Friday Night Australian Racing, 5/19/2017

As of this writing, both Rosehill (A track) and Flemington (B track) are reporting “Good 3.”

Race 1A Australia (Rosehill) Friday, May 19, 2017.  JOHN MILLER HALL OF FAME HCP ($100K) 9:25pm EDT 8:25pm CDT 6:25pm PDT W, P, S, Ex, Qu, Tri, Super 2yo OPEN, 6 furlongs Apprentices Can Claim.  Picks 3-1

#3 ADSUM (6/1 ML) had a solid trial on May 8th, and comes to the races for Team Hawkes with their “go to” jockey, Tommy Berry.  If this horse is real his odds will be a lot closer to 3/1.  #1 Viridine (7/2 ML) has a win under his belt for the red-hot Godolphin operation under ex-champion jockey Darren Beadman.  This appears to be a two-horse race.


Race 1B Australia (Flemington) Friday, May 19, 2017.  SAINTLY HALL OF FAME TROPHY ($100K) 9:45pm EDT 8:45pm CDT 6:45pm PDT W, P, S, Ex, Qu, Tri, Super 2yo OPEN, 7 furlongs.  Apprentices Cannot Claim.  Picks 2-5-4

#2 GRANDIOSE (4/1 ML) looks like a horse that loves to win races, and this field isn’t stacked.  Choice.  #5 Salsamor (9/1 ML) has won at the taxing 7 furlong distance.  #4 Hecta (5/1 ML) doesn’t have fast track form but he did win his debut and is bred for the distance.


Race 2A Australia (Rosehill) Friday, May 19, 2017 2A GEORGE MOORE HALL OF FAME-BM73 ($100K) 10:00pm EDT 9:00pm CDT 7:00pm PDT W, P, S, Ex, Qu, Tri, Super 3yo BM73.  7 furlongs Apprentices Can Claim.  Picks 7-4

#7 PASSAGE OF TIME (9/2 ML) is lightly raced and gets in very light at 122 pounds, compared to the 131 pound high weight.  I also like the class drop from BM76 to BM73.  #4 Samadoubt (7/1 ML) is also dropping from the same BM76 into this spot, and is second off the layoff.  He has the back speed figures to be a threat with nominal improvement.

Preakness Day at Pimlico – Graded Stakes Preview for Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Pimlico Hosts The Second Jewel of the Triple Crown!

Pim R13 (post 6:48 Eastern) The Preakness Stakes (Grade 1), 9.5 furlongs Selections:

1st – #4 Always Dreaming (4/5)   2nd – #1 Multiplier (30/1)

3rd – #5 Classic Empire (3/1)   4th – #3 Hence (20/1)  

5th – Conquest Mo Money (15/1)   6th – Cloud Computing (12/1)

ALWAYS DREAMING got the trip in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, but he MADE his trip.  After an awkward step out of the gate, he quickly righted himself and chased State of Honor through a half mile in a legitimate 46.2.  We know the rest – Always Dreaming won easily, and State of Honor lost by “only” 46 lengths.  The very tough speed horse Battle of Midway chased the Derby fractions as well, and only got beaten by eight lengths.  If you try to run with with Always Dreaming, you are probably going to lose.  With Conquest Mo Money being the only obvious speed in the field and drawing wide, the 2017 Preakness Stakes seems to be Always Dreaming’s to win with reasonable racing luck.

MULTIPLIER could be the new ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ of horse racing, as he just won the Illinois Derby is near stakes record time when the track was dead, and he is getting no respect.  There are some pedigree experts that say he is bred to get 5 furlongs, but horses are individuals before pedigree and Multiplier a very athletic horse with an incredible stride when he gets going.  Don’t take my word for it, watch the video of Illinois Derby (Hawthorne April 22nd, Race 5) and I challenge you to tell me he does not belong in this race.

CLASSIC EMPIRE and HENCE were unable to show their best on Derby Day with all the interference at the start of the Derby.  Classic Empire was noble, but I think tactically he is at a disadvantage to Always Dreaming in the 2017 Preakness with the lack of early speed in the field.  I also question coming back in two weeks after it was obvious he took a physical beating.  Hence is probably better than he showed Derby Day and to some extent that makes him dangerous.

CONQUEST MO MONEY and CLOUD COMPUTING are the other potential speed horses in the race, and it is unclear if either one will try to take on Absolute Dreaming early.  I think Cloud Computing will be sent early because he drew inside, and if so Conquest Mo Money may be able to stalk the leaders and get first run on Classic Empire.


The Dixie is a Great Grade 2 Turf race

Pim R12 (post 5:39 Eastern) The Dixie Stakes (Grade 2, turf), 8.5 furlongs Selections:

1st – #10 Ring Weekend (4/1)   2nd – #4 Projected (3/1)

3rd – #9 Conquest Typhoon (15/1)

RING WEEKEND received two very passive rides from Raphael Bejarano at Santa Anita, and I am glad that Graham Motion made a jock switch to John Velazquez, who for my money is one of the top 3 turf riders in the country.  It also appears that there is enough early speed in this field to set up Ring Weekend’s late run.  PROJECTED looks like the European flavor of the month.  He might be good enough to win this race but he doesn’t appear to be a “Breeders’ Cup” quality Euro.  CONQUEST TYPHOON is 8 for 17 in hitting the exacta on the turf, and he appears to be going the right way after a sharp win at Belmont 16 days ago.  He seems well spotted to get a piece of the purse.


