Friday, 15 March 2019 12:09

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, March 16


Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes - Race 5 at Laurel - Post Time 3:12 PM Eastern


Unbridled Juan brings his “A” game every time, even last month when third in the similar John B. Campbell Stakes. He made a big move on the turn to go from fourth to lead with an eighth of a mile to go and fought to the wire, missing the win by a pair of necks. He won back to back stakes last fall including the identical Richard W. Small Stakes with a 106 Equibase figure, the same as he earned last month, and perhaps just repeating that last effort may be good enough to win.


Cordmaker and Twisted Tom are the other two who can win, with Cordmaker the better win bet if anywhere near his 5 to 1 starting odds. Overmatched and squeezed back to 14th and last in the General George Stakes last month, Cordmaker stretches out from seven furlongs to two turns for the first time on dirt in his career but as a son of Curlin should have no problem with the distance. He won the Jennings Stakes over the track before the General George, with a career best 105 Equibase Figure, and he’s a four year old so has improving to do off that effort and dropping from graded to non-graded stakes. Twisted Tom ships in from New York for Mott and although he’s run in stakes for NY breds only for the last 18 months he did win a pair of stakes at Laurel as a three year old in the spring of 2017 including the Tesio Stakes at this nine furlong trip. His nose loss in the Alex M. Robb Stakes in December earned a career best 114 figure and then he ran well for third to earn a 107 figure around one turn, so stretching out to nine furlongs, the distance of three of his seven career wins, bodes well for his chances here.


I’m taking a stand against Pletcher’s Bonus Points, winner of last months’ John B. Campbell, as he got a 46.6 and 110.6 pace set up he will not see today, negating his late run.



Win Bets: Unbridled Juan to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Cordmaker to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.


Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.


Exactas: Box Twisted Tom, Unbridled Juan and Cordmaker.



Pick 3:

Race 5 - Twisted Tom, Unbridled Juan and Cordmaker.

Race 6 – Bobby G and Dynamax Prime.

Race 7 – Las Setas.


Also consider using “ALL” in race 6, since we are singling in race 7, taking advantage of a potentially wide open race.



Race 6 at Laurel - Post Time 3:42 PM Eastern


In a very intriguing starter allowance race sandwiched in between two stakes, Bobby G and Dynamax Prime both get preference as win contenders at very nice odds, but this is a race in which many have a shot. Bobby G won handily by five and one-half lengths two weeks ago, first off the claim by Corrales, after a 13 length win in the race claimed out of. Both came over the track and now McCarthy gets on with the gelding bred to run all day (by Awesome Again out of a Malibu Moon mare) so there’s little concern about the 10 furlong trip all are trying for the first time. The 97 figure was a career best and the gelding should continue in top form. Dynamax Prime runs first off the claim by Gonzalez, for a very sharp owner in Robert Bone. The gelding was NOT qualified for this level until dropped by his previous trainer into a $12,500 claiming race one before last, which he won by a nose, and when he remained at the level his current connections likely saw the opportunity to run in these starter races with an exceptionally high purse ($65K, $39K to the winner). Gonzalez wins 25% off the claim and Carrasco, who gets on, is the #1 winning jockey for the barn (30% wins on 100 races in the past 15 months) so all signs are “GO” for another big effort, with his nose win one before last earning the same 97 figure as Bobby G earned in his win over the track two weeks ago.




Win bets: Bobby G and Dynamax Prime to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.


Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exactas: Bobby G and Dynamax Prime over all except Don’t Poke the Cat & Kopper Wired.

Play the reverse of that exacta as well, even if for $1, as it could pay very well and we win twice if they Bobby G and Dynamax Prime run one-two.


Pick 3:

Race 6 – Bobby G and Dynamax Prime.

Race 7 – Las Setas.

Race 8 – Always Mining and Joevia.



Pick 3:

Race 6 – ALL (except Don’t Poke the Cat & Kopper Wired).

Race 7 – Las Setas.

Race 8 – Always Mining and Joevia.


Beyond the Wire Stakes - Race 7 at Laurel - Post Time 4:12 PM Eastern


If we are live in the pick 3’s there is no reason to play but if not, Las Setas is a standout and playable to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more. In this eight horse field, Las Setas is the “Lone Front Runner” just as she was last month when winning the nearly identical Wide Country Stakes and when breaking her maiden in wire-to-wire fashion one month earlier. She earned a field high 92 Equibase figure for that effort, her second strong improvement off her maiden debut in December, and she should continue to improve.



Win bets: Las Setas to win at 9 to 5 or more.



Private Terms Stakes - Race 8 at Laurel- Post Time 4:43 PM Eastern


Alwaysmining is a fairly legitimate favorite but opens at 4 to 5. Hopefully we will be live for a decent profit (at least more than what the same amount to win would pay) in the pick 3. Joevia is the only other horse that can win in my opinion and opens at decent 7 to 2 odds. Alwaysmining has run 10 times, winning five, while Joevia has only run twice,, hence the latter opening at higher odds although his last effort, when beaten a neck in the Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct, earned a nearly identical Equibase figure (98) to the 99 figure Alwaysmining earned winning the Miracle Wood Stakes last month at Laurel. Neither horse has EVER run two-turns until today and with Joevia having excellent upside in his third career start, coming out of a KEY race from which the winner (Haikal) came back from to win the Gotham last weekend, I’m really hoping he posts the mild upset to win.




Win Bets: Joevia to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.


Exacta: Box Joevia and Alwaysmining.



Inside Information Stakes - Race 11 at Gulfstream - Post Time 5:37 PM Eastern


Jala Jala proved her stakes win against Caribbean horses on 12/8 to be no fluke when 2nd of 7 last month in the Royal Delta Stakes at a mile and the cut back to seven furlongs helps her chances of continuing to improve in her 3rd U.S. start. She beat Tequilita by a neck for 2nd but opens at 6 to 1 compared to 5 to 2 for that one, and the 105 figure is on par with Cairenn’s stakes winning figure, Pink Sand’s stakes winning figure and with only Teresa Z’s figure from November higher. Jaramillo rides back and Jala Jala has a sharp work since raced so could run well enough to win. Pink Sands ran well in a one turn mile over the track last month in an allowance race, earning a stakes quality 107 figure, her 2nd win in a row, and is ready for stakes company for the hot McGaughey barn (12 for 51 at the meeting). There are no real knocks except likely low odds on Cairenn, Tequilita and Teresa Z.



Win bets: Jala Jala and Pink Sands at odds of 3 to 1 or more.


Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.


Exactas: Box Jala Jala, Pink Sands and Cairenn.

Box Jala Jala, Pink Sands and Tequilita.

Box Jala Jala, Pink Sands and Teresa Z.


Rebel Stakes:

Although not available on Amwager, the Rebel Stakes is interesting and it is the Equibase weekly feature race.

