Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs
Saturday May 1st, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 6:24 pm
Name: Kentucky Derby Grade: 1
Purse: $2,000,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/4 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Lookin At Lucky          3/1           1st Rebel Stakes
Ice Box                       10/1          1st Florida Derby
Noble’s Promise         12/1           2nd Rebel Stakes
Super Saver                15/1           2nd Arkansas Derby
Line Of David             30/1           1st Arkansas Derby
Stately Victor              30/1           1st Bluegrass Stakes
American Lion            30/1           1st Illinois Derby
Dean’s Kitten              50/1           1st Lane’s End Stakes
Make Music For Me    50/1          3rd Cash Call Futurity
Paddy O’prado           20/1           2nd Blue Grass Stakes
Devil May Care           10/1           1st Bonnie Miss
Conveyance                12/1           2nd Sunland Derby
Jackson Bend             12/1            2nd Wood Memorial
Mission Impazible       20/1            1st Louisiana Derby
Discreetly Mine          30/1            4th Louisiana Derby
Awesome Act            10/1            3rd Wood Memorial
Dublin                       12/1            3rd Arkansas Derby
Backtalk                    50/1            3rd Illinois Derby
Homeboykris             50/1            5th Holy Bull Stakes
Sidney’s Candy           5/1             1st Santa Anita Derby

For the second consecutive year the prospective Kentucky Derby Favorite has dropped out of the race – last season it was I Want Revenge and this season it is Eskendereya bowing out.

Last year the result of a rainy, muddy Kentucky Derby without it’s star three year old – resulted in a 50-1 longshot (and personal headache to yours truly) Mine That Bird slopping his way to the winner’s circle and sending those with winning tickets into a delirium.

Well this year many believe that a relative “longshot” could once again bring home a victory in the rain. Weathermen are reporting that it could be a very wet track on Saturday – and to be honest that’s the most confidence anyone is showing in regards to what might happen on the track this Saturday.

Usually I break these races down by listing the horses and their accomplishments however I attempted to cover that in the horse listing above.

To keep things shorter I will start by writing that I don’t believe horses 13 thru 20 (Jackson Bend – Sidney’s Candy) will be able to seize the first “jewel” in the Triple Crown.

Awesome Act may be the most comfortable with his starting position – however I’m just not sold on him being the best closing horse in this race.

Sidney’s Candy certainly has the talent to win this race – but the 20th spot really goes against his strength of being able to run with the leaders and then break away in the end. I wouldn’t be surprised if this horse ends up going very wide in the first turn which could result in him having absolutely nothing in the tank in the final stretch. Very tough post for this immensely talented horse – hopefully he’ll have a better spot in the Preakness.

Another horse who has received a less than stellar starting outlook is the favorite Lookin At Lucky. Here is what his Trainer Bob Baffert had to say about his opening spot –

“This horse, he can’t catch a break," Baffert said. "We named him wrong. You know what? You can’t worry about that. We’ve made it this far. Nothing surprises me with this horse. He just can’t catch a break. He’s either inside or outside. It is what it is. You can’t worry about that. You’ve got to break well. If he doesn’t break well then you’re screwed."

In short, the best horses are either not in the race or they have lousy starting spots. And on top of all of that weather will probably be a factor in this race…i.e come this Saturday….

Here’s how I see the race unfolding – Line of David (#5) will establish the lead and in my estimation will hold that lead throughout most of the race and into the final stretch. Conveyance (#12) will challenge that early lead and ride on Line of David’s shoulder in the early going.

However while the camera is following the lead horse – this race will be won or lost several lengths behind him coming out of the second turn.

*If Ice Box can find an open lane without going well wide in the final turn – I think he could catch Line of David. Ice Box has those great late strides that could help him close this race out.

*If Lookin At Lucky can find an open lane without going well wide in the final turn – I know he has the talent to catch Line of David – after two sub-par rides on this horse Jockey Garrett Gomez kind of owes ownership and this horse the ride of his lifetime – and that may be exactly what he’ll need to pull off a victory here.

