Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Belmont Stakes

Belmont Park – June 10, 2016
Race 12 - 6:37 PM (EST)
Belmont Stakes (Grade I)
Purse - $1,500,000
Distance - One And One Half Miles
Surface - Dirt

1 – Twisted Tom
2 – Tapwrit
3 – Gormley
4 – J. Boys Echo
5 – Hollywood Handsome
6 – Lookin at Lee
7 – Irish War Cry
8 – Senior Investment
9 – Meantime
10 – Multiplier
11 – Epicharis
12 - Patch

Ahhhh the Belmont Stakes ----  the Test of Champions!!!

(Or as most of America views it when there isn’t a Triple Crown on the line):

Image result for cc sabathia
They're still running races??
Why run when no one can win a Triple Crown?
To make matters worse…… or at least to make matters less interesting:

The Kentucky Derby Winner Always Dreaming is recovering from a light injury.

The Preakness Winner Cloud Computing will be….I don’t know......rebooting that day,

And Classic Empire who would likely be the favorite in this race – and one would imagine would like to pick up a Triple Crown victory….will be Classically Napping – which anyone who enjoys a good nap will understand how that is done.

Image result for 18th century sleep
Having read Pride and Prejudice for the 200th time because it's our
only book -- Molly takes a nap.

Looking at the field I feel it’s important to write that I believe this Belmont Stakes is wide open – I think the odds should be much closer bunched together – and I believe there’s a very good chance for a “relative” Long Shot to help you bring home some cash!

So let’s take a look at who will be racing –

#1 Twisted Tom – he’s won 4 out 6 lifetime races – he visited the Winner’s Circle in his last race and his odds are currently an enticing 20/1. He hasn’t raced against this quality of horse though,

HOWEVER – the real question in the Belmont is if he can handle the distance?? He’s had 49 days away from racing – he could be the big surprise here – and I love his post, but I like the talent I’ve seen from the other horses.

I wouldn’t mind seeing his odds get closer to 30-1 before laying down a bet.

#2 Tapwrit – Finished 6th in a muddy Kentucky Derby, and before that he finished 5th in the Blue Grass Stakes.

The Blue Grass Stakes results are always funky – and the Kentucky Derby was slop that day – Tapwrit is a solid late closing horse, I like him in this race.

#3 Gormley – Winner of the Santa Anita Derby – and finished a disappointing 9th in the Kentucky Derby.

Gormley has won 4 out of 7 lifetime races – he’s a very talented horse and he certainly has a solid shot here .

#4 J Boys Echo – There are a lot of people, that I respect, that think J. Boys Echo (going off at 15/1) is the horse to beat in the Belmont Stakes.  After finishing 15th in the KY Derby and 4th in the Blue Grass Stakes – I believe some bettors are throwing both of those races away – and instead looking at his victory in the Gotham stakes where he beat Preakness Winner Cloud Computing.

He only has 2 wins in 7 races – but the Gotham was a big one.  I’m hearing a lot of talk from the track, and those folks often know the inside scoop. Just letting you know.
Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
understands the hardships of
being Hollywood Handsome.

#5 Hollywood Handsome – 2 wins in 9 races and  going off at 30/1 – Has lost races to Multiplier and Patch. Probably just hoping to pick up some money in a 3rd or 4th place finish. Great name for a horse, but this horse has been without a Blockbuster so far.

#6 Lookin at Lee – Hasn’t won a race since August 2016 – however he’s very good at ending up in the money. He has 2 wins in 11 races – he finished 3rd in the Arkansas Derby, 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and 4th in the Preakness Stakes.

I like Lookin at Lee – he’s a late closing horse – but I think (at this point) he's been raced too much – he maybe should be Classically Napping with Classic Empire and Molly -- I like him to be in the Top 3 but I don’t like him for a win here.

#7 Irish War Cry – Currently he’s the favorite in this race at 7/2. He finished a disappointing 10th in the Kentucky Derby, however he had a very unfortunate starting position in that race – a month before the KY Derby he won the Wood Memorial (here in New York) – beating Preakness winner Cloud Computing.

Irish War Cry has 4 wins in 6 races and when it comes to running a Mile and 1/8th I think Irish War Cry is likely the best horse in this field. But I don’t know that he’s going to have the distance in this one.

#8 Senior Investment – has won 3 out of 9 career races and most notably finished 1st in the Lexington Stakes and 3rd in the Preakness.

Senior Investment looks like he has the distance in him for the Belmont Stakes – I really think this horse has a shot – the big question is if he’ll be rested enough after only a 21 day lay off from the Preakness.

#9 Meantime – has 1 win in 4 attempts – my hunch here is that Meantime hopes to build a very early lead and then hope all the other horses are too exhausted to catch up --- I have seen this work in the Belmont before, but I don’t know that Meantime will be able to build that kind of lead.

#10 Multiplier – Won the Illinois Derby and then finished 6th in the Preakness Stakes. Multiplier has a good late kick – but I’ve gotta say I’m disappointed with that 6th place finish in the Preakness, along with the fact that he’ll only have 21 days rest before this race.

#11 Epicharis – the true wild card in this race!  This horse is currently the 2nd favorite in this race going off at 4/1, just behind Irish War Cry at 7/2.

Epicharis is a lifetime 4 wins in 5 races and his only loss was in the UAE Derby where he finished 2nd by a nod of the head to (I REALLY HATE RAINY KENTUCKY MUD) Thunder Snow.

Related image
Thunder Snow would be the horse in the very back - FREAKING OUT!

Epicharis definitely has the Past Performances and Talent to deserve being the favorite or second favorite in this race.

However – he hasn’t raced in 77 days and he will have to acclimate to a different continent and also (more importantly) different drug rules  -- legal supplements vary from State to State in the US – let alone the World.

Under normal circumstances I would understand considering this horse the ideal horse to win here. But horses traveling this kind of distance usually don’t fare well in their first race in a new environment.

#12 Patch – The one eyed wonder only has 1 win in 4 attempts – although he did finish 2nd in the Louisiana Derby. This horse is a great story --- and I do think this race is fairly wide open, but he’ll need a break out performance and some sizeable luck to pull off a win here. Would have preferred his ownership raced him in the Iowa Derby in early July.

