Monday, March 28, 2011

Louisiana Derby Recap

Louisiana Derby - Recap

Pants On Fire
Mucho Macho Man

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Elite Alex, Machen, Wilkinson, Left, Nacho Business, Majestic Harbor, Le Man, Mavericking, Liondrive

Scratched – Populist Politics

As I sit to write my horse racing blog – I wonder is there such thing as an “expected” surprise….and is the phrase “unexpected surprise”….actually redundant???

Aside from my lack of insight into the English lexicon – I will write that the Louisiana Derby was filled with a few unexpected surprises – and one expected surprise!

As I was watching the race unfold it appeared that Mucho Macho Man was delivering what I had expected – just off the lead, in the perfect position to storm past the front runners in the final furlong…..but instead of storming by…..he just kind of drizzled, with an unimpressive (dare I say less than Macho) 3rd place finish.

I thought this might be a sign that – the increased distance was too much for him, or that he had come out flat – instead later reports surfaced that he had lost his right front shoe in first stride coming out of the gate – so things were a little “off” for this horse.

Of course any horse named Mucho Macho isn’t going to stop racing because he lost no stinking shoe… shoes we don’t need no stinking horse shoes!

Considering that this horse may have been feeling discomfort in this race – third place is impressive.

I was somewhat surprised by the lackluster outing from Elite Alex, Wilkinson and Left – I knew they would have difficulty in the first ½ mile and as you watch the race begin you’ll see that the outside horses simply don’t have anywhere to go. Elite Alex just lets everyone fly by – and makes an inside move to the rail – but he gives up too much ground for him to make up in the end.

I imagined that as the race concluded two out of these three horses would “come up” with an answer to finish at least in second or third, however it seems that their outside post was too much to overcome – you hate to think their race was over before it even began – but it certainly appears that way.

Nehron – I am proud to say was my 36-1 “expected” surprise – and ran the race I thought he was capable of !! Unlike the outside three, Nehron had a perfect spot for the beginning of this race – he stayed behind the two early leaders and even had the inside track next to the favorite Mucho Macho Man. When he was asked to rally – he found his momentum and almost stole this race away from Pants On Fire. I like this horse – probably like him more had I bet on the $2 exacta that paid $459 – but I still like this gamer!

I wasn’t surprised that Pants On Fire started this race so well – but I was stunned at how well he finished. I still think that if Mucho Macho Man runs at 100% he takes this race, but Pants On Fire still manages to fight off both late charges and enjoy a big Louisiana Derby victory.

You may notice that the announcer emphasizes the jockey for Derby winner Pants on Fire – that’s because down in Louisiana a female phenom is making a name for herself.

Let me introduce you to twenty three year old – Anna Rose “Rosie” Napravnik – who finished as the Fairgrounds leading jockey scoring 110 victories at this meet (which is 31 more than her nearest competitor Shaun Bridgmohan). I wouldn’t be surprised if you start hearing a lot about this young talented jockette….(I just made that word up).

Attached is Horse Racing Nation's article regarding this promising young star -

Pants On Fire and Mucho Macho Man (who they are saying is uninjured after the LA Derby) are both being shipped to Kentucky and will be entered into the Kentucky Derby.

Video of the race to follow:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Louisiana Derby

Fair Grounds Race Course

Saturday March 26th 2011
Name: Louisiana Derby Grade: II
Purse: $1,000,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

1 -Nacho Business
1a - Pants on Fire
Mucho Macho Man
Majestic Harbor
Le Mans
Elite Alex
Populist Politics

The Louisiana Derby features a rematch of quite a few horses from the Risen Star Stakes where (#4) Mucho Macho Man defeated Machen (4th place) / Pants on Fire (6th place) and Liondrive (10th place).

Mucho Macho Man will strut onto the field as the morning line favorite with 9-5 odds (paying under $6 for a $2 win bet) – and for very good reasons.