The Gallorette is a Turf Race For the Gals Only

Pim R10 (post 4:07 Eastern) The Gallorette Stakes (Grade 3, turf), 8.5 furlongs Selections:

1st – #2 Zipessa (9/2)   2nd – #6 On Leave (2/1)  

3rd – #3 Danilovna (6/1)   4th – Elysea’s World (5/2)

ZIPESSA is a horse that has significant distance limitations, but if the track is good or firm she should dominate these at 8.5 furlongs.  ON LEAVE is a super-talented animal, but this spring her trainer has brought many talented horses over for their 2017 debuts and I have not seen one win yet.  I will use her in the exacta.  DANILOVA looks really dangerous for Graham Motion and I don’t think it would be a huge upset if she won, with the form of Zipessa and On Leave being somewhat uncertain.  ELYSEA’S WORLD has had the misfortune to run into 2017 turf super mare Dickinson twice, running second both times at 9 furlongs.  Not sure if she can beat these at the shorter 8.5 furlong distance, but I think she’s a must use in the pick 4.


The Maryland Sprint is Surprisingly for Sprinters!

Pim R9 (post 3:27 Eastern) Maryland Sprint Stakes (Grade 3), 6.0 furlongs Selections:

1st – #4 A. P. Indian (8/5)   2nd – #5 Whitmore (9/5)   3rd – #2 Classy Class (10/1)

A. P. INDIAN had a great comeback at Keeneland, his late pace was excellent, and I think he will appreciate the shorter 6 furlongs distance.  WHITMORE has never lost sprinting at six furlongs (5 for 5) and this could be the race of the weekend.  CLASSY CLASS is a very reliable early speed horse that may be able to hang on for the trifecta.

Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico – Graded Stakes Preview for Friday, May 19th, 2017

Note:  There is up to a 60% Chance of Rain in the Baltimore Area on Friday

(Selections are made for a fast track)

The Big Race on Friday – The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes!

Pim R11 (post 4:50 PM) The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (Grade 2), 9 furlongs. Selections:

1st – #1 Shimmering Aspen (9/2)   2nd – #2 Tapa Tapa Tapa (8/1)   3rd – #7 Moana (4/1)

11 horses are entered in this race, and I don’t have a strong opinion in this race, but I think one filly has the most talent – SHIMMERING ASPEN.  From her last race she has the best fast track BRIS Class number in the field and she won her last two starts easily in allowance company.  She appears to be on the improve and this time of year I want to back horses that are showing signs of getting better.  Her trainer runs 20% with these sorts of animals so the 9/2 ML hints there may be some value at post time.  TAPA TAPA TAPA has run two nice races with blinkers, and if she can relax early she may get a dream trip following Shimmering Aspen from the inside.  MOANA only has a maiden win, but her BRISnet pace numbers are very competitive and she merits consideration for any trifecta plays.


There Actually Is a Miss Preakness!

Pim R9 (post 3:44 PM) The Miss Preakness Stakes (Grade 3), 6 furlongs. Selections:

1st – #5 Our Majesty (7/2)   2nd – #6 Vertical Oak (10/1)  

3rd – #12 Pretty City Dancer (6/1)   4th – #2 My Miss Chief (15/1)

I love sprinters with a high win percentage.  OUR MAJESTY is 3 for 3 with very good speed figures.  Vertical Oak lost to the top pick at Oaklawn, then came back with a dominant win in the slop at odds-on at Prairie.  Don’t laugh, not many quality route horses reside there but the sprinting ranks at Prairie Meadows tend to be very competitive.  PRETTY CITY DANCER was essentially a no-show on Kentucky Oaks Day in the Eight Belles, but gets a fast 14 day turnaround and is the only legitimate closer in the field.  Gets her chance to make amends.  MY MISS CHIFF was huge at the Fair Grounds, winning her first two starts, then failed against tougher going 7 furlongs.  I think she fits better with this crew, especially at the 6 furlong distance of the Miss Preakness.


Movie Trivia – What Was The Name of the Race Between Seabiscuit and War Admiral?

Pim R7 (post 2:39 PM) The Pimlico Special (Grade 3), 9.5 furlongs. Selections:

1st – #6 Shaman Ghost (4/5)   2nd – Watershed (6/1)  

3rd – #9 Conquest Windycity (15/1)   4th – #1 Dolphus (8/1)

SHAMAN GHOST didn’t look very sharp winning the Santa Anita Handicap in Arrogate’s absence, but he did win, and he has two bullet works since that race, so I will put him on top at a very short price.  WATERSHED got a dream run behind horses at Keeneland then attacked in the lane for an easy victory.  He has a sharp 4 furlongs coming into this, so I assume it is “all systems go.”  CONQUEST WINDYCITY appears to be a better horse with the blinkers off for the white hot Brendan Walsh barn.  I think this horse is very dangerous here to hit the trifecta, if not win.  DOLPHUS is most famous for being a half-brother of Rachel Alexandra, but his last two races have been very good since the switch into Jimmy Jerkens’ barn.


