Thursday, 08 November 2018 15:44

Horses Humble Everyone

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October 17, 2018

Timing is Everything

By: Jonathan Stettin

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 comes to one of his runners.

Having watched the Distaff, it is hard not to compare Abel Tasman's poor performance to her race last out in the Grade 1 Zenyatta. She trailed beaten double digits in that one and never seemed interested in running. It is a safe assumption she trained well enough to convince her Hall of Fame trainer she'd bounce back and show up in the Distaff. Of immediate concern after the break in the Distaff, was how Mike Smith had to quarter horse her along the inside, in an attempt to get her in the game and interested. It looked very briefly like maybe it worked, but that proved not to be the case. Once again, Abel Tasman trailed by double digits and has now been retired. From a top racing mare to a horse practically distanced in her last two starts in a matter of weeks.

Looking at this on paper it resembles the rapid decline of another Bob Baffert trained star, Arrogate. At his best, he could run with just about any horse. After his huge win in Dubai, he was never the same and seemed almost disinterested when he ran. Many waited for him to return to form, as we looked for Abel Tasman to rebound, but in both cases it didn't happen. It is a reasonable conclusion both horses trained well into their last starts, so this had to be even more humbling for their trainer than the bettors who backed them.

We have all heard the saying "morning glory." This refers to a horse who trains well, works fast but does not duplicate that in the afternoon under race conditions. Neither Abel Tasman or Arrogate were morning glory types of horses. Both accomplished a lot on the racetrack.

We have also all heard the term bounce. This is when a horse regresses off a peak effort and is a real and pretty common occurrence. Trainers are aware of this, they watch for it, and yet they get humbled by horses who bounce or regress off big efforts. They will fool you even when you know what to look for. Most times, a horse will return to form after a bounce but not always. Look at Rachel Alexandra. She was never the same after her win in the Woodward. She suffered what I call a permanent bounce, or being "gutted." You see all horses, no matter how great, are not machines and only have so many of "those races" in them. To expect more is unreasonable. I offer that trainers are not always the best judges of when this will occur. They can be biased about their horses, as parents are when accessing or talking about their children. As bettors, we are afforded the chance to be objective and analytical in looking at these things.

As bettors how can we recognize in advance when a horse has been gutted and take advantage of it?

Fortunately, there are often clues. You just have to train yourself to look at things like a seasoned pro as opposed to just a horseplayer. A horseplayer looks at a race and sees it as this horse should do similar to what they did last time. A pro looks for why they won't do what they did last time. This thinking goes against the grain but leads to scores.

I believe Rachel Alexandra, Arrogate and Abel Tasman were gutted.

Rachel had an epic and very demanding three-year-old campaign which saw her race the boys several times. The Preakness, the Haskell and eventually the Woodward against older males on a very humid day. How many should we have believed she had in her?

Arrogate broke a historic record in the Travers running the fastest one ever. He went on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic, the Pegasus and then travel to Dubai to win the World Cup in the desert without Lasix. The Dubai race alone has gutted a fair share of horses but look at what we expected of Arrogate. He broke slowly that night and overcame it, albeit on a closers track, but had to dig in and run-down Gun Runner. That would empty most tanks.

Abel Tasman ran huge in the Ogden Phipps. She then ran tremendous in the Personal Ensign, where she had to dig in and hold off a very well meant Elate, who was full of run and momentum. They all have just so many of those in them.

The bounce is real. So is the "gut." Believe them both.


Friday, 02 November 2018 13:12

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, November 3


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 of September. He had some traffic trouble and got a less than optimal ride when third in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes between the two wins but redeemed himself in the Gallant Bob not only with a career best 109 figure but battling head-and-head for the ENTIRE last four furlongs and when his foe to the right tries to bite him in the stretch. Firenze Fire loves this mile trip, as his Dwyer win came at the distance, as did his win in the Jerome Stakes in January and last year in the Champagne as a two year old. Recalling how three year olds have fared in Breeders' Cup races against their elders, specifically how Goldencents destroyed the field in this race a few years back, Firenze Fire gets top billing in this year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.



Seeking the Soul is the other potential overlay in the field, because although he may have the same probability to win as the other three contenders, he's likely to go to post at the highest odds of the quartet, opening at 5 to 1. Having won at distances ranging from seven to nine furlongs, this mile trip is not an issue particularly as he prepped for this race by winning the Ack Ack Stakes at the distance over the track in September. He won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last November with a career best 117 figure and this being his third race off a layoff a similar effort could be forthcoming.



City of Light was good enough to win this kind of race last December and through the spring but there's a slight question of whether he is this good now. Only worse than second one time in nine career races, he won the Grade 1 Malibu and Grade 1 Triple Bend in December and March at 7 furlongs then stretched out to win the nine furlong Oaklawn Handicap in April with a career best 117 figure. Third behind Classic bound Accelerate in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May, he took three months off then finished 2nd to Whitmore in the shorter Forego Stakes with a 105 figure and as he's been working up a storm in the morning he could be back to his early 2018 form which might make him a formidable foe in this race.



Catalina Cruiser is undefeated in four starts, each better than the rest, starting with his debut last October then his comeback after seven months off in May. His last two efforts were his best yet, with 118 then 125 figures which, if repeated, would make it very difficult to beat him. However, the quality of those fields wasn't that great and it could be he is a need-the-lead type as he was just a head from the lead at the start in his most recent race, as well as the only reason he closed from sixth to win his debut was he broke slowly. However, he's got a great attitude and he's not the type of favorite I could label suspect so he will be used as a win contender on any exotic bets I make involving this race. However, I'd be dishonest if I didn't say I would much rather any of the other three emerge the winner for a better profit.