Here are the win contenders in the two divisions:



Race 8:


Long Range Toddy




Race 10:

Omaha Beach

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Friday, 08 March 2019 12:50

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, March 9

Challenger Stakes - Race 8 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 3:45 PM Eastern


Killybegs Captain is drawn outside Flameaway, the 3/2 morning line favorite who is a need-the-lead type, but inside Jay's Way, who also is a need-the-lead type. However, Killybegs Captain is stretching out off a sprint while the other two have been running in routes for some time and that means Flameaway and Jay's Way have LITTLE, if ANY, chance of having the early lead if Camacho decides to let Killybegs Captain run even a little bit from the gate to the first turn. If Flameaway and Jose Ortiz want the lead, Camacho can sit in 2nd as the horse closed from 3rd to win last fall as well as last winter. Either way, considering Killybegs Captain comes out of two big efforts over the track (both wins) with 109 and 100 Equibase figures, compared to Flameaway, who ONLY earned an 84 figure in his comeback from six months off last month and who faded badly after leading through an opening 50 second half mile, Killybegs Captain can beat the favorite. As for Jay's Way, he either ran evenly or lost ground in the stretch in his last five dirt routes, something even Irad Ortiz, Jr. may be unable to change, particularly as the horse has proven to be capable of winning ONLY when on the lead. Opening at 9/2, Killybegs Captain has all the makings of a KEY WIN BET on the day.



Bourbon Resolution and Longden both warrant consideration, opening at 8/1 and 10/1, particularly if Flameaway runs like he has in a number of races, insisting on the early lead at any cost, and Jay's Way runs similarly, but if Killybegs Captain either doesn't fire or gets involved in a silly speed duel. Bourbon Resolution came back from seven months off last month with a big sixth to first rally at a mile and a career best 103 Equibase figure likely to be improved upon. He won at nine furlongs before the rest and has a lot of talent. Longden closed from last of 10 to miss by a neck on grass last month but two before that won on the Tampa main track at this distance with a rally from sixth, even after stumbling at the start. He's talented as well and if able to run as well on dirt as on grass last out when earning a 103 figure he could post the upset.




Win Bets: Killybegs Captain to win at odds of 5 to 2 or more.

For only a slightly smaller amount, Bourbon Resolution and Longden to win at 3 to 1 or more.


Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exactas: Box Killybegs Captain, Bourbon Resolution and Longden.

Killybegs Captain, Bourbon Resolution and Longden over ALL.



Pick 4:

Race 8- Killybegs Captain, Bourbon Resolution and Longden.

Race 9- Hawksmoor, Viva Vegas, Rymska, Onthemoonagain and Goodyearforroses.

Race 10- La Feve, Mega Fortune, Winter Sunset, Elsa and Winning Envelope.
Race 11- Win Win Win

The cost of the ticket if all horses run is $37.50



NOTE: If you want to use ALL six horses in the first leg, instead of just the three above, I'm okay with that and the cost of the ticket becomes $75.



Hillsborough Stakes - Race 9 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 4:19 PM Eastern


Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas and Hawksmoor finished fourth, second and first, respectively, in the nearly identical Endeavour Stakes over the course last month, and I'll try to reverse that order here although all three can win. Goodyearforroses, who opens at 8/1, was 6 to 1 at post time for the Endeavour in spite of having been away from the races for 15 months. That's 15 months without a race, attempting to run two turns in a graded 3 stakes, and that's a very tough question to ask any horse. She ran very well in spite of that, moving up from ninth of 10 early to be beaten 3 lengths at the wire, and has a ton of improving to do. Goodyearforroses has as much class as Hawksmoor (who finished second in a pair of grade 1 stakes in the fall of 2017) as she won the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes (at the distance of the Hillsborough) in 2017 and finished second in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes (115 figure), and she's going to improve a lot 2nd off the lengthy layoff and off the 104 figure effort earned last month.



Viva Vegas rallied from 9th to be beaten a half-length by Hawksmoor last month, her 2nd start off a layoff since last fall. She earned a career best 107 figure in that effort and gets a four pound break in the weights, as she was carrying two more pounds than Hawksmoor then and is carrying two pounds less today. I'm not a huge believer in weight, but if a horse was beaten a half-length one day and has four less pounds next time out than the horse which beat her, those results could be reversed.



Hawksmoor has earned over $1 million in a nice career including the win last month off a three and one-half month layoff. She's won back-to-back before and can do so again, but I wouldn't expect her odds to be anywhere near her morning line of 3 to 1 considering she was sent off as the 7 to 5 favorite in that last race.



The Chad Brown trained pair of Onthemoonagain and Rymska will be used on all pick 3, pick 4 and double tickets played, but for exactas I'm going to try to split them on exacta tickets below which key on the three main win contenders. Onthemoonagain led late and finished 2nd to tougher in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl when last seen but that was five months ago, while Rymska was second last month in the similar Grade 3 Suwanee River Stakes after two months off.




Win bets: Goodyearforroses and Viva Vegas to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exactas: Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas and Hawksmoor over Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas, Hawksmoor, Rymska and Onthemoonagain.



Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas, Hawksmoor, Rymska and Onthemoonagain over Goodyearforroses, Viva Vegas and Hawksmoor.



If you didn't play the pick 4 starting in race 8, or if none of the contenders won, you can start a pick 3 here:

Race 9- Hawksmoor, Viva Vegas, Rymska, Onthemoonagain and Goodyearforroses.

Race 10- La Feve, Mega Fortune, Winter Sunset, Elsa and Winning Envelope.
Race 11- Win Win Win


Florida Oaks - Race 10 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 4:50 PM Eastern


Mega Fortune not only took to turf like a duck takes to water last month when trying turf for the first time, she was also trying two-turns for the first time and adding blinkers. Those are the reasons she won at 40 to 1 after two poor dirt sprints and the win was not a fluke as she's come back to work a very strong half-mile on the turf at Palm Meadows in 47.6 around the cones, which was still the second best of 52 workouts at the distance on the day. She won from the 10 post but gets the two post here and the 90 Equibase figure is the best last race winning figure in the field and the second best last race figure in the field behind Concrete Rose, who earned hers last fall.



Winning Envelope did the same thing Mega Fortune did one race before last, which was last fall, winning off two sprints in her turf and two-turn debut. She drew off nicely by almost five lengths, in an allowance race then was given more than four months off to rest and mature. Her comeback, on dirt last month in the Suncoast Stakes, was horrible, but it's meaningless as she moves back to grass.



Elsa won the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante Stakes on the grass at Del Mar in November then two and one-half months later was sent to post as the 2 to 5 favorite in the Shantel Lanerie Memorial Stakes, ending up 2nd and beaten a length and one-half by Winter Sunset. She was three wide into the first turn and 5 to 6 wide into the far turn and still ran huge, so with Bravo back aboard, up for the Durante win but not last out, she could return to stakes winning form.



La Feve and Winter Sunset will be used on pick 3, pick 4 and double tickets played.




Win bets: Mega Fortune and Winning Envelope to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Consider an additional win bet, on Elsa, if she is 3 to 1 or more near post time (which I doubt she will be).

Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Optional doubles:

Mega Fortune, Winning Envelope, Elsa, La Feve and Winter Sunset in Race 10 with Win Win Win in race 11.