The Allaire DuPont Distaff Kicks Off The Preakness Weekend Stakes Action!

Pim R5 (post 1:34 PM) The Allaire DuPont Distaff (Grade 3), 9 furlongs. Selections:

1st – #3 Mo’ Green (4/1)   2nd – Terra Promessa (6/5)  3rd – #5 Winter (15/1)

MO’ GREEN has hit the exacta in 7 of 11 career starts and continues to produce good speed figures.  If she’s 4/1 at post time I would think that would be good value.  TERRA PROMESSA is tough at Oaklawn, and she figures to get the lead here, but since she is considered such a heavy favorite she may get early pressure on the lead.  WINTER was dreadful at Aqueduct but she’s back in Maryland now and that might help her perform at a higher level.


Friday Night Australian Racing, 5/12/2017

Race 3B Australia (Doomben) Friday, May 12, 2017 3B SINGAPORE T.C MEMBERS’ HCP (AUD $100K) 11:26pm EDT 10:26pm CDT 8:26pm PDT W, P, S, Ex, Qu, Tri, Super, Pick 3 (3B, 4B, 5B) OPEN Listed Race, 1 mile.  Apprentices Cannot Claim.  Picks 2-5-10

#2 JUNGLE PRINCE (5/1 ML) appears to be in very good form and has the speed figures to back it up.  He has run well up to a mile and a half so I expect a strong effort tonight.  #5 Cantbuybetter (3/1 ML) showed good form against top mare Single Gaze in his last start.  He’s a contender for the top two positions.  #10 Sultan of Swing (25/1 ML) looks slightly outclassed, but has good early speed and gets top jockey Kerrin Mcevoy to ride.


Race 4B Australia (Doomben) Friday, May 12, 2017 4B MOET CHAMPAGNE CLASSIC (AUD $175K) 12:06am EDT 11:06pm CDT 9:06pm PDT W, P, S, Ex, Qu, Tri, Super 2yo OPEN SW Group 2, 6 furlongs.  Apprentices Cannot Claim.  Picks 11-2-4

#11 SHE’S OUR STAR (12/1 ML) is very well bred and her speed figures are marginally competitive. She has a good post and should be considered a threat, even as she’s coming into this race off a four and a half moth layoff for respected trainer Tony Gollan.  #2 Snitzcraft (3/1 ML) owns the recent form and best early speed; she may go off as low as 8/5 here as a very solid chance.  #4 Pah Terie (16/1 ML) appears to be the best deep closer in the race and he can definitely add value to the exotics wagers.


Race 7B Australia (Doomben) Friday, May 12, 2017 7B JAMES BOAG’S PREMIUM DOOMBEN (AUD $700,000) 2:04am EDT 1:04am CDT 11:04pm PDT W, P, S, Ex, Qu, Tri, Super OPEN Group 1, 6 furlongs.  Apprentices Cannot Claim.  Picks 12-3-1-5

#12 RUSSIAN REVOLUTION (7/2 ML) is (7-5-0-0) lifetime and has put in some top performances.  I think he will do very well on the expected “soft 7” ground.  #1 Fell Swoop (16/1 ML) is the top-rated horse in here and his record at six furlongs is quite good (9-4-2-2).  #3 Takedown (16/1 ML) has been a bit dull, but I know this huge animal has the talent and I like Brenton Avdulla riding him for the first time.  #5 Music Magnate (4/1 ML) won this race last year when it was run at a longer distance (6.75 furlongs last year vs. 6.0 furlongs tonight) and at 6 furlongs he’s never been off the board (7-4-2-1).

Graded Stakes Preview, Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Will the 2017 Peter Pan be a 2017 Belmont Stakes Preview?

Bel R4 (3:04 Eastern) The Peter Pan Stakes (Grade 3), 9 furlongs (one turn), 3yo Selections:

1st – #2 Timeline (7/5)   2nd – #3 Meantime (5/1)   3rd – #4 Impressive Edge (8/1)

I doubt TIMELINE will  be 7/5 at “go time.”  He is the dominant speed horse on paper and will be a legitimate threat in the Belmont Stakes if he is entered there in four weeks time.  Expect him to be odds on on Saturday.  MEANTIME has run against some pretty tough horses (Patch, Time to Travel, Caviar Czar) and he showed to me in his last race he might win a Graded race this year.  He is the lone speed in the Peter Pan and I expect Jose Ortiz will put him “on the engine” right away.  A lot was thought of IMPRESSIVE EDGE at Gulfstream, and that 7 length loss to Always Dreaming looks more respectable after AD won the Kentucky Derby.  Note also Impressive Edge’s two wins were around one turn, as is Saturday’s Peter Pan because of Belmont’s unique size and layout.