Win Bets: Firenze Fire to win at 2 to 1 or more.

For a smaller amount, Seeking the Soul to win at 3 to 1 or higher.



Exactas: Firenze Fire and Seeking the Soul over ALL

Box Firenze Fire, Seeking the Soul, City of Light and Catalina Cruiser

Trifecta: Box Firenze Fire, Seeking the Soul, City of Light and Catalina Cruiser


Senator Ken Maddy Stakes - Race 8 at Santa Anita- Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern, 3:30 Pacific


Miss Southern Miss, who opens at 15/1, has the same credentials as lower odds horses like Storm the Hill (7/2 opening odds) and Painting Corners (4/1 opening odds) but has to the first of the trio of win contenders to be considered for wagers in this race. As a two year old in the summer of 2016, Miss Southern Miss finished 2nd in the Landaluce Stakes in her second career start, then second in the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes before a poor effort in the Del Mar Debutante. Showing an affinity for turf in her grass debut, she won the Surfer Girl Stakes in her final start at two before taking a break. After a poor effort trying to get on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks in the Las Virgenes stakes to start her three year old campaign, Miss Southern Miss went back to turf and hasn't been of the stuff since. She ran poorly in her three starts last fall and winter but when returning as a four year old in January she won down this sometimes tricky downhill turf course with a career best effort and career best 108 Equibase figure to boot. She ran fourth in a stakes one month later but something went amiss and she was on the sidelines for seven months. Returning in a tough classified allowance race last month, won by Painting Corners (who was 13/1 that day), Miss Southern Miss finished with interest from ninth of 10 to get sixth late and in her second start off the rest she has potential to return to the form shown this past January, an effort good enough to win here. Trainer Keith Desormeaux has a sneaky good record down the hill at Santa Anita – 6 for 26 in the past two years, so I'll give this gal a long look to help make a big profit in this race at double digit odds.


Storm the Hill is a grade 3 winner in a grade 3 race so there are no issues there. She won the Wilshire Stakes at a mile in June on this course with Bejarano up and with a strong 111 figure. Bejarano gets back on after Leparoux rode her for her trip to Kentucky in September when a decent fourth of eight in a tough stakes at Kentucky Downs. She was overmatched in between those two races when fifth to Cambodia in the Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon but in this grade three race and having won two of three career starts at this trip at Santa Anita, as well as reunited with Bejarano, this filly has every right to return to stakes winning form.


As stated previously, Painting Corners was 13/1 when winning the classified allowance last month down the hill, bringing her record to 3 for 6 at the trip. That was her 2nd win in a row since adding blinkers, both turf sprints, and the jockey change to Roman (with Van Dyke out of town) is no issue as Roman rode her to a victory one year ago in a turf sprint at Del Mar. The 109 figure earned last out matches well with the 111 Storm the Hill earned in her best recent effort and the 108 Miss Southern Miss earned at the trip in January and her 4/1 starting odds, as well as the 7/2 starting odds on Storm The Hill, are well above what I think is reasonable given her 25% probability to win.


Win Bets: Miss Southern Miss to win at odds of 3/1 or more, adding a place bet to be sure at 6/1 or more.

Bet either Storm the Hill or Painting Corners, whichever is the higher odds of the pair, at 3 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Box Miss Southern Miss, Storm the Hill and Painting Corners.

Exacta: Miss Southern Miss, Storm the Hill and Painting Corners over ALL.


You can get my detailed Breeders' Cup Classic analysis free at this link to Equibase and you can get my full card detailed analysis for both days of Breeders' Cup in the selections section on Equibase web site as well. 

Thursday, 01 November 2018 13:38

Key Races & Bets for Friday, November 2


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 won 4 of his other 9 races here. North American leading jockey Jose Ortiz rides for the first time and that's a big plus as well.



Rocketry won the mile and five-eighths distance last time out on 9/30 at Belmont, Rosario up for the 1st time and riding back, so he has to be considered a strong contender, while Big Dollar Bill is the only horse in the field to have ever run this 1 3/4 mile trip and particularly to have won at it as he did so in August in the Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga with Landeros aboard as today. Big Dollar Bill enters the race off a win at 1 1/16 miles last month and his Birdstone win was also earned off a win at the 1 1/16 mile distance so all signs are "GO" for a top effort once again.  


Win Bets: Honorable Duty to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more. Also Consider Rocketry for a win bet as well, at odds of 5 to 2 or more. If Big Dollar Bill happens to go to post at 4 to 1 or more, I'd make a win bet there as well, for a smaller amount than either Honorable Duty or Rocketry.


When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.


Exactas: Honorable Duty, Rocketry and Big Dollar Bill over Honorable Duty, Rocketry, Big Dollar Bill, War Story and Dabster.


Play the reverse of that exacta as well, so we win twice if any two of the top three finish first AND second. That bet is Honorable Duty, Rocketry, Big Dollar Bill, War Story and Dabster over Honorable Duty, Rocketry and Big Dollar Bill.