Tampa Bay Derby - Race 11 at Tampa Bay Downs - Post Time 5:25 PM Eastern


Win Win Win tries two turns for the first time off a strong win in the Pasco Stakes over the track in January at the distance of seven furlongs. Neither the additional turn nor the added distance should be an issue for the son of Hat Trick, whose sire was 1989 Kentucky Derby winner Sunday Silence. Showing maturity since rallying from second in the early stages to win in his debut last November, Win Win Win has steadily improved. He won his second career start by more than six lengths with a 99 Equibase Speed Figure then improved to 104 when second in the Helft Stakes at the end of December, before a career-best and field high 113 figure in the Pasco. In the Pasco, Win Win Win pulled the jockey to the lead on the turn as he easily went by three horses and was in front by two lengths with an eighth of a mile to go before continuing to extend the margin and win by seven and one-quarter lengths at the wire. 2018 Eclipse winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. takes off an entire day at Gulfstream Park to ride Win Win Win for the first time as it is likely he and his agent sense the potential for this colt to go all the way to Louisville. With a very strong workout over the track coming into the race which was the best of 75 on the day for the distance of a half-mile proving a strong indication of fitness, Win Win Win appears capable of dominating in this year's Tampa Bay Derby just as he did in the Pasco.



Well Defined won the Sam F. Davis stakes last month, the local prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby, and did so rather easily by nearly three lengths. As a two-year-old, Well Defined won the In Reality Stakes for horses bred in Florida and earned a very strong 111 figure, at the distance of the Tampa Bay Derby. Following that big win, Well Defined went off form, finishing 12th, then fifth, but as Well Defined returned to top form with a 97 figure effort in the Sam F. Davis, and with possible improvement in his third start following a layoff, he should be respected as a contender to win the race.



Dream Maker won at the short distance of five and one-half furlongs in his debut last June then was out of action for three months. When he returned, he was entered in the Hopeful Stakes in New York and could only manage a fifth of eight finish. Trying two turns last fall in the Breeders' Futurity, Dream Maker ended up 12th of 13 in another disappointing effort, this one as the betting favorite. However, given four months off to grow up and to get over whatever issues resulted in those two poor efforts, Dream Maker not only returned to the races with aplomb, he did so around two turns without a sprint prep. In that race last month, Dream Maker made a quick move on the turn to go from third to four and one-half lengths in front of the next horse by the time the field reached the eighth pole, then was "ridden out" to an eight and one-half length win. Although the effort earned a 95 figure which is much lower than the 111 Well Defined earned in his best effort and the 113 Win Win Win earned in the Pasco, Dream Maker has potential to take a big step forward, particularly as he was flattered when the runner-up from his last race won and improved by six points.




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



Trifectas: Win Win Win over Dream Maker and Well Defined over ALL.

Win Win Win over ALL over Dream Maker and Well Defined.



Thursday, 07 March 2019 14:20

Trap Days

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


March 7, 2019

Trap Days

By: Jonathan Stettin

Those who follow the NFL know what a trap game is. That is when a supposedly better team takes a game lightly against a team they are supposed to beat. Often this happens when the so-called better team is looking ahead to a more meaningful or tougher game the following week. Better teams get beat in trap games. In our sport, the Sport of Kings I have my own version of trap games I refer to as trap days. I’ll explain and share my best methods to overcome them.

This coming Saturday is what I call a trap day. Good cards with meaningful races will lure many of us to play tracks we do not normally follow daily. This can be dangerous. In a game that is tough enough on your home court, or shall we say your home track or meet, it gets much more challenging at a track you do not follow.

Being in the groove, knowing who is hot, who is not, the track trends, any bias, and the nuances give you an edge. Take that away and now you are playing from behind and against those who are in the groove at this circuit. You are playing into their edge. Tall task.

Now, many of us will want to play Tampa and Turfway on Saturday. They are both having their banner days and races with Kentucky Derby points on the line. Santa Anita being closed will drive the pools and attention even higher. If you are going to play, and these are not your familiar circuits I will share my approach in not giving up the edge.

I will handicap the cards in detail, taking my time as I normally do before any turf speculation. I will pay extra time and attention to the replays I watch of races over the track. This is crucial as you can pick up trends.

I will diligently review the charts for the meet with an emphasis on the last two weeks of 10 days. I am looking for any bias or noticeable trend or edge.

Next, I will look at the high percentage trainers and riders, and look at the moves or situations they excel in. These are fundamentals, but at a track you play every day, or at least often you probably already know this. On a trap day at a strange track you probably don’t.

I will look at the meet leaders to date. I will also look at who rides for who first call. While none of these stats or observations will point me to a specific horse or bet, combined with handicapping they will strengthen or dampen my opinions. My goal when done with my homework is to know the meet as if I play it every day. This won’t guarantee a win but will take away anyone having an edge on me.

Turfway is a synthetic track. They are tough to play and gauge. Generally, and I mean very generally, turf horses seem to do well on synthetic surfaces.

Tampa is a heavy track. It can play fast at times but is heavier than most dirt tracks. It is a great track to get horses legged up over and for years I have made money with horses coming from Tampa races. They are often overlooked as many consider Tampa a second tier meet. That’s a mistake. Their shippers do well.

To avoid the trap day, or at the least level the playing field you are going to have to spend more time than usual getting prepared. If you don’t, you run the risk of beating yourself with an oversight. I suggest not letting that happen. Be prepared. Take your time and do it right. Your bankroll might thank you later.


Friday, 01 March 2019 11:55

The Two M's

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


March 1, 2019

The Two M's

By: Jonathan Stettin

When you play the horses today you have a plethora of opportunities to go after. Back in the day before simulcasting you were pretty much stuck with your local track and whatever wagers, pools, and takeout they offered. Things are very different now and you are hit with options not just throughout the country but literally spanning the globe.

When tackling this great game, you’ll hear a lot of talk about handicapping, and of course, that makes sense. If you can’t handicap whatever else you do won’t work. You will also hear much about ticket structures. This is another important and even crucial aspect of your game. What you don’t hear a lot of talk about, but what is equally important is your money management. The two m’s are vital.

Whatever your bankroll is for the day, week, month, or year you had better be prepared to manage it. This holds true as it increases or decreases throughout whatever time period we are dealing with. With all these tracks and exotic wagering menus running simultaneously if you don’t pick and choose spots wisely and allot the right amounts to your key wagers you will get swallowed, no matter how good a handicapper you are or how you structure your bets.

If you ask 10 different players how they manage their money you will get your fair share of answers. All of us have styles and preferences. I’m a big fan of whatever works for you but that said you need a game plan, consistency and discipline. Without those, you are done. Stay home or shut down the device. You can thank me later.

Let’s use a mythical $100 bankroll for a day at the races to illustrate how I attack the game and have for many years now. Bear in mind, we may play for different reasons. I don’t play for fun or recreation. I play to win. To beat the game. To make it count, so my approach may not be for everyone. It does and has worked for me though.

First of all, I limit my study to one or possibly two tracks for the day. I’ll peruse the meets I follow and see where I think the cars and fields are best suited for a score. At that point, I will seriously handicap the cars. Let’s say it is a 10 race card for all intents and purposes. It really doesn’t change my approach regardless of how many races they run.

I will spot the best horse, or maybe two horses, I think have the best chance to win. If they are in two races that are linked in a pick 4 or 5, or maybe 6, that simplifies things. Two singles in a multi-race bet, for a total of $80 or 80% of my bankroll for the day. Whatever amount my $80 allows with the two singles, be it 50 cents or $5 that is what I’ll play the bet for. My other $20 will be spent on the other races in the card. There are times I’ll put the entire bankroll into the one bet. Often actually, but the 80% rule will work for most.