I Never Saw Beaugay Run.  She Must Have Been Pretty Good

Bel R6 (4:09 Eastern) The Beaugay Stakes (Grade 3, inner turf), 8.5 furlongs, 4up F&M Selections:

1st – #3 Hawksmoor (12/1)   2nd – #1 Rainha Da Bateria (8/1)  

3rd – #8 Miss Temple City (8/1)   4th – #6 Dacita (3/1)

HAWKSMOOR showed some potential in 2016, but I think she can show a little more today because I think she makes the lead on Saturday.  She’s the only “E” type in the BRISnet PPs and from post three she should be able to get a spot near the inside and save ground.  Also it would be significant for her owners to win a Graded stakes in the USA, so there is that additional incentive. RAINHA DA BATERIA and DACITA finished close to one another several times in 2016.  RDB is better odds so I put her second.  MISS TEMPLE CITY may need this race to get fit, and there are much bigger races for her down the road.


I Never Saw Man o’ War Run Either.  But I Know He Was Super Good

Bel R8 (5:13 Eastern) The Man o’ War Stakes (Grade 1, turf), 11 furlongs, 4up Selections:

1st – #4 Zhukova (5/1)   2nd – #1 Sadler’s Joy (3/1)   3rd – #3 Wake Forest (5/2)

Most of these horses have been beating each other, so I am going with the five year old mare from Ireland trained by European legend Dermot Weld – ZHUKOVA!  She gets up to 9 pounds from the boys, and gets first lasix also, which may help.  Her European form is definitely good enough to contend here, and for you pedigree buffs the Fastnet Rock (Danehill) into a Galileo mare cross has produced multiple Group winners in Europe, including 2016’s English Oaks winner Qualify.  SADLER’S JOY has been on a hot streak, with just one head defeat preventing him from winning five straight races, all at or near this 11 furlong distance.  He’s a very logical contender.  WAKE FOREST has a good record at the 11 furlong distance (4-2-0-2), and he won this race for his trainer Chad Brown last year.  He’s certainly capable of repeating that victory on Saturday.


Ruffian Was Great

Bel R10 (6:17 Eastern) The Ruffian Stakes (Grade 2), 8 furlongs (One turn mile), 4up F&M Selections:

1st – #3 Highway Star (5/2)  2nd – #4 Indulgent (3/1)   3rd – #1 High Ridge Road (2/1)   

HIGHWAY STAR has handled many of these mares, she’s (3-3-0-0) at Belmont, and she has a great “stalk and pounce” style for a miler.  Her price won’t be great, but she’s won too may races to ignore.  INDULGENT is due to break through any day, and she’s a half-sister to the multi-million dollar winning colt Frosted.  The well-connected Godolphin runner is certainly a threat.  HIGH RIDGE ROAD had significant traffic trouble in the Madison at Keeneland (7 path on the turn??  Whaaa?) and she can win on Saturday.  I don’t like the rail draw going a mile at Belmont though, it is hard to work a trip out from there. Horses to Watch – 5/11/17

Horses to Watch – Ed Meyer

Mother Nature was windy and wet for Kentucky Derby 143. – But that’s horse racing. – The world wanted to see a spring-like day with sunshine and packed stands. Well the latter may have held true, and the weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of the racing faithful. – Hope you had a great Derby weekend, and best of luck from your friends at !

Churchill Downs


Race #5 – #4 – Paid Up Subscriber – 1 1/16

Joel Rosario in the irons for Chad Brown. This daughter of Candy Ride was making her second start of the year. She has solid works over the Churchill surface and was forced to check sharply and bumed soundly as the odds-on favorite.

Race #6 – #2 – Breaking Lucky – 1 1/16

Javier Castellano in the saddle with a son of Lookin at Lucky. 2nd  off the layoff and was working well in the morning. He was bumped at the start, caught in tight, and bumped around through most of the race.

Race #8 – #2 – Union Strike – 7f

Brice Blanc in the driver’s seat for this daugher of Union Rags making her second start off the shelf. Two straight bullet works and she broke awkwardly making up solid ground to be the bridesmaid this day. She’ll be a handful next out.

Churchill Downs


Race  #7 -#1 – Linda – 1 mile on the turf

Brian Hernandez Jr. in the saddle for Ian Wilkes. She was 1/1 at CD making her 2nd start of the year. The red-hot bullet work had her ready, and she was forced 4 wide and eventually kicked out 6 wide making up ground in a hurry to be 3rd this day.

Race #8 – #5 – No Dozing – 1 mile

Joel Rosario in the saddle Arnaud Delacour. This son of Union Rags was a beaten favorite in the (G-3) Lexington. He was fractious in the gate, broke slowly, and shifted 9 wide into the stretch to be bested down the lane.

Race #12 – #14 – Classic Empire – 1 1/4 – The Kentucky Derby

Julien Leparoux aboard for Mark Casse for this son of Pioneer of the Nile. 2/2 at CD and 1/1 on an off-track. He looked super strong prior to the race and ultra impressive in the Arkansas Derby. He bobbled at the break and was knocked around quite a bit. He regrouped nicely and made an honest effort to be fourth. – After the race his right eye was swelling badly and his next effort is up in the air. – When he comes back he’ll exact some payback for his backers.
 Horses to Watch – 5/8/17

Horses to Watch – Ed Meyer

Best of luck from your friends at !