*If Stately Victor isn’t just a Synthetic Track horse, and he actually can run on the dirt then….if he can find an open lane without going well wide in the final turn – I believe he could challenge Line of David. Incidentally Stately Victor finished dead last in his one and only appearance here at Churchill Downs – might have been a fluke, might have been a trend.

*Super Saver will be ridden by last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Calvin Borel – and when a jockey has won two out of the last three Kentucky Derbies I think you have to give Super Saver some consideration. Super Saver gave Line of David everything he had in a second place finish in the Arkansas Derby, however Line of David showed more heart last time out….we’ll see if the added distance makes any difference.

Horse Racing Nation’s David Crone likes the Filly Devil May Care


He and I disagree on the early pace of this race, and also perhaps on the importance of the post position – but in the end I think we’re both just shrugging our shoulders and in his case saying “why not Devil May Care?”

Because again in this race –

From everything I’ve seen this season – I like Line Of David in this race, and here’s why:

He’s shown improvement with each of his last three races, he should be able to set the early pace and by doing so avoid a “mess” of traffic coming out of the final turn. He defeated four pretty solid horses on the dirt in the Arkansas Derby – so unlike an American Lion or even Stately Victor – I feel this horse has risen to the kind of challenge he’ll see in this race.

I can’t help but think that one of these powerful closers is going to catch him from behind – like we’ve seen in previous Kentucky finishes with Street Sense or Mine That Bird (both ridden by Borel). But come this Saturday I’ll be rooting for Line of David to pull off a victory.

Closing Speed likes: 5-4-1

That’s not how I would bet this race – I think if you bet $10 to win on 2,3,4,5,6,10,11,and 12 that would be $80 and if the odds stayed the same at the very least you would win about $120 at the most you’d probably win (again if the odds stay the same) over $300 - provided one of those longshots wins of course.

Make sure to tune in it should be a fun one this Saturday - also I've attached a great Mint Julep recipe in the blog below. And of course the musical selection to get your weekend going.....Mr. Frank Sinatra & an odd 1930's Hollywood Montage with of course....Anything Goes.

A Proper Mint Julep

A Mint Julep when poorly made will taste like cheap bourbon carelessly mixed with a thick syrup (probably a green syrup) and when swallowed has a leafy aftertaste of broken chunks of Mint Leaves stuck to your tongue - giving you the option of being daring and swallowing the leaf whole, or using one of your fingers to rescue the leaf from your bite and then send it to the trash. This my friends is the sad tale of how a once delightful southern drink is currently being made by those who have clearly forgotten that good things come to those who wait.

Now a proper Mint Julep will melt your cares away and refresh your being like a cool lazy Carolina breeze that has set sail from the sea just to join you as you both lay back and watch the sun's descent. So here's how you make that second, more proper Mint Julep. This recipe comes from the irreplaceable Esquire Handbook For Hosts, with a mild twist of my own.

You'll need to prepare these 30 minutes....yes 30 minutes before you wish to enjoy them or present them to your guests.

Pour a measure (per guest) of Kentucky Bourbon over several sprigs of mint and allow this to stand for half an hour (yes, seriously still half an hour).

Place glasses (must be glass) in the freezer.

In a large seperate glass dissolve a teaspoon of sugar (per guest) in a little water. When half an hour has passed, remove the mint from the bourbon (or whiskey) and pour into the glass of sugar and water. Pour this mixture back and forth between the two glasses until the liquids are well mixed.

Remove the Glasses from the freezer (with napkins or towels so not to leave fingermarks on the glass) fill with ice (preferably crushed) and pour the Bourbon / Sugar and Water mixture over it - add mint - and Stir briskly.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Derby Trial Stakes

Churchill Downs
Saturday April 24, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 5:17 pm
Name: Derby Trial Stakes Grade: III
Purse: $200,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Game On Dude
Soaring Empire
Pleasant Prince
Hurricane Ike
Miner’s Reserve
Wow Wow Wow
Hear Ye Hear Ye

The Derby Trial Stakes primarily serves as a warm-up to the Preakness in three weeks – however in a few cases a couple of these horses, should they pull off a victory here, could turn right around and run in the Kentucky Derby next Saturday. It’s unlikely but it is possible.

