Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Florida Derby

GULFSTREAM PARK - March 30, 2013
Race 12 - 6:19 PM
Besilu Stables Florida Derby   (Grade I)
Purse - $1,000,000
Distance - One And One Eighth Miles

I believe that the horse that wins the Florida Derby will be the Kentucky Derby favorite – three extremely talented horses make this race the most competitive race (outside of a few past KY Derbies) that I can remember.

#3  - Itsmyluckyday – ran so well in his last outing, The Holy Bull Stakes, that he broke a track record. If this horse can be consistent with those kinds of races – he’ll not only be the best three year old in the country…he’ll be the best three year old horse we’ve seen in a long time.

However he hasn’t always been consistent – in his last four races he’s won the last two, but finished 4th and 6th in the two races previously.  It’s very difficult to tell with young horses – because sometimes the light bulb just “comes on” and they make a jump in  how well they race…..but this horse could also be a BOOM or BUST kind of horse that will occasionally just not show up for a race.

I do think he’ll show up today – he’s got a great post position and he seems to like Gulfstream Park.

#1  -  Shanghai Bobby – in contrast to Itsmyluckyday – Shanghai Bobby had won his first five races including the Breeders Cup Juvenile. His only loss was against Itsmyluckyday in the Holy Bull and he will be looking for revenge in the Florida Derby.

Shanghai will have the rail in this race and if he can make the most of it he may be able to control the tempo and benefit from the shorter trip. Then again he could get cut off early, get bogged down in traffic before the first turn -- and it could be the difference between finishing 1st or finishing 4th.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
wonders why it's called
Ducking someone ??
Are Ducks notorious chickens?
I really like this horse – and I like that his ownership is putting him up in a rematch against the only horse he’s ever lost too…..they ain’t ducking nobody. Consider that his management could have shipped this horse to Santa Anita (where they won the Breeders Cup) and faced significantly lesser talent.

Also kudos to the Shanghai Bobby team for making the most out of twitter – this sport needs all the passion and good PR it can get!
And finally let’s not forget about #6 Orb – who has won three straight races including the Fountain of Youth stakes. His last two victories were here at Gulfstream Park and it wouldn’t surprise me if he were the sharpest coming into this race.

Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai haven’t raced for almost 2 months – Orb last ran about a month ago.

Shanghai Bobby & Orb will both hover around the same odds – I prefer Shanghai because he’s a Champion kind of horse – who will consistently run well, and has been doing it since he first hit the track. He’s seen the best horses and with the exception of Itsmyluckyday – beaten them all.

Orb – may be a horse on the rise, and as I stated – he may be the sharpest out of the three. However in my opinion he’ll need a little help to beat Luckyday and Shaghai.

Difficult to imagine any horse defeating Itsmyluckyday after his Holy Bull Performance. He’ll deservedly go off as the favorite in this race – and if he wins this race by a few lengths --- we could be watching something very special here.

If he finishes fourth…..he’ll make betting this horse in the Kentucky Derby,  a nightmare.

I don’t think the other 7 horses have a chance for an upset victory – but I do think #8 Merit Man or #7 Indy’s Illusion could sneak into the top three with a lot of help.

I’m rooting for Shanghai Bobby --- but I think Itsmyluckyday will be too tough to beat here.

This really isn’t a good race to bet --- just sit back and enjoy.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

2013 Spiral Stakes

TURFWAY PARK - March 23, 2013
Race 10 - 5:50 PM
Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral S.   (Grade III)
Purse - $550,000
Distance - One And One Eighth Mile

1 – Balance the Books
2 –Channel Isle
3 – Uncaptured
4 – Fear the Kitten
5 – My Name Is Michael
6 – For Greater Glory
7 – Mac the Man
8- General Election
9- Black Onyx
10 – Giant Finish
11 – Taken by the Storm
12 – Capo Bastone

Last week I thought there was ample reason to believe in an upset in the Rebel Stakes and there was!!!! (but I picked the wrong horses.......sigh.....again.

