Friday, 29 June 2018 14:43

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 30


King Edward Stakes - Race 6 at Woodbine - Post Time 2:53 PM Eastern


Caribou Club won the similar Grade 2 Connaught Cup on the Woodbine Turf on 6/2, the only real difference between that race and the King Edward is this race is one furlong further. In the Connaught Cup, Caribou Club beat Tower of Texas by one and one-half lengths, with Conquest Panthera another head back in third. Considering Tower of Texas had no excuse for not being able to beat Caribou Club (who was 8/1 at post time compared to 3/1, not that big of a difference), it is an absolute JOKE Tower of Texas opens as the 2/1 favorite here while Caribou Club opens at 6/1. It's a joke we can laugh at all the way to the bank, because Caribou Club won a 100K stakes at Laurel at a mile on turf prior to that and as he's making his 3rd start off a layoff, he's on a pattern to run another "A" race good enough to win, making him a very solid KEY BET.


Win Bet: Caribou Club to win at 2 to 1 or more.


Exacta Bets: Caribou Club over Tower of Texas, First Premio, Conquest Panthera and Delta Prince.

Play the REVERSE of that exacta as well, which is Tower of Texas, First Premio, Conquest Panthera and Delta Prince over Caribou Club.



Perfect Sting Stakes - Race 4 at Belmont Park - Post Time 3:09 PM Eastern


This is more of a "Key Betting Race" than a "Key Bet" because ALL seven can win and a couple will offer odds well worth the risk. Using that premise as a starting point, Princess Gibraltar and Feeling Bossy get top billing. Princess Gibraltar came over from France last summer and ran only so-so in two races, finishing 3rd then 4th. Given six months off, she returned on 4/6 in Florida and was a different horse, more like the one that won 3 of 9 in France and Germany. Rallying from 7th of 8, she made the lead in the stretch, idled and almost lost it, but fought very gamely to win by a nose at the end. Rested 2 1/2 months, excellent trainer Clement has been working her on the Saratoga turf and with any improvement whatsoever off the 102 Equibase Figure effort (which is only a bit short of the 107 favorite La Sardane earned winning a grade 3 stakes last out), Princess Gibralter can post the upset.


Similarly so, Feeling Bossy is placed to run big. She was racing mostly in allowance and NY Bred stakes races until Jerkens dropper her into an allowance optional claimer last October and considering she was 6 for 14 at the time Servis snapped her up. After a seven month break, Feeling Bossy resurfaced in the statebred Mt. Vernon Stakes and led from start to finish. The fact she barely held on by a neck after leading by 2 lengths in the stretch doesn't concern me because she was likely not 100% fit after that lengthy time off. Not only is the mare 5 for 9 on the Belmont grass, she is a "WIN TYPE" because she now has 7 wins in 16 races, with no second or third place finishes. With the ability to win leading from start to finish or from off the pace, and for the sizzling hot Servis barn which has won nearly one-third of its races this year and half of 28 starts at the meeting, Feeling Bossy would be no surprise if winning and as such she's very playable, opening at 6 to 1.


Win Bets: Princess Gibralter and Feeling Bossy to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.


Exacta: Consider an exacta consisting of ALL over Princess Gibralter and Feeling Bossy instead of a place bet.


Eatontown Stakes – Race 9 at Monmouth - Post Time 4:55 PM Eastern

Lift Up appears to be a star on the rise in the filly and mare turf division. Her first three starts were on dirt and consisted of a pair of runner-up finishes but when her feet hit the sod for the first time in the spring of 2017 she reeled off three straight wins. Trying all-weather last fall she ran poorly but back on the grass starting in May following seven and one-half months off she has won two in a row, most importantly the most recent on the Monmouth Turf in an obvious prep for this race. The 110 Equibase figure earned in that race, the Miss Liberty Stakes, is likely to be improved upon in the filly's third start off the layoff. As it is already the second best last race figure in the field, right behind the 114 Dream Awhile earned when third in the Distaff Turf Mile on Derby weekend, any improvement is good enough to earn the filly her first graded stakes win.


Win Bet: Lift Up to win at odds of 8 to 5 or higher.


Exacta Bets: Lift Up over Elyseas's World, Special Event, Dream Awhile and Viva Vegas.

I will be playing the exactas above for two units (two times my normal exacta bet amount) then also playing the opposite of that exacta for one unit.


Queen's Plate Stakes - Race 10 at Woodbine- Post Time 5:36 PM Eastern


Trainer Graham Motion and owner/breeder Sam-Son Farm have a pair in this 16 horse field, Strike Me Down and Say the Word, who open at odds of 10/1 and 20/1, respectively, in an exceptional betting race because of the size of the field. Strike Me Down gets Jose Ortiz to ride and has every right to post the upset coming off a fine runner-up effort in a stakes on turf at Monmouth in which he stalked in third in the early stages before rallying to lead by two lengths then settling for second. That was his second start off a seven month layoff, his first being a trip to Woodbine on May 4 for a win over the track. As a son of Tapit, the 10 furlong trip is no problem at all and as a half-brother to Golden Sabre, who won the Durham Cup at Woodbine for this owner and trainer, this colt fits on all counts and is a KEY LONGSHOT bet on the day.


His stablemate, Say the Word, also must be bet as he gets leading jockey Hernandez, who rode him last month in his first start around two turns on the all-weather surface and apparently wants to ride him back. Prior to that, Say the Word won easily by nearly five lengths at the distance of a mile and three-sixteenths, so this extra 16th of a mile is unlikely to be an issue. Considering his last two efforts earned 92 and 93 figures, Say the Word won't need much improvement to run as well as any of the much lower odds choices.


The other two contenders are the filly Dixie Moon, winner of the Woodbine Oaks three weeks ago, and the morning line favorite Telekinesis, winner of the Plate Trial Stakes on the same date. Fillies have done very well in this race recently and Dixie Moon earned the same 97 Equibase figure in the Oaks that Telekinesis earned in the Plate Trial at the same trip. Both are very talented and very consistent and must be used on any tickets we play involving this race.


For exactas we must use Wonder Gadot and Rose's Vision, the former beaten a head by Dixie Moon in the Woodbine Oaks after missing by a half-length in the Kentucky Oaks and the latter a strong second to Telekinesis in the Plate Trial.


Bets: Strike Me Down and Say the Word to win and to place at 7 to 2 or higher.

Consider a win bet on Dixie Moon at 7 to 2 or more. For making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool like the one free at Amwager, which helps you allocate your bets based on the amount you want to spend, or the amount you want to win.


Exacta: In a 16 horse field we can absolutely play a six horse exacta box in my opinion and that's exactly what I plan to do by boxing Strike Me Down, Say the Word, Dixie Moon, Telekinesis, Wonder Gadot and Rose's Vision.


Trifecta: Because the minimum trifecta wager at Woodbine is just $0.20, the cost of a six horse trifecta box is just $24 so we can box all six horses in the trifecta as well.


United Nations Stakes - Race 11 at Monmouth- Post Time 6:01 PM Eastern


The United Nations Stakes is the Race of the Week at Equibase so rather than copy that analysis here you can read it by clicking here to go to the Equibase web site.


However, that analysis does not contain my betting strategy so here it is:


Bets: Vettori Kin to win at 2 to 1 or higher. Also, Kurilov to win at 3 to 1 or more.


Exactas: Vettori Kin and Kurilov over Vettori Kin, Kurilov, Funtastic, One Go All Go, Profiteer, Money Multiplier and Oscar Nominated.


Consider playing the reverse of that exacta for half as much as with Vettori Kin and Kurilov on top.


Wednesday, 27 June 2018 19:34

A Very Long List

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

June 27th, 2018

"A Very Long List"

By: Jonathan Stettin

When AmWager asked me to write about either my favorite or the best filly or mare I have personally seen, I knew it would be difficult. The issue is, I have about 20 or more favorites or best fillies and mares I have been fortunate to see. I had to put my thinking cap on and as I love to do go back.


Let me start by saying I am firmly in the camp that comparing horses from different eras is entirely subjective. Identifying greatness is not.