The favorite in this outing will be the very explosive Eightyfiveinafifty. Had it not been for a strange equipment malfunction in the Whirlaway Stakes a few months ago – 85ina50 could have possibly already secured his spot for next week’s race.

His morning odds are 8 to 5 (kind of fitting if you think about it) – and everything about this race plays in his favor. There’s mild competition in this field – but a 1 mile race is a tailor made distance for this horse who will detonate out of the gate and set the course on fire in the early quarter mile – And once he establishes the lead – he’s tough to catch.

The two obstacles he’ll need to overcome is his outside post – which does present a challenge because of how much he needs that early lead – and the second most challenging factor for this horse is that…..he’s kind of an immature horse….i.e. he might be a little on the dumb side.

He reminds me a little of the Tim Robbins character “Nuke” LaLoosh from Bull Durham –

In that he’s an incredibly gifted horse physically, however in his last race he completely lost focus in the early going (staring at the infield instead of straight ahead) and it’s that kind of lack of focus that could cost this horse what should be a relatively easy win for him. Could that lost easy win be this Saturday?

Hurricane Ike (#5) finished a fading second behind Eightyfiveinafifty in their last race, the Bay Shore Stakes – currently he sits at 5/1 which I think is a little too generous for this horse – 8/1 or 10/1 might have me interested.

Pleasant Prince (#4) lost only by a whisker in the Florida Derby finishing 2nd behind winner Ice Box – and while his Florida outing was impressive he followed it up with a less than stellar 7th place in the Blue Grass Stakes.

This will be Pleasant Prince’s third race in little more than a month – and it seems to me that Ownership here is pushing for this horse to contend in at least one of the Triple Crown races. The big question is – did this horse just not “take” to the Blue Grass track or is this horse just too spent for a great outing here? I think you bet with caution here.

For many in this field this will be a rematch of the Florida Derby including Game On Dude who finished 7th, immediately followed by Soaring Empire (8th) and finally Miner’s Reserve who finished next to last in 10th.

I really thought Soaring Empire might turn it on right about now and blossom into something formidable, and with three year old horses it could still happen, but with Game On Dude, Soaring Empire and Miner’s Reserve I don’t expect any trips to the winners circle this Saturday.

Privilaged (#3) traveled from an unimpressive stint in California and finished 3rd in the recent Swale Stakes race (#8 Hear Ye Hear Ye finished 4th)– This horse will need some help – but at 15-1 he’s an interesting prospect. I’m not necessarily thrilled with his ability as much as I am unmoved by the rest of the field – such as……

Wow Wow Wow who has simply been Bad Bad Bad in his last three races finishing from most recent to least recent 10th, 8th, 8th, and 5th. He did win a 1 mile dirt race last November but let’s just say I don’t think Thanksgiving is going to come again this April. Wow Wow Wow is exactly what I would say if he wins.

And finally there’s (#9) Aikenite who also finished very poorly, 9th, in the Blue Grass Stakes. However in the Fountain of Youth Stakes he finished 3rd behind Eskendereya and Jackson Bend – and if his current odds of 6/1 remain I think he’s a good pick for second place.

In closing I think this race is Eightyfiveinafifty’s to lose – I think there’s a chance Pleasant Prince (if he’s not fatigued) could challenge him – but even then this horse is just dominate at 1 mile.

Closing Speed likes 10-4-5

For your entertainment pleasure - the song Nuke can't figure out the correct lyrics too - Try A Little Tenderness, by Mr. Otis Redding.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Coolmore Lexington Stakes - Recap

Coolmore - Recap


Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Also ran: Chief Council, Prince Will I Am, Kettle River, Distorted Dave, Heavenville, Krypton, Connemara, Call Shot, Lonesome Street.

$2 Win Ticket = $41.80
$2 Tri-fecta = $1,876.40

Well…..I thought there might be an upset brewing in the Coolmore, I just didn’t foresee the “right” horses.