Lure Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:52 PM Eastern Time, 3:52 Pacific


Alert Bay is an absolute standout and a likely low odds overlay. He has won 9 of 19 career starts on turf, four of those at Santa Anita including the Grade 1 Mathis Brothers Mile in 2014. He's five for eight at the trip and a true miler and he's ONLY eligible for this restricted stakes because he has started twice this year and his win when last seen on September 3 came in a stakes race with the winner's share being $30K. This race is only open to horses who have not won a stakes worth $55K or more in 2018 and he's the ONLY stakes winner in 2018 in the field. Top northern California jockey Hernandez comes into ride and has a 4-1-1 record on Alert Bay this year and last. Shipping down from Golden Gate where trainer Wright is based, the veteran gelding has put in a steady series of works and lays over this field on class and on speed, as his stakes win on turf last time out earned a 120 Equibase figure, the same he earned last spring (2017) when winning the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile easily. Last year's winner of this race, He Will (who races here) earned a 116 figure in victory but has run poorly since so will not be a threat to Alert Bay.


Secretary At War, Kencumin and Le Ken all have run well enough in the past to get second or third so in addition to hopefully being able to bet Alert Bay to win even at low odds we can play exactas and trifectas using these three.


Bets: Alert Bay to win at even money or higher, a true low odds overlay Key Bet.


Exactas: Box Alert Bay and Secretary At War. Box Alert Bay and Kencumin. Box Alert Bay and Le Ken.


Trifectas: Alert Bay over Secretary At War, Kencumin and Le Ken over ALL.

You can get my detailed Breeders' Cup Classic analysis free at this link to Equibase and you can get my full card detailed analysis for both days of Breeders' Cup in the selections section on Equibase web site as well. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2018 17:56

Late BC Bullet Points

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


October 31, 2018

Late BC Bullet Points

By: Jonathan Stettin

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 Wednesday at your local track. Everyone is here to win. Nobody is giving anyone room, a break, or giving a horse a race.

Go after your best opinions regardless of price. This weekend you will see horses of high quality going off at high odds. Take advantage of that when you like one. It is not every day you have 25-1 shots you feel have as good a chance as a 2-1 shot. It only takes one of those to make it count.

Do what you are good at and most confident in. If you like multi race wagers stick to that. If you like exactas and triples stick there. If you are a win bettor than bet win. This is not the weekend to change up.

Pick your spots and invest more in those wagers. There are a ton of wagers and if you chase them all equally you are not maximizing your best opinions. You have to do that. Maximize your return when you are right and you have a better chance of being right when your opinion is strong.

Don’t be afraid to change an opinion based on how the track or course may be playing or on who is hot and who is not. The game is both streaky and trendy. Sharp players adjust and never lock and load until they are approaching the gate. I adjusted and caught Caledonia Road last year on a closers track. Pay attention all day, both days.

If you score early stick to the plan. This is a marathon and not a sprint.

If something looks to good to be true believe it anyway just for this weekend. That’s what dreams and scores are made of.

Don’t bet against yourself. Go after who you believe in. You can’t cover every horse in every race. If you liked that horse so much you would have used it.

All the statistics thrown around mean absolutely nothing in any given race. Don’t be afraid of stats.

What happened last year or in other year’s runnings will not affect any outcomes this year. Act accordingly.

Trainers who are suspected of pushing the envelope and taking an edge or even unfair advantage likely can’t push that envelope this weekend. Use that to your advantage but don’t think it means they can’t win.

Don’t get consumed by looking for value. Go after who you like and if you are right value has a way of working out. There is No value in a losing bet regardless of the odds. None.

If you have a bad beat or break early act as if it didn’t happen. Champions do not deviate.

Most important of all, be right. Remember, even if you follow all 16 of the prior bullet points, you are going to have to be right. Do your homework. Come prepared and don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. No matter how you get there, or any way you slice it, you’re going to have to be right.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the Breeders’ Cup. It really looks like a most competitive year. Some great racing looks to be a sure bet.

All the best to all the horses and connections and players. Any questions feel free to reach out and ask. I’m always happy to talk horses and share experience.

#BetBig #SwingHard #MakeItCount #P6K

Friday, 26 October 2018 09:30

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 27


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 opens at 5 to 2) earned winning the Bounty Law Stakes 19 days ago. One of three 3-year-olds in the field, Not So Quiet has defeated older in all three wins and with a pair of scintillating five furlong drills (best of 58 and best of 50) coming into the race could be very tough to beat.


Kingsport, who has won 10 of 29 career starts and who has finished second in another seven, certainly is a contender, as is Pink Lloyd, as well as Thor's Rocket, who led late in the Bounty Law and was a neck short of victory on the wire.


Bets: Not So Quiet to win at 8 to 5 or higher, a true low odds overlay Key Bet.


Exacta: Not So Quiet over Kingsport, Pink Lloyd and Thor's Rocket.


Trifectas (which have a $0.20 minimum): Box Not So Quiet, Kingsport, Pink Lloyd and Thor's Rocket.

Not So Quiet over Thor's Rocket over ALL.

Not So Quiet over ALL over Thor's Rocket.


Race 8 at Keeneland - Post Time 4:57 PM Eastern


Amiral may be something special based on the way he won last month in his career debut at Churchill Downs. In spite of being bothered by another horse at the start, resulting in breaking last of seven, Amiral made a bold move on the turn and drew off to win by four widening lengths. The 99 Equibase figure is more than average for winning at this first allowance level and the win came at this seven furlong trip, which is very difficult to win at first time out so there are no questions about the distance. After taking two weeks off, his first official workout was a sensational 46.8 for four furlongs which was the best of 82 on the day so there's little doubt he's holding his condition and in spite of this race having a big field there are very few other horses that an win.


One of those is Midnight Pleasure, who is a three time winner still eligible for the level as one of the wins came in a claiming race and another came in a starter allowance race. Since returning from six weeks off in August, he's run two "A" races in a row to earn 95 and 94 figures, both when rallying from far back and in both drawing off nicely. Landeros rode him last out in victory at this seven furlong trip and another big effort is very likely.