Here's how I see the Belmont Stakes -- I'm looking for Meantime, Irish War Cry and Epicharis to set the early pace -- Gormley and J. Boys Echo will likely be in the middle of the pack -- and I'll be looking for Tapwit, Lookin' at Lee and Multiplier to be towards the back as they enter the second turn.

Coming out of the final turn -- I believe Meantime will fade...HARD -- like the kind of fade where he goes from 2nd to last in about 3 seconds.

Irish War Cry and Epicharis may have enough talent and stamina to finish the Belmont like a 15 round heavyweight fight -- where Irish War Cry and Epicharis will basically be looking just to keep standing at the end.

In this scenario -- the late closers will be too far from the lead to significantly close ground on the leaders -- the closers will have "some" burst, but not enough to steal a victory.

I don't believe Irish War Cry and Epicharis pull this one off though -- I think Epicharis comes out rusty and fades early.

I think Irish War Cry will swing out of the final turn free and clear -- but I don't think he'll have enough of a lead or the endurance to hold off the late closers.

I like Gormley, Tapwrit, J. Boys Echo and especially Senior Investment to make enough of a late run to pull off a mild upset.

I don't think Multiplier or Patch can do it -- and I think Lookin' At Lee could finish anywhere between 2nd and 7th -- just depends on how much energy he has left in the tank.

In the end -- I like Irish War Cry to be the early leader who has just enough to finish in the money.

I like Tapwrit -- because he's had enough rest, and he can close.

But I'm taking Senior Investment -- because this horse has awesome closing abilities and I like his chances in this one!

Closing Speed likes:  Senior Investment, Tapwrit, & Irish War Cry

If I’m betting $29 on this race I like:

$1 Exacta: 2/4/7/8 = $24
$5 Gormley to Win.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Preakness Stakes 2017

Pimlico  - May 20, 2016
Race 13 - 6:48 PM
Preakness Stakes.   (Grade I)
Purse - $1,500,000
Distance - One And Three Sixteenth Miles
Surface – Dirt

1 - Multiplier
2 - Cloud Computing
3 - Hence
4 - Always Dreaming
5 - Classic Empire
6 - Gunnevera
7 - Term of Art
8 - Senior Investment
9 - Lookin At Lee
10 - Conquest Mo Money

For anyone who missed #4 Always Dreaming”s victory in the Kentucky Derby see the video below.

Kentucky Derby:

#4 Always Dreaming is the significant favorite in the Preakness and he certainly has earned that distinction. So far this horse has shown that he does everything well – he runs in the mud well, he handles traffic well, he closes like lightning and he’s a very disciplined competitor.  From what I’ve seen I think there’s only three things that can beat Always Dreaming.

1st  Exhaustion – he could come out flat after only two weeks rest – two weeks is an unusual task for these horses and Always Dreaming, Hence, Classic Empire, Gunnevera and Looking at Lee are all coming off of a short rest.

The Empire Strikes Back?!?!
It's like you see the horrible joke
coming from a mile away, but
you can't do anything about it.
2nd Injury – and I for one hope no one gets hurt in these races. It still pisses me off A LOT remembering that people actually cheered when Barbaro stopped racing because of an eventual life ending injury....yeah people were applauding.

3rdClassic Empire…..aka The Empire Strikes Back!

#5 Classic Empire will likely be the 2nd favorite in the Preakness and, in my opinion, also well deserved. Classic Empire finished a disappointing fourth in the Kentucky Derby, but I’d throw that race away. Classic Empire got squeezed coming out of the gate and pushed into the center of the field – there was also some shifting among horses behind Always Dreaming as they came home causing unusual traffic – and the mud didn’t help Classic Empire either.

Classic Empire *may be the better horse – I don’t think he is – but that’s what we’ll find out in the Preakness.

Image result for empire strikes back
I just assume NBC is going to abuse this idea
A look at the rest of the field:

#1 Multiplier – He’s going off at about 30-1….but here are a few things to consider – he won his last race, and he won it on the rail – so his post position could be perfect for him. He likes to stay in the middle of the pack – which should place him in an area of the field where he has room to maneuver.

Multiplier has had more rest (28 days) – and from what I saw he was FEARLESS in the Illinois Derby. If the quick turnaround has exhausted Classic Empire and Always Dreaming……Multiplier could make things interesting.

#2 Cloud Computing – has 1 win in 3 races – and he faded hard at a mile and 1/8th…….Cloud Computing is an amazing technology, but an average horse.

Related image
Speaking of Cloud Computing and the Empire Strikes Back -- Cloud City Everybody!
This made me anxious as a child....I mean what's holding this City up?
And what's below all of these clouds that we need to live above...but not on
So many questions.

#3 Hence – I like Hence – but he has 2 wins in 7 attempts and finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby. He’s a Deep Closer…..but he’ll need a lot of help to win this one  -- he’s a possible 2nd or 3rd place, and maybe the mud was a factor in Kentucky…..but I think at best a 3rd place finish here.

#6 Gunnevera – finished 7th in the Kentucky Derby and has finished behind Always Dreaming in two straight races (Florida Derby)…..I think the Preakness will likely be the third time.

Gunnevera is a good horse, and he’s also a bit of a deep closer – if Classic Empire isn’t up for a big finish Gunnevera could steal 2nd place.

#7 Term of Art – he’s won 2 races out of a lifetime 9 --- he hasn’t race in 42 days and his last victory was around Thanksgiving….which is what the teller will be saying to you if you bet on this horse… know, Thanks (for) Giving us your money…….huh??? See what I did there……And, no I have no shame.

#8 Senior Investment – is fresh off of an impressive victory in the Lexington Stakes – he has a lifetime 3 wins in 8 attempts – a better look at this horse is likely his 6th place finish in the Louisiana Derby.

He closes very well, but he would need a LOT of help to pull off a victory – I honestly believe he could be more of a traffic issue for Classic Empire more than anything else.