When you talk about eras, you get into who did who beat and the quality of the competition. You also, as a horsemen or women, have to realize these animals are competitive and react to their competition. Much like an athlete who plays better when facing better athletes and plays down when the competition softens. This renders the different era discussion moot and 100% opinion.


When it comes to the best ever in the filly and mare department, Ruffian stands out. This is something I discussed when on a debate the greats panel at the first Equestricon convention. There have been many greats, but she has some distinctions that are shared by none. The book I wrote about her was called “All 1’s” for a reason. She led at every call of all 10 races she finished. She was never headed and won at distances from 5 furlongs to a mile and a half. Most remarkably, in my opinion, is that she equaled or broke the track or stakes record in all 10 of her wins. She never raced without breaking or at least equaling the track or stakes record. You just can’t find that in any other horses’ past performances, and it is not something one could label subjective. It is as objective and factual as it gets.


Ruffian had an advantage many horses don’t. Speed. She was fast and could carry that speed. You can’t beat what you can’t catch. She made her luck. Speed horses and even stalkers can do that. Closers, especially deep closers, do not have that advantage and are more pace dependent. When you have a horse, say like Zenyatta, who comes from way off the pace and strings together victories like she did, it is special considering she has to do it no matter what is happening up front.


Once I began thinking about my favorite race gals and the best ones I have seen, I started remembering my earliest days and memories at the track. Days when the grandstands and clubhouses were full, and the atmospheres were like a super bowl or world series every weekend. Quickly, I realized it would take a book to talk about the great ones I saw. One did come to mind however. She was one of my first favorites and she could run with the best of them. I learned all about a swishing tail in the stretch from her, as I had never seen that before and didn’t know what it could mean. You don’t hear much about her today, probably because she like many great race mares didn’t turn out to be a great producer. But on the racetrack, you better be ready to race if she was in the gate.


Shuvee was by the great Nashua out of the Nasrullah mare Levee. She was the second filly in history to win the Triple Tiara, the filly version of the Triple Crown in New York which consisted of The Acorn, The Mother Goose, and The Coaching Club American Oaks. I became a fan early on after seeing her win The Frizette. She had a habit of swishing her tail in the stretch, that caught my attention and I asked about it. Some horses, especially fillies or mares did it when they were tiring, some did it playfully, and some just had a nuance. After sweeping the filly Triple Crown I watched her win The Alabama and even then, as a young boy knew she was something special. I didn’t know the best was yet to come.


A few short years later I was surprised to see her entered against the boys, in what was then one of the most prestigious and grueling races in the country, The Jockey Club Gold Cup, then run at two miles. An ambitious spot for any filly, but Shuvee came through swishing tail and all. That iced her champion older mare and she came back the next year to try The Jockey Club Gold Cup again. She made it back to back wins in the tough race and scored her second champion older mare title. She was inducted into the Racing hall of Fame in 1975 I believe, just 4 years after her second Gold Cup win.


I will never forget rooting for that filly I bet to beat the colts with the swishing tale. I can still hear Fred Caposella calling her name. Ah Shuvee, one of the greats.




Friday, 22 June 2018 13:05

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 23


Singspiel Stakes - Race 8 at Woodbine - Post Time 4:57 PM Eastern


Pumpkin Rumble has banked more than $400K, over $300K of that on the grass. Interestingly enough, he earned his first turf win at Woodbine in his most recent race, three weeks ago, in an allowance optional claimer and that apparently impressed trainer Attard enough to bump him into this grade 3 stakes. Da Silva rode the gelding for the first time in a year and rides back and the pattern for improvement off 89 and 99 Equibase figure efforts following five months off is very solid. The horse won at 12 furlong on the main track last October so the distance is not a problem and the 8/1 odds compel me to make him the top pick as he's as good as two other win contenders who offer much less profit potential for win bets.


Final Copy opens as the 5/2 second choice and Danish Dynaformer opens as the 2 to 1 favorite. Final Copy beat Danish Dynaformer by almost two lengths last time out on 5/25 with the latter not really having an excuse, but Danish Dynaformer sports a pair of wins at this marathon turf trip and although Final Copy missed by a nose at the distance last August he is winless in 3 tries. However, I don't see Danish Dynaformer reversing the finish position from that last race with Final Copy so I will only use him in 2nd on exacta tickets.



As for the last of three main win contenders, Shahroze is 2 for 3 on grass since coming to the U.S. and is just a four year old so has improving to do off a neck win at Belmont last month following four months off. He is bred to run all day and with Graham motion shipping in from his Fair Hills base this horse has almost as much chance to post the upset as Pumpkin Rumble. Johnny Bear ran poorly in his 2018 debut last month following six months off but won the G1 Northern Dancer at the distance last year (off a win) so can be considered for exactas as well.



Win Bets: Pumpkin Rumble to win at 5/2, adding a place bet at 4/1 or more.

Make a second win bet on Shahroze at 7/2 or more, adding a place bet at 5/1 or more.

I don't think Final Copy will go off at higher than fair odds of 3/1 but if he does he can be bet to win as well.

Note: To allocate your bets with the best edge, use a dutching tool like the one at Amwager.


Exacta Bets: Pumpkin Rumble, Final Copy and Shahroze over Pumpkin Rumble, Final Copy, Shahroze, Danish Dynaformer and Johnny Bear.


Optionally, play the opposite of that exacta as well. This way if the top three come in first and second we win the best two times and otherwise we have some saver coverage.


Race 5 at Santa Anita - Post Time 5 PM Eastern/ 2 PM Pacific


There are a few starter handicaps on the Saturday card at Santa Anita and my strategy in these races is to find the horses that have either won a starter allowance race previously or recently qualified for the level by running for the claiming price that makes them eligible when not having done so previously. Other things I look for are horses recently claimed as that shows a trainer looking at the condition book of upcoming races when claiming.



Any Questions was claimed one before last, out of a 3 lengths win at the 25K claiming level, then shipped to Golden Gate and run protected (not able to be claimed) in an allowance race. This was a smart move for veteran trainer Pederson to insure the horse kept in form. He won that mile turf race easily and he's still protected at this starter level for horses which raced for 25K or less. Prat rode him in that win over the course on 4/21 and gets back on, a superb sign for a repeat effort.



Tough It Out gets the ground saving rail and like Any Questions has won two turf races in a row. Both wins came at a mile and the most recent in a starter allowance race. Both were with Desormeaux in the saddle as today and there's no sign of declining form.



My Man Chuckles and Ky. Colonel have a decent shot to finish second and a minor chance to win. My Man Chuckles finished 2nd to Tough It Out last time out and Ky. Colonel won two of his last three races, both at the mile turf trip.



Win Bets: Any Questions at 2/1 or higher AND Tough It Out at 5/2 or more.


Exacta Bets: Any Questions and Tough It Out over Any Questions, Tough It Out, My Man Chuckles and Ky. Colonel.


Play the opposite of that exacta as well.


Ohio Derby – Race 10 at Thistledown - Post Time 5:10 PM Eastern


Pace scenario: Last Drop of Wine stretches out from a sprint from the extreme outside post and looks likely to want to lead from the start, with Flameaway likely to be on his heels. Diamond King won the Federico Tesio Stakes in April and has early speed, as does last month's Tom Ridge Stakes winner Trigger Warning, who also stretches out to two turns off a number of sprints. Those are enough "Early" pace types to go fast and tire, setting up a trio for the major awards.


Off a strong win around two turns in February and following two months off, Title Ready won strongly with a career-best 101 Equibase figure then tried his hand in the Rebel Stakes one month later. Setting the pace for the first six furlongs, Title Ready eventually gave way to finish fourth behind Magnum Moon. After finishing fourth once again one month later in the Northern Spur Stakes, Title Ready rebounded with a competitive effort in the Sir Barton Stakes on a sloppy track at Pimlico on Preakness Day. The race has turned out to be very productive as third place finisher Prince Lucky (who finished four lengths behind Title Ready) won the Easy Goer Stakes and the sixth place finisher won his next race. As such, with good tactical speed and bred to run well at this mile and one-eighth trip as a grandson of Monarchos, Title Ready gets top billing to win this year's Ohio Derby and in doing so can post the upset as his starting odds are 10 to 1.