The Macho Man has a perfect opening spot for his style of racing, there won’t be a lot of competition for him in this field….and if history means anything – two of the last three horses to win the Risen Star stakes have gone on to win the Louisiana Derby (Friesen Fire & Pyro).

Most likely Mucho Macho Man will either lead the pack into the final turn or he’ll remain in the top three leaders as they head for the final stretch (look for Pants on Fire to take the early lead) – aside from him coming out flat this Saturday – the only question for him (and all of these horses) is how will he react to the longer distance of a mile 1/8th ???

In my opinion there are four horses that may provide a challenge to Mucho Macho Man – but they’ll all need a solid outing and a little luck to pull off a slight upset.

(#9) Wilkinson narrowly defeated Pants on Fire in the Lecomte Stakes – and he appears to be a real fighter of a horse – however he’ll need to move to the rail early and hope for an inside lane to open up…and even then I don’t know if he’s got enough machismo for Macho!

Immediately to Wilkinson’s right is…..(#10) Left – an undefeated hopeful who will be racing in his first major stakes race. There’s a Louisiana buzz going around about this horse so he may be a surprise finisher – but I really don’t like him being 10 spots out at the opening bell.

Beside Left – is yet another very talented prospect in (#11) Elite Alex – however I don’t know where either Elite Alex or Left are going to “go” in the first ¼ mile.

I don’t know that either of them have enough early speed to beat 10 to 11 other horses to the front of the line – and even if one of them shoots out early they’ll most likely end up going three wide in both the first and second turns….which of course just adds more distance to what is already the longest race they’ve ever run.

Elite Alex / Left and Wilkinson – could attempt to hold back in the early ¼ mile and move closer to the rail and rally late – but I don’t think that favors the style of racing that any of these three horses prefer.

As New Orleans singer Dr. John might say these horses are in the “Right Place, but at the Wrong Time”.

One horse that I really like as a “major” upset contender is Nehro, who is currently going off at 30-1. There are a number of reasons he’s going off at 30-1 – he only has 1 victory in three attempts, and in one race he came in 10th – however it was his last race where he won.

Nehro has also never raced in a major stakes race – or seen horses of this caliber.

However Nehro enjoys a late rally style – so he’ll have a solid starting gate spot, and it appears that he has the stamina to take on this distance. With a number of these other horses needing several things to go right just to place in this race – Nehro could make an interesting choice – especially if the Mucho Macho Man comes out Irregularly Impotent (hey my theasarus says it’s the opposite of Macho!?!).

As much as I would love to offer up a big surprise – I think Mucho Macho Man repeats history and wins both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, I like Elite Alex to follow, and Wilkinson in 3rd.

Closing Speed likes: 4-11-9

I’ll be rooting for Nehro – but when you’re as good as Mucho Macho Man….as the old Zydeco song goes – “It's so hard to stop when you're looking good, It's so hard to stop even if you should.”

Takes about a minute of talk before they start the music – but you know that’s just Cajun for ya….

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rebel Recap

Rebel Stakes - Recap

The Factor
Caleb’s Posse

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Saragtoga Red, J.W. Blue, Sway Away, J.P’s Gusto, Picko’s Pride, Bluegrass Jam

Scratched – Alternation, Glint, Dreaminofthewin, Elite Alex

I rarely talk about strategy in horse racing, however the Rebel Stakes provided an interesting look at choices that Trainers and Jockeys made in this race.

One bit of strategy is to avoid the race altogether – Glint, Dreaminofthewin, and Elite Alex were all pulled by their Trainers most likely because they didn’t like their chances of making enough stakes money in this race to help them get into the Kentucky Derby.

Their thinking may be: “Why struggle to make $9000 coming in 5th against great horses, when I can wait another week – maybe run in the Louisiana Derby and win or come in second against lackluster horses – and also make around $60k to $30k ??”

We’ll see which of these scratchers show up in Louisiana next week.

Alternation was scratched by the vetinarian – let’s hope he’s okay and that he was only hungover from St. Patrick’s Day.