If the horses can’t be linked, I’ll go after the one I like better. That decision could be based on price but more often than not will be based on whom I feel is more likely to win. I will find a way to create some value with a winning horse. A losing horse offers no value, just an exit to the car singing Another One Bites the Dust. I never saw the point in that.

On days where my $80 goes after one horse, the other $20 will nexuses going after the other horse whom I did not give the nod to. I’ll watch and take notes on the other races, but the two I like best are the two who will get my investment. Sure, you need patience and control to spend a day at the track this way, but if you aren’t supplementing your play with handsome rebates you’d better learn to do it or find a bottomless well.

When I decide to go after a horse, I look at the horizontal and vertical wagers and see where I can get the best shot of a score if I’m right. That’s where the $80 will go.


Friday, 01 March 2019 11:36

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, March 2


Very One Stakes - Race 7 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 2:30 PM Eastern


The Tulip had a decent 2018 campaign in which she earned 100K while winning a pair of races including a minor stakes in Northern California. She’s not nearly as accomplished as morning line favorite Holy Helena, who earned $300K last year, but her best effort is certainly as good as Semper Sententiae, who opens at 7/2, so her 10/1 starting odds are to be noted. She cuts back from 11 furlongs to 9 1/2 which doesn’t seem like much but she ran well twice at nine furlongs last spring before winning the minor stakes, and she ships in all the way from California (where there aren’t ample opportunities because of recurring rain), getting current Santa Anita leading jockey Joel Rosario, and giving us enough reasons to take a shot betting her to win and keying her on exacta tickets.



Similarly, Lafta, who also opens at 10/1, must be noted as she won her first two starts after importing to the U.S. last summer and fall before a fifth of 14 finish in December. She earned one of those wins leading from start to finish in a little stakes over this course and in the other win she closed from fourth won going away. Leparoux rides for the first time and the mare appears to be capable of winning this pretty wide open race.



Holy Helena won this race last year at 7 to 2 off an allowance win one month earlier then won in May before a six race losing streak, including as the 7 to 5 favorite in a non-graded stakes in December. She can run well but is no lock. Danceland has a couple of efforts (last June and August) which, if repeated, may have her in the picture late, as does Tricky Escape and Semper Sententiae, so we’ll use them with the pair of 10/1 shots in exactas.



Win Bets: The Tulip and Lafta to win at odds of 7 to 2 or more.


Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exactas: The Tulip and Lafta over The Tulip, Lafta, Danceland, Holy Helena, Semper Sententiae and Tricky Escape.



Also The Tulip, Lafta, Danceland, Holy Helena, Semper Sententiae and Tricky Escape over The Tulip and Lafta.



Doubles: The Tulip and Lafta in Race 7 with ALL in Race 8

The Tulip, Lafta, Danceland, Holy Helena, Semper Sententiae and Tricky Escape in Race 7 with Cambier Parc and Connectivity in Race 8.



Herecomesthebride Stakes - Race 8 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 3 PM Eastern


Cambier Parc appears to be a legitimate favorite, with Connectivity next most probable, in this field. Both are trained by Chad Brown and both won on the Gulfstream Park turf in their most recent starts, Cambier Parc powerfully by four under Jose Ortiz (who rides back), Connectivity with a rally from ninth under Irad Ortiz, Jr., who rides back. There’s not much to do in this race unless the odds are right to for the most part that’s why the doubles started in the seventh race are the preferred way to profit from this race.



Win Bets: Cambier Parc to win at odds of 3 to 2.

Connectivity to win at odds of 5 to 2.



Honey Fox Stakes - Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern


Precieuse is a standout in this race and that’s great because we can play a pretty small pick 3 and pick 4 and really spread in the last two legs. Precieuse won a significant group 1 stakes in France in the spring of 2017 as a three year old, before a poor effort in June of that year at Ascot where she may have bled. Taking a while to get acclimated to U.S. racing, she made her stateside debut last August at Saratoga in the non-graded De La Rose Stakes, rallying furiously on the turn to go from sixth to first then battling the last eighth of a mile and coming up a head short to Uni, who went on to win the Noble Damsel and Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes. The 112 Equibase figure from the De La Rose pretty much towers over these as it is, as does the quality of her competition in that race and her European races, and as she nearly won at a mile following 13 months off and considering Brown’s superb 28% win rate off long layoffs, she should win here. Although I’m hopeful her 7/2 morning line will hold up I’m not holding my breath.



For second and third, a trio of horses who ran well in the recently run South Beach Stakes are noted. Dolce Lili won the race by a half-length and opens at 4 to 1, but the horse she beat by a half-length for the win, Conquest Hardcandy, opens at ridiculous 15/1 odds, as does Fire Key, who was just another half-length back. Valedictorian just won a grade 3 stakes over the track and could be part of the exotics, as could Bellavais, another recent grade 3 stakes winner over the course.



Win Bets: Precieuse to win at odds of 6 to 5 or more, a true low odds overlay.



Exacta: Precieuse over Valedictorian, Fire Key, Conquest Hardcandy, Bellavais and Dolce Lili.

We can play the same ticket as a trifecta, using the same five horses in both second and third under Precieuse.



Pick 4:

Race 11 – Precieuse

Race 12 – Jaywalk

Race 13 – Bourbon War, Vekoma, Hidden Scroll, Global Campaign, Everfast

Race 14 – Village King, Hunter O’Riley, Vettori Kin, Zulu Alpha, Highland Sky, Kulin Rock, Montclair, Channel Maker



Pick 3 (two tickets)

Race 11 – Precieuse

Race 12 – Jaywalk

Race 13 – All



Pick 3

Race 11 – Precieuse

Race 12 – Jaywalk

Race 13 – Bourbon War, Vekoma, Hidden Scroll, Global Campaign, Everfast



Davona Dale Stakes - Race 12 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 5:01 PM Eastern


Jaywalk is a standout here but opens as the odds-on favorite so the best way to profit around her winning is from Pick three and four tickets started in race 11 and started here as well, although the pick 3 started here is doubling up on the last three legs of the pick 4, unless Precieuse did not win.



In lieu of a win bet, trying to turn 1 to 5 into 2 to 1, we can play an exacta of Jaywalk over Champagne Anyone and Bold Script, who I think are pretty probable to run second.




Pick 3:

Race 12 – Jaywalk

Race 13 – Bourbon War, Vekoma, Hidden Scroll, Global Campaign, Everfast

Race 14 – Village King, Hunter O’Riley, Vettori Kin, Zulu Alpha, Highland Sky, Kulin Rock, Montclair, Channel Maker



Fountain of Youth Stakes - Race 13 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:32 PM Eastern


Looking at all the factors which suggest how much some horses will improve from race to race as well as their pedigree to become one of the top three year olds this winter and spring, I've landed on Global Campaign. Not only do the chart caller's comments "wrapped up" describe his two authoritative wins in two starts to date (the most recent at the distance of the Fountain of Youth), the colt is bred to be a star. He's by Curlin, not only the sire of last year's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and Haskell Invitational Stakes winner Good Magic but also winner of three important graded stakes (Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby and Preakness) as a three year old. Perhaps just as important, Global Campaign is out of the mare Globe Trot, who has produced two stakes winning horses to date, including one of last year's other top three year olds, Bolt d'Oro. In trying to validate whether the "wrapped up" comments did justice to how easily he won both starts to date, I watched the videos and indeed, Global Campaign was in a league of his own in the last three-eighths of a mile in both races, giving no other horse a chance. His Equibase figures of 98 then 99 are lower than other horses in the race, most notably likely favorite Hidden Scroll, but when considering how much more Global Campaign may have in the tank based on not having been asked to run hard in both races as well as based on his tremendous breeding, I expect a graded stakes-winning effort from the colt in the Fountain of Youth.