#9 Lookin At Lee – finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby – and he’s going off with 2 wins in 10 attempts. Looking at Lee really impressed me in the Kentucky Derby – and he’s currently the third favorite at 10-1. I just don’t see this horse beating Always Dreaming and/or Classic Empire – BUT Lookin At Lee is just talented enough to pull off another 2nd place finish in this one…’s possible.

#10 Conquest Mo Money – A LOT of buzz has been made about Conquest Mo Money entering the Preakness – he did NOT run in the Kentucky Derby, however he has 3 wins in 5 attempts --  including a 2nd place finish in the Arkansas Derby behind Classic Empire.

Mo Money comes in Mo’ Rested and could certainly pull off an upset if the Kentucky Derby horses are gassed for this one.

At 15-1 he has my attention…..however in the Arkansas Derby he looked like he began to fade at the mile marker…..and while he may have built stamina more….I just don’t know that he has that last 3/16 of a mile in him.

Related image
Apparently the Preakness is also Movie Night for my blog.
Here’s how I see the race unfolding:

Always Dreaming will come out of the gate clean, take the rail and take the early lead – Conquest Mo Money will cross over and attempt to stalk Always Dreaming….or possible push the early tempo.

If Conquest Mo Money and Always Dreaming hit the quarter mile in the high 21 or low 22 that could be good news for the late closers who will be hoping that a hot early pace will tire these two horses out.

From what I’ve seen Always Dreaming will run “his” race – he’ll be at the quarter mile in the high 22’s or low to mid 23 and really pay Mo Money – No Mind….which is also the title to my second Rap Album.

A horse like Cloud Computing or Term of Art “might” try and run with the big boys at the front of the pack….that won’t last long.

Lookin At Lee and Multiplier will likely be just off that pace and Hence, Senior Investment, Gunnevera and Classic Empire will likely be several lengths back for most of the race.

Midway in the final turn – we’ll start to see movement in the back of the pack – For Classic Empire a lot of his success will be determined on what kind of position he has made for himself coming out of the final turn……there could be a lot of traffic with the deep closers and also some fading horses in the way.

Conquest Mo Money and Always Dreaming are going to be “asked” for another gear… guess is that Always Dreaming will go into his jaw dropping final gear and Mo Money will start to lose ground on the leader.

At this point it could come down to *if Classic Empire can make an incredible final burst and how much ground he’ll have to cover.

From what I have read and seen in the past – in a race like this when you have two strong favorites with two different racing styles – it’s wise to throw in a “longshot” to break up the favorites.

I’m going to be bold and say it’s Multiplier

Closing Speed likes:  Always Dreaming / Multiplier / Classic Empire

**I’m not crazy about betting on this race, because I think the favorites are going to do well  -- but here are some ideas.

If I’m betting $32 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box: 1,4,5,9 = $24  
(we might catch a break and get a decent longshot in second)

$1 Exacta Box: 4,5 with 1,6,9,10 = $8

Friday, May 5, 2017

Kentucky Derby 2017

Churchhill Downs – May 6, 2017
Race 12 - 6:46 PM (EST)
Kentucky Derby (Grade I)
Purse - $2,000,000
Distance - One And One Quarter Miles
Surface - Dirt

1 –  Lookin at Lee
2 – Thunder Snow                                                          
3 - Fast and Accurate                    
4 - Untrapped                                                  
5  - Always Dreaming
6 - State of Honor
7 - Girvin
8 - Hence
9 - Irap
10 - Gunnevera                                  
11 – Battle of Midway
12 – Sonneteer
13 – J Boys Echo
14 – Classic Empire
15 – McCraken
16 – Tapwrit
17 – Irish War Cry
18 – Gomley
19 – Practical Joke
20 – Patch
It’s going to be a curious Kentucky Derby this year (ESPECIALLY if it rains) – I believe the Best horse of this group is #17 Irish War Cry – I believe the most talented horse of this group is #14 Classic Empire – and I believe there’s a very good chance neither of them will win the Kentucky Derby…….if you just want my picks go to the bottom  -- here’s how I see the field.

#1 Lookin at Lee – much like his sire Lookin at Lucky I think he’ll get buried along the rail and won’t be able to escape the traffic – Lookin at Lucky managed to finish 6th in the KY Derby and then Won the Preakness – but I don’t think his son has as much talent.

#2 Thunder Snow – In the UAE Derby he broke from the 10th spot and managed to be a pace setter – he finished with plenty of endurance……IF this horse isn’t jet lagged from the trip from the Middle East he would be a very real threat in this race – however I’ve never seen a UAE Winner acclimate in time to make a solid run at the roses…….he’s worth a $2 insurance bet….but history tells me he’ll come out flat.

#3 Fast and Accurate was the Spiral Stakes winner – it was a very solid last outing – however this horse is facing a much better level of talent than the groups he’s won against.

He just couldn't wait to write
Don't Sleep on Always Dreaming
#4 Untrapped – 1 win in 6 races – (6th in the Arkansas Derby)

#5 Always Dreaming – Winner of the Florida Derby, and the 5/1 horse I think will steal the Kentucky Derby. This horse was Grand Sired by Empire Maker and sired by Bodemeister – Empire Maker Grand Sired Grand Slam winner American Pharoah – and Bodemeister finished 2nd in the KY Derby and Preakness in 2012. Don’t SLEEP on Always Dreaming.

**When I began writing this - Always Dreaming wasn’t the favorite – now he is….so, so much for “stealing” the KY Derby.

Florida Derby (Below) – also racing (#6 State Of Honor, #10 Gunnevera)

#7 Girvin – Louisiana Derby Winner, and he’s won 3 out of 4 lifetime races – and he is an absolute STEAL at 21/1……however his racing style isn’t great for this Kentucky Derby. With a enough help this horse could shock the world, but I just don’t think he’s going to get enough help. Could end up in the top 3.

#8 Hence – Sunland Derby Winner -- and Hence scares the HELL out of me. He’s only won 2 out of 6 races, he hasn’t raced against quality talent – and he hasn’t raced in 41 days – however he has great closing ability, and he has the perfect starting position to set himself up for a quality trip. At 15/1 he’s another steal – I just don’t know if he has the talent or the seasoning –would love to have seen one more race out of him.