I do not write this blog to glamorize the gambling aspect of Horse Racing – I actually write this blog (and pester my readers to read it) for the sole purpose of entertaining and informing them in regards to the Kentucky Derby / Triple Crown excitement that begins in a very short time.

In my opinion every American should have a favorite horse.

However…..there is the Right and Wrong aspect of it – that can only be measured by people literally putting their money where their mouths are (or their thoughts are) – and as you can see by the $2 Tri-fecta investment that returned $1,876 and change – not many people saw this one coming.

As you will see Exhi made this race very simple. He broke well from the gate, was unafraid of setting an up-tempo pace in the early half mile and as they hit the final stretch we saw that no one was Waiting for Exhi ---

Too much of a strech for Waiting to Exhale?? Yeah probably.....anway Exhi proved that the remainder of these horses simply aren’t good enough, or haven’t matured enough, to go to the next level (i.e. the Kentucky Derby or Preakness).

I expect to see Exhi take a chance in the Preakness should he be invited. The distance there should be to his liking and he’ll have an advantage of being more rested than any of the contenders from the Kentucky Derby who will only have two weeks to prepare for the second jewel in the triple crown.

While I predicted surprise in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes --- I, myself was surprised when Bushwacked not only turned out to be a 5/1 choice at the start of the race, but finished in second place. Clearly Keeneland bettors knew something – that I didn’t see in Bushwacked’s previous races.

I was mildly disappointed with Heavenville’s finish, however I was stunned with Connemara’s tenth place outing - ugly.

Finally if I was going to be wrong about an upset I wanted third place finisher UptownCharlieBrown to come out on top and turn around and give the Kentucky Derby a shot. Unlike most sports there is no…..”maybe next year”….in Triple Crown racing. From what I’m reading they certainly want this horse to run in a few major stakes later this summer – so maybe we’ll see him for the last race that I’ll cover for the season, the West Virginia Derby.

Video to follow:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coolmore Lexington Stakes


Saturday April 17, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 5:15 pm
Name: Coolmore Lexington Stakes Grade: II
Purse: $300,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/16 Miles, Synthetic, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Distorted Dave
Call Shot
Prince Will I Am
Lonesome Street
Kettle River
Chief Counsel

The Coolmore Lexington Stakes is by far the most “wide-open” race I’ve looked at this season. I can easily see six different horses winning this race – and narrowing it down to even the top three is a formidable task.

In honor of the baseball season I start with the 1, 2, 3 horses that are OUT – as far as my pre-race analysis goes.

Strike One – Is the #1 horse Krypton, who has been given very encouraging odds on the morning line of 6/1 – however outside of his favorable post position I haven’t seen anything in this horse's history to indicate that a victory is likely.

Steeerike Two – (#4) Bushwhacked – hasn’t shown any promise with this kind of distance, I think the Trainers are just hoping for a miracle here.

Strike Three and sit down – (#12) Chief Counsel. With a better starting gate look he might have been a factor, but his outside post will probably be too much to overcome.

Before we move on to the more favored horses I have a definite LONG SHOT ALERT, and that would be 30/1 Prince Will I Am. The negative is that he got blown out in the Fountain of Youth and finished 8th – however five of the horses who finished in front of him are practically guarantees in the Kentucky Derby including this year’s shining star Eskendreya.

Now consider the following upsides to this horse:

· Calvin Borel (Mr. Upset himself) will be aboard as his jockey

· This horse has a tendency to bounce and should be ready for an upswing - (8th / 2nd / 9th / 1st)

· He finished ahead of last week’s Bluegrass Stakes winner Stately Victor in a January Allowance race.

· He’s been training for 1 1/8th miles and will be subtracting a 1/16th of a mile for this race.

· He has a great post position

· And finally his competition isn’t “all that”.

At 30/1 I think he’s worth consideration.