Bourbon War was also pretty impressive winning at Gulfstream at the distance of the Fountain of Youth in his most recent race, boldly rallying between horses on the turn to go from fifth to first by the time the field hit the eighth pole. Drawing off under his own power, Bourbon War earned a very strong 107 figure, which might be one of the best at this time of year if not for the 115 figure Hidden Scroll earned eight days later. However, Hidden Scroll earned his big figure on a sloppy track and in a one-turn mile race and has yet to run two-turns, whereas Bourbon War has three races under his belt and is making his second start following seven weeks off, and so has lots of room to improve. 2018 Eclipse Award winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. rode Bourbon War in victory in January and rides again. As a son of Tapit, who has sired many three year old graded stakes winners over the last few years, including 2016 Fountain of Youth winner Mohayman, there's little doubt Bourbon War has what it takes to perform well enough to win this race.



Hidden Scroll absolutely dominated in a 13 horse field in his debut in late January. He took the lead shortly after the start and widened until geared down to a 14 length victory. The 115 figure he earned is the best figure I've ever noted a three year old earning in the first half of the year. As a son of Hard Spun, the added distance and two-turn nature of the Fountain of Youth should not pose a problem. However, Hidden Scroll has only raced once and he has never raced around two-turns as he is being asked to do in this race. Trainer Bill Mott is not known for winning with a high percentage of horses in their racing debuts, so the win by Hidden Scroll in his debut bodes well for another top effort. Additionally, Mott had good success with Hofburg last year when he entered the maiden winner to run second in the Florida Derby. As such, we should not discount the chances of Hidden Scroll dominating once again.



Everfast is a horse likely coming in under the radar who must be respected, in my opinion. After winning his debut last August in a seven furlong sprint, Everfast didn't do much in five races including three stakes. However, in his second race as a three year old, Everfast finished second of nine in the Holy Bull Stakes at odds of 128 to 1. The 102 figure was decent enough compared to most of the main contenders in the Fountain of Youth and it is reasonable to project he will run better in his third start off the layoff.



Notes about others: Vekoma (110 best figure winning the Nashua Stakes) and Signalman (95 best figure when third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, before winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes with a 92 figure) both return from layoffs significant enough I think they are at a disadvantage to the four contenders above. According to a STATS Race Lens query I ran, trainer McPeek (Signalman) has a one-for-27 record with horses coming back in routes from this type of layoff over the last two years, while trainer Weaver (Vekoma) has a 0 for 8 record. It is certainly conceivable Signalman and Vekoma can run well and be in the top four to earn "Road to the Derby" points, but I do not believe either will win. Code of Honor was disappointing as the odds-on favorite in the Mucho Macho Man in January, his three year old debut, but must be respected off his runner-up effort in the Champagne Stakes last fall so I’ll consider him for a minor award as well.



Win bets: Global Campaign and Bourbon War to win at odds of 7/2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Also consider at least a minimum win and place bet on Everfast at odds of 6 to 1 or more (considering he opens at 20/1).



Exacta: Bourbon War, Hidden Scroll and Global Campaign over Bourbon War, Hidden Scroll, Global Campaign, Code of Honor, Vekoma, Signalman and Everfast.

Friday, 22 February 2019 18:13

Get Out of The Way

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


February 22, 2019

Get Out of the Way

By: Jonathan Stettin


Race callers have always had their trademark calls. Some we like, some we don’t, and track announcers are a matter of personal choice. That said, the trademark calls become almost a part of the racetrack experience. We learn to accept the ones we don’t like as they are part of the venue’s branding.


One of the more famous calls was Dave Johnson’s “and down the stretch they come.” Just about every racing fan recognized those words and knew the horses were in the stretch. Trevor Denman’s “and they’d need to sprout wings” was a personal favorite of mine especially if I had the horse on the lead.


I grew up listening to Fred Caposella, one of the greatest race callers of all time. He called the races at the New York tracks for a long time. Like Harry Henson from the Southern California circuit, Fred had the right voice for a race caller. Some of his calls were, “and they race down the backstretch that way.” Of course, “It is now Post Time,” and “they’re off. “


Luke Kruytbosch also had a race callers voice. It is an art, and a difficult one at that. There have been many great track announcers, and some not so good ones as well. The best of the bunch either had great signature lines or the classic race-trackers voice. Some were fortunate enough to have both.


The current Gulfstream Park announcer recently introduced a signature line into his calls. "Easy money," he’d say when a horse appeared home, often at a short price. Trust me when I say like it or hate it, the call has no impact on the outcome. Yes, some found it annoying, especially I’d imagine if they went against the chalk as many of us so often do. However, to complain about it to the point good ole Pete had to scrap it, well that is just plain silly.


I am not sure whether the powers that be at Gulfstream ordered the scrap, or Pete caved to the social media pressure. Either way, he caved, and no lion concerns themselves with the opinion of sheep. If that was a signature call, he should have owned it in my opinion. Easy for me to say, sure, but I have walked that walk my entire life.


While the whole race call thing is not that important and really doesn’t warrant much discussion or attention, I bring it up for another reason. It shows the lack of a fan connection and the inability of tracks to focus on keeping their people coming to the races. Branding, and creating a unique experience is a part, albeit not the biggest part, in keeping people coming and identifying with the venue. Nobody is going to stop going to Gulfstream or listening to calls because Pete occasionally says, “easy money.” People will sour however when management shows a disconnect with bettors and fans alike. I mean Gulfstream recently promoted the Pegasus World Cup by highlighting Snoop Dog would perform. I am the only one I saw mention we had two same year Breeders’ Cup winners squaring off. That is a disconnect.

Apparently, the disconnect is not limited to the US. Edgar Prado recently returned from Saudi Arabia where he was denied a license because of his age. Nobody looked into this before he came? Edgar is still a capable rider and younger than a Kentucky Derby winner I believe. Seriously?


Hoping tracks work together to improve the game seems futile at this juncture. Maybe we can hope they somehow just stop getting in the way.


Friday, 22 February 2019 13:02

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, February 23


Hal’s Hope Stakes - Race 11 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 4:58 PM Eastern


You’re never supposed to fall in love with horses when handicapping a race and deciding on wagering opportunities. You are only supposed to fall in love with bets, or to put it more succinctly, with wagering opportunity. However, in this race I have to do both as Sir Anthony isn’t a stab at 20/1 on the morning line, he’s got a strong probability to win in a race with a number of suspect low odds horses. Fortunately or unfortunately, morning line favorite Breaking Lucky isn’t one of them, but other horse with low morning line odds such as Quip (4/1) and Copper Town (6/1) certainly are suspect, as might be Tale of Silence (5/1), who will be bet from 8/1 starting odds owing to the Pletcher/Velazquez combination in the same manner Copper Town will be bet owing to the Pletcher/Castellano combination. HOWEVER, they have significant knocks – Prince Lucky coming back from eight plus months off with a career best 99 Equibase figure earned in a three year old restricted race before the layoff that isn’t close to what it’s going to take to win here, and with Copper Town having finished 8th, beaten 10 on 12/1 albeit in a grade 1 but running just as badly over the track on 1/26 in a similar grade 3 race when 7th of 8 and beaten 14 lengths. Quip comes back from 9 months off, facing four year olds for the first time, and there’s no telling how he will run.