#9 Irap – 1 victory in 8 attempts and it was his last race The Blue Grass Stakes. I’m not a big fan of the Blue Grass Stakes as a Prep Race – Irap has talent, but I just don’t think he has enough to pull off a victory here.

I don’t like the Blue Grass Stakes as an indicator for the Kentucky Derby – that particular race has a strange history of Great horses running poorly and often being beaten by lesser opponents – to me it’s a throw away race –

However the Blue Grass Stakes also involved:
#19 Practical Joke (2nd)
#15 McCraken (3rd)
#13 J Boys Echo (4th)
#16 Tapwrit (5th)

Let’s move ahead to:

#14 Classic Empire – (also Grand Sired by Empire Maker – but Sired By Pioneer of the Nile – Pappa to American Pharoah) will likely be the favorite in this race.  The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Champion has won 5 out of 7 races.

The two horses who defeated him are – Irish War Cry (Holy Bull Stakes) and Practical Joker (Hopeful Stakes) – however there’s MORE to the story of why, or how he was defeated.

Classic Empire – has Experience, Undisputed Talent, Amazing Closing Speed and…..well, he’s also been described as a “bit of a nut”.

Per the Daily Racing Forum:

His behavior in training first became unpredictable almost a year ago. In the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last summer, a race in which he was favored, Classic Empire pulled a stunt rarely seen on the racetrack, doing a U-turn a few strides into the race and coming to a dead stop after throwing his rider to the Saratoga dirt – Winner Practical Joker.

Also: “Everyone wants to make him out to be this bad boy, but he’s not,” Mark Casse said. “That’s not him. Now, he does see things that others don’t see, but that doesn’t make him bad.”

Also he occasionally refuses to Workout….basically making him the Allen Iverson of Horse Racing.

Image result for allen iverson practice meme
Not a race.....not a RACE - We're talking about Practice?
 His loss in the Holy Bull is attributed to an Abscess on his Hoof – which considering his strong Arkansas Derby makes sense.

See Arkansas Derby also racing – (#1 Lookin At Lee, #4 Untrapped, and #12 Sonneteer)

Classic Empire “could” be both the Wild Card and Favorite of the Kentucky Derby….let that sink in.

#15 McCraken – has won 4 out of 5 lifetime races – his only loss was at the Blue Grass Stakes (which again I’m tossing aside) – He has talent, I really like that he’s just off of Classic Empire’s shoulder – it’s a good spot for him --  I just haven’t seen him win against the kind of quality in this race. He needs help, but he certainly could surprise – I don’t love his 5/1 odds here though.

#17 Irish War Cry – he’s also won 4 out of 5 lifetime races – he was sired by Curlin (one of my favorites of all time) and in my opinion, he “Should” be the horse to beat in this race……however that 1 loss…..that 1 loss has baffled many experts.

His one loss was a 7th place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes – this is at the same track (Gulfstream Park) where he defeated a gimpy Classic Empire just the race before.

Maybe it was just an off day….you just hate to bet big on a horse that has had that “OFF” of a day.

Also every time I see this horse's name I start singing.....IN THE NAME -- OF LOVE!!! 

Image result for u2 singing
I'm sure I do not look as cool as Bono when singing it.....or as on key

#18 Gormley – is the Santa Anita Derby Winner – he has solid Closing Speed - -The Santa Anita Derby has produced 2 out of the last 5 Kentucky Derby Winners.  And he is lifetime 4 wins out of 6 races.

He’s currently going off at 26/1 – and he’s definitely a horse that could also shock the world with a little help.

#19 Practical Joke – he’s going off at 31/1 – I think he has a solid chance of landing in the Top 3 – He hasn’t won a race since Oct. 2016 (3 wins / 6 attempts), however he’s also never finished worse than 3rd place – and he’s raced against the best horses in the field.

#20 Patch – He’s going to be “THE” Underdog story in this race – his post position is out in the parking lot AND he’s a One-Eyed Horse.  He has 1 victory in 3 attempts – he currently sits at 30-1 and while it would be the Feel good story – let me get my script to Disney -- History in the Making Kentucky Derby….I wouldn’t buy into the hype. At 50/1 I might be interested.

**Here’s how I see the race –

Lookin At Lee gets immediately buried on the rail – IF (and it’s a big IF) Thunder Snow is here to race I think he jumps out and sets the pace…..if this happens, nail biting will commence.

Always Dreaming (hopefully with a good jump at the gate) will join Thunder Snow at the top of the pack.

OR Thunder Snow will be dead tired and Always Dreaming will be on the Rail and in command of the early pace.

What I’m most curious about is WHERE Classic Empire will be when they hit the first turn? He may reserve himself and drop back towards the back half of the field --- I wouldn’t be surprised if McCraken and Irish War Cry do their best to stalk Classic Empire and keep him boxed in.

There is a chance that Classic Empire will fire off and attempt to run closer to the top of the field – if he does that McCraken and Irish War Cry will likely follow – but they won’t necessarily be able to box him into as much traffic.

There’s usually “some” horse that decides to go all LEEROY JENKINS and fire out of the gate at an unsustainable pace – usually ownership has seemingly decided that firing off fast and praying for miracle endurance is the only way they’ll win.  (I’m thinking Fast and Accurate, Battle of Midway, State of Honor or Irap).

Image result for leeroy jenkins meme

I’ll be looking for Girvin. Gomley, maybe Gunnevera and Hence to settle in somewhere in the middle of the field – all of these horses should be able to run “their race” – but they’ll likely need the Early Pace Setters to burn out and fade – and hope that Classic Empire is in traffic…….the same traffic they’ll need to avoid.

Coming out of the final turn – I see Always Dreaming in the lead, and hopefully picking up steam – at this point it will depend on who navigated traffic best – If Classic Empire gets daylight….and he’s not crazy…you know at the moment…..than I think he’ll have enough power to win.