A different look at racing strategy is the race itself – The Factor makes a bold, and correct decision – in taking the lead, avoiding any and all traffic, and making a wire to wire run. They could have let another horse (most likely Saratoga Red) lead the way and stalk his should – as The Factor has done in previous races, but in this case they risked wearing out The Factor early but keeping him out of the log jam in the final turn.

His 46.77 ½ mile is significant as he may try this again in the Kentucky Derby. However we’re still just running 1 1/16 mile races – so they may change things up when they go to the next distance.

I wrote last week that I thought Archarcharch would get buried in the traffic early – however with so many horses scratched, and his post moved from the #1 spot to really the #3 spot – I’m not surprised he was able to fare much better in this race than I originally thought he would. This is a talented horse – however I think he’ll do much better at smaller derbies than any of the really big races.

Caleb’s Posse puts himself in the perfect position as they go into the final turn. He has the outside spot and is clear for takeoff when they hit the final stretch – excellent decision for this horse. Caleb’s Posse looks like a horse with a promising future, but I don’t think he belongs in the discussion with The Factor or Uncle Mo right now. They made the right move but they still finished 5 lengths back.

Now let’s discuss failed strategy –

First of all Trackmaster gave you three horses and none of them even finished in the Top 3.

To be fair I thought this race (with all the horses included) could go in several different directions, but I’ll enjoy the small victory of my horses faring slightly better than theirs.

Trackmaster almost had me convinced that J.P. Gusto was better than what I had previously seen – after all they picked this horse to win. At the end of the race J.P. Gusto still looks like a horse incapable of pulling off victories without it being either a mile long or less...or against weaker California competition.
As you watch the race it seems that the strategy for Sway Away was to keep him close to the rail and then “hope” for an opening on the inside (middle horse in the back three, 1:32 on Youtube), unlike Caleb’s Posse who decided to take the wide angle and suffer a tough turn but a clear path.

Sway Away’s decision clearly doesn’t pan out. The inside never opens up – so they bounce towards the outside cutting off Picko’s Pride and then as they attempt to pick up that late freight train momentum – they bump into J.P. Gusto (1:45 on Youtube - one more reason to dislike J.P. Gusto) – and at that point the late rally is over. It’s just the risk you run with those late rally horses.

I’ll be very curious to see where they ship Sway Away or if they’re going to stay in Arkansas for the Arkansas Derby. I really like this horse and I’d like to see him in a race without “The Factor”. I’m thinking take a crack at the Illinois Derby which will give him the distance, and a less competitive field.

In closing – The Factor is picking up a number of fans who are saying he’s the rightful challenger to Uncle Mo – my guess is we’ll see The Factor again in the Arkansas Derby. Things are shaping up for a great three or four months of horse racing!

Video attached below:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rebel Stakes

Oaklawn Park

Saturday March 19th 2011
Estimated Local Post Time:
Name: Rebel Stakes Grade: II
Purse: $300,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Picko’s Pride
J.P.’s Gusto
The Factor
Caleb’s Posse
Saratoga Red
Sway Away
Elite Alex
Bluegrass Jam
J.W. Blue

I can honestly say this year’s Rebel Stakes may be one of the most competitive fields I’ve ever seen for this early of a prep race. Usually when I handicap a stakes race I can foresee 2 or 3 different horses winning – with this race I can earnestly see 5 or 6 horses winning this race outright.

And I’m not the only one Trackmaster – who professionally handicaps races – doesn’t even have the 2/1 favorite (#6) The Factor finishing in the top 3 – it’s going to be a tough one to call, which in turn makes this a fascinating race to watch!!

Not only are many of these horses evenly matched – we’re looking at a very talented group. I believe that if a few of these horses have a strong showing in the Rebel and follow up with a solid April outing – they certainly could have Uncle Mo followers concerned.

The Rebel features several rematches between horses.