Race #4 – #8 – Plein Air – 1 mile on the turf

Joel Rosario in the irons for Michael Matz. 1st time lasix for this daughter of Lonhro and Matz wins 18% on this change. She showed speed her first two efforts, and rated nicely to make a bold bid in the final 1/8th. Graduation day is coming soon.



Race #1 – Mdn Sp Wt  – #7 – Clear Convincing – 1 1/16

Irad Ortiz in the saddle for Chad Brown winning (24%). 2nd time start for the son of Giant’s Causeway, and his first race was against the one-eyed wonder Patch at Gulfstream. He was closing at the end and was bet heavy at the windows. He was rolling and hooked a “monster” in eventual winner The Big Fundemental winning by 8 1/2 lengths. This colt should get better with time.



Race #4 – #6 – Wonder Meister – 1 1/16 on the turf

Irad Ortiz in the driver’s seat and this son of Bodemeister was trying the turf for the first time. His dam Wonderously has 7 starters, 6 winners, and 3 turf winners. He made a mile late kick and finishing fourth with a very strong rider change going to post.



Race #5 – #4 – Mills – 1 mile

Jose Ortiz in the saddle for Jeremiah Englehart. Dropping in class and shipping over from Aqueduct. He came in 3/4 ITM at “Big Sandy” and was pinched back at the start. Add in being a beaten favorite this day and that 6 wide cirling move looks better and better.

Churchill Downs


Race #3 – Claiming – #7 -Bingo Kitten – 1 1/16 on the turf

Julien Leparoux in the irons Mike Maker and they came in 2nd off the layoff from Gulfstream. He was a beaten favorite this day circling the field with six wide move.

Churchill Downs


Race #9 – #5 -Classic Cotton / #1 – Syndergaard – 6f

Ricardo Santana in the saddle and he shot out quickly for the lead. He opened up and shifted into the 4 path and impeaded the #1 – Syndergaard. – The #1 was ridden by John Velasquez for Todd Pletcher and he was sent off the odds-on favorite. He was impeaded and you can toss this race for him, and use Classic Cotton.




Friday Night Australian Racing, May 5th, 2017

Race 1A Australia (Rosehill) Friday, May 5, 2017 1A FRESH FOR KIDS HCP ($100K) 9:40pm EDT 8:40pm CDT 6:40pm PDT W, P, S, Ex, Qu, Tri, Super 2yo OPEN  5 1/2 furlongs Apprentices Can Claim. Picks 2-3-13-14

#2 MADAME MOUSTACHE (4/1) has the best speed figures in here, and has faced the best competition.  She seems well spotted here.  I have no idea why she’s 20/1 in the ML, she will be 4/1 or shorter at the off.  #3 Darhad (6/1) showed speed and tired on “Heavy,” but her “Good” surface races are quite respectable.  #13 Blonde Intuition (8/1) and #14 Envy Of All (10/1) show good efforts in maiden races, but this is a considerable step up in class to “Open 2 year olds.”


Race 4A Australia (Rosehill) Friday, May 5, 2017 4A FRESHMARK (BM76) ($100K) 11:25pm EDT 10:25pm CDT 8:25pm PDT W, P, S, Ex, Qu, Tri, Super 3yo BM76.  6 furlongs, Apprentices Can Claim.  Picks 1-8

#1 ZUMBELINA (4/1), 134 pounds last two races on “Heavy” were admittedly bad, but if we look back to her races on “Good” surfaces she has never lost (3-3-0-0).  I am hoping for a bounce back to her better form.  #8 New Universe (6/1), 124 pounds is an import from New Zealand, and many of these types run well in Australia.  Both of these horses are trained by Chris Waller, so watch the betting.  Usually his LONGER ODDS horse in this situations runs the best of the pair.

Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Someone’s Dreaming of Roses in May!

CD R12 (Post 6:46 Eastern) The Kentucky Derby (Grade 1), 1 and 1/4 miles (10 furlongs)

Yes, it’s time for the Kentucky Derby again, and the prep season probably left all horseplayers and racing fans with more questions than answers.  Minor injuries to Classic Empire and McCracken, Mastery’s retirement,  Irap winning the Blue Grass as a maiden, Thunder Snow not committing to running in the Derby, and Girvin developing foot problems the week of the Kentucky Derby and training in bar shoes seem to give everybody in the field a chance.  Here are my top six (in order): Selections:

1st – #5 Always Dreaming (5/1)   2nd – #14 Classic Empire (4/1)   3rd – #8 Hence (15/1)

4th – #13 J Boys Echo (25/1)   5th – #17 Irish War Cry (6/1)   6th – #15 McCraken (5/1)

There are several things I like about ALWAYS DREAMING.  First of all he’s fast, and if you saw his Florida Derby he was very explosive and finished extremely well.  He’s has three blow-out wins going two turns, but to show he is no a plodder he also put up a 96 Speed figure at Saratoga last August at the age of two.  I also think it is notable that Dominick Schettino trained him at two – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s futility in getting a Kentucky Derby winner is well documented (1 out of 46), but the fact this horse wasn’t “Pletcherized” until very late in his 2yo year may have helped in his 2017 development, somewhat similar to how Arrogate did not race at two or in the Triple Crown for Bob Baffert.