On the other hand, Sir Anthony is in the best form of his life and the reason why is easily identifiable. He took blinkers off for the non-graded Bruce D Stakes at this one turn mile trip in August and won by 2 lengths, winning three in a row since including the nearly identical Harlan’s Holiday Stakes on 12/15. His last two efforts earned 107 figures so the first of the two was no fluke, neither the second, and he’s come back to work a strong five furlongs so he’s fit. Hernandez rode him in the Harlan’s Holiday and rides back and there is NOT A HORSE in this race with a recent figure good enough to beat Sir Anthony, save Breaking Lucky, if Sir Anthony repeats either of his last two efforts.



Breaking Lucky changed trainers last summer, finished third in a highly rated classified allowance at Saratoga then ran HORRIBLY in the Lukas Classic. The difference between the two was obvious as the first was around one turn and the latter around two. Kept around one turn, Breaking Lucky won a classified allowance at this mile trip here at GP by eight lengths in December then finished nicely from 6th to 2nd in the Fred Hooper Stakes last month. The first of the two efforts earned him a 112 figure and the latter only 98 but Saez was up for both and rides back and in my opinion, Breaking Lucky is the other horse with the VAST bulk of the probability to win this race (in addition to Sir Anthony).



Bets: Sir Anthony to win at odds of 5 to 2 or higher, adding a place bet at 4 to 1 or more.

Breaking Lucky to win at odds of 9 to 5 or more.



Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exacta: Box Sir Anthony and Breaking Lucky.



Trifecta: Sir Anthony and Breaking Lucky with ALL with Sir Anthony and Breaking Lucky. (This covers the contenders if they finish first and third).



Doubles: Sir Anthony and Breaking Lucky in Race 11 with R Boy Bode, Jackson, Standup and Gladiator King in race 12.

Optionally, play Sir Anthony in race 11 with the other five horses not mentioned above in race 12. This covers the field so we’re not left kicking ourselves if Sir Anthony wins race 11 at a nice price.



Texas Glitter Stakes - Race 12 at Gulfstream Park - Post Time 5:28 PM Eastern


Gladiator King gets the slightest of preference among four pretty equal win contenders in this five furlong turf sprint stakes for three year olds. His 9th place finish in the Holy Bull three weeks ago only proved her hates two turns, having finished a badly beaten 6th in his only other two-turn race. At under a mile, Gladiator King has a record of 3-1-0 in five races and he’s a perfect 2-for-2 at this five furlong turf sprint trip. He gets a good outside post which is not of concern because three of the horses inside have no early speed at all so he can get to the rail or close to it before the turn while stalking likely sizzling early leaders Running for Riz and Yes I Am Free. As such, opening at 6/1, Gladiator King can make us some money here running back to his last sprint, on 12/15, a win in a stakes (on dirt) in which he earned a 96 Equibase figure.



Standup broke 8th of 10 in his debut on 1/17 at this trip in a maiden race, showed no early speed whatsoever, then kicked in the afterburners in the last 8th of a mile to go from 7th, nine lengths back, to be beaten ¾ of a length on the wire when 2nd. I’m not concerned about him being a maiden in a stakes as these are all lightly raced, newly turned three year olds, and considering improvement many Pletcher starters show from start #1 to start #2 (with a 31% win rate) this colt getting up in time to win would be no surprise particularly if he logically improves off the 87 figure earned in the debut..



Jackson broke 11th and last in the Swale three weeks ago and I am drawing a line through that race as he lost all position. Jaramillo gets back on and was up for this first four starts including two wins, the second in a stakes I which he finished very well from 6th in the early stages. Jackson finished 2nd to a seven length winner in his only turf try, rallying from 7th in the early stages and earning a competitive 85 figure. Opening at 8/1 he must be respected for any and all wagers we make involving this race.



R Boy Bode rounds out the quartet of win contenders. He won his only turf sprint, in November, then after nearly three months off returned to finish 2nd to a six length winner who came back to win again. Jose Ortiz rides, a very intriguing move as it’s for a trainer he’s only ridden for twice in the past year, winning once. The 88 Equibase figure in that turf sprint is as good as most of the main contenders here and opening at 12/1 this is another horse we must take seriously as a contender.



Bets: Gladiator King and Standup to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Consider smaller win bets on Jackson and R Boy Bode at odds of 5 to 1 or more.



Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.


Exacta: Box Gladiator King, Standup, Jackson and R Boy Bode.


Race 13 at Gulfstream Park – Post Time 5:58 PM Eastern


This is a wide open straight maiden race at a mile on turf for three year old fillies, with eight of the 12 in the main body (not including also-eligibles) of the race first time starters There really isn’t a horse I can toss out as a contender, BUT there are two horses I will point out that I personally will be using on pick 3, 4 and double tickets as well as wagering on if the odds are 5/2 or more.

The first is logical – Comic City, a first time starter owned and bred by Juddmonte Farm and trained by Chad Brown, who has his first time starters mentally ready for turf routes first out, resulting in 22 wins in his last 100 races. Sire City Zip’s foals also run very well first out going long on turf, with a 5 for 23 record debuting in turf routes. With Castellano riding, the filly appears well meant and talented.

The second is not so logical – Passing Out, who opens at 15/1. She’s a first time starter by Orb with good turf breeding but the key here is trainer intent. Shug McGaughey wins once in a while with first timers but usually give his horses the experience of a race. The signal here is first time Lasix, suggesting this gal is talented and needs no such experience. Jose Ortiz is engaged to ride, and the most recent workout is on turf. This IDENTICAL pattern was in play a couple of weeks ago and the debuting colt ran on big time just missing to a Chad Brown first timer at 14/1.

Personally, I will be playing Comic City to win at odds of 5 to 2 or ore and betting Passing Out to win and place at odds of 5 to 2 or more.


Buena Vista Stakes - Race 8 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7 PM Eastern

Although Vasilika loves the Santa Anita turf course, evidenced by eight wins in nine races including a perfect four-for-four record at the mile trip of the Buena Vista, I think Zaffinah has an upset chance. Looking at just her two-turn turf races since importing to the U.S. in the winter of 2017, Zaffinah has done little wrong either, winning three of seven and finishing second in two others. Her best effort came in her most recent start, on January 21 in the Megahertz Stakes, won by Vasilika, but one in which she was on the rail at a critical point in the stretch with no room to stretch her legs. While Vasilika was in the three path passing leader Ms Bad Behavior, Zaffinah continued to wait then spurted through the inside to miss second by a head at the finish. That effort earned her a career-best 110 Equibase Speed Figure. Considering Vasilika earned 113 figures in her last three winning efforts, with Zaffinah likely to improve in her second start following two months off, if she can secure a path in the stretch to allow her to begin her kick earlier than in the Megahertz, she may be able to turn the tables on Vasilika and post the upset win.