Well --- I’m seeing upset potential again in the Spiral Stakes this week!

 #1 Balance the Books and #3 Uncaptured are the two favorites going into this race, however Balance the Books hasn’t raced competitively in 140 days, and Uncaptured has also been enjoying a relatively long layoff of 119 days.

Both horses have raced against superior talent and there’s no question that both of these horses have shown a great deal of ability….Here’s Uncaptured in his last outing -- the Jockey Club Stakes –

I’m certainly wary of putting money on a favorite in late March on horses who haven’t competed since last Thanksgiving!

I like Uncaptured a lot – but I think he could be very beatable in this race – now, of course, the question is who is going to pull off the upset?
Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
does not fear the kitten!
But he does respect
The Napravnik!

 #4 Fear the Kitten recently finished a distant 2nd in a muddy Southwest Stakes (behind winner Super Ninety Nine) – but finished ahead of #2 Channel Isle, who finished 4th.

I’m ready to believe that the mud was a BIG factor in the Southwest Stakes – so Fear the Kitten could certainly be worth looking at – especially because he’s going off at 15-1 and he’s being ridden by the red-hot jockey Rosie Napravnik.

#5 My Name is Michael recently finished 3rd in the Sam F. Davis Stakes but he only has 1 win in 5 attempts. It wouldn’t surprise me if My Name is Michael finished 3rd in this race—and at 10-1 could make a nice addition to a trifecta bet. I just don’t see him breaking through to the winners circle.

#8 General Election recently won here at Turfway Park in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes – finishing ahead of a fading #10 Giant Finish (2nd place) and #6 For Greater Glory who finished third . 

General Election is sitting at 12-1 odds, and I like that he has a recent victory here at Turfway Park.

However For Greater Glory – was gaining fast after a rough trip – and at 20-1 odds he has my attention!

#7 Mac the Man has won his last three races and all of them were here at Turfway Park – he’s currently going off at 10-1, and there is a lot of buzz about this horse. This will be his first attempt at a race over a mile which is concerning…..but Mac could very well be on the attack this week.

#9 Black Onyx is going off at 10-1 – he has two victories out of four attempts, however I think he could be out of his class here.

#11 Taken by the Storm recently won an Allowance Optional Claiming and has visited the winners circle twice in six attempts – however (like Black Onyx) I think the surrounding talent will be too much for this horse.

#12 Capo Bastone intrigues me – his resume includes a third place finish in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and a recent win (35 days ago) in an Allowance Claiming Optional. He’s currently the third favorite in this race at 9/2 odds and I think he could be prime for this race --- in contrast to the two favorites who may have forgotten what a racetrack looks like since the last time they raced.

Closing Speed likes: 12, 6, 3

If I’m betting $20 here’s who I like

$1 Trifecta – 3/12 w 4,6,7,8 w 3/12 = $8

$1 Exacta – 3/12 w 4,6,7,8 = $8

#2 Win - #7
#2 Win - #6

Friday, March 15, 2013

2013 Rebel Stakes

OAKLAWN PARK - March 16, 2013
Race 10 - 5:48 PM
Rebel S. (Grade II)
Purse - $600,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles

2 – Carve
1 –Treasury Bill
3 – Texas Bling
4 – Delhomme
5 – Hard Rock Eleven
6 – Den’s Legacy
7 – Will Take Charge
8- Stormy Holiday
1A- Title Contender
9 – Oxbow
10 – Super Ninety Nine

As I examine the field of the Rebel Stakes I can’t help but get a funny feeling that a "perfect storm" kind of upset is very possible.

#10 Super Ninety Nine romped in his victory in the Southwest Stakes leaving #7 Will Take Charge (6th) and #3 Texas Bling (9th) and the rest of the Southwest contenders so far behind you were a little embarrassed for them – NO you were a LOT embarrassed for them!

See just how Super 99 is:

Agent 99 was kind of Super?!?
Let's hope I don't miss my prediction by
"this much"

However there are three possible problems facing Super Ninety Nine in the Rebel.