For exactas, we'll also use Ballard High (2nd by a nose in a one turn mile at the level last time out) and Mac Jagger (adding blinkers and getting Jose Ortiz off a 4th place effort at the distance and level in New York last month).


Bets: Amiral and Midnight Pleasure to win at 2 to 1 or higher.


As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.


Exacta: Amiral and Midnight Pleasure over Amiral, Midnight Pleasure, Ballard High and Mac Jagger.


For half the amount of the above exacta, play the reverse of the exacta, which is: Amiral, Midnight Pleasure, Ballard High and Mac Jagger over Amiral and Midnight Pleasure.


Double: Amiral and Midnight Pleasure in Race 8 with Nice Not Nice and Leofric in Race 9.

Hagyard Fayette Stakes - Race 9 at Keeneland - Post Time 5:30 PM ET


Nice Not Nice may not be a standout, but he has a much better shot to win then his 10/1 morning line odds suggest. This is because two of the three morning line choices are vulnerable, potentially FALSE, favorites. Prime Attraction (who opens at 2/1) ships in from California and will be bet dropping from grade 1 to grade 3 and facing the likes of Accelerate but his last win came 11 months ago and he beat nothing the process. Hofburg is facing older for the first time off a poor 4th in the Pennsylvania Derby and in his win before that in the Curlin (a restricted stakes) he beat nothing of consequence as well. On the other hand, Nice Not Nice just ran the best race of his career when 2nd in the Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs last month and the horses which finished ahead and just behind him are significant. Winner Seeking the Soul has earned $1.4 million while the horse Nice Not Nice beat by a nose for second, Giant Expectations, has earned $1 million. Gabriel Saez has the key to this horse as he's been aboard five times, earning three wins and two second place finishes, the only poor effort in a very tough field on turf at Kentucky Downs. With excellent tactical speed, Nice Not Nice could be up close early and in the photo on the wire at decent odds.


Leofric is the other win contender in my opinion, coming off a third in the Woodward, beaten a nose for 2nd by Gunnevera. Both the winner Yoshida and runner-up are Breeders' Cup Classic bound and since Leofric won two in a row before that, with his Woodward effort and the one before it earning 110 Equibase figures, he is the one to beat in spite of likely being the 2nd or 3rd betting choice at post time.


Bets: Nice Not Nice to win at 3 to 1 or more. Leofric to win at 8 to 5 or higher.


As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.


Exactas: Nice Not Nice over ALL and also (the reverse) All over Nice Not Nice.


Box Nice Not Nice and Leofric (even though contained in the bet above I think this is worth playing twice).


Leofric over Nice Not Nice, Hence and Rated R Superstar. (I have no interest in exactas with the favorites to finish first and second.)


Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:10 PM ET (3:10 PM PT)


Zusha was best in her most recent race, a sprint at this level and similar distance on 9/29, but she ran into a wall of horses nearing the eighth pole and her jockey could not extricate her to find a path until too late. She gets a jockey change here in a field of horses who not only will set up her late kick nicely but also really are as content finishing 2nd or 3rd as winning.


Bets: Zusha to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Zusha over Sheza Chattycat, Conquest Flatterme, Hot Autumn and Cute Knows Cute.

For a smaller amount (about half of what you bet on the exacta above), play the reverse of that exacta which is Sheza Chattycat, Conquest Flatterme, Hot Autumn and Cute Knows Cute over Zusha.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019 12:56

Seal the Deal

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


October 25, 2018

Seal the Deal

By: Jonathan Stettin

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 door open on Friday, as opposed to limping in. When you can’t even remember how many six figure days you’ve had in your career, you learn to do that. I’ll be aggressive and confidant. What’s happened this year prior to now doesn’t matter come Breeders’ Cup. No looking in the rear-view mirror.

There is going to be some rain leading into the event. The Churchill Downs main track handles water as good as any I have ever seen. The turf is likely to, at best, have some give in it and that is very important. I think a common mistake many handicappers make, is not looking at the type of course grass horses prefer. While they do it on the main track with sloppy and muddy track horses, they seem to categorize turf horses without that preference for good, soft, or yielding turf. There will be some potential edges in looking at horses who prefer and move up with give in the ground.

I am looking at multi race wagers as in pick 4’s, 5’s, and of course the Pick 6. My major play of the two days will most likely come in one of these sequences. I will also attack one, or maybe two, individual races where I feel the strongest about the outcome.

For multi race wager players, Enable is going to be a key, whether you like her or want to beat her. You are going to have to be right if you single her, or try and beat her, to maximize the pick 4,5, and 6 ending with the Classic. Obviously, if you beat her you are looking at a better payoff, but I am not opposed to singling a winner and going after the bet multiple times. I don’t know which way I will lean there, but it is going to be a key decision in those late sequences. Choose wisely.

I will definitely look for a multi race sequence where I like a single who is a price and not “everybody’s single.” That’s one of my favorite positions and scenarios. Wide open races often value. I like them in the sequences I play.

We are hearing a lot of talk about European horses dominating. Logical for sure, being we don’t have the greatest grass contingent this year, and the conditions seemingly favor them. I agree in theory and may wind up playing that way, but I won’t know that until I finalize the work. I don’t like forming my opinion until I know the exact conditions, riders, and posts.

The two-year-old races on Friday offer a lot of opportunity for an edge. If you are the type of player and handicapper who can anticipate horses moving up and recognize trainer patterns, then you will get your chances Friday.