However if he’s battling traffic – I like Always Dreaming for the win…..and a crazy finish for 2nd (Irish War Cry, Classic Empire, McCraken, Hence, Girvin, or Gomley) 

Closing Speed likes:  Always Dreaming, McCraken, Classic Empire, Irish War Cry

If I’m betting $34 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box: 5,14,17,18 = $24
$1 Exacta: 5, 14 with 2,7,8,10,15 = $10

Some Longshots -- (If there is rain - scratch the $34 bet – and I would consider betting $27 on Longshots – as follows)

$2 Win - #11 Battle of Midway – (Especially if it’s raining)
$5 Win - #18 Gormley – (If raining)
$5 Win - #19 Practical Joke (if raining)
$5 Win -   #7 Girvin – (if odds are higher than 20/1)
$10 Win - #10 Gunnevera – (if odds are higher than 15/1)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Arkansas Derby 2017

Oaklawn Park
Race 11 - 6:18 PM
Arkansas Derby   (Grade I)
Purse - $1,000,000
Distance - One And One Eighth Miles
Surface – Dirt

1 – Rockin Rudy
2 – Classic Empire
3 – Silver Dust
4 – Petrov
5 – Grandpa’s Dream
6 – Lookin at Lee
7 – Sonneteer
8 – Rowdy the Warrior
9 – Untrapped
10 – One Dreamy Dude
11 – Conquest Mo Money
12 - Malagacy
I’m going to start off by writing that I believe there could be a sizeable upset in the Arkansas Derby – the favorites have a few things going against them…..enough, I believe,  to cost them a trip to the winner’s circle.

And some of these long shots only need a little edge to steal a big race – and they may get it here at Oaklawn.

The Arkansas Derby serves as a rematch for several of these horses who last raced in the Rebel Stakes 28 days ago.

#12 Malagacy earned a commanding victory over #7 Sonneteer (2nd), #9 Untrapped (3rd), #4 Petrov (4th), #3 Silver Dust (5th) and #6 Lookin at Lee (6th).

See Video:

As the announcer so aptly stated there were three noses on the wire for 2nd place – and I believe one of these three horses could be the one to steal a victory here in the Arkansas Derby.

Before I “show my work” on the upset – here’s a quick briefing on the field.

#1 Rockin Rudy – 1 victory in 3 career starts , I think he’ll be overwhelmed by the talent here. If he somehow breaks from the gate well and grabs the rail and sets the early pace….he could position himself for a top three spot…..but I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

#2 Classic Empire – He’s the Favorite in this race - currently going off at 8/5. This son of Pioneer of the Nile (half-brother to Grand Slam Champion American Pharoah)  enters this race as the Breeders Cup Juvenile Champion , BUT most recently 3rd place finisher in the Holy Bull Stakes.

An additional issue I see for this horse is that he last ran 70 days ago – and this race is set up to be a kind of Boom or Bust for Classic Empire. He’s got a great post, but I’m concerned he either peaked too soon (his 2 year old season) or that he’ll have too much rust coming into this one…..or both!

From a bettors standpoint I think you either bet against him heavy……or you sit on your hands…i.e. not bet at all.

Image result for holding a bunny
Or, instead of sitting your hands, you could hold a giant rabbit
Happy Easter everyone.

#3 Silver Dust (1 win in 4 attempts) and #6 Lookin at Lee (2 Wins in 8 attempts) – neither have shown me enough to win in this one.

#4 Petrov – 1 win in 5 attempts – I thought he had a very tough trip in his 4th place finish…..he got bunched up in traffic coming out of the final turn and it seemingly took forever for him to find a gap to run through……I love his starting spot…..but I HATE that he only has one victory. 12/1 odds – worth a look!

#5 Grandpa’s Dream – 1 win in 4 races – 30/1 odds – in a race with a possible upset he may be worth a $2 bet…..but I think you and Grandpa will both be dreaming at that point.

#7 Sonneteer – He REALLY caught my attention with his 2nd place finish in the Rebel Stakes and I was ready to GUARENTEE a big finish from this horse……I mean a BIG GUAAAAAA-----ROOOONNN---TEEEEE this horse was going to do something special here in the Arkansas Derby…..and then I reviewed his full history.

0 wins in 9 Races…….I mean that ZERO feels REALLY PUNCTUATED!

Image result for westbrook dunk
I do think there’s an upset brewing here…..and 15/1 odds looks mighty nice…..but ZERO Wins…Zero.....I could be mumbling that all during the race.

#8 Rowdy the Warrior – he’s going off at 30/1 and has 1 victory in 9 races. Which of course makes it even more difficult to forget that ZERO sitting with Sonneteer.....I mean even Rowdy the Warrior a horse clearly with some kind of complex could put together 1 win.

Likely you’ll see Rowdy the Warrior begin at the back of the pack….and finish there as well.

#9 Untrapped – 1 win in 5 attempts – this horse is very good at finishing 2nd or 3rd --- he could be the upset contender here but I’m not loving his starting spot.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
refers to himself as
One Dreamy Dude
on his dating profile -
at JC Date
Jungle Cats Date
#10 – One Dreamy Dude – 0 Wins in 6 Attempts --- I think he’s basically a part of the field so that I have material for Strangely Sensitive Cheetah.

#11 Conquest Mo Money – 3 wins out of 4 attempts – and he finished 2nd in the Sunland Derby. In the Sunland Derby he was forced to go far wide in the first turn and it really cost him ground he couldn’t make up --- he’s sitting at 15/1 and he very well could pose as an upset threat!

#12 Malagacy – Undefeated in 3 lifetime races – he’s definitely the horse to beat in this one, and in my opinion should still be considered the favorite in this race over Classic Empire.

So here is my breakdown of how I see this race going

Malagacy “could” and likely will push to be a part of the early lead (i.e. the Pace) – Conquest Mo Money will do EVERYTHING in his power to make sure to keep Malagacy on his outside shoulder and not give Malagacy the opportunity to get an inside position…..this could be KEY.

If Malagacy goes for the rail and Conquest Mo Money succeeds in keeping him from getting it – both of these horses could come out of the final turn exhausted – leaving someone inside -- or someone with a reserve an opportunity.