  1. #1A Title Contender (but I’ll get to that in a moment).
  2. He has a less than favorable post position (although – having no horse on his right should keep things open for him)
  3. Super Ninety Nine could end up in an early speed duel with Delhomme!! Which could leave him or both horses worn down in the final stretch.
His early speed rival #4 Delhomme looked solid in his 3rd place finish in the Remsen Stakes – Delhomme held an early lead for most of the race until he faded in the last furlong to fall behind two other horses by a neck. 

He has had quite a bit of time since that race to develop his stamina and work on his training…..however it’s the “amount” of time that could be a problem for Delhomme --- as it has been 112 days since he’s raced competitively, so there’s certainly reason to believe he’ll be rusty.

Outside of his trainers it’s hard to know how good this horse will be on Saturday.  However it appears to me that he’s got a perfect post position, and if he can own the lead and the rail early – I think he’s got a very good shot in this race….provided he still remembers what racing is.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
just wishes the writer would
get to "the moment"
And provided he gets a little help from #9 Title Contender….but I’ll get to that in a moment.

#6 Den’s Legacy has been very consistent – finishing in the money in his last 6 races against superior competition including Flashback, Goldenscents, and Violence. He would need a little help to win here, and it’s very possible #9 Title Contender will give it to him….but I’ll get to that in a moment.

#9 Oxbow could also be a “spoiler” in the Rebel.  In both the Risen Star Stakes (21 days ago) and the Cash Call Futurity  -- Oxbow went well wide in the first turn, and likely spent some early endurance that he could have used in the final stretch. 

It may have just been some bad luck in these races (although management has changed jockeys and Mike Smith will now be aboard), but if Oxbow can find a better position in the first half mile and the early speeders (Super 99 and Delhomme) wear themselves out – He could be the best horse left in the field.

Speaking of which here is rest of the field……

#2 Carve is an interesting prospect….he’s only raced twice in his career, but both races were here at Oaklawn Park, both distance were 1 1/16th miles – and he won both of them, however, this seems like a big jump in class for this horse.

#1 Treasury Bill has been inconsistent (1 win in 3 attempts) and this will be his first try at anything over a mile, I just don't see it.

#5 Hard Rock Eleven has a great name….but finished 12th , behind Oxbow in the Risen Star Stakes, and he only has 1 victory in 7 attempts.

#8 Stormy Holiday – finished well behind Will Take Charge and Texas Bling in the Smarty Jones Stakes – and Will Take Charge and Texas Bling finished well behind Super Ninety Nine in the last race….so I don’t care what kind of odds they give this horse….he isn’t worth it.

However that (finally) brings us to #1A Title Contender who may be the biggest wrinkle in this race.

I’m certainly not saying Title Contender will win this race, but I do think it’s possible he could determine the fate of two much stronger opponents – Oxbow and Super Ninety Nine.

Title Contender also likes to be a front runner and he may challenge for the opening lead. 

And as they all hit the first turn Title Contender could be in a position to push Oxbow well wide (which would be a trend at this point) and he could also push Super Ninety Nine --- three, four, five wide or more in the first turn!!

This could cause Oxbow and Super Ninety Nine to expend too much energy early as Oxbow makes it three bad early trips in a row and Super Ninety Nine completely wears himself out attempting to catch Delhomme – who will of course be looking to build a substantial early lead.

And as they hit the final stretch –

Title Contender (after having ruined the chances for two better horses) will have faded in the middle of the second turn and be on his way to a 6th or 7th place finish.

Oxbow will have once again gone wide early and be left with nothing in the tank as they approach the wire (although I can’t imagine Mike Smith doesn’t have a plan for this??)

Super Ninety Nine will be completely spent trying having gone too wide early, and falling into an early speed trap.

And Delhomme may end up fading because he was never intended to go more than a mile and he hasn’t raced in nearly four months……which in my opinion leaves only lackluster talent --- and #6 Den’s Legacy.