Core Beliefs ran the best race of his career last month in the Peter Pan Stakes. After battling head-and-head for the lead from the start, Core Beliefs opened up to a two and one-half length lead with an eighth of a mile to go and although outfinished by Blended Citizen was four lengths clear of the next horse. Earning a career-best 108 figure with that effort at the distance of the Ohio Derby, Core Beliefs is another who may be capable of settling into third or fourth early as the pacesetters battle on the front end before rallying strongly and must be respected as a contender to win the race.


Lone Sailor is likely to be last, or nearly so, in the early stages of the Ohio Derby just as he was in the Louisiana Derby in March. In that race Lone Sailor began ninth of 10 and continually passed horses, making the lead with an eighth of a mile to go before engaging with eventual winner Noble Indy to be beaten a head on the wire. That effort earned Lone Sailor a strong 106 figure, which he duplicated in the Preakness with a rally from eighth in the early stages to be beaten two lengths at the wire. Since then, Lone Sailor has been working in spectacular fashion at his home base in Kentucky, his two most recent workouts being the best of 64 and the best of 30 on the day. Therefore, if able to navigate through traffic successfully, Lone Sailor could pass the other 11 entrants to win the Ohio Derby.


As for Flameaway, who opens at 5 to 2 odds, he could definitely be there at the finish and should be considered for exacta tickets. However, in spite of earning a 106 figure in February when winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes, it appears the fact he likes to be in front early combined with the fact he was outfinished in the last eighth of a mile in both the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes suggests he doesn't have the capacity to outfinish the main contenders and win this race.


O'Kratos has the figures and form to compete but has never run on conventional dirt nor has his trainer had much success transitioning horses from all-weather to dirt. Nevertheless I will use him in second on exacta tickets. I will also use Dream Baby Dream, who finished second in the Sunland Derby earlier this year and who is trained by Asmussen the same as Title Ready.


Win Bets: Title Ready and Core Beliefs to win at odds of 3/1or higher. Add a place bet on Title Ready at 6 to1 or more.


Exacta Bets: Title Ready, Core Beliefs and Lone Sailor over Title Ready, Core Beliefs, Lone Sailor, Flameaway, O'Kratos and Dream Baby Dream.


Race 10 at Santa Anita- Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern/ 4:30 Pacific


Premium Forest ships in from Northern California, where turf racing is done for a while since the end of the Golden Gate meeting, to run in this turf race for Cal-Breds only. He beat Cal-breds when facing them for the 1st time in his 2nd career start in February, easily by five lengths, and his only other try was in a stakes, also his first try on grass. That was also his 2nd try around two turns, but before that in his first route, Premium Forest finished fast to miss by nose on the wire. Last out on 5/27 he rallied from last of 5 to win nicely and on the ship in and (technically) a drop in class he gets leading man Prat and is tied for the best last race Equibase figure in the field. He fits well here as he has two wins and except for one horse (Unusual Meeting, who is completely off form) the rest either have one or two career wins. He gets an inside post and has a big kick so opening at 8/1 Premium Forest is a key bet on the day.


Also worthy of consideration as a win contender is Save Ground, who took blinkers off for his last race, at this mile turf trip, and who earned his first win in his fifth career start. He was off 2 1/2 months then as now so can fire with a big shot.



Six Point Rack rallied for 2nd twice in a row among his last three starts and can get a piece, as can Cool Green, who stretches out to two turns off a turf sprint win and has won at a mile on grass previously.


Win Bets: Premium Forest to win at 2/1 or more and Save Ground to win at 5/2 or higher. Bet both using a dutching tool to help allocate you bankroll to your best advantage. You can do this easily using the tool at Amwager.


Exacta bets: Premium Forest and Save Ground over Premium Forest, Save Ground, Six Point Rack and Cool Green.


Doubles: Premium Forest and Save Ground in Race 10 with American Anthem, Touching Rainbows, Stone Hands and Dabster in Race 11.


Also Premium Forest, Save Ground, Six Point Rack and Cool Green in Race 10 with Stone Hands and American Anthem in race 11.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018 13:13

Pace Makes The Race

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

June 19th, 2018

"Pace Makes the Race"

By: Jonathan Stettin

It is one of the oldest sayings around the racetrack. Anyone who has spent time around the game has heard it countless times. It is also one of the most accurate sayings connected to the Sport of Kings. We see examples of pace dictating the outcome of races every racing day, and it is often an overlooked handicapping factor by many.

Just last weekend we saw pace eliminate one contender from a race, that in reality only had two horses who could win it, while at the same time it set up the other contender’s victory. In the Poker stakes at Belmont the two contenders were Oscar Performance and Ballagh Rocks. Oscar Performance did all his best racing on the front end and was coming off a layoff, which often sees a horse keen early and wanting to go on the engine. Ballagh Rocks did his best running from off the pace, and with a fair share of early speed signed on, he figured to get a set up favorable to his style. That is not what happened.

The early pace was very fast in the Poker, and that likely kept Oscar Performance from setting it. He had run in his share of longer races and had not really been accustomed to those type fractions. Oddly Ballagh Rocks was up close to the fast pace early, which was not where he figured to be, and that effort left him empty in the stretch. He was going backward as opposed to forward when it counted. Oscar Performance capitalized and set a course record.

When these things happen, I find it a good practice to go back in a day or two and revisit both the past performances and replay. I think we can easily identify what happened with the winner. The fast splits kept him a few lengths back and his class and talent kicked in when the pace setters were spent. Ballagh Rocks was a bit more difficult to figure out. Why was he so close, and didn’t the rider realize that would compromise his kick? The reason I do this is to help in future handicapping. There have been times where a horse wins and people can’t see it, and going back I find you can see it often enough to make a difference. Always, of course not, but often enough. It may not help with that race but it surely won’t hurt going forward.

As for Ballagh Rocks, I think I can see the answer to the first question. He had been in some fast races in his career, and that pace scenario was not as foreign to him as it may have been to Oscar Performance. He was wired by an only speed the race before, so perhaps there was concern about them getting away from him and he was put in the game early. Did his rider know that would cost him the usual kick he had? Well, probably not, but it was the chance and risk he took to avoid what happened to him last out, and in some other races, where he just left himself too much to do. I think if the rider, and perhaps trainer, handicapped astutely then maybe they might have recognized the pace set up perfectly for him and this was not the day to worry about last time. Remember, trainers and riders are good at what they do most anyway, and in this case, you have two of the best. That said we are the best at what we do and look at things more objectively. At least we should.

Sometimes you can anticipate these things and sometimes you have to decipher what happened after the fact. Gaining a good understanding of what happened and why can only help you going forward.

Once you really master pace, race watching will become much more of an art. You’ll know when horses up close have no chance, which is a good feeling when you have backed a closer. You will know you are in good shape early when you played the speed and they are going well within his range. You would have known Justify was going to win the Belmont and Triple Crown a half mile into the race. At that point the race was over for the win, but on for second. The pace had as much to do with that than anything.

Some people use pace projector tools to help with their pace analysis. I do not. My reasoning is two-fold. First, if I need anyone or anything to help me analyze the pace of a horserace, I am in trouble and it is time to hang up the tack. Second, there are intangibles that cannot be computer programmed. Certain riders like to go while others prefer to sit and wait. Some don’t like gunning from the rail. Some are astute in their handicapping and won’t send if there is other speed. Some don’t open the racing form at all. A computer won’t know these things, but a “pro” or shark will. Bias also plays a part. Some jockeys are aware of a bias and will ride to it and that can influence the pace. Replays can show a horse under wraps early you know can go faster, but computers won’t see that. I prefer my own pace evaluation to anything that can be programmed.

A helpful hint in preparation for a wager is to project the pace as you see it and include who you think will be where at every call. The one who gets to the wire is the one I would play.