It is a rematch of the 1 mile Southwest Stakes here at Oaklawn that finished as follows:

(#1) Archarcharch defeated

(#5) J.P. Gusto – 2nd place
(#10) Elite Alex – 3rd place
(#4) Picko’s Pride – 4th place
and (#7) Caleb’s Posse – 6th place.

I think Archarcharch may have drawn a tough post position for his style and for this level of talent. My guess is he'll be buried in a bundle of horses before the first turn and never find a way around them.

J.P. Gusto (similar to his California Rival Jaycito) has failed to live up to the buildup he received last year. J.P. Gusto had a string of four consecutive victories but has failed to visit the winner’s circle in anything over 7 furlongs.

Elite Alex should certainly be considered a threat to win this race – he has solid closing speed, and looks like a gamer at this distance - however he has also come up short against (#2) Alternation in a 1 mile test this past January. I’m also not crazy about his post position here.

This is also an immediate rematch between Alternation and (#3) Dreaminofthewin – who dueled it out this past Feb. 21 – with Alternation winning and finishing just ahead of Dreaminofthewin.

However the two horses I’m most interested in are, the current favorite, and San Vicente Stakes winner (#6) The Factor and San Vicente Stakes runner-up (#9) Sway Away.

Please forgive me for stealing this line from the movie Seabiscuit – but Sway Away closes like a freight train, and he looks like one too – this is a big horse! And while The Factor enjoyed a victory in his last outing – that was only a mile race, and Sway Away was closing fast…..the extra 1/16th of a mile could make a big difference.

However what makes this Rebel Stakes so much fun – is that there are a number of horses who have late closing style. Sway Away, Picko’s Pride, Elite Alex, Alternation and possibly even Archarcharch usually hang around in the back of the pack and rally late.

I believe that if any of these five horses score a clear path close to the rail in the final turn they’ll be in the winner’s circle. However with a total of 13 horses in the field, it’s very possible that these late comers will have to go “well” wide in the final turn, or it’s likely a few of them will get bottled up behind a wall of laggers with nowhere to go.

I suspect the action in the back will begin right before the ¾ mile marker.

J.P. Gusto and The Factor will most likely be in the middle of the pack or slightly off the lead. The question for these two horses will be –

1. Can they hold off the late rally in a mile 1/16th race?
2. Will they get suckered into a frantic early pace?

It wouldn’t surprise me if Saratoga Red (#8) bolts for the early lead with the hopes of putting so much ground between himself and the rest of the pack that he simply avoids the traffic and outlasts everyone to the finish line. Saratoga Red is currently going off at 30-1 and while I seriously doubt he’s the best horse of this group….with a little luck he may be able to pull off an upset here.

If Saratoga Red (or any of the other horses) take off for a 45 / 46 second ½ mile – it will be interesting to see if J.P. Gusto, The Factor, Dreaminofthewin or Caleb’s Posse decide to run for an early duel. I think any early duelers will end up finishing very poorly in this race – too much talent.

The three outside horses Glint, Bluegrass Jam and J.W. Blue – I believe lack the talent to compete in this field…..however this is an unusually talented field!

Out of these three J.W. Blue also likes to rally late and with his outside position he may have a nice early edge for his style of racing. I just don’t know if he can compete with the likes of Sway Away.

In closing I’m rooting for Sway Away – I just like this big horse. I think J.P’s Gusto and The Factor will enjoy a fairly traffic free trip and I believe that will help them finish in the top four. But I believe this race will be won in the final turn. As I wrote before if one of the big closers lucks into a clear path near the rail – I think he’ll steal the race.

If all of the late closers find traffic – I believe J.P. Gusto and The Factor will go nose to nose at the wire. This has the potential of being a very special race….and with any luck we’ll see a number of these horses back at it again in the Arkansas Derby.

Trackmaster likes: J.P’s Gusto, Sway Away & Picko’s Pride

Closing Speed likes: Sway Away, The Factor, Alternation.

We'll let Dino give us his best Sway Away.....