Historically the Breeders’ Cup has taught us price doesn’t matter. You can bet a 25-1 with as much conviction as a 2-5. Take advantage of that. There is no better two days in racing to do so. No fear. None.

The bulk of my play will go into the bets I discussed above. I will play the rest of both cards, but on a significantly lesser scale. Money management is always key, but crucial over two days where you want to jump in almost everywhere. Patience and discipline.

If you are playing from behind, as I am this year, it is a good chance to erase the deficit and get into the win column. If you are already there, that’s even better, as now you get a chance to pull away. Scared money has a hard time winning, so I suggest and plan to do as I usually do. Play to make it count. It only takes one. You just have to be right.


Friday, 19 October 2018 08:16

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 20


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 and she gets a similar outside post to go along with logical improvement physically and mentally off the debut. She opens at 6/1, more than a square price because if we assume most young horses improve at the same rate she still the fastest of this bunch. Sadie Lady opens at twice the odds of Kept True, 12/1, in spite of John Velazquez riding and a strong win last month in her debut when leading from start to finish. She adds Lasix for this race and may have the inside speed to get the lead again and get comfortable, making her tough to catch once more. The 80 debut figure was decent enough that if improved upon she can post the upset. Cartwheelin Lulu opens as the 7 to 2 morning line favorite on the strength of two wins including in a similar stakes for NY breds last month. That win was earned leading from start to finish and earned an 81 figure on par with Sadie Lady but we must note Cartwheelin Lulu earned a 68 figure first time out, so if Sadie Lady similarly improves 13 points she can win and if Kept True improves 10 or more points (even if the others do as well) she's the one to beat. Time Warp opens at hard to ignore 15 to 1 odds because she finished fifth in her last two races. However, a case can be made to ignore those two races and look to her effort three back as representative of what she's capable of. Last out in a two-turn race at Keeneland against open (not state bred) company, she led early and tired late and before that she broke through the gate before the race and was still allowed to run even though she may have expended too much energy before the gates open. Three back, at 7 furlongs, Time Warp stalked in second early and won easily and although she only earned a 70 figure it's very difficult to ignore a McPeek starter in a NY state bred race, a level at which the trained has had a good deal of success.



For exactas we'll also use She's Trouble and Elegant Zip, the fourth and third finishers in the stakes won by Cartwheelin Lulu last month.



Bets: Kept True to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

For a smaller amount, Sadie Lady and Time Warp to win at 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at odds of 5 to 1 or more.



As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.


Exacta (recommendation 1 – two bets): Kept True over Sadie Lady, Time Warp, Cartwheelin Lulu, She's Trouble and Elegant Zip. Also play the reverse of the above exacta, which is Sadie Lady, Time Warp, Cartwheelin Lulu, She's Trouble and Elegant Zip over Kept True.


Exacta (recommendation 2): Kept True, Sadie Lady, Time Warp and Cartwheelin Lulu over Kept True, Sadie Lady, Time Warp, Cartwheelin Lulu, She's Trouble and Elegant Zip


Doubles: Kept True, Sadie Lady, Time Warp and Cartwheelin Lulu in Race 7 with Poppy's Destiny, Strive for a Cure, Albie, La Fuerza and True Gold in Race 8.



Sleepy Hollow Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 4:15 PM Eastern


Albie ran very well in his debut, not only because he won in a route, and on turf, without a prep first, but because he did so with a lot of maturity as he stalked the pacesetter in second then took over with an eighth of a mile to go and drew off a bit. The 92 Equibase figure is the best last race figure in the field and since it was his debut we can expect even better. I have no concern about him running as well on dirt as his dam (a Thunder Gulch mare) has produced dirt route winners and trainer Dilger is off to a very good start at the meeting, with a 4-1-2 record from 11 starts at the meeting and a very strong 12 for 60 record on the year. He opens at 12/1 which is way too high to ignore for a legitimate win contender. True Gold must draw into the race from the also-eligible list but if he does he's got a nice shot as he followed morning line favorite Dugout around the track in second in the similar NY Breeders' Futurity Stakes last month. Dugout won't be able to lead from start to finish as he did last out as there are AT LEAST four, possibly six, other horses with having the lead from the opening bell on their minds. Before that race, True Gold finished very well from sixth to miss by a nose and if he gets into the race we can expect that kind of closing kick and improvement off the 88 figure earned in that race which may be good enough to win. Strive for a Cure shipped in to NY from trainer Capuano's base in Maryland to win with a big rally from eighth last month in his debut then shipped back out for three drills. He ships back in and can improve a lot off the 76 figure effort with a fast pace in his favor so opening at 15/1 he must not be ignored. Poppy's Destiny finished second to a six length runaway winner in the Bongard Stakes last month after winning his debut and he's another who could be passing many here in the late stages. La Fuerza was third in the NY Breeders' Futurity, less than two lengths behind runner-up True Gold. He won the first two starts of his career in June and July including a NY Bred stakes race then won another on 9/8 before the Futurity so his 8/1 morning line makes him hard to ignore, particularly with John V riding for Pletcher.


Bets: Albie to win at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

If True Gold draws in, a win bet at 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

For smaller amounts, win and place bets on Strive for a Cure at 5 to 1 or more.


As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.


Exacta: Box Poppy's Destiny, Strive for a Cure, Albie, La Fuerza and True Gold.

Exacta (option 2): Albie over ALL and (the reverse) ALL over Albie.