That someone very well could be Classic Empire – who will have a shorter trip on the rail into the first turn and could (and should) position himself to have the inside track coming out of the final turn 

*IF both Malagacy and Conquest Mo Money are sucking wind --- he could breeze the final furlongs and take a solid victory….that is….unless he comes out flat, or he’s not up for the distance?!?!

IF (and this is a solid IF) Conquest Mo Money presents issues for Malagacy and both of them are wiped out coming out of the final turn AND Classic Empire comes out rusty – this makes way for a sizeable upset.

I SO BADLY want to go with Sonneteer but WHO picks a horse to win a HUGE Kentucky Derby Prep that has Zero Wins…….

Image result for be brave
This is what betting on Sonneteer feels like.....
I'm going with Petrov for the win....but I think there are a number of possible upsets here -- if you're betting tomorrow -- Be Brave!

Closing Speed likes:  Petrov / Malagacy / Classic Empire

If I’m betting $30 on this race I like:
$1 Trifecta Box 4/2/11/12

$6 Win Bet #7

Friday, March 31, 2017

Florida Derby & Louisiana Derby

Gulfstream Park  - April 1st 2017
Race 14 - 6:40 PM
Florida Derby (Grade I)
Purse - $1,000,000
Distance – 1 1/8th Mile
Surface – Dirt

1 - State of Honor
2 - Talk Logistics
3 - Charlie the Greek
4 - Always Dreaming
5 - Quinientos
6 - Coleman Rocky
7 - Unbridled Holiday
8- Impressive Edge
9- Battalion Runner
10 - Three Rules
11 - Gunnevera
This year the first Saturday in April features two great Derbies – the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby! Both feature strong contenders for the Kentucky Derby / Triple Crown – however I’m going to focus on the Florida Derby because of #11 Gunnevera.

Image result for gunnevera
Gunnevera - the Horse we could all be talking about come Kentucky Derby Time

When last we saw Gunnevera he was long striding his way from the rest of the field in a commanding Fountain of Youth Stakes victory here at Gulfstream Park.

In contention with him were also #10 Three Rules (finished 3rd), #2 Talk Logistics (finished 4th), and #5 Quinientos who finished 6th.

See Race Below:

I believe Gunnevera will likely win again here at the Florida Derby – however the odds makers have caught my attention – so let’s take a look at the other horses.

#1 State of Honor – Very solid horse, he will likely take the lead in this race – especially if he breaks well from the Gate. State of Honor recently finished 2nd in the Tampa Bay Derby, and unfortunately faded as they came out of the final turn. I think there’s a very good chance State of Honor could finish in the top 3 – but I believe Gunnevera would have to have an off day for State of Honor to win.

#3 Charlie the Greek – is going off at 50-1 – he’s won 2 races in 12 attempts, and finished his last race 4th against lesser competition. If I could talk to the owners I’d tell them -  

GYROutta Your League!!
 (you have to say it out loud)
GYROutta Your League!!
(I know it's awful).

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
is unhappy about the horrible pun.
But more unhappy that he's not
eating Dolmades, Hummas,
Souvlaki and Baklava!!

Moving on from the bad pun -- #4 Always Dreaming is one of the horses that the odds makers have piqued my interest in.  He’s currently going off at 4-1 – he’s the third favorite in this race – his career record is 2 Wins in 4 Attempts – and his last victory was at this distance 1 and 1/8 mile.

And I usually trust the “locals” to have insight on a race like this – however the horse Always Dreaming recently defeated was Charlie the Greek (2nd) -- (you know the 50-1 horse). I wouldn’t be surprised if Always Dreaming drops to the 5th or 6th favorite come race time – either that or I believe he’ll be overbet.

#6 Coleman Rocky – has 1 win in 5 races, he’s going off at 30-1. Wouldn’t surprise me if this horse looked sharp for about a mile and then dropped off.

#7 Unbridled Holiday – has 1 win in 7 races, he’s also going off at 30-1 – he’ll likely run in the middle of the pack, but I doubt he has enough to out run these horses at the end of the race.

#8 Impressive Edge is currently sitting at 12-1, and he recently picked up a victory in an Allowance Outing. He has 2 Wins in 5 Attempts……I’d really like to “like” this horse more – but either he’d have to blossom in this race or everyone else would have to really come out flat for me to believe he can win this one. He feels like bad bettors bait here.

#9 Battalion Runner – First of all, very cool name – he’s currently going off as the Second Favorite (3/1) in this race – he won his most recent outing and he has 2 victories in 3 attempts –

Now for the bad news – Battalion Runner hasn’t raced in 57 days - so I think he could come out a bit rusty. And this is an unfortunate Post Position for him, because I suspect Battalion Runner will want to compete for the early lead – and with 8 horses between him and the rail it could be a very difficult, energy expending, trip for him in first half mile.

#10 Three Rules – is currently sitting at 8/1 and finished third behind Gunnevera in the Fountain of Youth. 

Keep an eye out for the odds on this horse, because I think he’s underbet here. I think he should at least be the third favorite in this one – and while I don’t think he can beat Gunnevera (if Gunnevera is sharp) – I DO think he has a chance of beating everyone else in this race.

How I see the Race:

State Of Honor will look to grab the rail, dictate the early pace and hope (that because he’s taken the shortest trip, against the rail) that everyone in this race is exhausted in the final furlongs and he can steal the race – meanwhile Battalion Runner will hope to make a quick break and stalk State Of Honor and as they come out of the final turn – Battalion Runner will hit the jets, pass up State of Honor and hope that Gunnevera fades, hits traffic behind him or comes out flat.

Gunnevera will likely hang back – patiently let all of the front runners find their spacing, and when the moment is right – Gunnevera will be asked for his full throttle and we’ll see if he’s got it.

I’m guessing he does….and we’ll be talking about his Kentucky Derby odds soon.

Closing Speed likes:  Gunnevera / Battalion Runner / Three Rules

Louisiana Derby

The Louisiana Derby is primarily a rematch from the Risen Star Stakes  and as you’ll see the Favorite Girvin found himself in the Winner’s Circle (see below)

I like Girvin to repeat here –

If I were betting $6 I would go with –

$1 Exacta – Girvin with Patch, Senior Investment and Monaco

And then also the reverse

$1 Exacta – Patch, Senior Investment and Monaco with Girvin. 