Monday, March 14, 2011

San Felipe / Tampa Bay Derby & Timely Writer Recap

San Felipe / Tampa Bay Derby & Timely Writer

Last week I was critical of the decision to run Uncle Mo, in what seemed to me, a race that offered very little challenge or upside for this up and coming racehorse.

However after reviewing all three races – I believe I now understand what the thinking was for running Uncle Mo in the Timely Writer.

Let me begin by writing that I suspect Mo’s management believed they had a race “to give”…..what I mean by that is – they don’t need the money (graded stakes) to get into the Kentucky Derby – the Breeder’s Cup victory assures them a spot.

Uncle Mo’s management isn’t necessarily concerned about stretching him out and testing his ability with distance. The Breeder’s Cup was a 1 1/16th race and they’ll make sure and enter him in another prep race in April (rumor has it the Wood Memorial) which will test him at 1 1/8 mile.

In fact, I believe Uncle Mo’s trainers aren’t worried that he’ll lose the Kentucky Derby or Preakness at the end of the race – I believe they’re confident that there’s not a three year old out there that’s going to catch Mo from behind in the final stretch.

I believe they’re concerned that if Mo is going to lose….he’ll lose at the beginning of the race and I’ll use the other two races to demonstrate my point.

San Felipe Stakes

Premier Pegasus
Bench Points

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Comma to the Top, Quail Hill, Awesome Patriot, Surrey Star, Jakesam, Albergatti, Runflatout.

Premier Pegasus blew past seven horses as they enter and exit the final turn – and then he pours on the speed with an electrifying victory….could this son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus (and also 2000 San Felipe winner) be a potential champion ????

Statue of Fusaichi Pegasus in Hokkaido Japan -

***Here's hoping that Japan can recover as quickly as possible.

Personally I’m not getting too excited just yet – he was less than premier in his previous race, the San Vicente – where The Factor and Sway Away finished well ahead of him – I think Premier Pegasus is simply the best horse still running in Southern California.

Jaycito (again) went off as the favorite in this race 8 – 5 odds – and again failed to live up to his hype. In my opinion, he’s beginning to look like a horse who will find his stride and his ability as he develops (if he ever finds it at all)….but I think that will be too late for the Triple Crown.

How this race relates to Uncle Mo – As you watch this race you’ll notice the first ¼ mile is covered in 21.75 seconds – which for a mile 1/16th race is a little hot. Three horses contend for the early lead, including Comma To The Top and Runflatout – two horses I believe are talented enough to win a race like this…..however both horses lacked the disciple to hold back and run at a more sensible early pace. In the end Comma to the Top fades to fourth – Albergatti and Runflatout finish in last.

See San Felipe –

I believe management for Uncle Mo were hoping that in a 1 mile race – a few early speed horses would jump at the chance for $100,000 purse – and set an early pace similar to the San Felipe – the reasoning may be that Uncle Mo hasn’t been apart of a race where he’s needed to remain patient and let early speed horses wear themselves out ahead of him – he’s usually been apart of the lead himself and perhaps management wanted to know how he’d react being several lengths back for the first time. I’m not so sure they didn’t hold Mo back – as his time in the Timely Writer was 25+ seconds in the first ¼ mile – compared to his 23.57 in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile….somebody take the lead…please!?!?!

I suspect that testing Uncle Mo’s early patience was an important part of training him for the Kentucky Derby (which may have several early speed horses) – the problem was…the right horses didn’t show up to the Timely Writer – Mo takes a slow early lead….and finishes as usual.

Tampa Bay Derby

Watch Me Go
Crimson Knight

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Beamer, Economic Summit, Free Entry, Too Experience, Striding Ahead, Moonhanger.

How do you turn $2 into $2,194?

Go back in time and bet an exacta with Watch Me Go (43-1 odds) & Crimson Knight (86-1 odds)!!!

Brethren seemed to run the race he wanted to run and was expected to run – he just got flat out beat. However this is a horse who has looked sharp coming out of the outside post in two consecutive races – I suspect he bounces back with a better post position.