"IF" True Gold draws into the race, I plan on expanding the above to Albie and True Gold over ALL and (the reverse) ALL over Albie and True Gold.


Race 8 at Keeneland - Post Time 4:57 PM ET (with Doubles to Race 8–The Raven Run Stakes)


Superiority Complex fits the NW2X allowance conditions perfectly as she won her U.S. debut in August on turf at Arlington Park at the one lower NW1X level. Although not disgraced after that when 4th in a non-graded stakes at Woodbine on the all-weather surface, for the most part that race is irrelevant and it's the 8/18 effort which is the one to take note of and to predict improvement from. That effort earned a solid 99 Equibase figure, better than the 95 figure 2/1 morning line favorite Peru earned in her most recent start, also a win, and since Superioritycomplex was successful at 10 furlongs in Europe and is bred to run all day and then some (by Hard Spun out of a Galileo mare) there are no doubts if she improves or repeats that 8/18 effort she can win in an upset, opening at 10/1. Shezaprado won at a mile and five-sixteenth at Kentucky Downs on 9/6 then ran in the $360K Ramsey Farm Stakes and although overmatched finished to split the 10 horse field. Gaffalione rode her in both and rides back and the filly should be making a strong late run here as she goes for her 6th career win in her 18th career race on turf, just one behind the favorite Peru. Peru can't be discounted as a win contender but will be overbet like she was last month when winning at 4 to 5. That win came in a starter allowance race and prior to that she won at this level but was in for the optional claiming price of $62,500 that day, which leaves her eligible to run at the condition again. Jose Ortiz was up for the last win and rides back and except for being a poor win bet she must be considered a contender for all wagers involving this race.


Bets: Superioritycomplex to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.

For a smaller amount, Shezaprado to win at 3 to 1 or higher.


Exacta: Box Superioritycomplex, Shezaprado and Peru.

Exacta: Superioritycomplex over ALL and also (the reverse) ALL over Superioritycomplex.


Doubles: Superioritycomplex, Shezaprado and Peru in Race 8 with Alter Moon, Chauncey and Moonshine Memories in Race 9.


Doubles: Superioritycomplex, Shezaprado and Peru in race 8 with Alter Moon, Chauncey, Moonshine Memories, Divine Queen, Shamrock Rose and Nootka Sound in Race 9.


Race 12 at Woodbine - Post Time 6:45 PM ET


Salieri won an identical race at the first allowance level and 7 furlong trip on the main track on 8/25 but was disqualified because, when full of run and blocked, he bulled his way through horses. He was 7/2 that day but opens at 10/1 here and his two race since are considered completely irrelevant as both were on turf. Back on the main track if he can run back to the 8/25 effort and rock solid 96 Equibase figure he can post the upset. Chiricahua Signal also moves back to the main track after an irrelevant turf try, having won three back although at a lower level but with a 94 figure under Kimura, who rides back. Trainer Ensom is having a huge meeting with 65 first or second place finishes from 163 starts and the gelding can be competitive with his best effort. Blu Without You is a nice longshot play opening at 20/1 as the Fairlie barn has been stealthy and quietly posting a good number of upsets at the meeting. The horse just won by four lengths at the 7 furlong trip and although it was a claiming race, because he also won his last race at 7 furlongs on the main track in July his chances can't be discounted here. He broke his maiden in straight maiden company in the summer of 2016 at the trip then was off for 21 months but has a lot of potential to outrun high odds.



Bets: Salieri to win at 7 to 2 or higher, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or more. The same for Chiricahua Signal (who also opens at 10/1). For a smaller amount and so as not to be kicking ourselves after the race, Blu Without You can be bet for a least a few bucks to win and place at 5 to 1 or more.


As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.


Exacta: Salieri, Chiricahua Signal and Blue Without You over Salieri, Chiricahua Signal, Blue Without You, Magical Man, Malibu Secret, Cash Dividend and Waldorf.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 13:45

Timing is Everything

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


October 17, 2018

Timing is Everything

By: Jonathan Stettin

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 a system that has not advanced with technological capabilities.


One thing that has always annoyed me is that we time horses after a running start, as opposed to flat out, right out of the break. The timer doesn’t kick immediately, and this is referred to as a run up. This makes the first fraction appear faster than it actually is. Run up distances change and keeping track of them is work, and necessary to determine true speed from, shall we say false, or deceptive speed. I would much prefer timing races from the gate, but this would slow down average times and nobody else, especially commercial breeders, wants to see that. Everybody wants faster times and more speed, but using run ups and deceptive timing is not the way to create it.


We have all watched races where we just know the fractions are off. They can be too fast or too slow, but we know they just aren’t right. It is very frustrating and seems to happen more on grass than dirt, but that is just a casual observation. Often, they will be corrected or called out but frequently they are not. Wrong fractional times and final times affect every speed figure out there, whether it is Beyers, Rags, Bris, Timeform, Thoro-Graph, or even your own. I make my own figures, so this is extremely problematic. As I have studied it, I find it happens more than we would like to think. Trakus was a good solution, or so I thought, but there are errors and flaws there as well. Technologically, it is a step in the right direction, in an industry which has not exactly embraced the technology available to it.


Trakus uses chicklets in saddle cloths and beams on the racetrack to time horses and measure how many feet they ran. It has not proven to be a perfect system. Equibase recently announced, what I felt was a long time coming, and frankly overdue, GPS system to time races. While I wonder how bad weather will affect this, as it does my satellite TV, I think this is another step in the right direction. I am optimistic it will be an improvement, at least when the weather is good. The system is being installed at Woodbine, Golden Gate, Laurel, and Pimlico. Equibase’s partner in this venture, Total Performance Data has systems installed in the United Kingdom where they are based.