Now that we’ve looked at the longshot let’s take a look at the 4/1 favorite UptownCharlieBrown. Uptown is a local favorite here in Keeneland and his story (attached below) is one that will certainly make you root for this horse – however despite this horse’s solid starting gate position I think there are horses in this field who possess more than enough talent to beat him. As a fan I’m pulling for him, as a bettor I think there are better options.

Distorted Dave flies in from California fresh off a 1 1/16th mile allowance victory in Santa Anita. I think he’s outclassed in this one.

Call Shot is another interesting prospect in this race as his morning odds are currently 10/1. Call Shot just finished 3rd against two tough competitors (Radiohead and Homeboykris) in a recent 1 mile allowance race – however that was his first race after a three month layoff. I’m looking at his horse because I don’t think we’ll know how developed this horse is until after this race is finished. With fresh legs, and having shaken off the rust with his recent race – he could be a surprise.

Exhi and Lonesome Street (sounds like an Elvis song to me) – finished 1st and 2nd in the Rushaway Stakes – I think if either of these horses get a quick jump out of the gate and a little luck down the stretch they could certainly be a factor – I don’t think either of these two will pull off a victory, but landing in the top three wouldn’t surprise me.

Another “relative” long shot that I like in this race is 12/1 Heavenville. Very similar to Arkansas Derby winner Line Of David – Heavenville seems to be improving with each new challenge. He’s another horse that is coming off a few months rest, and he’s done well on both Turf (2nd place) and Dirt (1st place Crescent City Derby). He finished 1st here at Keeneland when he was a two year old (almost a year ago – 4/09/09 ) – bet against him with caution.

Connemara – (5/1) would probably be the favorite in this race if he had a better post position and if he weren’t carrying more weight than everybody else (121 lbs) with the exception of Exhi (also 121). His recent outings include 3 trips to the Winners Circle, 1 place, and in his last race 1 show. Against this field I think he’ll need a little luck to win it – but in the end I don’t think he’ll finish any worse than 3rd.

Finally Kettle River makes the trek from California and attempts to shake off a very poor Sham Stakes outing. Kettle River (still makes me hungry for Kettle Popcorn every time – not the brand Kettle but the cooking process of Kettle Popcorn…everytime! I could eat a whole bag right now) – I digress, Kettle River went into the Sham Stakes with all kinds of promise following two straight victories – and then he just failed to show up in the biggest race of his career.

Many think the Sham Stakes isn’t worth reviewing and that it was just a weird race (and I agree) – he’s going off at 5/1 as well – and I really liked this horse and he might have it in him to bounce off of that terrible Sham outing, however I’m not crazy about this being his first race out of California. I’ll pass on the popcorn….I mean Kettle.

As a bettor I think you have to consider putting a couple of dollars on Prince Will I Am, Call Shot and/or Heavenville – because this is the perfect race for an upset to happen. The favorite (UptownCharlieBrown) hasn’t been racing particularly well – and the next two favorites Connemara and Kettle River certainly don’t instill complete confidence.

My far more conservative $1 Tri-fecta would be – Connemara / Heavenville and UptownCharlieBrown – however….

Closing Speed likes – #6 - 30/1 Prince Will I Am and Calvin Borel for the long shot baby!

For more on Sentimental Favorite UptownCharlieBrown –

Isn't he cute -

And the musical selection for the weekend…..the King - except no substitutes!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Arkansas Derby - Recap

Arkansas Derby - Recap

Line Of David
Super Saver

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Also ran:  Uh Oh Bango, Noble's Promise, New Madrid, Berberis, Pulsion, Northern Giant

When I wrote last week that I was not “bold” enough to say that an ever improving Line Of David could actually pull off an upset – I could not help but think of this quote as the race ended –

“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!”

What impresses me most about Line Of David’s victory is that he “made” this victory happen on it’s own. His jockey (and trainer) gamble by letting the horse cut loose in a speedy 22.65 opening quarter mile – this is a pace usually reserved for shorter races. Consider that the in the Wood Memorial (which is the same distance) the opening quarter mile was 24.3.