CLASSIC EMPIRE has the best speed figure over the field, the 108 he earned in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  If he runs that number back, this race is over, BUT his two 2017 races only came back 92 (with a foot problem) and 96 (with significant traffic trouble).  This horse had other good races at two and this is the race he is meant to peak, but I can understand why horseplayers would not have him in the top three.

HENCE is looking better and better to me all week.  I think his trainer, Steve Asmussen, realizes now he “babied” Gun Runner in his pre-Derby preparation last year, and that left the horse unprepared for taking on Nyquist and Exaggerator.  Here is Hence’s work tab since he got to Churchill Downs:  April 10th 47.4, April 17th 1:00.2, April 24th 1:00 and May 1st 48.4.  This horse hasn’t missed a beat.  He also got a large speed figure from BRISnet for his Sunland Derby win, and if the track is wet he will handle it just fine – take a look at his maiden breaker in the slop.

J BOYS ECHO’s Gotham Stakes effort is good enough to win this, and in the Blue Grass Stakes he hung in there after getting knocked around at the start.  At 25/1 he is an interesting play in the exotics.  IRISH WAR CRY is arguably the “quality speed,” and I am glad he drew outside Fast and Accurate, who hopefully won’t get in the way when he starts to back up.  I like that Graham Motion is very confident, training this horse in a very similar manner to Animal Kingdom’s pre-Derby preparation.  McCRAKEN is a very consistent horse that needs to plain run faster to win.  If he doesn’t put in a triple-digit BRISnet speed figure he’s off the board.


The Humana Distaff is a HUUUUUGE Sprint for the Mares!

CD R6 (Post 1:13 Eastern) The Humana Distaff (Grade 1), 7 Furlongs, F&M Selections:

1st – #5 Finest City (8/5)  2nd – #6 Lifestream (5/1)   3rd – #7 Carina Mia (2/1)

FINEST CITY is cross entered into the La Troienne on Friday (an 8.5 furlong, two-turn Grade 1 against fillies and mares), but I have heard she will run in this spot at her preferred 7 furlongs.  She faces very tough opposition here but I think she is a deserving favorite.  LIGHTSTREAM is 2 for 2 wins coming into a race fresh, and I am going to ignore that last race at Santa Anita – it just does not seem she was at her best that day.  She has a great record at the distance (5-3-1-0) and I expect a top effort on Saturday.  CARINA MIA is the quality speed and she is one year older, so she might be even better this year with more maturity.  I just do not want to take only 2.1 to find out.


The Churchill Distaff Turf Mile is a Great Spot for the Turf Mares!

CD R7 (Post 1:55 Eastern) The Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Grade 2), 8 Furlongs – turf, F&M Selections:

1st – #1 Linda (5/1)  2nd – #2 Miss Temple City (9/5)   3rd – #3 Hillhouse High (10/1)

LINDA is a hard knocker that has never been out of the money on the turf (5-3-1-1) and I think the last race was meant to get her race fit for this race.  I am expecting big things out of this Gal on Saturday.  MISS TEMPLE CITY always barely wins or barely loses, she is a very logical winner but I do not think she is the type of mare to take a short price on.  HILLHOUSE HIGH loves this distance (10-3-3-2) and if she can duplicate her last performance she’ll win again.  It’s allso a good sign to have Javier Castellano in the irons on a price!


The Pat Day Mile is a Great Spot for the 3yo Males!

CD R8 (Post 2:45 Eastern) The Pat Day Mile (Grade 3), 8 Furlongs, 3yo Selections:

1st – #12 Bobby On Fleek (10/1)  2nd – #1 Local Hero (5/1)   3rd – #11 Sonic Mule (10/1)

BOBBY ON FLEEK and LOCAL HERO put in strong works this week with Kentucky Derby contenders Practical Joke and Hence, respectively, and also have good race records in their own right.  It is not certain that “Bobby” wants a strongly-paced mile, but I think he can settle from his outside draw and make a run on the turn.  Local Hero may have trouble getting away from the inside, which is why I made him my second selection.  Sonic Mule is not a two-turn horse, but he’s never been off the board going one turn on the dirt (7-4-0-3).


The American Turf is a Great Spot for the 3yo Turf Males!

CD R9 (Post 3:37 Eastern) The American Turf (Grade 2), 8.5 Furlongs, 3yo Selections:

1st – #4 Oscar Performance (7/2)  2nd – #2 Big Score (6/1)   3rd – #10 Good Samaritan (5/1)

It’s time for OSCAR PERFORMANCE to put in that big run we know he can do second off the layoff and get the job done.  BIG SCORE beat the top pick last time without having to run faster than his 2yo numbers.  He may have more to give on Saturday.  Good Samaritan was a dynamite two year old, just losing by 1.5 lengths to the top pick in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf.  If his trainer Bill Mott has him ready he can certainly win.


The Churchill Downs Stakes is Always a Top Quality Sprint!!

