for fillies and the Sleepy Hollow Stakes (Race 8) for males. This race features a field of 12, all running a one-turn mile for the first time, and there are some shots to take with horses who may be coming in under the radar of most bettors. Kept True ran the FASTEST of any of these when earning an 87 Equibase Figure in her debut, drawing off by a couple of lengths after showing a lot of maturity when stalking in fourth early and rallying in spite of being bumped at the 3/16 mark. Maragh rides back…
Timing is everything. Not only in horse racing but in life in general. Timing affects so much in our lives and how things play out. In racing so much is based on timing. It is a focal point of the sport in more than one way. The timing of spaces between races, timing of workouts, timing of claims, and of course the timing of the races themselves. I like to look at times in my handicapping. I look at the fractions of the winner, the leader, and the horses behind. Knowing the fractional splits of all the horses in a race helps me accurately figure out what the pace will be, and when I factor in the trends and intangibles that a computer can’t, it gives me an edge. Paying as close attention as I do to the times of races, including internal fractions, I have always been frustrated by…