After establishing a comfortable lead Line of David is mature enough to ease back and save something for the final stretch – and, again, what I find so impressive is that instead of starting with white hot intensity and then fading away, like so many horses often do – Line of David takes on his challengers with a great heart and steals the victory by a nose – this is just a fantastic trip by this horse.

The Kentucky Derby will tack on an extra 1/8th of a mile and it’s hard to tell if Line Of David can repeat this kind of outing – but if he receives a favorable post position in Kentucky his ability to separate from the field early will give him an excellent opportunity for victory in Kentucky – this horse has really thrown a monkey wrench in how people are going to analyze the Kentucky Derby Morning line.

As you watch the race you’ll see the #3 horse Noble’s Promise get off to a rocky beginning, as he bounces off of both Dublin and Super Saver – and then finds himself behind by several lengths before the race begins to even take shape. I was very disappointed by Noble’s Promise fifth place finish, however I suspect that with a better couple of first steps out of the gate this horse can be much more dangerous in future races.

Super Saver and Dublin did everything right except for close the deal. It appears to me that Line of David was just too bold to be reckoned with this past weekend in Arkansas.

Video to follow:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Arkansas Derby

Oaklawn Park

Saturday April 10, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 4:47 pm
Name: Arkansas Derby Grade: 1
Purse: $1,000,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Super Saver
Noble’s Promise
Northern Giant
Uh Oh Bango
New Madrid
Line Of David

I think the best way to preview the Arkansas Derby is to put these horses into three categories – similar to the Good the Bad and the Ugly, these horses might be described as the Early, the Late and….well the Ugly.

I’ll begin with the last category “The Ugly” which I believe properly surmises the prospects of New Madrid and Berberis. Neither of these horses have any experience with the kind of distance they’ll be running this Saturday or any experience against the level of talent in this field. I just haven’t seen anything in their past performances that makes me believe either of these horses pose any threat.

I’ll move on to three horses that make up the group I’m calling “The Early”. Super Saver, Uh Oh Bango, and Pulsion will mostly likely compete for the early lead.

Super Saver scored an excellent post position (#1) while Pulsion received the absolute worst (#9), for their style of racing. However I believe Pulsion could pose an interesting threat to Super Saver’s chances in this race.

In Pulsion’s last two races (The Florida Derby and The Fountain of Youth) he set a hot tempo that he was unable to sustain for anything over a mile, and the results were the same in both races – 6th place.

However I believe in The Florida Derby his early challenge to Rule caused Rule (another horse who likes to be a front runner) to get out of a comfortable tempo, exert too much energy early, and it left him “spent” in the final stretch allowing Ice Box and Pleasant Prince the opportunity to fly by him.

The morning line has Super Saver as the slight favorite over Noble’s Promise, and that might be due to having last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Calvin Borel on board. As the race unfolds it will be very interesting to see how Borel and Super Saver deal with both Uh Oh Bango and Pulsion challenging for the early pace.

If Super Saver extends himself so much as to win the battle of the early – I think he’ll definitely lose the War to “the Late group” of Dublin and Noble’s Promise.

For Noble’s Promise, Dublin, and Uh Oh Bango this is the rematch from last month’s Rebel Stakes where they finished second, third and fourth behind Lookin’ For Lucky.

The best news that Noble’s Promise could have received this past week is that Lookin’ for Lucky wasn’t in this race, because Noble’s Promise has finished immediately behind the Lucky one in his last three races. Unless Noble's Promise has a hang up in this outing (like Lucky did in the Santa Anita Derby) he's my "favorite" to win this race. I think he's got the most ability and this race sets up very nicely for him.

Dublin is a horse that I believe showed a lot of promise very early in his 2 year old career but hasn’t matured at the same pace as many of his contemporaries, and in fact a number of horses who didn’t show any early promise may have passed him by in ability. It’s interesting that two Kentucky Derby analysts have Dublin in their Top 5, one has him in their Top 6 and two analysts don’t have Dublin even in their top 10. I tend to agree with the latter two opinions.