There's not much to say about Vasilika which isn't apparent from her past performances or tremendous record of 2018 when winning nine of 11 including eight in a row, three of those being graded stakes. It was a testament to the work done by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer to help the mare to hold top form from February through November, particularly in the fall when she earned 111, 113 and 113 figures while winning the John C. Mabee Stakes, Rodeo Drive Stakes and Goldikova Stakes in succession. Following her fourth place finish in the Matriarch Stakes in December, Vasilika took 49 days off and returned in top form, once again earning a 113 figure when winning the Megahertz Stakes at the distance of the Buena Vista. Jockey Flavien Prat rode Vasilika in her last nine wins and continues to know just where to place the mare for her best effort. As such, there's no denying Vasilika is the one the other nine entrants have to beat to win this race.



Ms Bad Behavior, Fahan Mura and Compelled all have some degree of probability to be in the top four in the Buena Vista, and if neither Zaffinah or Vasilika runs their best, to win, but I’ll use them in second on exacta tickets only.



Bets: Zaffinah to win at odds of 3 to1 or higher, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.

Exactas: Box Zaffinah and Vasilika.

Zaffinah and Vasilika over Zaffinah, Vasilika, Ms Bad Behavior, Fahan Mura and Compelled.

Doubles: Zaffinah and Vasilika in Race 8 with Kenzou’s Rhythm and Bedeviled in Race 9


Race 9 at Santa Anita - Post Time 7:30 Eastern


This may be a lowly 20K claiming race but two horses stick out in my opinion, and neither are favorites. Kenzou’s Rhythm has run three “A” races in a row, a pair of runner-up efforts then a big four and one-half length win last month. All came at this mile dirt trip and the last two earned 111 and 106 Equibase figure, excellent for this level. Apprentice Figueroa was up for all 3 races and all 3 races came following the Morey claim. There are no knocks and the gelding gets a good inside post and has the tactical speed to sit third early off need-the-lead types Impression and Little Scotty to win his 2nd race in a row.

Bedeviled is the other main contender, losing Figueroa to Kenzou’s Rhythm but picking up leading jockey Rosario. He returned from 10 months off on 1/19 and was in need of a race. It was a sprint anyway and he’s not a sprinter. Stretched out to this mile trip next out he finished 4th of 7, beaten less than a length for 3rd, and now he’s ready to run back to his big effort under nearly identical conditions last January (2018) over the track when he stalked in 4th and rallied to get up by a nose.



Bets: Kenzou’s Rhythm and Bedeviled to win at odds of 2 to 1 or more.



Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.


Friday, 15 February 2019 19:38

Uncertain Futures

Past the Wire     Tracking Tips Logo


February 15, 2019

Uncertain Futures

By: Jonathan Stettin

To a large extent, the future is always uncertain. You can escalate that when you talk horse racing. Today, more than ever, the future of the Sport of Kings faces serious questions about how it will survive.

Let’s look at what we know. Saratoga has become a watered down meet not even closely reminiscent of the boutique high-quality August place to be it once was. NYRA has extended it to be a summer-long event and the fields you see on the large majority of days could be run at Aqueduct in the winter.

Aqueduct faces closure. The inner track for winter racing is gone. The casino is the focal point of the plant with racing a mere backdrop. The grandstand and clubhouse are dated and falling apart.

Belmont is undergoing renovations, maybe as no ground has been broken yet, but a hockey arena is apparently moving in. The old Belmont will be another Paradise Lost soon.

Hollywood Park is barely a memory.

Calder is not even a memory.

Pimlico is so run down it is in danger of losing the Preakness. If it does they will be a memory also.

Suffolk Downs. Gone.

Hialeah is like it never existed.

Santa Anita despite being home of one of the games powerhouse stables, Bob Baffert’s, struggles to find entries for their races.

Illegal drugs are seemingly prevalent. Legal drugs are overused and misused. Stewards are inconsistent at best. Super trainers are driving small barns into the ground.

Slaughter and aftercare are a serious issue. Perception of the sport is more negative than positive.

You can fire a cannon at most tracks during the week, and on plenty of weekends and not hit a soul.

Tracks can’t work together to the point of staggering post times, let alone any uniformity on significant matters.

Some of the things we don’t know can have even more ramifications.

Nobody really knows how sports wagering is going to impact or interact with horse racing. Many of the scenarios are not looking that good for our game. Why do any books need to share any revenue with horseman and or racetracks? I don’t know but if they don’t have to a good bet is they won’t. Hardcore horseplayers who feel alienated by the tracks are likely to be exposed to sports wagering. Even if sports wagering is not promoted, sports get mainstream coverage, and that will attract some players. I am not sold on us attracting any hardcore sports bettors. They have already been exposed to our game and landed where they did for a reason.

One of the most interesting things developing is the Stronach Trust lawsuit. While there have been reports on it, nobody I have seen is really looking at the scenarios that may unfold.

Stronach owns Santa Anita, Gulfstream and Pimlico amongst other tracks and assets. They own Adena Springs. These are major players in the thoroughbred industry. We know from the preliminary discovery all these tracks and the farm are losing money. Belinda, Franks daughter is claiming it is the result of Frank’s poor management and expensive whims.

Back when Gulfstream transitioned from the old facility to the new one I was still attending the races daily. I was there every day at the tent meet and the first few years in the new facility. I remember shortly after the new venue opened there was talk of a Magna bankruptcy. The 10 Palms staff, many who were my friends were worried about paychecks bouncing. It seemed that all went away, but now it seems that possibly it didn’t or may return.

I don’t know the financial situation of the Stronach holdings nor does it matter from where I sit. I do know that none of us know how this litigation will play out and what a settlement, verdict, or court order will do to the game.

What if Belinda wins and decides to sell off the racing assets? What is the court or Judge orders some type of asset dispersal? What is a settlement is reached which gives Frank the racing operations and they can’t sustain themselves? A lot of what ifs in that lawsuit and they almost all create uncertainty for the sport we love.

I think the potential is there for this lawsuit to have some major impact on horse racing. Maybe not tomorrow but down the road. Most of the scenarios look iffy at best.



Friday, 15 February 2019 14:39

Key Races & Bets for Saturday, February 16

John B. Campbell Stakes - Race 7 at Laurel - Post Time 3:30 PM Eastern


Unbridled Juan returns to his home base of the last year in the Northeast off a decent fourth place finish in the Hooper at Gulfstream, a one-turn mile which is not his best trip. Before that, he put in three superb efforts in a row, the best of which came in the Grover Delp Memorial last October with a 114 Equibase figure. Although earning a lower 106 figure next month, Unbridled Juan was very game winning the identical Richard W. Small Stakes in November. Cintron rode him in both those races and it appears in this field if he repeats either effort he can win.



Johnny Jump Up is the other horse I’d be willing to bet to win. He likes to win, with an 11 for 43 career mark including three wins in his last five races. One of those was in the Swatara Stakes in November with a 107 figure. He earned a 108 figure in victory last July, with both wins coming since joining the Graci barn and with Hernandez in the saddle as today. My main concern is his last four wins were earned when leading from start to finish but as he opens at 8/1 I would be willing to take a shot he gets the early lead he likes from the two post.