Friday, 15 June 2018 12:08

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 16

Preface: Looking back at last week's blog, at first glance I was disappointed as none of the recommended win bets came through. Then after reviewing the charts of those races I noted Talk Veuve to Me made the lead with a quarter mile to go and although second was beaten by the Kentucky Oaks winner and four clear of the next horse. In the Manhattan, Manitoulin lost a three horse photo by two necks at 30/1 and Fashion Business was another neck back at 43 to 1 and in the Honeymoon Stakes at Santa Anita, Animosity went to post at 10/1 and led with a quarter mile to go then settled for second. In the Belmont, I was wrong taking a shot against Justify but I'd do it again over and over with an odds-on favorite. Good Luck today!


Ginger Punch Stakes – Race 5 at Gulfstream Park- Post Time 2:47 PM Eastern


Madame Uno opens at 6 to 5 odds here based on three wins in a row including a similar stakes race following joining the Fawkes barn in January. However, she had no excuse for a 6th of 11 finish following that and then she went on the bench for nearly two months. On the other hand, she was beaten just three lengths and that last race has turned out to be a key race from which the 2nd and 3rd finishers returned to finish 2nd and 1st, respectively, in another stakes race. On the other, other, hand, Madame Uno earned both the wins leading from start to finish and was 2nd early in the other and she wears blinkers to will be in front early or up close to what may be a HOT early pace because from the seven post Magalie has to go as that's the only way she can win.


The better value lies with a trio of other runners and a longshot. Admiral's Win won three back the last time he faced Florida breds only as he's doing here and that effort earned a 99 figure as good as the 101 Madame Uno earned in her statebred stakes win in March. Batista was up for her last three wins and this mare has good tactical speed and the rail so I expect her to be third to fifth early and finding a seam late for the win.


Bitacora and Princess Victoria both come from the strong Walder barn and although Princess Victoria opens at the much better odds (15/1) so must be used on exacta tickets, Bitacora is the one with a higher probability to win. She was three-quarters of a length behind Admiral's Win in that 2/14 race I think is similar to this race and she won her most recent start with Gaffalione up as today. She also finished 2nd , beaten a half-length, in last year's running of this race. It must be noted, however, she has nearly twice as many 2nd place finishes (7) as wins (4) in her career.


Warranty opens at 3/1 and deserves a lot of respect having won three straight on turf, the last two at Gulfstream. Privately purchased since her last win on 1/21, and with her last race 102 Equibase figure one of the top in the field, she may not be a great win bet compared to others but must be used on any tickets we play.


Win Bets: Admiral's Win to win at 3 to 1 or more

For smaller amounts, Bitacora at 7 to 2 or more, Warranty at 7 to 2 or more.

I was going to skip a win bet on Princess Victoria but as she opens at 15/1 and is running first off the Walder claim we might end up kicking ourselves if we didn't bet a few dollars to win and place.


Exacta Bets: Admiral's Win and Warranty over Admiral's Win, Madame Uno, Bitacora, Warranty, Princess Victoria and Magalie.


Exacta Bets: Bitacora over Admiral's Win, Madame Uno, Warranty, Princess Victoria and Magalie and ALSO the opposite, which is Admiral's Win, Madame Uno, Warranty, Princess Victoria and Magalie over Bitacora.


Obeah Stakes – Race 7 at Delaware Park - Post Time 4:15 PM Eastern


Mannerly is unlikely to go to post anywhere near her 10/1 starting odds as she was 5 to 2 last time out in a tough allowance field at Keeneland, but she is still likely to go to post well above odds that make sense given her high probability to win. The filly is 2 for 4 on turf and 2 for 5 on dirt and if you take out the three sprints that started her career and look at routes only she is 2 for 4 on turf and 2 for 3 on dirt. With very consistent 99, 98 and 96 Equibase figures in her last three victories, with a good off the pace running style, with veteran Pino riding and coming back off a short rest while having earned three of her four wins off similar short rests, she could take some beating.


A Place to Shine is another opening at 10/1 with a much higher chance of success than is suggested by those odds. Second in her most recent start on 5/12 off a five month layoff, in a stakes and with a career best 97 figure, A Place to Shine has a lot of upside here and is very consistent to boot with nine first or second place finishes from 15 career main track starts. She put in a splendid half-mile drill coming into the race which was the 2nd best of 68 so she's ready to run big.


Power of Snunner drops in class having faced much tougher in the Grade 3 DuPont Distaff on Preakness weekend. She won this race last year on an IDENTICAL pattern and has shown she can snap back to winning form previously. Fuhriously Kissed and Teresa Z have small chances to be part of the exacta so we'll include them.


Win Bets: Mannerly to win at odds of 5/2 or more.

Add a win bet on A Place to Shine and on Power of Snunner at odds of 7 to 2 of more.


To bet more than one horse to win, use a DUTCHING TOOL like the one available for free at Amwager as it helps allocate your win bets in the most efficient manner possible.


Exacta Bets: Mannerly, A Place to Shine and Power of Snunner over Mannerly, A Place to Shine, Power of Snunner, Fuhriously Kissed and Teresa Z.


You can consider playing the opposite of that exacta as well, but for a smaller amount. The reason for doing this is not only coverage but we win twice if the exacta consists of two of the top three picks.


Dancing Renee Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:50 PM Eastern

Still There is a standout in my opinion here and opening at 4 to 1 with Holiday Disguise opening at 6 to 5 and likely to go to post as the prohibitive favorite, this is an opportunity a low odds overlay. Still There is a perfect two-for-two in her career and won about as easily as a horse can win last month (5/27) over the track, she was 7 1/2 lengths in front and geared down about 70 yards from the wire. That win came in a 10 horse field of NY Breds and these are no tougher plus she's improving and Cohen rides her right back after getting along with her sensationally last time out. Kobiskie wins nearly 33% of the time back to back, about the same as Rice, who trains favorite Holiday Disguise, and the only reason Still There opens at 4/1 is the perception of a class edge on the part of Holiday Disguise, who has won four stakes races but who is NO faster (best figure 105) than the improving Still There.


Win Bets: Still There at 3 to 2 or higher, a true KEY BET on the day.


Exacta Bets: Box Still There and Holiday Disguise the most times, then also box Still There and Absatootly, Still There and Cozzy Spring and Still There and Picco Uno.


Race 10 at Woodbine - Post Time 6 PM Eastern


Dakota Diva is a STANDOUT play in this maiden field. She debuted last August in a turf sprint at Laurel and rallied from 10th to 5th after breaking slowly then in her 2nd start in one of those deep maiden races at Kentucky Downs (with a $135K purse) she finished fast again, from 10th to 3rd. given the fall and winter off to grow up, Dakota Diva returned on 5/25 at a mile, off an eight and one-half month layoff, which is a very tough task even though the one mile turf trip at Woodbine is a one-turn race. She was well regarded at 5/1 in a 12 horse field and broke 6th of 12, was in contention only a length and one-half from the lead with a quarter mile to go, then through no fault of her own or her jockey completely lost any path she might have had until too late. It was a HORRIBLE trip and still near the wire when she did get a chance to stretch her legs she closed for third and galloped out on top on the turn. Likely to improve a TON 2nd off the layoff and with a HUGE clean run on the outside in this one-turn mile and one-eighth trip she's bred to adore as she's by Cape Blanco out of a Cozzene mare, we can expect a ton of improvement. As she may get lost in the shuffle in this 11 horse field, we may get decent odds to boot.



Ambitious Moon finished from 8th to 2n in that same race, her 3rd career start, 2nd on turf and 2nd off a layoff. She got within a head of the leader with an 8th of a mile to go and although she did not go on she was game to the wire. With first time Lasix and also with a good outside post, she should run as well or better.



Love Thy Kitten (2n in her last start, on turf), Via Ann (4th in the common race with Dakota Diva after making the lead with an 8th of a mile to go) and Show Girl (2nd in her last start) all should be used on exotic tickets played.



Win Bets: Dakota Diva to win at 2/1 with a place bet added at 4 to 1 or more, a true KEY BET on the day.