In contrast to Dublin one horse that intrigues me, because he does seem to be improving with each race is Line Of David. I’m not going to make any bold predictions here (like he’s going to win) but I think he could sneak into the Top 3 – a lot depends on how much “juice” Super Saver and the Early bunch still have left as they wheel around the final turn.

And finally there’s Northern Giant….yeah I know I wrote three categories of the Early, the Late and the Ugly and then proceeded to technically give you three categories + 2 more horses….but if we just go with my original thought I get to put this in my blog –

I say worth it.

Anyway one final horse to look at is Northern Giant – who finished 2nd in the Lane’s End with Calvin Borel as his jockey. I think Northern Giant also has a chance to crack the top 3 – because he’ll be carrying less weight (118) then the “big” three (Super Saver / Noble’s Promise / Dublin), he’s the only horse with any experience at this distance (2nd place finish in the Lane's End) and if his odds remain at 8/1 – he might look good in an exacta bet.

In conclusion I like Northern Giant to squeeze in-between winner Noble’s Promise and third place finisher Super Saver.

I will say this I don’t like betting against Calvin Borel (still really stinging from Mine That Bird last year) – but that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Closing Speed likes 3 /4 / 1

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Santa Anita Slugfest!

Santa Anita Derby - Recap

Sidney’s Candy
Lookin At Lucky

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Also ran: Caracortado, Skipshot, Alphie’s Bet, Thomas Baines, Posse Power, Who’s Up, Cardiff Giant

The Funk Trio Cameo once sang the lyrics – “Look real nice, wrapped up tight… me a heart attack…’s the kind I like”. Of course the song I’m referring to is Candy.

Sidney’s Candy indeed looked real nice as he galloped to an uncontested victory in the Santa Anita Derby. As you watch the race unfold you’ll see Sidney’s Candy (after a rough patch coming out of the gate) takes an early lead, and sets up a “sensible” pace. Sidney’s Candy and jockey Smoking Joe Talamo did everything right in setting the table for a wide open final stretch run.

In complete contrast to Candy and Talamo – Lookin At Lucky and jockey Garrett Gomez had a trip to forget this past Saturday. Trainer Bob Baffert described Gomez’s ride as “horrendous” – and to make matters worse this is the second race in a row where Lookin At Lucky and Gomez make the least of their talents. (Granted they did manage to pull out a victory in the Rebel Stakes).

In the final turn Who’s Up (and Victor Espinoza) bum into and cut off Gomez and Lucky. It is still unanswered as to who initiated – what they would call in NASCAR trading paint – but the result was Gomez chasing down Espinoza after the race and going old school horse racing, by starting fisticuffs with Espinoza not once, but twice.

I certainly can understand Garrett’s frustration because after this second poor performance on this horse he may lose his job for the next race – which for Lookin At Lucky will probably mean the Kentucky Derby….you know one of the highest paid races in the USA.

Garrett Gomez remaining or being relieved as the jockey for Lookin At Lucky adds a very interesting subplot to what already looks to be an intriguing Kentucky Derby.

Setsuko very quietly stole second – and with the right post position and a little luck in the Kentucky Derby could surprise a lot of people.

I’m adding two videos this week as Eskendereya blows away the New York field in the Wood Memorial.

HorseRacingNation – has Eskendereya, Lookin At Lucky and Sidney’s Candy as their top three contenders in the country - check it out.
Santa Anita Derby

Wood Memorial

Friday, April 2, 2010

Santa Anita Derby

Santa Anita

Saturday April 3, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 4:48 pm
Name: Santa Anita Derby Grade: 1
Purse: $750,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Posse Power
Thomas Baines
Who’s Up
Sidney’s Candy
Lookin At Lucky
Cardiff Giant
Alphie’s Bet

This is my favorite weekend in horse racing – The Wood Memorial in New York, The Illinois Derby and then we finish it off with the Santa Anita Derby out West. At the end of the day at least five horses will have earned enough graded stakes to get their ticket stamped for a trip to the Kentucky Derby.

I believe the Wood Memorial may have the best horse running this weekend in Eskendereya and I would be somewhat surprised if he were defeated, however with a bad trip or a little bad luck on his side – Both Jackson Bend and Schoolyard Dreams have enough talent that they could pull off a small upset.