Discreet Lover opens at 3/1 odds which are based on the fact he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup last fall. That was a 10 furlong race and he has a 1 for 15 record at this 9 furlong trip. He has been facing much better so could run well on class and as such I’ll use him on some tickets but will be honest I’m trying to beat him with win bets on others. J



Monongahela finished second to Johnny Jump Up in the Swatara and third to Unbridled Juan prior to that in the Delp so is another not to be left out of exacta or trifecta tickets.



Bets: Unbridled Juan to win at odds of 9 to 5 or higher.

Johnny Jump Up at odds of 4 to 1 or more.



Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Exacta: Box Unbridled Juan and Johnny Jump Up.



Trifecta: Unbridled Juan over Johnny Jump Up, Discreet Lover and Monongahela over ALL.

Optionally, play another trifecta with ALL in the second position and Johnny Jump Up, Discreet Lover and Monongahela in third. That way if two of the three finish 2nd and 3rd, provided Unbridled Juan wins, we win twice.



Pick 3: (three tickets)

Race 7 – Unbridled Juan

Race 8 – All

Race 9 – Late Night Pow Wow, Dawn the Destroyer, Ms Locust Point



Race 7 – Unbridled Juan, Johnny Jump Up, Discreet Lover, Monongahela

Race 8 – Uncontested, Colonel Sharp, Laki

Race 9 – Late Night Pow Wow, Dawn the Destroyer, Ms Locust Point



Race 7 – Unbridled Juan, Johnny Jump Up, Discreet Lover, Monongahela

Race 8 – All

Race 9 – Dawn the Destroyer


Optionally, play the first two legs of either or both of the top two pick 3 tickets above as doubles.



General George Stakes - Race 8 at Laurel - Post Time 4 PM Eastern


Laki has won seven of 15 career dirt races, every one of the wins coming at Laurel including a couple of stakes. Last summer he won the Polynesian by virtue of the winner getting disqualified after missing by a nose and he fired to win in December off a two month layoff like the one he’s coming back from today With very consistent figures ranging from 107 to 110 last summer and fall and a competitive spirit, I’ll give him slight preference here particularly as he could be in a great stalking position off some speedy types in the early stages.



Uncontested was pretty highly regarded as a three year old in the winter of 2017 when taking the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn then went four races in a row before running well again, winning in September. He’s had a couple of stops and starts since then but his comeback from nine months off in December, after having joined the Patterson barn, was a BREAKOUT effort with a 115 figure. He led from start to finish in that race so the figure could be inflated but he proved earlier in his career he didn’t need the led to win and McCarthy rides back all signs for an effort good enough to win if he can run back to that last race.



Colonel Sharp won two races in a row including the Dave’s Friend Stakes, both at Laurel, before a fifth place when venturing to New York last month, which we can dismiss as that grade 3 stakes was made up of a different field than this grade 3 race. Acosta was up for both wins, which earned strong 108 and 110 figures so he must be respected as a contender for all the marbles here.



I was thinking of messing around with exactas in this 14 horse field but would rather concentrate on getting the pick 3’s home started in race 7, or pressing with Doubles, which would consist of the last two legs of the pick 3 tickets recommended at the end of race 7.



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

Uncontested to win at odds of 3 to 1 or more.

Colonel Sharp to win at odds of 4 to 1 or more.  



Note: When making multiple win bets, use a "Dutching" tool to do the work of allocating your wagering dollars for the best edge. Amwager has a great dutching tool available, among many other great features.



Barbara Fritchie Stakes - Race 9 at Laurel - Post Time 4:30 PM Eastern


Three horses stick out by a country mile against the other eight, and of the three even one of them sticks out a bit against the other two. That one is Dawn the Destroyer, who turned into a top sprinter somewhere between her pair of horrible races in the fall of 2017 and her last two sprints. Returning from seven months off in November, she ran the best race of her life, by far, when winning by four lengths to earn a 112 Equibase figure in a decent field, then was flattered when the runner-up came out of the race to win. Two months later on 1/25, she won the Interborough Stakes with a 110 figure effort in a field of eight, powerfully mowing down three rivals in the stretch to draw off. Junior Alvarado rode her for the first time in that race and travels from New York for a stakes race at the same distance and even though the other two contenders, Late Night Pow Wow and Ms Locust Point, are multiple stakes winners, the latter having won this race last year, their best E Figures have not exceeded 102 so their work may be cut out for them if Dawn the Destroyer repeats either of her last two efforts.



Between Late Night Pow Wow and Ms Locust Point come 17 wins and nearly $1 million in earnings. Late Night Pow Wow has won eight races in a row including the only time she faced Ms Locust Point, in the Willa on the Move Stakes at Laurel (albeit in the mud) in November. There’s no doubt both have tremendous physical and mental ability and since “there’s no such thing as a sure thing” I will consider them both for my plays.



Bets:  Dawn the Destroyer to win at odds of 6 to 5 or higher, a true low odds overlay win bet.

Exacta: Box Dawn the Destroyer and Late Night Pow Wow. Box Dawn the Destroyer and Ms Locust Point.

Trifectas: Dawn the Destroyer over Late Night Pow Wow and Ms Locust Point over ALL.


El Camino Real Derby - Race 7 at Golden Gate - Post Time 6:54 Eastern


Eagle Song made his first eight career starts in Europe, three on all-weather surfaces like the Tapeta track at Golden Gate. Before importing to the U.S., Eagle Song won two in a row on the surface, both on left handed tracks like U.S. tracks. He was off three months before his U.S. debut on 1/11 and finished 4th in a turf sprint before improving nicely when stretched out to a mile and adding blinkers on 2/1, finishing second with a solid (for this field) 95 Equibase figure. As a grandson of Danehill, he should have no issues with the nine-furlong trip and the pattern for enough improvement to post the mild upset (opening at 5/1) in this race looks solid.

Kingly was entered in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds but it appears Baffert will opt for this spot, which is a bit odd as he’s never run on turf or all-weather in two starts. Still, in terms of his figure, he’s the fastest in the field, first earning a 99 figure winning a sprint in December then a 100 figure when second to exciting early Derby prospect Extra Hope. That was his first start around two turns and it appears Kingly has the style to either go to the lead or come from off the pace. Baffert won his share at Del Mar when it was all-weather so that’s not an issue either but he does open at 2 to 1 and jockey Roman is likely unfamiliar with riding at Golden Gate, both possible issues.

More Ice rounds out a trio I could see winning, having run on dirt once (in his debut) then on turf in his last five races, including two wins. The last two were decent enough, a win in November around two turns than an eighth to third finish in the Eddie Logan Stakes at the end of December. Both efforts earned the same 93 figure so it is possible this colt could jump up to a new best good enough to post the upset here, particularly since Jerry Hollendorfer is his trainer.

Two horses from the O’Neill barn intrigue me enough to use on exacta tickets. Both have raced in claiming races but have efforts good enough to get into the top three. They are The Creep and Weekly Call.



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

Kingly has minimum odds of 5/2 so it is highly unlikely he will be playable to win as he opens at 2/1.

Consider a smaller win bet (than on Eagle Song) on More Ice at odds of 7 to 2 or more.  



Exactas: Eagle Song, Kingly and More Ice over Eagle Song, Kingly, More Ice, The Creep and Weekly Call