Make a second win bet, on Ambitious Moon, at odds of 4 to 1 or more.


Exacta Bets: Dakota Diva over Ambitious Moon, Love Thy Kitten, Via Ann and Show Girl.

Play the exact opposite of that bet as well, which is Ambitious Moon, Love Thy Kitten, Via Ann and Show Girl over Dakota Diva.


$0.20 Trifecta: Dakota Diva over Ambitious Moon, Love Thy Kitten, Via Ann and Show Girl over ALL.

Then also, Ambitious Moon, Love Thy Kitten, Via Ann and Show Girl over Dakota Diva over ALL.

Thursday, 14 June 2018 11:41

It Wasn’t Only the Belmont

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

June 13th, 2018

It Wasn't Only the Belmont

By: Jonathan Stettin

Most of the Thoroughbred community is talking about last Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. Not me, I see little point in looking in the rear view and prefer to ponder what’s ahead.

Lost in the wake of Justify’s Belmont and Triple Crown, were four other equine performances that were quite noteworthy. We also saw a nice human performance as well. Edgar Prado showed he can still get it done, even from the 13 post, on the grass when he has the horse under him. Spring Quality has been steadily improving for a while now and seems to have finally found himself on the grass for Graham Motion. If he stays healthy he could have a say in the Saratoga grass stakes, which means we will likely see Edgar make some road trips to the Spa. Edgar first transitioned to New York when brought to the Spa by John Kimmel to ride first call for him. Richard Migliore was riding first call for Kimmel at the time, but got injured and that opened the door for Prado in New York. As they say, the rest is history.

Abel Tasman showed she’s a serious player in the filly and mare division, by bouncing back from a dull return effort at Churchill Downs, where she never looked comfortable or on her game. She took the Ogden Phipps on the Belmont undercard with a strong early move, that at this point I think we can call patented, and made mincemeat out of the rest of the field. Regardless of where she runs next, and she has plenty of options…she’s a player.

Monomoy Girl cut back from the mile and an eighth of the Kentucky Oaks to the one turn mile of the Acorn with no trouble at all. She is clearly the top of the three-year-old class for fillies. Her biggest asset seems to be her versatility. She can go on the lead, she can stalk and she can come from off the pace. Don’t forget she can also run on the grass, so she has plenty of options going forward. I am not sure how much further than a mile and an eighth she wants to go. So, the Coaching Club and more so the Alabama ,if she winds up there, may provide some interesting betting opportunities.

Bee Jersey was huge in the Metropolitan Mile. He ran fast all the way. He took heat and pressure. He shook it off. He opened up after going fast. He dug in when Mind Your Biscuits, who is no slouch, and also ran big cams to him. He’s fast and a fighter and nobody should be surprised. He ran in Graded Stakes as a maiden in Dubai without Lasix before coming to the states with Steve Asmussen. I still don’t know how we got 3 or 4-1 on him when he broke his maiden at Churchill Downs. I forget, was that Christmas Eve? This is a racehorse and if you leave him alone, he just may go a little further than expected.

Gronkowski ran a big race in the Belmont for Chad Brown who ran him for the first time. It was also his first start on dirt, and first with Lasix. He has many options going forward and also looks like he has upside in store for us. He can continue on dirt, which is obviously no issue, and he can also go on turf. Lohnro is a sire who I don’t think gets the respect or recognition he deserves, so probably doesn’t get the best of the mares either. I also don’t think his offspring are as distance limited as the experts do.

There is a lot of racing to look forward to this summer and beyond. Saratoga and Del Mar are always great meets for both racing and wagering and this year both can be really stacked. The best part is this is without even factoring in our Triple Crown winner, who will spice things up wherever he lands, if he does indeed race again. Despite all that’s been said I have my reservations about that.

The cards may suffer some leading up to the big summer meets as a result of the Triple Crown race cards, which is a problem the industry as a whole will have to address at some point unless we just evolve into a part time sport. The good news is those meets will be here soon enough and there is always a card or opportunity you can sniff out along the way.


Friday, 08 June 2018 12:38

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 9

Acorn Stakes – Race 4 at Belmont Park - Post Time 1:24 PM Eastern


Talk Veuve to Me doesn't have Mia Mischief to hold her off in the stretch this time as happened last month in the Eight Belles Stakes, but this filly who is making ONLY the 4th start of her career and 2nd of the year following 7 months off has a lot of upside out of that race. She earned a 103 figure in her 3 year old debut then 107 in the Eight Belles and those numbers match up with the figures Monomoy Girl earned in the Rachel Alexandra and Ashland Stakes before a freakishly good 114 figure in the Kentucky Oaks. With Talk Veuve to Me likely to run even better in her 3rd start off the rest I think she can put in an effort good enough to beat Monomoy Girl, who I have a lot of respect for but don't want to bet her to win as the odds on favorite instead of getting 9/2 which is the morning line on Talk Veuve to Me.



Monomoy Girl needs no talking up, because if not for the neck defeat in the Golden Rod Stakes last fall she'd be undefeated in seven starts. She MUST be considered a win contender for exactas and multi-race wagers at the least.



Spectator won the first two starts of her career last summer like a good thing in California including the G2 Sorrento Stakes then finished 3rd in the Del Mar Debutante. Given time off to mature and grow up she returned in March and won a sprint prep then stretched out to a mile and one-sixteenth around two turns and although no match for Midnight Bisou in the Santa Anita Oaks she was clearly second. She's been working regularly and her comeback win earned her a 108 figure on part with the other two so opening at 8/1 I have no issue betting her to win in addition to Talk Veuve to Me.



Win Bets: Talk Veuve to Me to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Make a second win bet, on Spectator, at odds of 4 to 1 or more.


Exacta Bets: Box Talk Veuve to Me, Monomoy Girl and Spectator


Manhattan Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont - Post Time 5:40 PM Eastern


After a few minutes of looking at the entrants in this race, I quickly came to the conclusion that with a few exceptions nearly every horse in the field can win. Even those that have a small probability to win can finish second. Because this is a "Chaos" race where nearly anything can happen, I starting to ask "Why Not?" regarding the contenders, starting with those at the highest odds, rather than "Why?" The result was finding two horses at high odds I could not make a strong case against.



Those two are Manitoulin and Fashion Business.



Manitoulin has won 5 of 15 turf races and nearly $400K. He won the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup in his last start as a four year old this past November, with Mike Smith in the saddle for the very first time. He was 1 for 11 before being gelded and 3 for 5 after being gelded last year. He returned to the races in May off a five and one-half month layoff, beaten three lengths while 6th of 9 in the Fort Marcy, won by Robert Bruce, with Spring Quality second. Smith did not ride in the comeback but gets back on and that is the key, as the comeback was just that, a comeback. Today is the big shot and trainer Toner wants the jockey that got the horse to run his absolute best, which he did because in the Turf Cup Manitoulin earned a 116 Equibase figures which is about as good as any horse in the field, most who open at much lower odds than 20/1 as he does.



Fashion Business opens at even higher odds, 30/1, and that makes a bit more sense as the gelding has never won a stakes. He did miss by a head last summer in the G3 La Jolla Stakes before a 5th place finish in the Del Mar Derby and 8 months off. Coming back last month at a mile, Fashion Business rallied fast from 8th to draw off with a career best 111 figure effort. Likely to improve a ton 2nd off the layoff, the gelding is a 4 year old son of world class sire Frankel and he does have a win at 10 furlongs, the 2nd start of his career, back in January 2017, so I think he is going to surprise a LOT of people with how well he runs.



Robert Bruce, One Go All Go, Hi Happy, #8 Sadler's Joy, Channel Maker, Beach Patrol, #12 Multiplier & Spring Quality all have a shot to succeed and should be used on multiple race bets like the double, pick 3 and pick 4.



Win Bets: Win & Place bets on Manitoulin at 4 to 1 or more and on Fashion Business at 5 to 1 or more.


Exacta Bets: Manitoulin and Fashion Business over ALL

Then the opposite exacta as well, which is ALL over Manitoulin and Fashion Business.