CD R10 (Post 4:28 Eastern) The Churchill Downs Stakes (Grade 2), 7 Furlongs, 4up Selections:

1st – #12 Denman’s Call (8/1)    2nd – #1 Awesome Slew (4/1) 

3rd – #5 Clearly Now (6/1)   4th – #2 Masochistic (5/2)

Probably the first thing I will do on this race is box my top three in the exacta.  DENMAN’S CALL put it all together in his last race (and earning a career top speed figure) to run by Masochistic, who appeared to be on the way to a good win. I like the outside draw in post 12 for Denman’s Call on Saturday, and I think Tyler Baze will be able to decide when to attack. AWESOME SLEW was quite awesome at Keeneland, but he needs to work out a trip from the rail.  The extremely hot Joel Rosario has the mount.    CLEARLY NOW looked like a new horse overwhelming restricted allowance company at Gulfstream.  Today we will see if he can do it against real horses.  MASOCHISTIC is the speed of the speed, he will take the field as far as he can.


The Turf Classic is Classic!!

CD R11 (Post 5:25 Eastern) The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (Grade 1), 1 and 1/8 Miles (9 Furlongs), 4up Selections:

1st – #4 Conquest Panthera (8/1)    2nd – #8 Beach Patrol (5/1) 

3rd – #6 Bal a Bali (6/1)   4th – #9 Enterprising (12/1)   5th – Ballagh Rocks (10/1)

CONQUEST PANTHERA has been right there at a mile and maybe stretching out to 9 furlongs might do the trick.  BEACH PATROL tends to run second a lot, but he has had time to mature and he could be a win threat.  BAL A BALI is a Grade 1 winner at Santa Anita going a mile, his overall turf record is good and he keeps Javier Castellano.  ENTERPRISING has been a world-beater in New Orleans, gets the acid class test today.  BALLAGH ROCKS just got going too late in the Maker’s Mark Mile last time.  He’s second off the layoff Saturday, and a little sharper rally could get him in the winner’s circle.

Kentucky Oaks Day, Friday, May 5th, 2017

Three Year Old Fillies Go For the Grade 1 Glory in the Kentucky Oaks!

CD R11 (Post 6:12 Eastern) 1 and 1/8 Mile.  The Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1).  3yo Fillies Selections:

1st – #4 Paradise Woods (5/2)   2nd – #13 Abel Tasman (5/1)  

3rd – #1 Ever So Clever (20/1)   4th – #12 Daddy’s Lil Darling (20/1)

PARADISE WOODS surprised me last time.  I said in this column in early April that she was definitely a Grade 1 talent, but to wait on this horse until Saratoga and Del Mar to see her strut her stuff.  It turned out that her trainer Richard Mandella had her ready for the Santa Anita Oaks (Grade 1), and she earned a BRISnet speed figure in that race larger than ANY other male or female of her age group has yet to earn.  Maybe she bounces, but unless she “blows up” she could run 4 or 5 lengths slower and still win.  The one knock on Mandella is his horses do a lot better in California, than when they are shipped outside of California.  That is an accurate statement, but the last time he shipped a really good horse for the Kentucky Oaks, champion Beholder, she got beat a head after setting sizzling fractions in the mud.  I’ll stick with the hot horse.  ABEL TASMAN was odds on in the Santa Anita Oaks, and appears to be the main challenger.  She adds blinkers for the Kentucky Oaks, so it is possible the may show more speed on race day.  EVER SO CLEVER won the Fantasy Stakes (Grade 3) at Oaklawn, and that race is always a good prep for the Kentucky Oaks.  Her Churchill record is solid (3-1-1-1), and she might be able to handle the slop, if the rains affect the track.  DADDY’S LIL DARLING is fairly consistent and she has a few races where her BRISnet Late Pace (LP) is over 100, which is excellent.  Her Churchill record is respectable (3-1-1-0) and she has finished in the exacta quite often (8-2-3-0).


Three Year Old Grass Fillies Run in the Edgewood!

CD R10 (Post 5:04 Eastern) 1 and 1/16 Mile (turf).  The Edgewood Stakes (Grade 3).  3yo Fillies Selections for GRASS (note 1 and 1A are a ‘coupled entry’):

1st – #1 Dream Dancing (8/5)   2nd – #1A La Coronel (8/5)

3rd – #2 Bernadiva (12/1)   4th – #6 Stallion Heiress (6/1)

Note:  This race might come off the turf course.  Rain is anticipated for Thursday and Friday).

DREAM DANCING looks to be the beast of the East if she can get a clean trip.  He stablemate LA CORONEL is also one of the best turf fillies in the east, and she beat the top pick at Keeneland last time.  The entry mates are both listed with jockey Julien Leparoux, so quite possibly one will scratch.  BERNADIVA loves the lawn (4-2-0-2) and appears to be getting better.  She might surprise.  STALLION HEIRESS has a ton of speed and finishes OK.  She will have the lead turning for home and early speed carries better on the Churchill turf course than just about any other turf course.


Three Year Old Sprinter/Miler Fillies Run to Honor Eight Belles!