Related image

Saturday, March 11, 2017

San Felipe Stakes 2017

Santa Anita
March 11, 2017
Race 5  - 2:04 PM
San Felipe Stakes (Grade II)
Purse – 400,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles
Surface – Dirt

1 – Term of Art
2 – Vending Machine
3 – Ann Arbor Eddie
4 – Mastery
5 – Gormley
6 – Iliad
7 – Bluegrass Envy

There are two solid Kentucky Derby Prep races this weekend – the first is The Tampa Bay Derby – but in my opinion the only horse that will likely be a threat to contend in a Triple Crown Run would be #5 Tapwrit – he enters the Tampa Bay Derby as the favorite and I think he’ll likely chalk up a win in this one…..

However in the last few races I’ve written about – Upsets have been the norm. This could be a year where some horses develop late and it could be a very difficult season to predict!

Now let’s take a look at the San Felipe Stakes which I believe will be a VERY competitive race.

#1 Term of Art – recently finished 4th in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes here at Santa Anita,  he’s a career 2 for 7 and he’s going off at 20-1....I’m not a fan.

#2 Vending Machine – has 3 wins in 8 lifetime attempts – he recently won (on Turf) here at Santa Anita 49 days ago – he’s also going off at 20/1  -- and he’s worth a look if you like the longshots. What I like about this horse is that he showed a lot of poise in his last race….but I don’t think he has enough talent to take on this group.

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
loves candy....
but would be concerned if
this Vending Machine
had any "pop" out.
#3 Ann Arbor Eddie – is going off at 8/1 – and has enjoyed 3 wins in 5 Attempts – he was the FAVORITE in his last race the El Camino Real and finished 2nd --- (although due to interference was pushed back to a 4th place finish). – Ann Arbor Eddie will likely look to control the pace at the lead and hug the rail in this one....but he’ll need help to win.

#4 Mastery – last time we saw this horse he was pulling away with a 5 length win in the Cash Call Futurity in Los Alamitos. This horse is Undefeated in 3 lifetime attempts….however it’s also been 91 days since he raced last. He may be the best horse in this one…..but he may not be the best prepared – this could be another race where the favorite looks rusty…..and falls flat.

#5 Gormley – currently going off at 9/5, Gormely is the second favorite in this race.  His career record is 3 wins in 4 attempts …. and he barely squeaked out a victory in the Sham Stakes 63 days ago here at Santa Anita.

Sham Stakes:

I’m certainly impressed with both Gormley and American Anthem  -- they both show great early speed and they both show a LOT of fighting spirit…..certainly two horses to keep an eye on….from what I’m reading it’s likely we’ll see American Anthem in the Rebel Stakes on Mar. 18th.

#6 Iliad – is currently the third favorite in this race going off at 5/2 – he has 2 victories in 3 attempts and unlike Gormely and Mastery, he has raced recently -- putting up a victory in the San Vicente (here at Santa Anita) 27 days ago.

As you watch the video – here are some things I’d like to point out – Iliad is a BEAST – he looks much larger than the other horses when he reels around the 2nd turn, and he's probably still growing! He also has no problems keeping up with a “hot” early pace (21 seconds) and then finishing with ease…….

Also I’d like to add – kudos to ownership for naming him Iliad…..Classical, Mythical…even Horse Related…..I mean who names their prize horses Gormley and Vending Machine??

**Well Gormley at least is a Sculptor...but Vending Machine??

Finally #7 Bluegrass Envy – comes in as the “Super” longshot 50-1….despite excellent bloodlines (Any Given Saturday) and a much better name than Gormley and Vending Machine…..what he doesn’t have is a win….in 5 attempts. He last raced 42 days ago finishing 6th. Young horses like these can surprise, but I think the talent is too deep for him to compete.

Image resultTo me the interesting thing about this upcoming race will be how the horses deal with the early pace – will Gormley and Iliad go full out in the first half mile and not have anything left for the last few furlongs – if that were to happen I think this would help both Vending Machine and Mastery.

However if the pace is more modest (late 23’s) than I think we could see a nail biter between Iliad and Gormley with Mastery closing in at the end.

Closing Speed likes:  Iliad / Gormley / Mastery

If I’m betting $24 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box:  2/3/5/6  = $24

*It’s a pricy bet…but if a long shot pulls off an upset , it could be a solid ticket.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fountain Of Youth Stakes

Gulfstream park  - March 4, 2017
Race 13
Fountain of Youth (Grade II)
Purse - 400,000
Distance - One And One Sixteenth Miles
Surface – Dirt

1 –  Hurican Americo
2 – Gunnevera                 
3 – Quiinientos
4 – Talk Logistics                                              
5 – Beasley                                        
6 – Practical Joke                                                                         7 – Three Rules
8 – Irish War Cry
9 –  Made You Look
10 – Takaful
11 – Lookin for Eight

There are two races on March 4th that can help horses punch their ticket to the Kentucky Derby – the first is the Gotham in New York – and after reviewing that race I believe the heavy favorite El Areeb, the stunning grey colt – should find himself in the Winner’s Circle.

(El Areeb -- Means The Wise or The Intelligent)
Image result for el areeb horse

The more interesting race should be the Fountain of Youth  which, for a few of these horses, will be a rematch of the Holy Bull stakes  -- that took place here at Gulfstream Park in February.

The winner of the Holy Bull Stakes was #8 Irish War Cry who is undefeated in three career races – #2 Gunnevera finished 2nd (3 wins /  7 races) and #4 Talk Logistics finished 4th (1 win / 4 races).

Irish War Cry broke out into the lead comfortably and never looked back – he has a powerful finish and deserves to be the favorite in this race.

See Holy Bull Stakes:

However there are three horses that could challenge the Favorite –

#6 Practical Joke – Personally I think this horse is over hyped coming into this race – his odds are 3-1 (making him the 2nd favorite) and he hasn’t raced in 119 days – which was a third place showing in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. That said he has won 3 out of 4 races in his career – I don’t like a young horse coming off this big of a layoff but……they like him locally, and it’s wise to listen to the locals.