Jonathan Zammit, the Vice President of Thoroughbred Racing Operationsat Woodbine had the following to say:

"We have been using GPS timing since the beginning of July and have been pleased with not only its performance but the flexibility it offers. We are also keen to explore future capabilities of the system."

I believe the future timing of thoroughbred racing lies within the GPS system and it should. In an industry plagued with issues and where time is crucial to the majority of participants, you would think this is something that would be prioritized and explored to the fullest by all circuits. After all, timing is everything. 



Friday, 12 October 2018 12:24

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, October 13


Nearctic Stakes – Race 7 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:30 PM ET


Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra are the win contenders, the first two opening at superb double digit odds out of line with their probability to win (in my opinion) and Lady Alexandra very interesting if her connections choose this spot against males over the race at Belmont. Hemp Hemp Hooray has a record of 3-3-0 in seven races. I know he's run eight times but his race at Ascot doesn't count in my opinion. He adds blinkers worn for his first three races but not his next four and his three races in blinkers consisted of two wins and a neck loss last year in the G2 Summer Stakes here at Woodbine. He's been based here since coming back from England and has finished 2nd twice in stakes against three year olds only, both superb efforts to the same horse, who is not racing here. Hemp Hemp Hooray put in a two phenomenal workouts coming into the race and Hernandez, up for his last two "A" efforts, rides back. As such, all signs point to an odds beating effort.



Similarly, if we bet Hemp Hemp Hooray was MUST ALSO BET Kitten's Cat, as they form an uncoupled entry owned by Ken & Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker. Since they share common ownership and this is a graded stakes they run uncoupled and that helps us because if they were coupled the entry would be 5 to 1 instead of the 20/1 on Hemp Hemp Hooray and the 12/1 starting odds on Kitten's Cat. Kitten's Cat was stakes placed as a three year old and just won at this six furlong turf trip over the track with leading rider Da Silva up for the first time, riding back again. The colt earned a career best 102 figure last out and has improving to do as he was flattered when both the runner-up and third finisher came back to win. By the way, Kitten's Cat won the Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes as a two year old so he's proven at the top level.



I won't go over my analysis of why Lady Alexandra is a contender as I discussed that in detail earlier in the blog when going over the Floral Park Stakes. She led late and missed by a neck in the G1 Highlander Stakes, also versus males in June, North American leading rider Jose Ortiz up then and named to ride her here. Her back-to-back 113 Equibase figure efforts in April and June are some of the best in the field and she's a four year old so has improving to do.



For the second position on exacta tickets, in addition to the three win contenders and because two of them open at double digit odds, we can spread with Yorkton, Bushrod and Ikerrin Road.



Bets: BOTH Hemp Hemp Hooray and Kitten's Cat to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more. Add place bets at 6 to 1 or more. Bet Lady Alexandra to win at 7 to 2 or more as well. I think three win bets are acceptable here given the edge over the rest of the field.


As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.



Exacta: Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra over Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat, Lady Alexandra, Yorkton, Bushrod and Ikerrin Road.



$0.20 Pick 3 (not necessarily a smart bet but one that could pay very well given the high odds contenders in this race and the ninth race)

Race 7 - Hemp Hemp Hooray, Kitten's Cat and Lady Alexandra

Race 8 – ALL

Race 9 – Thundering Blue, Khan, Funtastic, English Illusion, Johnny Bear and Focus Group


Floral Park Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park - Post Time 4:43 PM Eastern


Lady Alexandra, who is also entered to run in the Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine on Saturday, gets slight preference among four win contenders if she runs here. She loves the Belmont turf where she's three-for-four including a stakes win the last time she ran here in April. We can completely ignore her most recent race which was on the all-weather at Presque Isle Downs and before that she ran huge when missing by a neck (after leading late) against males at the trip in the Grade 1 Highlander Stakes, winning the License Fee Stakes over the course prior to that. She put in a big workout at trainer Motion's Fair Hills base last week and is set for an "A" effort good enough to win given her back-to-back 113 Equibase figure efforts in the License Fee and Highlander.


Next in terms of probability are a pair of horses at decent odds in Fire Key and Tillie's Lily with Fire Key having finished first or second in 13 or 22 career races including 11 of 16 on turf, even better still eight of nine at short sprints distances like this one. She put in three really bad efforts in a row in July and August but turned a corner last month winning a 100K stakes similar to this one with Pimental aboard, who comes in to ride from Maryland. Last fall when at the top of her game she ran three "A" races in a row for 113 and 112 figures comparable with the best Lady Alexandra has run and so she does have a shot to upset. The same holds true for Tillie's Lilly, who opens at lower odds than Fire Key, 5/1 compared to 8/1. Nevertheless this filly has a lot of talent as she won the first four races of her career, all turf sprints including her only try at Belmont. She ran poorly in her first stakes try at Saratoga but she was bumped and pinched at the start, denying her first or second position in the early stages she had in all four starts prior to that. She was on an improving pattern from 102 to 106 figures before last and has improving to do as a lightly raced four year old.


Lull rounds out the win contenders, a bit of an underlay opening at 3/1 but a must to use on exacta, trifecta and double tickets. She made her four year old debut in March with a game win in the Grade 3 Honey Fox Stakes at a mile then finished third in the Grade 1 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes day, a big effort behind Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf bound A Raving Beauty. She finished third, then second, in a pair of stakes coming into the race, the most recent with a 112 figure comparable, but not superior, to two of the other three contenders and with a 5-4-3 record in 16 career turf starts she's prove quite competitive.