CD R8 (Post 2:53 Eastern) 7 furlongs.  The Eight Belles (Grade 2).  3yo Fillies Selections:

1st – #2 Union Strike (3/1)   2nd – #10 Ghalia (7/2)

3rd – #9 Florida Fabulous (9/2)   4th – #11 Let It Ride Mom (8/1)

UNION STRIKE has a very inconsistent career, but the two best races in her life were the Grade 1, 7 furlong Del Mar Debutant in 2016 and the Listed 6.5 furlong Santa Paula Stakes in 2017.  It might be a matter of training, but this filly prefers long sprinting to routing and I am going with the hot hand.  GHALIA might be the class of this field, but I am concerned with her finishing fractions.  In her last two races her late pace is 20 points lower than par!!  You can put these types on to when they are 15/1 or higher, but at 7/2 ML there is no value.  FLORIDA FABULOUS is “the speed,” but in her last she also finished poorly and she has been beating up on very small fields – both in her maiden and her N1x condition there were only 5 runners – 14 are lined up for today’s scramble.  LET IT RIDE MOM is a horse that has never been worse than second in four starts.  From a speed figure perspective she looks a tough slow.


Older Turf Sprinters Run in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint

CD R7 (Post 2:00 Eastern) 5 furlongs.  The Twin Spires Turf Sprint (Grade 3).  3up Males Selections:

1st – #8 Pure Sensation (5/2)   2nd – #3 Holding Gold (4/1)  3rd – #4 Why Two (5/1)  

4th – #5 Maniacal (12/1)   5th – #10 Black Bear (20/1)   6th – #12 Green Mask

PURE SENSATION has won a turf sprint three other times off layoffs.  He is the most accomplished runner in the field and is a win contender today.  HOLDING GOLD was fantastic in his 2017 debut at Keeneland, paying $38.20 to win.  That might not be a fluke, because his sire, Lonhro, is one of the best grass sires in Australia.  WHY TWO is also coming into this race off a long layoff and the two times he tried that he was out of the money.  However, his best BRISNet speed figure is very competitive with this group.  MANIACAL and BLACK BEAR have the early speed, pedigrees and connections to be dangerous in this race at fat odds.  GREEN MASK is is the most consistent runner in this field – but he’s also the most consistent loser too, going (7-1-5-1) at the distance and (19-3-7-3) overall on the grass.  He’s probably used best in second and third in the trifecta and/or superfecta wagers.


Older Males Run in the Two Turn Alysheba

CD R6 (Post 1:17 Eastern) 8.5 furlongs.  The Alysheba Stakes (Grade 2).  4up Males Selections:

1st – #9 American Freedom (3/1)   2nd – #1 Bird Song (9/2)   3rd – #4 Honorable Duty (5/1)  

4th – #2 Breaking Lucky (4/1)   5th – #5 December Seven (20/1)

We last AMERICAN FREEDOM getting blitzed by Arrogate in the 2016 Travers, losing by 13 lengths, but in the process he ran a career top number and held off Gun Runner, who is without a doubt one of the ten best horses worldwide right now.  I see that ‘Freedom has a 1:11 1 of 15 bullet in the workout holster, a very strong Bob Baffert move.  I get the sense that Bob’s getting a winner on Oaks day, Derby or no Derby.  BIRD SONG looked great until the last furlong in his last race at Keeneland, but the race is a half-furlong shorter so I am going to give him one more chance.  HONORABLE DUTY and BREAKING LUCKY come out of the same photo-finish in the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds.  If it matters to you I think Honorable Duty is more reliable.  DECEMBER SEVEN is a tough little horse that is undefeated at Churchill Downs (2-2-0-0).


Older Females Run in the Grade 1, Two Turn La Troienne

CD R5 (Post 12:35 Eastern) 8.5 furlongs.  The La Troienne Stakes (Grade 1).  4up F&M Selections:

1st – #8 Finest City (6/5)   2nd – #9 Go Maggie Go (8/1)   3rd – #4 Paid Up Subscriber (2/1)  

4th – #6 Streamline (8/1)   5th – #1 Eskenformoney (8/1)

I do think FINEST CITY is the horse to beat here, but 6/5 seems like silly odds considering she has never won at the distance (note a 6/5 winner is expected to win the race 45% of the time).  I also can’t see any evidence that she she has won a two turn race either.  I expect “Money Mike” Smith to put her on the lead early and hopefully get a nice breather mid-race.  GO MAGGIE GO was pretty tough last year, but fighting the battles seemed to sap her in late summer and fall.  I am taking a shot here that the usually reliable Dale Romans has her “fixed” enough to be competitive.  Paid Up Subscriber is undefeated at Churchill Downs (3-3-0-0), hence the 2/1 odds, but looking at her races in this distance range it appears that she needs to improve from a speed figure perspective.  And it’s only one data point, but last year the favorite in the La Troienne, (sorry, forgot the name of the mare) won the Madison at Keeneland at a big price, then was out of the top four placings in the La Troienne.  Paid Up Subscriber is trying a similar move this year (non-favorite in the Madison into the La Troienne).  STREAMLINE usually doesn’t win but she could easily get second or third.  ESKENFORMONEY is in good form and was a close second behind Streamline at Oaklawn.  She has a top four chance also.