Doubles: Manitoulin and Fashion Business in Race 10 with ALL in Race 11

Then also ALL in race 10 with Hofburg in Race 11

For a smaller amount, also play ALL in race 10 with Blended Citizen and Vino Rosso in Race 11.


Honeymoon Stakes – Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern/ 3:30 Pacific


Animosity was entered in this race as well as the Grade 3 Wonder Again Stakes on Friday at Belmont, which ended up being won by an up and coming star in La Signare, whose name we should remember. It was a good decision on the part of owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and trainer Gallagher, as this field isn't nearly as strong as the Wonder Again. A perfect 2-for-2 in her career, this daughter of Animal Kingdom won her debut sprinting on turf in March then stretched out to two turns on all-weather at Golden Gate to romp easily. She won the debut off the pace and led from finish on slow fractions in her 2nd start. She's improving fast, is very talented, and can post the slight upset here opening at 6/1.


Animosity's main competition will come in the form of Fatale Bere, winner of the Grade 3 Providencia Stakes when last seen two months ago. She had won the Surfer Girl Stakes in her U.S. debut last October then finished a creditable 5th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. After a really poor effort in the Jimmy Durante Stakes she took four and one-half months off and won the Providencia, no easy task. She put in a pair of strong half-mile workouts since the race so appears to be holding top form.


Ms Peintour, like Animosity, was a strong winner at the first allowance condition in her most recent race, earning a 95 Equibase figure on par with the 97 Animosity earned in her last win. Flattered when the runner-up improved to win her next start, Ms Peintour is the other horse in the field with a reasonable chance to win.


For second on some exacta tickets we should also use Miss Sienna, who makes her U.S. debut and may be on the lead early or just off the pace as that is how she ran her last two races, and Paved, a bit vulnerable as one of the morning line favorites off a non-threatening third place finish in the Providencia behind Fatale Bere with no excuse as the 7 to 5 favorite.


Win Bets: Animosity to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher.


Exacta Bets: Animosity, Ms Peintour and Fatale Bere over Animosity, Ms Peintour, Fatale Bere, Miss Sienna and Paved


Belmont Stakes – Race 11 at Belmont Park - Post Time 6:46 PM Eastern

In the Kentucky Derby and when confronted by traffic and trouble he had never encountered previously, Hofburg ran creditably, rallying from 16th to seventh in spite of being bumped at the start, steadied in traffic off another horse's heels, steadied again and forced to alter his path. Since then Hofburg has been training in the quiet surroundings at Saratoga and should improve off his Florida Derby effort and 107 figure, which compares to the 108 to 110 figures Justify has earned 108 to 110 figures in his last three races. Considering how many fewer horses Hofburg will have to deal with and considering as it will not take much improvement on the part of Hofburg to run well enough to win the Belmont, he's my top choice. Additionally, any concerns about being able to successfully run the mile and one-half distance of the Belmont can quickly be put to rest looking at Hofburg's pedigree and connections. Trainer Mott won the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer while sons of his sire, Tapit - Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016) and Tapwrit (2017), won three of the last four editions of the race. Belmont Stakes winners in his pedigree do not stop there, as the sire of Hofburg's dam Soothing Touch is Touch Gold, who won the race in 1997. With 10 fewer horses to deal with in the Belmont compared to the Derby and with likely improvement off his Florida Derby effort, Hofburg is my pick to win this year's Belmont Stakes.

Vino Rosso finished ninth in the Derby, skipped the Preakness, and is another poised to improve on his effort prior to the Derby, in this case when winning the Wood Memorial with a career-best 106 figure. In the Derby, Vino Rosso broke last in the field of 20 at the start but ended up ninth, so with 10 fewer horses to pass in the Belmont he should run much better. Taking a few weeks off after the Derby, Vino Rosso returned to trainer Todd Pletcher's home base in New York and put in a sparkling half-mile workout that was the best of 36 on the day to show he is in top form. In terms of pedigree, there is little doubt Vino Rosso can successfully run a mile and one-half. As a son of Curlin, whose son Palace Malice won the Belmont in 2013 (for Pletcher), and out of a mare whose sire is Tapit, Vino Rosso should have the stamina to contest the marathon distance without issue and therefore he is a strong candidate to run well enough to win.

Blended Citizen may not have the breeding for the 12 furlong Belmont trip others have but has a good number of factors in favor of running well. Since adding blinkers prior to the Jeff Ruby Steaks in March, Blended Citizen has won two of three races, including the Peter Pan Stakes four weeks ago with a career-best 110 figure that is as good as the best figure Justify has earned to date. Since shipping to Belmont Park a few weeks ago, Blended Citizen showed a strong liking for the surface with a half-mile workout that was the best of 35 on the day. Furthermore, in recent history horses coming back from running in the stakes race for three-year-olds at Belmont in the first 10 days of May have done well one month later. In 2010, that race was the Dwyer Stakes which was won by eventual Belmont winner Drosselmeyer (trained by Hofburg's trainer Bill Mott). In 2014 that race was the Peter Pan Stakes, won by eventual Belmont winner Tonalist. In the Peter Pan, Blended Citizen showed he could race much closer to the early pace than previously thought as he was under two lengths from the leader from just after the start until a quarter mile to run. Although three lengths back with an eighth of a mile to go, Blended Citizen put in a strong late run to draw off late and that running style could serve him very well in the Belmont Stakes if he races in third or fourth in the early stages.

Anytime a horse is undefeated that is a reason to respect them as it shows not only physical talent but mental toughness and an alpha quality as well. Justify has demonstrated all that and then some in winning all five of his races to date and within a span of 13 weeks. After earning a career-best 110 figure in the Derby, Justify only slightly regressed with a 109 figure effort in the Preakness on a rain-soaked track but in that race he did show evidence of racing a lot in a short period of time as Bravazo was gaining with every stride in the final yards, the word "lasted" in the chart callers comment very apropos to the end of the race. Since the Preakness, Justify put in a very fast half-mile workout that was the best of 43 on the day so evidently he is still in top shape, but running the mile and one-half of the Belmont is a whole different matter compared to the Derby and to the Preakness. The good news for Justify's chances of winning the Belmont and the Triple Crown is he may be able to dictate the tempo in the race as it is likely jockey Mike Smith will use the colt's early speed to be in front at the start or at the least, in second shortly after the gate opens. Additionally, trainer Bob Baffert is a master at getting a horse to hold his form as a query from Stats Race Lens yields a remarkable record of 43 for 93 for Baffert in dirt route races over the last few years when his horse won its previous start. On the other hand, I can find little in Justify's pedigree similar to the pedigree of either Hofburg or Vino Rosso in terms of siblings, sires or other relatives who have run well at the distance of the Belmont. Horses have won the Belmont in the past on raw talent alone and that may be the case with Justify, who I will be rooting for in my heart but betting against with my money.

Bravazo raced fairly close up when third in the early stages of the Preakness then dropped back to fifth on the turn, giving every indication he had nothing left to offer. Maybe it was the mud in his face or some other factor that caused him to lose interest or momentum, but with a sixteenth of a mile to go, Bravazo found new life and energy, surging in the final yards to miss by a half-length. As I had explained in my Preakness analysis, with 12 fewer horses in the Preakness compared to the Derby, I felt Bravazo would rebound to the form shown when winning the Risen Star Stakes in February with a career-best 110 figure and he nearly did, earning a 108 figure. Since the Preakness, four-time Belmont winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas put Bravazo through a mile workout in preparation for the race, knowing if nothing else he wanted the colt to have the stamina to contest the mile and one-half. Likely to be fairly close up to the early pacesetters in the Belmont, Bravazo should be putting in a strong late run just as others are feeling the effects of running a distance they have never run previously and that gives the colt a square shot at posting the upset win.