#9 Made You Look – Is currently sitting at 10-1 – and I’m definitely looking! Made You Look showed a lot of patience in his last race before turning on the jets in the final furlong to win by a few lengths – this horse has a “primo” starting spot to stalk Irish War Cry and when they come out of the turn – I think Made You Look may have enough fight to pull off an upset – the question is if he can keep up to begin with. He only has 3 wins in 6 attempts – but I like this horse.

#11 Lookin For Eight – Crushed his opponents in his last outing (a 7 furlong race) here at Gulfstream --  Lookin for Eight will also likely look to contend with Irish War Cry for the early lead – again the question is who will have the lead as they enter the final turn?  Lookin for Eight has 1 win in 2 races…..and he’s currently going off at 20-1…….I like those odds a lot – especially for a horse sired by Former Preakness Winner Lookin for Lucky.

Two horses I’m concerned about are - #7 Three Rules  and #5 Beasley.

Three Rules faded at the end of a 7 furlong race, and I just don’t see him contending in this one at all…..but I’m looking at his overall record of 5 wins in 7 races – and I’m concerned he may have just been flat in his most recent outing…..we’ll find out soon. His odds are at 12/1.

Beasley – Was Sired by Shackleford and has only 1 win in 3 races – and he most recently finished 2nd in an allowance race --- however his odds are currently 6/1….which is clearly much better than Made You Look and Lookin for Eight? Somebody’s wrong....and I really hope it isn't Me....again!

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
hears the name
Irish War Cry
and is ready to drink
Jameson Whiskey
and listen to U2!
I’m throwing out –

50/1 - Hurican Americo  (1 win / 2 races)
50/1 – Quiinientos (1 win / 8 races)

Irish War Cry is the son of one of my all-time favorite horses Curlin….and it’s difficult to bet against against an “Irish” horse this close to St. Patrick’s Day and that is absolutely terrible reasoning for handicapping horses.....however -- 

Closing Speed likes:  Irish War Cry / Made You Look / Gunnevera             

If I’m betting $12 on this race I like:
$1 Exacta Box – 8,9,11

$ Exacta Box – 3,8,9

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Risen Star Stakes 2017

Risen Star Stakes
Fair Grounds Race Course
Post Time: 5:00 PM CT
Distance: 1 1/16 m (Dirt)

1 –  Girvin
2 – Untrapped                                                  
3 – Local Hero   
4 –  Arklow                                                         
5 –  Shareholder Value                                 
6 – Guest Suite                                                
7 – US Officer
8 –  Cool Arrow
9 –  Mo Town
10 – Takeoff
11 – Sorry Erik
12 – Horse Fly
13 – It’s Your Nickel
14 – So Conflated

Full Disclosure --- I think this race is completely up for grabs. I do believe there are a few “throw away” picks here……but, not as many as any bettor might like -- I would not be surprised to see a mild upset here....or a relative long shot pull off a victory!

Let’s begin with the favorites.

#1 Girvin – is going off at 6-1 – I see this horse as being closer to 8-1 or 10-1  -- he has 1 victory in 2 races, at this point I believe his odds (and hopes) are based on his Sire Tale of Ekati – very good horse in his day, but “he’s” not running today.

#3 Local Hero – has 1 victory in 3 races – in two of those races he finished second – and his lone victory was his last race here at the Fairgrounds. Local Hero has a great starting spot – and he’s very comfortable taking an early lead and not letting up. Currently he’s going off as the second favorite, that could change (in many ways) before the bell. His sire was Hard Spun – and this horse looks like a contender.

#6 Guest Suite – has won 3 out of 5 races --  He most recently won the LeComte Stakes here at the Fairgrounds with an impressive run in the mud  -- very solid choice here.

** However #2 Untrapped finished 2nd in the LeComte and Untrapped was gaining ground on the leader as they hit the wire… 10-1 odds he could surprise -- also HorseRacingNation has him ranked higher than Guest Suite.

Rounding out the Lecomte were the following horses:
#10 Takeoff (3rd), #4 Arklow (4th), #5 Shareholder Value (5th).

The favorite is #9 Mo Town – he has won 2 out of 3 career races – and his last victory at the Remsen Stakes is definitely worth a view:

As you can see Mo Town finishes strongly -- However I am not crazy about the 91 days he’s had off since his last race, or that he’s switching tracks. 

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
can't help but sing
along to Motown's
Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch!!!
It would not surprise me if he needs this race to shake off some rust, also would not surprise me if he doesn’t take to the track – could be a big disappointment.

**Also can we PLEASE stop celebrating his sire Uncle Mo – he had a terrible name, and was a relatively disappointing 3 year old horse – I don’t care how well he breeds!

Also in the mix is #8 Cool Arrow – (sounds like a bad Marvel Super Hero, or a nickname that Cupid is hoping will pick up steam) – Cool Arrow has 3 victories in 6 attempts – he also has the most earnings of any of these horses $282K. He recently picked up a win over #7 US Officer in the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes – at 15-1 this horse has my attention.

However both Cool Arrow and US Officer are coming off of a 76 day layoff.

You know.....maybe you call me Cool Arrow???
Meanwhile rounding out the bunch are the Longshots….however these odds have me interested.

#11 Sorry Erik – 30-1 odds --- 3 wins in 8 attempts – that’s a lot of experience for a horse this age. And he’s fresh off of a victory.

#12 Horse Fly – 30-1 odds – 1 victory in 6 attempts – Also fresh off of a victory.

#13 It’s your Nickel – 30-1 odds – 2 victories in 3 attempts – Fresh off of a victory

#14 So Conflated – 10-1 odds – 2 victories in 3 attempts and winner of the California Derby  – Fresh off of a victory.

All of these “longshots” have raced in the last 20 to 35 days -- and at this age, that kind of consistency can help.  

My picks and my betting strategy would be completely different in this one.

Closing Speed likes: Local Hero, Untrapped, Mo Town

If I’m betting $10 on this race I like:

$1 Exacta - 3/9 with 2/6/8/11/14