I see no reason why Den’s Legacy won’t enjoy a sensible paced and unobstructed trip -- which could be enough of a difference to make him the winner here.

Overall I think Super Ninety Nine possesses scary talent – but if they guess wrong on the first turn, or Super Ninety Nine can’t give up the front running position – and Delhomme finishes flat (which are both plenty likely) – that may be all the help Den’s Legacy needs.

Closing Speed likes 6, 4, 10

Since Den's Legacy is going off at 8/1 -- I think I would key him, here's how I might bet $16.

$1 Exacta: 10,9,4 w 6 = $3
$1 Exacta 6 w 10,9,4 = $3

$1 Trifecta Box - 4,6,10 = $6
$2 Carve to Win & Place = $4

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Gotham Stakes 2013

AQUEDUCT - March 02, 2013
Race 10 - 5:02 PM
Gotham S. (Grade III)
Purse - $400,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles

1 – Transparent
1A – Now and Then
2 – Champion Boy
3 – Escapefromreality
4 – One Pass
5 – Amerigo Vespucci
6 – Siete De Oros
7 – Vyjack
8- Elnaawi
9- Sky Captain
10 – West Hills Giant
11 – Overanalyze

For four of these horses this will be a rematch of the Withers Stakes from 28 days ago – where Escapefromreality finished 2nd, immediately (and conveniently for me) followed by Siete De Oros, Amerigo Vespucci and finishing 5th Champion Boy.

The winner of the Withers Stakes, Revolutionary – will be sitting this one out – but I highly recommend watching Revolutionary muscle through the last two furlongs and willing his way to the Winner’s Circle in this video: 

With his late running style and courage in the final stretch he’s certainly on my radar leading up to the KY Derby.

This is also a rematch of the January 5th - Jerome Handicap – where #7 Vyjack defeated Siete De Oros and Amerigo Vespucci.

 Vyjack enters this race undefeated in three outings – however he also enters this race as the second morning line favorite – going off at 3/1.

#11 Overanalyze is the (slight) morning line favorite at 5/2 --- however he has been off for 98 days since his victory in the Remsen Stakes, where he narrowly defeated Normandy Invasion. The question you have to ask yourself as bettor is: Will this horse be better for having fresh legs and three months training since we last saw him – or – will he come out rusty?

In my opinion the Gotham boils down to the potential that Overanalyze brings to this race versus Vyjack’s recent and steady success – however there are a few horses that I believe could surprise this Saturday.
Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
still thinks Eartha Kitt
was the best Catwoman

#8 Elnaawi (Son of Former Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense) has only two races on his resume, but won his last outing and his breeding suggests distance may not be a factor for this horse. Going off as a bit of a mystery and at 8/1 in this race makes him intriguing.

#4 Ore Pass has won two out of his career three races and he may be the early leader in this race. He hasn’t been tested at this distance – and I think he’ll fade a few furlongs short….but I believe he’s also possible of pulling out a long shot upset here, especially if the track is muddy – 12/1 has me thinking.

Two horses that concern me are #1a Now and Then who enters this race with only one 6 furlong race to his credit – (however it was a victory) and #9 Sky Captain who was a fall time favorite with fans but has finished a disappointing 5th and 2nd in his last two races.

Sky Captain concerns me because I believe this horse could have a lot of talent and is just looking for the right race to flash his potential – at 8/1 odds he has my attention.

In closing, Vyjack is the horse to beat in this race --- and if weather isn’t a factor I don’t see this horse finishing any worse than 3rd. If the track is sloppy they may still run the horse to give him a feel of running in the beginning of the month – but they may not push him to win on a muddy track – that goes for any Kentucky Derby hopeful.

I believe Overanalyze is a bit of a risk in this race for the odds they’re giving – but he could be the most talented horse in the field.  

I also can’t help but bite on the “mystery” of Elnaawi –

Closing Speed likes:  7,8,11

I believe the best option in this race is to take one of the favorites to win followed by a longshot.

Exacta $1 – 7,11 with 3,6,8,9 = $8