Tenfold, like Hofburg, has only run four times. His best effort came three weeks ago when rallying for third in the Preakness to earn a career-best 108 figure. As a son of Curlin, who not only sired 2013 Belmont winner Palace Malice but also 2017 Belmont runner-up Irish War Cry and 2016 Rags to Riches Invitational Stakes winner Theogony, and as a grandson of Tapit, there is little doubt Tenfold has the breeding to run well at the distance. There certainly is room to improve off his Preakness effort so on that count Tenfold must be considered a contender. On the other hand, with the exception of American Pharoah, recent Preakness runners who have run in the Belmont haven't fared that well, most notably 2014 Preakness winner California Chrome (fourth) and 2013 winner Oxbow (second). It just could be coming back on three weeks rest is too much to ask a young horse, but then again Tenfold could have gas left in the tank as he only ran three times prior to the Preakness and if that is the case he could certainly be in the hunt in the final stages of the Belmont.

Win Bets: Hofburg to win at 3 to 1 or more.

For a smaller amount, Blended Citizen and Vino Rosso at 5 to 1 or more.

Just to complete the contenders and the minimum odds I would consider a win bet – Bravazo 7 to 1, Tenfold 9/1.

Justify is a win contender but his likely prohibitive odds make him a poor win bet.


The strategy for exactas is mostly "go big or go home" so the tickets will be constructed to exclude Justify in the win position. However, for ANY multi-race bets started in earlier races he must be used because pick 3, 4 and similar tickets demand a different strategy.


Exacta Bets: Box Hofburg, Vino Rosso, Blended Citizen, Bravazo and Tenfold.

Also play Hofburg, Vino Rosso and Blended Citizen over Justify, Hofburg, Vino Rosso, Blended Citizen, Bravazo and Tenfold.

Thursday, 07 June 2018 15:50

Crystal Balls

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo

June 7th, 2018

Crystal Balls

By: Jonathan Stettin

I always find it curious when so called expert handicappers proclaim to know the winner of a race before it is even drawn. The Kentucky Derby is perhaps the biggest example of this, with people, including those who hold themselves out as experts with well informed and calculated opinions, lock in on a horse and proclaim them the winner. Frankly, even when they turn out to be right, is it handicapping or crystal ball magic, hence luck? I say it falls under the broken clock theory. We all know they are right twice a day.


I am not talking about people having fun, rooting for a horse, or even advance wagering. I am talking about those who hold themselves out as knowledgeable, or experts, and then make bold premature predictions prior to certain relevant things being revealed. There are some things one must simply know, and factor in, for an opinion to be well informed. It borders on gibberish or irresponsibility to publish an opinion on the outcome of a horse race before certain key points are known. If deadlines or some other pressure force you to make early public and promoted opinions, so be it. However, I would preface any such opinion with subject to change based on factors not yet known, as opposed to so and so will win or can’t lose. I know of no monetary incentive to picking the winner three days in advance.


A few years ago, I wrote a column called “Warning Shot Fired” where after watching Tonalist train in Florida and then win the Peter Pan I said I thought he was a serious threat to California Chrome in the upcoming Belmont Stakes. I did wind up betting him and he did win. I did not handicap the Belmont until the day before. You can read the article here….


Once read you will see the difference. You can spot a good one early, and you can think they fit in a race perfectly, but all this winner picking prematurely is comical. After the Florida Derby I immediately said Hofburg was the best horse in it and that everyone else would know that too by mid-year or late in the year barring injury. That’s different than picking him to win a race before you truly handicap it.


The Belmont Stakes this year is a great example. The racing community waited anxiously for the past performances to come out. Some did not even wait for that before declaring their picks and even all the so called true contenders. Once the past performances came out, expert analysis and the expert selections began to appear. I’d read a horoscope as soon as I would read any of that. Be careful what you put in your computer of a brain, you never know when it will come out or how.

We have Justify, the obvious bullseye in the race, drawing the rail. We have a fluctuating weather forecast that has taken a late turn for the worse. Even with the past performances, these factors should be cause for pause for anyone approaching this seriously and putting their money up.


The rail can play fast and good hence the golden rail, or it can be deep and heavy and be a hindrance. This is true even on a dry track let alone a wet one. Muddy, sloppy, wet fast, sealed, and fast or even good are all different and can have different effects. We see somewhat less of the super speed highways on the big days lately as well. Wouldn’t a responsible well-informed opinion want to at least observe some of these things, at least through the Friday card or even through some of the Saturday earlier races, before proclaiming the Belmont winner?


I have long known this to be a skill game and I think it should be approached, treated and tackled as such, if you have any hope of truly beating it. Yes, that can be done but not by crystal ball handicapping, even if it happens you are a broken clock and turn out right twice a day. There are no shortcuts and in the long run, and this is a marathon like the Belmont not a sprint. You get out what you put in, and that includes what you put in your head.


Enjoy the weekend everyone and the run at history. If you want to know who I like in the Belmont……..just ask me……Friday evening at the earliest.



Friday, 01 June 2018 12:10

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, June 2

Pennine Ridge Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park - Post Time 5:50 PM Eastern


Analyze It may be unbeaten but he opens at 4/5 odds. It's not that he can't win as he certainly fits all the criteria as he's a dual grade 3 stakes winner on grass and his average margin of victory in three races is five lengths. Just the same, he's only run three times and there's another horse in the race as good as he is AND more important as probable to win as he is and that horse is Untamed Domain, who opens at 5/1. Untamed Domain won the G2 Summer Stakes last September before a bang-up 2nd behind Mendelssohn in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Given three months off he disappointed when third in the Dania Beach and then when he otherwise would absolutely would have improved if kept on turf, the connections thought to put him on the Derby trail and try dirt for the first time in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he finished 6th. Blinkers came off for the American Turf Stakes last month and he ran HUGE, rallying from 8th at the top of the stretch to get 2nd (in a dead heat) while winner Maraud (who runs today in the Penn Mile) was already in high gear. The 110 Equibase figure Untamed Domain earned in the American Turf is likely to be improved upon today in his 2nd start without blinkers and he has every right to win and post the mild upset because of that.



Analyze It ran off a four and one-half month layoff in April as if he had never been away, capturing the G3 Transylvania Stakes the same way he took the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes in November. With 108, 109 and 111 figure in his three starts to date and never giving any horse a shot to catch him in the last 8th of a mile in any of those 3 races, Analyze It must be considered a win contender, but not a GOOD win bet as the odds-on favorite.



Hawkish is also entered in the Penn Mile and I hope he goes there because that is an easier spot. He's improved in every start and his allowance win when last seen on 4/15 earned a 105 figure good enough to be competitive if improved upon as it likely will be. The horse we MUST use for profit in exotics at the least, and for a small win bet so we don't end up kicking ourselves later is Channel Cat. Opening at a healthy 20/1, the colt ran BETTER THAN IT APPEARS when 6th in the American Turf (won by Maraud with Untamed Domain in a dead head for 2rd). In the race, Channel Cat got pinched at the start and began 12th of 13 and was still 10th at the top of the stretch but made up good ground very late to end up 6th. With ONLY seven other horses in this field, Channel Cat is likely to be closer up early, more like he was right before that when putting in a nice win on the turf with a 98 figure and the figure he earned in the American Turf, 105, was the same figure Hawkish earned so at the least Channel Cat has about the same probability to win as that one.



We will include Catholic Boy in the 2nd position on exact tickets as he moves back to turf, where he won the With Anticipation Stakes last summer at Saratoga in only the 2nd start of his career. He was flat when last seen in the Florida Derby and may need one race to get back to form good enough to win but he could hit the board.




Untamed Domain to win at 2 to 1 or more as a true KEY BET on the day.

Channel Cat to win and place at 5 to 1 or more. (For a much smaller amount than on Untamed Domain).

IF Hawkish should run here rather than the Penn Mile, he is worth considering for a win bet at odds of 3 to 1 or more.



