Friday, 26 August 2016 05:05

Papo picks the G1 Travers

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traversBy Papo Morales, AmWager

Race 11 Grade 1 Travers Stakes:

A full field of 14 three-year-olds looking to win the 147th running of the Mid-Summer Derby, the Travers Stakes. The grade one race was first run in 1864 and was won by Kentucky at a race distance of 1 ¾ miles would which be considered a marathon distance by today’s standards. The Travers was shortened to the classic distance of 1 ¼ miles in 1893 and was won by Stowaway. The winner of the race will look to join such classic horses as Man o’ War, Whirlaway, Gallant Man, Damascus, and Alydar and have their jockey’s silks painted on the track canoe, a tradition that first started in 1926.

Much like the Kentucky Derby, there is value to be had in this full field and I would not take a short price on anyone. Let’s start the conversation with the morning favorite in Exaggerator (3-1), who is coming into this race off a gutsy win in the Grade 1 Haskell. That race was run in the mud, a surface that the son of Curlin adores, which is apparent by his undefeated record on a track rated as such. He did run second in the Kentucky Derby but even that track had some moisture in it, as it rained 55 minutes before the race. He is usable in this race but he will be a “B” on my multi-race wagers and I will try to get him out of the top spot in my intra-race bets.


Thursday, 25 August 2016 05:02

Down the Stretch "Travers Stakes" Radio, Saturday!

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traversThe Down the Stretch radio show with Don Knobel and AmWager resident handicapper Papo Morales will discuss and debate the Travers Stakes - the Midsummer Derby - and the stellar race card at Saratoga this Saturday, Aug. 27.

Don and Papo will share their lively analysis and tips on the Travers and 6 other graded stakes, 5 G1s, at The Spa. The radio show will air from 10 to 11 am ET on IHeart Radio on the Internet & 790AM WKRD in Louisville.

Don Knobel is a prominent handicapper. Since 1992, his Down the Stretch racing sheets have been popular with his customers and the radio show has a devoted and wide following.

AmWager's Papo Morales co-hosts the radio show. Papo also pens Papo's Post, his weekly column providing winning insights into the top stakes races on Saturdays.

Friday, 19 August 2016 04:59

Papo picks the Fourstardave at the Spa

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saratogaBy Papo Morales, AmWager

NOTE: Papo picked this race last week, and made some of his decisions based on the rain that ultimately washed out the day. While he still likes Force the Pass as his key horse, please follow his twitter feed at for updates and thoughts. Additionally, listen to his analysis of this race plus other Saratoga and Del Mar Stakes on IHeart Radio at 10-11am ET.

Race 10 Fourstardave Handicap:

A contentious field of 10 (one entered as main track only) older horses looking for grade one honors in the this one mile turf race. The handicapping puzzle begins with the weather report which is calling for a 60% chance of rain. With the likely threat of thunderstorms I am handicapping this race as if it is going to be run on good to soft ground which improves some horses chances while diluting others.

Friday, 05 August 2016 04:56

Papo picks the West Virginia Derby

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westvirginiaderbyBy Papo Morales, AmWager

Race 8 Grade 2 West Virginia Derby 1 1/8th Miles

A field of 11 three-year-old’s looking to pick up a Derby win by crossing the wire first in Mountaineer’s biggest race, the West Virginia Derby.

Morning line favoritism falls on Cupid (3-1), for trainer Bob Baffert, who is coming into the race off an outstanding win in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby. In that race, Cupid showed his mettle by setting a fast pace and then turning back all challengers down the stretch.

Thursday, 04 August 2016 04:43

Profiles of the West Virginia Derby field

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westvirginiaderbyFrom Mountaineer Park

Gray/Roan colt 122
3-1 Morning Line
Career record: 7-3-1-0, $880,553
Kentucky-bred: Tapit – Pretty ‘n Smart (Beau Genius)
Foaled: May 19, 2013
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Co-owners: Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Derrick Smith

Thursday, 28 July 2016 04:41

Belmont Stakes, Creator and Destin reunion

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saratogaBy Dave Litfin, NYRA

Seven weeks after Creator scored a narrow win against Destin in the final U.S. classic of the season, those two are set for a rematch in the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) July 30 at Saratoga Race Course.

Creator and Destin, who were separated by inches at the end of a grueling 12 furlongs in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, hook up again at Saratoga Race Course in Saturday's Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes - the key local stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes August 27.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016 04:39

Graded Stakes this weekend

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sandiegohandicapFrom DRF

DEL MAR, Calif. - California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza were in a familiar place on the turn of Saturday’s $200,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. With three furlongs to go, California Chrome was running alongside the pacesetter and giving Espinoza positive vibes for the stretch run.

Back in March, in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, Espinoza was in a similar spot and chose a point in early stretch to urge California Chrome to the front. California Chrome drew off to win that race by 3 3/4 lengths.

kentuckyderbynyquistOceanport, N.J. – The connections of Nyquist, winner of the Kentucky Derby, confirmed they will run their champion next in Monmouth Park’s $1 million Haskell Invitational on Sunday, July 31.

“We’re headed to New Jersey,” said Doug O’Neill, trainer of Nyquist. “He very much impressed us this morning with his work. Mario (Gutierrez) was aboard and he looked really solid. We’re pumped up and can’t wait to get to New Jersey.”

That work was a snappy :59 flat over the Santa Anita Racetrack, best of 23 that went five furlongs this morning.

“He’ll ship down to Del Mar and train there,” O’Neill said. “We don’t have specific shipping plans just yet, but we’ll work that out over the next week or so.”

A colt by Uncle Mo, Nyquist won his first eight career starts for Reddam Racing LLC before finishing second last out over a sloppy track in the Preakness on May 21. He secured champion 2-year-old honors with his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and this year sports wins in the San Vicente Stakes, Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. The Haskell will mark his tenth trip to the post and fifth in 2016.