Win Bet: Lady Alexandra to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more, Fire Key to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher and Tillie's Lily to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.


"IF" Lady Alexandra's connections choose to run in the Nearctic Stakes and scratch out of this race, the Win Bets are: Fire Key at odds of 5 to 2 or higher and Tillie's Lily to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher.


As always, when making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool with which you can enter the amount you want to spend or the amount you want to win and the calculation of how much to bet will be done for you. Amwager provides a free "Dutching" tool, among other great benefits for the handicapper and bettor.


Exacta bets: Box Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull. (If Lady Alexandra scratches play the remaining three horses).


Trifecta bets: Lady Alexandra over Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull over ALL.


Also play a trifecta box consisting of Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull. (If Lady Alexandra scratches play the remaining three horses).


Doubles: Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull in Race 8 with Victorine in Race 9.

Doubles: Lady Alexandra, Fire Key, Tillie's Lily and Lull in Race 8 with Victorine, Cool Beans and Got Stormy in Race 9.

Doubles: Lady Alexandra in Race 8 with Victorine, Cool Beans and Got Stormy in Race 9.


Pebbles Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont - Post Time 5:18 PM ET


Victorine won two of her last three starts in France before a fourth of eight finish in the G2 Sands Point last month over the course. She did not race on Lasix for that race but adds Lasix today and that could easily be the key to running back to her best efforts. She cuts back in distance from nine furlongs to eight as she transitions to the strong Clement barn which is winning at nearly a 33% clip in the last month (on 39 races) and which is 22 for 88 with Rosario aboard (as today) in the past year. As such, we should expect big improvement and the slight upset win as the filly opens at six to one.


Got Stormy and Cool Beans are the other two win contenders in my opinion. Got Stormy has won three straight and was dominant in her last two starts, both stakes at a mile on grass. She's won at four tracks in her career but just the same she's NOT A STANDOUT as her last three wins earned 102, 82 and 90 Equibase figures, compared to 95 for Victorine even when fourth in the Sands Point Stakes last month. Cool Beans offers excellent value for a second win bet (after Victorine) as she opens at 10 to 1. She only wins when she leads from the start but even if she does lead she doesn't necessarily win. However, she hangs on tremendously as she's been second in three of her last four starts, with a win in the other race, last time out at Saratoga with a 103 figure that compares very well with the best of these. Red hot Brad Cox has done a wonderful job with this gal and we must remember all of these are three year olds so there's no edge in the maturity department for any of them.


For the runner-up spot on exacta tickets we will use Monte Cristo, Significand Form and Altea, the first two opening at fairly low odds of 7/2 and 5/1, respectively, although they get potentially disadvantageous outside posts.


Bets: Victorine to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more. Consider a second win bet, for a smaller amount, on Cool Beans at odds of 4 to 1 or more. Got Stormy opens at 3 to 1 and the minimum odds I'd consider a win bet would be 7 to 2 so it's unlikely she would be a good win bet.


Exacta: Victorine, Got Stormy and Cool Beans over Victorine, Got Stormy, Cool Beans, Monte Cristo, Significand Form and Altea.


Pattison Canadian International – Race 9 at Woodbine - Post Time 5:41 PM ET


Thundering Blue is the 2 to 1 starting favorite but does stand out even in a grade 1 stakes field. He won the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes on July 28 and finished third in a BIG effort behind Roaring Lion and Poet's Word (who beat him only a half-length for second) in the Group 1 Juddmonte International. He then ran a big effort in the 12 furlong Stockholm Cup International. There's no way to know who he beat in that one but it was a field of 12 and even if just a paid workout it served its purpose. He had trouble multiple times in the late stages of the York Stakes and jockey Berry has ridden him fantastically in four straight so accompanying the gelding across the pond is a big sign for another "A" effort good enough to win.



Khan is another import, with a career best effort in his most recent race, the group 1 stakes in Germany. Similar to Thundering Blue, he may not have beaten much last time out but he powered home to win by six lengths after stalking the pace early on a soggy course so could run even better in this situation with the jockey that rode him last out also coming in to ride.



Of the local contingent, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion are worth a look. Even though I feel Focus Group is the only one of the four worth a win bet I will STILL ALSO bet a few bucks on English Illusions so as not to be kicking myself later if he pays $60 to win. English Illusion was just a length behind Johnny Bear in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer last month and should not be double that one's odds (15/1 versus 8/1) on the morning line. Back to Focus Group, he's one of two trained by Chad Brown, getting Jose Ortiz to ride and coming off two career best efforts with 118 and 116 figures, the most recent at a mile and five-eighths, so getting this mile and one-half trip is not a question. He hasn't proven himself in a graded stakes yet but he's just four and I refuse to let Chad Brown beat me at 10/1 with a horse having a legitimate shot.


Bets: Thundering Blue to win at odds of 3 to 2 or more.

Second win bets may be warranted on Khan and on Focus Group at odds of 7 to 2 or more, adding place bets at 5 to 1 or higher.


As mentioned previously, a WIN, PLACE and SHOW bet on English Illusion at odds of 10 to 1 or more.


Exactas: Thundering Blue over Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion


Exactas: Thundering Blue, Khan and Focus Group over Thundering Blue, Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion.


Also play the reverse of that exacta, which is Thundering Blue, Khan, Focus Group, Johnny Bear, Funtastic, Tiz a Slam and English Illusion over Thundering Blue, Khan and Focus Group.