Untamed Domain over Hawkish. Catholic Boy, Analyze It and Channel Cat

Hawkish, Catholic Boy, Analyze It and Channel Cat over Untamed Domain

Untamed Domain over ALL then also (the opposite) ALL over Untamed Domain

Hawkish, Analyze It and Untamed Domain over Hawkish, Analyze It, Untamed Domain, Catholic Boy and Channel Cat



Snow Chief Stakes – Race 7 at Santa Anita - Post Time 6:30 PM Eastern/3:30 PM Pacific


Huddle added blinkers for his last start, the 3rd of his career and 2nd turf route, and he blazed along on the lead through fractions of 22.6 and 46.2 on the way to a wire-to-wire win. Not only will the competition be tougher in this stakes race, there are two, possibly three, other horses that may want the lead early, and even if left alone on the front end, a 46.2 half-mile split is really going to set up the late kick of a couple of runners here, most notably Hardboot, who just WON a very similar stakes race for California bred horses. In that race, the Silky Sullivan Stakes at Golden Gate, Hardboot rallied from last of 10 and was still seventh with a quarter mile to go before circling the field to win going away. He had run similarly well last November at Del Mar in the 2nd start of his career and first turf route when breaking his maiden. With a career best 103 Equibase figure (that's the 2nd best last race figure in the field) to improve upon, Hardboot is going to be very tough to keep from passing them all once more.


Waya Ed tried turf for the first time when last seen on 4/15 over the track and ended up 3rd after leading from the start. He led on slow fractions and does not wear blinkers and so it may have been the case of no other horse wanting the lead. He had been off for 3 months prior and in his last start since, his 2nd career start and first route, on the all-weather at Golden Gate, Waya Ed rallied from just off the pace so as he's NOT a need-the-lead type as it appears others in here are he could get a ground saving trip and run very well at odds too high to ignore.


Take the One O One is the stablemate of Waya Ed, owned by Jay Em Ess Stable and trained by Brian Koriner. He led from the start in his most recent race, on the main track, before settling for 3rd, and it doesn't appear he has the ability to relax in the early stages so he could be tired late BUT two of his last 3 efforts resulted in 104 and 106 figures that are the best in the field and so I will use him on exotic tickets played but will prefer either or both of the other two contenders for win bets.



Hardboot to win at 2 to 1 or more

Waya Ed to win at 3 to 1 or more.

The best way to insure a profit betting two horses to win is to use a "Dutching" tool like the one at Amwager which helps allocate your total bankroll for optimal profit.



Box Hardboot, Waya Ed and Take the One O One

Box Hardboot and Waya Ed again


Pick 3: (two tickets)

Race 7 - Hardboot, Waya Ed and Take the One O One

Race 8 - Lemon Crush, Z Z Tiger, Paprika and Rocketann

Race 9 – Mopotism, La Force, Vale Dori and Unique Bella


Race 7 – Hardboot and Waya Ed

Race 8 – Lemon Crush, Z Z Tiger, Paprika and Rocketann

Race 9 – Mopotism, La Force and Unique Bella


Beholder Mile – Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:30 PM Eastern/ 4:30 Pacific


Mopotism wheels back on six days rest off a last of 7 finish in the Gamely Stakes last weekend when trying turf for the first time. Trainer O'Neill is tossing the effort and so can we. O'Neill knows his horses and has a pretty strong record of 9 for 45 bringing horse back on a 5-10 day rest over the last few years, with a 31% flat bet profit and with 50% of the 45 horses hitting the board. Considering Mopotism opens at 20/1 in spite of having won the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes over the course in January with a 114 Equibase figure that stacks up EXCEEDINGLY well with heavy favorite Unique Bella's best efforts (with one exception), Mopotism could be a KEY longshot bet on the day.


We must also note that Vale Dori, who opens at 2/1, finished 2nd in this race last year off a win in the Adoration, the Santa Margarita, the Santa Maria and the La Canada. Mopotism won the La Canada, finished 2nd (to Unique Bella) in the Santa Maria and finished third in the Santa Margarita before the irrelevant try in the Gamely. That's pretty much the same pattern and similar form which gives us more reasons to believe Mopotism has a big shot.


Unique Bella has no knocks except for being the odds-on favorite. She was beaten when 2nd at 1 to 5 in the Apple Blossom when last seen but other than that, and her inexplicably bad effort in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last fall, she's tough as nails and could take some beating. Just the same, her two-turn wins, except in the Santa Maria in February (128 figure) have been good but not exceptional, with 112, 112 and 100 figures, so she's not unbeatable.


La Force is the horse to use on any and all exotic and multi-race tickets played, and to make a small win/place bet on so we're not kicking ourselves later. Beaten inches by Mopotism when third in the La Canada, the filly should improve off a 4th place finish last month in the Adoration Stakes after two months off and if she can run back to her La Canada effort with a 113 figure, she could be in the picture at the end.


Except for one pick 3 ticket, I'm taking a stand against Vale Dori, who ran poorly with no excuse at 8/5 in the Adoration Stakes last month, her first start following 9 months off. I just can't imagine her improving enough to beat either Mopotism or Unique Bella. As for Paradise Woods, she's highly suspect as the 2/1 second favorite on the morning line as she didn't show a thing when fourth in the Santa Monica Stakes in March, her first start off three months off. She's going to be fresh and have the lead early but not to herself as Vale Dori and Unique Bella will be right there from the start. We don't make money in the long term using two favorites in the exotics so I'm leaving Paradise Woods off my exacta tickets, except one with La Force because that one opens at 20/1.



Mopotism to win and to place at 3 to 1 or more

Consider a small win and place bet on La Force at 6 to 1 or more


Exactas: Mopotism over ALL and (the opposite) ALL over Mopotism

Box Mopotism and Unique Bella


Penn Mile Stakes – Race 9 at Penn National - Post Time 7:45 PM Eastern


Encumbered makes his first start since finishing 13th of 14 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last fall and although it may be tough to return off a seven month layoff and run well enough to win a graded stakes race like the Penn Mile, I believe this colt can do just that. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Encumbered broke well to secure a good spot in third shortly after the start and held that position just outside eventual winner Mendelssohn before tiring with less than a quarter mile to go. Ignoring his poor try on dirt prior to that against Bolt d'Oro in the Frontrunner Stakes, Encumbered proved himself at the level, winning the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes in September after breaking his maiden in his first turf route. Those two efforts earned 98 and 97 Equibase Figures, respectively, which are better than any of the figures likely favorite Maraud earned during his two year old campaign. Working like clockwork since his return to the track in April, Encumbered also may have the benefit of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf being a "KEY RACE" as six of the other 12 horses won their next starts, four of those in either March or April and off long layoffs like the one Encumbered is returning from. Trainer Callaghan has also shown the ability to get horses to win running turf routes off long layoffs, having done so a couple of times in the past two years, with one of those having come off a layoff to win a stakes race. Much more physically mature than when last seen in the fall, Encumbered may be tough to beat in this year's Penn Mile Stakes.


It must be noted Hawkish is also entered to run in the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont the same day as the Penn Mile but if trainer Toner chooses this race, the horse must be taken very seriously. Sent to post at 3 to 1 odds in the Palm Beach Stakes in March, only the second start of his career, Hawkish finished fourth of seven and three lengths behind Maraud, who was sent to post at just slightly lower odds of 5 to 2. Given six weeks off, Hawkish returned on April 15 to dominate a field of seven at this mile trip on turf, winning in a hand ride by nearly five lengths to earn a career-best 105 figure, as good as Maraud earned winning the Palm Beach. The race Hawkish won in April turned out to be a "KEY RACE" as well, with both the runner-up and fourth finishers flattering the horse by winning their next starts. With perhaps the best closing kick in the field (22.4 for the last quarter mile in his most recent race), Hawkish is definitely a contender in this race.


Maraud has won three of four races this year including two stakes races. He won the Palm Beach in March with a 105 figure before a poor fifth place effort in the Transylvania Stakes in April. Maraud redeemed himself last month with a strong win in the American Turf Stakes with a career-best, and field high, 113 figure. That type of effort can win the Penn Mile if repeated and if none of the others improve but he is likely to the prohibitive favorite and as such may not offer good return potential for win bets.



Encumbered to win at 2 to 1 or more.

A second win bet, this one on Hawkish, appears warranted at 5 to 2 or higher.



Box Encumbered, Hawkish and Maraud