Two long shots roll in and the announcer does it justice – even if I don’t have money on it (which I didn’t) I still enjoy watching a race like this one.

How this race relates to Uncle Mo – I had mentioned last week that if Striding Ahead (#1) could capture the rail in the first turn, he’d be a threat – instead Crimson Knight (#6) cuts him off, at around the 22 second mark on youtube, and you can see where Striding Ahead pulls his head to the left and seems to lose momentum as well. I suspect Uncle Mo’s management would have liked to have seen Uncle Mo deal with early adversity and see how he would react to it  – the kind of adversity that we watch Striding Ahead fail to deal with (he finished 8th). Again they needed some early speed horses to mix things up in the Timely Writer.

Now instead of criticizing the management for Uncle Mo – I find myself appreciating the fact that I believe they’re doing their best to improve his ability as a racehorse….and didn’t just run him in the Tampa Bay Derby for the money. Seems to me they had the right idea – things just didn’t pan out how they hoped.

If I'm correct - they've didn't care about the Timely Writer they've got Triple Crown in their sights!

Tampa Bay Derby:

Timely Writer:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Timely Writer / Tampa Bay Derby & San Felipe Stakes

I usually focus solely on one race for the upcoming weekend – however this week I'm changing things up a bit.

I think the San Felipe Stakes offers a competitive race, but doesn’t feature a horse that I believe will be a major player in the upcoming Triple Crown.

The other two races – the Timely Writer and the Tampa Bay Derby feature two very strong contenders for the Triple Crown who could find competition this Saturday in their races…but it’s unlikely.

Timely Writer – Uncle Mo

Uncle Mo (#1) will face a field of five in this Saturday’s 1 mile Timely Writer race at Gulfstream Park. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this horse – Uncle Mo won the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Stakes last November and with that victory he is considered a favorite for the upcoming Triple Crown.

With that in mind it’s disappointing (to this timely writer) that his management has decided to enter him in a race that doesn’t provide much of a purse ($100,000) compared to the Tampa Bay Derby ($350,000) – this race won’t help familiarize him with running longer distances (1 mile) compared to T.B. Derby (1 1/16 mile) – keep in mind the KY Derby is 1 ¼ miles .

And in my opinion the Timely Writer doesn’t feature a very strong field. I would have preferred to see another horse from the Breeder’s Cup or perhaps a horse that has won one of the early prep races. Instead most of the competition will be entering their first major race this Saturday…with the exception of (#3) Madman Diaries who finished 7th in the Hutcheson Stakes – I don’t know about you but I don’t consider finishing 7th in a minor stakes race much of challenge against a Breeder’s Cup Champion.

What I'm trying to say is that Uncle Mo is slumming it....sure he could come out completely uninspired this Saturday – but this is more like spring training for this horse than an actual race.

Tampa Bay Derby – Brethren

In contrast to the cake walk Uncle Mo should enjoy this Saturday – Brethren will look at a number of talented contenders – he’ll also be working a solid distance 1 1/16 miles and he’ll have a slight disadvantage of owning the furthest post position (#10).

Brethren defeated three of these horses in their last stakes race, the Sam Davis Stakes – in that race he stayed three lengths behind a long shot speedster until they broke out of the final turn. It appeared like he took a moment to meditate on the distance still in front of him, and then he tore away from the pack for an easy breezy 5 length victory.

It may be noteworthy to include that he did this in a race where he got off to a wobbly start, and came out of the final turn not as efficiently as he could have…..he still has a lot of room for improvement – but he’s already looking like one of the top contenders for the Triple Crown.

One horse I think could provide an interesting upset is the son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker - (#1) Striding Ahead.

If Striding Ahead can make it to the first turn without getting pinned to the rail early – he could give himself enough of an early advantage to make things difficult for Brethren (who will be starting on the far outside). Currently Striding Ahead is going off at 10-1 and he has the ability and position to provide a profitable upset.

