People talk a lot about growing the game and returning it to the glory days it has seen in the past. There were indeed glory days and a big part of that was twofold; large crowds at the races, and stars on the racetrack. That is what the crowds came to see. Horses stayed in training longer, and that created rivalries. The Sport of Kings was a game of rivalries for many years. Today we long for rivalries between great horses to the point we are willing to call even two races against each other a rivalry at times. The just retired Gun Runner was a breath of fresh air to those of us who remember the old rivalries and the excitement they produced. He would have fit just fine in that era. Commercial breeding, different philosophies, a new landscape, and of course money has changed all that. Great rivalries…
Fred W. Hooper Stakes – Race 7 at Gulfstream Park – Post 2:32 PM Eastern Time Beasley comes back from nearly 2 months off, following the worst race of his career when 8th in the Cigar Mile. Let's face it, he was overmatched in that grade 1 race but this grade 3 field is a whole different story. Beasley won both of his starts fresh, in his debut and then again off a five month rest last summer. He worked his way through allowance conditions and wasn't disgraced last October when beaten less than a length in the similar G3 Bold Ruler Stakes, better still beaten a nose for 2nd by millionaire Stallwalkin' Dude. With a very sharp half-mile workout to cap a consistent series of works for his four year old debut, with Castellano riding for a barn (Hennig) he rarely rides for, and opening at 15/1, Beasley gets…
Sunshine Millions Turf – Race 7 at Gulfstream Park – Post 3:00 PM Eastern Time When he won the Mecke Stakes in July over the Gulfstream Park turf, Spring Up was sent off at 7 to 2 odds and in that race he beat Galleon Mast, who won three in a row after that, all stakes on the course, before a second place finish behind Enterprising in the Millions Turf Preview Stakes. With Galleon Mast and Enterprising opening today at odds of 7 to 2 and 2 to 1, the 8 to 1 starting odds on Spring Up make him a definite play particularly as he's in excellent form following a nose defeat in a classified allowance at Tampa Bay Downs in his most recent start. Better still, Spring Up will get a great pace set up as the horse just inside of him, Charlie Mops, is a need-the-lead type…
Jerome Stakes – Race 8 at Aqueduct – Post 3:50 PM Eastern Time Old Time Revival ran as fast and as well breaking his maiden last month in a long sprint (7 furlongs) as heavy 3 to 5 favorite Firenze Fire did when posting the upset at 11 to 1 in the Champagne Stakes (a one-turn mile) in October. Firenze Fire then failed badly, beaten 20 lengths, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. However, off the Champagne and the drop in class from the Breeders' Cup, Firenze Fire opens at 3 to 5 while Old Time Revival opens at 10/1 and that disparity is one I plan to take advantage of as Firenze Fire, although he can win, is not that kind of standout. With the track likely to be other than fast, Old Time Revival should really like it as a son of Brethren (Super Saver's brother), who is by…
Kitten's Joy Stakes – Race 7 at Gulfstream Park– Post 3:05 PM Eastern Time Speed Franco is well named as he crushed an 11 horse field last month in the identical Pulpit Stakes over the course at a mile. This 7 1/2 furlong trip is about the same and he's two-for-two (both wins at a mile on turf) and still improving. His debut win came from off the pace and he nearly went wire-to-wire last out. Jaramillo rides back and the 6 to 1 starting odds make him a KEY bet. Pony Up is a second horse we will have to bet to win if he goes to post anywhere near his out-of-line 10/1 starting odds. He was clearly 2nd to Speed Franco in the Pulpit Stakes last month, 2 1/2 lengths clear of the third horse, and he won his only other start on grass before that, rather easily…
Via Borghese Stakes – Race 10 at Gulfstream Park– Post 4:37 PM Eastern Time Martini Glass has done little wrong this year, winning four of nine races and finishing second in another four. Two of the second place finishes came in grade 1 stakes on dirt behind Songbird and behind Romantic Vision and when moved back to grass four weeks ago she got up by a nose over the course to win the Claiming Crown Tiara Stakes under Paco Lopez, who rides back. Normally we could expect a horse like this to be the heavy favorite but in a 12 horse field Martini Glass opens at 6 to 1 odds and particularly as she worked very sharply on 12/22 coming into the race and gets a great inside post, she's the one to beat and a great bet to kick off a series of good betting races. Beauly has finished…
Mathis Brothers Mile Stakes – Race 6 at Santa Anita– Post 5:40 PM Eastern Time (2:40 PT) Kroy gets the rail for this mile trip, as well as Javier Castellano, for a relatively unknown trainer in California but one who is well known all over the east coast, with 50 wins in 250 races this year. Kroy won three in a row in July, August and September, before a 3/4 length defeat last month, the last 3 starts all in stakes and with 3 of the four earning him 106, 107 and 109 Equibase figures which are stakes quality, ALL coming since Blinkers were added. Kroy can run on the lead or from off the pace and with this top jock in the saddle is likely to be in the thick of the action from start to finish. Harbour Master is ready for these as 2 of his last 3…
Rampart Stakes – Race 5 at Gulfstream Park – Post time 2:05 PM Eastern Time This race is a very good betting race by virtue of the fact the second and third morning line choices are suspect in my opinion. Lewis Bay, who opens at 7 to 2, comes back from a year on the bench and no matter how good Chad Brown is overall, his stats are not that great with this type of comeback (2 for 10 in dirt routes off six months or more over the past year). The filly is a stakes winner but she would need to be in tip-top shape off a year on the bench to compete here and I don't think she is. Nonna Mela, who opens at 5 to 2, failed to fire even the least bit when last seen in October at Keeneland and earned her most recent win in…
Don't forget to check the very bottom of this blog for a "BONUS" race, with a big longshot, that has a post time of 2:26 PM Eastern Time Willa on the Move Stakes – Race 6 at Laurel – Post time 3:00 PM Eastern Time It is rumored Absatootly is going to pass this race to run in a stakes in New York so I am not including her as a contender. If that is not the case and Absatootly runs in this race, she would be my top pick. However, as it is Ms Locust Point appears very tough to beat. Except for her debut, in which she finished 2nd, and when overmatched when 5th in the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes, Ms Locust Point has urn big, winning by an average of four lengths. She gets a great outside post to stalk the pace and if no other…
Go For Wand Stakes – Race 6 at Aqueduct – Post time 2:06 PM Eastern Time Verve's Tale ran the best race of her career to date last time out (with a field high last race 109 Equibase figure) when leading late and ending up a head short of winning the similar Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Stakes at Belmont. Even though that was a one turn route like this, the cut back in distance a 16th of a mile really helps as she led in that race at the point this one-turn mile race ends and she was 4 1/2 lengths clear of the next horse. Verve's Tale is a winner at the level over the track, having won the Comely Stakes about this time last year and she should get a great trip off the hot pace likely to be set by Lucy N Ethel. Jamyson 'n Ginger…