The Illinois Derby, in my opinion, is a wide open race from the bettors perspective – and I think this field of horses lack any major contenders for the Triple Crown. Should be a very entertaining race to witness and the circumstances are certainly perfect for a longshot to come through for a few lucky bettors.

Backtalk, the son of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, will be the favorite in that race.

And that leaves me with the wild, wild, west they call the Santa Anita Derby to further explore.

Many of the horses lining up in the Santa Derby have raced against one another before.

Both Posse Power and Thomas Baines travel south from No-Cal where they recently had unimpressive treks in the El Camino Derby finishing 3rd and 6th respectively. Both of these horses usually run in the middle or the back of the pack and look to make a late run for the finish line.

Skipshot also travels south from Golden Gate – he scored an allowance victory in late February – however I just think these three horses are out of their league…..way out of their league in this race.

Sidney’s Candy and Caracortado also share a recent history as the Candyman finished 1st in the San Felipe Stakes where Caracortado (who was the favorite in that race) finished 3rd.

Sidney’s Candy has won three straight races – the last two at Santa Anita, he has a very favorable post position and he most likely will take an early lead and attempt to hold off all of the late comers.

Caracortado may be the biggest question mark in this race – as it’s difficult to tell if he simply had a lackluster race in his last outing, or if he’s just not as good as many in the grandstands thought he might be. Tough horse to bet against or bet for in this one.

Alphie’s Bet is fresh off a Sham Stakes victory (Setsuko finished 2nd) here at Santa Anita, and this was a race where Alphie’s Bet had to contend with an outside post position very similar to what he’ll be looking at this Saturday.

Alphie’s Bet is currently going off at 8/1 and while I like this horse for a possible upset in this race – I just don’t know if he can overcome his difficult post position against this kind of talent.

Speaking of “this kind of talent” – Lookin At Lucky is perhaps the best three year old horse in the country right now – he cantors into this race having won 6 out of his last 7 races (in his last race Cardiff Giant finished in 5th). His only recent loss (a second place ending) was last November in the Breeder’s Cup here at Santa Anita.

Lookin At Lucky’s morning line odds are currently 4-5 – and while this horse has everything going for him –

  1. Momentum
  2. Post Position
  3. Experience
  4. the Distance should be to his liking
…..the one thing I think could cause a problem is…..the racetrack.

I’ve seen a number of great horses perform poorly on this track – and in contrast I’ve seen a few questionable horses do very well. It’s like some kind of weird mojo, Bermuda Triangle of horse tracks - some think it's the synthetic track.....some believe it's that legal medications for the horses vary from state to's hard to tell.

I won’t be surprised if there’s an upset in Santa Anita this Saturday – which in turn will stir all kinds of controversy going into the Kentucky Derby.

Which leaves me to one last horse – who intrigues me as a possible long shot candidate – and that would be #3 Who’s Up. His morning line odds are 20/1 – he hasn’t raced since last November, and his last two races were both on Turf – however he also won both of his last two races.

I think it’s possible that he will stalk Sidney’s Candy for most of the race, and then as they come out of the final turn – we’ll find out how much this horse has matured in the past few months. He’s a long shot for a reason – but if Lookin At Lucky has a difficult trip, if Alphie’s Bet struggles with starting so far outside, and if Sidney’s Candy fatigues in his first attempt at a mile and 1/8 – then it’s possible Who’s Up will be in a position to pull off a pretty profitable upset.

Then again – it’s more likely that Who’s Up will simply fade with Sidney’s Candy – while Lookin At Lucky blows right past them.

In closing – I like an Exacta bet on this race of

Alphie’s Bet / Sidney’s Candy / Who’s Up/ Caracortado with Lookin At Lucky finishing second. It would be a $4 bet but if Who’s Up can pull of an upset it would be a nice return.

Well with Baseball Season right around the corner, and a horse named “Who’s Up” – I just had to add this classic clip - it's a little slow to load, but well worth it.