San Felipe – Santa Anita

In my opinion the San Felipe, in contrast to the other two races, is completely up for grabs –

Jakesam (#8) finished 2nd in the El Camino Real Derby and is currently set at 20-1.

Comma to the Top (#5) finished 4th in the same race and they have him going off at 6-1. It’s just that kind of race.

This race might be best summed up as a trial of promises that have yet to be fulfilled. At the beginning of 2011 – both Jaycito and Comma to the Top were considered horses with championship potential. Neither have successfully satisfied the early hype they received.

Premier Pegasus (#6), son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, finished a lazy 3rd in his last race – however he could be more of a factor against this group.

I’ll have my eyes on (#2) Runflatout – who enters this race after a solid 6 furlong victory. He’ll have a solid post position for his style of racing, he looks like he has plenty of stamina for more distance and I think he could steal this race.

All of that aside the San Felipe is the perfect race to bet on a 10-1 long shot because you like the color of his socks….it’s just that kind of race.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gotham Recap

Gotham- Recap

Stay Thirsty
Norman Asbjornson
Toby’s Corner

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Nacho Saint , The Fed Eased, Isn’t He Perfect, Starship Ceasar

Scratched - Preachintothedevil, Dawly

Those of you who have tuned into the blog for a few years now, will find it no surprise that I had the right idea – (keying a horse with a relative long shot in the exacta)….but of course I didn’t have the correct horse winning.

The $2 Exacta of Stay Thirsty & Norman Asbjornson – paid a very healthy $94.50.

As you watch the video below it’s interesting to notice that Stay Thirsty comes out of the blocks sluggishly – which allowed (#8) Norman Asbjornson to surge closer to the leader (#1) The Fed Eased and the rail for an easier first turn.

With a better start Stay Thirsty probably would have forced Norman Asbjornson 5 or 6 wide in the first turn and it could’ve made this a very different race.

Despite my concerns of travel, a new track, and the 3 ½ month lay-off – Stay Thirsty was clearly the dominant contender here at the Gotham – coming down to the wire it appeared as if it was going to be close…but as you continue to watch – Stay Thirsty easily pulls away late – which is noteworthy because if you want to be a big money, Triple Crown horse – the races get longer from here on out.

Norman Asbjornson couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to steal this race – he may still have some time to develop in these next couple of months – but I think this might be the best race we’ll see out of him for awhile.

Toby’s Corner (#4) – never seemed to find his stride in this race. He gets boxed in early, he gets out of that so that he can stalk Stay Thirsty – but when Stay Thirsty makes his move, Toby’s Corner seems to hesitate – and then as they go into the final turn the jockey can’t seem to make up his mind whether to stay on the rail or go wide….they go way wide and Toby’s Corner cruises into third. Toby’s Corner I think could still be one to watch in bigger stakes races, I just think this was a bad day.

I wasn’t surprised that Dawly scratched – I think the trainers probably didn’t like this early speed horse having the furthest spot, the #9, coming out of the gate.

If you really want to see pitiful make sure to watch the “entire” race….poor Starship Ceasar takes forever to make it to the finish.

Video attached below:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gotham Stakes

Aqueduct Racetrack

Saturday March 5th 2011
Estimated Local Post Time:
Name: Gotham Stakes Grade: III
Purse: $250,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

The Fed Eased
Nacho Saint
Starship Ceasar
Toby’s Corner
Stay Thirsty
Isn’t He Perfect
Norman Asbjornson

The Gotham Stakes provide a look at New York’s best three year olds as they prepare for the Wood Memorial (in April) and of course the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown that begins in two months.

Toby’s Corner and Stay Thirsty are the two headliners in this off-broadway event, and (rightfully so) they are also the two morning line favorites this Saturday. Toby’s Corner currently sits at 5-2, while Stay Thirsty is slightly favored with 9-5 odds.

Toby’s Corner (#4) enters this race with a slight home court advantage after having won the Whirlaway Stakes here at Aqueduct last month – a race that (#7) Preachintothedevil finished 3rd.

Stay Thirsty (#5) will be racing for the first time since finishing 5th in the Breeder’s Cup Challenge in November (where he lost to a horse you’ll be hearing a lot about in the next few months – Uncle Mo). The interesting thing about horses that are this young – is that a lay-off like this can be a really unpredictable thing to account for. Will Stay Thirsty….and yes every time I write that I think about this guy –

Will Stay Thirsty enter this race rested, well prepared and fine tuned for a Triple Crown run ??? Or will this horse take a major step backwards as he adjusts to racing again?? It’s that unaccountability that makes me believe you should avoid betting big on this horse.

However the rest of the field (outside of Toby’s Corner) fails to display any particular interesting prospects.

The Fed Eased (#1) has two races, a win and a place, on his resume – however both races were only 6 furlongs – and in my amateur opinion this horse appears to struggle (more so than most horses) on making turns….and this will be his first race making two turns instead of just one. If this horse can control the inside he could finish in the top 3, but I’m not convinced he’s got the ability to win the Gotham.

Nacho Saint (#2) enters this race with a solid history for such a young horse – in five races he’s finished with 1 win, 3 places and one 5th place finish. His last race was a 1-mile victory here at Aqueduct and I like the prospects for this horse in the Gotham. He’ll have a perfect position coming out of the gate and at 6-1 odds might be worth a look.

Starship Ceasar (#3) sports 2 wins and 1 second place finish in his first three races, and yet the odds makers see him as a 15-1 investment. Despite his impressive record he’ll be racing against a stronger quality of horse this go around, and it will be his first visit to Aqueduct. Still 15-1 for a horse that hasn’t finished worse than 2nd in his career – and has a one mile victory in the books….may be worth a look.

Isn’t He Perfect (#6) – if this is a question the answer is no. Every so often there comes a three year old horse whose owners believe racing as much as possible is bound to prove something. This horse has nearly double the race history of his competitors in the Gotham. He’s already punched in for 7 races….and he has 1 win and a show for his efforts. He’s going off at 30-1 for a victory.…..but he’s going off at 2-5 that he’ll need a nap after finishing a mile.

Preachintothedevil (#7) finished 3rd in the Whirlaway Stakes against Toby’s Corner. However before that he finished 1st, 3rd, and 1st in consecutive races….so he’s due for another 1st right??? In my opinion if Stay Thirsty comes out rusty, and Toby’s Corner isn’t sharp – Preachintothedevil could indeed follow his 1st / 3rd history.

Norman Asbjornson (#8) named after the former Chairman of the Board, Director, and President of AAON Inc. (ranked 58th on Forbes for Small Companies)…The horse (not the executive) is coming off two straight victories out of Pennsylvania both at a mile 1/16th and 1 mile races. It’ll be his first look at this quality of competition, and his first run at Aqueduct…but at 20-1 he’s a long shot worth considering.

Rounding out the field – Hello Dawly (#9) – yeah this first blog is off to the usual terrible punning we’ve all become painfully accustomed too – Dawly is yet another horse on a two win streak – and has both of his victories here at Aqueduct. However this will be his first attempt at anything further than 6 furlongs, and his first look at this quality of horse as well. With a different post position I think he could have been more of a threat in this race, but I doubt Dawly pulls off the 12-1 upset here.

In conclusion I like Toby's Corner to maintain his champion status in New York, followed by Nacho Saint and then Stay Thirsty. However that's not how I'd bet it.

With $6 I'd approach this race by "keying" Toby's Corner with Nacho Saint / Starship Ceasar and Norman Asbjornson in an exacta - where Toby's Corner would need to finsh 1st or 2nd - with one of the other three horses coming in either first or second = 4 w/ 2,3,9 and 2,3,9 w/4.

And for the musical selection of the week - New Orlean's own Harry Connick Jr. playing Hello Dawly Dolly.